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Archive | June, 2011

Two die in weekend crash

Two people were killed in this three-vehicle accident Sunday and several others injured. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Police are investigating a crash that killed two people and injured several others in Courtland Township Sunday evening, June 26.
The accident occurred about 6:26 p.m. on M-57, just west of Shaner. According to the Michigan State Police, an eastbound Pontiac Montana hauling a flatbed trailer crossed over into the westbound lane and struck both an oncoming GMC pickup truck and a motorcycle.
The passenger in the Pontiac, Timothy Singer, 37, of Belmont, died at the scene. His father, Donald Singer, 71, driver of the Pontiac and also from Belmont, later died at the hospital.
The driver of the pickup, Shirley Vincent-Rose, 54, and her passenger Donald Rose, 51, both of Midland, and the driver of the motorcycle, Robert Passeno, 53, of Ada, all went to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Assisting at the scene was Courtland Fire and Rescue, Cedar Springs Fire and Rescue, Oakfield Fire and Rescue, The Michigan State Police, The Kent County Sheriff Department, Rockford Ambulance and Lowell Ambulance.

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School cuts budget by $2 million

Including $54,000 from sports

By Judy Reed

Nothing was sacred this year as Cedar Springs Public Schools looked at ways to cut expenses next year by $2 million, and at the same time found ways to increase their revenue.
Several parents turned up at the Board of Education meeting Monday to voice displeasure that certain sports did not receive funding in the budget. At risk is JV girls golf, JV boys golf, JV baseball, JV softball, girls freshman soccer, and middle school tennis. According to Assistant Superintendent David Cairy, athletic supervisor Autumn Mattson came up with a list of sports where participation levels are low and interest has dropped. “If we have enough interest in a sport, we’ll find a way to do it,” explained Cairy. “We are all about providing opportunities for kids. But if we don’t get enough to sustain it, that’s a problem.”
Board President Joe Marckini and other board members echoed that sentiment. “We were stunned at some of the numbers falling off, especially girls soccer,” said Marckini. “If you get the numbers, I’ll support it.”
Overall, the school cut funding for athletics by $54,125, which also included reductions in supplies, uniforms, and coaches.
Several parents complained that they feel communication on the subject was poor, and that the coaches in the sports didn’t even know their sports were at risk.
“Sports are very important to us, too,” board trustee Todd Hanson told parents. He noted that they also cut technology, and that with fewer teachers, that means increased class sizes, “which no one wants,” he said. He also noted academics are at risk. “We also may not have AP Biology because of low interest,” he said.
The biggest cuts in next year’s budget came from staff reductions: $1 million in teaching staff that retired (12) and won’t be replaced, and $200,000 in support staff (7) that were laid off. They also cut $250,000 in technology, $100,000 in curriculum, and various other service reductions to meet their $30.7 million budget, including using $182,700 from their fund balance.
On a high note, because the school has been getting their fund balance up to a recommended level of 14 percent, they will not need to borrow money this summer—for the first time in many years—to meet payroll, which equals several million dollars. Although the school’s fiscal year starts July 1, the state’s fiscal year doesn’t start until October, causing a gap in payments.
Increases in revenue will also come from sharing services with other districts. Cairy is now also business manager for Kent City schools. He is contracted through Kent Intermediate School District, who will manage the funding. Cedar Springs also continues to share a transportation supervisor with Sparta, and will be doing some bus runs for them where the districts cross lines. They also share some other business services at the KISD.
One big change for next year will be that New Beginnings students will move into Red Hawk Elementary. Cairy said they will be two schools within one building, and will be separated. “It’s not like they don’t see each other, because they already ride the bus together and park at Red Hawk to be released,” noted Cairy. There is plenty of room, because just a few years ago there were 700-plus students at Red Hawk, and currently only a little over 200. Cairy said they will save about $40,000 by moving New Beginnings there from Hilltop–$30,000 in custodial fees, and $10,000 in natural gas from not having to heat that wing.
“We are trying so hard to do anything we can in the business office to be good stewards, so that kids don’t have to miss opportunities,” he remarked.
High Schoolers might also see a bump up in lunch prices from $2.25 to $2.50 but it has nothing to do with the budget. Rather, it’s mandatory to meet federal guidelines.

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Local author to speak at library

Author Dean Cumings

By Judy Reed

What was life like when our ancestors first settled here, some 15 years before the Civil War? How would one take a covered wagon through heavily forested and/or swampy areas? Those are just a couple of the questions local author Dean Cumings, of Kent City, will address when he speaks at the Cedar Springs Public Library tonight, June 30, at 7 p.m. as part of the “Novel Destinations” summer reading program, for adults.
Cumings wrote Ellie—a pioneer girl’s journey west 1845, after reading a journal of a distant relative who made the trip from New York to Sparta in the 1840s with his family. He decided to drop his granddaughter, Ellie, into the middle of the story, and tell it from a young girl’s perspective. Using historically accurate language, tools, environment, food, travel and activities, the 10-year-old Ellie shows her boundless curiosity and independent spirit in two years of preparation and travel in her family’s move.
“It follows very closely the attitudes and philosophies of both the political and religious lives of people during that time period,” said Cumings.
Cumings said he did a lot of research, including working with two historical journals from relatives, and using a Noah Webster 1828 dictionary, to make sure that certain words and phrases were in use at the time.
Dennis Allen, Book Review Editor, for The Historical Society of Michigan, wrote:
“Ellie may be a fictional account of a young girl’s journey west, but it’s historically accurate to the place and times of rural Michigan in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) period…Ellie sees the world through the eyes of a young girl, and Cumings channels that persona into an interesting mix of historically accurate fact and fiction.”
The first printing was in 2010 and has since went through several printings. He is also working on a sequel, which would take place a few years after the first book ended.
Cumings, a former counselor, will be on staff at the Maranatha Christian Writer’s conference this year, and will also speak at the Rockford Historical Society in October.
Ellie can be purchased by visiting the author’s website at www.deancumings.com, or one of the major bookstores in our area.

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Police investigate break-in

The car wash on S. Main in Cedar Springs was broken into early Tuesday morning.

Cedar Springs Police are investigating an early morning breaking and entering at the Car Lovers Car Wash, 399 S. Main Street.

According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, on on-duty patrol officer discovered the door to the office pried open early Tuesday morning, June 28. They didn’t have a nighttime contact, so they waited until an employee arrived early this morning to investigate the crime scene.

The intruders cut power lines and removed the electrical box on the south side of the business. An interior wall clock stopped at 12:50 a.m., reflecting the time the power was cut off.

After gaining entry to the office area attempts were made to pry open the cover to the money/change machine.  No money was taken, but there are keys missing from the office.

Anyone with information about this break-in can call the Cedar Springs Police Department at 696-1311 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345 or toll free 866-774-2345. You can also text Silent Observer a tip. Text “Tip138” plus your message to CRIMES (274637). The keyword TIP138 must appear on the first line of your text message in order to reach Silent Observer.

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Hometown hero

Pvt. Darren Link

Army Pvt. Darren Link, a 2010 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, completed his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky on June 2, 2011.
He has been assigned to Camp Casey, Seoul, Korea, for further training, as a Cavalry Scout.
Darren is the son of Mike and Tami Link, and brother of Cameron and Shelbi, all of Cedar Springs. Grandparents are James Hunt and the late Marlyn Hunt, and Carmon and Wally Porter. Great-grandparents are Mark and June Doren.

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Sand Lake officers recognized

Sand Lake Police Officer Steven Brandow (left) is presented an award by Chief Ken Williams (right).

Sand Lake Police Officer Steven Brandow and intern Zachary Gregory were awarded the Village of Sand Lake Excellence Award and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Certificate of Recognition, Saturday, June 25, for quick thinking and action regarding an arson incident last spring.
Gerald Lee Krug set fire to an historic building located at 20 W. Lake Street in downtown Sand Lake, on March 14, 2010, at approximately 3:00 a.m. According to Sand Lake Police Chief Ken Williams, Brandow and Gregory’s keen observations and dedication to duty helped them to recognize Krug as a suspicious person at approximately 9:00 p.m. on March 13. As a result, they were able to continue observation of Krug later that night.

Intern Zachary Gregory receives his award from Chief Ken Williams

“Brandow and Gregory’s decision to conduct a foot patrol of the area that evening showed exemplary dedication to duty and led them directly to the scene of an arson fire set less than a minute prior to their arrival,” explained Williams. “They observed Krug walk from the area and attempt to avoid contact with them. Officer Brandow acted quickly to apprehend the suspect and assigned his partner, Intern Zachary Gregory, to extinguish the fire.”
Williams said that their ability to make quick decisions under great stress proved commendable.  “They are a true heroes,” said Williams. “Thanks to their actions on that night, they not only apprehended an arsonist, but saved an historic building and half of downtown Sand Lake.”

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Walk for life

The Springs Church was one of the places around the city that walkers stopped to pray during Alpha Family Center’s annual Lifewalk.

Morley Park was the site where Alpha Family Center’s annual Lifewalk fundraiser began and ended on Saturday, June 18. This important fundraiser provides 1/4 to 1/3 of the operating expenses necessary for Alpha to continue offering help and hope to those in need in our community.
“After months of preparation, planning, and publicity, Lifewalk 2011 proved not only to be a beautiful day that brought sunshine, instead of rain, but also $12,000 dollars was pledged!” said Executive Director Lorrie Shelton.
Several areas businesses donated to help underwrite the cost of Lifewalk, while most of the support came from generous donors. “This family friendly event gave over 185 believers the chance to show their pro-life stand, as well as provided a time of fellowship with other believers, regardless of denominational ties,” said Shelton.

Kids had fun at the annual Lifewalk.

Door prizes, cookies, balloons, face painting, candy and a clown kept the children amused, and parents took time throughout the walk to stop and pray for our city officials, police department, public schools, Alpha Family Center and area churches.  Balloons were released at the end of Lifewalk, in memory of the 50 million babies that have been aborted since abortion became legal in 1973.  Shelton said that according to Right to Life, there are 75 babies aborted per day in Michigan.
“Lifewalk is also a time to pray for Alpha that they may continue to help women choose life and to assist teenagers, pregnant mothers, and young families with needed items,” noted Shelton.
For more information on Alpha Family Center, give them a call at 696-2616.

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Keep your fingers while playing with fireworks

Enjoying fireworks displays at dusk is synonymous with Fourth of July celebrations; however, Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma wants to remind area residents fireworks can be deadly.
Last year more than 10,000 people were injured by fireworks, with children under the age of 15 accounting for one-third of those injuries. In Michigan, a Melvindale mother of three was killed on July 4, 2007 after being struck by a commercially made firework.
There are two classes of fireworks. Class B fireworks are manufactured for use in professional displays like the one put on by your city or township. These fireworks are illegal in the state of Michigan without a permit. Class C fireworks, however, are the kind commonly sold in stores for consumer use. Examples of Class C fireworks include paper caps, toy trick noise makers, sparklers, fountains, toy snakes, and toy smoke devices.  These fireworks are legal for the public to purchase without a permit.
“If you are unsure whether your fireworks are Class B or Class C, follow this one simple guideline: If it makes a loud bang or leaves the ground, then it is illegal!” said Sheriff Stelma.  “The most important thing you can do is to properly educate your family about fireworks and set a good example.”
Sheriff Stelma provides the following guidelines for the safe use of fireworks for at-home displays:
*Stay away from illegal explosives.
*Obey the local laws and USE COMMON SENSE.
*Read the fireworks instructions and follow them. If an item looks damaged, do not attempt to use it.
*Purchase fireworks only from reputable established dealers. Legal fireworks are tested as to quality and safety. Never attempt to build your own fireworks or use illegal explosives such as M-80s or “Cherry bombs.”
*A responsible adult should supervise all fireworks usage.  Children should watch, but not handle fireworks. When used properly, all fireworks can be safe.
Fireworks are meant to be used one at a time. Do not attempt to combine or mix fireworks at the same time. Fuses have different burn rates. Actions like this invite accidents.
*Use fireworks outdoors only.
*Fireworks should never be pointed or thrown at anyone. Make sure people and animals maintain a safe distance from the fireworks that are being set off. Use them only outdoors, and away from houses and vehicles.
*Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
*Caution is important. Use protective eye wear and keep a water hose nearby. *Don’t try to re-light a dud, but soak it in water for 15 minutes and dispose of properly.
Let’s make this Fourth of July a safe holiday! For more information visit the National Council on Fireworks Safety online at www.fireworksafety.com.

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Post editor honored

Cedar Springs Post editor Judy Reed was honored at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, at Cedar Springs Public Schools, for being named to the 2011 Media Honor Roll.
The program, sponsored by the Michigan Association of School Boards, recognizes media representatives statewide for fair and balanced reporting on school issues and providing valuable information to the community on public school issues. Reed was one of 24 media professionals across the state to receive the honor.
The Cedar Springs Board of Education nominated Reed for the honor, and Board president Joe Marckini presented her with the certificate Monday evening.
Criteria for the district selection included media representative’s efforts to get to know the superintendent, board president and the district’s mission and goals; report school news in a fair, accurate and balanced manner; give a high profile to positive news about schools; visit the schools; and maintain a policy of no surprises by sharing information with school officials.
“Districts across Michigan appreciate these reporters for their balanced and accurate approach to sharing both the challenges facing our schools and the successes achieved by local teachers, students and school boards. Their work aids local communities in focusing on the goal of providing the best public schools we can for every child,” said Kathy Hayes, MASB executive director.
Reed has been reporting on education for the Post since the mid-1990s, and became editor of the paper in 2006. She also was selected for the Media Honor Roll in 2008.
The 2011 Media Honor Roll appeared in MASB’s June 20 edition of Headlines.

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Police seek man who took baby

James Anton

James Dean Anton is wanted on an assault charge

UPDATE July 2, 2011

On Friday, July 1, police were notified of Anton’s whereabouts in Newaygo County. He is now lodged in the Kent County Jail.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Police are still searching for the man who caused an Amber Alert to go out early Monday when he took his 7-month old daughter from her home.
According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they were called to the 4600 block of Grosvenor, in Solon Township, on Sunday, June 26, at 11:41 p.m. on a report of felonious assault. An amber alert was later issued for a 7-month-old child taken by James Dean Anton, 27. He later returned the child at about 5:30 a.m. Monday, June 27.
The Kent County Prosecutor’s office issued a warrant for felonious assault, and police are trying to locate Anton because of his mental state and outstanding charges. His family is worried he may harm himself. If you have any information, please call the Sheriff Department at 616-336-3113 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345 or toll free 866-774-2345. You can also text Silent Observer a tip. Text “Tip138” plus your message to CRIMES (274637). The keyword TIP138 must appear on the first line of your text message in order to reach Silent Observer.

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