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Historic barn burns

 The barn was a total loss. Photo by J. Reed.

The smoke from this barn fire could be seen for miles. Photo by J. Reed.

The barn was a total loss. Photo by J. Reed.

The barn was a total loss. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

A beautiful old barn burned to the ground Saturday evening, April 22, in Solon Township, and the smoke could be seen rising in the sky from as far away as Grand Rapids.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake said that they were dispatched to the fire at 14631 Hanna, south of 18 Mile, at 6:12 p.m. He said the homeowner, William DeBack, was home at the time and discovered the fire.

Drake said that the property used to be a real working farm, and the barn, which was constructed  of timber and stone, was possibly built in the late 1800s and used to have a milking parlor inside. The homeowner was using the barn for storing classic cars, motorcycles, tractors and as a workshop. Five of the vehicles were destroyed, and two were damaged. The barn was insured.

Drake said they had some exposure concerns with the siding on the house starting to melt, but they got that out before the house caught fire.

Other fire departments assisting Solon at the scene were Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, Kent City, and Algoma. They were on the scene for five hours.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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Fire in garage spreads to home

This fire spread from the garage to the home within minutes. Post photo by J. Reed.

This fire spread from the garage to the home within minutes. Post photo by J. Reed.

Firefighters were on the scene for four hours Monday at this fire on 17 Mile Rd in Tyrone Township.

Firefighters were on the scene for four hours Monday at this fire on 17 Mile Rd in Tyrone Township.

By Judy Reed

The Kent City/Tyrone Township Fire Department was called to the scene of a garage fire at 720 17 Mile Road, just east of Paine, at 9:42 a.m. Monday, April 25. It was just to the east of the Kent County Sheriff Department’s north substation.

“We arrived on scene at 9:59 a.m., and the fire was already impeding into the roof area of the house,” said Kent City Fire Chief Mike Rexford. He explained that unfortunately, there were no firebreaks between the roof and attic of the garage, and the roof and attic of the home.

Fire departments assisting Kent City at the scene were Sparta, Solon, and Algoma. “They all came with water and manpower,” said Rexford. “During the day we are just not blessed with as many personnel.”

They cleared the scene at 2:10 p.m.

The homeowner George Counts, and his wife, were home at the time and got out safely. No one was injured.

Rexford said that the cause of the blaze was accidental. The owner had discarded ashes out of his pellet stove, into the trash in the garage. He thought that they were no longer hot.

Rexford said firefighters were able to get some things out of the home, and that the retired couple returned the next day and salvaged a few other things. “It will probably be a total loss,” he said of the home. It was insured.

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Community cleans up on Earth Day

 Community members helped clean up around the Heart of Cedar Springs and other roadsides within the city limits on Earth Day last Saturday. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

Community members helped clean up around the Heart of Cedar Springs and other roadsides within the city limits on Earth Day last Saturday. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

In honor of National Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, the City of Cedar Springs and the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) volunteers took to cleaning up the newly acquired city property running north along Cedar Creek and intersecting with the White Pine and North Country Trails, just west of Main Street in downtown Cedar Springs. Approximately 28 community members came together to cut down brush and dead trees, haul away the lumber, clean out creek waters, and pick up debris in the area.

Earth Day cleanup. Photo by Perry Hopkins.

Earth Day cleanup. Photo by Perry Hopkins.

Perry Hopkins, City Councilor and CBDT Board Member, along with Tom Mabie, CBDT member, and other community members were careful to protect and keep flowers, bushes, plants, and trees that are environmentally important to maintaining proper creek temperatures for the trout, as well as providing an enjoyable year-round variety of natural blooming and therapeutic vegetation. The Hopkins and Mabie duo are teaming up with the Cedar Springs Garden Club and Trout Unlimited in creating natural rain gardens and learning stations along the creek beds. Other city councilors participating in the Earth Day cleanup included Rose Powell and Gerry Hall.

John Ensley, CBDT, organized the Earth Day cleanup and has secured the donated marble stone from Doreen and Dan Welch, Welch Tile and Stone, which will be eventually installed along the walking path.

Community members helped clean up on Earth Day. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

Community members helped clean up on Earth Day. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

“The goal is to open up the new downtown park areas known as the Heart of Cedar Springs. We got a lot accomplished today thanks to the many dedicated volunteers. We still have some work ahead of us but it’s coming along nicely,” explained Ensley.

Julie Wheeler, CBDT Board Member, organized various other community organizations who also began their Cedar Springs Earth Day cleanup along the primary roadsides within the city limits and other sections of the White Pine Trail as part of the Earth Day efforts.  The groups have until May 1 to complete their section of the roads.

“This is another example of folks coming together for our community. We had volunteers out there on a sunny Saturday willing to do some hard physical labor,“ shared Kurt Mabie, CBDT President. “We hope to continue the cleanup this summer along with constructing a new amphitheatre, walking path, and veteran’s memorial by fall as needed funds become available.”

Garett Tunison, Ground Control Aerial LLC, did a second drone fly-over to show the area progress since his first video done prior to the construction of the library. The video will be added to the CBDT website.

The CBDT meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in their new regular meeting location of the Community Library gathering room. All are invited. More information is available on the website of CSCommunityCenter.org, the Facebook page of Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team or by calling Sue Wolfe at 696-2246.

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CBDT Grand Gala a huge success

Photo by Heather Ross

Photo by Heather Ross

Saturday, April 15, marked the date of the second Community Building Development Team (CBDT) Grand Gala. The event, which packed the American Legion to capacity, was titled “Celebrating a Great Beginning.” Kurt Mabie and Nick Andres, CBDT board members, served as host speakers for the evening, presenting their personal and factual summary of the community’s new facilities and enhancements over the last couple years. The new Cedar Springs Community Library, scheduled to open its doors on Monday, May 8, with a Grand Opening Saturday, May 13, was at the top of the celebratory moments. A new library has been on the hearts of many for over 25 years.

Mabie read a note from Karen Andersen-Meier outlining how she may not live here now but her heart will always be in Cedar Springs. She also added she believed her parents in Heaven, Neils and Edna Andersen, both avid readers and users of the library, would be smiling from ear to ear. Mabie cited not only the Andersens, but many folks such as Mike and Alice Holton and Ronny Merlington, who aren’t here today but had faithfully worked for this new library.

“They and many others helped pave the way to bring about this library. Now it is our generation’s turn to keep things going for future generations to enjoy,” explained Mabie. “The library, additional park properties along Cedar Creek, a metal sculpture, walking bridge, and clock tower are just the beginning of some of the enhancements planned for the area now called The Heart of Cedar Springs.”

Andres pointed out $118,000 had been donated directly to the library by a long list of individuals, organizations, and businesses in just the past 18 months. This, in addition to over $650,000 previously raised by the library and the $1.14 million raised by the CBDT, allowed for the paid-in-full completion of the library. “This is a significant amount of money from a small community given for the purpose of enhanced public facilities,” explained Andres.

Mabie pointed out the significance of gaining a partnership with the North Country Trail (NCT) officials who agreed to reroute the trail through Cedar Springs and connect with Algoma Township. The North Country trail is the longest walking path in America. Cedar Springs will be working toward “Trail Town” status in the near future.

“The CBDT’s purpose has always been to support existing organizations and governmental entities in achieving their goals. It brings us all great joy to see folks working together within our community and helping each other make Cedar Springs an even better place to live, work, and play,” explained Mabie.

Many groups have become reenergized and are moving forward. The Downtown Development Authority is reviewing ways to enhance the downtown area, the Fire and Rescue Department has blueprints for a new facility, and the American Legion is working on a Veteran’s Memorial around the clock tower and/or at the existing Veteran’s Memorial area west of Main Street to mention only a few.

The CBDT’s Phase I still includes an amphitheatre, board walk, Veteran’s Memorial, additional walking bridge over the creek, and rain gardens/learning stations. Depending on funds that come available, it is hoped these projects can be completed by this fall. Phase II would focus on a Community Center with opportunities for community gatherings and celebrations for up to 500 people. Phase III includes a Community Recreation center and rustic campsite along the White Pine Trail. A three-year pledge card was distributed to gala attendees for those wishing to support the CBDT’s future projects. To date, almost $35,000 has been pledged.

The CBDT meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the new Community Library gathering room. More information is available on the CBDT website of CSCommunityCenter.org, Facebook page of Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team or contact Sue Wolfe 696.2246.

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Community Night 2017

The Red Flannel Queen and Court visited many of the booths at Community night last week. Courtesy photo.

The Red Flannel Queen and Court visited many of the booths at Community night last week. Courtesy photo.

By Tom Noreen

The Community Action Network held their 31st Annual Community Night on April 20. Over 80 booths were reserved from a wide range of vendors. Businesses had their products on display and some had items for sale. Practical help was available from dentists, physical therapists and chiropractors.  You could plan a cruise and get investment advice, too. Local churches and camps had their summer programs on display. The Lions collected pennies for their Cedar Springs Library Project and Rotary club painted “pinkies” purple to raise funds for ending polio in the three countries where it is still endemic.

Martial Arts demonstrations were conducted throughout the evening and in the auditorium local dance companies and other performers put on shows. The high school corral and drama programs reprised numbers from Disney’s High School Musical. Creative Technologies Academy had student art on display. The Cedar Springs High School Industrial Arts Program showcased their students’ award winning project and the high school’s Robotics Team had their award-winning robot on display.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department had their firetruck on display, and the Red Flannel Queen and Court could be seen throughout the event.

 

 

 

 

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Construction at Velzy Park

Five new picnic tables were donated anonymously to Solon Township for Velzy Park. Courtesy photo. A new walking trail is under construction at Solon’s Velzy Park. Courtesy photo.

Five new picnic tables were donated anonymously to Solon Township for Velzy Park. Courtesy photo.

Construction on a new walking trail is underway at Velzy Park, located at 15185 Algoma Ave NE. The park surrounds Solon Township Hall, and is named for what the area used to be called.

And that’s not the only thing that’s new. “Our Park Committee is very excited and thankful about 5 picnic tables that were anonymously donated to our Park a week or so ago,” said Mary Lou Poulsen, Solon Township Clerk, and a member of the Solon Park Committee.

On June 10, Solon will celebrate the new walking trail with a ribbon cutting, and a community-wide yard sale and picnic. The picnic will take place at noon, with the ribbon cutting and cake to follow. Suggested donations for the picnic will be $4 for individuals, and $10 for families.

A new walking trail is under construction at Solon’s Velzy Park. Courtesy photo.

A new walking trail is under construction at Solon’s Velzy Park. Courtesy photo.

The park is still in phase one, which features walking trails, a restroom building and parking. Phase two will be a playground and three barn relocations. Phase three will be the Farmer’s market and picnic shelter; and native prairie restoration.

Memorial benches will soon be available to purchase. Watch solontwp.org for info. If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation for the park, send it to Solon Township and designate it for Velzy Park.

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Public lands are Earth Day’s unsung heroes

Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Tahquamenon River fall forest: An aerial view of the Tahquamenon River and the surrounding fall forest, a popular tourist destination in the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Pollution prevention, water filtration among the natural benefits

Want to celebrate an Earth Day hero? Look no further than the nearest parcel of state-managed public land in any corner of Michigan.

Last weekend we celebrated Earth Day, and it’s a good time to appreciate our state-managed public lands for all they do to enhance quality of life in Michigan. The Department of Natural Resources manages 4.6 million acres of land for the public’s use and enjoyment, including state forests, game areas, recreation areas and parks. Aside from the high-value cultural, recreational and economic opportunities they provide, Michigan’s public lands have enormous impact on the quality of our environment and natural resources.

The lands reduce air pollution, protect water quality, provide flood retention and offer critical wildlife habitat. Like true heroes, they do their jobs without fanfare.

“People usually associate public lands with outdoor adventures such as camping, hiking or hunting,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “But they may not realize the tremendous natural benefits these spaces provide. Their contributions to the health of Michigan’s environment, natural resources and citizens are many. That’s why proper management of these valued public lands is so critical.”

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Maple River SGA: Maple River State Game Area, covering more than 9,200 acres in Clinton, Gratiot and Ionia counties, offers residents and visitors access to wildlife viewing, hunting and other outdoor exploration. It provides substantial acreage for pheasant and other wildlife habitat.

Ways in which public lands improve our environment, natural resources and even public health include:

Pollution prevention. Forests and wetlands on public lands benefit the environment by serving as natural “purifiers.” For example, trees help reduce air pollution by absorbing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere. Wetlands play a vital role by filtering pollutants from surface runoff, and breaking down fertilizers, pesticides and other contaminants into less harmful substances.

Improved water quality.

Tree roots hold soil together and soak up moisture, which enhances water quality and prevents erosion. In addition to filtering pollutants, wetlands improve water quality by recharging groundwater supplies when connected to underground aquifers. They also contribute to natural nutrient and water cycles.

Storm water management.

In natural landscapes like forests, the soil absorbs water and pollutants resulting from runoff from hard surfaces such as driveways and parking lots. This is especially important in reducing flooding.

Wildlife habitat.

Fields, forests, waterways and wetlands provide Michigan’s wildlife with the vibrant ecosystems they need to thrive.

Better health.

Nature plays a huge role in the physical and emotional health of Michiganders. The ability of trees and grasslands to filter air pollution reduces negative health effects on people with respiratory ailments. Plus, state-managed public lands—offering trails, boat launches, campgrounds and other outdoor recreation options—provide any number of opportunities for exercise and fitness. Of course, trees, lakes and rivers offer calming effects that are emotionally gratifying as well.

Good stewardship.

Michigan’s public lands promote good environmental stewardship. They allow for initiatives such as Michigan’s Wetland Wonders, which provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities through the world-class management of the state’s seven premier Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas. The DNR also is pursuing an innovative wetland mitigation program that harnesses public lands to help offset the loss of wetlands.

“We’re a cleaner, healthier Michigan because of our public lands,” Creagh said. “So much of what they do for us happens without notice. But Earth Day provides a good opportunity to appreciate all our state-managed public lands do for the citizens of Michigan.”

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Fundraiser for Ricker brothers

 

Ricker brothers: Brison (left) and Preston (right)

Ricker brothers: Brison (left) and Preston (right)

May 7

There will be a fundraiser for Brison and Preston Ricker on Sunday, May 7, at Patterson Ice Arena, 2550 Patterson Ave SE, in Grand Rapids.

The fundraiser will run from 5-7 p.m. Cost is $5 per person with free skate rental.

There will be food provided for purchase by Classic Kelly’s restaurant, as well as silent auction items and bake sale items, with all proceeds going to the Ricker family.

On January 23, 2016, Brison was diagnosed with an incurable and inoperable brain tumor known as DIPG, which also comes with a zero percent survival rate. However, with alternative treatment from the Burzynski Clinic (which is currently running $20,000 per month) Brison is beating the odds! His strength, determination and strong faith in God to not let cancer win is truly inspiring to everyone.

On December 23, 2016, just 11 months following Brison’s diagnosis, Preston was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer that also had spread to his lymph nodes. Preston had surgery on January 9 to remove the thyroid and affected lymph nodes, followed by radiation treatment. Like his big brother, he also has the strength, determination and faith in God to beat this.

You can follow their story on Facebook by liking the page Team Rickerstrong, and you can donate at gofundme.com/rickerstrong.

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Actress in Columbine film to speak at local church

 

Payton Christian, an actress, model and speaker, will speak at North Kent Community Church on Sunday, April 30, and be on hand to speak to youth that evening at a community-wide showing of “I’m not ashamed,” a film telling the story of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Courtesy photo.

Payton Christian, an actress, model and speaker, will speak at North Kent Community Church on Sunday, April 30, and be on hand to speak to youth that evening at a community-wide showing of “I’m not ashamed,” a film telling the story of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 was a tragic event that people will not forget. And the stories that came out of it—like the shooting of Rachel Joy Scott—the first victim, are a reminder of the courage of many of the students.

“I am not ashamed,” a movie that tells her story and is based on Scott’s diaries, came out last fall. It will have a special showing next weekend, April 30, at North Kent Community Church, 1480 Indian Lakes Rd NE, at 5:30 p.m. Payton Christian, an actress who plays a Columbine student in the movie, will be on hand to give her own testimony during the 10 a.m. service April 30, and will speak to youth at the community-wide screening at 5:30 p.m.. She will also speak to youth at the En Gedi Youth Center on Monday, May 1, at 2:45 p.m. at Red Hawk Elementary.

Payton is an 18-year-old actress and model who lives in Erin, Tennessee. Her faith and family are both important to her. She lives on a 200-acre farm called Christian Farm, with her mom, dad, and grandmother. She was homeschooled from about second grade on, because of an auto-immune deficiency. “I would be sick all of the time, catch colds and flu really easy,” she explained. So her mom decided to keep her home and homeschool her. It’s gotten better as she’s gotten older, but it’s still with her. “It’s just something I have, it doesn’t stop me,” she said.

When she was 11, she was watching New York fashion week, and told her mom she’d like to do that. So they looked at agencies, and chose a Christian-based agency. “They told me I was a little short for modeling but they could put me in a movie here and there,” she explained with a chuckle.

Her first movie was “Rumors of War,” when she was almost 12. “It’s an intense, faith-based film about the end of days,” she explained. “Not for kids under 13.”

Payton has done a variety of movies—both secular and Christian, but said her heart is with faith-based movies. “I love God and love doing films about Him and his word, and how he’s worked through people’s lives,” she said.

The Post asked Payton how she became involved with “I’m not ashamed.”

“I had seen some talk about it, and I helped with some of the casting. My agency was doing the casting and I was there that day, and I listened and watched as the actors read for their parts. I later talked to my manager about it, and said ‘If there is anything I can do to be a part of it, I want to do it.’ So I was there from day one to the last day,” she recalled.

She said they were all happy with the response to the film. “So many people showed up at the premier, and huge groups came to see it,” she said.

Payton Christian loving on a parrot, on the farm she lives on with her parents and grandmother in Kentucky.

Payton Christian loving on a parrot, on the farm she lives on with her parents and grandmother in Kentucky.

When Payton is not acting, modeling, or speaking, she likes to spend time reading—“I have 500 books in my room,” she confessed. She also spends time with the animals on their farm. The farm is home to an array of animals, including regular farm animals as well as camels, zebras, and birds. But one of her favorite things is working with the rescue horses they take in. “I feed and help them put on weight and just love on them. I have a real passion for that. It’s a humongous this for me,” she explained.

Payton’s big heart is not just for animals. She is also involved in a foundation called “To write love on her arms,” a depression awareness and suicide prevention cause. And she also just started a new foundation called Bibles in Battle, a foundation to provide bibles to every soldier fighting overseas. She said she would have a donation box set up when she comes to speak in case people want to donate to that cause.

Payton said that she feels faith should be important to everyone. “People are worried about everything. But whenever we leave this earth, those things we worked so hard to get won’t be important. God doesn’t care how much money we make, where we live, what we drive. He cares that we love him and follow his word. He should be our number one priority.”

When she talks to the youth in Cedar Springs, she will try to impress on them that no one is ever perfect. “Don’t try to make yourself perfect. To God you are already perfect from day one—he loves you the way you are. It doesn’t matter what group you are in; you don’t need to prove yourself. You have God and that’s enough,” she said.

What does Payton see in her future? “My goal is mostly to do what my heart tells me—what God wants me to do—to spread his message and do as much good as I possibly can,” she said.

Payton has never been to Michigan, and is looking forward to it. “I’m overly excited that I get to be here and talk to everyone,” she remarked. “And I’m looking forward to seeing the sights!”

For more information on the showing contact Pastor Craig Carter at 616-550-6398 or craigcarter8282@gmail.com.

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Library to close this week

 This photo shows how the library at 43 W. Cherry looked when they shared it with the fire station. Courtesy photo.

This photo shows how the library at 43 W. Cherry looked when they shared it with the fire station. Courtesy photo.

Still needs 200 boxes

By Judy Reed

An era will come to an end this weekend when the Cedar Springs Public Library, at the corner of Cherry and 2nd Streets, closes its doors to get ready to move into a brand new location at the corner of N. Main and W. Maple Streets, near Cedar Creek.

According to The Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, the first library was in the Congregational Church, at the corner of Beech and Second Streets. It was later torn down and Dr. J.H. Teusink later bought the property to build a home.

This photo shows a former librarian at 43 W. Cherry. Does anyone know who she is? Courtesy photo.

This photo shows a former librarian at 43 W. Cherry. Does anyone know who she is? Courtesy photo.

In 1936, plans were made to raise money for a new home for the library. The library was housed in two rooms in a building rented by the Cedar Springs Clipper. The Clipper moved in 1941, and it was necessary for the library to move to a new location. The Village gave permission for the library to use the old jail at 43 W. Cherry. The story goes that when Mae Hawkins, librarian at the time, was taken to the building and saw the two “gorilla cages” and damaged wainscoting, she immediately resigned. Officials talked her into staying until the building was improved.

Later the Library shared a building at the same location with the Cedar Springs Fire Department. The fire station had the west part of the building, and the library the east side, until a new fire barn was built in the late 1970s, or early 1980s.

This Saturday, April 22, will be the last day that the library at 43 W. Cherry will be open to the public. They will be open Friday, noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. After that, books can be dropped off in the drop box in front of the library until May 1.

The library staff will be packing to move the week of April 24, and plan to reopen in the new library on May 8, with a grand opening on May 13 from 2-5 p.m.

The library still needs 200 boxes 12×19 and 10x18x11.5 (like what copy paper reams come in). If you have boxes the library can use, just knock on door next week and drop off or leave outside in good weather.

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