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Archive | December, 2009

The Top Headlines of 2009 – A year in review.

We covered many stories here at the Post in 2009. Some were amusing, some were moving, some were history in the making. Below are just a handful of the stories that  shaped Cedar Springs and the surrounding area in 2009.

Accidents

Accidents are most times minor, sometimes major, and often heartbreaking. In 2009 there were several fatal accidents, including a fatal drunk-driving motorcycle accident on South Main St., two fatal accidents on M-57, a fatal drunk-driving accident at White Creek and 17 Mile, and a fatal at Tefft and 13 Mile Road.

A crash that was not fatal but seriously affected families was one where four 16 year-old girls were injured when their car struck a tree in Spencer Township after a Halloween party. Two of the girls were seriously injured. Alcohol was not involved.

Please be drive safely. If you’ve had too much to drink, call someone.

Animals

Earlier in the year eagles caused a traffic hazard.

We saw a lot of animals in the news this year. We found out that there are bears in and around Cedar Springs, with three separate sightings, and even some photos. Bobcats are becoming more common, and eagles even made a nest nearby. So many people went to see the eagles that it became a traffic hazard.

Be aware at all times of what’s in your backyard. And leave the wildlife alone.

Business

Businesses came and went this year. Many people in the area lost jobs when the Wolverine World Wide in Rockford closed the tannery in April. CEO Blake Krueger said the company is likely to get out of the leather manufacturing business and move most footwear production to Asia.

The Speedway on S. Main Street closed its doors for good June 30 due to the poor economic climate. Spokesperson Linda Casey said the road construction in front of the station just pushed the closing forward. Speedway had been there since 1971, and before that it was a Checkers station. Many residents still miss having a gas station on the south side of town.

Cedar Springs Automotive Supply at Main and Maple in Cedar Springs closed after the owner was unable to pay his back taxes by the deadline, and Kent County took over ownership. They then gave the city an option to purchase the building and property, before it went up for auction, which they did.

Big addition: Meijer once again has a presence in the area. It opened up a new store on 17 Mile in Solon Township, in the spring. Several other nice shops have popped up along Main Street in Cedar Springs, too.

If we want business to hang around, we need to shop there instead of in Grand Rapids.

Comeback

Troy Rowland came back to the ring this year. Post Photo by Judy Reed.

The comeback story of the year was fighter Troy Rowland. After three-years out of the ring, the 33-year-old fighter has slipped his gloves back on with plans to punch his way to the top. It was standing room only Saturday evening, July 11, at Boxing at the Ballpark at Fifth Third Park, as over 1,000 boxing fans filled the makeshift boxing arena set up in the stadium’s parking lot. Rowland’s fight against Dave Sanders was the main attraction and he didn’t disappoint. The fight went the whole six rounds, and Rowland won by unanimous decision, which improved his record to 25-2. This fall he fought again in Las Vegas but was defeated.

Court

Judge Steven Servaas got a bittersweet victory after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that he could keep his job because the Judicial Tenure Commission did not have the authority to rule on a judge’s conduct. It was bittersweet because Paul Fischer, the person that brought the charges, was not censured for the way he conducted himself when he tried to force Servaas to resign.

It was the end of over a year-and-a-half of publicity, accusations and the possibility that all Servaas rulings in recent years could be invalid. It also cost the Rockford judge $56,000 personally in legal costs—on top of $100,000 in costs covered by county insurance. Servaas still believes the fiasco all came from his disagreement over whether to move the Rockford court location to a new building.

The Rockford court closed in November, and the new one opened at Knapp and East Beltline.

Crime doesn’t pay

Crime was alive and well in the northern Kent County area. Timothy Stephan, of Howard City, shocked the court when he chuckled and admitted that he killed both Robert and Norma Bean. Previously he was thought to have only killed one of them, with his partner in crime, Bobby Jay Fisk, killing the other.

Kidnapping was in the news more than once. Leon Howard Anderson, of Solon Township, attempted to abduct a Sparta woman, after stopping to ask for directions. He was later convicted. Andrew Richard Cheslek, of Algoma Township, was at a gas station on September 4, when his ex-girlfriend came in the station bound with her arms and legs bound, and asked for help. He scooped her up and ran out, setting off a manhunt. He was later arrested.

The Julia Dawson homicide was in the news again when Dateline aired her story on television.

Former Cedar Trails PTO president Bonny Lynn Holden pled guilty to embezzlement. She was sentenced to probation, $4,207.70 in restitution and court costs.

Residents were stunned when a Kent County Sheriff Deputy was arrested for stealing from an elderly man he was helping while off-duty. Keith Kazelskis, 36, of Cedar Springs, stole $1,200 from the man, reportedly because he was having trouble making his mortgage payments. The 12-year veteran was sentenced to 180 days in jail, $1,200 in restitution and other court costs.

A fraud investigation that ran cold after the police department exhausted all of their leads was solved after the Cedar Springs Post ran a front page photo of the suspect. The man had cashed just over $1,500 in stolen checks at a local gas station, and the tips called in after the story ran helped police catch the suspect.

Arts and Entertainment

Bucky Covington gave a free concert in Cedar Springs.

The Kent Theatre has made leaps and bounds, and is now showing first run films, just weeks after they premier. Just last weekend they showed “New Moon,” the second film in the “Twilight” saga.

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum finally began construction on an addition early this year, and hope to have things moved in soon.

Algoma Township created a memorial park, complete with a monument, that marks the spot of the old Swedish Baptist Church. It is across the street from Algoma Baptist. They held a dedication on Memorial Day.

Former American Idol Bucky Covington made a surprise appearance in Cedar Springs this fall when he gave a free concert at Tractor Supply, as part of the B-93 Roofsit concert series.

The Cedar Springs Marching Band had an excellent season, culminating a performance at Ford Field in Detroit for the State Finals of the Michigan Competing Band Association. This was their first year competing in that organization.

Finance

Cutbacks in revenue sharing for municipalities, funding for schools, libraries, and other areas is a struggle all across the state. Cedar Springs city employees gave back raises to help make ends meet.

The Cedar Springs Library made national news earlier this year after several media outlets reported that they were on a list of possible projects to be funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. They did not, however, receive the funding for a new library.

But the city of Cedar Springs received good news when they found out they received $63,000 to  help repave Fifth Street from stimulus funds. They also received good news regarding the White Pine Trail staging area. First they received a donation of property from the Gust family, and just recently they received news of a $100,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust fund to help with funding. The city’s part of the match is $47,100.

Faith

A lot has happened in the faith community this year, and area churches are making great strides in working together to reach out to those in need.

Many of the churches in the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association banded together to hold our first ever joint community worship service in Morley Park last summer. It was an inspiring experience that many hope will become an annual event.

The Springs Church put their faith in action and took their service out into the community the Sunday before Red Flannel Day. Over 200 people helped their neighbors in need by picking up trash, washing windows, raking lawns, bagging leaves, scraping paint from a house, repainting a home, sealing a roof, and more.

The EnGedi Youth Center, a joint effort between area pastors and community members, received their non-profit status and now have a temporary place to meet, at the Dive, in the Springs Church. They hope to give all youth in the community a place they can call their own, a place to go for rest, recreation, mentoring, tutoring, etc.

The First Baptist church celebrated 150 years with a special homecoming service. They were the first church to be organized in Cedar Springs on February 12, 1859 with 29 members.

Fires

Post photo by Judy Reed

Besides the fire on the front page this week, another devastating fire was a wild fire that burned out of control in Nelson Township. The fire started in a wooded area and finally consumed a home on Wildwood Ct., just off 18 Mile near Coan. It was originally reported as a five-acre grass fire. Seven fire departments were called in, and four tankers of water were required to quell the blaze.

Another downtown business, Cinderella Slipper Scrapbooking on Main Street, was destroyed when it caught fire on August 6. It has since reopened in a new location.

On a brighter note, the Cedar Springs Fire Department received their beautiful new fire truck.

Government

The City of Cedar Springs has taken some hits, with several of its employees being in the news. City Councilor Pam Conley has been in the news regarding whether she should legally be able to hold both a school board and city council seat. That question is being forwarded to the Kent County prosecutor’s office.

Another City Councilor, Raymond Huckleberry, has pled not guilty to larceny charges related to his ownership of the former Stein Brothers pizza business.

Larry Briggs, a former planning commissioner, is charged with assault in a domestic violence incident. He resigned his post after his arrest.

Sand Lake has its own worries, after the chair and secretary of their planning commission filed a petition to disincorporate the village.

Both the U.S. Post office in Coral and Cedar Springs have been  hit with changes. Coral consolidated with Pierson, and CS carriers will now pick up mail from Rockford.

Historical

The old railroad bed was found under the road during construction.

It was a surprise to construction workers and city workers when remnants of the old TS&M Railroad was unearthed during road construction on S. Main this summer. The old railroad bed was still under the road.

One of Cedar Springs oldest and most beloved sites was saved this summer. The flowing well behind the fire barn on Maple Street was uncapped after North Kent Well and Pump restored it. The well is thought to be the birthplace of the city of Cedar Springs.

The city received a blow, however, when the siren tower behind the library was deemed unsafe. It will most likely be rebuilt at another location in the city, such as North Park.

School

Long-time Superintendent Andy Booth retired from Cedar Springs Public Schools, and Assistant Superintendent Ron McDermed was chosen, after a lengthy interview process, to replace him.

Creative Technologies Academy also announced a change in leadership in December. In January, long-time leader Lexie Coxon will step down, and Dan George will take her place.

School finances have been a big problem this school year, with schools taking a large cut in per pupil funding all across the state.

News of the Weird

A Sparta man was arrested after he invaded the home of a neighbor while wearing a purple bra and boxers. Alcohol was definitely a factor.

Alcohol was also involved when a man entered the wrong mobile home in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates and would not leave. The man even chased the homeowner around outside and threatened to assault him. When police arrived, the homeowners were hiding in the bedroom and the man was banging on their bedroom door. It appears the address he was looking for may have had the same house numbers, but he was on the wrong street.

We’ll see you in 2010!

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Four injured in M-57 crash

By Judy Reed

Post Photo by Judy Reed

Blowing snow that created icy roads may have been the cause of a three-car accident that sent four people to the hospital Monday.

“This is the worst stretch we have on this road (M-57) between Lincoln Lakes and Morgan Mills,” said Mickey Davis, Fire Chief in both Courtland and Oakfield Townships. “It always needs to be salted.”

Post photo by Judy Reed

The accident occurred in Oakfield Township, near the intersection of Morgan Mills at about 3:45 p.m., Monday, December 28. According to Sgt. Draves, with the Rockford State Police, a blue 1995 Dodge, driven by Amanda Cooper, 27, of Gowen, was heading westbound on 14 Mile when the car in front of her began to brake. She couldn’t stop in time, and swerved into oncoming traffic, swideswiping an eastbound Pontiac driven by Susan Waller, 30, of Cedar Springs. Cooper’s vehicle then spun and hit an eastbound van driven by Chad Wight, 39, of Rockford. The van then left the roadway and traveled south down an embankment.

Cooper and her 7-year old child, who was restrained in the front passenger seat in a booster seat, were taken to Butterworth Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Wight and his wife Shannon, 40, who was a passenger in the van, were also transported to Butterworth with non-life threatening injuries. What injuries they sustained or what condition they are in was not available at press time. Waller was not injured.

Assisting the MSP at the scene was both Oakfield and Courtland Township Fire and Rescue, Rockford Ambulance, and the Kent County Road Commission.

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Fun in the snow

A lot of us may be ready for winter to be over, but some of the area’s foreign exchange students welcome the snow with open arms.

“We gathered for a Christmas Party and they had a spontaneous snow ball fight,” explained Mindy Abbott. “Some of them had never seen snow, let alone have a snowball fight or go sledding in it.” These students are just some from Cedar Springs, Rockford, Tri-County, Northview, Belding, Lowell and surrounding area through International Student Exchange organization.

Pictured is Brazilian Gabriel Silva to left on top of the pile (with the black jacket and gray Hoodie). He is currently a senior at Cedar Springs High School, as is Pauline Kerchner, from Germany, in the middle, with the gray jacket with hood up.

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Drunken man steals and crashes car

A man that stole his cousin’s car and then crashed it has been arrested for the crime.

Alan Burrows

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent reported that on December 13, at 11:45 p.m., Officer Mike Stahl was attempting to catch up to a violator, westbound on Pine Street, when he saw a vehicle that had crashed into the garage at the “T” intersection of Solon Rd (Pine Street) and White Creek Ave. Officer Stahl located the driver, who had crawled out of the car and was lying on the ground. The crash investigation and related drunk driving arrest was handled by the Kent County Sheriff Department. The car he was driving was later reported stolen with the Cedar Springs Police Department.

The suspect, Alan Richard Burrows, 31, of Kentwood, was arrested and lodged in the Kent County jail. He was charged with Operating while intoxicated, 3rd offense, unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, operating on a suspended license, and being a habitual offender, second notice.

His case was bound over to Circuit Court. Alan Burrows remains in jail on a $10,000.00 cash-surety bond.

The stolen vehicle, a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix, belonged to his cousin, who lives on Linda Street in Cedar Springs.

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Children support father in hunger strike

Four Cedar Springs residents flew home to their family ranch in Australia for Christmas to see their father, who is in the 40th day of a hunger strike in protest for farmer land rights.

Aaron, Kahn, Sarah and Emma Spencer, who now live in Cedar Springs, were raised on a 20,000-acre ranch in Australia and moved to the Grand Rapids area over 10 years ago. They are the four eldest children of Peter Spencer, an Australian farmer. The children have been following the hunger strike story online and became increasingly concerned for their father’s health and decided to immediately book flights from Grand Rapids to Australia. The four children and Spencer’s 4-month old grandchild, Saxon, whom he had not yet met, traveled for over 30 hours and arrived in Canberra, A.C.T, Australia on Christmas Day.

As dark was moving in the four children drove up into the snowy mountains high country where their father is 50 ft up a 300 ft wind monitoring tower a mile above sea level. The two sons, Aaron and Kahn work for Kent Power in Kent City, where they climb and reinforce cell phone towers and install wind turbines all over the U.S. They put on their harnesses and climbing equipment and climbed up to embrace their Father on Christmas Day. A cold front was coming in and the first rain the dry terrain had seen in months mimicked the tears streaming down each of the children’s cheeks as they talked to their father.

Spencer’s sons had brought special Carhart clothing from the U.S for him and carefully helped him to change his clothes, get warm and find shelter from the harsh and wet weather.

According to an interview that Spencer did with Steve Truman, of Agmates.com, seeing his children arrive so unexpectedly buoyed his spirits. “By dark I had gone from the deepest depths of despair to being elated. What a Christmas gift it was,” he said.

Spencer has been protesting to bring attention to the actions of the Australian government, because of laws passed to prevent farmers from clearing their land, keeping them from making a living. He believes that farmer’s are paying the price for the government’s agreement to bring down carbon dioxide emissions.

“There are official Australian government documents including the 2005 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) report that clearly state that 88.2 million metric tons are needed for the Australian government to meet its Kyoto International agreement; 87.5 of which was taken from Australian farmers. Essentially the Australian economy was saved at the expense of the Australian farming families that lost their farms,” said Spencer.

“His condition is deteriorating and he is determined to continue his hunger strike until the Australian Government acknowledges that farmers land has been stolen to meet the Kyoto protocol treaty commitments,” said Sarah Spencer. “He claims that this is one of the largest injustices in Australian History and involves the land of more than 30,000 farmers affecting 280 million acres.”

In his interview, Truman pleaded with Spencer to come down and live to continue the fight. But Spencer would not relent. “I have put 30 years of my life into building up my farm. The beautiful family home that I built, in two weeks the Sheriff will come and take it all. Take the beautiful dining room table that I built for our family to eat dinner around, the beautiful beams in the dining room, it took me eight years to put them in place. I’m nothing without my farm. I’m 61 years of age…my whole life is in this property and I’m about to lose it…through no fault of my own…this is wrong, Steve…” said Spencer.

He noted that his sons said he could come live with them in America. “But I would have nothing…61 years and nothing…this has happened to so many people…it has to stop,” he said.

According to Sarah, her father has made more then 200 court appearances regarding this issue in the last five years and is yet to have his case heard.

The Spencer family plans to be in Australia for two weeks, and hopes that they might be able to meet with the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to take their case to him.

Sarah Spencer is a public health nurse for the Kent County Health Department and Emma Spencer works in customer service for Grand Rapids Chair Company.

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Man charged with criminal sexual conduct

A recent investigation by the Cedar Springs Police Department resulted in the arrest of a Cedar Springs man on charges of criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, Jason James Hughes, 19, was arrested on Monday, December 28 and lodged in the Kent County jail on a $5,000 cash-surety bond.

He was arraigned Tuesday, December 29, in 63rd District Court, on a 15-year felony charge of Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd degree, for having sexual contact with a 13-year-old. The incident was reported to have taken place on the night of December 10 at an apartment on East Oak Street.

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Celebrate the New Year with a sober driver

Drunk driving crackdown continues this weekend

Why ruin a good time with a drunk driving arrest? Save time, money and possibly a life by designating a sober driver this New Year’s Eve, otherwise you could find yourself starting 2010 in jail.

More than 500 officers in 30 Michigan counties will work nearly 3,000 hours of stepped up drunk driving enforcement during the final week of the Drunk Driving Over the Limit Under Arrest enforcement campaign through January 3.

The holiday effort began December 23 and is being paid for with federal traffic safety funds. During last year’s four-day holiday period, 15 people were killed in traffic crashes in Michigan, more than any other holiday of the year. One of those fatalities involved alcohol.

“Officers will be on the lookout for drunk drivers on New Year’s Eve through the weekend. This message is a warning to party-goers: if you drive drunk, you will be arrested,” said Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael L. Prince. “Avoid the hassle of drunk driving arrest by designating a sober driver, taking a cab or spending the night.”

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent said that they have had an extra officer out on the road since the campaign began December 23. He was happy to say that there haven’t been many drunk drivers. “That’s a good thing. Our goal is education and less offenders,” he explained.

Those who do not heed the warnings and drive drunk could face serious consequences, including up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, up to 360 hours of community service, 180 days license suspension, and six points on their 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 spite of progress made in reducing drunk driving in Michigan, nearly 37 percent of traffic fatalities involve alcohol and/or drugs.

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Free concert at Metron

Please join Metron of Cedar Springs located at 400 Jeffery and musical guest Steve Troyer from Senior Sing A-long for a free concert and refreshments by donation on Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 2:15 p.m.

Senior Sing A-long is an organization established to help sponsor life enrichment programming for nursing care, assisted living facilities, as well as individuals in other hospital type environments. Senior Sing A-long has been providing two special entertainment programs for Metron of Cedar Springs for quite some time at no cost.  Senior Sing A-long donations have not grown in relation to their increase in the number of facilities they currently service.

All funds generated from the concert will be donated to Senior Sing A-long in an effort to maintain special entertainment and programming for residents at Metron. If you would like to make a donation and cannot come to the concert, please contact Senior Sing A-long by going to their website at www.seniorsingalong.org. Be sure to note that this donation is on behalf of Metron of Cedar Springs.

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Happy New Year!

Observance of the New Year is the granddaddy of all holidays. The people in ancient Babylon celebrated it 4,000 years ago. The Babylonian New Year began with the first new moon (actually the first visible crescent) after the vernal equinox (first day of spring).

The Babylonian New Year holiday lasted for 11 days, each day with its particular mode of celebration. Modern New Year’s Eve festivities pale in comparison.

The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of blossoming, and of planting new crops. January, on the other hand, has no astronomical or agricultural significance. Placing the New Year’s beginning in that month is purely arbitrary.

There may be an explanation. After the fullness of summer and the richness of fall, the sun fades away. It must have been scary. Then, around January, the sun slowly begins to come back. Surely a time for celebration!

Food for thought in 2010

Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they know there’s not enough money?

Do prison doctors use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

If the professor on Gilligan’s Island could make a radio out of a coconut, why didn’t he fix the hole in the boat?

Grandkid wisdom

The grandson asked his granddad how old he was. He teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.”  “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” advised the child. “Mine says I’m four to six.”
Somebody asked the boy where his grandmother lived. “Oh,” he said, “she lives at the airport. When we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we’re done with her, we take her back to the airport.”

Grownup wisdom

- The statistics on sanity tells us that one out of every four persons suffers from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.
- Reality is only an illusion that occurs due to a lack of alcohol.
- When you work here at the paper, you can name your own salary. I named mine, “Fred.”

Last joke of 2009

An old building was being torn down to make room for a new skyscraper. While dismantling on the 49th floor, two workers discovered a skeleton, fully clothed and standing upright, in a small closet behind the elevator shaft. The police took the skeleton away.

After a couple of days the workers decided they had to know who they’d found. They called the police again. “We’re the two guys who found the skeleton in the closet. We want to know if it was Jimmy Hoffa or somebody else important.”

“Well,” said the police sergeant, “it’s not Jimmy Hoffa, but it was somebody kind of important. It was the 1956 National Hide-and-Seek Champion.”

Follow your dreams!

Except that one where you’re naked in church.

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Library Corner

By Donna Clark, Director, Cedar Springs Public Library

The Library Board and staff would like to take this opportunity at the close of 2009 to wish all of you, our community, a very joy-filled and prosperous New Year in 2010.  We join our hopes with yours for progress toward the realization of our collective dream, a larger library facility.

We are grateful for the way you all have supported the library’s efforts to offer materials and programming that would be useful, current and foster a lifelong love of reading.  In fiscal year 2008-2009 we logged in 32,250 patron visits, 62 programs for children with 4,568 attending and 18 adult programs for 132 patrons.  This year we will be adding about 400 more adults due to the 4 Travelogue programs the Library added in October.  Our collection stands around 22,000 since we are locked into our 2,000 square foot building.  When we bring in the new, we weed out the old and worn…with the exception, of course, that the timeless classics have to stay.  It’s a tight fit.  One day we will have a larger space for collection and for YOU.

Our six public access computers have served many purposes this year.  We have seen an increase in the number of residents using them for unemployment, to look for jobs, create and send resumes, email, search Craigslist  or ebay for bargains or to sell items, shop online, listen to music, chat with friends and relatives, download photos, and some just to relax to music or play games.  Soon, there will be those filing their income tax online.

We are celebrating the partnerships we have in the community which made it possible to plan, organize, initiate, advertise and promote the Library’s services and programs this year.  Service organizations, businesses, churches, other nonprofits and private individuals,  too numerous to mention in this short article,  have wrapped their arms around their library and its efforts offering their finances, space, time, products, leadership and participation.  Your library staff see your contributions on a daily basis and are very blessed to be working for such a wonderful community as we have in Cedar Springs.

Michigan’s economy is affecting us all, the library included.  We are projecting a $10,000 shortfall due to a reduction in revenues and a $1,000 quarterly increase to belong to the Lakeland Library Cooperative.  Our Cooperative, which facilitates our sharing and borrowing materials from 80 other libraries in Western Michigan and delivers materials from around the State through MelCat, is facing a loss in revenue of right around $167,500.  How this deficit will be met is a matter of much concern to all of us who have enjoy first-class service and reciprocal borrowing for many years.  I will keep you posted as more information becomes available soon.

I do know this, Cedar Springs residents know how to stick together and work together.    As we stand on the brink of 2010, our hearts are full of hope.  We do believe in miracles.  One of those miracles is located at 43 W. Cherry Street.

Happy New Year,
Donna Clark, Director

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