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Archive | December, 2015

TOP STORY 2015

post photo by J. Reed

post photo by J. Reed

New businesses, non-profits bring revitalization and growth to Cedar Springs

BY JUDY REED

The Cedar Springs area received a shot in the arm this year with several new businesses moving in, and even more growth is on the horizon, thanks to the partnership efforts of the Community Building Development Team with the Cedar Springs Library and Cedar Springs City Council.

The big success story of the year is the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, which finally opened its doors at 95 N. Main, in mid-November. It was the culmination of a 25-year-dream for David Ringler, a.k.a “Director of Happiness” at the brewery, and it’s the first time in recent history that a new building has been built on Main Street in the heart of downtown Cedar Springs.

N-Top-Story-CS-Brew2The brewery/restaurant features a variety of craft beers, focusing on German styles, along with a full food menu (which includes German dishes), wine and their homemade Cedar Creek Sodas, which are non-alcoholic beverages.

Since their opening, the brewery is jam-packed every night and it’s amazing to see so many vehicles in downtown Cedar Springs.

“We’ve had a wonderful reception from the community and been very pleased to welcome many people from outside our community who’ve come to visit, often multiple times,” remarked Ringler. “Some of this is to be expected, given that we’re new and over the holiday season, but we’re hopeful that we’ve made a positive impression and people will continue to visit.”

In the beginning it was difficult to keep up with the demand for beer, but people came anyway.

“We’ve remained very busy, which is a blessing,” said Ringler. “As we’ve progressed over the past six weeks, we’ve been able to adjust our inventories to keep up on beer production, which means we’ll be able to fill growlers soon.”

Ringler talked about some things customers can expect in the coming year. “Our beers will rotate and expand regularly, and our food menu will see the addition of daily specials and be updated at least 3-4 times over the course of the year. We will begin hosting live music regularly and we also have a number of events planned throughout the year (with details coming soon).”

He said they will also begin hosting “Community Giveback Nights,” beginning January 11, where they will be giving back 10 percent of food sales to the Cedar Springs Band Boosters on that evening. Other organizations will follow.

He said they will also begin growler sales, and canning their product for sale in the marketplace, so we will be able to find their beers in stores, bars and other restaurants.

“Our spirits line will also be launched, beginning with Wodka and White Lightning products,” added Ringler. “We will also add additional season sodas and soft drinks to our lineup.”

One of the big things will be the outdoor Biergarten, which will open in the spring, and add 70 to 80 seats.

Ringler is grateful to the community for how they’ve embraced the brewery. “Thank you. We’ve been humbled by the warm reception, encouraged by the enthusiasm, and we’re working hard to earn your continued support,” he said.

The brewery is one of several businesses to come to Cedar Springs this year. The brewery bought the Liquor Hut building, which they then leased to Cold Break Brewing, a home supply brewing company; Family Farm and Home bought the old Family Fare building; and Advance Auto built a new building on the site of the old Family Fare gas station. Since Advance Auto had bought Car Quest previously, they took in all the employees from the Car Quest shop on Main Street.

Another company coming to Cedar Springs is Display Pack, who bought the Wolverine World Wide warehouse at 660 West Street. Wolverine’s lease is up in 2017, and Display Pack is slowly taking over the building as Wolverine vacates the premises. Display Pack, employs 225 people, and up to 275 people seasonally. Since many of their employees live in Grand Rapids and those who walk won’t make the commute, they may hire as many as 60-80 people from this area.

Another group who is revitalizing Cedar Springs is the Community Building Development Team, through their partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the City of Cedar Springs. Over two dozen organizations and businesses in Cedar Springs, along with dozens of individuals, have been working together for the past three years to develop eight acres of land, within the City limits, into “The Heart of Cedar Springs.” This place can be called our own “Town Square,” where the local citizens and visitors can enjoy a new library building, a community building, a recreation center, and an amphitheater, all placed among beautiful rain gardens and sculptures along a board walk on the banks of Cedar Creek.

Donations of land and cash, as well as pledges, as of November 2015, total over $2,555,000. The overall project is expected to cost approximately $10,000,000.  The plan is to raise funds for each individual project and to break ground for each facility when funds are adequate. Donations may be designated.

The Cedar Springs Library building is scheduled to be built first, breaking ground early next spring. A Capital Campaign Committee was appointed by the CBDT and they are in the process of writing grant proposals to large corporations and foundations to raise the funds needed to complete these projects.

Checks can be written to the Cedar Springs Public Library and either sent to Box 280 or dropped off at the Library. They can also be written to the Community Building Development Team and sent to the treasurer of the CBDT, Betty Truesdale, 141 S Main Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Sparta man dies after ORV accident

Derek Bellows died following an ORV accident Christmas eve morning. Photo from gofundme page.

Derek Bellows died following an ORV accident Christmas eve morning. Photo from gofundme page.

A Sparta man who died following a tragic ORV accident early Christmas eve morning has given the gift of life to others.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Derek Bellows, 23, of Sparta, was driving a 2000 Yamaha quad westbound on 14 Mile Road NW, west of Phelps Avenue NW, in Sparta Township, when he hit a tree that had fallen across the road. He was thrown from the quad and found lying in the roadway. He was not wearing a helmet, and suffered a severe head injury.

Police believe the accident occurred between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. He was discovered about 6:25 a.m. It was unknown whether alcohol or excessive speed was involved.

Derek was transported to the hospital, where he was put on a ventilator. He died on December 26.

According to a gofundme page set up in his memory, Derek’s organs were donated to save the lives of several people. It was reportedly close to Derek’s  heart, because his grandfather received a new heart eight  years ago.

According to the gofundme page, “Derek was an amazing young man and full of life. He loved the outdoors, riding horses, snowmobiles, four-wheelers or whatever he could drive fast.  He also had a huge heart for people and animals. Derek loved horses and especially his dog.”

His funeral will be January 2, at 1 p.m. at Ballard Church of Christ. To make a memorial contribution, visit the gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/9ygj28qk. Contributions will benefit the Wounded Warrior project.

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Woman regains stolen cash in Christmas miracle

N-ChristmasMiracleWhen a purse is stolen, there is usually not much of a chance of getting back any cash that was tucked away in it. But thanks to customers and staff of a local business, and the Cedar Springs Unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, a Christmas miracle occurred for one lucky lady.

According to Jane Weirda, office manager at Rowland’s Surplus Outlet, 130 W. Muskegon Street, a regular customer was shopping there on December 23, and set her purse down. When she realized it was missing, employees in the store and many of their customers searched for it. They finally found it, stashed away, with a large amount of cash missing from it. “It had been taken out of the bank that morning to give to her kids for Christmas,” said Jane.

They then looked at their security camera footage, identified the thief, and called police. A police officer went to the house of the suspect, then returned to the store with all of the cash. “It was fantastic,” said Jane. “We are very lucky to have such great community and customers who rallied to help this woman and we were so happy to have this have a happy ending! Christmas miracles do happen!”

Sgt. Jason Kelley with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Cedar Springs Unit verified the money had been recovered, but as of press time, the suspect had not yet been arraigned. The suspect’s name is not released until after arraignment.

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Coloring contest winner

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Our Christmas coloring contest winner, Kirk Mollien, 9, of Kent City, stopped in Monday morning to pick up his prize—a droid featured in the new Star Wars film—The Force Awakens. Congratulations to Kirk and to all of our winners!

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The Post travels the world in 2015

Dean and Kristie Wall, of Sand Lake, traveled to the top of the Mackinac Bridge tower and got a great photo with the Post last summer.

Dean and Kristie Wall, of Sand Lake, traveled to the top of the Mackinac Bridge tower and got a great photo with the Post last summer.

It’s been another great year for our “Post travels to” feature. The Post traveled far and wide this year, and most of year we had them scheduled several months out. Alaska still seems to be a popular place to visit, and we ran several of those. We also traveled to Washington D.C. on an honor flight with 60 veterans.

Other places the Post traveled this year included Beaver Island; Branson, Missouri; Connecticut; Rhode Island; Maine; Florida; Greece; Israel; Johannesburg; Kentucky; South Carolina; Bahamas; Bogota; British Columbia; China; Cleveland; Jamaica; Maui; the North Pole; the Arctic Circle; Red Flannel deer camp along Pictured Rocks lakeshore; London; Paris; Rome; Venice; Utah; Colorado; Grand Canyon; the Mackinac Bridge; Graceland; Hessel Bay; Hoover Dam; Las Vegas; Puerto Rico; Virgin Islands; South Caribbean; Texas; Ontario; Washington; and even Bavaria.

It’s so much fun to read about the journey you take with the Post and we love seeing your photos. We don’t have any left that haven’t been published, so if you have one, please send it in! Email it to news@cedarspringspost.com with the words “Post travels” in the subject line. Include some info about the trip, where you are from; and one or two photos with the Post for us to choose from.

Happy traveling in 2016!

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Busy year for Blue Star Mothers

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N-Blue-star-mothers2As 2015 winds down, the Michigan Blue Star Mothers are looking forward to a busy 2016. The year for our Michigan chapters has been a busy one, and the photos shown here indicate some of the work done by local chapters all around the state of Michigan.

Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. will celebrate their 74th year operating as a military support organization, on February 1, 2016. Most members are mothers of military personnel working together in an organized mission. Local chapters are the “feet to the pavement.” It’s where the work is done. Our missions include taking care of our troops and veterans, coming along side of the families of our fallen, and supporting each other. We have local chapters all over the state of Michigan.

December proved to be a busy month for our chapters. Chapters continued to collect items to be shipped in care packages to our troops overseas. Stockings were filled to be passed out at the VA hospital in Battle Creek. Fundraisers and donation drives continued to support the mission, and the Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm chapter was honored by WXMI-TV 17, Walmart ,and by folks in the city of Ionia with large donations. Wreaths were laid at cemeteries all over Michigan and Blue Star Mothers were there. We also became family to heroes who had no known family.

Work is being done to start chapters in Muskegon County, Isabella County and mothers are being contacted to start another chapter in Newaygo County. If you read this article and you are a mother of someone serving in the United States Military you can contact me and I’ll put you in touch with our membership chair and she can direct you to the place where these mothers are meeting or help you start a new chapter in the area in which you live.

Thank you to our service members, whereever they are serving. Thank you to their mothers wherever you are. Blue Star Mothers of America is here for you. If you are interested I can be reached at:  989-814-0650 or president.deptmi@bluestarmothers.us.

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Woman discovered dead in Spencer Township

 

The woman found dead in Spencer Township the day after Christmas with two young children nearby is a heartbreaking example of what postpartum depression can do to a young mother.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a caller reported they were walking a dog on a trail in the woods east of Lincoln Lake and 18 Mile Road shortly before 10:30 a.m. December 26, when they came upon a car parked back there with the engine running.

Deputies discovered a woman lying on the ground, with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Her three-year-old daughter was lying partially on top of her. The girl was conscious and alert but suffering from hypothermia. The woman’s 5-month-old son was in a car seat in the car.

AeroMed was called to the scene and transported the children to Spectrum DeVos Children’s Hospital. A bullet fragment was discovered in the three-year-old girl’s head, and she was rushed into surgery, where they removed it.

Police said the woman was reportedly suffering from postpartum depression. Based on the investigation, they believe that the wound to the three-year-old’s head may have been an unintended and accidental consequence of the gunshot that killed the mother.

The woman, identified as Sasha Hettich, 27, went missing on Christmas Day. She lived with her husband and children in Grand Rapids. A gofundme page has been set up for the family to help with household expenses, childcare expenses, and funeral costs. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/sashagr.

If you or a loved one suffers from postpartum depression, there are services available in Kent County. You can call Pine Rest’s pregnancy and postpartum hopeline at 844-MOM-HOPE (844.666.4673); Postpartum Support International at 1.800.944.4773; Spectrum Health Postpartum Emotional Support Program at 616.391.1771; and Network 180 at 800.749.7720. In an emergency call 911.

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Missed votes report

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MIDLAND — Michigan’s 38 senators and 110 representatives missed a combined 1,055 recorded roll call votes in 2015 according to the Missed Votes Report compiled by Jack McHugh, editor of MichiganVotes.org.

Excluding purely procedural votes, the Senate voted 642 times and the House cast 504 votes, for a total of 1,146 possible votes. The number of missed votes in 2015 down from 1,093 votes last year and an astonishing 21,162 missed votes in the 2001-2002 legislative session, the year MichiganVotes.org began.

“The days of some legislators just not showing up for work are long past,” McHugh said. “Legislators’ habits changed almost immediately when MichiganVotes.org began making this information easily accessible to voters.”

Two senators and two representatives missed 50 or more votes in 2014. There were 14 senators and 65 representatives who missed no votes. The full report can be sorted by name or by the number of missed votes.

According to the report, the greater Cedar Springs area’s two representatives and senator—Rep. Rob Verheulen (Dist. 74), Rep. Chris Afendoulis (Dist. 74), and Senator Peter MacGregor (Dist. 78), are among those who did not miss any votes.

The total number of possible votes is also listed for each legislator. By clicking on a legislator’s name, users can see a brief, plain-English description of the actual votes he or she missed. Missed vote totals for previous sessions can be viewed by entering a different date range. McHugh noted that in most cases, missed votes occur when other demands within the legislative process call a lawmaker off the floor for a few minutes or when serious family or personal issues require an absence of an entire day or longer.

“Legislators are people, too,” McHugh said. “No one should jump to conclusions or assume bad faith, but if someone demonstrates a consistent pattern of missed votes for weeks on end, voters have a right to ask why.”

While large numbers of missed votes get people’s attention, McHugh notes the votes they don’t miss matter much more—and are the real focus of MichiganVotes.org’s different services.

“The searchable database with all the bills and all the votes of each and every legislator is just one way to promote accountability from those who represent us in Lansing,” McHugh said. “In addition, there is a free weekly roll call report for newspapers showing how local state legislators voted on key bills (which is also posted on Mackinac.org every week). There are also emails every session day for users who want to know about actions taken on subjects they choose.

The new VoteSpotter app alerts smartphone users about how their own state and federal lawmakers voted on key bills and allows subscribers to send a “one-touch” email giving feedback to their state representative or senator.

“State lawmakers are very attentive to feedback from constituents on a particular vote,” said Andrew Koehlinger, project director for VoteSpotter. “Legislative accountability begins with knowing how your representatives voted; telling them what you think of a vote takes it a step further.” You can download the app at www.votespotter.com.

MichiganVotes.org is searchable and sortable by legislator, category, keyword and more. It has described nearly 30,000 bills since 2001. The service was started to give citizens more information to help make democracy work better, and its main benefit has been increased transparency and accountability. The site’s database now contains 15 years’ worth of legislators’ votes — complete records of the full legislative careers of many lawmakers.

See the full report with each legislators’ missed votes totals at: http://www.michiganvotes.org/MissedVotes.aspx

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Reduce, reuse still saves the bottom line

 

From Kent County Dept. of Public Works

For decades, several dumps turned into landfills collected trash with little understanding of what it could mean to the environment. Today, with environmental regulation and engineered design we manage waste safely and responsibly. Residents in Kent County will begin to evenly share the fiscal responsibility of managing historic landfills beginning in 2016.

The Kent County Solid Waste Surcharge was approved in 2015 by County Commissioners. Residents will pay exactly $1.68 per year for the one ton of trash each household is expected to dispose of in 2016. Commercial customers, who typically generate significantly more trash, will pay $1.68 per ton. Many trash hauling companies are sending informational letters and will add the surcharge to customers’ bills as “Kent County Solid Waste Surcharge” or “County Surcharge,” or provide the information on their website.

The funds will enable Kent County to monitor and maintain three closed landfills for 30 or more years, as required by state law. The now-closed landfills, in Kentwood, Sparta and Rockford, were opened and operated and, in most cases, ceased operation before monitoring and cleanup funds were required to be set aside to pay for long-term care of these facilities. Additionally, it will help pay for the operations for proper disposal of household chemicals such as pesticides, paints, cleaners, automotive care, used oil and other hazardous wastes.

Information on the Kent County Solid Waste Surcharge can be found at www.accesskent.com/WasteOrdinance.

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A Merry Christmas and a Holy Year of Mercy

Merciful-artFather Lam T. Le, Pastor

St. John Paul II Parish

3110 17 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs, Michigan
www.jp2-mqa.org

This Christmas is a unique one for Catholics throughout the world. This is due to the fact that the spiritual leader, Pope Francis, declared an Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy from December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016. This is a “special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective” (Misericordiae Vultus, no. 3). In other words, the Pope calls upon Catholics and men and women of good will to see in Jesus, the Mercy of God made flesh and challenges us to engage in the works of mercy in our everyday lives. “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2447).

The theme, contemplating Jesus, Mercy of God made flesh, is clearly expressed in the logo of the Jubilee.  The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization explains:

“The logo . . . presents . . . the theme of mercy. In fact, it represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son having taken upon his shoulders the lost soul demonstrating that it is the love of Christ that brings to completion the mystery of his incarnation culminating in redemption. The logo has been designed in such a way so as to express the profound way in which the Good Shepherd touches the flesh of humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one’s life. One particular feature worthy of note is that while the Good Shepherd, in his great mercy, takes humanity upon himself, his eyes are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ, the new Adam, one’s own humanity and the future that lies ahead, contemplating, in his gaze, the love of the Father.”

In this blessed season, indeed we celebrate that God showed us His love in a very special way:  sending His Son “in the likeness of our sinful flesh” (Rm 8:3).  Through this Mercy of God “made flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), may our entire life be the praise of God’s mercy.

Have a blessed 2016 and may you and your family be transformed in this Jubilee Year by God’s merciful love!  Amen.

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