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Four-way stop installed at 13 Mile and Pine Island

This was the scene of a fatal crash two weeks ago at 13 Mile and Pine Island. Post photo by L. Allen.

Drivers traveling 13 Mile Road in Algoma Township need to be aware that they are now required to stop at Pine Island. Previously only those traveling on Pine Island were required to stop.

The Kent County Road Commission put the new stop signs in this week after the Kent County Board of Commissioner approved the all-way stop on Monday, August 14, during their August board meeting. 

It was just two weeks ago that Todd Carlson, 49, of Casnovia, was killed at that intersection while traveling westbound on 13 Mile after an eastbound vehicle turned left into his vehicle.

According to a press release from the Kent County Road Commission, “Modifications to traffic control are dictated by regulations set forth by the Federal Highway Administration, who identifies specific warranting criteria that must be met for a traffic control change to occur. The Kent County Road Commission routinely monitors intersections throughout its road and bridge network for changes that meet warrants for traffic control modification. Recent analysis of traffic volumes and crash history at the 13 Mile Road and Pine Island Drive intersection indicate that the necessary warrants have been met for an all-way stop to be installed.”

The intersection joins two other intersections—13 Mile and Algoma and 13 Mile and Edgerton—as four-way stops.

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Sheriff Larry Stelma announces retirement

Kent County Sheriff Lawrence A. Stelma (right) was chosen as the first ever recipient of the Terrence L. Jungel Sheriff of the Year Award in 2017 by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association. Terrence Jungel is on the left.


Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma announced last week that he will retire from his position on November 1, 2018.

“For 46 years I have had the privilege of serving this community, and I consider this privilege a gift from God,” Sheriff Stelma said as he notified the Kent County Board of Commissioners of his intent to retire November 1, 2018. While the decision to retire was difficult, the Sheriff emphasized that he is “confident that the next generation of leadership will serve this community well and bring this organization to new heights.”

Stelma began his career at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office on January 3, 1972, as a deputy working various duties in the jail and eventually transferring to the road patrol. As a detective in the investigative bureau, he was awarded the Sheriff’s Office Combat Star for his efforts to save his partner when a domestic violence suspect shot that officer in the chest in 1980. In August 1981, Stelma was promoted to sergeant on the road patrol; in 1985, he was promoted to road patrol lieutenant; and promoted to road patrol captain in January 1997. In January 1999, Stelma was appointed to serve as Kent County’s Undersheriff. On January 1, 2001, he was elected by the citizens of Kent County to serve as their Sheriff. He has since been re-elected Kent County Sheriff for five consecutive terms.

In 2017 he was named “Sheriff of the Year” by the Michigan Sheriff’s Association. Sheriff Stelma’s investment in his staff, and his strong belief in mentorship have been key elements that have developed the Kent County Sheriff’s Office into one of the most innovative and strategic departments in the country.

“It’s been a tremendous honor and privilege to work for a leader whose fundamental goal is to guide and develop his staff through mentorship. His approach to mentorship and his unwavering leadership are directly tied to the culture we are so proud of at the KCSO,” Undersheriff LaJoyeYoung said. “We will miss him dearly and we wish him all the best on his next adventure.”

In a recent staff meeting, the Sheriff was asked what he plans to do in retirement. “A whole lot more hunting and fishing,” he responded, with his famous half smile and a nod. Sheriff Stelma has submitted his intent to retire to the County Clerk, and the legislated process to appoint a replacement will be occurring once the statutorily required appointing authority has been assembled.

Stelma is a longtime Cedar Springs resident and has given back to his community in a number of ways. 

Two particular initiatives that have affected Cedar Springs include the City and Sheriff Department partnership on police services, and the school resource officer at Cedar Springs Public Schools.

Stelma was integral in the creation of the partnership between the City and the Sheriff Department in 2015, the first time anything like that had been done in Kent County. The Cedar Springs Police Department was dissolved, and the full-time officers were offered jobs at the Kent County Sheriff Department, and a chance to serve in Cedar Springs. Sgt. Jason Kelley oversaw the Cedar Springs Unit until earlier this year, until Sgt. Todd Probst took over. The unit works out of the former police area at City Hall.

Cedar Springs was not the first public school to employ a Kent County Sheriff Deputy as a school resource officer, but the Sheriff Department did partner with the district to help fund the program. SROs work to improve school safety by investigating school-related incidents and take a proactive approach to improve the security of the campus, staff, and students.

Thank you, Sheriff Stelma, for your service, and the Post wishes you a happy retirement!

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High number of mosquitoes found with West Nile virus 


Surveillance results concern health officials

The Kent County Health Department held an urgent news conference Wednesday to help get the word out that an unusually high number of trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus this year. While there are no human cases reported in Kent County yet this year, these tests lead health experts at KCHD to believe that a rise in human cases is possible in 2018.

“Given the test results we are seeing, it may be more important now than ever to take steps to protect yourself and those who count on you from being bit,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We are urging people to take simple precautions to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and the risk of West Nile virus.”

They reported that in the first 11 weeks of sampling this year, they collected 16,314 Culex mosquitoes, which are the ones that usually carry the virus. That’s about six times as many as last year. Of the eight pools of 50 tested, 26 percent had the virus.

London reportedly said he has never had West Nile surveillance data of more concern than this year’s.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water form flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

West Nile virus is spread primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes. Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover, but fatigue may last for weeks. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death.

More information about prevention can be found here. https://www.accesskent.com/Health/CommDisease/pdfs/westnile_qa.pdf

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City Council chooses 15-year millage proposal for fire station

by Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council went over the numbers last Thursday evening, and decided that while the monthly payments would be a little higher for taxpayers, going with a 15-year bond on the proposed new fire station was worth saving taxpayers at least $400,000 over a 20-year bond, and $800,000 over a 25-year bond.

The proposal that residents will vote on in November will be a 15-year bond at 3.455363 mills the first year, and an average of 3.4290 mills thereafter. For someone with a home that has a taxable value of $50,000, that equates to about $172 more per year, or just under $15 per month. And, if the taxable values in Cedar Springs go up, the millage rate will go down. 

The total cost of the fire station is estimated at $2,991,741. That includes $2,136,958 in building and site prep; engineering and testing of $320,544; and $534,240 for contingencies. “Contingencies are additional funds that are set aside for fixing problems that were not accounted for or were unknowable at the time of design and planning,” explained City Manager Mike Womack. “Any funding that is leftover at the end of the construction of the building would then be put towards ‘equipping a new fire station’ and ‘acquisition of fire equipment, apparatus and vehicles, and other related expenses and improvements’ as is indicated in the ballot language.”

The total payback on the 15-year bond would be $4,013,850.

The vote was 5-2, with Council members Perry Hopkins and Jerry Gross Sr. being the two no votes. Hopkins said he would personally like the one that got it paid off the fastest, but felt a 20-year bond would be easier on taxpayers. 

Gross also felt taxpayers would have a hard time with it. “As much as I want a new fire station, we also have to look at the new storm drain expense—they won’t have a choice in that. I just struggle with that much money. It’s a tax load on the community,” he said.

“Despite what some people are saying, there are not a lot of frills in that station,” said Fire Chief Marty Fraser. We had to meet a lot of government standards not in effect 40 years ago. People don’t understand what we’ve done here (at the current station) the last 38 years. We’ve made do. It was built to code in 1980 but it no longer meets code.”

Cedar Springs firefighter Lt. Steve Schipper was on the fire station relocation committee, along with another Cedar Springs firefighter, the City Manager, three businessmen (two of which are builders), the Mayor, and a city resident whose career was firefighting in Grand Rapids. “Our mission was to plan a 50-year facility that would meet current and possible future needs,” explained Schipper. 

He explained that they looked for a piece of property that the city already owned to keep down the expense. And they wanted to stay near the center of town. “It’s critically important to be able to access 17 Mile and Main Street quickly,” he said. “We also have a longstanding relationship with Nelson Township to provide coverage there as well.” 

Both he and Fraser noted they are one of the busiest departments in the area, fielding 654 calls in 2017—including 26 structure fires; 44 traffic accidents; and 487 medical calls. And as Cedar Springs and Nelson Township grows, so will the number of calls.

One big problem they have is that they have outgrown the station.

“Today, we have eight apparatus and five bays. All of our equipment does not fit, and some is stored off site,” said Schipper. He noted that if they have a hazmat situation, they have to go to Ensley to get what they need. The Model A is also not at the station. And equipment is getting bigger. So the architect took that into consideration when designing the equipment bays on the new building. 

Schipper said that the station would be a pre-fab concrete building with dressing to make it look nicer. 

For instance, Fraser said that while the drawing shows nice, arched doors, the arches are merely decorative. “The doors are just basic square doors,” he explained.

But it does need to be built to a category 4 rating. “We need to be able to respond to the public during weather events,” explained Schipper. 

Schipper said they also have no place for their bi-monthly meetings of 18-25 individuals. With the proposed training room, they will be able to have those meetings, and also invite other departments to training sessions. Schipper said that they reduced the sizes of other rooms in order to make that room a little bigger. He said it would fit about 32 people at tables, and up to 51 standing. “It was also designed with the idea that it could be used as a command center in case of an emergency—such as a tornado—by us, or FEMA, or the Red Cross,” he noted.

One of the things people have questioned about the floor plan is why do volunteer firefighters need bunks? “There are not going to be bunks there. We will probably use it for storage,” remarked Schipper. “We needed to plan for expansion so it could be a future bunk room if needed.” 

The hose tower is where they will hang their hose to dry after a fire. “A drying room is atrociously expensive, so we opted for something less expensive,” said Schipper.

He explained that the kitchen is really just a kitchenette with a coffee pot and a dorm size fridge. The offices are small as well—just big enough for a firefighter or two to do paperwork.

Schipper said that while the new station is bare bones, it would fit their needs now and in the future. “It says a lot to the people who want to come to the city and they see the amenities; they want to see they are protected, not just by police but by first responders as well. An adequate fire station says a lot about a city. A lot of goodwill comes from that.”

For questions on the fire station bond proposal, you can email the city manager at cityofcedarsprings.org or call 616-696-1330.

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The Post travels to Alaska

From L to R: Harry Eastwood, of Melbourne, Australia, and Mary Balon and Kim Gillow, of Cedar Springs.

The Post recently traveled to Alaska with Kim Gillow and Mary Balon, of Cedar Springs. “We met up with our Australian friend, Harry Eastwood, in Fairbanks and spent two weeks travelling around,” said Kim. “We went to Fairbanks, Denali, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Seward, Homer, and all of the points in between. Talkeetna was one of our favorites.”

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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Hometown Hero

U.S. Air Force Airman Janaye V. Dotson graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training also earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Dotson is the daughter of James Pike and Jamie Dotson, and granddaughter of Susan Spike, all of Sand Lake, Mich.

Janaye is a 2017 graduate of Tri County High School, Howard City, Mich.

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Garden Club ribbon cutting

The Cedar Springs Garden Club held the ribbon cutting on Monday evening, August 13, to officially show off their new community garden at the southwest corner of Cherry and First Streets (across from the U.S. Post office and Alpha Family Center). A lot of hard work and planning went into the garden and we hope you will take a minute to stop and enjoy the view!

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Veterans receive dream flights

On August 10, 2018, 11 Senior Neighbors Veterans arrived at the Sparta Miller Airport in Sparta, Michigan where they were given a Dream Flight by the Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation based out of Carson City, Nevada. This would be the second summer that a group of veterans from Senior Neighbors would have the opportunity to fly in a 1942 Stearman Bi Plane.   

“We will continually apply for this opportunity in hopes that every senior veteran member who desires an open cockpit flight in a bi plane can experience this,” said Jane Ringler, coordinator at the Sparta Senior Neighbors. “It is a true highlight of the summer for these Veterans who have given so much to our country in service.”  

Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation is a non-profit organization established and dedicated to seniors and the United States military veterans who have always had a burning desire to soar like eagles.   

“President, founder and pilot, Darryl Fisher, flew all the way to Michigan from Nevada to offer these flights to our local vets. Darryl exemplifies the mission by his gratitude and generosity shown to the vets. Each received a hat signed by Darryl after the flight and a heartfelt thank you and handshake for their past service to our great country,” said Ringler.  “Darryl is a kind man with a volunteer’s heart.” 

Ageless Aviation Dreams Foundation has awarded well over 2,000 dream flights all over the country since beginning in 2011.  The oldest vet to take flight was 102 years old.  

The 11 local veterans who received flights were Brian Smith, Air Force E4 Sgt 1975; Eileen Ross Army PFC 1975-76; Dick Burchett Army SP4 1959-61; Gilbert Meyer Navy Seaman 1956-58; Gordy Zielinski Army E5 1968-69; Karl Glass Air Force AIC 1956-60; Mike Mocklegust Navy E3 1976-77; Pat Stray Army Sgt E5 1966-68; Pete Noel Navy E5 1964-69; Stanley Smith Army USMC PFC 1971-1973; and WWII veteran Jim Hoogerhyde Navy S1/C 1943-1945.  

Sparta Senior Neighbors is actively planning other great opportunities for their senior members. Trips, game nights, and parties are scheduled monthly. In September, seniors will be taking flight again, but in a different way this time. First time sky divers will be parachuting from an airplane at over 10,000 feet with an experienced guide, tandem. If you’re a senior who has a dream of sky diving, please contact Jane Ringler from Senior Neighbors at 616-887-1273.  

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In the Spotlight: The Cedar Springs Fire Department

The Cedar Springs Fire Department fights a fire in Northland Estates in 2013.

By Carolee Cole

The Cedar Springs Fire and Rescue Department is a lean, clean, helping machine, full of spunk, kindness and compassion. These men and women volunteer to do many different things in our community and while all volunteers are important and keep the community moving forward with their efforts, I think I can safely say that no other volunteer group has as much responsibility or is required to be as available, without forewarning, as our amazing Fire and Rescue Department. 

Fire Chief Marty Fraser

There are 13 active firefighters and five first responders currently serving the department. Marty Fraser is our Fire Chief and the only salaried employee of the department. He is a most unassuming, humble man focused, number one, on keeping us and our possessions safe, and number two, on leading his department well. He’s been involved with the fire department for nearly 40 years having joined in April of 1977. I’m just going to say, this good-looking, kind-hearted man must have still been a teenager when he joined! 

A few members of the team have been serving the department for over 25 years and several joined in 1998, so there is a lot of cumulative experience represented in your local fire department. You can count on them to be there when you need them and to know what to do! To become a firefighter, you attend school one night per week and one Saturday per month for 6 months. Medical First Responders (MFR’s) typically attend training to become a firefighter and then attend MFR school for an additional 12-14 weeks. After initial training is complete, each member of the department is required to continue training once per month for a total of 60-80 hours per year to keep their training and certification up-to-date. School and training is paid for by the department.

In addition to keeping us safe and keeping their training relevant, firefighters participate in a lot of community events like parades, car shows, going to the elementary schools or career day at the high school as well as Girl and Boy Scouts’ events and other clubs in the area. Fire Chief Fraser noted that the firefighters are quick to volunteer for these events and donate countless hours to keep our children and us clear on safety things like, “Stop, Drop and Roll” and scream and holler if you’re ever trapped in a burning house, as well as child car seat checks and much more. This team has a real sense of Cedar Springs pride and community contribution.

I bet you are wondering what your firefighters get paid to keep you safe, attend the training, and show up with the fire trucks at school, girl scouts and parades. Let’s break it down. They get paid $0 for showing up at parades, school activities, girl scouts and other such scheduled events. They get $120 per year for attending all trainings and meetings. And, they get paid $11 for each emergency response. That’s it, unless the run goes over three hours, then they get an additional $11 for the second three hours! I’m actually doubting that these payments cover their gas money! But, That. Is. It! And they have to be ready at a moment’s notice since heart attacks and car accidents as well as fires are not scheduled into our days. 

While we were talking to Chief Fraser, a call came in. Stacy Velting, a medical first responder (MFR) for the department, responded to a medical situation at a local business. Stacey got there before the ambulance, assessed the situation, and developed a rapport with the person collecting their health history, name and contact information. The person was transported to the hospital and Stacy returned to the station where she repacked the “First In” bag and made sure it was ready for the next call.

We are so lucky to be the beneficiaries of the commitment the Cedar Springs Fire Department brings to the job of keeping us safe. In the next few weeks we’ll do a follow-up article to get you even more impressive information about how effective they are. Between now and then, drive by the department when the team is out washing the trucks, training or preparing the equipment for another call and yell out a thanks to them. 

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Cedar Springs man inducted into Hall of Fame

Dean Reyburn with his award.

A long-time piano technician and software designer has been inducted into the Piano Technicians Guild Hall of Fame.

Dean Reyburn, RPT (registered piano technician), received the honor during the recent PTG Convention in Lancaster, PA. Reyburn, a member of the association since 1978, is well known for his work designing the Reyburn CyberTuner, one of the piano industry’s leading electronic tuning device programs. He’s also widely respected for serving the PTG as a tuning examiner and advisor to the PTG’s Registered Piano Technician credential program.

He was honored with a standing ovation following the announcement. In addition to a plaque, he will also join the ”Wall of Fame” which features photos of all Hall of Fame inductees on display at the PTG Headquarters in Kansas City, KS.

“I was totally surprised and greatly honored to receive the PTG Hall of Fame award,” Reyburn said. “The Piano Technicians Guild has been a force for great good and improved standards in the music world since it’s inception in 1957. The PTG has greatly benefited piano tuner/technicians such as myself around the world, through education of piano techs and musicians and especially the RPT (Registered Piano Technician) certification. It has been my honor to be a part of the PTG for 40 years.”

Reyburn has lived in Cedar Springs since 1976. His dad was Larry Reyburn, a former police officer and farmer in the area. 

Reyburn graduated from Grand Ledge High School and then went to the Moody Bible Institute, where he took piano courses from 1975-1977. He then got into tuning pianos by ear. He joined the Piano Technicians Guild in 1978, and took the exam (by ear) to be a tuning examiner in 1990. Since then, he’s given a lot of exams to students looking to become a piano techician.

 In 1994-95, he developed the software for the Reyburn CyberTuner. “There just weren’t any good tuning devices out there,” he explained. “Hardware didn’t do a good job. That was my push.”

He said that the tuner helps train people to fix what they did wrong by ear, by helping them hear the note.

Although his software company makes the CyberTuner, Reyburn still feels it’s extremely important for them to be able to tune by ear. “If you don’t have the skills to tune by ear, how do you know it was tuned correctly?” he asked.

Reyburn said that if you need to someone to tune your piano and want to find someone in the area with the best expertise, visit ptg.org for a list of registered piano technicians in the area.

Congratulations, Dean!

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