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Archive | July, 2019

Solon Township ordinance on ballot


By Judy Reed

The voters in Solon Township are being asked to vote August 6 on whether they approve of an ordinance that was passed earlier this year by the Solon Township board.

Ordinance 19-2-Z was adopted by the Solon Township Board on March 12, 2019, on the recommendation of the Solon Township Planning Commission. The ordinance provides that if property is to be divided into new lots less than one acre in size then those small lots must be served by public or community water and sewer supply systems.

Ordinarily, an ordinance does not need to be voted on by the public. Instead, the residents trust their elected board to make those decisions. In this instance, a local developer opposed the ordinance, and so petitioned it to be put on the ballot to let the voters decide. John Bitely, with Sable Development, and Solon resident Gary Johnson have a proposed condominium development called Ashton Meadows, which calls for the smaller lot sizes, and would then require a community water supply and septic system. They want people to vote no.

According to Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick, this ordinance, if passed would not require any individuals with existing wells and septic to connect to any adjacent community water/septic system. “This only affects new development,” he said. 

He also said it would not increase township property taxes. “The people living in one of those communities would pay for their water and sewer, most likely through association dues or special assessments. The township would not be billing them. Vista View, on Algoma, south of 17 Mile, is an example of that,” he said. 

In summary, this ordinance requires any new development with less than one acre lot sizes to have a community water and sewer system. It does not apply to any existing homes or developments. Lots with one acre-plus can have their own private well and septic system. 

The township had passed an ordinance last year with a two-acre minimum, which was also put on the ballot, and subsequently voted down. The one-acre minimum ordinance is seen as a compromise that would still keep the rural feel of the township.

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Sand Lake DPW director quits; clerk resigns


EGLE (DEQ) supervisor says they had no concerns about Dines’ qualifications

By Judy Reed

The Sand Lake DPW director has quit after the Village council reduced his salary because they couldn’t find reasons for his raises in the council minutes from the last eight years.

Jerry Dines, an almost 10 year employee of the Village, resigned on July 8, after the Village Council cut his pay by $8,400 a year during their June meeting. The minutes show that trustee Rachel Gokey said she reviewed all the minutes from 2011 until now to establish a timeline on DPW pay, and said that DPW wages increased over the years “with no explanation.” The minutes stated that according to Gokey, the evidence suggested the stated gross income on the W-2 from the previous year became the salary for the next year. The gross income included additional pay for vacation, etc. and this was a clerical error, according to Gokey.

It was then recommended his salary be dropped to “what it was supposed to be” at $39,000—a drop of $12,500, according to Dines. The council ultimately decided to give him a $1.50 raise an hour because he obtained his S4 license in 2017, which upped him to $43, 056. The decision would then be reviewed in three months after further investigation. 

And to add insult to injury, there were questions on whether he had the proper licenses to do what he did. 

Dines was floored. “I have worked almost 10 yrs for the village. I have missed a lot of holidays and family events for village emergencies, putting it before my own family to keep the town running smooth, working 300 to 400 hours over my salary hours and never getting pay for it, and to let everyone know I am a certified water and sewer operator, I do have my water and sewer licences,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing his resignation. “The last straw was them cutting my pay because they couldn’t find in the minutes about my raises, so they took my pay back to 2008, then they have the nerve to say in the meeting since we cut Jerry’s pay we can buy new blinds for the offices. I have never been so disrespected in my life.”

President Tracy Quinlan then stated in a Facebook post for the Village of Sand Lake that Dines had resigned and alluded to the DEQ having concerns about his qualifications. “Ever since the DEQ first contacted the village in regard to its concerns about the qualifications of Jerry Dines, we have been working on an alternative. The alternate plan was put into action this morning (Tuesday, July 9). The DEQ is in agreement with the plan. The water and sewer is taken care of! Please do not get all up in arms. Your water and sewer are being tested and treated, as they have always been,” she wrote.

The Post contacted the DEQ (now EGLE) and spoke with Luke Dehtiar, District Supervisor for the Community Drinking Water Program, in the Grand Rapids office. He said that the short answer was no, they didn’t have any concerns about Dines’ qualifications, and had not expressed any to the Village. “Whether he held a certain certification is what has been lost in translation. He was certified to do what he did. His role was to do the daily check-ins, operation and maintenance, and another operator through another firm made sure the checks were done properly. Physically and mentally he was capable of serving in the capacity he did.”

Dehtiar was referring to Infrastructure Alternatives, the firm that worked with Dines. “I have my S4, L1, and L2 licenses, but not my D4, I operated under their D license. I did the work and they did the paperwork,” Dines explained. He was due to take his D licensing exam this fall.

“In all the years I worked there, I never had an issue or a violation of any kind,” noted Dines.

He said that over the years the board would pay him for the weeks of vacation he didn’t take. And even though he said he presented the paperwork from the previous board saying he would be paid for vacation time he didn’t take, he said Quinlan wouldn’t honor it. “They owe me three weeks,” he said.

The Post reached out to Quinlan for her side of the story. We specifically asked who she spoke with at the DEQ that had concerns. She sent us this statement:

Jerry Dines recently resigned as the Director of the Village of Sand Lake’s Department of Public Works.

Normally, the Village does not comment on routine matters involving its human resources, seeking to keep some decorum of privacy associated with the personal lives and career decisions of its employees. The Village does not want to embarrass anyone; especially those who have worked for the Village for years and have simply decided, for whatever reasons, to move on.

But if Mr. Dines is determined to make his decision public, our Village residents have right to know that the reason cited by Mr. Dines with respect to the calculation of his salary are incorrect and the Village stands by its actions and records in that respect.

In addition, as a condition of Mr. Dines’ original employment (eight years ago), Mr. Dines was required to acquire the licenses necessary to operate the Village’s water and wastewater within two years of full-time employment. Mr. Dines was given numerous opportunities to test for and obtain said licenses, which are important to providing Village residents’ quality services.

Despite having tested for the licenses on several occasions, Mr. Dines was never conferred those licenses. By contrast, the contract the Village now has with Howard City provides Village residents the benefit of its employees holding the relevant licenses to assure a safe and high quality supply of water.

Tracy J. Quinlan, President Village of Sand Lake

The Post does not normally do stories on employee relations. But since it was done in such a public way, with his pay being reduced in a public meeting, and then comments made on the Village Facebook page that DEQ had concerns about Dines’ qualifications, we felt that was indeed worth checking into, though President Quinlan did not feel it was a story. 

Also, Jerry Dines is not the only employee to leave. His part time employee left the same day Dines did. And clerk Nyha French, who once served on the Village Council, also resigned. Her last day was Thursday, July 25. French said that another job opportunity had presented itself that was too good to pass up. “I grew up here and have been a resident my entire life. I love Sand Lake. I want to encourage residents to go to the meetings and get involved. It’s really important to let your voice be heard and find out where your tax dollars are going.”

Dines agrees that residents need to get involved. He noted that Quinlan has lived in Sand Lake less than a year, and has only been on the board since January. She was appointed to the position, not elected, and then appointed to be president in April. Several of the other council members are also appointees and will need to run for election in 2020.

The Village Council has had their share of other PR nightmares over the last nine months, including calling in a CPA to audit a previous clerk’s files; the firing of former Police Chief James Reamsma after an accident left him unable to work for a time; and the suspension and dissolution of the local police department. The Village just recently settled a lawsuit Reamsma brought against them for $27,500.

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Procedure change for parcels needing signature


Area residents who receive mail at their home recently received a letter from the Rockford Carrier Annex of the U.S. Post Office about a procedure change regarding packages needing a signature.

The letter reads: “In our efforts to accommodate all redelivery requests for every customer, mail items that need to be picked up will be available at the Rockford Carrier Annex. This includes items such as hold mail, parcels, postage due, and certified mail. We are located at 241 Rockford Park Drive, between 11 and 12 Mile Rd, off of Northland Drive. Pickup hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This change is being done to provide same day pick up service and timely redelivery.”

Some have taken this to mean that all packages or mail requiring a signature or postage due will automatically be held for pickup, with no attempt at delivery.

Not so, according to Theresa Pitsch, Postmaster at the Rockford Carrier Annex. Mail carriers will still attempt to deliver the packages. But if someone is not home, they can either pick it up at the Rockford Annex or schedule a redelivery—whichever is more convenient.

The way the system used to work, was that the Cedar Springs mail carriers would pick up their mail at the Rockford Carrier Annex. Any packages or mail that they couldn’t deliver because it needed a signature would be brought back to the Rockford Annex at the end of the day and then put on a truck that would head to the Cedar Springs Post Office at 4 a.m. so the packages would be available for pick up there. However, if someone had tried to schedule a redelivery on the package, the Rockford Annex didn’t get that request until between 6-7 a.m. By then the package was already gone to Cedar Springs, and it couldn’t be delivered that day. And if someone had taken the day off to wait at home to sign for the package, they were out of luck.

The difference now is that the parcels will not be put on the truck to go to Cedar Springs. That way they will be available for redelivery the next day, if requested.

“We changed the procedure because so many Cedar Springs customers complained,” explained Pitsch. She said that Rockford Post Office did the switch two years ago and it’s worked much better. 

“This way customers can get something when they need it,” said Pitsch. “People won’t be trying to figure out which office it’s at. We don’t want them to put in a redelivery request and us not have the item.”

For those who can’t schedule to be home to take a delivery, they still have the option to pick it up at the Rockford Carrier Annex. “There’s only six miles between the two Post Offices,” said Pitsch. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have people pick up here.” She noted that for those who do not get out of work before 5, they are open on Saturdays until 3 p.m. to help accommodate those who need the longer hours. 

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Ragu pasta sauce recalled


Mizkan America, Inc., announced the voluntary recall of select production codes of certain RAGÚ® pasta sauces in the U.S. because the sauce may contain fragments of plastic. There have not been any reports of consumer injuries or complaints. Mizkan America is taking this action out of an abundance of caution. This recall is at the retail level and all impacted retailer customers have been notified of this voluntary recall prior to this press release. Retail customers who have not been notified are not impacted by this voluntary recall. Mizkan America also asks consumers to examine their refrigerator and pantry inventory for the specific jars affected by this recall. Any recalled sauce should be discarded and not consumed.

On the recalled sauces, consumers should look for the Cap Code on the yellow RAGÚ® jar cap as well as the Best Use By Dates listed below. Please see the attached product photos with cap/best used by codes. These recalled sauces are:

RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 45 oz.

Flavor description: RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion

Cap code:                                  JUN0620YU2

Best Use By Date:                   JUN0620YU2  

RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 66 oz.

Flavor Description: RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion

Cap code:                                  JUN0520YU2

Best Use by Date:                    JUN0520YU2

RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, 66 oz.

Flavor Description: RAGÚ® Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion

Cap code:                                  JUN0620YU2

Best Use By Date:                    JUN0620YU2

RAGÚ® Old World Style Traditional, 66 oz.

Flavor description: RAGÚ® Old World Style Traditional

Cap code:                                  JUN0420YU2

Best Use By Date:                   JUN0420YU2

RAGÚ® Old World Style Meat, 66 oz.

Flavor description: RAGÚ® Old World Style Meat

Cap code:                                  JUN0520YU2

Best Use By Date:                   JUN0520YU2

This voluntary recall is limited to the pasta sauces with these specific production codes, which were distributed nationwide. No other production codes/dates, sizes or varieties of RAGÚ® pasta sauces are affected by this recall. Please note again: only the Codes listed above are impacted by this recall.

These sauces were produced between June 4-8 and Mizkan America believes that the majority of this production run is in its control. However, some cases of the sauces listed above were shipped to customers recently and these cases/products are subject to this voluntary recall. Again, retailers that received shipments of the impacted products have been notified. Mizkan is working together with these retail partners to ensure that these RAGÚ® varieties with the specified case/cap codes are removed from grocers nationwide.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled RAGÚ® sauces with the outlined cap codes should call our Customer-Service Hotline to receive a replacement. Our Customer-Service Hotline can be reached at 800-328-7248. Our Customer-Service Team is available to take your call Monday – Friday from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm CST. Mizkan America will provide a replacement coupon to reporting consumers and also may make arrangements to retrieve the product for further examination.

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Climbing Accident

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Medical Doctor Garon Coriz died at age 33 in a climbing accident. He was a Bears Ears National and Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat’l Monuments Redrock Wilderness activist. An article from the Albuquerque Journal on July 16, 2019 provides more about his legacy for a healthy, sustainable future for wilderness and people. 

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a United States national monument that originally designated 1,880,461 acres of protected land in southern Utah in 1996. The monument’s size was later reduced by a succeeding presidential proclamation in 2017. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.

It is hard to lose anyone to accidental death and is very hard to lose others with common cause as we struggle to provide a healthy, sustainable future for those to come after us. My program Wilderness–Unique Treasure has been presented since 1975. It remains one of my most popular programs. It touches the hearts of people and exposes the heart of wilderness in a manner that joins human heart with wilderness heart. It focuses on protection of Grand Staircase Wilderness. Hopefully it has drawn others to action. Bears Ears is in the region.

I participated in Wilderness Week to meet with legislators in Washington D.C. and found it too unpleasant to repeat. I continue to advocate by taking action following Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance phone conference calls. My actions are dwarfed by the efforts of Garon. We should each do what we can and look to Garon as a shining model advocating for future generations. Continue his efforts as best you can.

Surviving to advocate the principles he supported provides purpose to protect our children’s future. 

Time in the wild gives me purpose and is medicine equal to chemo that has allowed my survival greatly beyond the expected. Treatments and wild exploratory allowed me to exceed the mean survival of 7 to 8 years and I am working to survive year 22. I am among the longest surviving with this cancer (multiple myeloma). Chemo causes me to become easily confused and physically exhausted quickly. I hope to survive to write nature niches. 

A couple weeks ago I was traversing a wild area with friends and took a detour to explore independently. I became disoriented and “lost.” I did not consider myself lost. I could determine directions and move toward our vehicles. The terminal cancer causes brittle bones, and I have 10 previous healed fractures. 

I knew my friends would call search and rescue when I did not return to our vehicles on time because of my general health and potential for broken bones. I could reason my way out but stupidly had left my compass in a vehicle as well as the cell phone that might not have worked anyway. A compass was not essential but it would have hastened my departure. Eventually, I navigated to a trail and followed it for a safe return. Search and rescue arrived as I approached the road. One person from the area was already searching for me on horseback. 

The point is, we are all at risk when entering wilderness and our significance is no greater than wild inhabitants whether they be bear or ant. We forego the security of civilization and become part of wilderness when we cross the line where humans stop exerting control to allow nature niches to function with natural processes. It is a joy and an essential component for protecting wilderness to leave it beyond our manipulation. Many prefer hunting in protected wilderness areas free from mechanized development.

I was moved by paragraphs Goran wrote in 2018. Request them by e-mailing me. Other tributes were great but his words were wonderful. Like others, I am saddened by the loss of one I never met but one who shared a common cause. Continue our most important work to protect wilderness for recreation, science, and wild inhabitants that have a right to share Earth and survive. Our children’s children need protected wilderness. 

Unknowns remain in wilderness. I presented a scientific paper at the U of California-Davis in early July on a new species I discovered that lives in the Grand Staircase and discussed other unique species from the ecosystem. The national monument was set aside by a president in the 1990s and it has the legal authority limited to the US Congress to leave it a monument, make it a national park that has the same protections, expand it, reduce its size, or eliminate it. The current president illegally used dictatorial power to bypass Congress’ legal responsibility. The issue is in the courts. I hope Grand Staircase NM is restored.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Track chairs help more people experience state parks


Henry Carpenter, a 13-year-old from Monroe County, Michigan, was the first visitor to use a new track chair this summer at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the Upper Peninsula. Henry explored through dirt, mud, sand and puddles at the Lower Falls campground. The chair was one of five donated by Kali’s Cure for Paralysis Foundation for use at Michigan state parks. 
Photo courtesy Michigan DNR.

After an accident left her paralyzed in 2006, Michigan native Kali Pung started the Kali’s Cure for Paralysis Foundation, aimed at financially supporting spinal cord research and rehabilitation. With the help of friends, family and others, Kali was able to raise more than $2 million in under 10 years.

Kali’s priorities include making Michigan state parks more accessible to people with injuries or disabilities, and through rigorous fundraising she was able to provide track chairs to Maybury, Muskegon and Tahquamenon Falls state parks, Belle Isle and Waterloo Recreation Area. This brief video shows Muskegon State Park’s track chair in use: https://youtu.be/2fzMiinTsGk

These off-road, electronic chairs easily handle trails, snow, sand, and even up to 8 inches of water, allowing users to explore areas of the parks where traditional wheelchairs might not be able to go. Chairs are rented out on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost to the individuals needing assistance. Pets and service animals may accompany track chair users but must follow park rules.

“Kali’s generous donation helps to ensure that more visitors can enjoy more of what Michigan state parks offer,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.

Though Kali’s chair donation came to Michigan state parks in 2017, Olson said that it took some time to get the program and the systems in place for people to be able to use the chairs.

The track chairs are just one component of the DNr’ss department-wide strategy to make outdoor recreation—beaches, campgrounds, fishing, hunting and trails—more accessible to everyone. Learn more at Michigan.gov/DNRAccessibility.

Questions? Contact Michelle Coss, 517-881-5884.

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Vote YES on Ordinance 19-2-Z


On August 6, Solon residents will be called on to vote on an important issue regarding the character of our township. As our stewards, our board has worked diligently to bring this ordinance into effect.  A brief explanation of Ordinance-19-2-Z and its potential effects:

As part of our Master Plan, Solon Township conducted a survey to gauge the wants of our residents. Results indicated an overwhelming desire to keep the rural character of our township intact.  Minimum lot size is one way townships have of controlling widespread development.  Yet, the State has granted developers a “pass”—a loophole which allows cluster housing utilizing “open” areas to make up the difference.  This puts an undue strain on our environment.  A 2-acre minimum lot size was earlier voted down by Township residents leaving the Township vulnerable to rampant development.  Ordinance-19-2-Z addresses this problem without increasing minimum lot sizes, requiring developers to build responsibly with respect to the environment.  It limits developments to one house per acre unless supported by public water and sewer or a similar community system.

Ask yourself, “Who wins?” if this ordinance fails. Developers would like to see you vote down the ordinance as it will give them license to bypass one-acre minimums without consideration for the environmental impact. This ordinance affects only developers; we—Solon residents—must abide by the one-acre minimum in the first place. Despite negative, inflammatory and misleading ads, existing non-conforming lots will not be affected. There will be no negative effects on the average citizen as a result of this ordinance.

Ask yourself why the developers are so concerned with the township’s zoning ordinance in the first place. Is it out of concern for the township citizens? Or is it to make a fortune at the expense of local residents? Then ask the Township how much these developers have cost us (as taxpayers) in legal fees to protect the nature of our Township?

A yes vote would help preserve the rural character of the Township, stop unchecked and rampant development, and put the people of our Township in charge of their own futures. 

Vicky Babcock, Solon Township

POST SCRIPT NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 


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TIMOTHY ALAN SMITH


Timothy Alan Smith, age 49, of Cedar Springs, died Sunday, July 21, 2019 at his sister’s home. Tim was born February 13, 1970 in Grand Rapids, MI. He was a flooring installer who enjoyed fishing, drinking Bud Light and smoking mad weed with his friends. Surviving are his children, Matthew (Shari) Smith and Scott (Tashia) Loper; grandchildren, Terry, Illianna, Weston, Sailor and Indica; mother, Barbara (James Jr.) Mosher; father, Jack (Judy) Welch; siblings, Shannon (David) Looney II, Deborah (Donald) Dillingham, Jim Smith, Donald VanderMeer; step siblings, James (Julia) Mosher III, Randy Mosher, Heather (Kyle) Cooper, Patricia (Steven) Marvin; uncle, Craig Marsh; many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. The family greeted friends Tuesday, July 23 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service was held Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pastor Jim Howard officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to help the family with expenses. Interment Garfield Park Cemetery.

Arrangements by Bliss-Wtters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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HERBERT T. WELCH


July 27, 1930 – July 9, 2012

In loving memory of our father and grandfather, who passed away 7 years ago. 

We will always remember the happiness and fun times you brought to our lives. 

Love, 

Mike, Sarah and Terry, Jane and Nick, Jenna, Brian, Luke, Jake, and Molly

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ROSS BOYD REYBURN


In memory of our uncle ,Ross Boyd Reyburn, who passed away at age 22 on July 22, 1934.

We are pleased to place a headstone on his burial site eighty five years later.

Ross Boyd was raised on the family farm located on Indian Lakes Road, one half mile west of Algoma Ave. He attended Foxville School. In 1934 we were in the midst of the Great Depression, money was scarce and for reasons unknown, Ross Boyd never had a headstone. He was buried beside his mother and father, Adelia and John Reyburn, in the family plot at Myers Cemetery, Sparta Township. Hats off to Hessel-Cheslek Funeral home for providing the headstone.

Dale and Gordon Reyburn

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