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Archive | August, 2021

Sparta couple killed in Solon crash

Two people were killed Sunday when a pickup truck ran a stop sign at 20 Mile and Algoma and struck their vehicle. Photo courtesy of Tammy Crum.

An elderly Sparta couple died Sunday after the car they were traveling in was struck by a pickup truck that ran a stop sign.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred Sunday, August 29, about 7:40 p.m. at the intersection of Algoma Ave NE and 20 Mile Rd NE in Solon Township.

According to police, a Ford F350 was traveling westbound on 20 Mile Rd when the driver ran the stop sign and struck a Buick Envision that was northbound on Algoma.

The driver of the Buick Envision, Jack Behrens, 73, from Sparta, and the passenger, Patricia Behrens, 74, from Sparta, died as a result of the crash. The driver of the Ford F350 was transported to Spectrum Butterworth with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. It is still under investigation.

Solon Fire Department, Cedar Springs Fire Department, and Rockford Ambulance assisted at the scene.

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Police K9 dies while searching for suspect

K9 Axel died Saturday, August 28, after suffering a medical emergency while tracking a suspect. Courtesy photo.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of their K9s who died while searching for a potentially armed home invasion suspect today.

Deputies from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 8700 block of Glen Park Court N.W. in Sparta Township Saturday, August 28, at 12:21 p.m. on a report of an in-progress home invasion where the suspect was potentially armed. After arriving on scene, deputies located the suspect in a vehicle. After initiating a traffic stop, the suspect fled on foot into the woods. One of the KCSO’s K9 teams, Deputy Krystal Stuart and K9 Axel, started a track for the suspect. Shortly after the track began, K9 Axel suffered a medical emergency and was rushed to the Animal Emergency Hospital, where he later died.

“The entire Kent County Sheriff’s Office is heartbroken,” said Sheriff LaJoye-Young. “A K9 is a partner to their handler and an incredibly special member of our KCSO family. We will forever be grateful for Axel’s service to the residents of Kent County.”

A procession from Animal Emergency Hospital on Plainfield Avenue N.E. to his personal vet, Cedar Animal Hospital in Cedar Springs, occurred with assistance from the Grand Rapids Police Department K9 Unit, the Michigan State Police K9 Unit, the Wyoming Police Department K9 Unit, the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, the Plainfield Fire Department, and the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

The home invasion investigation is ongoing. The suspect is still outstanding but is not believed to be a threat to the public. No officers were injured during the incident.

K9 Axel has been with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office since May 2019. He was the agency’s only explosive detection dog and was assigned to the Community Services Unit with handler Deputy Krystal Stuart. Please keep K9 Axel and Deputy Stuart in your thoughts and prayers.

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Recall petition approved for Sand Lake trustee

by Judy Reed

A petition to recall Village of Sand Lake trustee Rachel Gokey was approved Wednesday, and a special election called by Kent County Clerk Lisa Lyons for November 2.

Candidates who wish to challenge Gokey on the ballot, should file within the next week. According to Kent County Elections Director Gerrid Uzarski, any interested candidates for this position on the ballot will have until September 3rd to file with the Nelson Township Clerk.

This seat will be for a partial term, ending in 2022.

The recall language, which was filed by Jack Christensen, reads: “Trustee Gokey refused to sign the social media policy that was passed by the Village Council on February 15, 2021 and is the only member of Council that has refused to sign and follow the policy; Trustee Gokey was censured by the Village Council on May 17, 2021.”

Gokey appealed but lost the decision. In June, she told the Post, “I am fine to appear on the ballot again and talk with voters about the steps I have taken to hold the Council accountable.”

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Are you ready for some football?

By Judy Reed

We all need something to brighten our week and here it is—the Cedar Springs Red Hawks kick off another exciting football season Thursday night (tonight) by hosting Saginaw Swan Valley at Red Hawk Stadium at 7 p.m. And this year, fans get to see the games in person!

Next week they will tackle the Rockford Rams for the first time in many years in a non-conference matchup in Rockford.

Last year the team began a new schedule in the OK Gold, after a conference realignment. Teams in the conference include GR Catholic Central, Forest Hills Eastern, Kenowa Hills, Ottawa Hills, South Christian, Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg, and Wayland. 

The Post asked Coach Gus Kapolka what the team’s biggest challenge will be this season, and what he feels is the team’s strength. “Our biggest challenge is coming closer together as a team and striving to improve daily,” he said. 

“The strength of our team is our offensive line. We return four starters from last year’s team including two all state players in Cameron Heiss and Josh Kreikaard.”

Last season, fans were limited due to COVID regulations. Coach Kapolka had this to say all of the Red Haw fans looking forward to attending this season. “Cedar Springs has been and will always be a ‘Football Town.’ It is a truly magical place on Friday nights in the fall.  I can’t wait to get Red Hawk Stadium Rocking again on Thursday against Swan Valley.”

Tickets will be sold at the gate. See you at the game!

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Sixth-grader wins Grand Champion at fair

By Judy Reed

Randy Spicer with son Cole (R) after he Cole won Grand Champion AOB at fair. Courtesy photo.

A Cedar Springs area sixth-grader won the title of Grand Champion AOB with his yearling goat at this year’s Kent County Youth Fair.

Cole Spicer, 11, is the son of Randy and Lianne Spicer, of Solon Township, and a sixth-grader at Cedar Springs Public Schools. He raised his spotted Boer goat, Tesla, from infancy. In fact, she was born and raised right on their farm. “Homegrown is the term we, as farmers, use to describe her,” explained Lianne.

This was Cole’s second year of showing goats, and he did all of his own training. “This was his project,” said Lianne. 

Randy said that Cole was ecstatic when he found out he’d won Grand Champion. “He was over the top. Just recently he said, ‘I wish we could go back to fair.’”

Lianne said that Cole and Tesla have a special bond. To Tesla, Cole is “her boy” and she follows him like a puppy. That was clearly seen in a later part of the fair. 

Cole with goat, Tesla. Courtesy photo.

“After he won yearling Grand Champion AOB with her, she was asked to be used in the Showmanship sweepstakes,” said Lianne. “Showmanship sweepstakes is where 4-h kids compete in showing every animal variety at the fair. They have the duration of the fair to learn how to show cows, horses, chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. So Cole’s Grand Champion doe was requested for this show. Cole, as the handler, agreed and passed her over to another showman to use. The whole time Tesla tried to cross the ring to get back to her boy Cole, while the show was in progress. It was like watching a completely different goat! In this class it’s the showman that is being judged, and Tesla was proving to be loyal to only Cole.”

Cole is setting his sights higher next year and plans to show pigs and goats in 2022. 

Lianne and Randy would like to thank Cole’s club leader Allyn Toren of North Kent Sheep, and Kent County youth fair goat barn Superintendent Wanda Vandefifer. “These people worked really hard this year to support the kids and keep the fair spirit alive,” they said.

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Residents stand up against mask mandate

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Board of Education President Heidi Reed and Superintendent Scott Smith listen to parents as they express their feelings about the mask mandate during Monday’s board meeting. Post photo by J. Reed.

A mask mandate ordered by the Kent County Health Department for Kindergarten through 6th grade students last Friday has lit a fire under parents who had been assured by schools, such as Cedar Springs, that they would have a choice this year on whether to wear masks. 

Originally, the MDHHS and local health departments made a recommendation for masks but fell short of a mandate. This included a letter from Kent County Health on August 13. Instead, they were supposedly going to let schools decide for themselves. Then suddenly, last week, county health departments began to mandate that schools enforce masking for K-6 students. A joint order from the Kent County and Ottawa County Health Departments dropped like a bomb on Friday, August 20, the last business day before school was to start, sending parents, school superintendents and school boards into a frenzy. These mandates caused several emergency board meetings in districts across the state to be convened to consider whether to uphold the mandate.

“This was a necessary decision as we are seeing rapid increases in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant,” said Dr. Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at the Kent County Health Department. “It also appears as though this variant may be more likely to cause serious illness and hospitalization, so we need to take precautions to keep our children healthy and in school.”

According to London’s order, the Kent Intermediate School District sent a letter dated August 16, urging him to order the mandate if he felt there was imminent danger. However, we know there are several Superintendents whose boards did not want that. We have reached out to KISD through email to find out if there was a vote by Superintendents to request this but have not yet heard anything back.

Residents across Kent and Ottawa Counties immediately began to gather to decide on a plan of action to reach out to school boards, county commissioners, and state legislators.

Cedar Springs resident Todd Norman set up a meeting for parents and other interested parties in Morley Park last Sunday to discuss the mask mandate and what steps should be taken next. A couple of hundred people showed up, and several stood up and shared their frustrations. Included in the audience were school teachers, staff, and board of education members. Board President Heidi Reed spoke and assured everyone that they had been researching the legalities all day, and reaching out to other boards such as Sparta, and their legal team. 

Todd Norman was glad for the turnout. “The meeting was a beginning. I want to thank the numerous educators, administration and school board members for their support. The out flowing love and passion for our children and individual rights was very beautiful to behold. My hope is to unite the community, make everyone feel safe while upholding everyone’s right to choose for themselves and listen to each other. I believe we can do this together,” he said.

Many of the same people attended the board meeting at Cedar Springs High School Monday evening. It was scheduled for the auditorium in order to accommodate a large crowd. About 200 people also attended that meeting, and made their feelings known about the mask mandate during public comment time. Many of them told stories about their children developing fear, anxiety, and other health issues over having to wear a mask. And many pleaded for the board to stand up to the mandate and said the crowd would stand behind them.

The board discussed the issue during board communications. Board President Reed said she had been in contact with the Sparta Board President, and they would collaborate with them. “People might feel they’ve been unheard, but they have, and there is activity going on,” she said.

According to Superintendent Scott Smith, online learning is not an option this year for those who don’t want to mask up. He said that they did a survey earlier this year on it and the results showed very few wanted it. “It took us four months last year to develop it, and it had minimal satisfaction. Turning on Zoom and having a meeting with adults is doable, but turning it on and interacting with 5, 11, and 15 year-olds is not a good viable solution,” he said. He also added that if they went virtual, the days wouldn’t count this year.

“That widens the scope of what they’ve put us under,” said Reed.

Smith said KISD knows they are not happy. “They know we are not happy. We met for two hours on Friday.”

The board urged that they continue to pursue other options.

State legislators are also weighing in on the issue after their offices were flooded with calls. Four from the State House of Representatives sent a letter earlier this week to Adam London basically telling him he’s overstepped his bounds as an unelected official, and his decision to reverse his stance on mask mandates just before the start of school and after boards had made their decisions, has caused confusion and division. 

“We respectfully request you reconsider your decision and leave it to those who should be making it — local school boards and parents, working in tandem with their communities and local health officials. We must trust the public to make these types of decisions for themselves,” they wrote. It was signed by Rep. Mark Huizenga, Rep. Bryan Posthumus, Rep. Steve Johnson, and Rep. Thomas Albert.

The Kent County Commissioners have also been hearing from their constituents, and asking for them to vote on asking Dr. London to reverse the mandate. A Kent County Commissioner’s School mask, Public Health Order work session will be held at 10 a.m. at DeVos Place, Steelcase Ballroom. Enter the Steelcase Ballroom via the Lyons Street exit. Adam London will be there virtually to discuss the public health order, and there will also be time for public comments.

Due to public interest on this subject and for resident convenience, this meeting will be livestreamed on the County’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS3mshAB5mUwzPpG98ZYXAw and on the home page of the County’s website at https://www.accesskent.com/. 

Kent County is not the only place where parents are upset. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners held a meeting where hundreds of people came and filled overflow rooms, waiting six hours to publicly comment on their feelings about the mask mandate. Allegan County, Kalamazoo County, and Genesee County health departments have also issued mask mandates, and had a strong backlash from parents. The Allegan County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to ask their health department to reverse the mandate, but that has not yet happened. 

The mask mandates have rippled across the state, causing people to keep their kids home, staff to resign, and schools to scramble to come up with ways to accommodate those who want to have a choice in the way their child learns at school—masked or not. 

The Post will continue to update this story, so stay with us for further info and an update on the the meeting at DeVos Place Thursday.

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Rockford Ambulance breaks ground

Rockford Ambulance broke ground Monday on a new substation to be located at 14122 White Creek Ave. Post photo by Marybeth Ford.

Rockford Ambulance broke ground Monday on a new substation right here in Cedar Springs.

The building will be located at 14122 White Creek Avenue, near Tractor Supply.

Drawing of the new substation. Courtesy photo.

According to Rockford Ambulance, since 1968, their mission has been to provide the highest quality Emergency Medical Services to the patients, communities and institutions that they serve.  

“Rockford Ambulance is committed to the principles of recruitment and retention of quality personnel who will be given every opportunity to grow and develop within our organization. We continue cooperation with the communities and organization we serve,” they said in a press release.

They have several locations. The first location they built was the Courtland substation in Rockford on M57 in 1987, and they received Full National Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services in 1994.

They later opened substations in Belmont, Grand Rapids Township, Sparta, Lowell, and Grattan, with administrative headquarters on Shaner Ave in Rockford.

In 2016, the land was purchased on White Creek Ave for the future Cedar Springs Substation.

“Here we are in 2021 excited to present to the community our 9th location!” they said. “With this added location, we will better serve our northern most communities with greater response times. We are thankful to all the communities we serve for your support of the future of Rockford Ambulance.”

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The Post travels to Kentucky

Braun, Claire and David Bender and their cousins Aria and Selaina Kauffman explored the Carter Caves of Olive Hill, Kentucky this month. These little adventurers hiked through forest trails and explored undeveloped cave systems located underground. They were able to see natural bridges, arches, caves, sinkholes, cliffs and much more. 

“We enjoyed our time and are happy to share our adventure with The Cedar Springs Post!” they said.

Thanks so much for taking us with you on your adventure!

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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1,000 books before kindergarten

Joanna and Greg, part of the 1,000 books before kindergarten program. Courtesy photo.

Congratulations to Joanna and Greg, recent grads of the 1,000 books before kindergarten program at Cedar Springs Public Library!

Any child that hasn’t started Kindergarten can sign up. This includes newborns, infants and/or toddlers. The goal is simple: to read 1,000 books before your little one starts Kindergarten—and yes, you can repeat books! After reading 1,000 books, your kiddo will be able to pick out a special book and stuffed animal character, which both come in an official book bag.

To sign up, simply stop into the Cedar Springs Public Library, at the corner of Main and W. Maple Streets, and come to the circulation desk. Or, call us at 616-696-1910 and pick up your folder via curbside.

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No charges to be filed in deadly shooting

The man was shot on a domestic violence call in May. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

Newaygo prosecuting attorney Worth Stay announced that no criminal charges will be issued in the shooting death of Johnny King, 63, on May 22, 2021 in the Bitely area.

Several Michigan State Police troopers responded to a domestic assault in Beaver Township, Newaygo County, about 8:50 a.m., that morning. 

A suspect, Johnny Owen King, was located in a fifth-wheel trailer. Two troopers entered to speak with King. He became combative and pointed a rifle at the troopers, which turned out to be a bb/pellet gun. The troopers discharged their service weapons, striking King, who died at the scene.

Stay found that the officers acted in self-defense and that their force was reasonable.

“Michigan law recognizes that any person may use deadly force to defend themselves or others in certain circumstances,” explained Stay. “If an individual has an honest and reasonable belief that they were in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured, then an individual is permitted to use as much force as they believe is needed at the time to protect themselves.

“The officers were in a small enclosed space,” continued Prosecuting Attorney Stay, “that of a fifth-wheel trailer. In a short time frame, the individual became confrontational and then reached for, and pointed at them, a weapon…A reasonable officer would believe that their life or the life of other was in danger when faced with that situation. Both officers’ use of deadly force in response to the perceived threat was reasonable.”

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Troopers graduate, others begin next academy

State Police seek applicants for next classes

Here in the Michigan State Police Sixth district, we welcome 10 new MSP troopers to area posts. They are part of the 57 troopers who graduated recently from the 139th Trooper Recruit School.

We welcome:

Sixth DistrictPost AssignmentHometown
Tpr. Carson CrookGrand RapidsAllendale
Tpr. Ryan DoyleGrand RapidsMarne
Tpr. Chad HopkinsGrand RapidsJenison
Tpr. Jesse KidnerHartMuskegon
Tpr. Aaron GilbertMt. PleasantAlma
Tpr. Alexander HutchinsMt. PleasantMt. Pleasant
Tpr. Kyle BostLakeviewClarksville
Tpr. Michael Clark IILakeviewHemlock
Tpr. Hannah MacMillenLakeviewSidney
Tpr. Travis RogersLakeviewBlanchard

During the ceremony in Lansing, in which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the keynote speaker, Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police (MSP), administered the Oath of Office to 57 individuals who began their assignments at MSP posts across the state this week.

The 139th Trooper Recruit School began on Sunday, March 7, 2021, with 75 prospective troopers, at the MSP Training Academy in Lansing. Recruits received training in patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, cultural diversity and implicit bias, decision making, leadership, first aid, criminal law, crime scene processing, firearms, water safety, defensive tactics and precision driving.

“Today as we celebrate adding these 57 individuals to the Michigan State Police family, their future is laid out in front of them, full of opportunity and excitement,” said Gasper. “At a time when solidifying and growing relationships with the communities we serve is critically important, I know these newest troopers will rise to challenge, helping us to continue to deliver the very best in law enforcement services.”

Including the 57 graduates of the 139th Trooper Recruit School, there are approximately 1,215 troopers assigned statewide, and a total of 1,900 enlisted members in the MSP.

The next recruit school, the 140th Trooper Recruit School, began on Sunday, Aug. 22, at the MSP Training Academy in Lansing with 74 prospective troopers. They are expected to graduate on Feb. 17, 2022.

With hundreds of trooper vacancies due to continued attrition, the MSP Recruiting and Selection Section and Training Division remain busy. The MSP is actively recruiting for future trooper recruit schools, including the 141st Trooper Recruit School, which is the department’s first recruit school for licensed law enforcement officers and the 142nd Trooper Recruit School. Persons interested in learning more should visit www.michigan.gov/MSPjobs for information on how to apply. 

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Kent County seeking residents for boards and commissions

Qualified applicants must apply by September 30

GRAND RAPIDS, MI. (August 23, 2021) – The Kent County Board of Commissioners is seeking qualified and interested residents to serve the community through appointment to various boards, commissions, and committees. Some, but not all appointments, require an individual to be a resident or a registered voter of Kent County. An application for appointment must be filed with the Board of Commissioner’s Office by close of business on Friday, Sept. 30.

Here are the boards, commissions, and committees that have openings for terms effective Jan. 1, 2022 (unless otherwise noted):

  • Agricultural Preservation Board (openings for agricultural interest representative and conservation representative)
  • Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan – Board of Directors (must be 60 years or older)
  • Community Health Advisory Committee (openings for at-large member, community-based organization representative, health care provider representative, and Kent ISD representative)
  • Community Mental Health Authority Board (Network 180) Board – term begins April 1, 2022
  • County Building Authority
  • Friend of the Court Citizens’ Advisory Committee (attorney who engages primarily in Family Law and one representative of the public)
  • Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRFIA) Authority Board
  • Housing Commission
  • Jury Commission
  • Kent County Community Action Advisory Governing Board (openings for one consumer sector member and one public sector member)
  • Kent County Family & Children’s Coordinating Council (private agency representatives, private funding representatives)
  • Kent District Library Board (Region 4 resident member from either Bowne, Lowell, Vergennes Township or City of Lowell; Region 8 resident member of the City of Wyoming)
  • Kent Hospital Finance Authority (two openings for County Representative members)
  • Officers’ Compensation Commission (four member openings)
  • Remonumentation Peer Review Group (openings for four professional surveyor members)
  • Veterans Services Committee (openings for four U.S. Armed Forces veteran members)

Qualified residents may apply by completing an online application on the County’s website at www.accessKent.com/boardappointments. Resumes and cover letters are encouraged. The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2021.

Visit the County’s website for additional information on the boards and commissions at https://www.accesskent.com/Departments/BOC/boards_committees.htm or contact the Board of Commissioner’s Office at 616-632-7580.

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