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Archive | May, 2011

Old siren tower comes down

By Judy Reed

The last remnant of the old siren tower was taken down Tuesday, leaving Cedar Springs library patrons free to wander on the library’s back lawn.

The siren tower, which stood behind the library for decades, may have been erected when the fire station was still on that property.  According to the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, the siren was once used for fire calls as well as tornado warnings (and the noon whistle).

At one time it was hooked up to Kent County dispatch, but then later disconnected. So each time the siren went off, a firefighter had to go and trip the switch.

The siren tower was deemed unsafe in August 2009, and in March of this year, a new siren and tower was erected in North Park, just to the north of Oak Street. The city was able to purchase the new warning siren through a grant of $19,900.

The new siren is connected to Kent County Dispatch, and still blows the noon whistle, for $500 per year.

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Healing Fields 9-11 tribute

by Beth Altena

“We all have a 9-11 story,” said Sue Bodenner, one of the organizers of the West Michigan Healing Fields, which will remember and honor those lost 10 years ago in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Bodenner, along with chiefs of local fire departments, members of the Kent County Sheriff Department, Rockford Police and local boy scouts, unveiled plans for West Michigan Healing Fields tribute and memorial.

photos by Studio D2D

photos by Studio D2D

Bodenner heard of the Colonial Flag Foundation’s Healing Fields projects and brought the idea to members of the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), who took on the project as a good fit for the organization and for West Michigan. On Wednesday, May 11, before television cameras and news reporters, the West Michigan Healing Fields plan was officially presented.

Cannonsburg Ski Area, 6800 Cannonsburg Road, Belmont, will be the site of 3,200 American Flags representing each one of the people whose lives were lost on 9-11.

“The memorial we are here to talk about began as a simple way for one person to visualize and comprehend the sheer enormity of human loss that occurred in the terrorist attacks,” said Art Spaulding, Honorary Chair for the West Michigan Healing Fields, Chairman and CEO of United Bank and former Chairman of the American Bankers Association. Spaulding said that to him, the Healing Fields bring to memory the bank’s legal team, who were located in the twin trade towers and who all perished that day. Area resident Jack Vander Baan, described the loss of his daughter, Barbara Edwards, who was on the flight which terrorists crashed into the Pentagon.

The memorials will be open 24-hours a day and include several planned events, including a Salute to Heroes to honor rescue personnel and first responders, a memorial service held by the American Legion, moments of silence in commemoration of the crashes of the American Airlines and United Airlines flights at 8:46, 9:03, 9:43 and 10 a.m. on September 11 and a “Lessons Learned” expression of tribute by West Michigan students, including poems, essays, visual arts and music composition.

Individuals, businesses and groups are invited to participate by sponsoring a flag—which can be dedicated to an individual—for just $75. After the memorial events, the flags can be kept as a continuing tribute.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to recognize the anniversary of this event,” said RACE member and former Rockford mayor Neil Blakeslee. “As tragic as it was, this was one of the most important events in the history of our country and certainly affected people locally.”

In addition to sponsoring a flag, which is limited to the 3,200, limited opportunities for higher levels of sponsorship exist, from Independence Sponsor at $500 to a Freedom Sponsor at $10,000. For more information or to purchase a flag, visit healingfield.org/west-michigan-2011.

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Blind dog finds morels

By Judy Reed

For 10 years now, Mike Cook, of Solon Township, has been using dogs he’s trained to find some of the first morel mushrooms each year. But when his dog, Pugsley, died a couple of years ago, he had to start over and train a couple of new dogs. Enter Muffin, a one-year-old Dachsund, and Toby, a blind one-year-old Dachsund.

“Morels smell funny, so I get them used to the smell, like training a drug dog,” explained Cook, when asked how he trains them to find morels.

Monday he took them out on a test run. Cook spotted a morel from his truck, and let Toby out to see what he would do. “He went crazy barking, and even though he’s blind, he was able to find them,” said Cook. “He ran around in a circle around them, and we got them all in about 15 minutes.”

The mushrooms show in the photo are about one-third of what they found, near Algoma and 17 Mile, in Solon Township. “Now if only I could get the dogs to smell trout for me,” he said with a laugh.

Cook said that the morels seem to grow best around Ash, Poplar, dead Elm trees, old apple orchards, and land that’s been burned.

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Band student to be part of Blue Lake tour

Alexander Tackmann, a senior at Cedar Springs High School, will perform in several European countries this summer with the Southern Wind Ensemble with Blue Lake Fine Arts camp.

Alex is the son of Curtis and Karen Tackmann, of Cedar Springs, and plays the trumpet.

More than 400 talented participants and staff will participate in the West Michigan summer arts school’s 42nd annual European tour. The countries where one or more Blue Lake group will visit and present concerts during June and July include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Each group will perform in six or seven communities while in Europe. In return, 20 European groups will also perform here.

Prior to departing, the nine groups will spend one week at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in intensive rehearsals and preparations for the tours.

In each European community they visit, students will stay in local homes, as will members of the groups touring here. When they return from Europe, each group will perform at Blue Lake Fine Arts camp, and some will perform a live radio broadcast on Blue Lake Public Radio FM 90.3 in Twin Lake/Muskegon, Michigan and FM 88.9 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Dog attacks trail walker

A 49-year-old woman was attacked by a pit bull Sunday as she walked on the White Pine Trail near Howard City.

According to Howard City Police Chief Steven DeWitt, the woman was walking her small dog on the trail near Federal Highway (Northland) and Almy Road in Reynolds Township, about 12:55 p.m. May 15, when a large pit bull ran across the adjacent highway and attacked her dog. The woman tried to protect her dog, and the pit bull then attacked her.

The woman had been dragged to her knees by the dog when residents outside at a nearby home heard her screams for help. Two men armed with shovels ran to help her and beat the dog off of her. The dog then ran away.

The victim suffered minor injuries to her left arm and sought treatment at a nearby hospital, where she began shots against rabies. Her dog also survived the attack.

The dog was located at a nearby home, and the Montcalm County Animal Control was called in to assist with the investigation. The dog appeared to be unlicensed, and no proof of rabies vaccination was provided.
The case is still under investigation.

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Fifth-grader raised money for Japan aid

By Judy Reed

When his mom told him about the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, Noah Roberts, 11, decided he wanted to do something to help raise money for the earthquake victims. What he accomplished is amazing.

Roberts, the son of Yuko Roberts, of Cedar Springs, is half-Japanese, and while he didn’t have any relatives there hurt, he wanted to help. The Cedar View fifth-grader went to his principal, Mike Duffy, with the idea to possibly do a pop can drive. The two decided that might be too hard, and settled on a project called “Loads of Lincolns,” which challenged students to bring in their pennies, or change of any denomination. The drive lasted two weeks. When it was over, the money that the class collected weighed 322 pounds and totaled $1,217.44.

They hauled the money to Independent Bank, thinking that they had an automatic rolling system. But they didn’t. “They rolled it all by hand for us,” said Duffy. “We owe a big thank you to Independent Bank for that.” Noah’s mom, Yuko, also helped them roll the money.

Noah decided to give the money to the American Red Cross, who will donate it to their partner, the Japanese Red Cross. Amanda Meldrum, development associate at the Red Cross, and Deanne Berkowitz, communications coordinator, were on hand last week to receive the check from Roberts in a special ceremony at Cedar View.

“The West Michigan community has a long-standing reputation for giving in a disaster,” commented Meldrum. “It’s always a bit staggering to me how much they end up giving.”

Berkowitz agreed. “We’re lucky we have such a great community, with really generous people like Noah, who want to do the right thing—that’s important.”

Meldrum said that the money would be used in Japan as needs become apparent, and things unfold.

Yuko Roberts, who works for Kent District Library, has her own fundraising project—Project Senbazuru (Thousand Cranes). For every dollar, she will fold one paper crane, and when it reaches $1,000, she will send them to Japan with messages and prayers and the $1,000. She did well on the project through the KDL libraries, but is still waiting for a final number. “I’ve already folded 800 cranes,” she said.

For those who would still like to donate, there is a jar on the counter at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

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New signs posted at Rogue River game area

Residents of the Saddle Ridge community in Algoma Township should no longer have to worry about stray bullets hitting their homes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided on May 4 to ban shooting in the Rogue River extension game area, located east of Algoma Ave just north of Fonger Rd. New signs have been posted stating that people may not target, trap or skeet shoot there. If they do, they will be charged with reckless use of a firearm, a 90-day misdemeanor.

The decision was made to ban shooting there after three separate incidents were reported in April. On April 10, three houses were hit by bullets, with one lodging in a child’s bedroom wall. Three men fired the bullets from an AK-47 and .30x.30 caliber rifle, one-half mile away. They were charged with reckless discharge of a firearm. On April 23, a bullet hit a lightpost a half mile from the game area, and on April 27 there were more reports of bullets whizzing nearby and high-powered rifle cartridges found at the scene.

The Kent County Sheriff office says that target shooters in northern Kent County should use the target shooting location on 20 Mile Rd, west of Red Pine Dr in the Rogue River State Game Area located in Tyrone Township. The Sheriff reminds target shooters that they are legally required to use reasonable caution for the safety of property or others whenever they are shooting and must always have a safe backstop.

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Local agencies on the lookout for unbelted drivers

Wearing a seat belt is the easiest, most effective way to save your life in the event of traffic crash. It can also save you $65 bucks during the Click It or Ticket seat belt mobilization May 23-June 6.

Law enforcement agencies across the state will take to the streets with big yellow enforcement zone signs and be on the lookout for unbelted motorists. More than 200 agencies statewide will take part in the effort, which will also include nighttime patrols.

The Cedar Springs Police will also be part of those patrols.  “We’ll be out at all times of the day, and looking for secondary violations,” said Chief Roger Parent. “I’m sure we’ll probably catch some people off guard.”

The enforcement mobilization and advertising to support it are paid for with federal traffic safety funds earmarked for this campaign. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) administers the funding for local, county and State Police agencies in 35 counties.

“Federal traffic safety funds make this life-saving effort possible,” OHSP Director Michael L. Prince said. “Enforcement efforts like Click It or Ticket continue to save lives as well as identify parole violators, stolen vehicles, unlicensed and uninsured drivers and other criminals.”

Research shows when seat belts are used properly, the risk of being killed in a crash is reduced by nearly 50 percent.

Michigan law requires all drivers, front seat passengers and passengers 15 and younger in any position to be buckled up. Children must be in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4’9” tall. Children must be in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.

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Communities named Tree City USA

Three communities in our area have been certified as a “Tree City USA” for their promotion of community forestry in 2010. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that 119 communities across the state received the designation, including the villages of Howard City and Sparta, and the city of Rockford. Out of the three, Rockford is new to the list this year.

The Tree City USA program promotes proper tree care and management in urban areas and calls attention to the economic, health, and aesthetic benefits trees offer.  To be eligible to participate, a community must meet the following four requirements:

- Have a designated board or department responsible for tree care issues;
- Have a local tree ordinance;
- Have a budget for public tree care of at least $2 per capita;
- Have an annual Arbor Day celebration and official Arbor Day proclamation.

Since the program began in 1976, Michigan has seen a steady increase in the number of communities being certified as a Tree City.

“Healthy trees provide numerous important benefits to our communities and the environment,” said DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Kevin Sayers.  “The Tree City USA award is a highly regarded achievement that allows us to recognize communities who have committed to ensuring these healthy public assets.”

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Summer reading club returns to KDL

The Kent District Library invites the whole family to sign up for the Summer Reading Club and spend some time reading this summer! This year’s Summer Reading Club runs from Monday, June 13 to Saturday, August 6.
With new activities for babies and adults, KDL’s Summer Reading Club really does offer something for everyone! There’s Baby Bingo for babies 0-18 months, One World, Many Stories for kids 18 months through 5th grade, You are Here for teens grades 6-12, and Novel Destinations for adults. Meet your reading goals and enter to win great prizes such as gift certificates, a new bicycle, and even a Barnes & Noble Nook Color eReader.
KDL is also offering an exciting line-up of summer programs, including Animal Crackers Petting Zoo, Master Arts Street Theatre, Zumba Dance Party with Aimee, Summer Carnivals, and so much more!
Not only is KDL’s Summer Reading Club a great way to have fun this summer, but it’s also an important step in helping to prevent what’s known as summer reading loss. Studies show that “students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer vacation.” The Kent District Library aims to help prevent summer reading loss by providing programs and activities that encourage learning while children and teens are away from school. By developing these habits now and making learning fun, we hope to help people succeed in school and in life.
Sign up for KDL’s Summer Reading Club starting June 13 at any of KDL’s 18 branch locations.
For more information, please call 784-2007 or visit http://www.kdl.orgwww.kdl.org.

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