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Archive | May, 2018

Ida Loraine Morris

Ida Loraine Morris of Sand Lake, Michigan, age 93, passed away on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.  She was born to Henry and Etta (Schnieder) Roberts on January 16, 1925.  Ida was well known for her delicious fudge and cinnamon buns.  She maintained a beautiful flower garden. Ida enjoyed listening to music, embroidering quilts, and spending time with friends and family.  She is survived by her two loving daughters Connie (Gary) Welch and Terri (Tracey) Wood, six grandchildren, twenty two great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild; her sister, Stella White; sister-in-law, June Roberts; brother-in-law Kenny Becker; and numerous nieces and nephews.  Ida was preceded in death by both husbands Lawrence Heft and James Morris; son, Jerry (Sue) Heft; and grandson Jarrod Welch. There will be a time of visitation from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2018, at Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street NE, Rockford, MI 49341. The funeral service for Ida will be celebrated at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, 2018, at Pederson Funeral Home. Pastor Rick Malone will be officiating.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

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Man takes own life after setting fire to home

 

This pole barn was completely destroyed in a suspicious fire Friday morning, May 18, 2018. Post photo by J. Reed

by Judy Reed

When Paul Schrier visited Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral home last Friday morning, he walked by a man sitting in his vehicle with the window down and gave him a friendly hello. He doesn’t remember if the man responded.

“I may have been the last person to talk to him,” said Schrier.

When he finished his business at the funeral home, Schrier noticed the man was still there in the parking lot as he headed over to Elmwood Cemetery to dig more holes for the Avenue of Flags. About 10 minutes later, Schrier heard a gunshot. When he looked to see what was going on, he saw the flashing lights of police at the funeral home. And then he heard another shot. What Schrier didn’t know was that this was the tragic end of the search for Bruce Bott, the 71-year-old Algoma Township man who had set his house on fire and burned his property earlier that morning, before ending his life in the parking lot of the funeral home.

A fire was set by the homeowner in the basement of this home on Algoma Ave. Post photo by J. Reed.

It started early Friday morning, May 18. According to Algoma Township Fire Chief Troy Guerra, they were toned out at 6:48 a.m. to a structure fire at 12131 Algoma Ave, between 14 and 15 Mile Roads. When they arrived on scene, they found the basement of the home on fire, as well as the pole barn. He said they sent out a second alarm on the pole barn fire to call in more aid. 

Guerra said they didn’t find anyone inside the home.

The fire also spread to a small shed behind the home, which was extinguished. The pole barn was destroyed.

The fire was deemed suspicious, and while firefighters from multiple fire departments battled the blazes, and the Michigan State Police investigated the fire, the Kent County Sheriff Department followed up on information they were given about a contentious divorce, in case the fire was deemed arson. The divorce between Bott and his wife was finalized April 30. So police began to search for Bott.

This shed near the home was also burned in the fire May 18. Post photo by J. Reed.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. the Kent County Sheriff Office received a call from Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral home in the 13000 block of Northland Dr NE. The caller reported a suspicious person who had just arrived at their facility. Dispatchers learned that Bott was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot after dropping off a last will and testament to the funeral home.

The man was still sitting in his vehicle when officers arrived, but as deputies approached, they saw him shoot himself with a handgun. No shots were fired by responding deputies.

Bott was safely transported to Spectrum Butterworth with life threatening injuries. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., he was pronounced dead by medical staff at Spectrum Butterworth.

There were no injuries to the man’s ex-wife, who was not living at the home at the time of the fire.

 

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Lest we forget

Memorial Day services are conducted around this Civil War monument in Elmwood Cemetery each Memorial Day. Post photo by J. Reed.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of many of the veterans buried in area cemeteries (though not all), and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post, click here to download. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will hold its 18th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m. to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Alfred Sliter, Civil War; Samuel Armstrong, Spanish/Philippine American War; Russell VanDore, World War I; Mark Wheeler, World War II; Don Miles, Korean War; Carl Straub, Vietnam War. 

Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist at the presentation. We will leave from the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 pm and return there for refreshments. In case of severe weather warnings we will cancel the event. In case of rain we will do the presentations in the museum.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 28. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at 10:45 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at 11:30 a.m. In case of bad weather, services will be held only in the American Legion Hall at 9 a.m. Col. Tom Noreen will be the speaker. A luncheon will follow at the American Legion Hall.

The Algoma Township Historical Society will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 28, at 1:00 p.m. at Algoma Township Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Algoma township cemetery on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile Rd.) The service this year will honor Algoma Township’s Korean War veterans. There will be music, readings, 21-gun salute and taps. Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served by the Algoma Township Historical Society.

The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 will have ceremonies on Monday, May 28. They will be at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m. and at Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. Rain or shine. 

The Sparta Township Historical Commission will hold their Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 28, at 10:30 a.m. at Lamoreaux Memorial Park, 150 Park St, in Sparta. 

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A way to remember: the Avenue of Flags

The Avenue of Flags lines the road through Elmwood Cemetery, a reminder of many of the veterans that have served over the years. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It’s a majestic site each Memorial Day—hundreds of flags standing proudly, unfurled in the breeze, against the pale blue of a sun-drenched sky. They line the avenue that winds through Elmwood Cemetery on Northland Drive in Cedar Springs. They are beautiful to look at, but what is the story behind them?

According to Paul Schrier, treasurer at the American Legion Glen Hill Post #287, each flag honors a veteran who is no longer living. The flags are casket-sized, and according to Paul, it began years ago when families would give the Legion the flag they received at their loved one’s burial. They would hold on to it for the family, and then fly it once a year on Memorial Day. 

However, some families want to keep the original flag, so the Legion allows families to just buy a duplicate to fly once a year. The Legion also provides a pole and a plate at the base with the name of the veteran.

One thing many people may not know is that the veteran does not have to be buried in Elmwood Cemetery to have a flag on the avenue. But they do need to be a veteran, have been honorably discharged, and have some connection with Cedar Springs. A duplicate flag costs $50, and can be bought from the American Legion Post.

It’s unknown exactly when the tradition started. Schrier said he’s been organizing it for about the last seven years. However, we came across a story in a 1998 edition of the Post where George Cooley, a veteran now deceased, said at the time he had been doing it for 14 years. At the time, there were 101 flags on the Avenue of Flags.

According to Schrier, there are now 180 flags.

It takes some work ahead of time to get the holes in the cemetery ready for the flags, as well as get any new nameplates made. The American Legion also is always looking for volunteers to help put up the flags at 6 a.m. Monday morning, and then take them down again about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. If it is raining, or if rain is forecasted, they will not put them out since they are cotton, and will instead hold services in the American Legion hall.

So what does Schrier want people to feel as they walk through the Avenue of Flags? “It’s pretty impressive. I hope they remember the veterans that have served over the years,” he said.

If anyone would like to volunteer to help, or would like to buy a flag for a future year, contact Paul at the American Legion Post at 696-9160.

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Odyssey of the Mind team at World Finals

This Odyssey of the Mind team from Red Hawk Elementary will be competing at the World Finals this weekend in Ames, Iowa. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs Odyssey of the Mind team, coaches, families and fans are heading to the World Finals competition in Ames Iowa!  Opening ceremony was last evening, Wednesday May 23 and the awards ceremony is Saturday May 26. 

In between, the team will be pin trading, practicing their spontaneous and long term performance, sprucing sets, scripts and costumes, and meeting and interacting with teams from all over the world.  Thirty-four of the U.S states are sending multiple teams, and teams are also coming from China, Poland, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, British Columbia, Mexico, Switzerland, India, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Qatar. There will be 837 teams participating that are considered the best of the best.

The World Finalist team from Cedar Springs started their journey back in September/October with a coach search, a team of students, and a whole lot of creative thinking. Their journey will end on May 26 but the memories they make and the lessons they learned in this process will stick with them forever.

Good Luck to our four World Finalists!  A huge thank you to our community for the sponsorships, encouragement and support the teams have felt during the fundraising process.  

Excitement is in the air! 

If you are interested in getting your student involved in the upcoming season you can check out: odysseyofthemind.com (the 2019 Synopses are posted) or Miodyssey.com (a short video is posted about Odyssey) or contact your school principal.

The Cedar Springs Public School information meeting is held mid September 2018. This program is open to students K-12th.

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Sand Lake teen awarded Congressional Medal of Merit

Morgan Platz with Rep. Justin Amash.

Morgan Platz, of Sand Lake was awarded the Congressional Medal of Merit by Rep. Justin Amash on May 5, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. She was recognized along with 33 other students in Michigan’s third district.

Morgan lives in Sand Lake and commutes 45 minutes each way for school. She is a senior at the West Michigan Aviation Academy. She will graduate Summa cum laude on May 30. She has maintained a 4.3 GPA while taking several advanced placement and honors courses, as well as being an active member in student council, NHS and varsity women’s soccer. She is a flight student and was able to solo in November 2017 and received her private pilot’s license in April of 2018. Morgan is the daughter of Tim and Deana Platz. Morgan will attend Hope College in the fall.  

The Congressional Medal of Merit recognizes high school seniors who have demonstrated exemplary citizenship and academic excellence. Recipients were nominated by their principals or guidance counselors. 

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High school brings jazz to brewery

The Cedar Springs High School Jazz Band at the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. Photo by LeeAnne Whilden.3

The Cedar Springs high school jazz band performed at the Cedar Springs brewery last Monday, May 14, 2018.

The band, which is made up of 16 students, played under the direction of band director Charles Fallis.

“We just thought it was a good opportunity for the jazz band to give back to the community at a great local restaurant,” said Fallis.

The Post asked Fallis when people might get to see them again. “Hopefully there will be more opportunities to hear the CSHS Jazz Band/Combo this summer. Details to come,” he said.

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Honor Celebration for Men and Ladies of Honor

The Cedar Springs Men and Ladies of Honor held their first annual “Honors Celebration” at Cedar Springs Middle School on Friday evening, May 11. Men and Ladies of Honor is a Christian character-building club for 6th-8th grade young men and young ladies. It focuses on building qualities such as integrity, honesty, perseverance, chivalry, compassion, leadership and more. There were families, relatives, school staff, law enforcement, pastors, community leaders, and many more in attendance.

The evening started with the Grand Entrance by the Ladies of Honor and then followed by the Men of Honor. Mr. Randy Badge welcomed everyone in attendance followed by a video message from founder and executive director Tony Rorie and his wife Melissa from Dallas, Texas.

Middle School Principal Sue Spahr spoke to the crowd about the importance of the program in the life of middle school students and the need to have Men and Ladies of Honors in other middle schools in the area. Sgt. Jason Kelley from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department read a proclamation from Sheriff Larry Stelma proclaiming the day as “Men and Ladies of Honor Day in Cedar Springs.”

Cedar Springs Senior high school leader Joseph Wheaton shared how the program has impacted his own life.

Each young lady was awarded a Lady of Honor Medallion by leaders Jessica Debaja and Kelley Bergsma. Each young man was awarded a Men of Honor Medallion by leaders Craig Carter and Joe Hart. Participants also could earn Tenant Pins in the areas of Courage, Character, Diligence, Compassion and Leadership. Day Jones, Mason Vernon and Nick Walukonis were partially commissioned by leaders Randy Badge and Matt Grasmeyer and received their Men of Honor daggers.

Many thanks to those who support and sponsor the Men and Ladies of Honor program. There will be a Golf Fund Raiser at Boulder Creek Golf Course on

Friday, June 22nd at 8:30 a.m. If anyone would like to participate in the event or help donate to the Men and Ladies, please contact Randy Badge at rrbadge@hotmail.com. You can also check out the Cedar Springs program on Facebook at The Men of Honor – Cedar Springs.

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Board selects candidates for first round interviews

John B. VanLoon, Superintendent at Ravenna Public Schools.

Karl Heidrich, Superintendent at Stockbridge Community Schools.

Scott Smith, Asst. Superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education met Friday evening, May 18, at 6 p.m., to review over 29 applications for the Superintendent position.

The board started in open session, but then went into closed session to review the applications. They were not allowed to deliberate in closed session; they were only allowed to ask questions of Gary Rider, of the Michigan Leadership Institute, who is leading the search. They then moved back into open session, where Rider led the board in narrowing down their choices. 

The board decided on three candidates to interview in a public meeting on June 8, in the Hilltop board room:

Karl Heidrich, Superintendent at Stockbridge Community Schools, will interview at 5 p.m.

Scott Smith, Asst. Superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools, will interview at 6:30 p.m.

John B. VanLoon, Superintendent at Ravenna Public Schools, will interview at 8 p.m.

The board also discussed the importance of feedback from parents, students, staff, and the community during the process, and began to develop interview questions. “We hope parents, members of the community and staff will attend the interviews,” said Cedar Springs Board President Heidi Reed. “It will be very important for the Board to have their input during the process.”

Heidrich has been Superintendent at Stockbridge Community Schools, a school with just over 1,400 students located between Lansing and Ann Arbor, since May of 2014. Prior to that, he was high school principal at Stockbridge from 2000 to 2013; and assistant high school principal there from 1999 to 2000. From 1995 to 1999, he was a teacher and athletic director at Deerfield Public Schools. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Hillsdale College in 1995; a Masters of Education in Educational Administration in 1997 from the University of Toledo; a Specialist of Arts in Educational Leadership from Siena Heights University in 2004; and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Eastern Michigan University.

VanLoon has been Superintendent at Ravenna Public Schools, a district with just under 1,100 students, since December of 2008. Before that, he was high school principal at White Hall District Schools from 1999-2008; and from 1996-1999, he was middle school principal at Comstock Park Public Schools. He has also been past president of the Muskegon Area Superintendent’s Association; is Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA) Region III president; and a member of education and community organizations. He graduated from Hope College in 1987 with a Bachelors degree in mathematics; received his Masters in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley in 1996; and will receive a degree as an Education Specialist from GVSU in 2019.

Smith has been Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources at Hudsonville Public Schools, a district with about 6,600 students, since 2011. He also serves as the Director of the Community Education program, and the Directors of Aquatics, Early Childhood Education, Fine Arts Auditorium and Technology all report to him. He is also the Assessment Coordinator, and partners with the Asst. Supt. of Curriculum and Instruction. Prior to becoming Asst. Supt. at Hudsonville, he was a middle school principal at Hamilton Community Schools from 2001 to 2011, and an assistant Jr./Sr. high school principal there from 1995-2001. From 1992-1995, he was a middle school science teacher at West Middle School in the Holland Public Schools District. Smith received his Bachelors degree in Mathematics/Earth Science from Western Michigan University in 1988; a Masters in Educational Leadership from Western in 1995; and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University in 2010.

Smith also was one of the five candidates chosen for a first round interview for the Cedar Springs Superintendent job in 2014. 

The Post became aware that Smith was initially invited to apply for the current opening by Board president Heidi Reed, and spoke to both Reed and Smith about it, since consultant Gary Rider has been adamant that there is no outside contact between the board members and candidates.

According to both Reed and Smith, it happened within days of the board receiving the resignation of Laura VanDuyn, before they hired Rider to do the search. “I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong,” said Reed. “I don’t know him (Smith).” 

Smith agreed. “I wouldn’t know Heidi Reed if I was standing next to her,” he said. 

Smith said he got a call on his phone on March 31 and didn’t recognize the number. It was Reed. He had just went through a difficult Superintendent search with Hudsonville, and found out that they had decided to hire Doug VanderJagt, from Rockford (who coincidentally, applied for the Superintendent position at Cedar Springs in 2009). Reed had heard that he didn’t get the job and encouraged him to apply at Cedar Springs. He said she had said she wasn’t sure if the board was going to hire a search consultant or do the search on their own, and they talked about the validity and transparency hiring a consultant would bring to the process. Once he heard that the board had hired Gary Rider of the Michigan Leadership Institute to lead the search, he went to him right away and explained what happened. 

“I had been working with Gary on another search, and I know there are specific protocols, and I know there is a need for transparency,” said Smith.

Rider contacted Reed about it and the rest of the board was also made aware of the issue.

Reed regrets the incident and said that people don’t need to fear she’s pushing through a candidate. “I’m just one vote. I don’t hold that much sway over the board,” she said. 

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City sidewalk project

By Mike Womack, City Manager, City of Cedar Springs

Sidewalks are a vital part of connecting our community and provide a way for everyone, of all ages, to move around our City. Yet they are largely in need of repair, expansion and replacement. Many residential sections of the City do not have sidewalks. Many of the sidewalks that do exist have been in the ground since the 1950s and are in poor condition. These sidewalks prevent citizens from having a safe place to walk, lack wheelchair access and create an eyesore for visitors and residents alike.

To provide much needed repair and expansion, the City is excited to announce that Cedar Springs, working with Kent County Community Action, has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant of approximately $468,800 for City sidewalk improvement. The City’s contribution is approximately $156,260 for a total project investment of around $625,070. The City is currently awaiting a pending final approval of the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While the plans are not finalized, we do know that the project will focus on specific areas of the City, and the City Engineers and DPW staff are working diligently to finalize the exact locations of where the sidewalks are to be placed. The project will focus on the east side of Main St. and will focus on east-west pedestrian access on Elm St. and Ash St. It will also focus on north-south pedestrian access on Grant St. and Park St., with some extension on Linda St. and Ann St. There will be some additional sidewalk installation to the north, providing easier access from 18 Mile Road down to the core of the City. Once the plans are completed the City will make a detailed map available for everyone to review.

One of the best aspects of this project is that it will not cost individual citizens any money, no taxes will be raised and no special assessments will be imposed for this work. By waiting for a good grant opportunity to arise, the City was able to triple the amount received for the local contribution, which made it easier for the City to pay for the project without the need for a special assessment. This allows for a fiscally responsible way to complete this important project.

However, in order to complete the project it will be necessary to remove some of the encroachments in the City’s right of way.  Alongside each public road in the City, the City retains a right of way easement of about 33 feet, from the center of the road onto each piece of property. This easement allows the City to work on the roads, water lines and sewer lines. This is also the area where the City is able to install sidewalks. This means that fences, landscaping and other objects that are located in the City’s right of way may unfortunately need to be removed to finish this project. Once the City has completed its final sidewalk placement plan, it will notify homeowners of the need to relocate or remove encroachments and will provide the homeowners the opportunity to undertake that task themselves. If the City is required to remove the encroachment the objects will not necessarily be saved intact, and any encroachments which cost a significant amount of time and money to remove may be charged back to the encroaching homeowner. Again, specific homeowners will be notified of any encroachment and will be given time to address the situation before work begins.   

The City Council, City Manager and City Staff are excited to have these new sidewalks installed to improve the safety, appearance and accessibility of our community. We are also terribly excited to be able to accomplish these improvements without any additional cost to the citizens. We look forward to this, and many more, improvements in the months and years to come.

You can reach City Manager Mike Womack at (616) 696-1330 ext. 104. 

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