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Whether terrifying or totally cool, snakes are best left alone

The only venomous snake species found in Michigan, the rare eastern massasauga rattlesnake is shy and avoids humans whenever possible.

From the Michigan DNR

Michigan is home to 18 different snake species, but there’s no need to worry, since most found here are harmless and tend to avoid people. If you do spot a snake, give it space to slither away, and you likely won’t see it again. Handling or harassing snakes is the most common reason people get bit.

Simply put, if left alone, Michigan snakes will leave people alone. 

While most snakes in Michigan aren’t dangerous, there is one venomous species found here—the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

As the name implies, the massasauga rattlesnake has a segmented rattle on its tail. But keep in mind that other Michigan snakes—even those without segmented rattles—also may buzz or vibrate their tails when approached or handled.  

“The massasauga rattlesnake tends to be a very shy snake that will avoid humans whenever possible,” said Hannah Schauer, wildlife communications coordinator with the DNR. “They spend most of their time in wetlands hunting for small rodents and aren’t often encountered. In fact, this snake is listed as a threatened species.” 

Rattlesnake bites, while extremely rare in Michigan, can and do occur. Anyone who is bitten should seek immediate medical attention. 

Snakes play an important role in ecosystem health by keeping rodent numbers in check and, in turn, feeding larger predators, especially hawks and owls. Help monitor Michigan’s reptile and amphibian populations by reporting your sightings to our Herp Atlas database. Visit miherpatlas.org to get started. 

Learn more about snakes on the DNR website or contact Hannah Schauer at 517-388-9678.

Posted in OutdoorsComments (0)

Flat River Community Players presents “Urinetown, the Musical”

The Rebel Poor citizens prepare for revolution in “Urinetown, the Musical.” Back row, from left: Caleb Kellogg, Raymond Koren, Kent Schuster, and Christian Sowers. Middle row, from left: Dennis Hess, Sandy Cote, Greg VanderMark, Tim Addis, Jamee Gunn, Jody Butler, and Katy McDonough. Front row, from left: Mary McDonough, Deb Dieckman, and Donita Coughlin

The Flat River Community Players continue their 2018 theatre season with “Urinetown, the Musical,” the Tony Award winner sometimes known as “the terrific show with the terrible title.” 

What can one say about a show with a title so unpleasant it’s a running gag in the dialogue? Bathroom jokes aside, “Urinetown,” a musical comedy modeled off the satire and parody of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht, is about a person’s right to pee for free. One Broadway critic dubbed it, “The Spend-a-Penny Opera.” 

The story is rather dystopian. In the not-too-distant future, a 20-year drought has caused such a severe water shortage that private toilets have been banned by law. People must pay increasingly high fees to use public facilities. Run by a mercenary company, the monopoly over these pay-toilets has made poor citizens desperate and rebellious and the corrupt officials wealthy and cruel. Anyone caught going in the bushes to avoid the fees is arrested and sent to the dreaded and mysterious “Urinetown.”

Book writer and lyricist Greg Kotis came up with the idea for “Urinetown” after encountering pay-per-use toilets while traveling in Europe. Shortly after that trip, Kotis joined with composer and lyricist Mark Hollman to create this completely original musical. They’ve written a clever show filled with smart lyrics and surprisingly fun rhymes and rhythms. It may not be a typically happy musical, but it sure sounds like one!

Director Timothy Addis and Music Director Valerie VanderMark have chosen a largely veteran cast for “Urinetown,” with a few newcomers thrown in for good measure. Leading roles are played by Tim Addis, Cassandra Jansma, Kent Schuster, Brenda Jolls, Jamee Gunn, and Donita Coughlin.

Supporting them are Christian Sowers, Katy McDonough, Dennis Hess, Greg VanderMark, Deb Dieckman, Sandy Cote, Katrina Nelson, Caleb Kellogg, Jody Butler, Raymond Koren, Cynthia Karaba, Lori Engelbrecht, Mary McDonough, Patty Rockafellow, and Shawn Jansma.

Working with Addis and VanderMark on the production are Brittany Bassett as tech director and stage manager, Roxanne Hutchinson as house manager, and Jessica Gilbertson as costumer. Addis also designed the set. Mary McDonough serves as assistant director, and Carolyn Johnson as consulting director. Deb Dieckman is show producer.   

The FRCP production of “Urinetown, the Musical” runs for five performances:  June 29 & 30 and July 6 & 7 at 7:30 p.m., and July 1 at 2:00 p.m. All performances are at the Greenville Area Community Center.

Tickets are $13 for adults, $11 for senior citizens 60 and over, and $11 for students 18 and under. General seating admission tickets are available at the Greenville Area Community Center during regular business hours Monday through Friday.  Tickets may be reserved online with MasterCard or VISA at  www.flatriver.showclix.com (or by phone at 1-888-71-TICKETS).     

If you have any questions about tickets, this show, or anything else about the FRCP, call the Players at (616) 754-8207. You can also visit the website www.frcplayers.org, where there is a link to the FRCP Facebook page.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments (0)

The Sword of the Spirit 


This lady surprised a burglar in her kitchen. He was all loaded down with the things he was going to steal. She had no weapon and was all alone. The only thing that she could think to do was quote scripture. So she holds up a hand and shouts: “ACTS 2:38!”

 The burglar quakes in fear and then freezes to the point that she is able to get to the phone and call 911 for the cops. When the cops arrive, the burglar is still frozen in place. They are very much surprised that a woman alone with no weapon could do this. One of them asked the lady: “How did you do this?” 

The woman replied, “I quoted scripture.” 

The cop turned to the burglar: “What was it about the scripture that had such an effect on you?” 

The burglar replied: “Scripture! What scripture? I thought she said she had an ax and two 38s.”

See below to see what Acts 2:38 says:

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, The Message). 

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Hometown Happenings

Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Michigan Blood Drive

June 19: A Michigan Blood Drive will be held on June 19th at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church from 12:30 pm until 7 pm. What a great Father’s Day gift: donate in your Dad’s honor – or memory – to celebrate the gift of life. No cost, just one hour of your time. Each donation has the potential to save 3 Michigan lives. The Blood Center thanks all the people that attempt to donate at the Cedar Springs blood drive. #24

A Magic Show with Tom Plunkard

June 20: Tom Plunkard’s entertaining and hilarious show includes animals, audience involvement and amazing magic. Wednesday, June 20th at 6:30 pm, Nelson Township / Sand Lake KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St. #24

Help Promote Literacy

June 22: The need is urgent! The Literacy Center of West Michigan is offering an informational meeting on Friday, June 22nd at 10 am for prospective volunteer tutors. It will last one hour. It provides potential volunteers the opportunity to find out more about the Literacy Center and the role of a volunteer tutor. No experience necessary! We provide our volunteers with all the training they need to be successful tutors for our adult learners. The Literacy Center of West Michigan is located at 1120 Monroe Ave., NW, Suite 240, Grand Rapids. Please call 616-459-5151 (ext. 10) or email us at info@literacycenterwm.org to register. #24

Gears of Nerf at KDL

June 25: Let loose the Gears of Nerf. You and your team are given 30 minutes to build a free standing structure that will protect your medic. Nerf blasters are provided, please do not bring your own. For teens. Monday, June 25th at 2:00 pm, Nelson Township / Sand Lake KDL Branch, 88 Eighth St. #24

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Board selects finalist in Superintendent search

Scott Smith, Asst. Superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools.

The Cedar Springs Board of Education conducted first round interviews Friday evening in their search for a new Superintendent, and narrowed their field down to one finalist. Scott Smith, Assistant Superintendent at Hudsonville, will return for a second-round interview.

The board gave high marks to all three candidates who interviewed, but seemed to like Smith’s leadership style, community focus, and experience with a larger district. The other two candidates who interviewed were Karl Heidrich, of Stockbridge Community Schools, and John VanLoon, of Ravenna Public Schools.

A second-round interview is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18. (Please note this date is a change from that listed in the tentative calendar previously released.) The interview will take place in the District Office Board Room, 204 E Muskegon St., Cedar Springs, MI.

“The public is strongly encouraged to attend,” said Search Consultant Gary Rider. “Feedback from the audience has already been very valuable to the Board in the selection process.” Rider is the consultant that was selected by the Cedar Springs Board to facilitate the search effort.

Scott Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Hudsonville Public Schools for seven years. Prior to this work he served as the Middle School Principal for Hamilton Community Schools for six years, and as a Middle School Science teacher for Holland Public Schools for three years. Mr. Smith holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Earth Science both from Western Michigan University.

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It’s time to celebrate!


Congratulations Class of 2018

Hundreds of students stepped out into a brand new world over the last couple of weeks as they graduated high school and now celebrate what lies ahead. Here in our area, students graduated from Cedar Springs High School, New Beginnings High School, Creative Technologies Academy, Algoma Christian School, and Tri County High School.

To see photos of all the top honors students in our area and class photos, click here to download.

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Crash injures one


These two cars collided in a head on collision on 14 Mile Rd in front of Burger King Wednesday. Post photos by J. Reed.

At least one person was sent to the hospital by Rockford Ambulance Wednesday after two SUV’s collided head-on in front of Burger King on 14 Mile Rd in Algoma Township.

The crash occurred about 12:30 p.m.

At least one person was removed from the dark colored SUV sent to the hospital via Rockford Ambulance. 

Algoma Township Fire and Rescue and Rockford Ambulance assisted the Michigan State Police at the scene. 

No details of the crash were immediately available at press time.

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Welcome, Sgt. Todd Probst

Sgt. Todd Probst is the new supervisor of the Cedar Springs Unit of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Have you seen this smiling face around town yet? It’s Sgt. Todd Probst, the new supervisor of the Cedar Springs Unit of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. Probst took over last week after Sgt. Jason Kelley took a job in the detective bureau.

Probst grew up in Lowell, a town he said is similar to Cedar Springs, and graduated from Lowell High School in 1989. After high school, he worked full time and attended Grand Rapids Community College and graduated from the police academy in 1994. He was then hired by the Lowell Police Department where he worked part time from 1994-95, and was then hired by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in January of 1996 as a road patrol deputy.

While working as a deputy, he worked in many different areas. Jobs he held included: Road patrol deputy in various areas across the county; Field training officer; TAC team member (Tactical apprehension and confrontation team); traffic and safety deputy; and as a community policing deputy, where he helped establish the Shop with a Sheriff program.

Probst was promoted to Sergeant in 2004, and worked with Road patrol and Park police. In 2013 he began work as a detective sergeant. Until his move to Cedar Springs, he was the Family Services Unit Supervisor, where he supervised detectives in the unit; Children’s Assessment Center; Warrants; Friend of the Court; and was liaison with three in-house Child Protective/Adult Protective Service Workers. He also was on the Presidential Motorcade Detail.

What was attractive about moving to the Cedar Springs Unit? “I was looking for a new opportunity, and it has a small-town atmosphere like I grew up in,” he said with a smile. “Being Cedar’s Sergeant is almost like being chief of a small town.”

Probst noted that another attractive quality is that Cedar Springs is known for its community involvement. “It will give me an opportunity to work with the community and with city leaders—those people we serve. With my background in community policing, it’s something I enjoy,” he explained.

When the Post asked what he has been seeing in the community, Probst said he’s already seeing that community involvement firsthand. “Business leaders and citizens really seem to be vested in community,” he said.

Probst noted that he would continue to work on what was already established here by Sgt. Kelley—mainly continuing to grow a good relationship between the community and the police department. “Everyone says they enjoy having us here and they feel like they are getting great service. The deputies also enjoy getting out and meeting the community in a non-traditional role by being a member of the community themselves,” he said. “That’s not a typical opportunity for a road patrol deputy. It’s more like community policing.”

The bottom line is that Probst wants people to feel safe here. “I want to make it a safe community, where people feel safe to go, and be a police department that the community can trust,” he said.

When he is not working, Probst is busy with his three daughters and their sports activities. His oldest will play soccer at Aquinas next year; he has another that will be a sophomore next year and plays for a travel soccer team; and has another that will be a fourth-grader next year. He said he likes all sports, but when he gets the chance, he really likes to play golf. 

What else does he want the people of Cedar Springs to know? “Everyone has been very welcoming. I’m ready to jump into this role. My door is always open. I want people to get to know me, and I want to get to know them,” he said.

Other 2018 staffing changes in the Cedar Springs Unit:

Deputy Nathan Stanton, who was a night shift Cedar Springs deputy, has been assigned as a district patrol deputy out of the north substation. Deputy Caitlin Carey will take his position as a Cedar deputy on nights. 

Deputy Ryan Wheeler, who was also a night shift Cedar Deputy, was promoted to Sergeant on May 8. Deputy Craig Holbrook will now take his place on the night shift.

Day shift deputies are Todd Frank and Pat Kent.

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Beach third grader wins poppy poster contest


Beach art students with their posters. Photos courtesy of Vicki Burke.

Jasmine Fankhauser and Loralee Nauta, of the Women’s Auxiliary at Glen Hill Post #287.

Congratulations to Beach Elementary third grader, Jasmine Fankhauser for winning the Cedar Springs American Legion Ladies Auxiliary Poppy Poster Contest. Jasmine won a cash prize as well as having her poster move onto the state level contest and possibly the national one, as well. All students in the participating class received certificates for their entries. 

A representative from the Cedar Springs Women’s Auxiliary visited students in art class, gave a brief history of the Auxiliary and the history behind the poppy flower as representation for fallen service men and women. Students then designed a poster using the required guidelines of the contest.  

Loralee Nauta from the Ladies Auxiliary presented Jasmine’s award as well as the certificates of participation to all the students. 

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Cedar Springs man releases new children’s books


By Judy Reed

A Nelson Township man has overcome a life-threatening illness and a disabling accident to become one of the area’s newest children’s book authors.

John LaFontsee, 46, has signed on with Five Count Publishing for a series of books featuring the character Daredevil Dylan, a character he created while telling stories to his son, Dylan.

LaFontsee has lived in Cedar Springs for 18 years with his wife, Lisa. They have two children, Holly, 20, and Dylan, 12. LaFontsee recently explained how he came to write the Daredevil Dylan series.

“In 2002 I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and was told I had less than 6 months to live, but with meds and diet I became stable and started living a somewhat normal life again. But in 2009, tragedy hit us again, when I was struck by an automobile and became permanently disabled and now forced to use a wheelchair. Over the years I felt a little depressed because there was not much I could physically do anymore like restoring cars, which I loved, or even hunting out back on our property. In all this time I would always make up and tell my son silly bedtime stories every night before bed. My wife and son loved them so much they convinced me to start writing them down, so I did.”

He went on to explain that after writing a couple of books, he showed them to his good friend, Ray Bentley, a former football player for the Buffalo Bills, and also a children’s author. He liked the books, and connected LaFontsee with his sons, Ritch and Jake, who run Five Count Publishing. Ritch lives in Gowen. 

The series follows Dylan, who is the neighborhood stunt kid. He is always pulling off cool tricks and stunts for all of his buddies. His best friend, Bullseye Billy, helps him set up all his spectacles and acts as his manager. Together, the two boys create quite a fun and exciting team.

The first book in the series is called Daredevil Dylan and the Snapping Turtle Pond Jump. It was released earlier this year. The latest two, released in May, are The Soap Box Car Race and Tricks or Treats. Each book tells a story, then has the reader go back and search for various items in the illustrations, which are created by Samantha Wells.

For more information or to order, visit https://www.fivecountpub.com/daredevildylan. Kindle and Nook copies are also available.

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