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Archive | December, 2015

Russell J. Durst

C-OBIT-DurstRussell J. Durst 80 of Cedar Springs, died Friday, December 25, 2015 at his home. Russ was born October 6, 1935 in Cedar Springs, MI the son of Cardwell and Lola (Sipple) Durst. He was well known as a drywall installer and finisher for over 60 years. He was a very giving and generous person and was very involved in the Cedar Springs Education Foundation and the Kent County Youth Fair. He was a member of the Lions Club and the Cedar Springs Rod & Gun Club. He enjoyed his antique car, wintering in New Mexico and hunting and fishing. Surviving are his children, Debra Paskewicz, Doug (Cheri) Durst; daughter-in-law, JoEllen Yokum; grandchildren, Stephanie Torres, Michael Paskewicz, Heather (Brian) Henning, Brooke (Jeremy) Wong, Beth (Tony) Avink, Kent Yokum; great grandchildren, Tristan, Arryanna, Deyani, Allison, Brielle; sister, Phyllis Ball; brother-in-law, Archie McKenzie. He was preceded in death by his son, Mike; sister, Dorothy McKenzie; brother-in-law, Gene Ball. The family will greet friends Tuesday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Wednesday 2:00 pm. Pastor Steve Lindeman officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the Cedar Springs Education Foundation.

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Edward A. Hordyk

C-OBIT-HordykEdward A. Hordyk, 80 of Cedar Springs, passed away Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at Clark Retirement Community. Ed was born October 18, 1935 in Grand Rapids, MI the son of Peter and Bernice (Glass) Hordyk. He enjoyed flying, boating, water skiing and raising cattle. He was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of  the Saladin Temple of Grand Rapids, Forest Hills Presbyterian Church and the National Guard. Ed had a successful career in the sale of poultry equipment both in the United States and internationally. Surviving are his wife, Carol (Clark) whom he married on June 23, 1967; daughters, Jennifer (Brett) Terpstra, Susie Poliski, Kathy (Sam) Vriezema, Debbie (Claire) Larson; grandchildren, Tristan, Ethan, Alyssa, Stephan, Karlee, Brendan, Erin, Reagan, Rylee; brothers, David (Katherine) Hordyk, Roger (DeeAnn) Hordyk; sister, Elaine (C. Wesley) Stafford; many nieces, nephews and cousins. The family will greet friends Tuesday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service will be held Wednesday 11:00 am at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church, 7495 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids. The family will greet friends at 10:00 am. Pastor James Pollard officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Dr, Tampa, FL 33607 or the Kent County Youth Fair, 2255 Hudson St, Lowell, MI 49331.

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

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Winter Storm warning raises safety concerns

Kent County Emergency Management is monitoring weather conditions as a Winter Storm warning has been issued Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning. The forecast calls for freezing rain and high winds, with a quarter to half-inch of ice accumulation possible.

Kent County Emergency Management is encouraging residents to be prepared. “Make sure you have the supplies necessary before this event occurs,” says Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator. “The forecast of ice, along with wind gusts that could reach 40-50 miles an hour, could take down trees and power lines. Be sure you have a working flashlight and batteries, as well as rock salt or deicing items for your driveway/sidewalks.”

Make sure you have a basic emergency supply kit with the following:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food
· Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • First aid kit

Now is a good time to make sure you have fuel for back-up generators. Never use grills, camp stoves, and generators inside of the house, the basement, and the garage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any generators, grills, or stoves. These can be a carbon monoxide hazard if used improperly.

If you are driving anywhere during the storm, keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car and allow plenty of extra time to reach your destination. Let a family member or friend know of your travel plans. Keep a well-charged cell phone in the car, as well as an emergency kit with flares and a blanket within your reach. It’s also a good practice to keep fresh water and snacks in the car in case you become stranded for a long period of time.


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Kids shop with a Sheriff

Three of the officers on hand for the Shop with a Sheriff event included (L to R) Sgt. Jason Kelley, Chief Deputy Kevin Kelley, and Sheriff Larry Stelma.

Three of the officers on hand for the Shop with a Sheriff event included (L to R) Sgt. Jason Kelley, Chief Deputy Kevin Kelley, and Sheriff Larry Stelma.

On Sunday, December 13, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office hosted their annual Shop with a Sheriff Program at the Cedar Springs Meijer. Thirty kids from the Cedar Springs and Kent City school districts were selected to shop with Deputies and experience law enforcement in a nontraditional role. Approximately 35 Deputies volunteered their time to participate in the event.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause made an appearance at the Shop with a Sheriff event. Photo by P. Conley.

Mr. and Mrs. Santa Clause made an appearance at the Shop with a Sheriff event. Photo by P. Conley.

Before shopping, the kids were able to ride in police cruiser, playing with the lights, sirens and other electronics. After the cruiser ride, each child was placed with a Deputy and they were able to shop throughout Meijer. The children select items of need—coats, boots, and clothes. They are able to select some toys as well. Once the shopping is complete, the kids were treated to donuts, juice, a special t-shirt, and a surprise visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

This program started in 2003 and the kids are identified by referrals from the schools. Deputies participate on a volunteer basis and help the kids shop for the items on their list. The program is fully funded through gracious donations made by businesses and members of the community.

Kids shopped throughout the store with a deputy.

Kids shopped throughout the store with a deputy.

Donations for this program can be made to the Kent County Community Action Fund and mailed to:

Kent County Sheriff’s Office

Community Services Unit – Sandi Jones

701 Ball Ave NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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Fire audit recommends Cedar/Solon work together


By Judy Reed

Members of the Cedar Springs City Council, Solon Township board, their respective fire departments, and members of the public, attended a special meeting last Thursday, December 17, to hear the main points an operational evaluation and shared services study that was recently done for their two fire departments.

Mark Nottley, of Municipal Consulting Services, LLC, made the presentation and answered questions.

It is the same consulting service that studied Cedar Springs in 2009 and made recommendations for improvements.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake applied for a grant last year to do a shared services study, and invited area departments to be part of the study. Only Cedar Springs responded.

The study revealed that the Cedar Springs Fire Department has made significant upgrades since the 2009 study, including improvements to training, standard operating procedures, succession planning, and capital budgeting. And they have even more upgrades in process, such as fire prevention planning. Nottley noted that morale is high in the department despite being one of the lowest paid in the area.

Nottley said recommendations for upgrades included developing a master plan, an annual report, and creating a performance evaluation system. Other items were also mentioned, including a cost estimate to be developed for a new facility.

Nottley said Solon has experienced issues and problems in the past, and that Chief Drake has significantly upgraded operations. (Drake is also a command officer in the Plainfield Township. Fire department.) They need to implement some of the same things as Cedar Springs Fire, and staffing should increase to 25. Paid on duty assignments were recommended for the 2-6 p.m. period when it is especially hard to get firefighters. Nottley recommended that grant writing be aggressively pursued, and that they could contract out preplanning and inspections or do them with Cedar Springs.

Nottley said that with both communities growing, and already sharing a number of services, such as County dispatch, Rockford ambulance, MABAS automatic aid, the school system, a library, and CS Area Parks and Rec, it makes sense that the fire services should also work together. It could mean full consolidation or something less, such as Solon contracting Cedar Springs to respond to certain areas in Solon Township that lie just outside the Cedar Springs limits.

Other recommendations for shared services include joint master planning by the two fire chiefs (CS Chief Marty Fraser and Solon Chief Jeff Drake); combining some training; joint reviews by command staff of standard operating procedures; grant writing, etc.

Nottley said as far as full consolidation goes, it would only be feasible with two station houses: the current one in Solon Township on 19 Mile, and a possible new one in the 17 mile area. The one on 19 Mile would be needed to service the north and central area of Solon Township. Otherwise, response times would be too slow.

Benefits would include a service upgrade in Solon Township without reinventing the wheel; in Cedar Springs, the cost of a new facility would be spread between two jurisdictions. They would only need one chief, however, to run the department, and there would be less command officers.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser said that the report has given them all a lot to think about. “It’s a work in progress. It won’t be done next month—it may take two to three years. It didn’t get broke overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight. It’s given us a lot to chew on.”

Chief Drake was pleased with the recommendations, and didn’t feel there were any surprises. “I think all of the recommendations have merit, all need to be reviewed methodically, and patiently,” he said.

“I firmly believe that we need to update our service delivery model on a regional basis,” he told the Post. “Solon Fire Department’s current delivery model has not changed since the fire department was organized in the early 1900’s, yet the demographics and calls for service are very dynamic. The fire service has a long history of tradition that is often revered as a great trait, but it can also be a detriment. I think Mark Nottley was spot on with his recognition that we are a community sharing many other civic functions, and fire/rescue services seems to be the next logical step, just like the law enforcement change in the city.”

“At a minimum, I think the most obvious takeaway is the ability to improve service to the southeast corridor (east of 131, south of 19 mile) by simply contracting these alarms out to Cedar Springs Fire Department,” added Drake. “I would estimate that the Act 425 agreement has already provided 75 percent of this recommendation. As Mark said, Google maps make it very easy to determine who can provide the quickest response, the customer does not care about the name on the truck. After all, the whole reason behind equipping our fleet with emergency warning equipment is to arrive quicker.”

He did note that if they went this route, it could be a significantly hard pill to swallow for the members of Solon Fire. “The tradition of the fire service trends to breed a very territorial mentality. Nobody joins the fire department to run less alarms, and this will be the result for Solon Fire members with this recommendation.”

Drake added that the the policy makers with fiduciary responsibility would have an integral part in this process.

“I believe every member of both departments desires to deliver great customer care and satisfaction. We need to make sure that our ego, pride, tradition, and history, do not inhibit any progress to improving the efficiency of the product our customer’s deserve and expect,” said Drake.

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Storytime at the library


Olivia Barger, of Cedar Springs is so cute in the Santa hat she made at Storytime at the library last week. Olivia would like to invite all preschoolers and their parents to come and enjoy 45 minutes of stories, songs, movement and crafts with Miss Heidi every Friday from 11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

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Giving back


Cedar Springs Rotarians teamed up with St. John Paul 2 Parish in Cedar Springs to serve up an extra special Thanksgiving meal at the community dinner provided each Tuesday.

The young people involved are part of the rotary interact group.

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Christmas wishes

A big thank you to The Springs Church Kids for their beautiful Christmas wishes!

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Lions Club delivers Santa Claus girls presents


On Saturday morning, December 19, the Cedar Springs Lions Club, with the help from other volunteers, delivered Christmas presents to 117 residents in the Cedar Springs and Sand Lake area. Thanks to all who helped, and a Merry Christmas!

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Call to action to reduce, treat inmates with mental illnesses


From Kent County Administration office

On Thursday, December 17, the Kent County Board of Commissioners joined the Community Mental Health Authority Board (network180) and other community partners in signing a Call to Action to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in the Kent County Jail by participating in a national initiative called Stepping Up.

“Adults with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail, and upon release are at a higher risk of returning than people without these diseases,” said spokesperson Lisa LaPlante. “This makes it difficult for these individuals to hold jobs or find stable housing, and it becomes a burden on taxpayers.”

She added that Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma has long worked with mental health professionals, developing diversion programs to address the issue. Studies show the rates of people with serious mental illnesses in jails are three to six times higher than for the general population. The Stepping Up program encourages public, private and nonprofit partners to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

“Michigan is leading the way in this effort. County jails often provide treatment services to those with serious mental illnesses, and almost three-quarters of these adults also have substance use disorders,” said Board Chair Dan Koorndyk. “Through this initiative, Kent County is truly stepping up its responsibility to protect and enhance the health, welfare and safety of residents in efficient and cost-effective ways.”

The Stepping Up plan includes efforts to:

·Convene a team of leaders and decision makers committed to reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails;

·Collect and review data and assess individuals’ needs to better identify adults entering jails with mental illnesses and the risk of returning to jail;

·Determine which programs and services are available in the county for people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders;

·Identify policy and funding barriers to minimizing contact with the justice system and providing treatment and supports in the community;

·Implement research-based approaches that advance the plan.

The team will also create a process to track progress using data and information systems, and to report on successes. “Unfortunately, without the appropriate treatment and services, people with mental illnesses continue to cycle through the criminal justice system, often resulting in tragic outcomes for these individuals and their families,” added Sheriff Stelma. “Kent County continues to look for innovative, evidence-based solutions to help these adults get the help they need to stay out of jail and lead better, healthier lives.”

On average, inmates with mental illnesses cost two to three times more than those without treatment needs. “We have a moral responsibility as well as a fiscal charge to implement Stepping Up in Kent County,” said Commissioner Harold Mast, network180 Board Chair. “Treatment of those suffering from mental illness in our jail system is critical for the health and safety of those housed or working in the jail and for those who come in contact with them after they are released.”

Stepping Up was created in partnership with the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation.

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