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Archive | October, 2009

Bucky Covington rocks the house

By Judy Reed

Photo by J. Reed

Photo by J. Reed

Over 200 fans cheered, clapped, swayed and sang along with country singer Bucky Covington Wednesday night at his first ever appearance in Cedar Springs. Covington played a free, 30-minute, acoustic concert at Tractor Supply as part of radio station B-93’s Roofsit concert series to support abused and neglected children.

“Being a part of country music, it’s awesome that I can come out and do these kinds of things,” Covington told the Post. “As good as the people are that support me, the least we can do is give back.” Covington reportedly paid for his own plane ticket to Michigan to do the concert.

Bucky Covington serenades a young fan at the B-93 Roofsit concert in Cedar Springs Wednesday. Photo by J. Reed

Bucky Covington serenades a young fan at the B-93 Roofsit concert in Cedar Springs Wednesday. Photo by J. Reed

The North Carolina native, who finished in the top 10 of season five on American Idol, said that five years ago it was hard to imagine he would be doing what he loves. “I was very tired of going to the body shop. I hoped I’d be here, but it was unheard of in our small town,” he said.

After American Idol, Covington sold nearly 500,000 copies of his self-titled debut album, and had a string of top ten hits. He just debuted a new video, “Gotta be somebody,” written by Nickelback. It is from his new album to be released in 2010. Covington sang that and several other hits for the fans in Cedar Springs, and dedicated one song to a friend that died of child abuse.

Reese Rickards, a B-93 personality and Solon Township resident, emceed the concert.

If you’d like to donate to the B-93 Roofsit cause or get more information, visit www.b93.com.

More pictures:

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Extra credit with ArtPrize

N-artprize-LapreeWhen Cedar Springs High School senior Andrew LaPree went to ArtPrize last month seeking extra credit, he got more than he bargained for.

According to Andrew’s mother, Tonya LaPree, Andrew is in Mr. Duffy’s Intermediate Drawing/Design class. He told the kids that if they went to the ArtPrize and took a picture of themselves in front of one of the ArtPrize exhibits that they would receive extra credit in his class. Andrew went with his girlfriend and her parents the Sunday before the winner was announced. When they walked into the old federal building, artist Ran Ortner was standing there next to his painting, called open water no. 24. Ortner would later be named winner of the competition.

“Andrew walked up to him and said, ‘hey, did you really paint this?’ and he stated, ‘yes,’ and went on to tell him about the painting,” explained Tonya. “Andrew then asked him if he could get a picture with him and his painting for extra credit for his art class.”

Tonya said that Andrew now has a 119 percent in this class and ArtPrize has made the class much more exciting.

Congratulations, Andrew, that’s a great keepsake!

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Don’t forget to change your clock

N-daylight-savingAre you ready for an extra hour of sleep? You’ll get one this Sunday, November 1, when we set our clocks back an hour and go off Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. This gives us back the hour we lost on March 8.

Not all places in the U.S. observe daylight time. In particular, Hawaii and most of Arizona do not use it. Daylight Saving Time has always been a topic of debate, and was first established in 1918, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Although standard time in time zones was instituted in the U.S. and Canada by the railroads in 1883, it was not established in U.S. law until the Act of March 19, 1918, sometimes called the Standard Time Act. The act also established daylight saving time, a contentious idea then. Daylight saving time was repealed in 1919, but standard time in time zones remained in law. Daylight time became a local matter. It was re-established early in World War II, and was continuously observed from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. After the war, its use varied among states and localities. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 provided standardization in the dates of beginning and end of daylight time in the U.S. but allowed for local exemptions from its observance. The act provided that daylight time begin on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October, with the changeover to occur at 2 a.m. local time.

During the “energy crisis” years, Congress enacted earlier starting dates for daylight time. In 1974, daylight time began on January 6 and in 1975 it began on February 23. After those two years, the starting date reverted back to the last Sunday in April. In 1986, a law was passed that shifted the starting date of daylight time to the first Sunday in April, beginning in 1987. The ending date of daylight time was not subject to such changes, and remained the last Sunday in October. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed both the starting and ending dates. Beginning in 2007, daylight time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.

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Fall in the city

Photo by T. Scott

Photo by T. Scott

Photo by T. Scott

Photo by T. Scott

Did you get out last weekend to see the beautiful colors of fall before all the leaves were gone? Photographer Tom Scott, of Tyrone Township did, and sent us some nice photos of trees in the city. Thanks, Tom!

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City Council candidates bring drama to election

If one candidate wins, it may be a conflict of interest. Another candidate is facing legal charges. Another just wants to hold on to his seat. Welcome to this year’s Cedar Springs City Council election, where two four-year terms are up for grabs.

One seat is being vacated by Mayor Linda Hunt, who retired, and the other seat belongs to Charlie Watson, who is running to regain it. The other candidates are Pamela Medford-Conley and Arthur Tiethoff. Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson

This will be Charlie’s second term on the council, if elected. He has lived in the Cedar Springs area all of his life, other than when he was in the military. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1982, and has an associates degree from Grand Rapids Community College. He has served as a firefighter at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids since 1990. He also served on the Cedar Springs Police and Fire Departments for 10 years.

During his time on the City Council, Watson has served on the planning commission, personnel and compensation committee, government liaison and finance committees, and several ad hoc committees. He is currently serving as Mayor Pro-tem, and recently completed the requirements to obtain his Level 1 Elected Official designation from the Michigan Municipal League.

Watson said he ran for office because he enjoys serving the people. “I like helping the community and letting the voice of the people be heard,” he said.

Watson said that he thinks the economy is the most important issue facing Cedar Springs. What does he think should be done about it? “I will continue to try to bring business and industry to the city,” he said.

As incumbent, Watson said the thing he is most proud of accomplishing is the resurfacing of city streets (such as East and West Muskegon) and the sidewalks they’ve been able to replace. He also said he’s proud of other things such as the restoration of the flowing well, but noted that, “without decent streets, you won’t get to those places.”

Pamela Medford-Conley

Pamela Medford-Conley

Pamela Medford-Conley

Pamela Medford-Conley has lived in Cedar Springs since 1999. She teaches communications at Forest Hills, and is the debate and forensics coach there. Conley has been active in the community, serving on the library board, the garden club, and she is currently in her second term on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. While on the Board of Ed, she has made several trips to Washington DC with the federal relations network to talk to legislators about what is and isn’t working in education.

Conley said she was prompted to run for office because of some issues she’s had with the city. “I’ve had some issues with zoning—how the laws are enforced and what they are. We need some clarity on that,” she said. She also added that if she’s not willing to step up, she can’t complain.

Conley agreed with Watson that the most important issue facing the city is the budget crunch. “There is declining revenue from state and property taxes, so we have to make tough choices to allocate the resources we have. The face of the community is changing—there’s new housing, new people, and our choices need to reflect that. We’re turning into the ‘burbs.”

Conley’s service on the Board of Education has some wondering whether serving on the Cedar Springs City Council might be a conflict of interest. The school reportedly contacted Kent County Elections Director Sue DeStiguer last summer to see if she could legally serve on two elected boards if she were to be elected in November. The Elections Director then contacted the city. City Clerk Linda Branyan sent Conley a letter explaining that she had been contacted about it, and that it was not something prohibited by the city. However, she did point her to Michigan Compiled Law, Act 566 1978, on holding incompatible offices. Branyan noted in her letter that the Attorney General and the Michigan Supreme Court have ruled on the matter, and pointed to the incident in Muskegon County where an individual elected to the Muskegon School Board and County Board of Commissioners was ordered to resign from one of the positions by a Circuit Court judge who ruled he was in violation of the Act 566. Branyan said in her letter that the problem for Conley might be that there are contractual agreements between the city and school board. She said she was writing to give her time to do her own research, and contact an attorney if necessary. Branyan said she would be happy to sit down with Conley and show her the information. But Conley never responded to Branyan’s letter.

“My lawyer advised me not to,” said Conley. “That letter was not appropriate prior to an election. Anyone gets to run for office.” She said that she had spoken with two lawyers, and both said that the jobs would not be incompatible. “In the Muskegon County Case, there was an overarching county board. Are they going to say the city is subservient to the school board?” she asked. “This is not even remotely an issue.”

Arthur Tiethoff

Arthur Tiethoff

Arthur Tiethoff

Art Tiethoff has lived in the district for 37 years, and is a retired electrician. He feels that his skills as a project leader at work will be valuable as a city councilor. “I will stand up for what is right,” he said.

Why is he running? “I see the need for someone to represent the people. I believe in a government for the people by the people. Sometimes it seems the other way around.” Tiethoff also said he thinks the economy is the biggest issue facing Cedar Springs. “I think we should be careful on how money is spent for the taxpayer as well as for the city…I believe we should live within our means, not just within someone’s wishes. If the people can’t afford something, hold off til they can.”

Tiethoff is currently facing a misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property, for allegedly putting a scratch in another person’s car. It’s a charge he vehemently denies. “I’m not guilty,” said Tiethoff, “but it’s up to the court to decide.” Police were called to a home on S. Second on July 29, where someone allegedly observed him make a scratch on the rear bumper of someone’s brand new vehicle. He was arraigned on Oct. 7, and has pled not guilty. He is scheduled for a jury pick on November 19.

Tiethoff knows that the situation may cost him a seat, although he is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. “The people that know me will vote for me,” he said.

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No treats for drunk drivers during halloween enforcement

Think zombies are scary? Those who choose to drive drunk this Halloween could find themselves facing something even more frightening – the back of a patrol car.

Law enforcement officers in 30 counties will work nearly 4,000 hours of dedicated drunk driving enforcement this Halloween weekend, paid for with more than $150,000 in federal traffic safety funds administered by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).

Stepped up alcohol enforcement begins Oct. 29 and goes through Nov. 1 in West Michigan and includes Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties.

“Officers will be out in force over the Halloween weekend. Party-goers need to have a plan to get home safely before they go out partying,” said OHSP Director Michael L. Prince. “Revelers should take a cab, designate a sober driver or spend the night so no one plays the part of a real-life drunk driver.”
A motorist convicted of drunk driving can expect to face serious consequences including up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, up to 360 hours of community service, 180 days suspension, and six points on a driver’s license. In addition, they will be subject to a $1,000 fee for two consecutive years, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs. Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension.
In addition to being on the lookout for extra cops, all motorists are warned to keep an eye out for pedestrians. Last Halloween there were 17 pedestrian-involved traffic crashes, more than any other day of the year. Of those, three resulted in pedestrian fatalities; six were alcohol-related crashes and four involved children and teens under 17.

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Former PTO president sentenced

Bonny Holden

Bonny Holden

The former president of the Cedar Trails Parent Teacher Organization was sentenced last week for embezzlement.

Bonny Lynn Holden, 41, of Oakfield Township pled guilty earlier this month to a felony charge of embezzlement of $200 or more but less than $1,000 from a non-profit or charitable organization. She was sentenced on Thursday, October 22, before Judge Lieber in Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court. She was sentenced to 18 months probation, $68 state costs, $60 in crime victim’s rights costs, $700 in court costs, and $4,207.70 in restitution. She also received 80 hours credit towards her sentence.

The Cedar Springs Police was contacted in February by PTO board members and asked to investigate the possible embezzlement of funds from the PTO. Members provided information and documents about missing money that went as far back as fall of 2008. Holden was cooperative and met with police on several occasions, providing additional details on how the money was being handled by her. She turned herself into police when a warrant was issued and was arrested on June 10.

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Governor announces more cuts in school funding

By Judy Reed

N-Cutting-moneyLast week Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a budget bill approving a $165 per pupil funding cut for Michigan schools, then on Thursday announced another cut of $127 if the legislature doesn’t act within 30 days to fix the budget shortfall.

“There is no way we can sustain an additional $127 in cuts this late in the school year,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed, in a note to parents and staff. “Our kids are in classrooms and quality instruction is taking place. We cannot disrupt these kids now.”

Cedar Springs lost $565,000 in revenue in the first cut, which left them only about $50,000 in the black. The second cut would cost them $430,000. “In the event the legislature does not act, this will have a major impact on our district,” said McDermed. He said last week that the district was already running lean and there wasn’t much left to cut.

Granholm explained her actions in her radio address last Friday. “Why did I take these actions? Because in simple terms, the school aid budget that arrived on my desk was a bad check that bounced almost as soon as it was written. In fact, our state treasurer found that there was a gap between the amount the Legislature voted to spend on our schools and the amount they set aside to pay for it. Clearly, that is unacceptable, and it threatens our schools with deep cuts months into the new school year,” noted Granholm.

The new cut will take effect for the December payment to schools unless the legislature fixes the problem.

Granholm noted that teaches and support personnel would be laid off, programs would be cut, and classes sizes would increase if the problem is not corrected.

“We cannot afford to let that happen, and we won’t,” said Granholm. “Citizens across our state are speaking out loudly about the need for new revenues for our schools. And there are already signs that lawmakers in both parties are willing to do what’s right to fund our schools. In fact, our state House has actually passed several measures to increase revenues to fund critical needs in our budget, and they are ready to do more. There’s no reason our state Senate can’t follow suit.”

Granholm said the key is hearing from voters.  “If you share my belief that we need to provide our schools the critical funds they need, I hope you will speak out.”

You can email area legislators at SenMJansen@senate.michigan.gov and tompearce@house.mi.gov.

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Flu shots cancelled

N-flu-shotSpectrum Health’s Visiting Nurse Association cancelled all public seasonal flu clinics after last weekend because of a shortage of the vaccine. Clinics at both Cedar Springs City Hall and Cedar Springs Public Schools were part of the cancellation.

According to Spectrum Health’s VNA, they ordered their supply of seasonal flu vaccine last February, basing their order on a typical flu season. However, public concern about H1N1 appears to have encouraged a larger than expected number of individuals to seek inoculations for the regular seasonal flu.

The season flu vaccine covers three types of flu strain, but not the H1N1 (or swine flu). A vaccine for that strain is expected for the general public shortly.

According to doctors, the H1N1 flu is the flu that people are experiencing right now, and West Michigan has experienced a rapid increase in the last week of people coming down with it or being exposed to it. However, experts say it is not much different than regular season flu, and most recover at home without complications. There was one death last week in Kent County attributed to the flu, but the woman had other underlying health complications.

“People have a lot of questions about getting the flu vaccine and when to seek medical services,” said David J. Dobbie, MD, infectious disease specialist, Spectrum Health Medical Group. “Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses should require a visit to an urgent care center or emergency room. These guidelines should help people who are concerned and want to do the right thing.”

Symptoms include:
•    Cough
•    Sore throat
•    Fever (sometimes) – a temperature greater than 100° F or 37.8° C
•    Runny or stuffy nose
•    Headache
•    Chills
•    Fatigue
•    Diarrhea (sometimes)
•    Vomiting (sometimes)

It appears that 2009 H1N1 will be the predominant strain of flu this year, said Dobbie.  With the early onset of flu season this year, people experiencing any of the above symptoms should stay home to avoid spreading the flu.

“It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course. For most people, they should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine,” Dobbie added.

Individuals experiencing these symptoms who become concerned about their illness should call their primary care physician for advice. Urgent Care Centers and emergency rooms should be used only for people experiencing the following:

In children:
•    Fast breathing or trouble breathing
•    Bluish skin color
•    Not drinking enough fluids
•    Not waking up or not interacting
•    So irritable the child doesn’t even want to be held
•    Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
•    Fever with a rash

In adults:
•    Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
•    Pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
•    Sudden dizziness
•    Confusion
•    Severe or persistent vomiting

The CDC recommends that individuals stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. The fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. If a person must go out in public while sick, they should wear a facemask if possible, wash their hands to keep from spreading germs, and cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or cloth (not their hands).

More information can be found at spectrum-health.org/flu.

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Band competes at Allegan Invitational

ENT-Band-trumpetThe Cedar Springs High School Marching Band was on the road again last weekend. They competed at the Allegan MCBA Invitational. This was the second MCBA competition they participated in.  While the band did its best, mother nature did not help them. Allegan High School’s football field was a muddy mess. Recent rain, previously played football games and other bands marching earlier in the afternoon, had turned the performance field into a large swamp by the time the band played.

The students struggled to stay on their feet at times and sank in the mud when they stood still. Along with cold temperatures it was a pretty miserable experience. The band received an overall score of  65.5. The score from Allegan is then added to the score the band received at Jenison last week and averaged. The two-week average is 68.85. Currently this puts the band in ninth place in their competitive flight.

In order to participate at Ford Field, at the state MCBA finals, the band needs to finish no lower than 10th with their averaged score. The band has one more opportunity to compete before the finals. This weekend, on Halloween night, they will be performing at Rockford High School.  The band’s current show is called “Chasing Shadows.” It seems appropriate that they will get at least one more opportunity to perform on the spookiest night of the year. If you haven’t seen their show yet, you should come support the band. They perform at 6:00 p.m. at Reeths-Puffer High School.

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