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Archive | March, 2018

Cedar Springs Superintendent resigns

Many of those demanding the resignation of the Superintendent marched to Cedar Springs High School from the Hilltop building Monday evening. Photo by Aleshia Smith.

by Judy Reed

After several years of complaints from teachers and community members against Cedar Springs Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn, the Cedar Springs Board of Education voted Monday evening to accept her resignation.

The main complaint was of creating a hostile and toxic work environment, with a turnover of 70-plus employees in the last three years. Several complaints of bullying had also been lodged against her in the past but dismissed by the Board of Education.

Many who had voiced comments against the Superintendent at previous board meetings felt the board was not listening or did not care. That fueled a movement that recently grew in the community to get their voice heard.

A sea of red shirts sporting the logo “#ResignVanDuyn” filled the auditorium at Cedar Springs High School before the regularly scheduled board meeting Monday night. Many also held signs with the same logo. The group, made up of parents, teachers, and other community members, had come to demand that either the board put the Superintendent on immediate leave pending an investigation, or that they negotiate with her to resign. They also had petitions for the recall of three board members.

Some supporters of the Superintendent came with signs that read “B kind to VanDuyn.”

Signs in support of Superintendent VanDuyn. Post photo by J. Reed.

As the board members filed in at the start of the meeting, one person was conspicuously absent: Dr. VanDuyn.

Board president Heidi Reed announced that the Superintendent had been excused from the meeting. After making some introductory statements about the board, they made a motion to go into closed session to discuss “a personnel matter.” After more than an hour of deliberation, they reconvened and made a motion to accept the resignation of Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn.

Cheers filled the auditorium as the motion was announced. The vote passed 5-1, with Board trustee Tim Bauer the lone no vote. Trustee Shannon Vanderhyde was not present.

Bauer, who was appointed earlier this year to fill an empty seat, said he felt it was wrong. He noted that many of those wearing the red shirts had probably went to church on Palm Sunday. He then compared them to the angry mob that had crucified Jesus when they didn’t get their way. A Facebook post by Bauer Tuesday morning speaking of judgment on those that wore the red shirts caused more furor and scrutiny by law enforcement. He later announced on Facebook he would resign at the next board meeting.

Board Vice President Matthew Shoffner gave one of the most heartfelt speeches from the board. “I hoped for something better and that has not come about. I hoped for unity and I hoped for this community to be brought together. That is still my hope. I hope that we can do this together,” he said.

Katy Austin, one of the founders of the “Cedar Strong” movement, was one of those thankful that the board finally heard their voice. “I’m incredibly thankful to each and every person who helped the community be heard. I’m excited for the future and I can’t wait to see our kids soar,” she said.

Dr. VanDuyn will remain at Cedar Springs through the end of the week. An announcement from Board President Heidi Reed said VanDuyn would also continue as an ad-hoc consultant through June 30, 2018. 

Reed noted that the Superintendent still has many supporters in the district.

“During her almost four years with our District, Dr. VanDuyn’s leadership has blessed our district with talent and new ways of thinking while challenging us to rise to a higher standard.

“Dr. VanDuyn’s top priority has always been the children and creating the best environment to promote academic growth and development. Her exceptional beliefs and leadership built a strong foundation for our journey to excellence. The board is thankful for Dr. VanDuyn’s dedication and service to CSPS and we wish her well in future endeavors,” she said.

The board appointed Mark Dobias, former superintendent of Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA) and Fennville Public Schools as interim Superintendent. He is scheduled to start on April 9. “Our strong building leadership coupled with his operational background will assure a seamless transition as we begin the search process for a permanent replacement,” said Reed.

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Brush fire burns out of control

Wind caused this fire to burn out of control last week. Post photos by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Dry and windy conditions caused a brush fire to spread out of control behind a home in Nelson Township last week. 

Cedar Springs Fire was called to the scene behind a home on 18 Mile, just to the east of Hillcrest Community Church, on Friday, March 23. 

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, when the fire began to spread, the homeowner attempted to put it out but could not get it under control. Approximately two acres was burned. 

The fire department got it knocked downand then went over the hot spots.

The Michigan DNR had a burning ban out for northern Michigan, and most of the fire departments in the lower peninsula also had a burning ban on for the dry, windy conditions. Anyone in the lower peninsula who wants to burn brush needs to call their local fire department to get a burn permit prior to burning.

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City to go to 2-day work week

Cedar Springs City Manager hatched out a new idea to make the City more efficient. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs has been experimenting with a four day work week with extended hours for awhile now, and City Manager Mike Womack said it’s been working really well. So well, in fact, that he has challenged the rest of the employees to step up their game.

“Instead of working four 10-hour days, we are going to be working two 20-hour days each week, starting next week,” he told the Post. “Just think with that many hours in the day, how much more we can get done!”

Womack explained that they will rotate the 20-hour days so that one week it will be Monday and Wednesday, the next week Tuesday and Thursday, and the next week Wednesday and Friday. Hours will be from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Womack said the hours won’t bother him because he usually works long hours anyway. But he plans to bring a lot of coffee for his employees. He might even throw in an energy drink or two. And donuts will be on the house. “You have to do what you can to keep your employees happy,” he said with a laugh. 

Once the public gets used to the hours, Womack thinks they will also come to appreciate it. “Just think about it. The bar closes at 2 a.m., right? You are leaving the bar at 2 a.m. and suddenly realize you forgot to pay your water bill or your taxes. It was due earlier in the day, but now that we are open until 3 a.m., you actually can still get here on time!”

He said it would also be great for Planning Commission and City Council meetings. “We can put so much more on the agenda. The meetings can go on until the wee hours of the morning if need be, and we won’t have to worry about getting home.”

A couple of things might take some getting used to. If you have a water main break in front of your home, you won’t be able to call the DPW if it’s their day off. “You will need to call a plumber,” advised Womack. “Just have them put some duct tape on the leak and we’ll fix it the next day.” He suggested that if anyone has a problem knowing where to put the duct tape, just google “Red Green.” 

“He always has good ideas,” noted Womack.

It will be the same type of thing if we get a snowstorm. “The same way people are required to shovel the sidewalk in front of their home, you’ll need to shovel the roadway in front of your home,” explained Womack. He added that people would be ticketed if caught using a snow blower. “You are not allowed to use a snow blower. It might ding up the asphalt and lead to another pothole. We can’t have the money we are saving by not turning the lights on go to fixing a pothole you created yourself.”

Womack said he’s really looking forward to starting the new hours. He said they plan on starting on Monday, the day after April Fools Day!

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Vandals smash toilets, burn flag in sink at Skinner Field

This smashed toilet is just one of the many things destroyed in a break-in at the Skinner Field locker room over the weekend. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Vandals struck again at Skinner Field last week, and this time it was not about stealing candy bars.

According to Shawn Kiphart, President of the Friends of Skinner Field, the concession stand and locker room were both targets recently in two different incidents. First was the concession stand, early last week. Kiphart said they dumped chemicals (cleaning supplies) on the floor, then put paper on it and tried to burn it. Then this past Sunday, they discovered the locker room had been broken into. And it was far more destructive.

Vandals burned a flag in the sink in the locker room. Courtesy photo.

According to Kiphart, the locker room has large steel doors that you cannot get into, so the suspect(s) broke out a small daylight window that sits about seven feet off the ground. Nothing appeared to be stolen, but the vandals smashed and destroyed toilets, urinals, 11 new first aid kits, showerheads, football equipment and more. Two of the toilets were brand new. They also burned a flag in the sink. 

“In years past, it was very obvious that the break-ins were more about mischief and kids getting in there to get candy,” remarked Kiphart. “But this was far more vicious. They were in there to destroy it.” 

More damage at Skinner Field. Courtesy photo.

Kiphart estimates the damage was $2,000 to $3,000.

The Friends of Skinner field Board and Cedar Youth Football League have set up a gofundme account to raise money for the repairs and losses they suffered from these latest break-ins, as well as to upgrade security and maintain the complex. Please visit their page at: 

https://www.gofundme.com/skinner-field-fund

If anyone has any information about this case, please contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345, or download the Silent Observer app for your phone, and use it to contact them. They will then pass on your tip to the Kent County Sheriff Department.

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Want to earn some fast cash?

It’s quick. It’s easy. All you have to do is read the newspaper. That’s right! Read the stories and read the ads. Identify the fake ad, AND the fake stories and you could win a fast $20! Email us at news@cedarspringspost.com with your guesses by Tuesday, April 6, at 5 p.m. Include your name, address and phone number in the email. Or you can drop off your entry here at 36 E. Maple. One winner will be chosen out of all the correct entries received by the deadline. We will call you to let you know you’ve won by Wednesday, April 7. And that’s no April Foolin’!

Where’s Waldo?

A new twist this year is a search for Waldo. Waldo is not the guy with the stripped shirt and funny glasses, he’s our office cat. Waldo loves to greet our customers shortly after they enter the building. He likes to jump up on the countertop up front and do a real face to face. Or more like face to whiskers. Also, like most cats, he loves to get in really small boxes. The smaller the better. We took a quick pic of him the day he climbed into a small popcorn box we use to hold napkins which had been left on a table. We have placed him somewhere in this week’s paper. You can have the kids help you with this one. They’ll love it. Good luck!

check out our e-edition to find Waldo http://www.cedarspringspost.com/pdf/ThePOST1318.pdf

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The Post travels to Sarasota

John and Carla Wood, of Courtland Township, recently traveled to Sarasota, Florida for a family vacation and took the Post with them. John said they had a good time. “We had a memorable inner coastal pontoon trip,” he said. “We almost sank the boat!”

Now that would’ve been a story! 

Thank you to the Woods for sending us your photo and 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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The Easter Bunny visits the library

The Easter Bunny visited with kids last Saturday at the Cedar Springs Community Library.

Visitors to the Cedar Springs Community Library received a special treat on Saturday, March 24, when the Easter Bunny dropped in for a visit!

Over 300 people attended the Easter event, which included choosing a craft to make and getting their photo made with the bunny.

The Easter Bunny gave the kids a bag with a pencil, and chocolate wrapped to look like a carrot. When they ran out, he handed out coloring pages of eggs, the Easter Bunny and Chicks. 

One of the biggest surprises of all was that the Easter Bunny knew the names of many of the children. He is one smart bunny!

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Post for sale on Ebay


The owner of The Post is looking to retire from the newspaper business and hoping to do so with big bucks. “I’m hoping to find someone who really wants to own and run a newspaper,” said publisher Lois Allen who has owned and operated the local newspaper for nearly 30 years. “I’m really tired,” said Allen. 

According to Allen, posting it [The Post] on Ebay opens up the sale to anyone, anywhere. “I’m hoping to get the interest of a couple millionaires and possibly start a bidding war.” She continued, “Maybe it could be someone like Bill Gates or even Donald Trump. He [Trump] could make sure all the news was real—no fake news.” 

“You never know with an auction. Maybe some lucky sucker will win a newspaper for a buck!” said Allen.

The paper would come complete with four employees and an office cat. “It’s easy,” she continued. “Everything is set up and operational. You just have to make sure to make enough [money] at the end of the week to cover payroll, printing, insurance, rent and some other stuff,” Allen said. “It’s like a weekly fundraiser. You have a whole week to make a profit or lose it.”

The new publisher could keep the paper here in Cedar Springs or move it to wherever they wanted. Of course, the name would change from The Cedar Springs Post. It could be called The Gates Post or maybe the Trump Twitter. It would be totally up to them.

Bidding starts at just one dollar with no reserve. The building is not included but would be available to rent or lease. The winning bidder would get all the equipment, an editor, graphic designer, office manager, sales person and the office cat, all who will be looking for a job and available to start immediately at the time of sale. (Cause we can’t sell people, you will have to “rent” them.)

“It’s been 30 years of not boring,” claims Allen. She continued, “I would like to make enough to take a trip to a place where there is a beach and I could sip on pina coladas from noon until about dusk.”

“Mostly, it would be nice to just relax with no deadlines!”

The listing will be on Ebay and the auction will begin on April 1st, 2018. Happy bidding!

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Spring into FFA

This time of year is always busy for the Cedar Springs FFA. With many events approaching fast, and many events that have already passed, we have a lot of news to cover. We are very excited for this new season and new opportunities to learn and grow as an FFA.

All of our FFA officers recently participated in district and regional contests. Districts were hosted at Cedar Springs High School on January 30th. The regional contests were held at Lowell High School two weeks following. Our Parliamentary Procedure team – Alyssa Marshall, Dylan McConnon, Zack Cardinal, Marjorie Hosking, Angel Shears, Olivia Martinek, and Austin Bylsma – got 2nd place gold at districts and moved on to the regional contest where they received silver. Heather Beverwyk competed in public speaking, receiving 2nd place gold, and also continued to the regional contest, where she received silver. Cecelia Brandt competed in job interview receiving 3rd place gold. Connor Brecker also competed in job interview, and received silver. 

The Cedar Springs FFA held another successful FFA week, with help of Melody Hughes, the high school student body participated in a variety of FFA related activities. Some of the events included: Riddles, guessing games, and many fun fact day. The people who one received prizes. FFA Week is always an exciting way to get the word around the school about FFA. 

Additionally, it is maple syrup season! We have tapped almost 200 trees for our annual sugar bush. The sap runs best when the days are warm and the nights are cold. So far we have collected 1,300-plus gallons of sap (almost all at a 3-percent sugar content) with the help of many of our members and volunteers. We bring our sap to Rick Sevey. He then starts the rigorous project of boiling it down to delicious syrup. After it is boiled down, we sell it in pint jars for fundraising, $12 a bottle! This year instead of using buckets, we are using an easier, more efficient method: disposable bags. We are excited to get our syrup bottled as well as to sell our sweet treats!

On March 7, Alyssa Marshall, Olivia Martinek, Dylan McConnon, Heather Beverwyk, Cecelia Brandt, and Jasmine Suschil, along with our chaperones Mr. Reyburn, Mr and Mrs. Babbitt, and Mrs. Brandt, got the opportunity to attend the 90th annual Michigan FFA State Convention. The following members received their state degrees: Alyssa Marshall, Evan Young and Cecelia Brandt. The following people received silver academic excellence awards: Cecelia Brandt, Alyssa Marshall, and Heather Beverwyk. At state convention we got to experience the Michigan State campus, learn new things by attending sessions, and watch finalists in a few contests. The delegates voted on next years state officers at the capitol. Our chapter also received the national superior chapter award! State convention is a great learning opportunity for our members to participate in. Congratulations to all of our members who received awards.

Continuing on, this month, we are electing our officers for next year. The members interested have to fill out an application, be interviewed, and then voted into office. Once they are elected they will go to a training camp at The Shack (Jugville, MI) on April 24-25 and then one later in the summer at MSU (SLCCO, July 9&10) . The new officers will learn leadership skills, teamwork, and will then bring back new ideas back to the chapter. The new officers will later be announced.

Finally, the 72nd annual banquet planning is underway. Chairperson, Heather Beverywyk and co-chair, Jasmine Suschil, are hard at work. Mark your calendars for Monday April 23! Looking even further ahead, the spring drive your tractor to school day is scheduled for May 11. We cannot wait for a delicious breakfast with our own maple syrup!

We are eager to get even more events rolling as the warmer weather approaches. Stay tuned for an update on the middle school FFA, the Cedar Trails farm day, the safety program, skills contests and more. We are always thrilled for the new opportunities and fun events we get to plan. 

As the weather gets warmer, farmers will begin to work-up fields and harvest will be here before you know it. Be sure to thank a farmer for all of their contributions as National ag week is March 18-24, and national ag day is March 20th! Happy Spring from the Cedar Springs FFA!

 

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Rotary Club honors 5th grade essay winners

From left to right: Darla Falcon & Carolyn Davis (4Way Test Committee), First place Evan Mattson & Addison Jones with teacher Mrs. Kahler,; Second Place Sophia Whitten/Mrs. Cairy and Otto Pigorsh/Mr. Moleski; Donna Clark (committee) and Third Place Caleb Christie and Nolan Papke, Mr. Moleski and Mrs. Gallagher.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Rotary handed out awards to students on March 7 in their annual Rotary 4-way test essay contest. They invited fifth grade students from Cedar View and Creative Technologies Academy to participate. All essays were written in 200 words or less. Teachers chose the 2 best essays from their class and submitted them to the committee, which included Darla Falcon, Carolyn Davis, Donana Clark and Bea Hesley.    

Clark and Rotary president Tom Noreen spoke with each of the classes ahead of time, and gave them some background on Rotary. “Tom and I visited all of the 5th grade classes and shared what the 4Way test is, how it started and tried to inspire students with ideas of how to write a story that would be compelling and touch our hearts—something real, something that impacted them that they could relay with feeling,” explained Clark.

The students were then on their own to write the essays. And the students who won had a good grasp of what the committee was looking for. Out of 12 essays, they chose six—two for each place. 

“The essays were phenomenal this year! We had so much trouble narrowing it down to just one 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner that we decided not to,” said Clark. “We were a bit extravagant and allowed ourselves to choose two for each place!”

The first place winners were Evan Mattson and Addison Jones, both of Mrs. Kahler’s class. They each won $35 and a gold medallion of 4Way test.

Second place winners were Otto Pigorsh of Mr. Moleski’s class, and Sophia Whitten, of Mrs. Cairy’s class. They each won $20 and a gold medallion.

Third place winners were Nolan Papke of Mrs. Gallagher’s class, and Caleb Christie, of Mr. Moleski’s class. They each won $10 and a gold medallion.

The 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary in 1943 and is a code of ethics each Rotarian aspires to live by both in their business and personal lives. It says: “Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the TRUTH? 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”

This is the 10th year that the Rotary has partnered with local schools on this project.

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