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Archive | December, 2013

Ice storm 2013

There was no doubt we were going to have a white Christmas after enduring freezing rain and seemingly continuous snowfall since last weekend. The freezing rain we experienced last weekend began late Thursday night (December 19) or early Friday morning, cancelling hundreds of schools. It continued into Saturday and Saturday, causing cancellation of Saturday events and Sunday church services all over Michigan. We continued to get winter weather advisories all through Christmas week.

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, 73,500 Consumers Energy customers remained without service. Since noon Saturday, the storm has caused more than 368,000 outages, or more than 20 percent of the utility’s 1.8 million electric customers. They said it is the company’s largest Christmas-week storm in its 126-year history.

Counties most affected by electric interruptions were: Barry (8,856); Calhoun (1,369); Clinton (5,241); Eaton (6,092); Genesee (28,573); Ingham (7,118); Ionia (2,673); Kent (451); Livingston (3,319); Oakland (1,163) and Shiawassee (9,780).

The estimated power restoration schedule for the hardest-hit areas is:

Thursday: Eastern and western Kent counties, including greater Grand Rapids;

Friday: Kalamazoo County;

Saturday: Portions of Barry, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Ingham. Livingston, Oakland and Shiawassee counties.

Consumers said restoration times may be affected by additional storm activity, additional damage and as damage assessments are collected. Consumers Energy also is monitoring expected warmer temperatures that could cause additional damage to the electric system. They said that temperatures in the upper 30s to lower 40s late Friday and into Saturday in some parts of the state will melt ice now coating tree branches, causing them to snap into power lines, and perhaps cause additional customer outages.

 

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Language filed for recall of two city councilors

Ashley Bremmer

Ashley Bremmer

By Judy Reed

Patricia Troost

Patricia Troost

 

A resident has filed petition language with the Kent County elections office to recall Cedar Springs City Council members Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer.

According to a letter sent to the council members by Kent County Elections Director Susan deStiguer, a clarity hearing on the petition language has been set for Tuesday, December 31, at 8 a.m., in the second floor Training Room of the Kent County Administration Building, 300 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids.

The Kent County Elections Commission, made up of the Chief Probate Judge, the Kent County clerk, and the Kent County treasurer, will decide if the language is clear and understandable to anyone reading the petition. The meeting is open to the public, and a decision will be made at the meeting.

If the language is approved, it will be good for 180 days, and they must obtain all 170 signatures within 90 days. It would then go on the next ballot.

The petition language, filed by Mark Laws, gives two reasons for the recall.

1) Violated public trust by not following policy, procedure and protocol for the open meetings act—Act 267 of 1976, effective March 31, 1977.

2) Violated public trust by stating the process procedure to be followed for considering possible new city logo and then disregarded the process without notice.

The Post asked Laws to clarify what the exact actions were that the council did not follow. “The first one has to do with when they had a closed meeting and beat up on Bob (Truesdale),” explained Laws. “The Open meetings act says if a person wants to have an open meeting, they are supposed to have that option. Bob didn’t know that. They beat up on him pretty bad (verbally). It was loud—you could hear it through the walls.” Truesdale himself made a statement at a recent meeting that he didn’t know he had the right to end the closed session whenever he wanted to.

Laws said the second reason for recall had to do with the process the city council used with choosing a new logo and tagline. “They have a process where when they are going to change a policy, they will accept public comment at one meeting, and then vote at the next meeting. They didn’t do that. Last year they started to work on the logo and said the public could comment. They had said they would bring back three options for people to vote on or comment on. The logo we saw was a brand new one. No one knew about it until the day it appeared in the Post and they voted on it.”

The City appointed the committee made up of representatives of the community about a year ago to begin taking submissions and ideas for a new logo and tagline. They were charged with selecting an idea, and presenting it to the council. The group met in January to review 16 entries, and unanimously selected the tagline, “cherishing our heritage, embracing our future” with a logo of a cedar tree and a spring. However, design work needed to be done. In September, City Manager Thad Taylor reported to the council that the committee had met and decided on a logo and tagline based on samples from a designer. Taylor said he then met with the designer, and she was going to do a second draft. In October, Taylor reported that what they had wanted was “too problematic—too much stuff in too little room,” so the designer met with the committee to share her concerns, and after the meeting provided two more pages of ideas. The committee then refined its vision and provided feedback. In November, the final rendition of the logo/tagline options came to the City Council, and they approved them at the same meeting where presented. Both Bremmer and Troost voted for the new logo/tagline. Many Red Flannel supporters had thought Troost would vote no on the new logo and hold out for an agreement with the Red Flannel Festival to begin using their logo again.

Laws said he could not recall the other two who voted for the new logo—Ken Benham and Mark Fankhauser—because Benham is at the end of his term, and Fankhauser was still in his first year when the language was filed.

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The Post goes to Hoover Dam

N-Post-goes-to-Hoover-DamMarge and Roy Covell took the POST along with them to the Hoover Dam on a recent vacation to the American Southwest. The Hoover Dam is in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the US states of Arizona and Nevada.

The longtime Cedar Springs residents were sent by their son, Mark, and his fiance’, as they all celebrated the Covell’s  55th anniversary together, which is December 20th.They reportedly enjoyed comfortable, sunny weather during their stay.

Watch next week’s Post to see where the Post traveled in 2013!

 

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Fire department responds to possible chemical spill

The Cedar Springs Fire Department at Tractor Supply Monday, on a possible chemical spill. Photo courtesy of Daniel Warner.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department at Tractor Supply Monday, on a possible chemical spill. Photo courtesy of Daniel Warner.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department and Cedar Springs Police responded to a possible chemical spill at Tractor Supply Company, White Creek and 17 Mile, Monday afternoon.

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, someone working in the backroom was moving a skid of sand when they knocked over a couple of containers of petroleum-based products and the caps cracked, causing the spill.

“We determined that there was no danger, it was really just a cleanup,” explained Fraser.  “It was just motor oil and/or fuel additives.”

He said that the store had something to soak it up and they took care of it.

 

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A place to be refreshed

EnGedi offers an after-school resource for students

By Meredith Pike, Cedar Springs High School

N-EnGedi1-webN-EnGedi2-webSurrounded by colorful walls and green shirt volunteers, the environment is full of vibrant energy. With laughs and giggles, and the slurping of juice boxes, students bond with one another over snack time and homework help, while others sit quietly under a table and enjoy an intriguing book. It is a place for students to learn and create meaningful friendships. This is one of the many after-school programs throughout Cedar Springs.

“EnGedi Youth Center is a partner in education with Cedar Springs Public Schools,” says Craig Owens, the Executive Director of EnGedi. “We are here to help provide after-school resources that will benefit both Cedar Springs students and the whole Cedar Springs community.”

This faith-based program offers students a way to thrive in school while meeting new people.

“In our current location in Red Hawk Elementary we serve 6th-8th grade students,” says Owens.

“[It’s] just a safe environment,” says Josh Schram, a weekly volunteer at EnGedi, “[It has the opportunity to] help them with life skills.”

EnGedi is constantly surrounded by adult volunteers who are helping and looking out for the well-being of students. “I would hope that students know that the EnGedi team really cares about them,” notes Owens.

Many of the adult volunteers willingly give their time every week to help students continue on their educational journey. This program does not only affect the students’ lives, but it also greatly impacts the lives of the volunteers. It is a way for volunteers to mentor the students and have a positive impact in whatever way possible.

“You get to see them right where they’re at [in life],” says Schram.

With the calendar year coming to a close, EnGedi is up for some big changes. EnGedi will be expanding into the high school to reach out to more of the Cedar Springs community this winter.

“At the high school site, we will still have an opportunity for students to receive help on homework and studies, but the activities will be much more community-based,” adds Owens.

The high school location will still allow for homework help offered by college students. This addition will create a way for students to meet others they wouldn’t otherwise know.

Not only is it a place for students to receive additional help with school, but it is a way for students to take pride in their community. This program offers many opportunities for students right in their neighborhood.

“[Students will] be thankful for the opportunity offered,” says Bryan Taylor ‘15, EnGedi student board member. “Its more of … a social gathering than anything else.”

EnGedi will establish a way for the student body to grow closer together, and to create lifelong friendships throughout the community. “Its a fun, safe, life-expanding opportunity,” says Owens.

The EnGedi program was opened to high schoolers starting on Monday, Dec. 9, and will be offered any day after school.

“I want as many as possible to come and share their thoughts, so we [can] officially open EnGedi in the high school at the start of 2014,” encourages Owens.

This addition will add countless opportunities for the Cedar Springs community to grow closer together. All students are encouraged to come and meet the EnGedi crew, any day after school in the cafeteria.

EnGedi is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and funded solely through donations. If you would like to donate, please make checks payable to EnGedi and mail to 15290 Tisdel Ave, Cedar Springs, Mi 49319.  For volunteer opportunities, please contact Craig Owens at 696-1204 ex.1920.

 

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State police reminds citizens to use caution after ice storm

The Michigan State Police reminds everyone to use extreme caution as recovery efforts continue after a weekend ice storm caused power outages and downed trees and power lines.

The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) continue to work with local emergency management partners to ensure communities have all the resources they need to respond and recover.

“This weekend’s ice storm has severely impacted our communities,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy

Winter-road-Katie-TrollaState Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD.

“We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure the public health and safety of Michigan citizens.”

Power Outage Safety

Below are some reminders on staying safe during a power outage:

·  Stay at least 25 feet from any downed lines and assume that every line is “live” and dangerous.

·  If clearing trees or limbs, make certain they are not in contact with a power line. Trees and branches can conduct electricity and electrocute you on contact.

·  Do not call 911 to ask about the power outage. Report outages to your utility company.

·  Never run a generator indoors. Ensure it is outside and far away from windows or any other area where exhaust can vent back into a living area. Carbon monoxide can cause injury or death.

·  Have an emergency preparedness kit ready with supplies to last three days per person (e.g., food, water, first aid kit, hand-crank flashlight and radio, extra clothing and blankets).

·  Check on elderly and disabled neighbors to ensure they are safe.

·  Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.

·  Use extreme caution when driving. If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign. Come to a complete stop at every intersection and look before you proceed.

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Rockford man pleads guilty to tax evasion

 

Robert L. Harley, Jr, of Rockford, Michigan, pleaded guilty to income tax evasion on a 2008 federal income tax return, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr announced Monday. U.S. Attorney Miles was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.

According to court records, during the 2008 tax year, Harley was working as a manager for Club Concepts, Inc., doing business as the Intersection Bar and Lounge. During this time period, Harley received gross income totaling over $174,500 and purposely filed a false federal income tax return reporting his income as $9,080 with zero tax due. In addition, Harley failed to pay over $32,592 in tax due and owing to the Internal Revenue Service.

Harley entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge Ellen S. Carmody.

“Harley deliberately filed a false tax return, failing outright to report almost 95 percent of his adjusted gross income,” said Special Agent in Charge Erick Martinez. “We all have to pay our fair share and his conduct is unacceptable.”

The maximum penalty for failing to file federal tax return is imprisonment of not more than five years and a $250,000 fine per each count.

The investigation of this case was conducted by special agents of the Internal Revenue Service, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Don Davis and Rene Shekmer.

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LAWRENCE H. BURCH

EPSON scanner imageLawrence H. Burch, 82 of Cedar Springs, died Saturday, December 21, 2013 at his home. Mr. Burch was born May 29, 1931 in Flint, Michigan the son of Harmon and Marie (Wallace) Burch. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1951-53, sold cars for C.H. Wallace Pontiac and then was parts manager for other car dealers. Larry was a Solon Township Trustee, member of the Cedar Springs Lions Club and had helped with the Boy Scouts. Surviving are his wife, Margaret (Duiven) whom he married on January 28, 1956; sons, Wesley (Wanda) Burch, James Burch; 3 grandchildren; 5 great grandchildren; brothers-in-law, Don (Margie) Duiven, John (Sue) Duiven; sister-in-law, Velma Duiven. He was preceded in death by his parents, 1 sister, 1 brother-in-law. The family will greet friends on Saturday, January 4, 2014 from 11:00 am until time of service at 1:00 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Joe Beavens officiating. Interment Blythefield Memory Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to the charity of donor’s choice.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

 

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Choose the future

by Ronnie McBrayer

by Ronnie McBrayer

Last year, after years of internal deliberation, Boston’s Old South Congregational Church finally decided to sell one of its hymnals. This was no ordinary hymnal. It was printed in 1640—one of the first books produced in North America. When Sotheby’s auctioned the hymnal a few weeks ago it brought a sum of $14.2 million, a new record for a printed book. But that astronomical sum did not free the church from controversy.

On one side were the church historians and those members of the congregation who felt they had to preserve the church’s history and legacy. On the other side were Pastor Nancy Taylor, the majority of the leadership, and those who felt that faithful stewardship demanded that the resources of the church not be preserved but repurposed to continue ministry.

I watched this story unfold for over a year, and was sympathetic to both sides until I heard the church historian say that the church had two of these exceptional books and if one was sold, “You would never be able to hold one in each hand ever again.” Of course, he had to admit that holding them was not really practical—they are much too fragile for that.

One thoughtful woman in the church said, “I have two young sons, and looking forward I want my sons to learn that it’s not about objects. We can take those objects from the past and turn them into fuel for tomorrow.”

What an applicable lesson for us all. As one year ends and another begins, a profound choice is put before every person: Will we hold on to the past – preserving, protecting, and perpetuating it – even when doing so becomes much more work than it is worth? Or will we use the past, its gore and its glory, as fuel for the future?

I am certain that a church older than the Constitution, old enough to have baptized the infant Benjamin Franklin, and solid enough to withstand everything three centuries has thrown at it, will indeed weather this current situation.

I just hope that the resources from the past will get put to today’s use, and not be locked away in a vault or collect interest in some obscene-sized endowment. I hope the same for all of us. Let’s not make life a museum built to what used to be, but a mission to bring about what can be.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

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Resolve to create a better retirement financial plan in 2014

Vonda VanTil

Vonda VanTil

By: Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

 

Another New Year is just around the corner, offering a new opportunity to improve your life in any number of ways with a wise New Year’s resolution or two. (No doubt, for most of us the possibilities are endless.)  One good idea for many might be creating (or updating) a long-term financial plan.

According to a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, “the percentage of workers confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement is essentially unchanged from the record lows observed in 2011.” Only 13 percent are very confident of being able to afford a comfortable retirement, while 28 percent are not at all confident.

If you are among those with lower financial confidence and you haven’t started to save for retirement already, now is the time to begin—no matter what your age. If retirement is near, you’ll want to jump into the fast lane right away. If you’re younger and retirement seems a lifetime away, it’s still in your best interest to begin saving now, as compound interest will work to your advantage. Experts agree that saving when you’re young will make a world of difference when the time comes to draw on your retirement savings.

Don’t take our word for it. You can check out the numbers yourself. A great place to start figuring out how much you will need for retirement is to learn how much you could expect from Social Security. You can do that in minutes with Social Security’s online Retirement Estimator.

The Retirement Estimator offers an instant and personalized estimate of your future Social Security retirement benefits based on your earnings record. Try it out at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator.

Vonda VanTil is the public affairs specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp St NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov  

 

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