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Archive | June, 2019

Trooper Timothy O’Neill memorial highway dedicated

Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, and members of the Michigan State Police and family of fallen Michigan State Police Trooper Timothy O’Neill stand beneath signage marking the new Michigan State Trooper Timothy O’Neill Memorial Highway after a ceremony on Friday to dedicate the memorial highway named in O’Neill’s honor.

Sen. Peter MacGregor, R-Rockford, speaks at a ceremony on Friday to dedicate a memorial highway named in honor of fallen Michigan State Police Trooper Timothy O’Neill.

Trooper Timothy O’Neill.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter MacGregor joined family, friends and colleagues of fallen Michigan State Police Trooper Timothy O’Neill at a ceremony on Friday to dedicate a memorial highway named in O’Neill’s honor.

The dedication ceremony took place near one of the signs declaring the portion of M-44 between Rogue River Road northeast to Belding Road as the “Michigan State Trooper Timothy O’Neill Memorial Highway.”

The event was hosted by 1st Lt. Chris McIntire, commander of the Michigan State Police post in Rockford and was attended by numerous members of both the state police and Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

“I am honored and humbled to help dedicate the new Michigan State Trooper Timothy O’Neill Memorial Highway,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Trooper O’Neill served and gave his life for our community, and this highway will itself serve to remind Kent County residents of his sacrifice, each day.

“While this sign and this highway will stand in his memory, there is nothing that we can do to fully repay his sacrifice—it is but a small token of our appreciation.”

O’Neill died in the line of duty on Sept. 20, 2017 in a motorcycle crash while on patrol. O’Neill served out of the state police’s Rockford Post, which he joined in 2014 after graduating from the 126th Trooper Recruit School.

MacGregor sponsored legislation to formally designate the highway last year.

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Parks and Rec program battles funding crisis


The Daddy/Daughter dance is a sell out each year for Parks and Rec. Photo from facebook.

By Judy Reed

The board of the Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation program, now called North Kent Community Enrichment, called a meeting for Monday, June 10, to decide the fate of the cash strapped program. 

Only four of the 10 board members were in attendance, so there was not enough members for a quorum. However, the heads of several municipalities were present to discuss funding, as well as several citizens who do not want the entity to dissolve.

Joyce Hansen, who was there from Algoma Township, noted that they are not going to run out of money until next year. “There’s still lots of things we haven’t tried,” she said.

Hundreds of kids and adults take part in the various enrichment activities offered each year through CSAPR. Events include a variety of classes and other events, including bus trips (such as to the Detroit Tigers, and shopping trips to Chicago); Concerts in the Park during the summer on the third Thursday of the month; music lessons (ukelele, guitar); swimming lessons; art camp; Broadway boot camp; sports clinics and camps (football, wresting, volleyball, basketball, baseball tennis, soccer, etc); yoga; aerobics; zumba; twae kon do; origami; the ever popular daddy/daughter dance (which is a sellout each year); and the mother/son Whitecaps game. 

While the number and variety of programs has increased exponentially, the funding level from the various municipalities has not kept pace, according to both Board secretary Sara Thornton and Director Amanda Gerhardt.

The program was originally started 33 years ago as an answer to the school district no longer doing Adult Education. The school district, the city of Cedar Springs, and several other municipalities joined together to give seed money to the organization annually to help fund programs.

The 2018 audit showed that the City of Cedar Springs, and the townships of Algoma, Nelson, and Courtland all paid in $6,000; Solon Township paid $5,250; and the school district chipped in $2,500. The numbers are up to $6,600 this year for the municipalities and $3,200 for the school district, according to Gerhardt. But it’s still not enough.

While the 2018 audit shows that revenues from the programs have also increased, the organization continues to have more expenses than income, especially in the areas of payroll, insurance, and technology. This is causing their net position to decrease to the point where they may not be able to cover program costs in the coming year. 

Last week, the board had asked the municipalities to up their donations to $16,000—a $10,000 increase. On Monday, the leaders of the governmental units talked more realistically about what they felt could be done. None of them wanted to see the program end. But they did feel changes could be made to help cut expenses and increase revenues.

A couple people suggested asking other surrounding townships whose residents participate in parks and recs programs to join the group. Another suggestion was to create a job share, a co-director position for two people to share at less expense, since Gerhardt is leaving the position to pursue a career in real estate.  

Algoma Supervisor Kevin Green said he felt a smaller increase for the townships, such as $2,000 might be doable, along with increases in fees. “But what I really think we need is time,” he said. “I’m trying to make sense of how to save this. It makes me sad, too.”

He suggested that Darla Falcon, board treasurer and finance director for the City of Cedar Springs put together a team, a subcommittee to create a budget and a plan they could live with.

Nelson Township Supervisor Robyn Britton said she agreed with what Green said. She had spoken with her board, but they needed better numbers. 

Matt McConnell, Supervisor of Courtland Township, said their board agreed to a one-year commitment and to give up to $4,000. “But we need to see some changes made or we’re out,” he remarked. 

He noted that with the numbers he had received that only 145 people in Courtland had participated in the past year, he didn’t think that justified $10,000. “But for the community good we’re in,” he said. He later added that he felt they needed a sustainable plan, one where they wouldn’t just keep asking the townships to continually increase their giving.

Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager, said he was encouraged to see leadership wanting to continue the program and create a plan. If it was decided to increase their giving, he would bring it back to the City Council.

Scott Smith, Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, noted an increase would be more difficult for the school, because the money they receive from the state and federal government is to educate students. They currently pay a smaller amount than the townships, but they also pay Grand Rapids Building Services to clean up after parks and rec events. “I think we need to do some work to find out our true costs,” he said.

Gerhardt noted that most schools who participate in Parks and Rec entities pay with in kind services and not actual payments.

Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick was not in attendance at the meeting, but received information from Thornton, who is a Solon Township resident. “Things are much different now than when they created Parks and Rec 30-plus years ago,” he said. “Now, several of the townships have a big park area or building they can do events in on their own. Maybe this just needs to be reinvented in a different way.”

Ellick complimented Gerhardt on a job well done. “Hats off to Amanda, she’s done a lot of work in that program,” he said. 

He liked the idea of a subcommittee that could create a plan. “They need to show us some serious changes before we give anymore money,” he remarked.

For one, he felt there are simply a lot of programs being put on that aren’t needed, and that adds to the expense. “We’ve all got budgets and we can only spread the money so far,” he explained.

The model that is used to fund CSAPR is similar to both DeWitt and North Ottawa, but both of those programs are funded on a much higher level. Many others are funded through a millage, such as Rockford’s, which generates $1 million.

The next Parks and Rec meeting is set for July 8 at 6 p.m. at Hilltop. The subcommittee will meet next week.

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Summer celebration kicks off this weekend


The Cedar Springs Community Summer Celebration events for June kick off this weekend with nine days of fun activities for families. 

This is the second year that the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event, which is the first of the summer. There will also be activities in July and August.

“There’s over a dozen organizations and at least eight businesses organizing, participating, and sponsoring the nine days of events,” said Perry Hopkins. “It takes a community to build a community., I am very happy to see so many businesses, organizations, and volunteers coming together to grow our community.  Cedar Springs is a great place to live, work, and play.” 

A myriad of events will be happening over the next week including Lifewalk, the Rotary Cow Plop, Sidewalk sales, a dunk tank, concerts, food trucks, kickoff of the library’s summer reading program, a royal princess meet and greet and much more. 

Check out the ad on page 9 to see what kinds of events are taking place and when, and follow their Cedar Springs Summer Celebrations facebook page for event updates.

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Post travels to the East coast


In March, Sarah Kiander, Arv Kiander, Anna Behrenwald, and Kelsey Kiander went on a week long road trip to the east coast. “We drove to Acadia national park to watch the sunrise,” said Kelsey. “We took this picture at one of the spots where the sun hits the United States first. Other highlights of our trip included, touring Hershey, Pennsylvania; Hartford, Connecticut; Manchester, New Hampshire; Boston, Massachusetts and Niagara Falls.”

Thanks to all of you for taking us with you! It sounds like you had a great time!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Garden Club fundraiser


The Cedar Springs Garden Club working their magic this week. They will be holding a fundraiser this Saturday to pay for the new $1,200 sprinkling system. Plant sale Saturday, June 15 from 9–3 at the community garden by the Post Office, at First and Cherry.

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Alpha Family Center Celebrates first adult education graduates


Halle Miles and Michelle Brook, a volunteer from Alpha who attended the graduation ceremony.

The one wearing the cap is Dawn Rich and the other one wearing the gown is Halle Miles. Both received their H.S. diploma.

Alpha Family Center is proud to announce their first adult education graduating class, which includes four high school diploma graduates and two GED graduates. Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs is working in partnership with Sparta Adult Education to offer High School Diploma and GED classes. Sparta Adult Education has multiple locations in northern and eastern Kent County, and is the largest adult high school diploma provider in Kent County. Free classes are available to anyone who is at least 18 years old. Classes include individualized instruction and free study materials and GED tests. Career coaching is also available.

Classes will resume July 11th, 2019 and are offered every Thursday from 10 am to 3 p.m. at the Alpha Family Center in Cedar Springs.

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City Hall Corner


By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager

Splash pads and playgrounds

There was a recent social media post which questioned the need for a new playground, when instead most people supposedly wanted a splash pad, a skate park, a basketball court, a dog park or even something else entirely. This post was disheartening to read, especially since this post neglected to mention that this was an opportunity presented by the Chamber of Commerce and Vanderhyde Ford to donate up to $6000 for playground equipment, with the money being donated to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

It is important to note that the DDA can only use the donated money for improvements in the DDA District. The DDA District does include the Heart of Cedar Springs area and Riggle Park, but does not include Morley Park, therefore any donated funds could not be used at Morley Park.  The Community Building Development Team (CBDT), a local non-profit charitable organization, has long planned to build a playground area in the Heart of Cedar Springs, near the new amphitheater and Cedar Creek.  Children can use this playground during concerts, while parents shop at the farmer’s market or after a visit to the library. The CBDT are the very generous members of our community who raised money for, designed, and built the new library building and the new amphitheater without any cost to the citizens of Cedar Springs. Thus, the CBDT has already planned for a new playground, and the DDA can receive funding that can only be used in specific areas, which could help pay for this playground.

The proposed new playground for the Heart of Cedar Springs is being planned as a natural play ground with elements such as logs, boulders and tree stumps utilized as play structures. If you Google “natural playground,” you can find pictures of some really creative and fun playgrounds unlike anything currently in Cedar Springs. One of the unique elements being planned for this playground is a water feature, probably an artificial stream or a waterway, similar to the Great Lakes Garden found in the Children’s Area of Meijer Gardens (but on a smaller scale).This proposed water feature fits the overall natural theme, creates a special area in the heart of the city, and is significantly cheaper to build and maintain compared to a splash pad, which could easily cost $100,000 or more to build, and more to maintain.

As for the other projects, the City Council has also investigated building a dog park (maybe in Riggle Park, costing $10K to $15K) and a basketball court (in Morley Park, costing $35K in phase 1, $15k for phase 2). City staff is aware of the desire for a skate park and a splash pad but do not have a realistic method to raise the $100,000+ needed for each project at this time. City staff continue to work on those more expensive projects but for now, the hope is that our community will embrace this Heart of Cedar Springs playground project and the generosity of those who are funding, planning and building this unique and creative play area.

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Greenville man tasered, charged with destruction of property


Brent Michael Bowler

A Greenville man has been charged with destruction of property and resisting arrest after he damaged several vehicles with a bat last week.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched to a destruction of property in progress call at approximately 10:24 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 near the intersection of Wise and Youngman Roads in Eureka Township. The suspect was taken into custody a short time later.

The caller reported to Central Dispatch that a male subject, later identified as Brent Michael Bowler, age 23 from Greenville, was in the caller’s driveway damaging the caller’s vehicle with either a bat or a board. Bowler was witnessed crossing the road and damaging vehicles at another residence. While responding to the area, another caller reported Bowler in his driveway damaging vehicles. Upon arrival to the area, deputies spotted Bowler. Bowler was aggressive, defiant, and ran away behind several homes carrying a bat. The deputies continued to pursue Bowler until he was again confronted behind another home. As the deputies commanded Bowler to drop the bat, Bowler continued to be aggressive and walked towards the deputies with the bat raised. One of the deputies deployed a Taser, which allowed Bowler to be subdued and taken into custody without further incident.

Bowler is accused of damaging several vehicles in the area. The prosecutor’s office has charged Bowler with five counts of Malicious Destruction of Property and two counts of Resisting and Obstructing an Officer. Each Malicious Destruction of Property charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail while each charge of Resisting and Obstructing an Officer carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. Bowler is currently being held at the Montcalm County Jail on a $25,000.00 bond.

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Montcalm man charged with arson


Geoffrey Ray Conant

A suspicious fire in Crystal Township has led to the arrest of the man living at the home at the time it occurred. 

Sheriff’s Office deputies were sent to an address in the 1000 block of Colonel Point in Crystal Township on Saturday, May 11 at approximately 12:40 a.m. in response to a suspicious fire. After an ongoing investigation, the suspect was arrested for Arson on June 5, 2019. 

According to police, a passerby spotted a suspicious fire at the residence and stopped to assist. The passerby found a fire near the home that had also damaged a nearby vehicle and was beginning to burn the attached porch. The resident exited the home at the request of the passerby and made small attempts to help put the fire out. The passerby continued attempts to extinguish the fire until he was forced to call Central Dispatch, prompting a response from the Crystal Township Fire Department and they put the fire out. Before the fire department arrived, the resident went back inside the home and did not come back out that night. 

The Sheriff deputy found that the initial fire was set to consume household items and clothing. Police believe that the reason for the initial fire was that it was the result of a domestic dispute. The investigation continued and an arrest warrant was issued for the resident of the home. During the evening hours of June 5, 2019, Geoffrey Ray Conant, age 36, now living in Stanton, was arrested and charged with Second Degree Arson and Arson of Personal Property. The Second Degree Arson is a 20-year felony while the Arson of Personal Property is a one-year misdemeanor. Conant remains in the Montcalm County Jail with a $1,500 bond. 

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Police encourage pet owners to create emergency kits for pets


June is National Pet Preparedness Month

In honor of National Pet Preparedness Month, the Michigan State Police, Emergency

Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging Michiganders to create an emergency preparedness kit for their pets to ensure complete family readiness during an emergency or disaster.

“Emergencies and disasters come in many forms and could require you to leave your home for an undetermined amount of time,” said Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets, so it’s important to include your pets in your readiness plan.”

“Planning ahead for all members of your household is key,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “For many Michiganders, pets are a part of their family, and including them in the household emergency plan helps protect them in the event of a disaster. Your furry, feathered, finned and scaled family members are depending on you.”

To create a pet preparedness kit, ensure the following items are readily available in a safe location:

• Pet food, water and bowls

• Pet carrier, leash and collar

• Photo of your pet or ID and a photo of you with your pet

• Immunization, veterinary records and pet medications

• First Aid Kit

• Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians, and out-of-town friends and family

• Toys, rope and sanitation bags

To learn more about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or visit www.michigan.gov/miready.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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