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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.

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Feb.14: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, February 14th at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs (corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd). The message will be shared by Joann Gitchel from Howard City, Michigan, who has an amazing story to share. The Gitchel family musical group will also share the words of Jesus Christ through their music. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Each service will have different people sharing God’s word and music. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #6

TOPS weight loss support group

Feb. 16: Take off pounds sensibly (TOPS), a non-profit weight loss support group for men and women, meets every Tuesday at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Sand Lake. Your first visit is free so come check out what TOPS can do to help you reach your weigh loss goals! Weigh-ins 8:15-9 am, meeting starts at 9:15 am. In case of inclement weather, meetings are cancelled if Tri-County or Cedar Springs schools are closed. Call Barb at 696-8049 for more information. #6

Blood Drive

Feb. 16: Michigan Blood Drive on February 16th at the Cedar Springs Methodist Church from 12:30 pm until 7 pm. A great Valentine’s present to someone in need – right from your heart. Your donation has the potential to help 3 people. The Blood Center thanks all the people that attempt to donate. #6

Dinner at East Nelson UMC

Feb. 17: East Nelson UMC, 9024 – 18 Mile Rd. will be having a Roast Beef dinner on Wednesday, February 17th from 5 – 7 pm. The menu will include roast beef, red potatoes, carrots, pasta salad, rolls, desserts, relish tray. Everyone is welcome. #6

Roast Beef Dinner

Feb. 21: The Rockford American Legion Post 102 on the corner of Northland Dr. and Rockford Park Dr. (330 Rockford Park Dr.), will be hosting a roast beef dinner on Sunday February 21st and every 3rd Sunday of each month. Open to the public. We will be serving roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and punch. Reasonably priced at $9 for adults, kids age 4 to 12 for $7 and under 4 years are free. Serving from 11am to 3 pm. See ya there and bring the family! #6,7p

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How to tell if Congress is working again

By Lee H. Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

Lee Hamilton

There have been encouraging signs that the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill wants to make Congress function again. They’ve talked about using conference committees more, allowing a more open process for rank-and-file members, enacting separate appropriation bills rather than using omnibus bills, and letting committees lead on legislation rather than hoarding all power in the leadership offices. Perhaps most important, they’ve acknowledged that Congress has many bad habits, and insist that they want to restore a healthy legislative process.

This has to be heartening to any American concerned about the level of dysfunction to which Congress had sunk. The question is, how can we tell if Congress is actually fixing itself? For as promising as the rhetoric might be, there’s a long way to go before words and reality meet on Capitol Hill. Here’s what you should keep your eye on:

First, differences in emphasis separate the leaders of the two houses, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan is intent on pressing forward with key policy proposals that would anchor a bold Republican legislative agenda. But that’s because the Republican majority in the House is not generally believed to be at risk. Over in the Senate, things are different: control of that body next year is up for grabs, and McConnell seems to be focused on maintaining his party’s majority. For his members, boldness is a risk. This difference could lead to slim production.

So look to see how many and which issues the two leaders really push forward. Will they advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in some version, or let it slide until the elections are past? Will they tackle tax reform? How about authorizing support for the war against ISIS? Ryan has already removed one key matter—immigration reform—from the table. Will other pressing issues also bite the dust?

The second big indicator is whether Congress has the political will to fix itself. Most members say publicly that they don’t want gridlock and are dedicated to making the institution function smoothly. The key measure of whether they really mean it is the attitude they take toward their political adversaries. If what you hear on Capitol Hill is nothing but distrust, then they’re not serious. If they’re willing to negotiate and compromise with one another—as happened at the end of last year, with the passage of an omnibus spending package — then there’s hope.

Third is what you might think of as the rolled-up-sleeves test. How hard are members of Congress willing to work at addressing the key issues facing the country? So far, the evidence is disappointing. The legislative schedule put out by the congressional leadership is, to be blunt, lax. On average, members of Congress will be working about nine days a month. They’ve given themselves four stretches of ten days off at a time. They’ll be off for 52 straight days in July, August and September, and then another 39 days in a row in October and November. Yes, it’s an election year and they want to campaign. But you cannot run a government that is not in session. The best we can hope for is an obvious sense of urgency when members of Congress are in Washington. Look for it. If you don’t see it, little will get done on Capitol Hill.

I should say that not all the responsibility for restoring Congress rests at the federal level. The states, too, have a key role to play. Will they get serious about how they draw congressional districts, so that politicians no longer have the luxury of picking their voters rather than the other way around? Will some states continue to pursue efforts to make voting harder—which, like gerrymandering, has the effect of shoring up the extremes in Congress? Will states make the effort to modernize their voting systems, so that the democratic process has a chance of working with minimal friction?

In the end, good intentions and fine rhetoric don’t accomplish much. I hope you’ll keep an eye on Congress and cheer for its members to act in accord with their own advice. If they do, Congress will take a giant stride toward improved performance.

Lee Hamilton is a Distinguished Scholar, Indiana University School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. For information about our educational resources and programs, visit our website at www.centeroncongress.org. “Like” us on Facebook at “Indiana University Center on Representative Government,” and share our postings with your friends.

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6C-obit-haggertyLeonard J. Haggerty, 90, of St. Louis, Michigan, died Saturday, February 6, 2016 at his home. Mr. Haggerty was born May 9, 1925 in Pine Woods, New York, the son of Walter and Edith (Krebser) Haggerty. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II for 30 months. He completed basic training in Macon, Georgia, and then went to the Hawaiian Islands. After the service, Leonard worked at Darrick’s Greenhouse in Cooperstown, New York. In 1947 he left with Victor and Lee Sessions to come to Michigan. He met the love of his life, Charlotte and worked greenhouses in Chicago and Cadillac until he bought his own in Ludington, Michigan. He and Charlotte worked there for 30 years before retiring at age 67. They then moved to Conklin, Michigan near Ravenna. Charlotte passed away in 2009 and Leonard moved to St. Louis, Michigan in 2011.

Surviving are his sisters, Marjory Gregory, Dorothy Duncan, Flora Bennett, Arlene (Jim) Oliver, Marion (William) Royce, Irene Cook; brother, Kenneth (Sandra) Haggerty, all of New York; his adopted boy, Kenneth (Vickie) Sherlock; little helper, Timmy; cat Tiger; many nieces and nephews. He was also preceded by a brother, James Haggerty in 2009.

Visitation will be held Saturday, February 13 from 11:00 am until time of service at 1:00 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Randy Brandon officiating. Private interment in the spring at Solon Township Cemetery.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Mrs. Beatrice Roelofs, age 86, of Cedar Springs, went home to her Lord and Savior on Sunday February 7, 2016. She was born to Bert and Grace (Walma) Boersen on July 24, 1929 in Zeeland, Michigan. Beatrice enjoyed reading, word search puzzles, cross stitch, feeding the birds and gardening. However, most of all she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends. She will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all who knew her.

Beatrice is survived by her children, Linda (Bruce) McGoffin, Gary (Susan) Roelofs, Martin (Sally) Roelofs, Gloria (Gerry) Gebhardt, Sandra (Ron) Starr, Beth (Mitchell) Cole and Douglas Roelofs; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brother, Richard (Thelma) Boersen. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Howard; infant daughter, Susan; son, Donald in 2015; and several brothers and sisters.

A time of visitation was held with the family from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at the Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe St., Rockford, MI 49341. The funeral service will be 11:00 am Thursday, February 11, 2016 at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs, MI 49319. Those wishing to offer expressions of sympathy are encouraged to donate to Spectrum Health Hospice, 4500 Breton SE, Bretwood Centre, Grand Rapids, MI 49508.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home pedersonfuneralhome.com

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Virgil H. Tillottson

6C-OBIT-tillottsonVirgil H. Tillottson, 82 passed away Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Campus. Mr. Tillottson was born March 4, 1933 the son of Aaron and Myrtle (Baker) Tillottson. He was a veteran of the Korean War serving in the U.S. Army. He was a lifetime Mason and member of the Cedar Springs and Sparta Lodges. He was a great father and grandfather. Surviving are his children, Cindy (David) Emmorey, Sherry Tillottson, Scott (LuAnn) Tillottson, Shelly (Jeff) Minnick; wife, Darlene; 15 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; sisters, Violet (Foster) Brown, Vivene Wilson; brother, Verlo (Ruth) Tillottson; several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his son, Rocky Tillottson. The family will greet friends Sunday from 2-5 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services will be held Monday 11:00 am.  Ken Harger officiating. Interment in the spring at Elmwood Cemetery. Military honors by the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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Rockford City Manager Michael Young dies at 48

Michael Young

Michael Young

The City of Rockford was stunned last week when City manager Michael Young, 48, passed away Thursday, January 27, two days after suffering a stroke. His funeral was Monday, February 1.

Young, who was well-liked and loved by the community, recently celebrated 20 years of service to the City of Rockford. What follows is portions of a story that ran in our sister paper, the Rockford Squire, celebrating that anniversary, just a few weeks before his death.

Rockford celebrates 20th year under leadership of city manager

Michael Young hired in 1995

By Beth Altena

In the last regular meeting of 2015, Rockford City Council celebrated twenty years under the leadership of City Manager Michael Young, highlighting milestones in City history that have taken place under his tenure and vision. Young was hired in December,1995, and a look around the City today proves his work here is an ongoing success.

Former long-time Rockford City Council member Mary Eadie was on the search committee for a new city manager more than two decades ago, along with Neil Blakeslee, also former mayor of Rockford and long-term council member. Both remember well the decision to bring Young on board as leader of the City of Rockford.

Blakeslee said he was on council under then City Manager Daryl Delabbio, who left Rockford’s helm to lead the commissioners of Kent County as County Administrator, where he still serves today. Blakeslee said nearly 80 applications came in to fill the position, which Blakeslee said shows what a desirable town Rockford is to work and live in. He said Michael’s qualifications (he already had experience as Assistant City Manager in Greenville), and his values and personality, made him a forerunner in the search for a successor to Delabbio.

Eadie said she liked Michael for the job from the first meeting. “Everything about him, from who he was to what he’d done. He would have been my first choice from the start.”

“My judgement was right on, it turns out,” she said. She retired from city council in 2012 with an amazing 32 years on council here in Rockford. “I loved every minute of those 32 years,” she said, and she worked with Michael 17 of those years. “We didn’t always see eye-to-eye, there is never perfection in anything. I would say the greatest leadership of the City was under Michael and Daryl. All of the improvements, everything that has come about has put Rockford on the map.”

She said anywhere you go and anyone you talk to loves Rockford and loves to come here and spend time in the city. She appreciates the strong relationship between the city and the school district and the business community. All this comes from leadership and a local government that is run with a steady hand and a continuous eye toward improvement.

Blakeslee said Michael is a very creative, very focused person. Blakeslee said every project Michael undertakes, after careful consideration, gets done, and then Michael focuses on the next most important project for the city. He has accomplished a wide variety of improvements with no tax increases under his watch and one tax decrease—no mean feat.

“We lost a lot of tax revenue when those tannery buildings came down,” Blakeslee noted. One “secret weapon” Young brought to Rockford was the talent, willingness and know-how to seek and write grants to fund projects. In his capacity at Rockford, Young has brought in over $4 million in funds to accomplish projects. Many have been city improvement such as a current assessment of water and sewer lines, one of those many projects in infrastructure visitors and residents would never notice, but can be so vital to providing services.

More visible are Rockford’s parks and natural features. Rockford has received multiple grants for these projects and in 2005 Rockford was recognized as the municipality with more parkland per capita than any city in the United States.

A presentation created by City Clerk Chris Bedford highlighted many of the projects and improvements the City of Rockford has enjoyed under Young’s leadership. They include the creation of the industrial park north of the city, developments such as Rockford Estates, Rockford Highlands, Creekview Estates, Heritage Park, the Blakeslee Creek and Maple Shade condominiums, and the annexation of 237.14 acres of property into the City of Rockford. Those projects, and others, have not easily been implemented, but have been well-thought out growth to the City of Rockford.

Shortly after being hired, Young, in 1997, held a community meeting for feedback in how residents would like to see the city improved. In 1998 the first streetscape was done, giving the town the friendly, walkable sidewalks. According to a past interview with Barb Stein, cleaning up city streets raised the bar and encouraged property owners to up their game in appearance—a trend still encouraged today.

Improvements did not come without challenges, and natural disasters numbered among them. In 1997 a freak snowstorm caused massive damage and took months to clean up. In 1998 straight-line winds also challenged city crews to restore the downtown.

In 2000 the City of Rockford switched from using Rogue River water to a new treatment plant and major discussions considered what to do with riverfront property housing the old plant. Again with lots of community input, the current Promenade complex was approved. In 2002, the Michigan State Police discontinued their D.A.R.E. program, and Rockford took the reins and responsibility for this program. Also in 2002, Rockford started their super-popular farm market, which is wildly successful and was voted America’s Favorite Farm Market.

In 2005, the City approved the creation of the PARCCside Clean Water Plant. Again, residents of the five participating jurisdictions, the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland Plainfield, and the City of Rockford, would have no idea the vision that it took for this plant to reach fruition. Young was the impetus behind this project, which he took on with the vision of saving residents here from projected cost increases that would not benefit their own service.

Young also leads the Downtown Development Authority, which captures tax dollars earmarked for the improvement of downtown Rockford. It has identified and implemented road, sidewalk and other improvements over the years. Rockford’s downtown tree plantings are paid for with DDA funds and other necessary projects. Most recently a new camera system was approved, paid for in part with DDA money. In many other capacities Young has overseen Rockford’s well-being over two decades.

Blakeslee said Young’s ability to accomplish so many projects for the city has been because of his talent and his personality. “He has always been so temperate and patient. You want a steady hand and he has always had a steady hand. He is always interested in seeing that everything is thought out.” Blakeslee said Rockford is a town of enthusiastic, talented people who see to the welfare of the town, but their energy doesn’t just happen. “It has to be directed and organized. Michael does that.”

Blakeslee said Young’s talent and leadership is also evidenced by the high-quality of staff among city employees, who tend to stay here, as does Michael. “There isn’t a lot of turnover, and that’s important in a well-run organization.” Young encourages staff and other city leaders to improve their own processes and make changes for the better.

An example of improvements is the consolidation of Police and Fire into the Department of Public Safety. Not a painless process, Young told the Squire once that the decision was the result of exhaustive research and consideration. “You don’t do something just because you can do it,” he said at the time. The result is cross-trained employees who can provide the services of two prior departments without a loss of quality of service. Rather, services for fire, medical and law enforcement are provided more quickly and with an increase in efficiency while saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It is just one contribution among hundreds of ways Young has affected Rockford in his tenure.

Blakeslee, a former councilmember that has seen first-hand how important good leadership is to a well-run town, knows. “That one of the things people don’t understand, is you can’t separate the city from the government,” noted Blakeslee. “You can’t say you love the city without loving city hall. The city is what it is because of how city hall functions,” he stated. “I’ve been a Michael supporter since the day we hired him. The best evidence to Michael’s talent is that he is still here. He loves Rockford and he enjoys this community so much. He is truly a resident of Rockford.”

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Stanton man sentenced in murder


Alan Lee Morse

Alan Lee Morse

Alan Morse shot and killed Alan Nelson last March

The man who broke into a Sidney Township man’s home last spring and then shot the 80-year-old man in his bed, was sentenced this week.

Alan Nelson

Alan Nelson

The crime occurred on March 29, 2015, when Alan Lee Morse, 49, broke into the home of Alan Dale Nelson, 80, on Nevins Lake, about four miles west of Stanton. Evidence at the scene showed that his home and several other homes nearby had been broken into. The victim had been shot in the head and chest, apparently with a .22 caliber rifle stolen from another home that night.

Morse, of Stanton, was arrested in July, and admitted to Michigan State Police that he committed the crime, but a judge later threw out the confession, saying it was obtained illegally. He later pled guilty as part of a plea agreement.

Morse was originally charged with felony murder, several home invasion counts and weapons charges. Those charges were dropped in exchange for a plea to second degree murder.

Last Thursday, Januay 28, Morse was sentenced to between 26 and 75 years in prison, and ordered to pay $24,782 in restitution.

Morse was previously convicted on several home invasion and breaking and entering charges, and had been discharged from prison in August 2014, just seven months before the murder.

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Best Lips contest cancelled


Lynn Marion's, of Cedar Springs, winning lips from the Best Lips Contest 2015.

Lynn Marion’s, of Cedar Springs, winning lips from the Best Lips Contest 2015.

We will all be left in suspense this year on who has the best lips in Cedar Springs. That’s because after 22 years of showcasing lips of all shapes and sizes, the Post is calling it quits on the “Best Lips” contest.

It wasn’t really our decision. You—the readers—made the decision for us. We are cancelling the contest because of lack of participation.

It’s been a fun 22 years, though. Publisher Lois Allen talked about the days when she used to go out and solicit people to enter—even men. And she would tell them that “so and so said they would do it if you would” and so they would do it. And then she’d get the other person to do it by telling them the same thing, too!

And who could forget the year we had the impostor lips? We published what we thought was then Cedar Springs Public School’s Finance Director Frank Verhoven’s lips—only to find out the next week when he called that he didn’t send any in—someone was impersonating him! So we did a follow up story letting people know we were taking DNA from the lips sample and sending it to the FBI. A lot of people got a laugh out of it, though I’m not sure Frank did.

It’s been a good ride, and we thank all of you who entered over the years, and those who helped us choose the best lips these last few years by voting for your favorites. Now use those lips to go give someone a great big kiss!

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Solon reaches into history to name new park


The new Solon Township Park, which will be built on the acreage surrounding the township hall on Algoma south of 19 Mile, will take the name that the area used to be known as—Velzy.

According to the Solon Township Park Committee, the name of Velzy Park was chosen for its historical significance to the area, dating back to late 1800s. It is situated near the center of the township, west of Solon Township Hall on Algoma Avenue. The plans include walking trails, restroom facilities, playground area, farmer’s market and picnic pavilions, and sports fields. The three old barns currently on the property will be restored and moved to areas where they can be used for public performances and other purposes. The acreage at the far west border is planned for native prairie restoration. The appearance and atmosphere of Velzy Park will retain the rural nature of the township.

A federal grant awarded in 2014 allowed the committee to hire Viridis Design Group to assist in creating a Park Master Plan and 5-year Recreation Plan. Goals for the park were established, with a good deal of public input, to provide a safe and welcoming park that will offer recreational opportunities and strengthen the bonds of the community.

The committee intends to build the park with donations, grant awards and fund-raising projects. It is in the process of applying for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, which requires matching funds. The park will be developed in phases to give the park committee time to raise funds.

The first fund raising event is February 12 at 6:00 p.m., when they will serve a Spaghetti dinner catered by Kelly’s Restaurant.  A dessert auction and 50/50 raffle will be handled by Emcee and Auctioneer Reese Rickards. Tickets are $9.95/person or $18/couple and can be purchased at the Solon Township Hall or Cedar Springs Library. They plan to share park plans at this event.

The Park Committee said that volunteer hours are an important part of successful grant applications and donations from area businesses will also be of tremendous importance.  The park committee will be pleased to have you join them in this ambitious endeavor that will be an asset to the community. Contact them at:  616-696-1718, clerk@solontwp.org; www.solontwp.org; and https://www.facebook.com/SolonPark.

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Cash reward up to $5,000 

Hit and run victim Ryan Tsatsos.

Hit and run victim Ryan Tsatsos.

Crimestoppers has upped the reward for information regarding the hit and run death of college student Ryan Tsatsos.

Just after midnight on Sunday morning, November 1, 2015, Ryan Tsatsos was hit while walking to his Central Michigan University residence hall in Mount Pleasant, MI.

The incident occurred on Crawford Road between Billabrail Street and Concourse Drive, south of the main campus.

Color of hit and run vehicle. * This is not necessarly the make/model of the vehicle.

Color of hit and run vehicle. * This is not necessarly the make/model of the vehicle.

Police believe the vehicle is a dark metallic blue color. The vehicle could likely have front passenger side damage and potentially fender, windshield and hood damage.

To submit an ANONYMOUS tip:

Call: 1-800-SPEAKUP (1-800-773-2587)

Online: www.1800speakup.org

Text: CSM and your tip to CRIMES (274637)

Consider criminals armed and dangerous! DO NOT try to apprehend criminals. A cash reward will be paid for information received through the 1-800-Speak-Up anonymous tip hotline that leads to the felony arrest of the person(s) responsible for the crime. In case of emergency, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency.

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