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Archive | September, 2017

Police seek suspect in car theft, pursuit

The Kent County Sheriff Department is looking for the suspect that stole a car from a local business in Cedar Springs and then led them on a high speed pursuit early Thursday morning, Sept. 28.

According to Sgt. Joel Roon, the incident occurred shortly after 4 a.m. at Bassett’s Towing, on Edgerton Ave NE, near 17 Mile Rd.

Deputies observed suspicious activity at the business, and during the investigation, a suspect stole a vehicle within a fenced in area and drove through the fence of the business and headed southbound on US-131.

Deputies attempted to stop the stolen vehicle, but the suspect continued southbound. Rockford Department of Public Safety assisted with spike strips at 131 and 10 Mile Rd, striking the vehicle. The vehicle continued south into the City of Grand Rapids, where the suspect fled on foot. Wyoming Department of Public Safety K-9 responded and conducted a lengthy track of the suspect but the suspect was not apprehended. The suspect has not been identified.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office requests that anyone with information on where the suspect might be to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6100.

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New book to tell history of Cedar Springs

The Cedar Springs Historical Society is working on a new book to tell the history of Cedar Springs in both word and photos, some never seen before. Sharon Jett, Director at the Museum, has shared some of the pages with us, which we will share with you over the next couple of weeks. Sharon said she hopes the book will be released in the next few months.

The Smith’s cabin was like the one pictured here.

Today the flowing well has been restored.

John & Lydia Smith Stage Coach Stop 

Solon Township

John and Lydia (Proper) Smith are believed to be the first settlers in the village of Cedar Springs, Kent Co. Michigan.

Research has shown that Mr. and Mrs. Smith came to Cedar Springs in 1851 where they opened a sawmill for a time and kept the post office in the sawmill in Nelson Twp. In 1852 they bought 700 acres in Solon Twp. Section 24.

The History of Grand Rapids and Kent Co, 1918 states that “they experienced all the privations of the pioneer life.” Years later their son Coridon Smith stated that they “settled at the limits of the village of Cedar Springs and prepared to hew out a home from the wilderness. His first operations were necessarily in the lumber business for the nature of the country at that time made it impossible engaging in farming.” (Huge pine forests and cedar swamps covered the area.)

In 1852 the nearest settlement was Laphamville (now known as Rockford) about seven miles to the south. The road to Cedar Springs was an old Native American trail that had barely become a path wide enough for wagons to travel over.

The Smiths settled on the Cedar Creek at the north end of what is now the town of Cedar Springs. The area was covered with beautiful old cedar trees and the flowing spring was a great convenience next to their home. The Smiths listed themselves as farmers in the 1860 census but they also were Inn keepers. The History of Grand Rapids and Kent Co. 1918 says “Their home was a log cabin in the forest and for a long time was the pioneer’s hotel, and liberally patronized. One year, dating from February 12 to May 1, Mrs. Smith cooked 1,000 pounds of pork.” A stagecoach passed through the area as well as many pioneer families seeking their own new homesteads.

The Smiths also sold a few provisions to travelers.

It is believed the name for our town, Cedar Springs, came from travelers describing the Smiths location as being by the cedar trees and fresh flowing spring, “Cedar Springs.”

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Oakfield Township party store robbed

Zain’s Party Store, located at 10030 14 Mile Road in Oakfield Township, was robbed at gunpoint last Thursday, September 21.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the owner of the store reported that he was closing up for the night when the suspect entered the store, brandished a handgun, and demanded money.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, mid-30’s, 6-feet tall with an athletic build, some facial hair, and wearing a grey hoodie. The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

Investigators are that the description of the suspect is similar to that of the one who robbed the Citgo gas station on West River Drive on September 10 but cannot confirm whether it is the same person. Both suspects are still at large.

Anyone with information is requested to call the Sheriff’s Department at 632-6100 or Silent Observer.

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Kids who wrote giraffe book take trip

Last Thursday, September 21, the students and teacher who wrote April’s Baby spent the day at Boulder Ridge Animal Park, in Alto, celebrating their publishing success.

Joining the students, was Corey Dwyer, April the Giraffe’s Zookeeper from Animal Adventure Park in New York. He was so touched by the kids’ book, he wanted to come out and personally meet them and be with them when they met Boulder Ridge’s giraffes up close for the first time.

Despite the heat, everyone had an incredible time, not only with the giraffes, but all the animals as well.

“This was a day of memories that will last a lifetime,” said teacher Vicki Burke. “Corey being here with the kids was the icing on the cake for this incredible project. They watched him so many times taking care of April on the live feed, it was almost surreal when he was standing right in front of them. He was so gracious, spending time answering questions, signing autographs, and taking photos with each student. They were thrilled to be able to meet and spend time with him.”

This opportunity was made possible with gifts from Ryanne Donahue of State Farm Insurance and Jerry Gavin and Dean Transportation. “I am so grateful for everyone who made this day so special,” Burke added. “It was perfect!”

To see or purchase the book, go to www.amazon.com and search for “April’s Baby.”

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Hometown Hero

 

Brandon F. Sischo has been promoted to Master at Arms Chief Petty Officer, surface warfare, aviation warfare.

Brandon is a 2003 graduate of Cedar Springs High School.  He joined the Navy in Sept. 2004. After recruit training he attended Master at Arms School in San Antonio, Texas. He was then assigned to NAS JRB Willow Grove, Penn.

In 2008, he served on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN71) where he deployed to the Arabian Gulf. During this tour he attended Naval Corrections Officer and Anti-terrorism training.

In 2012, he transferred to Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Command at NSA Hampton Roads, Virginia, where he was leading Petty Officer of Anti-Terrorism and Physical Security Depts.

Currently Brandon is serving on the USS Bainbridge (DDG96), where he just attended his pinning ceremony for Master at Arms, Chief Petty Officer.

He resides in Virginia Beach with his family. Brandon is the son of Glenn and Tammy Sischo, of Gowen.

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The Post travels to Italy

Steve Reed in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The Post recently traveled to the Tuscany region of Italy, with Steve and Judy Reed, of Cedar Springs.

The couple flew into Milan and then stayed in Montecatini and visited several cities and villages throughout the region. They took one day and explored the ancient walled city of Lucca and visited the town of Pisa, where they saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other attractions. Another day they drove to the Chianti region, where Chianti wines are made and visited the town of Greve and tried the area’s wine and olive oils. They also took the train to Florence, where they visited the Uffizi Gallery and saw many works of art from well-known Renaissance artists, including Leonardo DaVinci, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Caraveggio, and others. Towards the end of the week they took the funiculare (cable car) to the top of Montecatini Alto, a mountaintop village that sits high above Montecatini Terme (where they stayed). On their way back to Milan, they visited the city of Parma, the home of Parmesan cheese and Parma ham (prosciutto).

Some of the buildings in the ancient walled city of Lucca.

Besides visiting the ancient towns and villages, the Reeds also loved trying the different types of dishes at the many pizzerias and Italian restaurants in the region, especially the trattorias (family-owned restaurants).

“We had a great time,” they said. “The people were nice, the food was excellent, and it was amazing to see many of the buildings and artifacts from a time in history that we’ve only read about.”

Thank you to the Reeds for taking us with you!

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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More Artprize 2017 news

Ocean Requiem is showing at the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids on Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 pm.

Samantha Avery, a 2003 grad of Cedar Springs High School, is part of a team that produced a piece for ArtPrize 2017.

This year’s piece “Ocean Requiem” is an intricate coral reef mural meant to highlight the dying art of marquetry, as well as the endangered state of the world’s coral reefs. It is a combination of laser cut wood fretwork overlay and a detailed marquetry veneer panel. The production team for this piece includes Billie Kindle, Katie Velaszquez, Lisa Carpenter, Corey Carpenter, and Samantha Avery.

The piece is showing at the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids destination. You can see it Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 pm.

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Man pleads guilty in horse barn fire

 

Payton Mellama

Payton Mellama, 20, of Lowell, pled guilty this week to Arson 3rd degree and animal cruelty for a fire he started at a Lowell barn that caused the death of 13 horses and significant damage to the propery.

Mellama was a neighbor who had previously volunteered at the Center for Equine Learning, which was operated out of the barn. Mellama had a long history of mental health and behavioral issues.

After months of investigation, by the Kent County Sheriff’s Dept., in cooperation with the Kent county Prosecutor’s office, Mellama admitted his involvement in a statement to investigators during the course of plea negotiations. The parties entered into a plea agreement, designed to protect the community while still addressing the defendant’s circumstances. The man points of the agreement are:

  1. He will serve a 5-year-term of probations, with no early release or attempts to seek release.
  2. He will be continually housed and treated for the first three years at a residential facility with may include electronic tethering..
  3. Mellama will have no contact with victims or property, nor with the property he currently lives on,

This agreement ensures that the defendant will be housed in a secured facility for at least three years and receive the treatment he needs.

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Air conditioner catches fire

 

The Cedar Springs Fire Department responded to possible structure fire at 341 S. 5th Street, near Pear Street, on Monday, Sept. 25, just before 9 p.m. Both Cedar Springs and Sand Lake were toned out on the call.

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, the owner had put it 99 percent out with a fire hose. Fraser said some of the plastic siding was melted, and there was a charred exterior wall and railing. The air conditioner was also ruined.

Fraser said they believe the air conditioner shorted out and started the fire, but they don’t know what caused it to happen.

That’s the second air conditioner to catch fire in two months. The other fire occurred in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates in July.

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Schuette files suit against Family Fitness 

Alleging numerous Consumer Protection Act Violations

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he has filed a class action lawsuit against the West Michigan-based fitness chain, Family Fitness, in Kent County Circuit Court.

The complaint asks the Court to put a stop to various practices by Family Fitness that allegedly violate Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, and seeks monetary relief on behalf of consumers. This action comes after Schuette has received 286 consumer complaints against Family Fitness in 2017.

“These entities have been taking advantage of the hard-working people in West Michigan, and it’s time for that to stop,” Schuette said.  “It is my hope that we can reform Family Fitness’ business practices, and get some money back in the pockets of many consumers. We will also ask the Court to make sure the credit reports of Michigan consumers no longer show debts arising from unlawful conduct by these fitness clubs.”

There are fourteen Family Fitness centers in West Michigan, with locations in Allendale, Alpine, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland, Muskegon, North Muskegon, Norton Shores, Plainwell, Portage, Sparta, Standale, and Wyoming.

Cease and Desist Issued in July 2017

In July 2017, the Attorney General issued a cease-and-desist order to Family Fitness after receiving numerous complaints asserting that the fitness chain was holding consumers responsible for paying hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on cancelled gym membership and personal training contracts.  Many consumers had received credit reporting information showing they were being pursued by a collection agency acting on Family Fitness’ behalf.  In that notice, the Attorney General advised that his staff would continue reviewing documents and interviewing consumers and then would determine whether it was necessary to open a formal investigation or file a lawsuit.

Details of Class Action Suit

A lawsuit became appropriate after the Attorney General’s ongoing review revealed numerous other alleged violations of the Consumer Protection Act, including:

*Consumers have entered drawings and are told by telephone they have won free memberships, but—when they show up to collect their prizes—they learn there are actually monthly costs;

*Consumers who have won drawing prizes are not given any written description of the prize, notice that they will be subjected to a sales presentation when they come to collect it, nor any descriptions and costs of the services Family Fitness intends to solicit them about when they do come, as required by the Act;

*Misrepresentations are made to consumers at the time of signing up with Family Fitness.  Such representations relate to topics including the involved costs, the duration of contracts, and the consumers’ right to cancel contracts. Such misrepresentations range from false or misleading statements that the membership or personal training arrangements can be cancelled at any time, to failures to disclose important information—such as Family Fitness’ expectation that a consumer doing a free trial must use the facilities a specified number of times in order to be able to cancel the free trial;

*For consumers who have had memberships with other gyms that have closed, Family Fitness has made confusing and misleading representations regarding their legal obligations to Family Fitness;

*In recent situations, Family Fitness appears to be putting consumers under duress to enter into new membership agreements by telling them that is the only way they can remove prior alleged debts for which the consumers have been put into a collections process.

Family Fitness operates through a series of limited liability companies formed under Michigan law, each of which has been named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

What Happens Next

The Attorney General anticipates bringing a motion for injunctive relief that will seek to require Family Fitness to adhere to the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act. Meanwhile, Family Fitness will have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit by either filing a motion or answer with the Court.

File a Complaint

Consumers may file a complaint online by going to https://secure.ag.state.mi.us/complaints/consumer.aspx, otherwise they may send their complaint by regular mail or fax as listed below. If you have any questions, please call the Consumer Protection Division Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at 517-373-1140 or toll free 877-765-8388.

Consumer Protection Division

P.O.Box 30213

Lansing, MI 48909

517-373-1140

Fax: 517-241-3771

Toll free: 877-765-8388

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