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Archive | March, 2021

Woman in critical condition after shooting

A Grant Township woman is in critical condition after being shot at her home Monday morning, and the Michigan State Police is asking for the public’s help to solve it.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Hart Post were dispatched Monday morning to a residence in the 3600 block of Fox Dr., near Thornapple Avenue, in Grant Township, Newaygo County, for a shots fired call. Police said that an unidentified individual, who was outside, fired several rounds into the residence, striking a female who was inside the home. She was transported to the hospital by Aero Med and is in critical condition.

Troopers do not believe this is a random shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call the MSP Hart Post at 231-873-2171 or 911.

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Bodies discovered after fires

Two suspicious fires and two bodies discovered in the ruins have led police to treat the investigation as a homicide. Courtesy photo from the Michigan State Police.

The Michigan State Police is investigating the possible homicide deaths of two people whose bodies were found after suspicious fires were extinguished southeast of Greenville last week.

At approximately 7:53 a.m. Thursday, March 18, Ronald Township Fire was dispatched to a structure fire in the 4200 block of West Fenwick Road, Fairplain Township, Montcalm County. Upon arrival, two homes on the property were on fire, one being fully engulfed. Sheridan Area Fire, Greenville DPS Fire, and Montcalm Township Fire were called in to assist. Once the structures were extinguished, it was determined that the first structure had been occupied and a body was discovered.

Detectives from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post and MSP Fire Investigators were dispatched to the scene for an investigation. After several hours of investigation, a second body was discovered.  

One of the deceased individuals has been identified as Serafina Wyckoff, a 68-year-old woman who resided at the residence. Due to the intensity of the fire, DNA testing will be required to make a positive identification of the second victim.

Investigators have stated that this investigation is being treated as a homicide but there is no threat to the public.  The investigation continues and updates will be provided as they become available.

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Get ready for Easter fun

Families could use a fun outing, and two Easter events—one in Sand Lake and one in Cedar Springs—will bring some much needed joy to kids and parent.

The Sand Lake 2021 Easter egg scramble will be held this Saturday, March 27, at 11 a.m. at Salisbury Park in the Village of Sand Lake. The event, put on by the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce, is free to the public. There will be an egg scramble for ages 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There will be Easter Basket Giveaways, along with one big prize for each age group. There will also be a special guest in attendance–come have some fun with the Easter bunny and get your photo taken with him!

The Cedar Springs Community Easter Extravaganza will take place on Saturday, April 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Heart of Cedar Springs Park behind the library. The event, which is being put on by Green Family and Friends and City Impact, is free to the public. There will be an Easter egg hunt, polaroid photos with the Easter bunny, hot dogs on the grill, raffle prizes, music, and lots of fun! The event is mask-friendly.

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Student holds protest against mask-wearing at high school

About 75 students attended the protest Wednesday. Photo courtesy of C. Battenfield.
Brilynn Smith speaks at peaceful protest against mask-wearing. Photo courtesy of C. Battenfield.

By Judy Reed

About 75 students assembled in Red Hawk Stadium at Cedar Springs High School Wednesday to peacefully protest the mask-wearing requirement for in-person learning that has been mandated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Brilynn Smith, the 18-year-old senior that organized the walk out, told the Post that she did it because she thinks that being forced to wear a mask during the school day is wrong and should be a choice for the students. 

“The only time we can take off the mask is when we are eating in the lunchroom,” she explained.

Smith said she has met several times with CSHS Principal Ron Behrenwald, as well as Superintendent Scott Smith. She said that each time they gave her a lot of information, and initially, she didn’t see anything requiring them to make students wear masks. But after the last updated information, which she was given this week, she saw the school didn’t really have a choice in the matter.

The peaceful protest against mask-wearing was set for 1:40 p.m. Brilynn gave a speech outlining her reasons for organizing it. She talked about a 14-year-old old girl who spoke at the Capitol last week about family and friends committing suicide due to restrictions such as mask-wearing during the pandemic. 

“I’m not saying to get rid of them completely,” she explained “Just to let it be a choice.”

She also noted that she has gotten called names—uneducated, hypocrite and more—in retaliation for the protest. In fact, there was a small group of students that heckled her at the event.

“Those that were there in favor of the protest and not wearing masks were very respectful,” she told the Post. “But those not in favor of the protest were very disrespectful and that was kind of disappointing.”

During the protest she said that there weren’t a lot of people standing up there today, but there were some who were afraid they wouldn’t be protected from missing class or not doing homework to attend. Brilynn said she was assured by Mr. Behrenwald that none of the students who participated in the 20-minute protest would be arbitrarily marked down in their classes. 

She also said that Principal Behrenwald and Supt. Smith were connecting her with both the Kent County Health Department and Rep. Mark Huizenga. “It’s not just about our school,” said Brilynn. “It’s also about opening up our state. I’ll continue to fight for that.”

Superintendent Scott Smith issued a press release about the peaceful protest, explaining their position. 

“Throughout the pandemic, Cedar Springs Public Schools has abided by all of the Executive Orders issued by Governor Whitmer and the Emergency Orders issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). As promised in our State mandated ‘Return to Learn’ Plan, the District has also followed recommendations from various experts, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), and Spectrum Health.

“Cedar Springs Public Schools strives to provide our students with engaging learning experiences in safe environments. Many of our students, families, and staff believe in-person learning experiences are critical to academic, emotional, and social development. The extraordinary efforts of our students, families, and staff have enabled us to provide in-person learning experiences and extracurricular activities throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

“We are currently following the latest order issued by the MDHHS, which will remain in effect through April 19, 2021. Under this order, all persons learning in-person or engaging in extracurricular activities must wear a face mask unless medical reasons do not allow them to do so safely.

“We have students who are passionate about world issues. They are leaders in our classrooms and future leaders in our community. Learning to express their differences in a peaceful way is an essential lesson in Democracy. We hope today’s event has made our students feel valued and allowed voices to be heard on both sides of the mask issue. Cedar Springs Public Schools will continue to follow Executive Orders as stated above.”

The Post attempted to attend this event, but was told no press was allowed. Supt. Smith explained that it was not a public event, but a student-led event during the school day, and that there are restrictions on visitors to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We were, however, able to speak to the organizer afterward and view a video taken at the event. Parents were also not allowed to view the protest.

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The Post travels to the ‘villes

Deciding to keep their 27th anniversary vacation in March simple and quiet, Ken and TJ Norris, of Solon Township, decided to take a road trip to “The ‘villes”—Louisville, Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina. One of the highlights of the trip was Nashville’s “Honkey Tonk” music row and its country music museums large and small. The photo here is in front of the Johnny Cash museum.

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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Man arrested for business burglaries

Ziquadreon White

A Grand Rapids man was arrested in conjunction with several business burglaries throughout Kent County. 

On March 16, between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., several West Michigan law enforcement agencies, including the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the Sparta Police Department, and the Wyoming Department of Public Safety, responded to business burglaries within their jurisdiction.

Throughout the investigation, a suspect description and vehicle were obtained. Investigators confirmed that the suspect and vehicle were similar in all incidents. The vehicle was located by investigators and was later learned to be stolen. The Grand Rapids Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and the Walker Police Department assisted in apprehending the male driver and female passenger who were located in the stolen vehicle.

The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office charged Ziquadreon White, 19, of Grand Rapids, with two counts of breaking and entering with intent, one count of attempted breaking and entering with intent, and one count of larceny less than $200. White’s bond was set at $15,000. White was arraigned at the 63rd District Court on March 18 and is currently being held at the Kent County Correctional Facility on the above charges and additional charges from other law enforcement agencies—a total of 16 charges in all.

The breaking and entering complaint occurred at Verizon Wireless, 5212 Northland Dr, where he smashed the front door. Nothing was stolen. 

The attempted breaking and entering was at Genius Phone Repair, 4036 Alpine Ave. He attempted to pry open the back door but was unsuccessful.

Female was not charged because she did not commit the burglaries. She was arrested on unrelated warrants.

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Kent County Health Department warns of increase in COVID-19 positivity rate

Number of cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations all increasing

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.–The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is alerting the community to the reality that COVID-19 cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations are all increasing.

As of March 19, the average number of new Kent County cases per day increased from approximately 75 to over 100 in a week’s time, including the 178 which were reported on March 17. There were 274 new cases reported in Kent County on March 24, and four deaths. 

The county’s positivity rate has increased to 5.4 percent after two months of a four percent rate. Local hospitals are also reporting an increase in COVID-19 inpatient admissions. These increases reflect trends being observed in many other parts of Michigan and around the world.

“It is critically important for everyone to remember that the arrival of coronavirus variants and prematurely relaxed attitudes about COVID-19, put our community in grave danger of a resurgence in cases and deaths,” said Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer, Dr. Adam London. “Our county has already lost at least 663 residents to this pandemic. We do not want to see anyone else lose their life, especially when we are so near to the end of this pandemic.”

Public health and healthcare officials urge people to continue adhering to the prevention strategies which have been proven to reduce transmission:

  1. wear facial coverings in public places,
  2. stay home if you are not feeling well,
  3. avoid large social gatherings, and
  4. practice good hand washing.

The KCHD is also encouraging residents to be prepared to get vaccinated as soon as an opportunity is available. To date, 28.1 percent of Kent County’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Approximately 70 percent of our residents aged 65 or older have received at least one dose and the number of cases in that age group has been cut in half. The approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have shown themselves to be safe and effective. The KCHD, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and many other partners anticipate the volume of vaccine allocated to our area to increase dramatically between now and the end of May.

We continue to vaccinate healthcare workers, first responders, K-12 educators, childcare providers, congregate care workers, all people aged 65 and older, people aged 50 and older with underlying health conditions, caregivers and guardians of children with special healthcare needs, and uniquely vulnerable/underserved populations of people. All people aged 50 and older were officially eligible on March 22, and we encourage them to register now.

At this time, we are also strongly encouraging other people in category 1B to pre-register. This group includes people who, by the nature of their business, work in close proximity to other people in the workplaces of food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, public transit, grocery stores, postal service, civil service, utilities, and other critical infrastructure. Appointments will generally be made according to vulnerability and phase status. Pre-registered persons in upcoming Michigan Department of Health and Human Services phases may be scheduled early depending on vaccine availability.

Links for pre-registration at various clinics can be found at https://vaccinatewestmi.com/register/. People are encouraged to select the single most convenient vaccine provider and follow the appropriate link for pre-registration. For those without a clinic preference, please select the West Michigan Vaccine Clinic at DeVos Place. That clinic receives the region’s largest weekly allocation of vaccine and is capable of serving the most people.

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Severe weather awareness week

March 21-27

While the state is taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, we want to remind residents that severe weather season is approaching. This includes tornados, flooding, high winds, and other severe weather that could disrupt our daily lives.

While we are practicing social distancing, Michigan State Police Emergency management does not encourage you to congregate in groups for drills but asks that you review what your plan is in the event of severe weather.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!

Severe Weather Awareness Week will be held March 21-27, with the Statewide Tornado Drill being conducted on March 24 at 1 p.m. Kent County tornado drills will be the first Friday of each month. We hope the tornado drill begins a broader conversation about emergency preparedness.

Do you have a plan?

Where will you go?

What will you do?

Do you know the alert systems in your area?

How will you communicate?

Prepare your family, engage your community, and help build a prepared and resilient Michigan!

More information from Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security at https://www.michigan.gov/miready/. Click on Severe weather awareness week to learn more.

Click on the “Plan Ahead” tab at the top of that page or scroll to the bottom of the page to locate the “Plan Ahead” section. This resource section will provide you with templates on how to build an emergency preparedness kit, create a family communication plan, assemble a preparedness kit for your pet, and more!

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Three relatives sentenced in Otsego County for Pigeon River Country elk poaching

Three elk cows poached in Otsego County in December 2019 are shown. Three northern Michigan men related to each other were sentenced for the crimes Thursday, March 18 in district court.

Three northern Michigan men related to each other were sentenced Thursday in Otsego County District Court in Gaylord for a 2019 elk-poaching incident, in which three elk cows were killed.

Christian White, 29, of Gaylord, Harry White, 70, and Ronald White, 56, both of West Branch, each pleaded guilty to one count of illegally taking an elk.

Each man lost his hunting privileges for 15 years, forfeited his weapon and was ordered to serve a six-month probation term. In addition, each must pay $5,000 in restitution for the elk and a total of $625 in fines and court costs.

“I am proud of our team’s investigative efforts, which ultimately brought these three men to justice,” said Sgt. Mark DePew, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer who supervised the investigation. “Our officers demonstrated teamwork and patience to quickly solve one of the worst—if not the worst—elk poaching case northern Michigan has ever seen.”

Conservation officers began investigating the three men more than a year ago, after receiving anonymous tips that eventually connected the suspects, and then confirmed they had been at the location where the three elk cows were found dead. That location was situated 50 yards north of Hardwood Lake Road, near Bobcat Trail, east of Vanderbilt in Otsego County. 

During the investigation, the Whites confessed to conservation officers that they poached the three elk. The three men were arraigned in January.

This was the third elk poaching case to occur within a 30-day period in late 2019. DNR conservation officers continue to actively investigate the two preceding elk poaching crimes: a bull elk killed in Otsego County in November 2019, and a second elk killed in Montmorency County a week later.

Anyone who witnesses or suspects a natural resource violation has occurred should immediately call or text the DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Information can be reported to the tip line anonymously and monetary rewards may be offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of violators.

Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

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Suspect arraigned after assault on conservation officer

Devinci Osiris Dumas

A Grand Rapids man was arraigned Monday in Lake County District Court on charges stemming from a March 20 automobile crash that occurred east of Luther and west of U.S. 131.

Devinci Osiris Dumas, 21, is accused of kicking a Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in the head numerous times, while attempting to escape custody.

The officer credits two passersby with saving his life.

Dumas did not enter a plea in court Monday after being arraigned on several charges, including assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation, malicious destruction of fire or police property, resisting and obstructing a conservation officer, escape from lawful custody and being a habitual offender, second offense.

He is scheduled to return to court at 1:30 p.m. April 5 for a probable cause conference.

“This incident illustrates the type of danger our officers can encounter while on patrol,” said Lt. Joe Molnar, of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “Fortunately, this situation was resolved without more serious consequences.”

At 9:54 a.m. March 20, Lake County dispatchers contacted DNR Conservation Officer Josiah Killingbeck. They asked him to respond to a report of a vehicle in a swamp, located near 3 Mile and Hawkins roads.

Killingbeck headed to the scene and arrived at the location at 10:03 a.m. to find that a Saturn Vue had failed to stop at stop sign at the intersection, had gone airborne for a short distance and was now situated about 150 feet off the north side of the intersection.

Dumas and Hannah Marie Holcomb, 19, of Dorr were found in the vehicle. Neither were injured in the crash.

After an initial investigation, Killingbeck placed Dumas under arrest for open intoxicants in a vehicle and providing false information to a peace officer.

Dumas was put into the front passenger seat of Killingbeck’s patrol truck. He was handcuffed behind his back. The seat belt was secured around him.

Not long after Killingbeck began driving to the Lake County Jail in Baldwin, Dumas freed himself from the safety belt and began to attack Killingbeck by turning himself in the seat so he could deliver multiple kicks to the conservation officer.

Two passersby stopped at the scene. They were able to help Killingbeck restrain Dumas. Killingbeck was taken to Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital for evaluation. He was later released.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.

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