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Archive | February, 2010

Reeling ‘em in!

Free fishing weekend a hit at Land of Lakes fishing derby

Chuck Creighton with possibly a state record Pickerel Pike.

Chuck Creighton with possibly a state record Pickerel Pike.

About 300 men, women and children descended on the chain of lakes in Spencer Township for the yearly ice fishing derby that takes place each February during the state’s winter free fishing weekend.

“We had 200 men and women registered to fish and approximately another 100 just out enjoying the free fishing weekend, weather, and good company on Lincoln, Little Lincoln, Black, Friant, Blue, Cedar, Maston, and Little Muskelunge Lakes,” said Pam Bradfield, organizer of the Land of Lakes fishing derby.

She reported that the weather was great and the ice was also in very good condition with most places reporting 11 inches thick.

“With it being a free fishing weekend, all ages apppeared to be having fun whether they were fishing, enjoying the company of good friends, or just rolling in the snow,” remarked Bradfield.

First place winners included:

Pike : Terry Lehman 34-1/2 inches and 9.4 lbs

Perch: Nathan Harger 12-3/4 inches and 14oz.

Speck: Dale Lubahn 11-5/8 inches and 14oz.

Bluegill: Bill Troxel 9-5/8 inches and 10oz.

Largest Trash fish: Chuck Chreighton 21-1/4 inch Sucker 4lbs. 4oz.

Smallest fish caught: Zach Rayburn with a 1 7/8 inch Bluegill.

Ryan Huntly and his brother Jacob Moody took the “Green Hornet” traveling trophy for best weight in the 3-man event.

Bradfield said there were no walleye caught this year.

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KANET scores more drug busts

The Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (KANET), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the United States Attorney’s Office have dismantled a multi-million dollar, multi-state marijuana drug trafficking organization centered in the greater Kent County area.

Authorities said the organization was responsible for distributing over 3000 pounds of marijuana since 2008. The value of the marijuana is at least $3,600,000.00 and was being sold in pound quantities in the greater Kent County area and Leroy, MI. The marijuana was purchased in Albuquerque, NM and smuggled in cars and trucks to Grand Rapids, Belding, and Leroy MI. The investigation culminated in January 2010 with the arrest of the Rene Jimenez-Saenz, the Albuquerque, NM marijuana source of supply.

Over $240,000.00 in cash, two houses, 35 firearms and several vehicles including a 2008 Honda Ridgeline, a 2009 Honda Ridgeline and a 1999 Harley Davidson Fatboy were seized. One of the houses is a five year old lakefront home on Tower Lake in Belding, MI. The other house is a 3 year old home on 10 acres in Leroy, MI. The home in Leroy, MI had large commercial safes built into the basement and the 60×40 pole barn to secure the drug profits and the marijuana.

Beginning in March 2009, KANET Detectives developed information that Timothy Vangessel was involved in traveling to the western United States to buy loads of marijuana which were brought back to Grand Rapids, MI and sold for profit.

KANET contacted the DEA and they began working the case together. Over several months DEA and KANET identified 9 other members of the Drug Trafficking Organization ranging from New York to New Mexico.

DEA and KANET conducted search warrants in Grand Rapids, Belding, and Leroy, MI, and Albuquerque, NM. DEA and KANET conducted consent searches in Comstock Park, Sand Lake, Kentwood, Grand Rapids, Cadillac and Albuquerque NM. At press time it was not known what the search in Sand Lake turned up.

The investigation revealed that Timothy Vangessel was involved in over 20 trips to Albuquerque, NM. Once in Albuquerque, Timothy Vangessel would purchase loads of marijuana ranging from 50 pounds to over 250 pounds from Rene Jimenez-Saenz. The marijuana was concealed in car trunks and the side bed walls of Honda Ridgeline pick-ups. Vangessel then drove back to his Belding lakefront home, where the marijuana was sold to other dealers in Kent County and Leroy. The biggest of these dealers were identified as Mario Dimambro of Leroy, Justin Westhuis of Grand Rapids, and Dorian Brandt of Caledonia MI.

Sometime in 2008, Vangessel, Dimambro, Westhuis and Brandt began recruiting others to be paid couriers for the loads of marijuana driven from New Mexico to Michigan. The couriers were paid up to $5,000.00 per trip. Eventually Lizette Blanchard, Robert Whitcomb and Anthony Vangessel were identified as paid couriers for other members of the organization. All of the couriers made several trips except for Robert Whitcomb who was caught in Nebraska in October 2008 with a 200-pound load of marijuana destined for Vangessel and Brandt. It was later learned that this was Whitcomb’s first trip as a courier for the organization.

Eight members of the organization have been indicted on federal drug trafficking crimes and are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Grand Rapids MI, including the New Mexico supplier for the Michigan and New York members of the organization. Two additional members of the organization were prosecuted by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office on State of Michigan felony drug charges.

The following members of the organization were indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office on federal drug trafficking charges:

Vangessel, Dimambro, Brandt, Westhuis and Whitcomb all pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute over 100 Kilograms of Marijuana and could get 5-40 years each.

Anthony Vangessel was indicted on the same charge and is awaiting trial.

Rene Jimenez-Saenz was indicted on Conspiracy to Distribute over 1000 Kilograms of Marijuana and awaiting trial. He could get 10 years to life in prison.

Lizzette Blanchard pled guilty to Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering and could get 0 to 5 years.

Thomas Koryto was charged by the Kent County Prosecutors Office with Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana and maintaining a Drug House.

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Clean up begins on burned out house

By Judy Reed

There will soon be another vacant lot in Cedar Springs—this time on the southwest corner of First and Maple. Cleanup began Wednesday on the house that was destroyed by fire in the wee hours of the morning, at 40 E. Maple, on February 7.

The home, owned by Gerald and Jane Cardinal, held four apartments. He remarked that three out of the four tenants lost everything in the fire. “The most important thing is that all the smoke alarms worked, and everyone got out ok,” said Gerald.

He was happy to see that the Red Cross was on the scene and provided housing and other needs for the tenants. He also commended the Cedar Springs Fire Department on a job well done. “It was the second fire they battled in less than 24 hours,” he said.

Gerald explained that the city wanted the site cleaned up as soon as possible, and so did they. “We don’t want any kids getting in there and getting hurt,” he said.

The Cardinals bought the house about 10 years ago. He said he thought it was converted to apartments about 40 years ago. He didn’t have any further history on the house, however. “Several people came up and told me they used to live there, but we don’t have anyone’s name,” he explained.

If anyone can fill us in on the history of the house, send us an email at postnews@charter.net, or give us a call at 696-3655.

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Congressman Vern Ehlers announces retirement

Ehlers will step down at the end of current term

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers announced last week that after serving the people of Michigan’s Third Congressional District for eight full terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, he will leave at the end of his current term. He issued the following statement:

“I have had the honor and privilege of serving the people of West Michigan in Congress for the past 16 years, and I am grateful and humbled to have been able to do so. My time in Congress has been incredibly challenging and rewarding, and I appreciate this opportunity greatly.

“While I regret leaving when so much more needs to be done, I know it is time for me to step down. I am in good health, but I recognize that I should complete this chapter of my life. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and my family in Grand Rapids.

“Many serious issues still need diligent attention from Congress, and I intend to participate vigorously in my work for the remainder of this year. I am incredibly grateful to have spent the time I did effecting positive change for our country, and, most of all, serving people of West Michigan, to the very best of my ability.”

U.S. Representative Vernon J. Ehlers of Grand Rapids, Mich., was sworn in on January 6, 2009, to serve his eighth full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was first elected to the 103rd Congress in a special election on December 7, 1993.

Prior to Congress, Ehlers served a total of 11 years in the Michigan Legislature, with just over two years in the House and nine years in the Senate, where he finished his tenure as President Pro-Tem. He also served eight years on the Kent County Board of Commissioners, including three years as chairman.

Ehlers joined Congress following a distinguished tenure of service in teaching, scientific research and public service. The first research physicist to serve in Congress, Ehlers has been recognized for his strong work ethic and proven leadership skills in his duties on Capitol Hill.
He is married to Johanna (Jo) Meulink and is the father of four adult children and the grandfather of four. He and his wife reside in Grand Rapids.

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A visit to a living wax museum

By Judy Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

Did you ever wish you could ask a famous person from history a question? Or listen to them talk about their life? Students, parents and area residents got to do just that last Friday, February 12, when Cedar View Elementary fourth graders presented their “Living Wax Museum” in the Cedar View gym.

Post photo by J. Reed

According to fourth grade teacher Mrs. Poll, students are required to read a biography and write a research paper as part of the state’s fourth grade curriculum. The fourth grade teachers combine these two activities and end it with their “Living Wax Museum.” The 1-1/2 month process includes reading their biography, writing the report, creating a costume, and designing a display board of information about their character.

On Friday the students dressed up as their character, set up their display board, and prepared a short speech about their characters. Those interested in hearing the student talk about their character could walk up and push a button taped somewhere on the student or their display. Featured characters included Davy Crockett, Albert Einstein, George Washington, Leonardo DaVinci, Helen Keller, and many more.

Leonardo DaVinci

Post photo by J. Reed

Francis Marion

Post photo by J. Reed

George Washington

Post photo by J. Reed

George Washington

Post photo by J. Reed

living museum

Post photo by J. Reed

Abe Lincoln

Post photo by J. Reed

Helen Keller

Post photo by J. Reed

Leonardo

Post photo by J. Reed

Einstein

Post photo by J. Reed

Merriweather Lewis

Post photo by J. Reed

living museum

Post photo by J. Reed

living museum

Post photo by J. Reed

Bonnie Blair

Post photo by J. Reed

living museum

Post photo by J. Reed

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Gas prices on the rise again

Post photo by B. Fitzgerald

The supply of gas in the Great Lakes area has exceeded demand recently, causing prices to drop to $2.40 in Cedar Springs early this week. But the high inventory was not enough to stop prices from spiking again on Wednesday, to $2.59 per gallon. According to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at gasbuddy.com, wholesale costs increased in areas of the Midwest Tuesday, after the U.S. dollar weakened against other currencies and key manufacturing indexes rose. Some see that as perhaps signaling a strengthening of the U.S. economy, which would bolster fuel demand.

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City imposes moratorium on sale of medical marijuana

By Judy Reed

The city of Cedar Springs is giving itself some time to consider whether it wants to allow the sale and dispensing of medical marijuana within the city limits. The City Council passed ordinance 159 last Thursday evening, a temporary moratorium on the issuing of city permits, licenses or approvals for the sale or dispensation of the drug.

According to city lawyer Jeffrey Sluggett, of Law Weathers, there is no language in the state act that describes where such activities are permitted. So local governments have to decide whether to regulate it or do nothing and risk that people or businesses will do it without regulation. Weathers noted that in California and Colorado, where medical marijuana has been used for a number of years, there has been an increase of dispensaries operating in commercial zoning districts. “An attendant increase in crime, etc. has been experienced where these dispensaries operate,” he wrote in a letter to City Manager Christine Burns.

Other cities across the state are also considering the issue. Grand Rapids plans to allow home-based caregivers with five patients to dispense medical marijuana. The ordinance requires that caregivers to obtain a business license from the city. The plan also won support from the Grand Rapids police department, who was reportedly worried that large dispensaries would attract robberies.
The moratorium in Cedar Springs will be for six months, while the city studies its options.

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Naval Academy accepting applications for summer seminar program

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Applications are being accepted Feb. 1 through March 31 for the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar (NASS) 2010.  NASS is designed for students who will have just completed their junior year of high school in the summer of 2010. This program is a fast-paced, six-day experience for high-achievers who may be interested in pursuing an appointment to one of the nation’s service academies and serving as a military officer after graduation. NASS is held in three sessions: June 5-10, June 12-17 and June 19-24.

Summer Seminar introduces students to the opportunities at the Naval Academy where academics, athletics, and professional training play equally important roles in developing our nation’s leaders.  Students will live in the dormitory, Bancroft Hall, eat in the dining facility, King Hall; participate in academic and leadership workshops; and experience a variety of other activities at the academy.  Students will have an opportunity to see first-hand what the academy has to offer through its exceptional academic, athletic, extracurricular activities and leadership training programs.

The academy’s current students, known as midshipmen, run the Summer Seminar training with oversight by active duty Navy and Marine Corps officers.  Over 2,250 students from around the U.S. attend this rigorous program each year.

According to Naval Academy Summer Seminar officer-in-charge, Lt. John Meise,
“If you are a student who wants a summer challenge with the opportunity to sample university-level academics at a first-rate engineering school, the Summer Seminar program will let you discover how the Naval Academy can help you achieve your goals and give you a jump start on the admissions process.”

By applying to the 2010 Summer Seminar, students are also applying for admission to the Naval Academy class of 2015.  There is no need to submit a preliminary application when it becomes available on April 1 for students desiring to apply for admission to USNA.

Students with questions about NASS and the application process should call 410-293-1549 or visit www.usna.edu/admissions. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2010.

For more information about Naval Academy athletics, extracurricular activities and other general information, visit www.usna.edu.

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Easter basket donations needed

The North Kent Service Center food pantry is seeking items to put in the 500 Easter baskets they will distribute to children this year. Items needed include the following:

Candy, fruit, snacks and gum; Easter basket grass; small stuffed animals or Beanie babies; bubbles; sidewalk chalk; jump ropes; baskets; crayons, markers, etc.; small cars.

If you can donate any of these items, please drop them off at the NKSC 10075 Northland Drive, between 12 and 13 Mile Road. Questions? Call 866-3478.

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Local singer/guitarist wins at Grand Rapids’ Got Talent

One of Cedar Springs own talented artists competed and won at the Grand Rapids’ Got Talent competition at THE B.O.B. last week.

Jimmy Lewis performed Matchbox Twenty’s “Hang” during the Feb 11 competition and ended up a winner with 733 votes being cast in his ballot box.

“I never expected to win,” said Lewis. “There was a great deal of talent competing and I feel honored to have been chosen by the audience!” Lewis had quite a turnout of support with family and friends from the Cedar Springs area totaling around 30 people.

Melissa (Missy) Armstrong, from Sand Lake, also competed singing “People get ready” by Curtis Mayfield.

Lewis will compete again in the semi-finals on Thursday, Feb. 25, along with 11 others, and six finalists will go on to compete for a $1,000 grand prize on March 4.

Casting began in January for local area talents to compete in the six-week competition.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the great variety that have signed up,” said Kelly Carey of Creative Edge Productions, which is coordinating the contestants. “We’ve got break dancers, rappers, all sorts of singers.”

About 15 acts compete each Thursday at Bobarinos on the second floor of The B.O.B., where the audience can enjoy food and drinks. Each selected act pays a $20 fee, but there is no cover charge for the audience and minors are welcome also.

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