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Archive | December, 2010

Christmas day fire destroys home

This Algoma Township home was destroyed by fire Christmas Day. Post photo by J. Reed.

Christmas Day took a tragic turn for one northern Kent County family after their home was destroyed by fire Saturday evening.

Firefighters responded to the 4100 block of Ives Farm Lane, (a subdivision off White Creek just north of Russell Road) just after 7:14 p.m. When firefighters arrived, it was fully engulfed.

Several fire departments fought the blaze, including Algoma, Courtland, Solon and Cedar Springs, who was set up as a pumping station at the Cedar Springs Middle School.

According to Algoma Fire Captain Roger VanderKlipp, the  family of four (2 adults and two children) got out safely, along with guests they had over at the time. He said that one of the children slept downstairs, and that they were able to get some of his clothing out. Several Christmas presents were also stacked in front of the home in the driveway.

The family was staying with neighbors overnight and the Red Cross had been called in.

According to Algoma Fire Chief Steve Johnson, the fire appears to have started from discarded ashes from a  charcoal grill. The family had grilled the previous day, and the ashes had been stored in the garage, where they ignited. “Ashes can stay hot for three or four days down inside of them,” noted Johnson.

The Post reached the homeowner, Norman Galang, on Monday. He said they are currently staying with family. “Everyone is doing great, and no one was hurt,” he said. “We are in much better spirits now.” The Galangs have a 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

Anyone interested in helping the Galangs can email Norman at galangn@gmail.com for specific needs.

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2010 YEAR IN REVIEW

When you think of what happened in 2010, what do you think of? Many people get a picture in their mind of some event—and that’s the way we’ve decided to review 2010. A lot of things happened—both good and bad—and we won’t be able to cover it all. These are just a few of the stories and photos that stood out to us.
If we discovered one thing this year, it’s that Cedar Springs is more than just a small town—we connect with people globally. Our readers are now worldwide, and we changed the design in our banner to reflect that.

Haiti earthquakeHaiti earthquake

The downtown shows the damage after an earthquake measuring 7 plus on the Richter scale rocked Port au Prince Haiti just before 5 pm, January 12, 2010. (UN Photo/Logan Abassi UNDP Globa). Rob Baker and his family, who are former Cedar Springs residents and currently a missionaries with Baptist Haiti Mission, worked hard to help those injured. Hundreds of thousands people were killed and the National Palace collapsed.

Fires burns historical home

Maple and First fireFires took their toll on homeowners in the area this year. One of the earliest was also one of the biggest. The fire on the southwest corner of E. Maple and First Street (40 E. Maple), and right next door to the Post, broke out at 2:54 a.m. Monday, February 8. Six fire departments fought the blaze for several hours. While history of the home is sketchy, it was once owned by Sally (Vivian) Wall, former owner of the Red Flannel Factory. She bought the home in about 1954, and sewed Red Flannels there until she converted the barn at 36 E. Maple (now the home of the Post) to become her shop and showroom. At the time the building burned, it had been converted into apartments.

Sand Lake sues Nelson Township

village/township signA petition filed with Nelson Township asking for the disincorporation of the Village of Sand Lake had emotions running high this past year. It even caused the Village of Sand Lake to sue Nelson Township—someone they share a municipal building with and built a library with—in an effort to get the petition thrown out. A judge let the petition stand, and in the end, voters let the petitioners know they had no interest in disincorporating the village.

Erica SevignyHit and run death

Police are still searching for the driver who hit and killed Erica Sevigny, of Sparta, on April 4. Erica was standing alongside the road on 14 Mile at Pennington during the evening hours after her car hit a tree. She was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when she was hit and killed, possibly by a red truck or SUV. Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff Department or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

Polar bear force

We honored the Polar Bears, a group of Michigan men who soldiered on after the end of World War I, in the subfreezing temperatures of northern Russia, and wondered when they would be called home; they wondered, as days turned into months, if they had been forgotten. There were at least two Cedar Springs men among those who fought—Pvt. Sidney DeGraw, and Pvt. Edgar G. Hauge, both of Company A.

City Councilman gets day in court

The case of the people of Michigan vs. Cedar Springs City Councilman Raymond Huckleberry was a hot topic this year. Huckleberry was charged with larceny of more than $200 but less than $1000 in 2009, and he finally got his day in court last summer. He admits he sold some items that were left in the building he used for Stein Brothers pizza. His lawyer argued in court that the property was Huckleberry’s because Stein had not claimed it within 30 days per the contract. Judge Servaas said he believed that Huckleberry gave Stein a verbal extension, and found Huckleberry guilty. The case is still under appeal, and his lawyer had until Wednesday, December 29, to file his brief.

Audra BrownellTeen killed by a falling rock

Cedar Springs mourned last summer when high school senior Audra Brownell was killed by a falling rock while on a youth backpacking trip in Colorado in June. While everyone thought it was a freak accident, Colorado authorities have now charged a male juvenile from another state with manslaughter in the incident. Audra is the daughter of Scott and Diane Brownell, of Algoma Township.

Maranda park partyMaranda rocked the park

Over 4,500 kids and families filled the Cedar Springs Public School campus Thursday, June 24, for a free afternoon of food, fun, games and prizes. It was the kick off event for Maranda’s line up of summer park parties. WOOD TV8 and WOTV4 sponsored the event, and worked with Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation to make it happen.

Two men charged in Admiral robbery

A man reportedly walked in and pulled a knife on the female clerk at Admiral at about 9:59 p.m. May 13 and demanded all her money. The suspect then fled on foot to a waiting vehicle. Christopher Jay Ridgeway, 35, of Sand Lake, and Zachariah Raymor, 19, of Lowell were both charged with one count of armed robbery, and Ridgeway was also charged as a habitual offender.

Dawson conviction upheld

In July, The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Timothy Allen Dawson in the murder of his wife Julia, in December 2004.
Dawson had reported her missing from their Sparta home, on December 11, 2004. Her strangled and bludgeoned body was found three weeks later, on January 3, 2005, on an embankment near Pierson Road and US131 in Montcalm County. Julia was 23 years old.
Dawson was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder in her death and sentenced to life in prison in December 2008.
The court said that the record shows the prosecutor was arguing from the evidence that Dawson had a motive and intent to kill Julia based on marital discord and his attempts to control her.

Foster mom charged in death of Cedar Springs girl

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Joy Ann  Heaven, 30, of Gaines Township, called 911 on Thursday, July 15 and reported that her 5-year-old foster child, Emily Meno, of Cedar Springs, was unresponsive. Emily was transported to Spectrum Butterworth and put on life support. She died two days later of a sub-dural hematoma. Heaven admitted that she was frustrated with Emily for wetting her pants and pushed her so had that she flew through the air. The coroner felt she would have to have been pushed much harder to inflict the injury she suffered. Heaven rejected a plea deal and was then ordered to stand trial.

Veterans Park and Brown monument dedicated

brown memorialCedar Springs now has a park dedicated to area veterans, and a monument there is dedicated to Spc. Timothy Brown, who was killed in action in Iraq on November 4, 2005. He is the son of Tim and Cindy Brown.
The land for the park, at the corner of Main and Oak Streets, was donated by the city, and Dan Brown, uncle of Timmy Brown, spearheaded getting cash and in-kind donations to create the rest of the park. The monument was a separate private venture, and was paid for through donations and fundraising events such as the annual golf outing. A dedication was held for the park July 4, and a dedication for the monument was held in late August. Shortly after, the dog tags on the monument were stolen, and later returned. On Veterans Day, the American Legion dedicated a flagpole and flag they purchased for the park.

Drug raids

The Cedar Springs Police Department has been hot on the heels of drug dealers and users this year, with the help of the Metro Enforcement Team. One such drug raid happened September 1, with the arrest of Sedric Anderson, 43, and Brenda Sue Anderson, 50. Brenda Anderson was charged with delivery and manufacturing of cocaine, and maintaining a drug house. Sedric Anderson was charged with maintaining a drug house.

POST goes to Prague

At the end of September we featured a photo of the Post with Rachel Reed, 25, a 2003 Cedar Springs graduate and 2008 graduate of Cornerstone University, who traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic as part of a class for her master’s degree in business at Cornerstone. She and others in her group visited various business centers, attended seminars, and learned about business there and in Brno. The photo shows a beautiful historic backgroud, and another way in which Cedar Springs connects with the world.

Red Flannel courtRed Flannel court chosen

A new Red Flannel Queen and court were chosen for this year’s festival. Pictured are Kayla Ovokaitys (Court), Queen Tinsley Nulph and Samantha McGahan (Court).

Fatal accidents in Montcalm County

Monday, October 4, was a bad day for accidents in Montcalm County with three separate accidents, and five fatalities. The first accident occurred at about 10:55 a.m. when a driver ran a stop sign at M-28 and W. County Line Road in Howard City, killing two people and injuring another.
areo medThe second accident occurred shortly after, at 11:13 a.m., when a rescue unit on its way to the first accident ran a stop sign at 104th and Newcosta in Pierson and broadsided another car, killing the two passengers. The drivers who caused the accidents are facing charges.
The third accident occurred at about 2:45 p.m. when a pregnant Howard City woman ran a stop sign at M-46 and Youngman Road and was hit by another vehicle. Her two children, ages 3 and 4, were flown to DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Fall colors

We had some of the most beautiful fall colors ever and one of the warmest autumns on record.

Community activist dies

Niels and Edna AndersenNiels Andersen, 88, a longtime community activist in Cedar Springs, died in October at the Grand Rapids Home for the Veterans. Friends remember him for the active role he took in shaping the community. He was publisher of the Cedar Springs Clipper, the Rockford Register, Sparta Sentinel, and the Cedar Springs Bugle.
He was also President of the Chamber of Commerce, founding member of the Cedar Springs Historical Society, Creative Technologies Academy, and president of Rotary.

gazeboStaging area and gazebo

Most of the work on the White Pine Trail staging area and gazebo were completed earlier this month. The gazebo was taken on as an Eagle Scout project by Charley Nelson, 16. It will be dedicated to Clara Gust, 90, in the spring. Bathrooms will also be installed in the spring.

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Fire ravages home Christmas eve

Post photo by L. Allen

An Oakfield Township family lost everything they owned in a fire on Christmas Eve day, including their dog and two cats.

According to Oakfield Township Fire Chief Don Riker, the call came in about 10 a.m. Friday morning on a fire at 11948 Ramsdell, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When firefighters arrived on the scene of the single-wide mobile home, it was fully engulfed. Courtland Fire assisted Oakfield at the scene.

The family who owned the home, Robert and Sarah Joldersma and their three sons, were not home at the time. Robert was next door at his parents’ home with the three boys in the hot tub, and Sarah was reportedly shopping.

Riker said that family alerted Robert to smoke coming from the home. When he rushed back there and opened the door, the home was in flames.

Riker said that the fire was likely caused by a dryer or electrical issue.

While no one was injured in the blaze, the family did lose their pets—a German Shepherd, and their two cats. They also lost their Christmas presents.

A collection for the family has been set up at Zain’s Pary Store, 10030 14 Mile Road, and emails with questions or offers to help can also be sent to Robert’s mother, Krystal at riverqueen@auis.net.

Riker said he was glad to see how the community reached out to help the Joldersma family. “The community stepped up and I’m very happy with what they’ve done,” he remarked. “I think they ended up with a pretty nice Christmas.”

He added that while this fire was a fluke, there are things homeowners can do during the winter to help prevent fires. The Chief noted that everyone should make sure smoke detectors are working, and be sure chimneys are clean. “We are coming into the season when we start seeing chimney fires. We were toned out on a possible chimney fire while fighting this fire,” he said.

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Gas back over $3.00

gas pricesIt’s hard to believe that just two years ago, on December 28, 2008, gas hit the lowest price in Cedar Springs that it had been in five years at $1.40 per gallon. On Tuesday, December 28, 2010, it was $3.17 in Cedar Springs after a rise in oil prices (over $90/barrel) sent gas prices soaring again. On Wednesday it had dropped to $3.15.
According to GrandRapidsGasPrices.com, average retail gasoline prices in Grand Rapids have risen 6.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.14/g Monday.This compares with the national average that has increased 4.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.03/g.
Including the change in gas prices in Grand Rapids during the past week, prices Monday were 52.7 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 38.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 17.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 42.9 cents per gallon higher than one year ago.

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Man arrested for impersonating officer

Jason Hughes

Lee Roy French

A man who took the law into his own hands is now facing charges of his own, and his victim has been sent to prison after violating parole.
According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, officers were dispatched to a suspicious situation on Monday, December 6, at 9 p.m. When they arrived, they found a man, Jason James Hughes, 20, being held against his will, in handcuffs. He had been “taken into custody” by his brother-in-law, Lee Roy French, 27, of Coral.
The brother-in-law mentioned to Cedar Springs Police that he had made a police report with the Montcalm County Sheriff Department for a crime he said Hughes allegedly committed.  French said he was instructed to hold Hughes if he came back to his home.
“Our investigation discovered that no official report was yet filed and it appears this suspect took it upon himself to hunt down this person,” said Chief Parent. He added that Hughes said he had also been assaulted in Montcalm County by French but had gotten away. “That incident will be investigated by the Montcalm County Sheriff Department,” said Parent.
On the night in question, French reportedly learned where Hughes was in Cedar Springs and made a phone call to the apartment. He told the person who answered that he was a police officer from Howard City working undercover and that he was on his way to the apartment. He also allegedly said they better let him inside when he got there, or they would also face charges.
After arriving at the apartment and placing handcuffs on Hughes, French then went to a pay phone and called the police dispatch center.
It was about this time last year that Cedar Springs Police arrested Hughes on a 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct charge for having sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl. In February he was sentenced to five years probation.
After arriving on the scene December 6, Cedar Springs Police called Hughes’ probation officer, who gave verbal approval for Hughes to be arrested and lodged in the Kent County jail on a probation violation. On December 17, his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 20 months to five years in prison on the CSC offense.
Officers continued their investigation and later obtained an arrest warrant on French for impersonating a public officer, a one year misdemeanor, and a second count for assault and battery, a 93-day misdemeanor. He was booked into the jail on Christmas day, and released on December 26.

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Get fit with Parks and Rec

zumba classAre you making a New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy in 2011? Then Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation can help! They are kicking off their new winter schedule with a free demonstration night on January 4 at 6:30 p.m., and with programs for all fitness levels beginning January 10.
On the free demo night you can try out some of the hottest trends in fitness—kickboxing, body bootcamp, yoga and Zumba! Kickboxing helps you punch away trouble areas as you burn calories with short but high intensity drills; body bootcamp combines the kickboxing with sculpting and abdominal exercises and is suitable for all fitness levels; yoga helps build flexibility and reduce stress; and Zumba helps you get a workout while dancing.
You can also see a demonstration of two new programs on January 4—intro to ballroom dancing and cake decorating basics. People who sign up for ballroom dancing will learn the Foxtrot, the East Coast Swing, and the Rumba. No partner is necessary. With cake decorating participants will learn how to create icing flowers, ribbon roses, rosettes, and more.
Other classes being offered this winter session include Tae Kwon Do, Men’s open basketball, and co-ed open volleyball. Youth volleyball begins Feb. 2, and a 12-week program called “Springs runs the river” will start Feb. 9 to get everyone ready to participate in the Fifth Third River Bank run later in the spring.
For more information on what’s being offered and to download a registration form, visit www.csaparksandrec.com or call 696-7320.

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Women’s gifting club scam

The Michigan State Police Newaygo Post and Newaygo City Police are reminding residents about an old scam sweeping the area again from Lansing to Jackson to Muskegon to Hesperia to Reed City.
According to police, these groups invite women to give $5,000 cash, with the potential to gain $40,000. One of the names used is Women Integrity Group. Those involved will say it is perfectly legal based on current gifting laws, however, according to D/Sgt. Scott Rios, it is a pyramid scam and against the law. (See  MCL445.1528 under Michigan’s Compiled Laws at www.legislature.mi.gov.)
Seven Newaygo County women were recently arrested and arraigned in Newaygo 78th District Court for promoting the pyramid scam: Lori Bruggema, 40, of Newaygo; Madeline Fessenden, 46, of Fremont; Linda Richards, 52, of Hesperia; Lisa Vazquez, 48, of Newaygo; Deanna Michiele, 69, of Newaygo; Darlene Millis, 60, of Fremont; and Marcy Bacheller, 49, of Fremont. They could each face up to a seven-year sentence and $10,000 fine.
The women reportedly did not know each other personally, although they may have known of each other. Police are still searching for others involved in the scam. If you have any information on this scam, please call D/Sgt. Scott Rios at 231-652-1661.

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New Years resolution trail walk

Would you like to start the New Year off in a fun and healthy way? If you answered yes, you are invited to join Friends of the White Pine Trail on New Years day for a beautiful walk on the Trail with a great group of energetic and enthusiastic trail users!
This will be the 10th New Years Resolution trail walk that is sponsored by the Friends of the White Pine Trail and I hope this one is the best ever!
We will start setting up for the event at 9:00 a.m at the Rotary Pavilion in downtown Rockford. Most people will gather between 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. to socialize inside the Pavilion. At 10:00 a.m. we will get together in front of the building for a group picture and then head out for a nice leisure walk on the trail north of Rockford up to 13 mile road and then back to the Pavilion where we will have hot beverages, snacks and some awesome hot dogs cooking. This is not a competition and there is no pace other than your own. Feel free to bring friends, family and pets with you and make it a great event.
We look forward to seeing you on Saturday morning.

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Low-cost vaccine and dog licensing clinic

The Kent County Animal Shelter and Humane Society of West Michigan are teaming up to host low-cost vaccination and dog licensing clinics on Saturday,
January 8 and February 19 from noon to 3 pm at the Kent County Animal Shelter, 740 Fuller Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI. These clinics are open to all dogs in the West Michigan area.
At the clinic the Humane Society will offer distemper vaccinations for $10, microchipping for $10, and rabies vaccinations for $15. This clinic is for dogs only and will only be offered to those purchasing or renewing their dog license. No appointment is necessary.
Dog licenses are $11 for altered dogs and $24 for unaltered dogs. For senior owners (62+), licenses are $6 for altered dogs and $12 for unaltered dogs. All prices double after March 1 and owners are subject to citation and/or misdemeanor charges. All licenses require proof of current rabies vaccine and spay/neuter status. Licenses are also available at the Kent County Animal Shelter and Humane Society of West Michigan.
For more information on the dog licensing vaccination clinics, please call Humane Society of West Michigan at (616) 453-8900 extension 210 or the Kent County Animal Shelter at (616) 632-7300.

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Honesty is the best policy

A clergyman was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.
The group surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked, “What are you doing with that dog?”
One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.”
The reverend was taken aback. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed. He then launched into a 10-minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie,” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.”
There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he’d gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “All right, give him the dog.”

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