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Archive | March, 2018

Teachers union gives Superintendent vote of no confidence

Supt. Dr. Laura VanDuyn

by Judy Reed

Over three-quarters of the teachers in the teachers union at Cedar Springs Public Schools have voted on record as having no confidence in school Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

The Cedar Springs Education Association (CSEA), the teachers union in the district, reported that they took a vote of “no confidence” in Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn last week and that results showed a strong majority of 88 percent of those voting in support of the resolution of no confidence. 

According to Jen Kahler, one of the CSEA leaders, there are approximately 150 members of the teachers union, and 128 voted. There were 112 YES votes agreeing with the resolution, and 16 NO votes.

She explained that meetings were held in each building and an anonymous vote taken. Some building meetings were held on Wednesday, and some on Thursday, due to parent-teacher conferences. “They were able to get an absentee ballot if they weren’t able to attend the meeting,” she said. Those were collected through Monday.

Kahler explained that the ballots were placed in a security envelope and sealed. Then the security envelopes were placed in a large mailing envelope.

The majority of the votes were counted on Sunday at Cedar Springs Middle School by union leaders Jen Kahler, Brett Burns, Dawn Nielsen, Josh Cooper, and Libby Metiva. The remaining absentee ballots were sent to the union secretary and counted with two union representatives present on Monday.

Results were sent via email to the Board of Education and Human Resources at the school Monday evening, March 19. They were then released publicly Tuesday morning.

“We followed the protocol that our MEA representative Michael McGee recommended,” explained Kahler. “He asked that we share the results first with the Board of Education and Human Resources department, then share the results with our members before we made it available to our community. So the process took some time.”

Kahler said that they hope to get a response from the Board or Human Resources. The next step is to address the Board about it at the next meeting on March 26.

The Post has also asked Board President Heidi Reed for a statement on the vote and will update the story when (or if) she releases one.

This vote was taken by teachers union members only. It did not include non-union teachers or support staff. According to Matt Andres, who works in payroll and benefits at Cedar Springs Public Schools, there are 183 teachers on the payroll. That would include any non-union teachers.

This vote of “no confidence” by the teachers union has come on the heels of a petition by community members to get VanDuyn to resign. She was hired in 2014 to replace retiring Superintendent Ron McDermed. Over the last couple of years, staff and community members have spoken out against her during board meetings, calling the atmosphere at the school a hostile work environment, and accusing her of bullying employees. However, three years in a row, the Board of Education has rated her “highly effective” in their evaluations. Her next evaluation is due in December.

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Commenters call for resignation of Superintendent and trustee

By Judy Reed

A standing room only crowd at Monday evening’s Cedar Springs Board of Education meeting made it clear to the Board of Education through their public comments that they feel the only way this community will heal from the division it is experiencing is for Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn to resign.

Many also called for newly appointed trustee Tim Bauer to resign as well, after they said they saw remarks he made on his personal Facebook account disparaging gays, and prophesying judgment on those in the community leading the effort to get Dr. VanDuyn to resign. The comments on his page have since been taken down.

A citizen group filed a petition last week at change.org calling for VanDuyn to resign, and ran an ad with the petition in last week’s Post to advertise a community meeting taking place tonight (Thursday at 7 p.m.) at Solon Township hall to discuss the issue. At press time Wednesday, over 1800 people had signed the petition.

Many of those people were at the board meeting Monday evening. 

The board heard from staff, students, community members, and even a former Board of Education member. Carolee Cole was on the BOE for 12 years, from 1998 to 2010. She said that the only person who could heal the divide is Dr. VanDuyn. “I strongly believe that it is impossible for our staff to be effective when they are experiencing the level of distraction and distress this division causes them on a daily basis,” said Cole. “Teachers can’t teach well when they are stirred up. Even the teachers who prefer Dr. VanDuyn’s style of leadership and feel safe and affirmed under her, can’t teach well if they are aware that many of their fellow teachers, the parents of their students, and others do not feel safe and affirmed under Dr. VanDuyn,” she said. Cole also noted that their had been a terrible breakdown in communication over the last three years. “Our side of the divide has invited open dialog. It has been refused or ignored. Your side of the divide has not created a forum for discussion and open dialogue. You can’t just keep telling educators to go along with the program.” Cole’s not sure the breach can be repaired. “Honestly, because we’re three years into the struggle I question whether it’s possible to continue Dr. VanDuyn’s tenure with the district. However well-meaning or gifted a leader she might be, she hasn’t been a good fit for the whole of Cedar Springs, obviously, and it’s time for this board to cut the losses to the District and replace her with someone who does fit and can nurture us back to the health our students need, and we once enjoyed.”

Teacher Libby Metiva read a statement on behalf of many teachers, who stood with her in solidarity. She noted that the teachers had stood there in June of 2017, and asked for the board to meet with them to help them build bridges, but it had not happened.

One of the students that spoke is president of the gay/straight alliance at the school. Her comments were directed at Bauer. She told him that she was not saying he should go against his beliefs, but that his comments were personally hurtful to her and others. “They leave scars,” she said.

Two people spoke in favor of VanDuyn. One was Pastor Keith Hemmila, and the other was bus driver Rebecca Fisk.

Hemmila said he was concerned about people’s motives for speaking out. “If it’s for the good of the kids and the school, that’s good. But if your motive is to get your way, that’s not good.” He said he appreciated Dr. VanDuyn. “She’s doing a lot of good for students left behind,” he said.

Rebecca Fisk said that a lot of people hadn’t given the Superintendent a chance, and noted that they had closed minds and closed hearts. “As a leader you hold people accountable for their actions. I’m a bus driver and I hold the kids accountable, that doesn’t make me a bully.” She also asked believers, “How much have you prayed about this?”

Some people that wanted to speak were not allowed to because they had not filled out a form at the beginning of the meeting. On Wednesday, Board President Heidi Reed posted an apology for that. “During our District’s last Board meeting, I did not allow an individual to speak during public comment because they had not signed our required comment form, as has been our consistent practice. Today, after consulting our Board bylaws and legal counsel, I realize that I should have allowed the comment. For this I apologize, and going forward, I will allow.” 

In the same letter, she also clarified the board’s position on Bauer’s comments and those of other board members. “Because the Board President is the official spokesperson for the Board, individual members are not speaking on the Board’s behalf when speaking in their own individual capacity. Just as our students do not sacrifice their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse doors, our individual Board members retain their individual rights as citizens when they volunteer to serve our school community,” she wrote.

During the meeting, Reed read a statement regarding the Superintendent: “Superintendents and Boards make difficult decisions considering input from all stakeholders. As a District, we have a strategic plan that sets the path for our leadership allowing the Board to measure the District’s progress toward its goals. Each of our decisions is made objectively on the facts, both positive and negative. To date, Dr. Van Duyn has brought many positive changes to the district and has scored as ‘highly effective’ on her last three evaluations.”

The Post asked Reed what would be the plan moving forward after hearing all the concerns Monday evening. “Each of our decisions is made objectively on the facts, both positive and negative. The Board will continue to listen to the community voice their concerns and will objectively evaluate these claims as part of Superintendent Van Duyn’s upcoming evaluation. Prior boards on three occasions have rated the Superintendent as Highly Effective.”

She also said any formal complaints brought to the board would be investigated. “CSPS has established policies and procedures in place for students, staff and parents to report complaints within the District. Each formal complaint brought to our attention is investigated and addressed accordingly,” said Reed.

Todd Norman, who will moderate the community meeting Thursday evening at Solon Township Hall, said the message was clear Monday evening. 

“The majority of the people of Cedar Springs are not happy with Leadership. They want a change. A recent survey showed the thing teachers want the most was a new Superintendent. Parents took a survey, too. In that survey the second most popular answer was new Superintendent. That was after security. The message was also clear that many felt board member Tim Bauer and his wife broke the Neola bylaws for publicly coming out against ‘the homosexual agenda’ on a Facebook post followed by a post that said, ‘To the degree that you have led this fight will be the degree God’s judgement will fall on you and your households.’

Many took this as a threat.”

Norman also remarked that a member of the community made a comment that the board members and Dr. VanDuyn were making notes and passing them back and forth while community comments were going on. “I witnessed this as well,” he said. 

Some community members have questioned whether that might be a violation of the Open Meetings Act, since text messages and other private acts of communication are not allowed.   

“It’s time to make a change,” said Norman. “This isn’t ok anymore.”

To watch the entire March 12 board meeting, visit the school’s web page for videos at http://www.csredhawks.org/District/Board-of-Education/Meeting-Minutes–Agenda/Board-Meeting-Videos/index.html. (Please note that as of Wednesday evening, it had not yet been uploaded.)

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Some sugary goodness for you! 

Maple sap is running and you might find Maple trees being tapped in various places in the area. This photo was taken of trees in Nelson Township, near 18 Mile and Tisdel. Photo by L. Allen.

From the Cedar Springs FFA

This year the beginning of March not only marks the beginning of spring, but also marks the beginning of sap season. Every year the FFA taps nearly 200 maple trees behind the middle school. This can be a rigorous project, but has resulted in less work this year due to the switch from 5 gallon buckets to 5 gallon bags. The FFA decided to try out the bags so they did not have to sanitize and wash the buckets every year prior to and following sap season. With the bags, you just have to put them together, then take them apart and throw them away when it’s done flowing. 

Under the supervision of Bill Brandt, many of Mr. Reyburn’s ambitious students took to the woods. They brought along a drill, the correct size drill bit, taps, and bags that were assembled in Ag class. In order to apply the tap—about a foot and a half to two feet from the ground—a small hole is drilled. This is a tedious job because the hole can neither be too shallow, nor to deep. After the hole is drilled, a tap with 8-12 inches of hose attached to it is pushed into the hole. This year, the tap is put through the hole on the collection-bags-bracket first, and then into the pre-drilled-tree hole. This is so that the bags do not fall to the ground. This drilling and bag hanging process is repeated on all of the trees. 

Once the taps are in, it’s waiting time. 

Prime flowing weather is when the sun is shining and it’s a little above freezing during the day and then gets colder at night. The bags are emptied as needed, anywhere from everyday to not for a whole week. Dumping normally takes place after school so more people can be involved. To dump the bags, you simply remove the tap from the tree, dump the sap into a bucket, hang the bag back up, then take the bucket to dump into the tub on the trailer. 

Cedar Springs FFA has tapped nearly 200 Maple trees behind the Cedar Springs Middle School to catch sap for making maple syrup. Courtesy photo.

Without the dedication and commitment of Cedar Springs FFA Alumni member Rick Sevey, the FFA would not have syrup. After dumping the sap, Chairperson Evan Young hauls it to Rick’s farm. Here, the sap is dumped into a 400 gallon bulk tank to store until boiling time. The sugar content is measured at this time as well. So far this year,  all but one load has had a 3 percent content, which is extremely good (the other was 2.75 percent). The average sugar content is about 2 percent. At that average number, it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup. But, a higher sugar content allows for the ratio to drop closer to 35:1, possibly even 30:1. 

The boiled down sap is bottled into pint jars for the FFA to sell. The FFA also gets a few gallon jugs to auction at their annual banquet. So far this year, the FFA has collected 1300-plus gallons of sap meaning it will yield over 30 gallons of syrup.

Nothing is more delicious than a stack of flapjacks with homemade maple syrup!  Although tapping, collecting, and boiling is an enduring process, the outcome is worth it: fresh syrup, and spring weather!  

The FFA will be selling the remainder of their 2017 syrup at Cedar Springs Community Night on April 19, so come on out and grab a pint and support the Cedar Springs FFA!

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Man hit and killed while crossing road

Brian Terhorst

A Jenison man survived a rollover crash early Sunday morning, and then was hit and killed by a pickup truck as he walked across the road.

It happened on Sunday, March 11, at about 1:55 a.m., in Sparta Township. 

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the initial crash occurred in the 12200 block of Fruit Ridge Ave. Brian Terhorst, 40, of Jenison, was driving a 2007 GMC pickup northbound on Fruit Ridge Ave when it crossed the centerline and left the roadway. The pickup hit a driveway and flipped over. The truck then landed on the passenger side in the ditch, on the west side of the roadway. 

Terhorst and his passenger, Miranda Moyer, 32, of Sparta, climbed out of the vehicle and attempted contact at a nearby residence on the east side of the road. A southbound vehicle saw the crashed pickup in the ditch and stopped and called 911 to report what had occurred. During this time, the couple walked back to the roadway. Terhorst made contact with the person in the vehicle. The second crash occurred when Terhorst was conversing with the stopped vehicle and walked back across the road to the west and walked into the path of a passing northbound vehicle driven by Jacob West, 25, of Sparta. 

Terhorst died at the scene from his injuries.

Both crashes remain under investigation. 

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Have you seen this woman?

Becky Miller was last seen March 10.


She was found in the area with a Texas resident, not the individual identified in the press release issued on March 14, 2018. It was determined that Miller voluntarily left the state of Michigan. No safety concerns were identified and family members have been notified that Miller was found safe by law enforcement officials in Texas.

Original story March 14:

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Mount Pleasant Post are looking for a missing 31-year-old woman from Newaygo County. Becky Miller was last seen in Mecosta Township on March 10, 2018. She is thought to be traveling with a man identified as John Kempisty, Sr., 44, also from Newaygo County. They may be traveling in a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am, four door, red in color. The vehicle has Michigan registration DTY8655.

Becky has not shown up for work and no members of her family have reported contact with her. She also reportedly did not show up to pick her kids up from school.

The Michigan State Police are asking for the public’s assistance in locating her.

At this time Investigators are trying to determine the circumstances surrounding Becky being reported as missing. State Police are asking that if you know Miller’s whereabouts or have been in contact with her since Sunday, March 10, that you contact the Michigan State Police Mt. Pleasant Post at 989-773-5951.


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The Post travels to Hawaii

The Cedar Springs Post recently left the chilly Michigan weather behind and traveled to warmer weather in our 50th state—Hawaii—with Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack.

He is shown here with the Post in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue in front of Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii. 

We are jealous, Mike! Please bring back some of that warm weather 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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Courtland purchases automatic chest compression device

Courtland Fire and Rescue recently purchased this automatic chest compression device to help give CPR when patients are in cardiac arrest. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

An automatic chest compression device that Courtland Fire and Rescue recently purchased is already doing the job they hoped it would do. 

“We used it on Sunday’s car accident and it returned a pulse with the help of Rockford Ambulance,” said Courtland firefighter Gabriel Skelonc. 

The department purchased the Defibtech with Lifeline ARM for $11,549, with the help of the Courtland Fire Ladies Auxiliary, Courtland Township board, and Courtland Township Fire Department.

Skelonc said that The Lifeline ARM is an automated, portable, battery-powered device that provides chest compressions on adult patients who have cardiac arrest, and is intended for use by qualified medical personnel certified to perform CPR. And when staff on call is limited, it’s a lifesaver for both patients and fire personnel.

“CPR becomes tiresome even after a couple minutes and the volume of staff needed can vary widely during the day to day calls. This device can take the place of up to 6 people doing compressions over 100 times a minute at 2 inches,” explained Skelonc.

He said that it could also be used in other townships where they are called in for mutual aid.

Other fire departments in the area that have a similar device include Algoma, Cedar Springs, Solon, and Kent City.

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Cedar Springs Rotary takes over Community Night

This photo, taken in 2010, shows a firefighter giving a four-year-old a chance to use a fire hose at Community Night. Photo by J. Reed.

April 19, 6-8:30 p.m.

By Tom Noreen


For the past 31 years, the Community Action Network (CAN) sponsored Community Night. CAN was founded as a group of people and organizations meeting to serve as a public forum for member organizations to share information on community opportunities and challenges. Since then, other organizations have evolved to better meet the needs of client groups. The Kent Schools Service Network (KSSN) provides support for the schools; the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association is a forum for local churches; and the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce for businesses. Each of these groups now run events as well. The CAN board of directors voted to dissolve CAN and offer Community Night to the Cedar Springs Rotary Club.

 For the Rotary Club, this seems to be a great fit to provide an opportunity for community businesses, churches, non-profits, and individuals to share what they are doing. Many of our small home-based businesses only get exposure by word of mouth. This gives them a chance to display their products in a public forum at a reasonable cost. Community service is a key element of Rotary’s mission. Any proceeds from this event will be returned to community.

The 32nd Annual Community Night will be Thursday, April 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Cedar Springs High School. Vendors, churches, non-profits and more will have booths for you to peruse. Food will be available from the Music Boosters concession stand and multiple forms entertainment will be in the auditorium throughout the evening. Additionally, there will be martial arts demonstrations in the auxiliary gym and industrial arts projects in the industrial arts room near the concession stand.

If you would like to register for a booth, go to cedarspringsrotary.org and download the registration form in the left hand column. Deadline for the $30 registration fee is March 23. After that it will increase to $35. They can also be picked up from the Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation, Cedar Springs Community Library, ChoiceOne Bank, Independent Bank, City Hall and White Creek Lumber.

Community Night also offers the Rotary Club an opportunity to expand its exposure in Cedar Springs. For 75 years, the CS Club has supported local organizations and international projects. Annually the Club sends 4-8 high school students from CSPS and CTA to Life Leadership Camp and awards two $1,000 scholarships. As part of Rotary’s literacy focus, the Club conducts a writing contest with 5th grade students in CSPS and CTA. Check out their Facebook page and website for more information and activities. 



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Garden Club to install new garden

Design for the new garden at the northwest corner of First and Cherry Streets.

From Pat Moore, Cedar Springs Garden Club

The Cedar Springs Garden Club is making plans to begin the installation in April of the new garden across from the U.S. Post Office, at the corner of First and Cherry Streets. The new design was drawn up by Kristen Perez, of Shaner Avenue Nursery. It will be an easier to maintain garden, including a walking path and sitting area. In the heart of the city, it will be a place to “stop and smell the roses” and a relaxing place to sit and enjoy nature.

The estimated cost of the whole project is approximately $2,000. The cost includes shrubs, annuals, and perennial plants; wood mulch; and for materials to construct the walking path. Garden Club members and several volunteers from the community are donating their time to do the work. Fundraising is currently underway. We are very appreciative of the donations that have been received thus far from individuals and local businesses. More is still needed to cover the entire cost. The club is hoping for enough donations so the whole garden project can be completed this spring and summer.

The plan is to install the walking path, hopefully in April. Shrubs and perennials will be planted in May, then annuals will be added in late May or early June.

If you would like to make a donation, please mail it to: Cedar Springs Garden Club, PO Box 13, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. Checks should be made out to the Cedar Springs Garden Club. Donations will be publicly acknowledged unless there is a request to remain anonymous.

If you enjoy gardening and would like to be a part of beautifying the City of Cedar Springs, please join us at one of our upcoming meetings at the Cedar Springs Library, at 7 p.m., on the 2nd Monday of each month. If you would like more information, call Pat at 616-893-7305, or Sandra at 616-696-8660.

Click link below to download plans:

*N-Garden club

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US-131 bridge repairs over Cedar Springs Ave


The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) started repairs Monday, March 12, on the US-131 bridges over Cedar Springs Avenue in Cedar Springs.

Construction will include repaving, joint replacement, painting, substructure repairs, and approach work. The $1.9 million investment is scheduled for completion by Friday, June 29.

During construction, at least one lane of US-131 will remain open in each direction. Cedar Springs Avenue traffic will be maintained with a temporary traffic signal.

This work will extend the life of the bridges and improve motorist safety with an increase in surface friction.

To download a Michigan road construction map for 2018, go to http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_C_MapWeb-2011_350547_7.pdf.

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