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Memorial Day 2016

Click below to download this year’s Memorial Day Tribute

MemorialTribute2016.pdf

 

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Woman charged with leaving child in a vehicle

Police were called to the Walmart in Comstock Park on Saturday, May 21, at 6:18 p.m., on a report of a child left in a vehicle.

Kent County Deputy Ysquierdo arrived on scene and found a 2-year-old girl in the back of a running car. He was unable to awaken her, and it appeared she had a read face and was sweaty. When he forced his way into the car, the child began to wake up. She was transferred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with signs of heat exhaustion, but is expected make a full recovery.

The child’s grandmother, Karol Anne Fitzgerald, 71, of Stanton, was found shopping in Walmart. On May 25, the Kent County Prosecutor’s office charged Fitzgerald with one count of leaving a child in an unattended vehicle, which is a 93 days misdemeanor. On May 26, she was arrested and released on a $500 surety bond.

A referral was made to Child Protective Services.

Fitzgerald was formerly owner of Preferred Tax Accounting, in Cedar Springs.

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City Council fires assessor, hires interim City Manager

N-City-logo-webCity clerk also resigns

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council fired their assessor, hired an interim City Manager, and received the resignation of their City Clerk, all during the course of a special meeting on Thursday evening.

The Council has been in disagreement with City Assessor Jason Rosenzweig, over six parcels of city-owned property that he says the city should be paying tax on. The Board of Review upheld Rosenzweig’s assessment, and the Council will be appealing it to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

In Thursday night’s meeting, Rosenzweig spoke to the Council. He told them that the Council has no authority to terminate him because under the City’s charter all employees are placed under the City Manager. He quoted sections from the Charter that say the Council cannot request the employment or dismissal of an employee.

“The Mayor broke the law when he visited me yesterday and asked me to resign,” said Rosenzweig.

He added that he is not a contract employee because he has never received a 1099, and holds office hours. He also noted that under his employment agreement, it states that 30 days notice should be given by either party. He said that he could sue the City for missed wages, and the Council for misconduct in office.

“I am following the law,” he told them. “The state tax commission told me to look closer at the properties. Your own attorney gave me an opinion that I am doing my job,” he said.

Rosenzweig then offered to resign, if the Council agreed to pay his salary for the rest of the year, which he said amounted to about $11,000.

City Council members listened, then went forward with the resolution to fire Rosenzweig. Mayor Jerry Hall said that their City attorney drafted the resolution and felt they had the authority to dismiss him.

The resolution states that the Council believes the actions of Rosenzweig, in placing certain city-owned properties on the tax roll, were not properly analyzed or communicated to Council, and that according to the city’s charter, the assessor serves at the pleasure of the Council. It also said that under due consideration, the City Council had lost confidence and became dissatisfied in his performance as City assessor, and his termination was effective immediately. It directed the City manager to take action to effectuate the resolution.

The Council decided to leave the hiring of a new assessor up to the new City Manager when hired.

The hiring of an interim City Manager was next on the agenda. They introduced Barbara VanDuren, of Wyoming, who had recently retired from the City of Wyoming as Deputy City Manager, and was previously City Manager in Wayland. “I truly believe in local government, and when the Michigan Municipal League asked if I’d like a shot at being the interim City Manager in Cedar Springs, I said yes,” she told the Council.

Longtime City Clerk Linda Christiansen has been acting City Manager since November. She was visibly upset at the development. “This week is the first time I heard about this,” she told the Council. “I feel very disrespected. I feel like 22 years of my life has gone down the toilet. I will be retiring July 1,” she added, and gave them her letter of resignation.

Christansen had previously said she would stay on until a new City Manager was found.

Members of the Council tried to assure her that they were trying to alleviate the pressure of doing two jobs.

“We were dumbstruck,” said Mayor Jerry Hall. He explained that they had said at last month’s meeting that they wanted to get Christiansen some help. “With the work piling up, and elections coming, we thought maybe it was time to take some pressure off so that she has time to train someone before she leaves,” he explained. “It was not our intent to have her resign. It was to help her, not replace her. If the other manager had taken the job, this wouldn’t be happening. We just thought we needed to get someone in to help her.”

The Council voted 6-1 to hire VanDuren, with Councilmember Perry Hopkins being the lone no vote. He said he had too much respect for Christiansen, and later said that if she couldn’t handle both jobs with the election coming, that should be up to her.

VanDuren starts Tuesday, May 31, and will work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Council set another special meeting date of June 6 to review candidates who have applied for the City Manager job. They will review the candidates in closed session and choose the top ones they wish to interview in a public meeting.

 

 

 

 

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World War II Vet to be awarded honorary diploma

Vet will get diploma at graduation

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

By Judy Reed

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, has waited a long time to get his high school diploma. But the wait will be over on Thursday, June 2, when he finally receives an honorary diploma from Cedar Springs High School—the school he left in the 1940s so he could serve our country during World War II.

According to Erwin’s son, Mike, his father was originally born in Rossford, Ohio to Glenn Empie and Bessie (Smith) Empie. The family later moved to Cedar Springs. He had a brother Paul, and a sister, Marie.

Erwin enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at the age of 18, while attending Cedar Springs High School. He trained at the Naval Training Center near Chicago, Illinois, and served aboard the USS Lexington CV-16. He was a gunner’s mate, and his rank was Seaman 2nd class, V6. Mike said the ship patrolled mainly in the South China Sea to strike against enemy shipping and air installations.

Erwin served until 1946. In 1955, he married Dorothy Patrick.

Erwin is eligible for the diploma under Public Act 180 of 2001. It says that a high school diploma can be awarded to a veteran if, before graduation from a high school, the military veteran enlisted in or was drafted into the armed forces of the United States during World War II, the Korean Conflict, or the VietNam war.

Mike heard about “Operation Recognition,” (Public Act 181 of 2001) in a newspaper article, and checked with Cedar Springs High School about his father getting an honorary diploma.

According to registrar Susan Andrzejewski, Erwin attended Cedar Springs High School for his freshman year and part of his sophomore year. She said she found an old box in the basement labeled non-graduates of the 1930s. Although he attended in the 1940s, she dug through it and found his transcript. “He was a bit older than our sophomore students today,” she explained, “but back then they sometimes kept students home to help farm.”

So it won’t be just 17 and 18-year-old students in high spirits when they get their diplomas at graduation next week. Erwin Empie and family will be celebrating, too.

“He’s very excited,” said Mike.

Congratulations, Erwin, and thank you for serving our country!

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Lest we forget

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Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of veterans buried in area cemeteries, and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year.

There will be several memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend that residents are encouraged to take part in:

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will hold its 16th annual Memorial Cemetery Walk on Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m. to honor veterans of all wars. This year’s veterans will be Ebenezer Jewell, War of 1812; John Roys, Mexican War; Myron Fogleson, Civil War; Joe Osborne, Spanish-American War; Franklin Sheldon, World War I; Kenneth Winters, World War II; Rex Morris, Korean War; and Timothy Towns, Vietnam War.

Biographical and historical information will be presented at each gravesite. The Glen Hill Post of the American Legion honor guard will assist in the presentation. They will leave the museum in Morley Park at 1:30 p.m. and return there for refreshments. If it rains, the event will be held in the museum. In case of severe weather warnings, the event will be canceled.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 30. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., Solon Cemetery at 10 a.m., East Nelson Cemetery at 10:45 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at 11:30 a.m. In case of bad weather, services will be held only in the American Legion Hall at 9 a.m. Lt/Col. Tom Noreen will be the speaker.

The Sand Lake/Cedar Springs Tri-Corner Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #7912 will have ceremonies on Monday, May 30. They will be at the VFW Post in Sand Lake at 10:30 a.m. and at Pierson Cemetery at 11 a.m. Rain or shine.

The Algoma Township Historical Society will hold Memorial Day services on Monday, May 30, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. at Memorial Park, located on the south end of the Algoma township cemetery on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile Rd.) The service this year will honor Algoma Township’s WWII veterans, including tributes from the families of the Powell brothers, Gabe and Russell, who both passed away this last year; John Carlton Sjogren, medal of honor recipient and the statue that is underway to be erected in his honor at the Rockford area museum; and music from the Algoma Baptist Church choir. Following the ceremony, refreshments will be served by the Algoma Township Historical Society.

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WWII Vet writes home

S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, served during World War II

S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, served during World War II

By Judy Reed

Several months ago, Cedar Springs resident Jay Bowers shared some information with the Post about his grandfather, S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, who served during World War II. He is one of two living WWII veterans highlighted in this issue, and he gives us just a brief glimpse of World War II through a letter he wrote home to the local newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper.

Jack Bowers was born in Sparta, Michigan in September 1918. When he received his selective service notice in May 1944, he was farming in Cedar Springs. He entered active service in WWII in September 1944 at the age of 26. He had a wife and two children, Jim and Jerry.

Bowers served in the 227th Quartermaster Battalion, HQ detachment, as a supply clerk. He received the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Service medal, the Good Conduct medal, and the Sharp Shooter medal. He officially separated from the service on April 27, 1946.

While there, he wrote to the Clipper Girls, and they ran his letter in the paper. He has a clipping of it framed with his stripes, along with some clippings published about him and other servicemen on their way home.

The title of the piece was: PVT. Jack Bowers Writes from the Pacific, and below that was Mariana Islands. His letter reads:

Dear Clipper Girls: I thought I would write you a line. I am not very good at writing letters, so if you can’t make out this letter, call my wife. I am sure she can.

I haven’t received a Clipper since March. I sure will be glad when they start catching up with me. I am sure it is not your fault. I haven’t received any because since April 8 when we left the states I have traveled about 12,000 miles. We first went down to New Caledonia, then we left there and came back up to the Marianas, on which there are still a few Japs. There are lots of B-29s here.

There is an old slogan, “Join the Navy and see the world.” Well, I have a better one. “Get drafted in the Army and they will show you the world.”

I am sending you a Stars and Stripes paper, and also the Yank magazine, which I thought you would enjoy reading. It probably will take a month to reach you, but if it is like it is over  here, dates don’t mean much, just so it is news from home.

I remember an incident on the way up here. We stopped at an island they brought aboard ship some old newspapers and during the scramble to see if we could find a paper from home I came out with a paper from Monroe, Michigan. After all that was quite close to home. It was dated April 25.

I sure will be thankful when this war is all over, so we all can go home and begin our jobs where we left them and make an honest living for my family and take my responsibility as a Christian, and worship God the way we wish. And hope and pray that my boys won’t go through another war.

Yours truly, Pvt. Jack Bowers

When the Post last spoke with Jay, his grandfather was living in Texas with relatives, and he will be 98 years old in September.

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Rockford man killed in crash

A Rockford man died in this crash at 14 Mile and Northland Drive last week.

A Rockford man died in this crash at 14 Mile and Northland Drive last week.

A 24-year-old Rockford man died last Wednesday when the car he was riding in turned in front of another vehicle.

According to the Michigan State Police Rockford Post, the accident occurred about 11:17 p.m., May 18, at 14 Mile and Northland Drive, in Algoma Township.

The investigation showed that the driver of a 2001 Ford Mustang, a 22-year-old Rockford resident, was traveling westbound on M-57 (14 Mile) when he turned left (south) on to Northland Drive and turned into the path of an eastbound 2008 Buick Enclave driven by a Cedar Springs man.

The driver of the Buick wasn’t treated for any injuries at the scene, while the driver of the Mustang was transferred to the hospital. The passenger of the Mustang, Luke Haworth-Hoeppner, 24, of Rockford, was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.

Police said alcohol is thought to be a factor in the crash.

Assisting at the scene was the Kent County Sheriff Department, Algoma Fire Department, and Rockford Ambulance.

The crash remains under investigation.

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The Post travels to Haiti

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The Rev. Robert Baker and wife Patti, of Oakfield Township, traveled to Haiti earlier this year. Rev. Baker had previously spent 13 years in Haiti, with 10 as field director for the Baptist Haiti Mission, formerly based in Rockford. The home office is now in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rev. Baker returned to Haiti in January to do some seminars for church leaders. “I will return in May to do the same thing,” he said.

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Kent County Service animals receive eye exams at Mounted Unit

Free eye exams were given to service animals last Saturday at the Kent County Sheriff Department Mounted Unit in Rockford, by Dr. Harriet Davidson, DVM, DACVO.

Free eye exams were given to service animals last Saturday at the Kent County Sheriff Department Mounted Unit in Rockford, by Dr. Harriet Davidson, DVM, DACVO. Photo by B. Altena.

By Beth Altena

“From top to bottom the entire organization is volunteer,” said David Homant, owner of Kent County Search and Rescue trailing dog, Gus. Homant and Gus were at the Kent County Sheriff Department Mounted Unit at 4687 Kies, in Rockford and Plainfield Township on Saturday, May 21 to take advantage of a special opportunity. Dogs and horses that serve the public were treated to a free eye exam by Harriet Davidson, DVM, DACVO who was donating her time and expertise to look at the health of the horses and dogs through their eyes.

Davidson, of Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners and GD Veterinary Opthalmology, was participating in the ninth annual National Service Animal Eye Exam of the American College of Veterinary Opthalmologists.

The facility was jumping with dogs on a warm Saturday afternoon, as members of the Search and Rescue team waited for their dogs’ turns to be examined and the horses waited for their turns to be examined in a darkened stall in the century old barn on the property.

Gus is a trailing dog, one who searches while leashed to his owner, as opposed to other dogs on the team who are trained as scent dogs. Scent dogs work off leash in an attempt to locate the scent of the person being sought. According to Homant, Gus is his one-and-only professional service dog, and when Gus retires from Search and Rescue, Homant will, too.

“I’m retired and I’ve lived a very good life,” Homant explained. “This is my giveback to the community.” Homant explained that Gus, a red lab, is an unusual color. “Lab litters are typically chocolate, black and yellow. You have to breed a red to a red to get a red lab.”

Homant said Kent County Search and Rescue dogs serve a variety of purposes, and come in a variety of breeds. Abel is an English shepherd, age two and a half, who is also a trailing dog. Cletis is a bloodhound, age four, who is also a trailing dog. He’s a 92-pound marvel with “paddle paws,” whose long ears and extra facial skin funnel smells from the ground straight to his massive and excellent nose. He has not yet completed his training to be certified for official Search and Rescue. His owner said she joined the team for the strength of the relationship between owner and dog that develops from being a working team.

“It’s a way different relationship than that with a pet,” she said. Although bloodhounds are known for their exceptional sense of smell, hounds typically can’t be let off leash because once on a scent they follow it. In addition to trailing dogs, Search and Rescue can be trained as scent dogs and disaster dogs, all with their own specialties.

The investment in time and money for the volunteers of the K9 unit are not insignificant. The time it takes for both the dog and human is up to two years before becoming certified. The Kent County Search and Rescue team meets monthly to train, but the K9 unit teams meet on a weekly basis and accrues thousands of hours on the job. “All the training is done to make the dogs and us proficient,” Homant stated.

The unit, although volunteer, is under the Kent County Sheriff Department and is only deployed when directed to by the county. “We don’t self deploy,” he said.

Homant also pointed out that the majority of handlers there for the free eye screening were women, which, in his experience, is typical. “Women are formidable. These women are all A types, or would describe themselves that way. We all are people who want to help our fellows. It isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. There is no funding of any kind for this.”

Dogs involved in Kent County Search and Rescue and the K9 unit go through hours of training to make both them and their handlers proficient in what they need to do. Photo by B. Altena.

Dogs involved in Kent County Search and Rescue and the K9 unit go through hours of training to make both them and their handlers proficient in what they need to do. Photo by B. Altena.

Kent County’s K9 search and rescue all consist of handlers and dogs who are trained to certifications and have an excellent reputation. Few Michigan communities have a similar unit, so it isn’t uncommon for the Kent County team to be called to deploy elsewhere in the state. Because of the high standards of the Kent County Unit, other municipalities are confident calling for their help. “Our dogs are mission-ready and cops know they are getting a known entity,” said Homant.

Dr. Davison said she believes in volunteering to examine the dogs and other service animals because vision is so vital to what they do, but more importantly, the animals themselves serve such a vital purpose in the lives of humans. She said she has seen Leader dogs, Guide dogs, Assistant dogs, therapy dogs and even dogs who help people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The parent organization (ACVO) that arranges the volunteer testing is responsible for ophthalmologists examining 5,000 to 6,000 animals yearly. And eye testing can lead to saving lives in some cases.

“I love all animals,” she said. “Dogs and horses develop such a strong bond. I have heard cat owners develop a strong bond with their cats, but it is hard to get cats trained.” Interviewed by several television crews, Davidson said the most unusual animal whose eyes she examined was a seal working for the Navy.

“This is something we can do to give back to animals who serve us,” she said. She described animal vision as very different from human vision. It is a common misperception that dogs and other animals only see black and white or shades of grey. In fact, they do see colors, just on a more muted level than we see. Because our eyes may be distracted by vivid vision with bright color, their vision allows them to better pick up on movement, a useful evolution in animals that have to hunt for a living. It also allows them to see better than humans in dim light, specifically dawn and dusk.

Left: Horses in the Mounted Unit were also given eye exams. Photo by B. Altena.

Horses in the Mounted Unit were also given eye exams. Photo by B. Altena.

“It’s fun to look at horses, they are usually well-behaved,” Davidson noted. She said every pet owner can we aware of their animal’s eye health by watching for tearing, squinting or rubbing their eyes. “If there is a concern, the first stop is their regular veterinarian.”

She said this free service is open to all owners of service dogs, not just law enforcement, and anyone who has a service animal can sign up in April to schedule a free evaluation. “We do this annually,” she said. Information can be found at the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologist (ACVO) website at http://www.acvo.org.

Over the past eight years over 45,000 animals have benefited from the free eye exams. Other animals who have been seen include those who guide, hearing assistance, drug detection, police/military, search and rescue, therapy, and those assisting people with disabilities other than blindness. The testing may mean the animal will be able to serve longer, or it may affect the quality of the working animal’s life—something anyone with a service dog cares passionately about.

Jilian Rakow’s dog Lego was tested last year and a tumor was discovered in his eye. He ended up losing the eye, but had the problem not been discovered he could have lost his life if the tumor invaded other parts of his body. Today Lego is alive and well and is part of the training for the horses at the Mounted Division, familiarizing them with having dogs rush up to them, something they need to be prepared for when out on their own missions, often in crowds of civilians or at parades.

Lego—whose name started out as the Lord of the Rings elf Legolas but was shortened by the family children—is an example of the dedication necessary to perform in Search and Rescue. Today he is six years old, but he began training for the job at four months of age and was not certified until he was two years old. Because of the loss of his eye, he retired from Search and Rescue.

“It takes a village to train a search and rescue dog,” Rakow said. “Every dog here needs to be trained by all the people involved.” She said she is a true believer in the value of the free eye exams for all service animals, especially after her experience with her own dog. She wasn’t even the one who took him to the eye check. She was out of town and wasn’t going to bother but her friend insisted Lego go and volunteered to take him. It could well have ended up saving his life. Rakow, who is also very involved in the Mounted Unit and the horses there, decided to see if Davidson was open to examining the horses along with the dogs this year. The answer was yes.

“This program is so important to me because of that,” said Rakow. “That’s why we brought this program to the horses. It’s become quite the community event. If you have a working animal you should take advantage of this. These animals contribute so much.”

Over at the horse barn the eye exams continued, and first in line was Old Beau, who is into his twenties. He has been cared for by his regular vet for teary eyes, so Rakow wanted him to be seen first. The horses who age out of the Mounted Division work stay on at the farm as permanent residents for the rest of their lives and Beau could be lucky enough to live into his early thirties. He has his forever home at the former farm, which was donated to the Kent County Parks Department with the understanding the property would be preserved for public use.

The horses and their riders, like the dogs and their handlers, deploy at the request of the Kent County Sheriff Department and are a sub-division of the traffic squad. In addition to search and rescue duties, the horses are used for crowd control at events, such as Art Prize and festivals and parades. The facility itself is also host to a wide variety of events scheduled there by different parties, from Scout tours to equestrian teams who practice or compete on the grounds. “Every day these horses impact somebody,” said Rakow.

For the dogs and their handlers, Homant also had strong sentiments about the value of the work they do. “Search and Rescue team members spend their own time and their own money and are available day and night. It doesn’t matter if it is Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Eve, when the call goes out, we go.”

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CS Brewing Co. wins best brewery contest

 

After only being open six months, the Cedar Springs Brewing Co. came out on top last week in a contest posted online by WZZM13 for the best brewery in West Michigan.

According to WZZM13, 2,800 people voted in the initial poll, nominating 98 different breweries. They narrowed it down to the top ten with the most votes, and Cedar Springs Brewing Company was on the list. They then had another round of voting, and narrowed it to the top four.

In the final tally, Cedar Springs Brewing came in first with 2,533 votes; Pigeon Hill Brewing in Muskegon took second with 2,171 votes; Fetch Brewing in Whitehall was third with 840 votes; and Founders was fourth with 691.

WZZM13 will be filming at CS Brewing Co. today (Thursday) at 11 a.m., and they will be featured on the Saturday morning, May 28 edition of “A Taste of My Town.” The other four breweries will be also be profiled in upcoming shows.

David Ringler, owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Co., thanked friends and supporters for voting, in an email last week.

“While this is certainly not a true measure of anything other than local support, it has been wonderful to see the Cedar Springs community and friends turn out over the past two weeks, through two rounds of voting, as we’ve asked for your support via club members, newsletter, email, on social media and all of you who visited us personally,” he wrote. “To you all, we say Danke!”

“Our community is blessed with so many outstanding brewers, including, but not limited to, the final four with our friends at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company in Muskegon, Fetch Brewing Company in Whitehall, and Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids,” he added. “We encourage you to visit each of the four finalists to see what they’re all about. We are blessed and humbled to be in the conversation.”

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