This issue celebrates our 25th year. The header on this week’s front page shows what the Post looked like when we started back in 1988. Of course we can’t put red flannels on our banner anymore, but we’re hoping we can get away with it for this one week.
This week we celebrate a quarter century of deadlines, late nights that turn into early mornings, from computer advances and like wise crashes, sometimes an occasional web virus, the coming of Y2K, the war in Iraq, the restoration of our theatre, the building of our new library, that day in infamy, on 911, the birth of many and the loss of others. We’ve been here week after week, year after year, and decade after decade. For this issue, we take pause, and a look back.
We invite you to take a trip down memory lane through our printed versions of the Post with us. Beginning in 1990, we started to bind our newspapers into a bound hard cover version of The Cedar Springs Post for each year. These hard cover volumes are to be donated to the Cedar Springs Historical Society.
Let me tell you, it was quite a trip!
Currently, these books hold our local news and history exclusively and found only in these printed books of The Post. See some of these stories, starting on page 3.
Lois Allen, Publisher
Vol. 1 No. 1
Cedar Springs home of its own newspaper
As published in the very first edition July 28, 1988
After a lapse of more than four years the Red Flannel Town will once again host its own newspaper. Although Cedar Springs is covered by many area periodicals, it has been a long time since the town has had its own local newspaper.
The previous Cedar Springs paper was the Clipper, which covered the town’s growth and activity for more than 100 years.
Since the closing of that publication, the town has had to rely on out-of-town papers which printed only scraps of information about Cedar Springs.
With the introduction of The Cedar Springs Post, the community will once again receive the concentrated attention of its own local newspaper. The new newspaper will be dedicated entirely to Cedar Springs and to the Cedar Springs area, and should prove to be the extra stimulus that the district needs to reach its highest potential…
Thursday, June 4, 1992
“I Made a Mistake”… Walsh
City and Horse Owners Come To An Agreement
by Roger Allen
City Manager Frank Walsh may have saved himself from lynching by forbearance and an admission of misjudging the nature of Cedar Springs horse lovers. An overflow meeting at City Hall Monday night was billed as a “Public Forum” and at which Walsh exposed himself to the slings and arrows of public outcry. He listened for over an hour and a half while 60 or 70 outraged horse people raised questions ranging from the defense of freedom to the biodegradability of horse manure.
Many horse people spoke, often with strong feelings, while only two ordinance advocates had the courage to speak. All the horse people agreed that horses did not belong on public sidewalks but they shied at any other restriction. Many pointed out the commercial benefits of horses to local business, and threatened to take their business to other towns. Others spoke about the pleasure they took in owning and riding horses and said they liked Cedar Springs precisely because it was rural in character.
For much of the meeting the audience was frankly hostile, although well mannered. Walsh, however, “put his foot in it” (so to speak) by stating that the City could pass any ordinance it wants to. That prompted some comment on democracy and freedom, many applauding the speaker who said that this ordinance was just an opening wedge in the passage of much more restrictive laws.
Tom Hoskins questioned if the city could pass an ordinance restricting the use of a State road (Northland Drive).
Walsh, upon the suggestion that this was “a non-issue” said he wanted to hear from all sides. There were only two sides and very, very few wanted to speak in favor of the ordinance. Those opposed drew a lot of applause. Linda VanderJagt pointed out, “The people here are part of the City, too”, a point that should be kept in mind by the City Manager and Council.
Many commented that banning horses hurt the City’s image, and their pride in the City and its reputation was part of their concern.
At the end of the meeting, Walsh disarmed a great deal of antagonism by admitting his error and saying that he would recommend an ordinance banning horses from the sidewalk…only. He earned his own applause with that statement, and comments commending him for taking the heat.
It appears that horses will still be admitted to Cedar Springs, if they behave themselves. If they don’t, maybe the Sheriff’s Mounted Patrol will bring them in.
Thursday, March 13, 1997
Our slightly older readers and residents of this community are familiar with John Coady, and his Memories of a Farm that published weekly in the Post during the 1980’s. He was respected and even loved by many here in Cedar Springs. Thanks for the memories, John.
Community mourns loss of John Coady
Cedar Springs lost one of its best Monday, March 10, and will mourn his passing. Retired teacher, High School principal, Rotarian, author, husband and father, Mr. John Coady was a bright spot in our town.
Mr. Coady, who I best remember as being my principal when I attended Cedar Springs High, was a person I respected. I figured anybody who handled a school full of kids and still managed to be cheerful and chipper had earned my regard. I will never forget his smile and easy-going demeanor.
After retiring from the school district, Mr. Coady kept going. Talk to anyone in the Cedar Springs Rotary Club, and they’ll tell you of his good work. Ask folks in the Cedar Springs Historical Society about his contribution from his very own book, “The Legends and Story of the Michigan Indian.” Ask his family and his friends… he was a very special man. Cedar Springs will miss him.
It is somehow fitting that, as the community celebrates the debut of a new museum, we can dedicate this new beginning to John P. Coady – his name and memory will remain forever in our history.
Memories of a Farm
by John Coady
Saturday baseball was simply not sufficient to quench the thirst of the baseball enthusiasts. Neighborhoods started organizing some real sandlot ball clubs to play each other on Sunday.
Our farm was the scene for Sunday baseball for several years. Dad worked a field for a baseball diamond into his crop rotation as he would for corn, hay or potatoes.
Getting a field fit for baseball play was no simple and quick matter. It had to be closely clipped with the mower after all the stones were picked up. The bases were laid out precisely as directed in the Baseball’s Handbook, 120’6” from home to second base, 90 feet between bases, and 60’6” from home to the pitcher’s box. Often the crops failed to get cultivated in order to get a diamond ready for the season opener with the Gravel Ridge Murderers.
The equipment included just the bare necessities, such as a couple baseballs, a few bats (some turned by a lathe in a local shop) and the catcher’s paraphernalia. A new baseball was a treat for the pitcher. The pitcher’s plate was usually a heavy 16” x 4” board. Bases were made by filling a grain sack with sawdust.
As Sunday rolled around, so did the cars that filed into our front yard; there were Model “T” Fords, Whippets, Stars, Saxons, Durants, Jacksons, Overlands, and a few others. Women folk came along too, to root for the old man as he came up to bat. Often they would bring along a milk can filled with lemonade to serve their team, but team members were careful not to drink too heavily, lest it impair their performance in the game.
During one of these games, a batter drove a liner over the left fielder into some deep grass. The left fielder could not find the ball, and the batter made it good for a home run. The search for the ball continued as all 18 players stomped the ground trying to locate the baseball. A few cows were pasturing farther away, and someone spotted old bossy with a huge lump in her jaw.
“You don’t suppose?…”, someone said.
They walked over to the cow and found her chewing vigorously on the ball. The ball was wiped off, and put back into play again. Needless to say, the pitcher had a first class “spitter” to throw at the hitters.
Thursday, April 23, 1998
First Production – The restoration begins
by Terri Riggle
The Kent Theatre now belongs to the community, and after only eight months of planning and fund raising, the Cedar Springs Theatre Association took possession of the building on Wednesday, April 15.
A huge dumpster showed up on Monday, April 13, so the former owners could start moving and cleaning their belongings out of the building. A few curious visitors showed up Wednesday evening while a small cleaning crew from the CSTA continued to work on reducing a somewhat mountainous pile of equipment and miscellaneous items left behind.
First reactions ranged from excitement to shock when some of the new owners gathered at the Kent Theatre for the first time in 20 years.
The lobby still has the four small chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, but the concession area has been walled in. And the tiny glass cubicle where Charlotte Rogalewski sat and sold movie tickets every weekend now holds a small furnace.
The auditorium is filled with a jumble of counters, desks, papers and remnants of 20 years of storage. The glow-in-the-dark clock still hangs in its southeast nook, and cobwebs hang everywhere. The grime of two decades covers the interior walls. Piles of this-and-that are everywhere. A bathtub sat near the stage. A stage expansion, upon where the Community Players had sung and danced and acted for more than five years, had been removed and chunks of it remained on the auditorium floor. The wall sconces were gone. The window in the cry room was broken.
For as forlorn as the building appeared, the exact opposite in feelings was apparent as workers busily set about cleaning, hauling, sweeping and sorting. This was a prize they had worked hard to acquire for the community.
Mary Gartner, CSTA member, was amazed to see the curtains still hanging and in one piece. She immediately set about seeing if they could be salvaged. They could. After Tom Cooper of Cooper’s Dry Cleaners checked, he told Gardner that they were in satisfactory shape, but that they would have to be sent to New York to be dry cleaned, since there were no cleaners in Michigan who could handle the specialized process.
The CSTA’s next fund raising event is a hotcakes supper at the Cedar Springs McDonald’s on Tuesday, April 28. For $2 you’ll receive one sausage patty and all the hotcakes you can eat between 5 and 7 p.m. Tickets are available at The Cedar Springs Post, 36 E. Maple Street, or Framed Images, 10 S. Main Street.
The group will be contacting volunteers to help clean out the building.
January 23, 1991
To Cedar Springs:
I would like to write to you to thank you for your contributions for sending me a copy of the Cedar Post every week.
You can’t imagine the joy I receive from this newspaper. When mail call comes around and I see a big manila envelope with my name on it, I know exactly what’s in it.
So thank you from the bottom of my heart and from the sands of Saudi Arabia.
Best wishes to all the people that live in Cedar Springs and all around the U.S.
SPC James Hilliker
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Once in a blue frog
by Lois Allen
This frog is a fluke. At least that’s what the DNR says. Russell Hielman of Spencer Township called our office last week to say he had found a blue frog. Blue frog do you say? We had to take a look.
This amazing blue frog was spotted, and later captured in a small pond located on the Hielman property off of Wallander Road, in Spencer Township near 19 Mile Road. It was spotted Thursday by Russell’s 17-year-old daughter Rachel, and her cousin Derek (18) sitting on a rock basking in the afternoon sun. But catching a frog in a pond can be risky business. So they called in the experts – the 9-1/2 year old brother Russell and his friend 11-year-old Nick.
The two boys were definitely up to the “blue frog catching challenge.” (What red-blooded American boy wouldn’t be?) And, as you can plainly see, they were successful in their hunt. Not only did they come back with the coveted blue frog, they even caught a sample green frog for comparison. Good work boys!
Excited with their unique blue amphibian specimen, Russell Sr. called the DNR where they asked him if he lived near a zoo. According to the experts at the Department of Natural Resources, there are no blue frogs native to Michigan. Kregg Smith, of the DNR, holding a Master’s Degree in fish biology under his belt, says the blue frog is actually a Green Frog, one of the most common frog varieties that inhabit the Cedar Springs area. Smith, who has had digital photos of the frog emailed to him, confesses that he’s never seen a blue frog before and it’s most likely just a freak of nature. “This is a first time for me.” He says the varieties you’ll see in southwest Michigan include bull frogs, leopard frogs, green tree frogs (which are sometimes brown) spring peepers and the plain old back yard variety we usually see everyday near lakes and other small bodies of water, the Green frog – unless it’s blue, of course.
According to the experts, odds of any one of us finding such a frog are stiffer than those in the Big Ticket Lotto. Only one in one billion frogs hatched might turn out blue. Maybe Russell should buy a ticket!
But what do you do with a one-in-a-million blue frog? The zoo said they didn’t want it and the circus wasn’t in town. Do you stuff it so you can show your friends and neighbors when you have parties? Well, if the frog had anything to say about it, it would probably say, “Croak!”
Well, Mom had a say and spoke up for the blue frog. “I told them I didn’t think it could live in that old aquarium,” said Theresa Hielman. “I would have felt bad if I came out and it was dead.”
So she told them to take the blue frog back to the pond where he had been born and raised. And so they did – and his little friend, too.
And, as in all happy endings, the blue frog wasn’t “blue” anymore!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Fire changes the face of Cedar Springs
By Judy Reed
Flames roared, water gushed, and smoke poured over the city Saturday night as nine fire departments fought valiantly to keep one of the oldest buildings in Cedar Springs from burning to the ground.
“We did what we could to preserve it, but in the end, if we hadn’t done what we did with the back hoe, we wouldn’t have gotten it out,” explained Cedar Springs Fire Chief Jerry Gross.
According to Gross, the call came through at 9:34 p.m. Saturday, March 7, for a structure fire at 59 S. Main, at Ash Street. The building, owned by Tom and Sonya Cronkright, housed NAPA Auto Parts store, Cedar Floral, American Martial Arts, and two upstairs apartments. Two residents had to be rescued from the roof, while two others fled down the stairs.
According to Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent, the fire started in the apartment of Nancy Kiste. She shared the apartment with her adult daughter, and five-year-old grandson. Parent confirmed that the daughter had 15-20 candles lit after redecorating a room, and one of them somehow started the blaze.
Kiste, the daughter, and a male friend of the daughter were in the apartment at the time, and another woman, Wendy Sue Andrews, was home in the apartment next door. Andrews reportedly broke her ankle while fleeing with one of her dogs. She lost three other puppies and an African gray parrot in the fire. Her teenage son was not at home at the time.
Chief Gross reminds residents to always watch over candles, and to call 911 at the first sign of a fire. “There were some reports that they attempted to extinguish it themselves first,” he noted.
Residents came from all over town to watch as the 120 year-old building succumbed to the fire. Firefighters urged people to back up to a block away for fear that chemicals in the NAPA store might explode, sending shards of glass flying in all directions.
The blaze burned throughout the night, as fire departments from Spencer, Algoma, Sparta, Rockford, Sand Lake, Courtland, Oakfield and Solon Townships assisted Cedar Springs in trying to knock it down.
Tankers were brought in to help with water supply, and they even refilled at a hydrant at Cedar Springs Middle School. “We were pushing so much water so fast it was hard to get enough flow,” explained Gross.
According to Al Kensil, of the Cedar Springs DPW, one of the problems was that one of the hydrants they needed to use was part of the old water system that had only a four-inch water main. “It’s been there over 80 years. You can’t even put in a 4-inch water main anymore. It won’t flow like a 10 or 12 inch will. It was handy for downtown back then—but the pumpers from then and now are a lot different,” he explained, noting that they have been slowly updating the system.
Firefighters finally cleared the scene at 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The town is still reeling from what is being called the most devastating fire to occur here since Lippert’s Drug Store burned on the northwest corner of that same intersection in 1984. It was just a year and half ago that the Cronkrights took advantage of the city’s façade grant program and put a new face on the building that has been in his family for years. “It’s such a tremendous loss,” said Tom Cronkright. “We tried so hard to bring it up to date, because it was so old. It was frosting on the cake, so to speak. And then it all just goes up—poof.”
The earliest known history of the building starts in 1889. According to “The Cedar Springs Story,” by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, it was in that year that John Beucus and his brother Tom opened a hardware store in that location. “They opened the store with the purchase of mortgaged stock that could have been packed in a two-horse wagon,” the book said. It went on to describe a fine store there at the corner of Main and Ash in 1900. The brothers carried hardware, cook stoves, and the “celebrated” Crescent bicycles, with sales totaling $25,000 per year.
John Beucus died in 1931, and upon his death, his son-in-law (who had been in the business for sometime) and a Mr. Rau established their own hardware store there, Van Schelven and Rau. It was there for many years. Kroger’s also occupied the building for a time. Walter and Dorothy Cronkright eventually moved their Gambles store into the building, and in 1976, Dennis Cronkright took over management of the building and hardware store. It was later home to several other storefronts, most recently Pioneer Pharmacy, before it was renovated and NAPA moved in. Renovations included restoration of the original hardwood flooring, installing new bigger windows, new doors, revamping the electric, and adding a new canopy. The building is now a complete loss.
The Cronkrights don’t yet know what they will do with the property. “It’s too early in the process to conclude anything,” noted Sonya Cronkright. “There’s still a lot of discovery work to be done, a lot of things to take into consideration.”
Pamela and Brett Goddard, owners of Cedar Floral, and Terry Gravelin, owner of American Martial Arts, were all devastated to hear about the fire. Both businesses said they plan to reopen. “We’ll reopen in Cedar Springs somewhere,” said Pamela, who also has a floral shop in Howard City. Calls to their Cedar Spring number will automatically forward to that location.
City manager Chris Burns promised the city would do what it can to help the businesses. “The City is committed to working with the business owners to help them relocate, as they are all vital to our downtown,” noted Burns. “It is tragic to look out my office window each day and realize the magnitude of what happened due to a candle. Thankfully, no human lives were lost, but it is still disturbing to lose pets. The Council extends their sympathy to the business owners and residents who lost everything.”
The Red Cross has provided for the families victimized in the fire, and a special fund has been set up for the family of Wendy Andrews at Independent Bank. You can also go to http://grandrapids.craigslist.org/wan/1068264316.html to find out what the Andrews might need. To find out what the Kiste family needs, you can contact the American Red Cross at (616) 456-8661 and they may be able to put you in touch with the family. A benefit will also be held for Terry and Kim Gravelin on April 4 at the Round Up.
Chief Gross thanks the many people and businesses that came to the aid of the fire department and victims: Spencer Canteen, Red Cross, McDonald’s, Family Fare, and the Cedar Springs DPW.