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Archive | December, 2021

Red Hawks overcome adversity to have stellar season

Top story of the year

The Red Hawks Celebrate the District Title after a 21-14 win over Muskegon. Photo by Brandon Kramer.

By Judy Reed

In a season that was an emotional rollercoaster for the Cedar Springs football players, coaches, and fans, the team overcame adversity and showed everyone exactly what they are made of.

The team started out well, winning two of their first three games, winning by handy margins over Saginaw Swan Valley and Ottawa Hills, and losing only to Division 1 powerhouse Rockford. The Red Hawks were fresh off a a record-setting win over Ottawa Hills (70-35) and preparing for the game against Kenowa Hills when they were blindsided by a tragic event—the death of longtime assistant football coach and middle school teacher Kevin Martens. 

Martens, 46, of Sparta, passed away of an unknown heart condition on Thursday, September 16, 2021, at his home in Sparta.

Coach Kevin Martens was honored posthumously as Asst. Coach of the Year for Region 1 Division 3.

Martens had been a teacher at Cedar Springs Middle School since 1999. He coached middle school track and was a Cedar Springs High School assistant football coach for over 20 years. 

“Kevin was the first coach I hired when I became the head coach 9 years ago,” said Cedar Springs Head Coach Gus Kapolka. “His passion for young people and helping them succeed was obvious the first time I met him.”

The blow was something that could have derailed the Red Hawks. Instead, it spurred them on to play better than ever. The Red Hawks were pumped up to win the game. They took the field like they were on fire. They scored five times, racked up over 400 yards total, and limited Kenowa Hills to only 48 yards in the 38-0 win. But the team didn’t stop there. 

The Red Hawks went on to play some outstanding football, beating Forest Hills Eastern, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg, and Wayland. They lost by only one point (41-40) to Division 5 state champion Catholic Central (no other team scored that many points against them). They they went on to be the first Cedar Springs team in history to beat South Christian (38-32), and take second in the OK-Gold behind Catholic Central. They beat Coopersville easily in the Pre-District game, and the biggest thrill of all, was defeating the Muskegon Big Reds to win the district championship game 21-14. Their season ended with a loss to DeWitt in the regional championship game. 

Their accomplishments included the team finishing with a 9-3 record; being district champs; making it to the state quarter finals; Coach Kapolka getting his 100th win; Aiden Brunin kicking an 86-yard punt in the 3rd quarter of the Muskegon game that is the 2nd longest punt in MHSAA history, and the longest punt in a playoff game ever; losing to Catholic Central by one point; beating both South Christian and Muskegon for the first time ever; being ranked as having the best team offense in the OK Gold by media covering the OK Gold; being ranked 7th in Division 3 in the final AP Poll and Detroit Free Press; rnked 8th in Grand Rapids Press final power poll; ranked 18 out of the top 50 teams in the state by MLive’s final power poll; and having many players voted to the final dream teams and all state teams. And to top it all off, Coach Kevin Martens was voted assistant coach of the year in region 1 of Division 3, by the MHSFCA (Michigan High School Football Coaches Association).

“This was the most resilient team I have ever coached,” said head coach Gus Kapolka. “They have had to deal with unimaginable tragedy and heartbreak, but it only served to bring us closer together. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of young men. I am honored to be their coach.”

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New fire station: a dream realized

By Judy Reed

The dedication of the brand new $3.5 million fire station at 38 N. Second St, between Elm and Cherry Streets was a top story of 2021.

They held a mini parade from the old fire station on W. Maple Street, to the new fire station; a ribbon cutting; and various festivities, including free hot dogs and chips, tours of the building, and various children’s activities.

At 10,000 square feet, and triple the size of the old station, the new fire station provides added space and equipment necessary to service a growing Cedar Springs population. 

The Cedar Springs Fire Department serves a 16 square mile area, including the City of Cedar Springs and parts of Nelson Township, and approximately 5,600 residents. The Cedar Springs Fire Department is a fully volunteer/paid on-call fire department providing fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and other services. The department is comprised of 20 firefighters and medical first responders.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, who has been with the department for 42 years and Chief for the last nine, told the Post they moved into the building in early spring. “We are tickled to be there,” he said. “It’s working out great.” He added that it’s amazing how much room there is. “But that’s also what they said 40 years ago about the other one,” he said with a chuckle. “The equipment just keeps getting bigger and there is more of it.” He noted that the building was built with the intent that it would last 50-60 years, with the possibility of expansion.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department was first formed in 1873 after a series of sizeable fires. With many lumber mills in the area, the danger of fire was constant threat. A new engine was bought in May of 1874, and in August 1874 there was a new fire station. 

With this move, they have come full circle. At one time, the fire department was located on the same property, at the northeast corner of Cherry and Second Streets, and shared space with the old Cedar Springs Library.

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Man dies in crash

An elderly male died in a crash on 17 Mile Rd Wednesday evening. Post photo by J. Reed.

The stretch of road on 17 Mile Rd between Ritchie and Shaner was blocked for several hours Wednesday after a Ford Escape and a dump or excavating truck collided head-on. 

The crash occurred about 5:30 p.m. and the initial report by a first responder on scene was that one person had died.

We had not received official information from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at press time, as the scene was still being investigated. A first responder said that the victim was an elderly male, who was the driver of the Ford Escape. The driver of the dump truck said he was ok and refused medical transport.

We do not yet know any details on how or why the crash occurred, or any details on the driver of the SUV. We will update this story when we receive the information.

Cedar Springs Fire Department assisted the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at the scene.

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Weight loss challenge at the library

Are you looking for a way to stay on track with your weight loss program in 2022? Get off to a good start by joining the weight loss challenge at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

The Cedar Springs Public Library is once again offering, “The Biggest Loser” weight loss challenge this year! There is a kickoff meeting on Monday, January 3 at 6 p.m. at the Library for any adult who wishes to participate. There is a $10 entry fee per participant.

The program will run for 10 weeks, starting on January 3 and ending on March 15. One lucky person will be considered the Biggest Loser and receive a grand prize of $100! Other prizes will also be awarded.  Call us at 616-696-1910 to sign up today – payment required on or before January 3!

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Dole salads recall

Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. ,is voluntarily recalling from the market all Dole-branded and private label packaged salads processed at its Bessemer City, NC and its Yuma, AZ production facilities due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes and is also temporarily suspending operations at both facilities to conduct an extensive cleaning and sanitation protocol. Products subject to the voluntary recall are identified by a product lot code beginning with the either the letter N or Y in the upper right-hand corner of the package (see examples) and will have a “Best if Used By” date between November 30, 2021, and January 8, 2022. Consumers who still have any of these products in their refrigerators are urged not to consume the product and to discard it immediately.

This suspension of operations and recall are being performed voluntarily by Dole out of an abundance of caution, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decision to suspend operations and recall all products from these facilities was made after analyzing the strain of Listeria monocytogenes isolated in a single package of Dole-branded Garden Salad produced in the Bessemer City facility and a single package of shredded iceberg lettuce and the state of Michigan, respectively, and were a genetic match with a strain of Listeria monocytogenes which FDA and CDC believe is responsible for 16 illnesses since 2014.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The recalled items include a variety of salads including garden, spinach, romaine, green leaf, chopped salad kits, and more. Brand names include Dole, Marketside, Simply Nature, Lidl, Kroger, Ahold, Naturally Better, Nature’s Promise, Little Salad Bar, etc.

Recalled salad items from the Bessemer City facility were distributed in the states of AL, CT, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MS, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, and VA. Recalled salad items from the Yuma facility were distributed in the states of AL, AZ, CT, FL, IA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, NC, ND, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WI.

A listing of products subject to each of these recalls can be found at https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/dole-fresh-vegetables-announces-voluntary-recall-salads-processed-its-bessemer-city-nc-and-yuma-az?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery#recall-announcement.

No products produced from Dole facilities in Springfield, OH (production/lot codes beginning with W) or Soledad, CA (production/lot codes beginning with B) are included in these voluntary recalls. In addition, no other Dole products, including ready-to-eat salad products, fresh fruit, and field-packed fresh vegetables, are part of these voluntary recalls and are safe to consume.

Dole retailers have been advised to check store shelves and warehouse inventories to confirm that no recalled product is available for purchase by consumers.

Retailer and consumer questions about the voluntary recalls should be directed to the Dole Consumer Response Center at 800-356-3111, Monday-Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm Pacific Time.

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Correction

We often rely on our readers to send us stories and information about what is going on in our area or events that have occurred.

For last week’s story about national comedian Andy Gross, we received information from Len Allington, who organized the successful event at the Kent Theatre, and written info from Mary Thomas, mother of the second act. 

The end of the article should have said, “Mary Thomas contributed to this article.” Thank you, Mary!

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Health Department changes COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidelines

Guidance aligns with CDC protocols

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (December 28, 2021) – The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is changing its isolation and quarantine guidelines for people who have tested positive or been exposed to coronavirus to align with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols. The CDC says that science now shows the majority of COVID-19 transmission happens early in the illness, generally in the first one to two days before symptoms start and the two to three days thereafter. Therefore, effective immediately, the new guidance shortens the isolation and quarantine periods under certain scenarios. This guidance does not supersede local or state requirements.

If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, the new isolation guidelines, regardless of vaccination status, are:

  • Isolate for five days,
  • A person may leave isolation if they no longer have symptoms after five days,
  • Continue to mask for an additional five days.

If an individual is exposed to someone with COVID-19, the new quarantine guidelines are:

  • For people who are not vaccinated, or if it has been more than six months since they received the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or more than two months after receiving the J&J vaccine and have not received a booster, they should quarantine for five days followed by strict mask usage for five additional days.
  • People who have received a booster do not need to quarantine following an exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.
  • All persons who have been exposed should test five days after the exposure.
  • A person who experiences symptoms during quarantine should be tested for COVID-19 and stay home until receiving a negative result.

“These new guidelines will mean less disruption to people’s lives and still slow the spread of the virus,” said Kent County Health Department Medical Director Dr. Nirali Bora. “However, COVID-19 cases and deaths remain unacceptably high. We encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should be tested as soon as possible.”

This new guidance applies to the public and may not apply to those residing in congregate living settings, schools, or people who work with individuals in high-risk groups. The KCHD is currently updating all its guidance and communication materials to reflect the change in the isolation and quarantine guidelines.

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Keep sidewalks and fire hydrants clear of snow and ice

Post photo by J. Reed.

Kids walking to school, customers shopping, firefighters putting out fires, and postal workers delivering mail all have one thing in common—they depend on residents and business owners to make sure ice and snow are cleared away.

In the City of Cedar Springs, every occupant of every lot is required to remove the snow and ice from their sidewalks.

Area fire departments would also appreciate residents keeping fire hydrants free of snow.

Our firefighters often spend several hours shoveling out hydrants after a snowfall, and if an emergency should arise (such as in the case of a house fire), hydrants need to be in clear view. So, if you have one near your house, a few extra minutes shoveling might make the difference! You could save a life.

Postal workers also need help from residents to keep snow and ice from piling up around their mailbox. Your carrier needs a good clear approach and path on leaving the box. Also, if your mailbox needs to be repaired or replaced, ask your mail carrier or call the Post Office for the required height.

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BBB reveals top scams of 2021 in Western Michigan

The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan is revealing the top scams of 2021.

1. Online Purchase Scams

2. Phishing Scams

3. Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams & Employment Scams (tie)

Online purchase scams

The top scam of the year in Western Michigan was online purchase scams. Specifically, pet scams. The biggest mistake consumers across the BBB’s 38-county coverage area made was purchasing a pet online without seeing the animal in person first. This is the only way to avoid pet scams. Scammers create fake breeding sites and post pictures found on the internet to entice consumers to make a purchase without verifying that the animal is real. 

“You should never give anyone money for an animal until you see it with your own eyes. That is the only way to know it is real and not a scam,” says Lisa Frohnapfel, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “The scammers find a number of reasons to keep you paying, and the dog never arrives. This hurts people on two levels. Victims often tell us they are more upset about not getting the dog than the money they lost.” 

Phishing scams

The second most popular scam of 2021 were phishing scams. Consumers received emails and phone calls from scammers posing as legitimate organizations, asking for personal sensitive information. The most popular business mimicked in 2021 was Amazon. Consumers were often told they had large purchases made on their Amazon Prime accounts and the products were being shipped to an unfamiliar address. Consumers were given the option to “fix” the issue by sending gift card payments or sharing personal sensitive information over the phone.

Sweepstakes/lottery and employment scams

Sweepstakes/Lottery scams and Employment scams tied for the 3rd spot on our list this year.

Most of the sweepstakes scams involve scammers posing as Publisher’s Clearing House. The scammers call consumers or send letters in the mail claiming the consumer has won a prize and must follow up with more personal sensitive information and/or money to receive their winnings. 

During the pandemic, consumers were solicited for easy jobs they could do at home. Victims of these employment scams were often approached by fake potential employers posing as legitimate companies, who set up immediate interviews through Google Hangouts or other video chat services. Employees would be asked for personal information and would be charged up front for training costs and office supplies. The scammers will often send fake checks and ask that some of the money be forwarded to another party, usually through gift cards. Many of the positions involved package reshipment or secret shoppers. 

Tips to avoiding the top scams of 2021:

Pet Scams

  • See the animal with your own eyes before giving anyone money.
  • Check bbb.org for accredited breeders and shelters.

Phishing Scams

  • Never give your personal sensitive information to someone over the phone, or click on suspicious links from senders you do not know.
  • If you think an account is compromised, or there are charges you didn’t make, check by visiting the site directly and log into your account. Do not use the link or phone number provided by the potential scammer.

Sweepstakes/Lottery Scams

  • Publisher’s Clearing House does not alert winners in advance. You will only know you won when someone shows up at your door with a giant check. 
  • You should not give personal information or money to anyone claiming you won a prize, especially if you did not enter the contest. 

Employment Scams

  • If the job seems too good to be true, it is. 
  • Be wary of sudden job offers from someone you don’t know.
  • Check the job listing on the company’s actual website.

If you are a victim or have been targeted by one of these scams, report it right away to bbb.org/scamtracker.

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Showcasing the DNR

Exploring the outdoors in 52 Michigan adventures

By Rachel Coale, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Last New Year’s Eve, before the twinkle lights, champagne and lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” carried us into 2021, I found myself in the quiet, cloudy woods at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Clinton County.

Inspired by the popular 52 Hike Challenge (www.52hikechallenge.com), I crunched down the trail, taking the first steps on a yearlong journey through Michigan’s outdoors. That holiday trek kicked off a series of 52 day-hikes where I would experience frozen forests, rolling coastal dunes, wildflower-filled fields and lush wetlands in different seasons throughout the year.

I’ve always loved watching nature, ever since I could point a tiny finger at my grandparents’ bird feeder, squealing, “chicken-dee! chicken-dee!” at the visiting black-capped chickadees.

Committing to the challenge of intentional, weekly hikes helped me encounter the outdoors in a new way. With close and frequent observation, I perceived the changing of nature’s details in each season, week and even time of day. 

Starting in the austere winter landscape, monochrome and overcast, my first hikes took me through snow-flocked trees and along icy trails.

One of my early adventures sent me sliding down a steep, slippery bridge, nearly bowling over my hiking partner on the other side (I express-ordered traction cleats as soon as I got home).

Winter sunsets arrived early and fast, like a door slamming shut. When I managed to sneak in short hikes after work, I found myself hustling back to the trailhead, racing the sun retreating below the horizon. 

Spring was heralded by the emergence of fantastical-looking skunk cabbages – wetland plants that make their own heat – blazing up through lingering crusts of snow. May-apple blooms, jack-in-the-pulpits and songbirds soon followed, filling the quiet woods with new life and energy. 

With more miles on my boots and a floppy hat swapped for insulating fleece, the summer season introduced a leafier landscape and soaring temperatures.

I paused often under the scorching sun to collect wild black raspberries that dyed my hands purple (and then fled when clouds of hungry mosquitos caught up with me). 

I completed a memorable autumn hike in October with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Skills Academy. After a morning of archery practice, local mushroom experts led participants on a group hike to peer into the brush for edible woodland treasures. We learned to spot cinnabar-red chanterelles, dusky trumpet mushrooms and craggy-textured chaga in the damp, musky-smelling autumn woods.  

My adventures took me to local parks managed by city, county, township or nonprofit organizations and to the 4.6 million acres of parks, forests and recreation areas the DNR manages; all of them on public lands open for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Finding a trail to explore each week reinforced how important it is to have nearby access to the outdoors. 

Public lands are not just important for hikers, snowshoers, mountain bikers or other recreational users like me – they’re also important for wildlife, and for healthy waters that people, animals and plants all need. Forests clean the water that ends up in our homes, starting as underground springs or a rush of snowmelt and filtering through wetlands, eventually traveling to rivers, streams and lakes.

Some of the highlights of my hikes were moments where I got to see wildlife up close. Walking with quiet footsteps, I saw white-tailed does shoving each other for a choice bite of grass, painted turtles scuttling across the trail and a fierce red-tailed hawk snatching a meal in open grassland and heard the rattling bugles of sandhill cranes before seeing their broad wings as they swooped low above me.

Through the year, I didn’t keep up with the hike challenge just because I wanted to finish. I also kept moving because it made me feel great.

After a year of day hikes, I got better at navigating, incorporated more outdoor activity into my life and enjoyed the peace and mental health benefits of being in the outdoors. 

Now, within minutes of leaving sight of the trailhead, I feel a sense of ease. I’m also more comfortable going out in cold weather or on drizzly days when I might have stayed inside before.

For anyone just getting into hiking, there are a few practical things to think about before heading outside. Always check the trail map and conditions ahead of time, and let a trusted friend know where you’re going if you’ll be alone, and when you intend to be back. 

The gear you bring doesn’t have to be fancy, but it’s important to carry outdoor essentials to be prepared for a surprise rainstorm, the sun going down before you’re back to the trailhead (looking at you, December hikes!) or scrapes and stings.

Even for short hike, I always carry a whistle, water, small first aid kit, flashlight, hat, packable raincoat and snack. In winter, wearing layers and water-resistant gear keeps me warm and dry. In summer, bug-spray, sunscreen and a brimmed hat ward off sunburn and pests. A fire starter is also a good thing to carry, along with a compass and a map.

As you begin thinking about 2022 goals, how do you plan to experience Michigan’s outdoors? You might get started by joining the national First Day Hikes (https://www.stateparks.org/special-programs/first-day-hikes/) event on Jan. 1, or find other fun ways to motivate yourself to get outside throughout the seasons.

If you’d like to tackle the official 52 Hike Challenge, there are online resources that provide motivation, community support and a fun completion patch. 

I’m looking forward to a 2022 full of rewarding hikes, scenic adventures and new wild places to explore across Michigan’s public lands.

I hope you’ll join me! 

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