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Archive | October, 2016

Cedar Springs Board of Education candidates


By Judy Reed

It has been one of the most volatile campaigns for the Cedar Springs Board of Education in recent years. Four people are running for two six-year seats. Originally there were five candidates, but Rita Reimbold dropped out. The other four are:

Joe Marckini

Joe Marckini

Joseph Marckini: Joe Marckini has served on the Board of Education for the last nine years, and is looking for six more. He grew up in the Walker area, and Joe and his family moved to Algoma Township in 1996. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Emily and Maria. He said that he and his wife desire to serve the community and especially any organization which helps educate and support kids. He has been employed by the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) Local #7 for over 30 years as a sheet metal construction worker.

Joe said he is running for another term to ensure that every student receives fair and equal opportunities. “If re-elected, I will continue advocating for all students’ right to a S.T.R.E.A.M. education (Science, Technology, Recess, Engineering, Arts & Math). I will continue making KIDS FIRST decisions, supporting more intervention for at-risk students and more life-skills and trade skills training opportunities.” He said he would also continue to be a voice for education at the federal, state and local levels. He also wants to continue the changes he has seen under Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn. “I have been a part of bringing the current Superintendent to Cedar Springs. Under her leadership we have made many tough but important changes. So many positive things have happened over the last few years and I would like to be a part of the continued improvements.”

Besides serving on the Board of Education, Joe has also served on the Cedar Springs Executive Board PTO, Kent Intermediate School Board Association, National School Board Association (NSBA) Federal Relation Network, Friends of Kent County Schools, NEOLA policy committee, Cedar Springs Parks and Recreation, Cedar Springs Public Schools negotiation committee, and is the representative of Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education to the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB).

Joe said that his main strength is the ability to make hard but necessary decisions. “I am a fierce advocate for kids. I am not on the board to make friends or get a pat on the back. I am here to make sure Cedar Springs Public Schools follows all rules and policies and is fair in its decision making regarding students and staff. I want to be sure that the parents in our district know that their child is not only getting an excellent education but will also be treated fairly and equitably and have not only the support of their teachers but also the staff, Superintendent and school board. As a member of the board I am often regarded as the policy-enforcer, I make sure we are operating within the law and within the guidelines we have set up for ourselves.”

Joe sees funding as the major challenge facing the district. “Funding and resources has an impact on everything we do and attempt to do. Security, smaller classroom sizes, busing, professional development, infrastructure improvements, they all rely on funding. That’s why being an advocate at all levels of government is so important. We have to keep working for our kids to ensure they get what they need and deserve as citizens of this great democracy.”

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas

Ted Sabinas: Ted Sabinas and his wife Dianne have lived in Cedar Springs for 39 years.  He was a teacher in the district for 34 years and served as a Cedar Springs High School coach of cross country, track, and several other sports for 37 years. Their two daughters, Mrs. Kahler and Mrs K (Kacprzyk) graduated from Cedar Springs and are currently teaching in our district. Their grandchildren also attend school here. “I have been committed to Cedar Springs for 39 years and feel strongly about the opportunity to run for the school board to help impact and make a positive difference in our school district,” said Ted.

Ted said he his primary reason for running for office is to “bring a background of teaching, coaching and educational leadership, along with my passion for our district, and to help guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district, community, staff and most importantly our students,” he explained.

Sabinas said the main strength he would bring to the office lies in his years of teaching and coaching experience, and his collaborative training. “[My] teaching and coaching experience, along with my commitment to our district, can help me guide and participate in the decisions being made as they impact our school district. With my collaborative training I have the ability to see what needs to be accomplished and how to get to the correct outcome together.

“While serving as the Cedar Springs Association President and Head of Negotiations for 17 years, I was trained and practiced collaborative negotiations with past superintendents and Boards of Education with very successful outcomes,” he noted. “I have a proven track record of demonstrating collaboration, active listening, and driving results over the years.” He said that he and the teams he worked with created a culture in which all problems can be discussed openly and solved with support from all involved using the collaborative method.

Sabinas said that our district faces many challenges. “Challenges such as the district revenues and expenses; being responsible to the community that elected the board; and creating a district wide positive image, are just a few of the many challenges that a board member faces,” he said. “We must address these challenges with research, hope, and caution, and determine if the board decisions are the correct direction to follow for our students in Cedar Springs. As a board member I will always place students as the main priority but also keep the community and staff informed and seek input from students, community and the staff.”

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed

Heidi Reed: Heidi Reed is a wife, mother and businesswoman who lives in the city of Cedar Springs. She has been married for 33 years to Steve Reed, a teacher.    Together they have three boys, Trey, Thomas and Trevor. Trey Reed, graduated from CSHS and recently Cornerstone University. Thomas and Trevor are 10th graders at CSHS. Heidi is Vice President/Associate Real Estate Broker for Red Oak Management Co., Inc. For 27 years she has been responsible for property management issues, finance and compliance for 1,300 families at 48 locations in Michigan.

Heidi said she is running for school board because she has a sense of duty to this community and is community centered. “I will keep kids first in decisions, by asking the question, who benefits? I will be financially focused and look for the highest and best use of the taxpayer dollars. I enjoy policy and finance work. I have no other agenda for seeking this position other than the desire to do what I can to help Cedar Springs Public Schools achieve and improve. Being in affordable housing, I see everyday, the nexus of how important education is to our society.”

Heidi has been active on school and business committees. She serves on the Cedar Springs Public Schools Sinking Fund Committee 2010 to present; the Cedar Springs Public Schools: Strategic Planning Committee 2015-2016; and the Cedar Springs Public Schools District Improvement Team, to name a few.

Heidi said the main strength she will bring to the board is leadership. “I will bring:

  • Constant Leadership-knowledge of our students, educators and facilities.  I have been attending board meetings for a year in preparation for this position.
  • Balanced Leadership-understanding of the issues and opportunities we face as a district.
  • Engaged Leadership-the passion to lead forward.”

Heidi said there are multiple challenges facing the district, but the first is meeting all students’ needs with limited funding. “We are facing budgetary and operational issues now in our district that impact not just the students and their futures, but the economic and social health of Cedar Springs. I have the experience, judgment and desire to step up to these issues and listen, learn and lead. My corporate experience of blending multiple government programs together for success will be an asset to the school board.”

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser:  Mistie Bowser has been living in Courtland Township for 16 years. She said she has loved living here with her four children—Emily Umphrey, a 2013 CSHS graduate; Cameron Umphrey, a 2016 CSHS graduate; Myla Umphrey a junior at CSHS; and Elizabeth Bowser, a fourth-grader at Cedar View.
“I’m a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, where I travel and share my story, which helps bring more lung cancer awareness to help fight this disease,” she explained. “We are a very academic, arts and athletic family. I’ve been very involved with our football, hockey, soccer, cross country, track, theatre, advanced and resource learning programs.”

Mistie is a very involved mom and community member who takes great pride in where she chose to raise her children. “I’m running for the Cedar Springs School Board because I want to have a direct hand in the decisions being made that will directly affect our students education and extra curricular activities,” she explained. “I will research the options to ensure that I will be making the best decisions for our Cedar Springs students, which my youngest is only in 4th grade so I have many years to stay vested. Our students deserve the best and most competitive education and I want to ensure that happens by putting students first with our staff and community right behind them, making a successful collaborative triangle.  I want to serve my commuity of Cedar Springs by working hard for you on our Cedar Springs School Board.”

Mistie has served on several boards and committees, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for nine years as member, treasurer, vice president and president; American Lung Association Regional Leadership Council as Chairwoman; the Mothers Of Preschoolers(MOPS) steering committee board; coached AYSO soccer; senior all night part committee, and more.

Mistie said the main strength she would bring to the board would be “my strong communication skills, understanding the importance and experience of being fiscally responsible, along with ensuring that I am and others are held accountable for all the decisions being made. I bring the perspective of a parent of a student and athlete in our district. Before voting on an item I will ensure that I have all the information from all sides so I can make a well-informed decision, and vote for what’s best for our students. I bring many years of leading non-profit organization boards with successful collaborative and respectful communication skills. I believe in everyone being fiscally responsible and accountable for all decisions being made. I will bring open communication along with always putting our students, staff and community front and center.”

“The major challenge in our district right now is the over 50 staff members that have left since January 2016, the fiscal decisions that have been made that are still not answered by our administration, and the communication and the morale of our staff and our community. Our district is hurting along with our community over some decisions that have been made over the past 2 years. I agree; I don’t like a lot of the decisions made either. My plan to address these problems is to communicate more, hold people accountable for their decisions, bring collaboration back, and use our finances responsibly by ensuring that money is only spent if it will directly affect our students. My biggest goal is to listen and communicate with our students, staff and community.”

Look for city and township candidates in next week’s Post!

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Fallen soldier’s monument stolen

The way Timothy Brown's statue looked in 2010. Parts of it were stolen last weekend. Post photo by J. Reed.

The way Timothy Brown’s statue looked in 2010. Parts of it were stolen last weekend. Post photo by J. Reed.

UPDATE 10/27: The three suspects in this case were arrested today and appear to have been responsible for the theft of the monument, the Skinner Field break-in, and the recent vehicle larcenies. The statue and many other items have been recovered. More info to come.

By Judy Reed

On November 4, 2005, while engaged in combat operations in Habbaniyah, Iraq, Timothy Brown, a 2002 Cedar Springs

The way the Timothy Brown statue looked after someone stole the replica rifle, hat and dog tags. Post photo by J. Reed.

The way the Timothy Brown statue looked after someone stole the replica rifle, hat and dog tags. Post photo by J. Reed.

graduate, was killed when a land mine detonated near his humvee. The community mourned the sacrifice of their local son. But the family, led by Timmy’s uncle Dan Brown, turned their grief into something good: the creation of Veteran’s Park, in honor of all Veterans. And in September 2010, a monument was dedicated in Tim’s honor at Veteran’s Park in Cedar Springs.

The replica dog tags have been stolen a couple of times from the statue, but on Saturday, October 22, his family discovered something worse: someone had stolen the replica rifle, hat, and dog tags from the statue, and left only the boots.

The monument, which came from the Fallen Heroes Memorial Foundation, cost $10,000. It was paid for through donations from the community and fundraising.

Police and the family are asking for the statue’s return, either to City Hall or the Veteran’s site, no questions asked. If you have any information on the whereabouts of the statue, please contact the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

Police believe that the suspects who took parts of this statue may be involved with other larcenies in the area.


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Thieves break into Skinner Field concession stand

Several items were stolen and the contents of the cupboards and freezer emptied during a break-in at the Skinner Field concession stand last week. Photo courtesy Shawn Kiphart.

Several items were stolen and the contents of the cupboards and freezer emptied during a break-in at the Skinner Field concession stand last week. Photo courtesy Shawn Kiphart.

UPDATE 10/27: The three suspects in this case have been arrested and items recovered. More info to come.

by Judy Reed

Shawn Kiphart, with Friends of Skinner Field, thought maybe this would be the year that they were going to make it through the

Items were dumped on floor during break-in at Skinner Field. Photo courtesy of Shawn Kiphart.

Items were dumped on floor during break-in at Skinner Field. Photo courtesy of Shawn Kiphart.

season without their concession stand being broken into. They had just one more Saturday of rocket football games left when they discovered last Friday morning that not only had they been broken into, but major theft and vandalism were also part of the crime.

“Last year we were broken into twice, and the year before we were broken into twice,” explained Kiphart. “In years past they just took some candy or pop, and left everything else alone. But this year was different. It was more violent.”

It wasn’t as simple as getting through a window. The suspects kicked in a heavy metal door.

Photos showed extensive vandalism on the inside of the concession stand. The suspects stole a couple of major appliances, along with all the candy and cases of soda pop. They dumped out all the chips and used the totes to carry other items. They also dumped stuff out of the freezer onto the floor, including bags of ice.

After being broken into last year, the group decided to install a trail cam in the concession stand. The suspects tried to obscure the camera’s lens by smearing nacho cheese on it, but it caught video of them in the act. There appeared to be at least three males caught

Photo from trail cam, courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.

Photo from trail cam, courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.

on video.

The concession stand wasn’t the only building they broke into. They also smashed a front window on the tower, and

The suspect smeared nacho cheese on the camera lens. Photo courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.

The suspect smeared nacho cheese on the camera lens. Photo courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.

broke into two other buildings near the concession stand.

The break-in happened between midnight and 2 a.m. Houses line the streets surrounding Skinner Field at Morley Park, but no one in the area reported hearing anything suspicious. “They had to be really whaling on that door and nobody reported anything,” said Deputy Jason VanDyke. “We need people to pay attention and report anything suspicious.”

Police suspect that that these same suspects may be involved in the

Photo courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.

Photo courtesy of Kent County Sheriff Dept.


Photo courtesy of the Kent County Sheriff Dept.

theft at Veteran’s Memorial Park, and several car larcenies in the area. If you have any information on this break-in, recognize anyone in the photos, or the clothing, please call the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100, or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.



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Crash sends four to the hospital

This crash occurred at 18 Mile and Myers Lake Friday morning, and took out a telephone pole. Post photo by J. Reed.

This crash occurred at 18 Mile and Myers Lake Friday morning, and took out a telephone pole. Post photo by J. Reed.

A two-vehicle crash in Nelson Township Friday morning sent four people to the hospital, including one with life-threatening injuries.

The crash occurred around 10:30 a.m. at the corner of 18 Mile Road and Myers Lake Avenue.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the investigation determined that a Red 2008 Dodge Caravan, driven by Kellie Austin, age 41, from Rockford, was traveling southbound on Myers Lake Avenue. The red Caravan pulled out in front of a 2012 Black Chevy Suburban driven by Tia Powell, age 30, from Gowen, that had the right of way while traveling eastbound on 18 Mile Road. The black Suburban struck the front passenger side of the red Caravan. This sent both vehicles into the southeast corner of the intersection. The Suburban then struck a utility pole.

According to emergency personnel on scene, Kellie Austin was sent to Spectrum Health with life-threatening injuries. She had no passengers.

Tia Powell suffered back and stomach pain. The front seat passenger of the black Suburban, Tamera Townes, age 55, from Cedar Springs, suffered back pain. The rear center passenger of the black Suburban, Isaiah Powell age 2 from Gowen, suffered a bump to his lip. All three were transported by Rockford Ambulance to Butterworth Hospital.

All occupants were wearing seatbelts. Isaiah Powell was in his car seat.

Assisting at the scene was Cedar Springs Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance.

The intersection was closed for several hours while the police investigated the scene.

The case is still under investigation.

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The Post travels to state of Washington


From L to R: Erika Cardinal, Kelsey Kiander, Sarah Kiander, and Anna Behrenwald.

From L to R: Erika Cardinal, Kelsey Kiander, Sarah Kiander, and Anna Behrenwald.

Sisters Kelsey and Sarah Kiander, and their friend, Anna Behrenwald, took the Post and went to the state of Washington this summer to visit another Cedar Springs friend, Erika Cardinal, while she was working on Blakely Island. They visited Seattle, Whidbey Island, Anacortes, Friday Harbor, and Blakely Island.

“We enjoyed all of the tourist attractions in Seattle; we also were able to go whale watching,” said Kelsey. “This picture was taken in Oak Harbor, Washington, on Whidbey Island, with a great view of Mount Baker.”

Thanks so much for taking us with you on your trip!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Marching band places 3rd at invitational


Congratulations to the Cedar Springs High School Marching Band, who placed 3rd in their class at the Jenison Invitational this past Saturday, October 22.

They had the best show of the season and scored 87.725, the highest score of the past few seasons.

The band performs this coming Saturday, October 29, at Rockford High School at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 5, at MCBA State Finals at Ford Field in Detroit, between noon and 3 p.m.

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Teens urged to “Arrive Alive”


The “Arrive Alive” tour gave Cedar Springs High School students a chance to see what could happen when they drive while texting or drive impaired. Post photo by J. Reed.

The “Arrive Alive” tour gave Cedar Springs High School students a chance to see what could happen when they drive while texting or drive impaired. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Sophomore Devin Swatzell tests out the “Arrive Alive” simulation for drinking and driving. Post photo by J. Reed.

Sophomore Devin Swatzell tests out the “Arrive Alive” simulation for drinking and driving. Post photo by J. Reed.

Teens at Cedar Springs High School got the chance last week to get behind the wheel of a truck and see what dangers lurk for those who chance driving drunk or try to text while driving.UNITE’s “Arrive Alive” tour came to the Cedar Springs campus on Friday, October 21. The program uses a high-tech high-tech simulator, impact video, and a number of other resources to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and intoxicated driving. The simulator allows participants to experience the potential consequences of impaired and distracted driving in a controlled environment.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Aministration, drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

The teens first watched a video that showed teens texting and driving and fatal accidents that result. They then could try the simulator outside. Teens were asked whether they wanted to try driving drunk or while texting. They then climbed in the truck and put on virtual reality goggles. The truck never moved; instead the goggles simulated them driving. If they chose drunk driving, they would get tunnel vision, with things going dark around them, so they wouldn’t be able to see the course as clearly, and their steering wheel would be delayed, not turn as well, since reflexes are slowed when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If they chose texting and driving, the student would use their own phone and look at while trying to drive an obstacle course on the simulator. There would be red lights, people would pop up here and there, or try to cross the street at intersections.

Sophomore Devin Swatzell tried the drinking and driving course. “It was fun but it was hard,” he said. “I’ll still never drink and drive.” Swatzell said he could see how the simulator could help be a deterrent students.

The program was brought to the high school by the Car Center-Cedar Springs, who bought Cedar Body Shop, on White Creek Avenue, just south of 17 Mile Rd. “We thought it would be a great program to bring to local schools to show our concern for any type of distracted driving,” said Sylvia Edwards, of the Car Center. “Being new to the community, we thought it was something good to show what we stand for, what we are concerned about.”

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Meth lab found in stolen vehicle

Jay Allin Pluskhat

Jay Allin Pluskhat

An Algoma Township man is facing charges after he stole a vehicle Monday and set up a meth lab inside.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they took a report of a stolen vehicle from the 6400 block of 14 Mile Rd, in Courtland Township, on Monday, October 17. Also stolen with the vehicle was a handgun, which was inside the vehicle at the time.

A short time later the vehicle was spotted at Meijer, at 3700 17 Mile Rd, and the driver was taken into custody. The gun was still in the vehicle.

When deputies searched the vehicle, the found a meth lab inside. The Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (KANET) responded to process the meth lab.

The suspect, Jay Allin Pluskhat, 26, of Algoma Township, was arraigned on Tuesday, October 18, on charges of delivery and manufacturing of methamphetamine; receiving and concealing a firearm; and unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle. Bond was set at $25,000 cash or surety.

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A Hotel in Cedar Springs?


By Tom Noreen

About 25 interested community and City Council members attended the informational meeting on the feasibility study to bring an AmericInn to Cedar Springs. Invitations to the meeting had been sent via email and were published in the Cedar Springs Post. The key question on everyone’s mind was how to fund a proposed $7,500 feasibility study requested by the chain.

AmericInn representative, Michelle Vander Vegte, addressed this concern first. She said, “All hotels require a feasibly study to check the financial viability of the proposal and also how many units would the area support.” These studies range in complexity from ten pages to one hundred depending on the size of the community, competition, economic condition of the area, and a number of other factors. She brought examples of both for people to look at. However, she said because of the lack of competition in the immediate area, AmericInn would accept the ten page study. A study on this scale would only cost about $1,500. Mayor pro tem Pam Connelly noted that this was significantly less than the $10,000 briefed earlier in the year.

AmericInn is based in Chanhassen, Minnesota and is the largest midscale hotel brand in the upper Midwest with over 225 locations in 24 states. There are 13 in Michigan, the closest being Greenville. They rank #2 in guest satisfaction with a 92 percent rating based on a JD Power study.

The AmericInn Generation 4 hotels now being built offer lower per-key costs to build and greater operational efficiency to run. They have redesigned lobbies, larger and redesigned rooms, meeting rooms, and pools. Pools and meeting rooms have been relocated to the basement thus improving energy efficiency. Pools would also be available for senior aerobics during the week, paid passes to local residents, and events.

Michelle said, “Our hotels are turn-key projects. We do the development, construction and management.” In return, the investors are required to put 30 percent equity upfront and sign a 20-year contract with the brand. The goal is to get a return on your initial investment in either cash or K1 depreciation within five years.

The company prides itself on its staff with the average experience of a manager being 12-15 years. She said, “It’s not a revolving door. We take care of our people. It’s like a family.”

When asked if the Greenville AmericInn would be competition, Vander Vegte said that it only services a 10-mile radius. She also said that it was doing well.

Leisure activities form the majority of AmericInn business, focusing on travel, weddings, funerals, and reunions. Yet, rooms could be priced to meet the demand for construction crews and other longer stay clients.

Most people thought it was a good idea and were excited about the possibilities. The Cedar Springs City Council must now decide whether or not to fund the feasibility study.

Anyone interested in investing can contact Duane McIntyre at duanemcintyre@gmail.com, Dave Ringler at rings@csbrew.com, or Michelle Vander Vegte at 952-294-5229.

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Another vote for Reed and Marckini

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* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election.




Another vote for Reed and Marckini

Dear Community Members of Cedar Springs,

I am voting for Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini because I believe in healthy change and district advancement. We all want Cedar Springs Public Schools to grow and for our students to succeed. Change is essential for growth.

I am the daughter of David and Heather Wolfe. Both of my parents were born and raised in Cedar Springs and graduated from Cedar Springs Public Schools. I was born and raised in Cedar Springs and also graduated from Cedar Springs Public Schools. I love our district, and am proud to be a lifetime Red Hawk. I want to see our district succeed, and the election of our board members is a key component to that success.

The Michigan Association of School Boards outlines Indicators of Effective Board Members. Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini possess all of the traits valued by the association. They both have decades of experience collaborating with people of all different backgrounds and viewpoints. Our district thirsts for additional board members who are willing and able to work well with others.

Heidi Reed is focused on staff morale and student achievement. She is an advocate for curriculum that supports children of all learning styles and backgrounds. She is an active community member and can be found at nearly all fundraisers and events within our community. Heidi has seen the issues our community faces first hand, and will use her voice to ask questions consistent with the present issues.  She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, and will be a warrior for our school board.

I am excited about the direction our district is heading. I choose to look forward, and think positively about our district’s future. I choose to believe in, and support our leadership. Cedar Springs Public Schools’ students deserve the best.

Please join me in voting to make kids our district’s top priority by voting Heidi Reed and Joe Marckini.

Bayley Wolfe, Nelson Township

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Ray Winnie
Intandem Credit Union


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