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Archive | February, 2019

Community comes together during power outage

Consumers Energy trucks staged at both Meijer and the Cedar Springs Middle School during the outage. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

 A transmission line erupted in flames at the Consumers Energy substation at Fifth and Church Street last Thursday, February 7, causing most residents to lose power. Photo courtesy of Holly Knox.

The Cedar Springs community was hit hard last week by two back to back ice storms that hammered West Michigan, leaving a path of ice, snow, downed tree branches, and downed power lines in its wake. Many were without power on Wednesday after the first ice storm, and on Thursday another one hit, causing widespread outages, including most of the Cedar Springs area.

According to Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern, the power outages ramped up quickly the morning of Thursday, February 7. “We were bombarded mid-morning. We went from outages affecting 30,000 customers, to over 100,000 in a couple of hours,” he remarked. “I thought there was something wrong with our outage system.”

The City Impact outreach center in Cedar Springs opened as a warming station, thanks to the donations of business and residents. This photo shows one of the rooms filled with cots for sleeping. 

Morganstern said it was the ice on branches and power lines that was responsible for the outages. He noted that there was remaining ice from the storm earlier in the week, which had never melted, and now there was even more. “A half inch of ice can inflict 500 lbs on a strand of electric wire,” he explained. “And if you add branches, that ice adds more thickness, and they drape over the power lines, pulling the lines down.” At that time, they had over 1,000 downed wires in the West Michigan area. 

Consumers first predicted Sunday evening to have everyone’s power restored, then changed it to Monday at 11:30 p.m. That was bad news for those without power, including the entire City of Cedar Springs, who lost power when a transmission line at the substation at Fifth and Church Street exploded. Schools remained closed, restaurants and gas stations had no power, and Meijer was on partial power. On top of that, the wind chill took a dive below zero on Friday. What could people do?

They pulled together, that’s what they did.

Last week we wrote about the new community outreach center, City Impact. They were slated to have a grand opening last Saturday. Instead, they opened their doors Friday as a warming center to serve people in our community. They were also without power, but someone bought them a 10,000 watt generator, and both businesses and citizens stepped up to donate supplies to help those in need. They received cots and blanket from the Red Cross; a woman in Grand Haven made 40 lbs of bbq to feed people; Lean on Me provided food; others donated snacks, fruit, donuts, bottled water, coffee, and more. 

“We had people coming in all night long to get warm and/or to sleep,” said Kelley Bergsma. “And these weren’t the people we usually serve.” Instead, she said that a lot of the people they usually serve were in the center serving others. “It’s just amazing the way we came together as a community,” she said.

About 50 people spent the night Friday at the center. But the volunteers didn’t wait for people to come to them. Several of them walked the dark streets of Cedar Springs Friday night, looking for any house that might have a candle or flicker of light in the window. That’s how they found a 100-year-old woman sitting in the dark, with only her four burners on the stove for warmth. They then brought her to the center. 

Bergsma grew up in Ada, and said she didn’t have a heart for her neighbors. But three years ago she visited San Francisco, and that started a transformation in her life. “God broke my heart,” she explained. “I wanted to do something to help people.”

For the last three years, Kelley and her team have been working with Lean on Me to deliver groceries to those in the area that couldn’t pick them up and working with people in other ways, such as taking them to doctor appointments. Someone at Resurrection Life Church in Rockford liked what they were doing, and bought the building on Main Street for them in 2017. It took some time to renovate, but it couldn’t have come at a better time. “It’s amazing the transformation we are seeing in their lives,” she said looking around at some of those people now volunteering at the center. “As we displayed our love to them, they are now showing it here. Love activated—that’s our motto.” They closed the center on Sunday after most of the area’s power came back on.

Others in the area also showed compassion in various ways. As power slowly came back on, some posted on social media that their homes were open for those that needed to get warm or take a shower. One area hair salon offered free shampooing. 

In the meantime, dozens of electric line workers poured into Cedar Springs to work on restoring power. And people were kind to them as well, offering hot coffee to warm them up. Most power was back on by Saturday evening, with a few getting it back on Sunday and Monday.

Bergsma is still in awe of what happened in our community. “It was amazing seeing the entire community come together to help those in need,” she said.

As storms ramped up again this week, City Impact was ready to open again in an emergency, but it was not necessary. She did say that if an emergency does arise, premade meals would be a big help, as well as pillows, blankets, and snacks.

City Impact postponed their grand opening and dedication of the center to this Saturday, February 16. Take a tour of the facility from 1-4 p.m. and the dedication is at 4:30 p.m. The center is located at 288 N. Main Street, next to Dollar General.

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Rand Ruwersma named 2019 Red Flannel Festival Grand Marshal

By Judy Reed

Rand Ruwersma

The Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors has named Cedar Springs resident Rand Ruwersma as the 2019 Grand Marshal for the 80th Annual Celebration, to be held on Saturday, October 5, 2019.  

“The Festival is extremely proud and thankful for the many years of Rand’s outstanding dedication to the Cedar Springs community and his dedication as a Festival Board member,” said Nancy Deyman, President of the Festival. 

Ruwersma has lived in Cedar Springs most of his life. He said his parents owned a summer home on Pine Lake when he was young, and they moved here for good from Grand Rapids in 1967, when Ruwersma was about 6 years old. He went to school in Cedar Springs and graduated from Cedar Springs High School.

He has also been a local businessman in the community. Ruwersma owned the Cedar Hardware store for five years, with his brother Bob. He bought the Cedar Pub in 2005, and owned that for 12 years.

Rand served on the Red Flannel Festival Board for over 8 years, the last several as First Vice President. He also served on the Red Hawk Athletic Booster Board and served as a Cedar Springs Lion, one as President of the Lions Club, for several years.

“It is very obvious Rand loves The Red Flannel Town and especially the Red Flannel Festival! Rand was instrumental in the success of the Festival from 2006 through 2014. The Red Flannel Festival and Cedar Springs is a better place because of his involvement,” said Deyman.

Ruwersma said he was surprised to be selected. “I am happy to do it. As a kid, I never thought I’d end up there, or even on the board,” he remarked. 

Ruwersma will reign this year, the Festival’s 80th Annual Celebration, over the two weekends of the 15th oldest Festival in the state of Michigan, sharing the Red Flannel warmth of our community to visitors and residents.

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Teen parents charged with child abuse

Kelsey Marie Long

The 19-year-old parents of a four-month-old boy were arrested and charged with child abuse after they took him to the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and workers there found the baby had two broken legs, multiple bruises, and a healing fracture on one of his arms.

Jonathan Michael McKinnon

The hospital then called the Kent County Sheriff Department to investigate.

The parents have been identified as Jonathan Michael McKinnon, 19, and Kelsey Marie Long, 19. The baby was reportedly injured on or around January 17 at their home in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates.

McKinnon reportedly told detectives that he may have picked the boy up too hard by his legs. Court records show he was irritated at the time.

Detectives found that Long saw bruises on the baby but did not want to go to the hospital. McKinnon reportedly texted Long and suggested they take the baby to the hospital, but she responded no, saying he had too many bruises.

When investigators tried to get her phone at the hospital, she reportedly disobeyed commands and ran into the bathroom.

McKinnon was charged with first degree child abuse and bond was set at $50,000. He has since bonded out. Long was charged with fourth degree child abuse, and obstructing a police officer. Her bond was set at $5,000, and she has also bonded out.

A petition has been filed to terminate the parents’ rights and a hearing has been scheduled for next month.

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In out of the cold at Velzy’s Fundraiser

The icy weather and power outages didn’t stop sweethearts and sweet seekers from congregating at Solon Hall for Velzy Park’s fourth annual spaghetti dinner and dessert auction last Saturday, February 9.  The event—featuring approximately thirty homemade desserts, a couple of donated pies from Big Boy and a growler package donated by Cedar Springs Brewery—garnered over $1900.00 towards Park construction.  Berkshire Hathaway Realty underwrote the cost of the dinner and entertainment, allowing the park to collect complete ticket sales as revenue.

Despite frigid conditions, the atmosphere inside was warm and amicable as weather-worn residents took the opportunity to visit with their friends and neighbors and share their experiences.  For many who hadn’t been outside the house for several days or had a hot meal, it was a welcome change of pace.  Monique entertained the house with her lively style and beautiful voice. There was even a surprise artist who performed a single solo to much applause and appreciation. Dan Davis took over for Joe Watson who was unable to attend, providing a lively and competitive auction with running commentary. A good time was had by all!  

If you missed this year’s event, take heart—another  dinner is planned for February of next year.  Other planned events include free concerts in the park June, July and August with a taco dinner at Big Boy in the fall. If you are interested in volunteering, a clean-up day is planned in the spring. Park meetings are every fourth Tuesday at 4:30 at the township hall—15185 Algoma Ave. For updates or more information, check out Solon Township’s Velzy Park on facebook or call 616-696-4227.

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Tri County student wins state essay competition

(L to R) Dennis Stewart, representative from Howard City VFW Post; Jesse White; Carrie White (Mom); and Steve Johnson, Principal.

Jesse White, a 13-year-old 8th grade student at Tri County Middle School in Howard City, is the first place essayist in the entire state of Michigan in a nationwide youth essay competition known as Patriot’s Pen. 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsors this competition annually, and all middle school students in the country are eligible to compete. 

Jesse wrote his essay has part of a school assignment, and his was one of the essays chosen by teachers to be forwarded on the Howard City VFW to be entered into the competition.

Jesse White is the first place essayist in the state of Michigan.

This year’s theme was “Why I honor the American Flag.” Jesse said that when he first received the assignment he hurried up and finished it, but then thought about it all night. He rewrote the essay as a tribute to his grandfather, taking pride in his family and country.

Jesse competed at a district level where he was one of six first place finalists that moved onto regionals. Regionals included six counties in the state. At this level Jesse won first place again, which moved his essay into the state level where all counties in Michigan were present. Jesse’s essay, a tribute to his grandfather, who was a POW, took first place once again. This means he will be the first student in Tri County Area Schools to have won state and will move on to the national level in early March of this year. 

The Patriot’s Pen competition is a nationwide competition for 6th through 8th graders to express their views on annual patriotic themes. The first place national award that Jesse is now a contender for, is currently valued at $5,000, with a minimal earning of $500. So far Jesse has earned $1,275. His state winnings of $1000, plaque, and backpack filled with patriotic souvenirs was recently presented to him by the VFW. He was scheduled to read his essay for the Board of Education on February 11.

Jesse is the son of Brandon and Carrie White, of Howard City.

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Storm damage brush dropoff

As a result of the recent winter storms, many residents in the City of Cedar Springs have downed limbs and other brush to get rid of. The Cedar Springs DPW is going to host a storm damage brush dropoff at Morley Park on Friday,February 15, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. City trucks will not be driving around picking up brush and they will only accept storm damage brush from city citizens. They will ask for proof of residency.  

The spring brush pickup will occur in late April.

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Teen in critical condition after crash

A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury after the car she was riding in Tuesday collided with a pickup truck.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a personal injury accident on February 12, at about 3:40 p.m., involving two motor vehicles west of the intersection of 17 Mile Rd and Myers Lake Ave NE, in Nelson Township.

The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix, driven by a 17-year-old girl from Cedar Springs, was traveling west on 17 Mile Rd, just west of Myers Lake. This vehicle collided with an eastbound 2003 Chevy pickup with a plow attached that was driven by a 23-year-old Cedar Springs man. The passenger in the Pontiac, a 16-year old girl who is reportedly the driver’s stepsister, was brought to the hospital by ambulance. She was last known to be in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury, and a medically induced coma to help with healing.

Alcohol was not a factor in the accident. The Cedar Springs Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance assisted the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at the scene. The investigation is ongoing and names have not been released.

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Sludge spill at Cedarfield during power outage

By Judy Reed

For the second time in a week, there was a sludge spill from a holding tank at the Cedarfield Mobile Home Community.

The Post reported on the first spill in last week’s paper. That one occurred on Monday, February 4, and was reported to us by Gary Osborn, of Infrastructure Alternatives, the company that maintains the community’s wastewater treatment. In that case, a check valve malfunctioned on a holding tank.

Osborn called us again on Friday to report another spill, but our power was out so we did not get the call. On Monday he called again and reported it.

Osborn said that as of Friday, February 9, they had been on generator power for two days due to a power outage from last week’s storm. He said that many of the residents were running water the entire time to keep it from freezing. Osborn said he had checked on things at about 2:30 a.m. and then was awakened by a phone call from the owner of the community at about 5-5:30 a.m. reporting another spill.

“All that running water overwhelmed the effluent EQ tank that ran to the same pipe where the previous spill occurred,” explained Osborn. 

He said that the spill was mostly clear water, with a small amount of influent.

The pipe was level with the ground, so to keep that from happening in the future, Osborn put in a 5-foot standing pipe. “It’s now higher than the EQ tank and it shouldn’t happen again,” he said.

The spill was about 1,500 gallons. It was treated with hydrated lime, as was the previous spill.

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Howard City man charged in assault

File photo.

The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic call on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at approximately 11:49 a.m. on Joy Street in Howard City. The report led to the arrest of a 29-year-old Howard City man. 

A sheriff’s deputy was sent to the home on Joy Street after the victim, a 25-year-old female, called Central Dispatch. The report indicated the woman was physically assaulted and threatened with a weapon by her boyfriend. The suspect left before law enforcement officials arrived. The area, as well as other possible locations the suspect may have fled to, was checked. The suspect was eventually taken into custody in Ionia by the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect is currently in the Montcalm County Jail charged with Assault With Intent To Do Great Bodily Harm Less Than Murder, Assault With A Dangerous Weapon, and Domestic Assault. The suspect was expected to be arraigned earlier this week. 

His name has not yet been released.

The woman went to Kelsey Spectrum Hospital for treatment of minor injuries and was released. 

In addition to Central Dispatch and the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, the Michigan State Police also assisted. 

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State Police warns of malicious email campaign

The Michigan State Police (MSP), Michigan Cyber Command Center (MC3) is noticing an increase in fraudulent emails containing malicious links or attachments that are being sent to businesses and individuals across Michigan.

Recent emails have had subject lines that include terms such as “Invoice” or “Receipt.” The email contains an attachment or link to download a PDF, MS Word or Excel document that contains malware.

Recent infections have been a result of the Emotet virus. Once infected, the virus has been known to steal contact information from any email address book that the user maintains, which allows the scammer to send spoofed emails to the user’s contacts. Other side effects of the malware include the stealing of passwords or banking information, encryption of user files and spreading of the virus to other computers that may be connected to the user’s network.

The MC3 recommends carefully screening all emails prior to clicking links or opening any attachments. Any email with attachments or embedded web links should be handled with care until the recipient can verify the authenticity of the email. Users should consider if they are expecting an email or document from the “sender” prior to opening any attachments or clicking on any links.

Additional information about this virus can be found at https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA18-201A.

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