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Archive | January, 2020

Kent County approves new sheriff campus in Cedar Springs


The new North County Campus housing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Kent County Health Department will be built on land west of Taco Bell. Photo by L. Allen.

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Board of Commissioners gave the green light last week to the development of a new $12.5 million North County campus in Cedar Springs that will house both the Kent County Sheriff’s Office  and the Kent County Health Department. 

The new North County Campus will be built on 14 acres of county-owned property on 17 Mile Road NE, west of Taco Bell. The site’s conceptual master site plan includes a full-service sub-station for the Sheriff’s Office, a clinic for the Health Department, and additional space for other County services as needed. The County said this new shared facility will improve response times by the Sheriff’s Office and increase access to services in northern Kent County.

“By consolidating and upgrading our facilities and operations, we are focusing on the County’s quality of life and addressing long-awaited projects to better serve our residents now and into the future,” said Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt.

According to Sgt. Todd Probst, who supervises the Cedar Springs Sheriff’s Unit, the deputies who currently work out of Cedar Springs City Hall will move into the new building, along with officers and detectives who work out of the current north substation in Kent City. He sees it as a great advantage for the deputies and residents.

“Besides still being in the city of Cedar Springs, it will allow the dedicated city officers to collaborate directly with the north road patrol deputies, community policing officers, and detectives,” explained Sgt. Probst.  “Having the North Sub within the city will also bring additional officers coming and going from the city, which will give Cedar additional coverage for police related incidents.”  

The new North County Campus was one of three strategic capital improvement projects approved by Kent County, with all three totaling $18.7 million. The projects, meant to address the growing needs of Kent County residents, include: 

• $12.5 million for the development of a North County Campus,

• $2.68 million for a Parks Department office near Millenium Park, and

• $3.5 million for a 16,100 square-foot fleet facility on the county’s Fuller campus to repair and maintain the county’s more than 290 vehicles. When the original facility was built, they only serviced 35.

The funding for these projects was allocated from the County’s Capital Improvement Program Fund. The fund was established in 2015 to reserve funding for future capital needs and to reduce the size of debt associated with large capital projects.

“I am very proud we were able to address the needs of the community and offer better, more efficient services without the need to issue bonds,” said Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Mandy Bolter. “Our fiscal team has been very responsible with taxpayer dollars over the years so we could make that possible. These projects wisely invest taxpayer dollars in areas that will not only improve access to County services but prepare our infrastructure for the future.”

The Kent County Building Authority will assume project management responsibility for these initiatives. All projects are scheduled to immediately commence with architectural and engineering services and the projected timeline for the North County Campus is twenty-four months; fifteen months for the Parks Department office; and eighteen months for the fleet facility. Design renderings are currently unavailable for these projects.

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Father found guilty of baby’s murder, mom takes plea deal


Seth Michael Welch

Tatiana Elena Fusari

By Judy Reed

A Solon Township man is facing up to life in prison for the starvation death of his infant daughter after a jury found him guilty of all charges Monday.

Seth Michael Welch, 28, was found guilty of felony murder and first-degree child abuse for the death of his 10-month-old daughter, Mary, who only weighed 8 pounds at the time of her death.

Welch’s wife, Tatiana Elena Fusari, 28, was awaiting trial, but decided to plead no contest Wednesday to second-degree murder and second-degree child abuse. As part of the plea agreement, she will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison. No contest is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such at sentencing. 

The couple found their baby dead in her crib on Thursday, August 2, 2018, and called authorities at 12:06 p.m. to their home at 16509 Algoma Avenue, known by many in the community as Blackacre Farm. The baby was pronounced dead at the scene.

An officer at the scene reported that the baby’s eyes and cheeks were sunken into her head and her muscles were so weak she could not crawl or lift her head. 

Fusari had said she had fed the baby before going to work at her second shift job. 

In a conversation with the dispatcher, Seth Welch said that they had put Mary to bed at 3 p.m. and found her dead at 10 a.m. the next morning—after 19 hours in her crib. He then waited two hours before calling 911. He said that he had waited before calling 911 because he didn’t know what to do and had called his lawyer first. According to the prosecutor, Welch called his parents, texted someone about selling a goat, and googled why a rapper was kidnapped before he called 911. 

When the dispatcher asked how he was holding up, Welch said, “You know, just another day. It is what it is.” 

They reportedly told investigators they just thought the baby was skinny, like her older sister had been. They had never taken Mary to a doctor because Welch said they didn’t trust them after being reported to CPS by one they disagreed with over the care of their oldest daughter.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was ruled as malnutrition/dehydration due to neglect on the part of the adult caregivers. The pathologist said he found no metabolic diseases or parasites that would keep her from absorbing nutrients.

Police testified that during the investigation, Welch said his daughter’s death was part of natural selection, and he also told them he wasn’t losing any sleep over it.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office said they had only responded to the home once before on a matter unrelated to child welfare. 

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Solon fire frees man pinned in vehicle


A man was freed from this vehicle and treated for minor injuries after he hit a tree in Solon Township. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

The crash occurred on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

Police suspect that alcohol was involved in a crash that occurred in Solon Township last weekend.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, it happened about 10:55 p.m. on Friday, January 24, on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma Ave NE. A 39-year-old man from Cedar Springs was traveling westbound on Algoma when the vehicle he was driving went off the roadway and struck a tree.

The man was pinned inside his car, and Solon Fire, with mutual aid from Cedar Springs Fire, extricated the man from the vehicle. He was then transported to Spectrum Hospital for treatment for some minor injuries. 

Police are waiting on lab tests before sending this to the prosecutor’s office for review.

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Library staff receives CPR training


Library staff underwent emergency training and received an AED. From L to R: Cassandra Hall and baby Jason; Mark Fankhauser; Melissa Dubridge; Library Director Donna Clark; Laura Parks; Doug Christensen; Shannon Rip; Kathy Prokopy; Matt Schievink. 

The staff at the Cedar Springs Library were delighted to find out about the “Student Emergency Response Coalition,” a non-profit organization founded by Kevin McGraw.  It is made up of some local firefighters and others, who make it their business to see that local schools receive CPR training and even an AED machine, if possible.  The group has been mainly working with the schools in the inner City of Grand Rapids but are also heading North.  They have worked with schools in Sparta, Belding, Comstock Park, and now with Cedar Springs Public Schools.  They envision working also with schools in Montcalm and Mecosta Counties. 

On Thursday, January 23, they made it all the way to Cedar Springs.  Former President of SERC, Matthew Schievink, also a local firefighter for Solon Township, came to train and certify seven Library staff members, assisted by none other than Grand Rapids Firefighter Mark Fankhauser, also a citizen of Cedar Springs and a former Mayor.  

“The hours of training seemed like minutes, it was so interesting and well-presented,” said Library Director Donna Clark.  “Staff finished feeling that they were empowered to respond to an emergency situation, if it should arise, and gave Mark and Matt an A+.”

The Library Board and Clark are also thrilled that the training fulfills another key piece of the Library’s Strategic Plan.  The Board and Staff said they greatly appreciate the donations of expertise, time and equipment so generously given by the Team at SERC.

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Fifth annual spaghetti dinner/dessert auction at Solon


Days are getting longer, love is in the air and Punxsutawney Phil will soon be announcing his predictions for Spring.  It’s that time of year again! Grab your sweeties (and family and friends) and shake off the winter blues at Solon Township’s Valentine/family themed event. The Fifth Annual Spaghetti Dinner/Dessert Auction will be held Friday, February 7, at Solon Township’s hall, 15185 Algoma Ave.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at six.  Monique Doolittle will be entertaining the crowd once again with her unique style and charm. The popular dessert auction, always competitive and lively, will follow with Joe Watson as auctioneer.

Proceeds will go to further fund Velzy Park’s construction. While construction is on hold for the winter, it will resume as soon as weather permits. Current projects include finishing the restroom and construction of the playground. 

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased at the Township Hall Monday through Wednesday or from any park committee member. Additional tickets will likely be available at the door. For more information or to volunteer for the event, check out Solon Township’s Velzy Park on Facebook or call 696-1718 or 696-4227.  Desserts can be dropped off at the hall the week of the event.  Be sure to bring your appetite! 

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MSP Deputy Director retires


W. Thomas Sands

LANSING, MICH. The Michigan State Police (MSP) is announcing the retirement of Deputy Director Lt. Col. W. Thomas Sands effective Jan. 27, 2020. Sands, who most recently served as commander of the Field Support Bureau, is retiring after 32 years of service.

Sands joined the department in 1987. Following his graduation as a member of the 102nd Trooper Recruit School, he was assigned as a trooper to the Grand Haven Post. During his career, he has held several investigative positions, as well as several command positions, including serving as commander of the Jackson and Brighton posts.

In 2008, Sands was promoted to captain of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, where he led the state response to numerous gubernatorial and presidential declared disasters, including the Wolverine Pipeline spill where over one million gallons of oil was released and flowed into the Kalamazoo River.

In 2013, Sands was promoted to lieutenant colonel and selected to lead the Field Services Bureau with responsibility for the department’s law enforcement operations statewide.

In January 2019, he was selected to command the Field Support Bureau, which includes the Forensic Science Division, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, Office of Highway Safety Planning and 911 Administrative Section.

Sands holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University and is a graduate of the 211th session of the FBI National Academy. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, he and his wife Sally now reside in Portland.

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Pee-eww, rotten egg smell

By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager 


A common complaint that City Hall receives is about the smell of rotten eggs/sulphur, that the scent is just lingering in the air, indoors or outside, or that it is associated with the water supply.  There are three major sources that may contribute to the smell of rotten eggs in a home or apartment and those are a natural gas leak, sewer drain lines and hot water heaters.

Natural gas, which is used to heat your home and is used to cook on your stove, does not have a natural scent.  Due to the flammable nature of natural gas, the utility providers add a smell to it using a harmless but stinky sulfur-compound, mercaptan, to make it easier to detect.  If you suspect that you might have a natural gas leak it is important to track it down and stop the leak, check all of your gas appliances and their connections, turn off natural gas valves and contact your utility provider for additional support.

A sewer drain line can cause a rotten egg smell indoors or outdoors, although both are fairly rare.  Indoor plumbing uses several techniques for preventing sulphur gases from entering the home but some common problems are a dry P-trap, a crack/break in the drain line or a plug or backup in the sewer line.  The P-trap is the little squiggly-thingy under your sinks and showers. Its task is to trap water and the water then prevents sewer gases from exiting up through your drain line.  If that P-trap is dry or broken in some way, it won’t work properly.  Make sure that your P-traps are holding water and aren’t cracked or compromised.  Also, you may need to check your sewer line into your basement or crawl space and make sure that it isn’t leaking anywhere.  Drain line plugs happen rarely (more often if you flush “disposable” wipes or any of the other weird stuff we find in the sewers) but a sewer blockage can be a huge problem for your home.  If you have water back-flowing into your home, please call the Department of Public Works as soon as possible so that they can assist you.  Unfortunately, the blockage often occurs in the sewer lateral, the part maintained by the homeowner between the home and the main sewer line (and the homeowner would have to pay to fix) but the Department of Public Works is happy to help diagnose the problem and help where they can.  If your plumbing is functioning correctly, you shouldn’t smell the sewer inside your home.  If you catch that sulphur odor outdoors in the community, please call the Department of Public Works (616-696-1330) and report where that smell is occurring.

Finally, sometimes there is a distinct rotten egg odor in your home’s water but that funk is almost never a problem with the water supply itself.  The City’s water supply does not have any kind of natural egg stink and none of the water treatment adds that type of fragrance to the water.  Rotten egg smell in your home’s water is almost always a problem with the home’s hot-water heater, usually the anode rod.  The anode rod in your hot water heater protects the insides of your water heater from several things and one of those things is hydrogen sulfide, a gas created by bacteria often found inside water heaters.  If you smell rotten eggs/sulphur in your water, check to see if it is in your hot water heater. Anode rods only last a couple of years and then need to be replaced.  This can be especially true in multi-family housing where multiple dwelling units share a water heater.  You can also ask your next-door neighbors if they are having a rotten egg stench in their water. If nobody else is having it, it’s probably coming from inside your house.  If the sulphur smell persists in your cold-water supply, please let the Department of Public Works know about it so they can check that area of the City for problems.

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Police seek man in credit card fraud


Mecosta County Deputies are looking to identify the man who spent almost $10,000 at three stores in the Big Rapids area last week using cards that didn’t belong to him.

Police took the complaint of credit card fraud on January 22, 2020.  Credit cards were used at Walmart, Meijer and Lowes totaling almost $10,000.  Anyone with information in the identification of the subject below, please contact Deputy Jared Christensen at the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office at 231-592-0150.

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Barricaded fugitive arrested

When the Michigan State Police attempted to take a man into custody last Thursday in Montcalm County, it turned into an all-day standoff.

At approximately 8:30 a.m. January 23, detectives from the Michigan State Police (MSP) Fugitive Team attempted to take a 46-year-old Ionia man into custody outside of a residence on S. Miller Rd., north of W. Muskrat Rd. in Sidney Township . The suspect was wanted for felony firearm, taking a weapon into a prison, home invasion, and a Friend of the Court warrant.  When he saw police, the suspect fled back into the residence, barricaded himself inside, and indicated he was armed and may harm himself or police. 

As it turned out, the suspect was the only person inside the residence during the incident.  

The owner of the residence was also on scene and cooperated with the investigation.  Area residents were notified of the incident and evacuated.

Troopers from the Lakeview Post and Emergency Support (ES) Team responded to the scene, established a perimeter around the residence, and began to communicate with the suspect to negotiate a peaceful surrender.  The suspect exited the residence and surrendered to troopers at approximately 3:50 p.m. without further incident.   

The suspect, Jerry Lee Smith, was transported from the scene to be lodged at the Newaygo Co. Jail. He was arraigned in Newaygo Co. Circuit Court last Friday, January 24 on the charge of home invasion from their county. 

The MSP Lakeview Post will be seeking additional charges for what went on in Montcalm Co. on Thursday.

MSP was assisted on scene by Montcalm EMS.

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6 Tips for Avoiding Emotional Spending


(c) maurusone / iStock via Getty Images Plus

(StatePoint) Decisions about spending money are often driven by emotions, even if what your heart is telling you goes against logic. Emotional financial choices may provide you with short-term happiness, but they are just as likely to result in long-term regret or debt.

Here are six tips for making spending decisions, without allowing your emotions to take over.

• Get an accurate picture of what it costs to maintain your lifestyle and fund your goals. Knowing your fixed and variable expenses and being able to quantify your goals in terms of dollars and timeframes will help you understand what you can afford to spend in the near term.

• Ask yourself if you want something or need something before you buy it. If you do need it, or if it will make a huge difference in your life and you can pay for it right away without touching funds that are earmarked for other important goals, then go for it.

• Pause and think twice before buying large items. When making major purchases (for example, over $500), take some time between deciding to buy and making the actual purchase. Prioritize your expenditures by categorizing them in terms of cost and effect. For example, you should pay your health insurance and car insurance before booking a short-term vacation.

• Make a list before shopping. Whether shopping for groceries, household items or gifts, creating a list — and sticking to it — will help you avoid impulse buys and save money.

• Shop for major holidays throughout the year. Set a budget for annual gifts early in the year and take the time to comparison shop to find the best prices and take advantage of discounts when you find them. This not only helps to spread out giving expenses, it also ensures you do not pay a premium for last-minute purchases. 

• Experts say financially savvy people know their emotional triggers for spending, and are able to rein them in when necessary. Unfortunately, this is not easy for everyone. However, working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional to manage your spending can help you stay focused on achieving your long-term financial goals. To find a CFP professional near you who can help you look at your life through a financial lens and avoid the cost of emotionally driven decisions, visit www.letsmakeaplan.org.

Remember that your financial priorities should almost always be focused on your long-term goals. A bit of planning and some outside help can go a long way toward better spending decisions.

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