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Archive | December, 2009

City councilman charged with larceny

By Judy Reed

A member of the Cedar Springs City Council has been charged with theft of property from the building he operated a former business from.

Raymond Huckleberry

Raymond Huckleberry

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, Sgt. Ed Good took a larceny complaint on August 31 involving theft from the upstairs level of Stein Brothers Pizza, 77 S. Main Street. Former owner Raymond Michael Huckleberry, 30, of Cedar Springs, had closed the pizza place earlier in the summer due to the economy. Huckleberry was buying the business on a land contract, and leasing the building, and told the Post last summer he was working on an amicable agreement to return the business to the previous owners. That agreement, however, fell through.

Parent said that because their initial investigation identified Huckleberry, a Cedar Springs City Council member, as a possible suspect, the case was turned over to the Kent County Sheriff Department’s detective bureau.

“Having another police agency take over an investigation to avoid any conflict of interest is a common practice,” explained Parent.

Detective E.J. Johnson conducted an investigation, and made an appointment to meet with Huckleberry. On November 16, the case was submitted for review by the Kent County prosecutor’s office, and a warrant was issued for one count of larceny over $200, but less than $1,000. Huckleberry cooperated with detectives throughout the investigation and voluntarily turned himself into authorities on November 18. He was booked into the Kent County Correctional Facility and later bonded out.

Huckleberry was arraigned on December 2 in 63rd District Court and pled not guilty. He had a pretrial conference on Tuesday, December 22, and is scheduled for another pretrial conference on January 14 at 10:45 a.m. A jury pick is set for January 19.

Huckleberry has been active in the community since childhood, including serving on the DDA board as a small business owner, was past president of the Cedar Springs Rotary Club, and is a member of the Planning Commission, and the City Council. While he would like to explain his side of the case, he said he couldn’t talk about it right now.

“My reputation in this community speaks for itself. I cannot discuss details of the case right now, but when I can, I will gladly share,” he told the Post Wednesday.

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Planning commissioner arrested on domestic violence charges

Larry Briggs

Larry Briggs

A member of the Cedar Springs Planning Commission was arrested last month in a domestic violence incident that involved a handgun.

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, Officer Mandy Stahl responded to the home of Larry Briggs, 69 on N. Second Street, about 5:30 p.m. November 14. Briggs was arrested and charged with felonious assault. He was arraigned on November 16 in 63rd District Court, and bound over to Circuit Court. He was released on a $2,000 cash or surety bond, and has a February 8 status conference scheduled.

Briggs has since resigned his spot on the Planning Commission.

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Sheriff warns against vehicle warm up theft

Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma is warning residents about the problem of auto theft that occurs this time of year when people leave their car running without them in it.

“During the extreme cold Michigan has been experiencing recently, there is increased temptation to start your vehicle and go back inside to let it warm up,” said Sheriff Lawrence Stelma.  “The problem is that crooks may target people who do this.

Crooks have been known to “patrol” neighborhoods looking for unoccupied running vehicles.”

Stelma said they may work in teams, with one person driving the car and the passenger prepared to jump out when an unattended, running vehicle is spotted. Some thieves target only unlocked cars, but others will break out a window, if necessary.

If warming up your car is absolutely necessary, Sheriff Stelma recommends you invest in a remote car starter. These are designed to allow your car to start and warm up without the key, but disable the vehicle if anyone tries to put the car in gear before inserting the key.

If a remote car starter is not an option for you and you insist on staying inside your home while your car warms up Sheriff Stelma recommends you follow these important tips:

* Keep a watchful eye on your car from inside the house.
* Make sure you have a backup key so you can lock the door to your car.
* Don’t keep your “warm up” key on a ring with your house keys.  If you do, the thief * will also have access to your home.
* If you leave your car running in the garage, partially close the garage door.  This will still allow the exhaust fumes to escape but serve as a deterrent to the thief.

“It is very easy to avoid falling victim to this crime,” said Sheriff Stelma. “By remaining with your vehicle during warm up, you will deter thieves who are looking for an easy mark.”

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Man killed by falling tree

Timothy Chilcote

Timothy Chilcote

A Spencer Township man was killed last week when a tree he was cutting down fell on him.

The Kent County Sheriff Department was called to the scene of a fatal injury accident at 16913 Penny Avenue, in Spencer Township, about 7:26 p.m., December 17. According to police, Timothy Chilcote, 50, was at a friend’s house cutting down trees in the woods behind this address, when a falling tree struck him. The tree was reported to be a 60-foot oak, nearly 3 feet in width.

When Chilcote did not return for dinner, his family began to worry, and one of his sons went to look for him, and found him next to the fallen tree.

Spencer Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance responded to the call, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to Blodgett Hospital for an autopsy.

Chilcote was a 1977 graduate of Tri County High School, a former youth leader at Huggard Bible Church, and currently attended Kent City Baptist. He reportedly loved the Lord, and had a heart for youth ministry. He is survived by his wife, Shellie; and children, Chase, Clint, Laura and Cole.

Funeral services were Monday, December 21, at Kent City Baptist. Memorial contributions may be made to Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs, or Good News Camp in Gladwin.

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Accident causes minor injuries

_N-Accident1A two-vehicle accident slowed traffic for a while Tuesday evening, December 22, on 14 Mile Road as residents traveled to Greenville to do some last minute shopping.

_N-Accident2-Zoom-in-someAccording to the Rockford State Police, a man driving a truck southbound on Ramsdell failed to stop at the stop sign at 14 Mile and hit a westbound car. A mother and daughter were in the car, and one reportedly suffered a broken arm. There were no major injuries.

Courtland Fire and Rescue and Rockford Ambulance assisted at the scene.

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CTA hires new school leader

Dan George, the new leader at CTA, and his wife, Debi.

Dan George, the new leader at CTA, and his wife, Debi.

Creative Technologies Academy is pleased to announce the selection of Dan George for the position of School Leader/Superintendent effective January 4, 2010.  Mr. George replaces Lexie Coxon, who is retiring after twelve years of service to the Academy, of which eight years was as School Leader/Superintendent.

“Several people at CTA already knew Dan and his values and that was an important factor in the selection process,” said Coxon. “CTA has become a close knit community and Dan appreciates that kind of environment.”

George, 58, has a Masters Degree in Curriculum from Michigan State University, and comes to CTA with an extensive professional background in public and private business as well as teaching, coaching, and leadership experience in education. Chosen after an extensive interview process, George commented, “I was most impressed by the quality of the teachers, staff, and administration who are dedicated to the students at CTA. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve CTA and the community in this role.”

Dan lives in Cedar Springs with his wife, Debi, and children, Dani and Hunter.

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Youth center finds temporary home

Kids in the community may finally have a place to go hang out.

(Left to Right) En-Gedi Board Members Robert Frostick, Sue Wolfe, Kevin Pike, Rachel Couturier, Todd Hanson. CJ Maurer, Tom Holloway. Missing is Marilyn Magnuson.

(Left to Right) En-Gedi Board Members Robert Frostick, Sue Wolfe, Kevin Pike, Rachel Couturier, Todd Hanson. CJ Maurer, Tom Holloway. Missing is Marilyn Magnuson.

En-Gedi, a Cedar Springs non-profit dedicated to strengthening the community through the building up of families, is riding a huge wave of excitement with the announcement of a “gifted location” and the kick-off of a community survey. En-Gedi has spent the last several months completing a well-defined set of by-laws, goals and objectives, and all the necessary state and federal governmental forms.

Pastors Joe Sturgeon and CJ Maurer recently presented En-Gedi board members with an offer to use The Dive, a newly remodeled area specifically for young people, located in  The Springs church, in downtown Cedar Springs, as a temporary home. En-Gedi, meaning “oasis—a place to be refreshed,” is currently focusing on providing students 6- 12th grade with “The Place” to hang out, mentoring and tutoring, intramural athletic programs, and special events such as concerts, dodge ball, skateboard course, and more.  The En-Gedi Board is now working on establishing regular hours at the The Dive for area youth and hope to open doors soon. Adult volunteers, computers, and additional funding are needed.

“The Dive is a fabulous opportunity and a generous gift. This will allow En-Gedi to become more regularly accessible to the young people we want to serve,” commented En-Gedi Board Chairman Tom Holloway.

A survey is the first stage of the community assessment that En-Gedi is currently conducting, after consulting with SCORE (Counselors to America’s Small Business) official, Bob Cooper and City Manager, Christine Burns. En-Gedi has contracted with two Grand Valley State University graduate students to create, monitor, and tabulate the survey. The consultants will then analyze the survey and objectively evaluate the present state, dynamics of the community, and the potential impact of En-Gedi. They will evaluate the needs, identify strengths and resources, and provide the En-Gedi board with information necessary to make informed decisions about programs and services and possibly a permanent youth center.

“We are hopeful a few thousand area students and residents will complete the easy online or paper survey by January 31 in order to provide as much input as possible for a thorough community assessment. Please share this opportunity with all your neighbors and friends,” said En-Gedi Board Member Marilyn Magnuson.

The online survey is free and McAfee Secure, TrustE, and Better Business Bureau certified. Simply connect to http://EnGediCommunitySurvey.blogspot.com. For paper copies of the survey see Rachel at Copies Plu,s located on Main Street in Cedar Springs or call Sue at 696-8432. If you would like to become involved with En-Gedi or contribute to this organization, please send your donation to En-Gedi at 300 Prairie Run, Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or e-mail Pastor Tom Holloway at tkholloway@charter.net.

En-Gedi is a Christ-centered 501 (c) (3) organization made up of pastors and community leaders.

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Council member says he was misinformed on petition issue

By Judy Reed

Several people that signed the petition to disincorporate Sand Lake now say they were misled about what it would mean and would like to have their names removed. One of them was a Sand Lake Village Council member.

Trustee Dave Tibbe told the Post this week that he did sign the petition, and that he asked the Nelson Township clerk Tuesday morning to remove it, but it was too late. The signatures have already been certified. “I told the circulators of the petition that I would not be a definite yes vote, that I needed more facts,” noted Tibbe. “More facts have now come to light that I did not see a the time.”

Tibbe said his main concern was sparking interest in lowering taxes. “It definitely did that,” he said. He was the 8th person to sign the petition.

According to Tibbe, the circulators of the petition told him that the village taxes would be gone, and they would probably lose some services, and would pay the Nelson township tax. “But there are liabilities that the village has and certain services we can’t do away with,” said Tibbe. “We’d probably ending up contracting it out and paying a higher price rather than saving money,” he said.

While he said he’d like to lower taxes, he now thinks disincorporation is not the way to go.

The Sand Lake Village Council met Tuesday evening, and according to Village President Kirk Thielke about 16 of the 20 people in attendance were pro-village. The petition to disincorporate the village was recently filed with Nelson Township by village residents Brenda Ridgeway and Diana Comstock, Chair and Secretary of the Sand Lake Village Planning Commission.

Ridgeway was in attendance at the meeting but made no public comment.

Thielke said that if people want to change the way things are run, they should attend the budget meetings or run for office. “Come join us and help us fix it,” he said. He noted that they have the same services as Grand Rapids, which has 80,000 people. “We have 320 to share the cost, and most have never been to a budget meeting,” he said.

The board went into executive session to discuss the issue with their lawyer, and Thielke said that they were advised to wait for Nelson Township to advise them on what they needed to do. “There are a lot of things open to interpretation, such as who votes in the election? Just us or the whole township?  We’ll wait for the township to interpret that,” he said.

Nelson Township plans to meet on January 12 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Township Hall.

For reference, Michigan compiled laws 74.18-25 covers villages and disincorporation.

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“Twilight” on tap at the Kent this weekend

_ENT-Twilight-new-moon-postResidents can see a “New Moon” this weekend in Cedar Springs, and we don’t mean stargazing.

The Kent Theatre, which is now showing first run movies a few weeks after they premiere, will be showing “New Moon,” the latest installment in the “Twilight” saga, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are affordable at only $3.00 each, and concession coupons are available both in the Post and on the Kent Theatre website at www.kenttheatre.org. Showtimes are Saturday, December 26, at noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; and Sunday, December 27 at 3, 6 and 9 p.m.

Earlier this month they showed “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs,” and Jim Carey’s “A Christmas Carol.”

In January, the Kent will have one weekend of bands, and two weekends of movies. On Saturday, January 9, the Kent will host a band showcase including Your Car, My Car from Grand Rapids; The Soviets from Rockford; and The Moose Uproar from Cedar Springs. Tickets for that event will be $5.00.

On January 15, 16, and 17, the Kent will show the movie “Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock. Showtimes are Friday, January 15 at 6 and 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 3, 6, and 9 p.m. Tickets are $3.00.

On January 29, 30, and 31, they will show the “Princess and the frog.” Showtimes will also be Friday, January 29 at 6 and 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 3, 6, and 9 p.m. Tickets are $3.00.

In February, there will be another band showcase, the play “For Marrieds Only,” and the movies “Avatar” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

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Scam “delivery” package offer hits West Michigan

The BBB of Western Michigan warns all regional residents that a scam offer has been mailed to hundreds of consumers. The “postcard” claims to be a “package” that could not be delivered to you during the Christmas season and claims, “Sorry we missed you!”

Scam offer is from:
Express Package Delivery
P.O. Box 131690
Tyler TX 75713-1690
Phone:  (888) 4-PAK-DEL
(903) 839-1500

Instructions are to “Call to schedule pickup.” After calling the number, consumers are asked for the twelve-digit pickup number and then told that they have a free vacation package. Consumers are then asked for a credit card number to pay for a “…nominal delivery fee,” which must be paid in advance.

Consumers state EPD is using deceptive marketing tactics, since there was no attempted delivery.

Calling the EPD number reveals your home phone number to them, even if the number is on the DO NOT CALL list.

EPD has 4 unanswered complaints (3 in Michigan) and an “F” rating already at the BBB.  As this offer just arrived in west Michigan, it appears our region was the first targeted.

Ken Vander Meeden, BBB of Western Michigan President, also received this offer. “I received this offer at my own home and immediately checked it out at www.bbb.org as it looks, acts, and certainly is very deceptive and misleading,” he said. “As many people expect package deliveries during the holidays, it certainly garners attention immediately. This is a flat out scam to sell vacation certificates and gain access to credit card information. Our alert needs to be publicized in all 38 counties in west Michigan before significant losses are incurred. As law enforcement is difficult for false advertising, we encourage all consumers to file complaints at www.bbb.org. While they have an “F” BBB Business Rating, more research is being done to assist law enforcement in getting involved in this offer.”

As always, Start With Trust by checking every unknown offer or company at the BBB.

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