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Archive | March, 2022

Severe weather awareness week

Lightning in Temescal Valley, CA. Photo courtesy of William Wilkins at NWS.

March 20-26, 2022

The state wants 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.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can! Michigan State Police Emergency Management encourages you to take the time and review your severe weather preparedness plans so you don’t get caught off-guard.. 

Severe Weather Awareness Week will be held March 20-26. The Statewide Tornado was scheduled for Wednesday, March 23, but was canceled in some counties due to the possible threat of severe weather. Kent County tornado drills will be the first Friday of each month, as they usually are. 

Tornadoes

  • What would you do if a tornado occurred? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • 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?

During a tornado, acting quickly is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.

Stay Weather-Ready: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings.

At Your House: If you are in a tornado warning, go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows.

At Your Workplace or School: Follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.

Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if a tornado is approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Neither is a mobile home or tent.  If you have time, get to a safe building.

In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

After a tornado

Stay Informed: Continue to listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about tornado watches and warnings. Multiple rounds of thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes are possible during severe weather outbreaks.

Contact Your Family and Loved Ones: Let your family and close friends know that you’re okay so they can help spread the word. Text messages or social media are more reliable forms of communication than phone calls.

Assess the Damage: After the threat for tornadoes has ended, check to see if your property has been damaged. When walking through storm damage, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Contact local authorities if you see power lines down. Stay out of damaged buildings. Be aware of insurance scammers if your property has been damaged.

Help Your Neighbor: If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, provide first aid to victims if needed until emergency response teams arrive.

Lightning

Lightning struck front porch deck in Lincoln, Montana at Krohn Lake on June 24-25, 2014. Photo by Janet Sholder NWS.

Lightning strikes the United States about 25 million times a year. Although most lightning occurs in the summer, people can be struck at any time of year. Lightning kills about 20 people in the United States each year, and hundreds more are severely injured. In 2021, there were 10 people killed by lightning,    in seven different states (Florida-3, New Jersey-2, Georgia, Pennsylvania, California, New York, and Wisconsin). Nine of the 10 were male, and five of them were between the ages of 13 and 19. Two were golfing; one was in the water at the beach; three more were participating in beach activities; one was hiking; one was lifeguarding; one was working in construction; and one was doing roofing. 

Lightning: What You Need to Know

NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!!

  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

Indoor Lightning Safety

  • Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
  • Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths, and faucets.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls.

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • Never lie flat on the ground
  • Never shelter under an isolated tree
  • Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

Visit https://www.weather.gov/mqt/SevereAwareWeek and https://www.michigan.gov/miready to learn more about severe weather and how to create a plan.

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Odyssey of the Mind team headed to World Finals

Cedar Springs Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team qualified for the World Finals and could use your help to get there. Pictured from left to right Quentin Bliss, Luke Brown, Kaleb Russell, Zephaniah Kirsch (Pictured Virtually), Talon Smith, Blake Smith, and Catriona Van SwedenCourtesy photo.

Congratulations to the Cedar Springs Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team who took third place on March 12, 2022 at the State Tournament. In addition to taking 3rd place, the team won the Ranatra Fusca Award and will go on to represent the State of Michigan at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals held In Ames, Iowa in May this year!

The Ranatra Fusca Award promotes and recognizes exceptional creativity and represents the essence of the Odyssey of the Mind program. It serves as an incentive for risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking.

The team has worked hard for over six months to put together an eight-minute performance for the competition. The team’s problem specification was to create a humorous performance about a young person character living in a regular world that realizes they are in a circus world—mid act! 

The team’s unique performance incorporated three originally created circus acts based on school. They covered P.E. with the world’s strongest student, Science Class with Professor Adam, and ended the performance in History Class with a rap from Mr. Brain. It wouldn’t have been possible to get an “A+” without the rest of the Circus performers which included the principal, class clown, young person, the book worm, teachers’ pet, and the janitor.

If you would like to make a donation to support the team’s cost of registration, housing, or other tournament activities for World Finals, please email Rachel.stump@cesredhawks.org.

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Gas prices drop here; hit $6 average in LA

Gas prices have fallen in the greater Grand Rapids area for the first time in 12 weeks. The price in Cedar Springs Wednesday was $3.97/gallon. Photo by S. Reed.

Gas prices dropped here and across most of the nation for the first time in 12 weeks last weekend, while Los Angeles became the first major city Tuesday to hit an average price of $6.

Here in Cedar Springs, the price was just under $4/gallon at press time. 

According to Gasbuddy.com, the national average gas price in the U.S. has begun to decline since its peak of $4.35 per gallon, set on March 10, but prices on the West Coast, and specifically California, have continued to soar.

Gasbuddy said the milestone of $6 was reached largely due to rebounding oil prices because of the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine, but recent refinery kinks in Southern California and a rise in seasonal demand pushed Los Angeles over the top. California also typically has some of the highest gas prices in the country because of its high gas taxes and its cap and trade program, which assess a premium based on emissions. Statewide, California’s average gas price is now $5.85 per gallon. 

“In less than three weeks, the average price of gasoline in Los Angeles has surged by an average of $1 per gallon, blowing past $5 and now reaching $6 per gallon on refinery issues and Russia’s war on Ukraine,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “While I’m hopeful we won’t go much beyond this, there’s not much light at the end of the tunnel for now.”

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 9.0 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $4.23/g Monday. The national average is up 71.5 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands $1.37/g higher than a year ago, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

Historical gasoline prices in Grand Rapids and the national average going back ten years:

March 21, 2021: $2.69/g (U.S. Average: $2.86/g)

March 21, 2020: $1.85/g (U.S. Average: $2.09/g)

March 21, 2019: $2.80/g (U.S. Average: $2.61/g)

March 21, 2018: $2.59/g (U.S. Average: $2.57/g)

March 21, 2017: $2.31/g (U.S. Average: $2.29/g)

March 21, 2016: $2.05/g (U.S. Average: $1.98/g)

March 21, 2015: $2.42/g (U.S. Average: $2.42/g)

March 21, 2014: $3.63/g (U.S. Average: $3.52/g)

March 21, 2013: $3.92/g (U.S. Average: $3.69/g)

March 21, 2012: $3.96/g (U.S. Average: $3.87/g)

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Post travels to Arizona

Dave, Diane, Kathy, Katia and Bri went to Sun Lakes, AZ to visit Karen and took the Cedar Post along with them for a great week of visiting and warmth!

Thank you, Kathy Prahl, for sending us your photo and taking us with you to Arizona!

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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Men and Ladies of Honor Day Camp

Men and Ladies of Honor held their day camp at City Church Rockford last Saturday. Courtesy photo.

About 120 young men and ladies and their leaders from eight area schools descended on City Church Rockford for the Men and Ladies of Honor Day Camp on Saturday, March 19.

Men and Ladies of Honor is an after school club that teaches moral excellence and courageous leadership using biblical principles in the public schools. Numerous students from Cedar Springs and Creative Technologies Academy were in attendance, along with students from Sparta, Tri-County, Morley Stanwood, Muskegon, Forest Hills, Rockford and River City Scholars in Grand Rapids.

The camp consisted of a teamwork/leadership activity, step over the Line for Christ challenge, a “One Thing” hike, rock wall climbing, a biblical manhood and womanhood talk; a breaking labels activity; a father’s blessing and a prayer tunnel. The evening concluded with a womanhood/manhood walk and camp fire. It was an impactful day for all involved.

For more information find us on Facebook at The Men of Honor – Cedar Springs or visit our website honorchangeseverything.com.

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Library receives “Sisters in Crime” grant

Cedar Springs Public Library Director Kamey Howe dressed as Velma from Scooby Doo, to highlight women crime writers and detectives. Courtesy photo.


The Cedar Springs Public Library has been chosen to receive the April, “We Love Libraries” grant from the Sisters in Crime group! They will be awarded $500 to use toward library programs or to buy materials for their library collection.  

“The Cedar Springs Public Library is humbled and honored to be the April recipient of the Sisters in Crime We Love Libraries grant,” said Kamey Howe, CSPL Director. 

Sisters in Crime is dedicated to promoting the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.

The picture that helped win the grant is Howe dressed up as Velma from Scooby-Doo, highlighting women crime writers and depicting being a detective. To learn more about Sisters In Crime, visit their website at sistersincrime.org.  

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Brothers released after being wrongly imprisoned

George DeJesus spent nearly 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit

George DeJesus leaves the Michigan Reformatory on March 22, after spending 25 years in prison. Pictured with DeJesus is (left) Josh Fahlsing, WMU-Cooley Innocence Project Staff Attorney and (right) Tracey Brame, director WMU-Cooley Innocence Project. 

LANSING, Mich., March 22, 2022 — Earlier this week, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Martha D. Anderson set aside the convictions of George and Melvin DeJesus, who were wrongfully convicted of murder and felony firearms in 1997. 

“I just want to thank God first, because without him nothing is possible,” said George DeJesus. “I am thankful that the truth is finally realized and hope that our family as well as the victim’s family can finally heal and put all of this behind us. I realize that justice for my brother and I also means opening up old wounds for the victim’s family. My heart goes out to them and I will be praying for them.”

Assistant Attorney General Robyn Frankel, director of the Michigan Attorney General’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) moved to have the DeJesus brothers’ convictions vacated and requested dismissal of all charges. The statewide conviction integrity unit is one of the first of its kind, reviewing claims of innocence in all Michigan counties, except Wayne County, which has its own unit. George DeJesus is represented by Jessica McLemore of the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Innocence Project (WMU-Cooley Innocence Project). Melvin DeJesus is represented by David Moran of the Michigan Innocence Clinic. The two innocence organizations worked collaboratively with the Attorney General Nessel’s office to finally achieve justice for these two men who served over two decades in prison for crimes they didn’t commit.

“We are happy that George can say he has been fully exonerated after nearly a 25-year struggle to prove his innocence,” Tracey Brame, the director of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project, said. “George has steadfastly maintained that he had nothing to do with this terrible crime. We are grateful to Attorney  General Dana Nessel and the Conviction Integrity Unit team for their willingness to listen to the brothers  and reinvestigate the case. Today, George and his brother, Melvin, have finally received justice.”  

On July 11, 1995, a Pontiac woman’s body was found nude in her basement with a pillowcase over her head and wires binding her neck, wrists, and ankles. DNA linked Brandon Gohagen to the crime scene. Gohagen originally told police that the DeJesus brothers had nothing to do with crime. Later, he confessed to sexually assaulting the victim but claimed that Melvin forced him to at gunpoint. Gohagen said that Melvin and George then bound and beat the victim to death. Ultimately, Gohagen pled guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in exchange for his testimony against the DeJesus brothers.  

At trial, George and Melvin presented alibi defenses for the night Gohagen said the crime occurred. Nevertheless, the DeJesus brothers were convicted and sentenced to serve life without parole on December 30, 1997. 

At the request of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project and the Michigan Innocence Clinic, the Attorney General’s CIU reinvestigated the DeJesus brothers’ cases. The CIU interviewed numerous witnesses and reviewed decades of documents. The CIU located witness statements, made within weeks of the crime, that corroborated the brothers’ alibis the  night of the murder. But they also discovered more troubling facts about Gohagen. In 2017, Gohagen was convicted of the 1994 sexual assault and murder of another woman in Oakland County. Gohagen acted alone in that crime. In addition to the 1994 case, the CIU discovered 12 other women who were emotionally, physically, and sexually abused by Gohagen. The CIU also interviewed a witness who said that Gohagen confessed to implicating the brothers in exchange for a deal. Pretrial and post-conviction DNA testing never identified the brothers’ DNA at the crime scene, and there was no other physical evidence linking the brothers to the crime. 

“I wish to apologize for the actions taken by your fellow citizens against you 25-years ago. Twenty-five years of your life have been taken from you that cannot be replaced. 

Hopefully you will find some solace in the fact that you will be able rejoin your family and start living a normal life outside the prison walls. I wish you the best,” said Judge Martha D. Anderson, judge for the Sixth Circuit Court in Oakland County, Michigan.
Earlier this week, George was released from the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia and reunited with his brother and family in Lansing.

In 2018, the Department of the Michigan Attorney General received a Post-Conviction DNA Testing of Evidence grant from the Department of Justice to screen claims of innocence and conduct DNA testing in appropriate cases. In 2019 and 2021, the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project received an Upholding the Rule of Law grant from the Department of Justice to review cases in which unreliable forensics played a role in the conviction. Since 2018, the two offices have been partnering on DNA and other forensic casework.

About the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project: The WMU-Cooley Law School Innocence Project is part of the Innocence Network, which has been credited with the release of over 375 wrongfully accused prisoners through the use of DNA testing. The WMU-Cooley project has screened over 5,900 cases and is responsible for the exoneration of seven men: Kenneth Wyniemko (2003), Nathaniel Hatchett (2008), Donya Davis (2014) LeDura Watkins (2017) Kenneth Nixon (2021), Gilbert Poole (2021), and Corey McCall (2021). The WMU-Cooley Innocence Project supported the exonerations of Ramon Ward and Lacino Hamilton by contributing its DNA expertise and grant resources to obtain testing. The project is staffed by WMU-Cooley Law School students, who work under the supervision of WMU-Cooley Innocence Project attorneys. Those interested in donating and supporting the work of the WMU-Cooley Innocence Project can do so at cooley.edu/academics/experiential-learning/innocence-project.

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Newaygo woman sentenced for fraud

Defrauded Social Security and Veterans Programs of over $650,000

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — A Newaygo woman was sentenced in U.S. District Court Tuesday for engaging in a fraudulent scheme that targeted children’s benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

On October 27, 2021, Terrie Lynn Christian, 58, pled guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) of over $550,000 by obtaining benefits for two fictitious children. The fraud began in 2002 and was not discovered until 2019. She also admitted to perpetrating the same fraud against the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). This scheme netted her over $109,000 between 2003 and 2019.

Christian appeared before U.S. District Judge Hala Jarbou on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, for sentencing. The judge imposed a sentence of 30 months in prison, supervised release for three years after release, and an order of restitution. Judge Jarbou stated that Christian deserved this sentence because she had stolen benefits from money earmarked to help the children of military benefits and the poor.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge stated, “This was a brazen long-term fraud that succeeded as long as it did only because Christian knew how to exploit the safeguards built into these two child-welfare programs for years. Fortunately, law enforcement caught up with her and now she must face the consequences.”

Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for the SSA, said: “Ms. Christian created fictitious identities and falsified documents to obtain Social Security benefits for non-existent people for nearly 17 years. Her egregious acts resulted in a fraud loss of over $540,000. My office will continue to uphold the integrity of SSA and investigate those who defraud and misuse its programs. I thank the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office and the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General for their assistance in this investigation. I also thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for holding her accountable for her criminal actions.”

“The VA OIG will continue to vigorously pursue those who would steal from VA benefits programs and taxpayers,” said Special Agent in Charge Greg Billingsley of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office. “We thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their efforts in this joint investigation.”

The Inspector General offices of the SSA and VA investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy VerHey prosecuted it.

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Winter 2021-22 all conference

Congratulations to the following Cedar Springs High School winter athletes to be named All Conference and Honorable Mention in the OK Gold.

Cedar Springs High School all-conference athletes for winter 2021-2022. 
Row 1 (L to R): Kaisa Maki, bowling; Chloe Fisk, bowling; Kayla Walters, bowling; Josilyn Slagter, cheer; Abbey Salisbury, cheer; Haley Barager, cheer; Darrah Miller, basketball; Aiden Brunin, basketball. 
Row 2 (L to R): James Joldersma, wrestling; Landon Demorest, wrestling; Carter Falan, wrestling; Hannah Shears, cheer; Hannah Wright, cheer; Kirsten McDonald, cheer; Isaiah Waite, bowling; Cody Marshall, bowling.

GIRLS BASKETBALL:

Darrah Miller

Honorable Mention: Brooklyn Colclasure

WRESTLING:

Landon Demorest

Carter Falan

James Joldersma

GIRLS BOWLING:

Chloe Fisk

Kayla Walters

Kaisa Maki

BOYS BOWLING:

Isaiah Waite

Cody Marshall

Alex Steil

Honorable Mention: Andrew Fliearman

COMPETITIVE CHEER:

Josilyn Slagter

Abbey Salisbury

Hannah Wright

Hannah Shears

Kirsten McDonald

Haley Barager

Honorable Mention: Taylor Diemond, Lauren Sherburn

BOYS BASKETBALL:

Aiden Brunin

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WMP wrestlers claim six championships at regionals

WMP wrestlers with their medals. Courtesy photo.

West Michigan Pursuit travelled to Forest Hills Eastern for the 2022 MYWAY West Regional event on March 13, 2022. This was the first Regionals hosted since 2019. WMP entered 13 grapplers, and 11 will be advancing to the State Finals at the Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo. 

Out of the 11 that will be advancing, WMP claimed six Regional Championships. Final Placements are as follows: 69 lb Jaxson Babcock, 2012 age group and 78 lb Jackson Farrell, 2011 age group both finished 3rd. Heavy Weight, Mason Carringer, 2009 age group; 80 lb Peyton Farrell, 2008 age group and 90 lb Jaesek Homrich, 2011 age group finished 2nd. This is Mason’s first year and Jaesek’s second year of wrestling. Congrats to you both! 

Regional Champions are 37 lb Camdon Farrell, 2015 age group; 58 lb Jonah Slager, 2013 age group; 100 lb Luke Egan, 2007 age group; 70 lb Carter Giles, 2009 age group; 128 lb Logan Goguen, High School division and 143 lb Blake Peasley, High School Division. 

WMP would also like to recognize the following grapplers for their impressive accomplishments. Carter Giles earned his 4th Regional Title, Blake Peasley earned his 6th Regional Title and Luke Egan earned his 7th Regional Title. 

“Overall, these kids did very well, considering how inexperienced they are. I am very excited to see how they finish the season this coming weekend,” said Head Coach Dave Andrus.

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No Nature Niche this week

Ranger Steve

How about sending Ranger Steve a card?

Readers have become accustomed to Ranger Steve Mueller’s Nature Niche each week. We received an email from him this week, and he is struggling with his health. In last week’s column, he told you it had been a challenging month for him. If you enjoy his column, how about showing him that appreciation by sending him and his family a card? They are a local family, who has given a lot to this community—Steve through his years at Howard Christensen Nature Center, bird and butterfly counts, leading classes, writing columns, teaching us about nature, and much more; his wife Karen was a teacher at Cedar Springs Public Schools for many years. A note of encouragement is always a good thing. Send your card or letter to: Ranger Steve Mueller, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Love our lakes?

Help monitor water quality, fish habitat

If your summer plans include time at your favorite lake, there’s an easy and rewarding way to show your lake some love: help the MiCorps Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program gather valuable information about water quality and fish habitat conditions.

The program is seeking volunteers who enjoy and want to help protect Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes. Though there is still a lot we don’t know about many of our lakes, volunteering with MiCorps will connect you with a statewide network of people who are making a positive impact on these waters.

As a water monitor volunteer, you:

Choose which lake to sample.

Select which measurements to take. You can collect data on water quality (water clarity, nutrients, dissolved oxygen and algae), invasive species, native plants and shoreline conditions.

Will get detailed instructions, training and equipment.

There is a small fee to cover the costs of supplies and analyzing samples; volunteers often are able to collaborate with lake associations or other organizations to help pay for these costs.

All volunteer-gathered information is added to the MiCorps Data Exchange, a public database that includes Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program lake data back to 1974. This database is used by people, local communities, and state agencies like the DNR to better protect and manage Michigan’s beautiful lakes and the fish and wildlife that live there.

Want to help?

Visit the CLMP enrollment page at https://micorps.net/lake-monitoring/become-a-volunteer/ or contact Erick Elgin with Michigan State University Extension at elgineri@msu.edu for more information.

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