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Family loses home in fire

By Judy Reed

A Solon Township family is trying to put their life back together after a fire destroyed their home Monday.

According to Solon Township firefighter Matt Schievink, they were toned out at 11:50 a.m. on Monday, March 29, to a structure fire at 13421 Sunset View, which is off 16 Mile, west of Algoma. It was called in by someone across the street, and they reported that smoke and flames could be seen through the roof.

Schievink said that when he got up to 18 Mile Rd, he could see the smoke.

Multiple area fire departments assisted Solon at the scene, including Cedar Springs, Kent City, Sparta, Algoma, Courtland, and Rockford, who brought in their ladder truck. “We needed the ladder truck because everything was collapsing in the entry and it made it harder to get into,” he explained.

Schievink said that it started in the attached garage and spread from there. The cause was not determined.

The fire departments had cleared the scene by 3 p.m. 

The house was the home of Nick and Naomi Calhoun and their five children, ages 2-14. Those who were home got out safely and there were no injuries.

For those asking about helping the Calhoun family, who lost everything, there are a couple of ways. 

Here is a list of clothing sizes needed for family members:

Girl: 4T

Boy: boys 6-7

Girl: girls 8

Boy: 14-16 pants, youth large shirts

Girl: junior size 6 pants, adult medium shirts

Nick: 36-32 pants and XL shirts

Naomi: Size 12 pants and large shirts

Contact Stacey to make donations at 616-690-3436.

A go fund me page has also been set up if you’d like to donate. Just go to https://gofund.me/ffea768f.

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Police investigate crash with ambulance

Four people were injured Monday evening when a car collided with an ambulance in Oakfield Township.

The woman driving this vehicle was seriously injured when she collided with an ambulance on 14 Mile Rd Monday. Photo courtesy of the Michigan State Police.

According to the Michigan State Police Grand Rapids Post, the crash occurred about 10:05 p.m. Monday, April 5, on 14 Mile Rd near Lincoln Lake Rd. According to witness statements, a 2018 Ford Explorer was traveling eastbound on 14 Mile Rd at a high rate of speed when it collided with a Montcalm County ambulance traveling westbound.

The ambulance overturned due to the collision. Photo courtesy of the Michigan State Police.

The force of the collision caused the ambulance, which was transporting a patient, to overturn. The patient, ambulance driver, and medical responder treating the patient in the back of the ambulance were all transported to Butterworth Hospital with minor injuries. 

The driver of the Ford Explorer, a 39-year-old female driver from Greenville, was pinned inside of the vehicle and had to be extricated.  She was transported to Butterworth Hospital by Rockford Ambulance with serious injuries.  Drugs, alcohol, and speed are considered factors in this crash.

The ambulance was transporting a patient when it was hit. Post photo by B. Sanderson.

Troopers were assisted on scene by Montcalm County Ambulance, Rockford Ambulance, Oakfield Twp. Fire Department, Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Greenville Police Department, and MSP 6th District accident reconstructionist.

The crash remains under investigation. 

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Bodies discovered after fires

Two suspicious fires and two bodies discovered in the ruins have led police to treat the investigation as a homicide. Courtesy photo from the Michigan State Police.

The Michigan State Police is investigating the possible homicide deaths of two people whose bodies were found after suspicious fires were extinguished southeast of Greenville last week.

At approximately 7:53 a.m. Thursday, March 18, Ronald Township Fire was dispatched to a structure fire in the 4200 block of West Fenwick Road, Fairplain Township, Montcalm County. Upon arrival, two homes on the property were on fire, one being fully engulfed. Sheridan Area Fire, Greenville DPS Fire, and Montcalm Township Fire were called in to assist. Once the structures were extinguished, it was determined that the first structure had been occupied and a body was discovered.

Detectives from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post and MSP Fire Investigators were dispatched to the scene for an investigation. After several hours of investigation, a second body was discovered.  

One of the deceased individuals has been identified as Serafina Wyckoff, a 68-year-old woman who resided at the residence. Due to the intensity of the fire, DNA testing will be required to make a positive identification of the second victim.

Investigators have stated that this investigation is being treated as a homicide but there is no threat to the public.  The investigation continues and updates will be provided as they become available.

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Man’s body found after house fire

This home in Reynold’s Township was a complete loss, and a man’s body was found inside. Photo from the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office.

The body of a Reynold’s Township man was found inside his residence after a house fire was extinguished Monday.

According to the Montcalm Sheriff’s Office, a residential structure fire was reported at approximately 6:24 p.m. on Monday, March 15, 2021 at 10506 N. West County Line Road in Reynolds Township. The Howard City Fire Department arrived and battled the fire. A body was later found inside the burned home.

The investigation revealed the residence was the home of a 75-year-old man. The home is surrounded by woods. Neighbors spotted the fire and called Montcalm County Central Dispatch. The home sustained extensive damage and is a total loss. The Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit was called to assist the Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.
The fire and death remain under investigation. 

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Student injured in explosion at Newaygo High School

The MSP bomb squad at the home of the student, where more explosive materials were found.

By Judy Reed

A 16-year-old boy lost his thumbs Monday and his dad is now in jail after the boy brought some explosive materials to school and accidentally detonated them.

David Saylor, the boy’s father was arrested in connection with the incident.

According to the Michigan State Police, the Newaygo Police Department was dispatched to Newaygo High School for an explosion inside a classroom on Monday at 8:52 a.m. 

Preliminary investigation by Newaygo Police and the MSP Hart Post determined that the 16-year-old student accidently detonated the explosive material and did not understand how big an explosion the materials could cause. They do not feel he intended to attack anyone. 

The boy and several others were injured in the blast and all sought treatment.

Troopers later went to the boy’s residence in the 2300 block of E. 95th and executed a search warrant, where they found more explosive materials. The bomb squad counter-charged unstable materials to make the scene safe for investigators. 

Afterward, Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay announced that the boy’s father, David Robert Daniel Saylor, age 34, was arrested and arraigned on a 2-count criminal complaint as a result of investigation the into the explosion at the school and subsequent search warrant of the home. Saylor is charged with one count of Explosives – Manufacture/Possession of Molotov Cocktail and one count of contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. He is also charged as a Habitual Offender – 2nd Offense Notice. Saylor is set for a probable cause hearing on March 18 and bond was set at $100,000.

The teen was released from the hospital and placed with family members. He has been suspended from school pending expulsion proceedings by the Newaygo Public Schools School Board.

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Explore Downtown Cedar Springs

If you’d like to keep up with what’s happening with the businesses in downtown Cedar Springs, you can now check out a new page on Facebook called “Explore Downtown Cedar Springs.”

According to admin Perry Hopkins, owner of Kin of Hope Natural Health and Perry’s Place LLC for herbs, teas, and more…, the page is a new rendition of the previous page “Vintage Cedar Springs” (which was to promote our stores downtown that sold vintage goods). 

“Our downtown is growing, and we have more stores and other new businesses, so we updated the page to promote all the Downtown Cedar Springs businesses,” explained Hopkins. “This page is similar to the Cedar Springs Community Summer Celebrations page I created a couple years ago for all the Cedar Springs businesses, committees, groups, etc. to promote their events in one place, with the exception this page is primarily for the Downtown businesses/organizations. We welcome all businesses, groups, and/or organizations in the downtown area to utilize the page and make a single location for people to see classes, events, specials, and updates.  Anyone hosting a Facebook event in the downtown can make the page a co-host.”

Hopkins said that some of your favorite local stores are collaborating on various Shop Hop events this year that will include refreshments, contests and prizes.

Upcoming Downtown Shop Hop events and dates:

Downtown Shop Hop dates

March 11 5pm to 7pm St. Patrick’s Day theme. The Kent Theatre will also be open during that time for concessions and will be screening vintage short cartoons/movies.

April 1 5pm to 7pm April Fool’s Day theme 

May 6 5pm to 7 pm Mother’s Day theme

June 17 5pm to 7 pm Father’s Day theme 

September 9 5pm to 7pm Grandparents theme

October 7 5pm to 7 pm Harvest theme 

November 11 5pm to 7pm Veterans & Preholiday theme 

December Shop Hops will be Christmas-themed and geared to coincide with the Chamber’s Mingle Late events. Those dates are Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23.

More details coming soon on the Explore Downtown Cedar Springs Facebook page.

Also, a note from the Kent Theatre: 

The Historic Kent Theatre is currently closed for public exhibitions. With the current Kent County Health Department restrictions, it is not in the Kent Theatre’s best interest to reopen at this time. The Kent Theatre Board of Directors will evaluate reopening at our next meeting at the end of March. 

The Kent Theatre is currently available for private events and movies. Please contact Len Allington at events@kenttheatre.com for details.

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Dog rescued after missing for six weeks

Near-frozen cat gets new lease on life

Milo, before being rescued from the hole under the silo. Photo from Kent County Animal Shelter Facebook page.

By Judy Reed

Milo after being reunited with his long-lost family. Photo from Kent County Animal Shelter Facebook page.

There are a lot of animal lovers in Cedar Springs, and several good animal rescues in northern Kent County. They do great work all the time, but there were two incidents in the last week that really stood out.

According to the Kent County Animal Shelter Facebook page, Kent County Animal Control Officers received a call on Sunday, February 21, regarding a dog possibly stranded near an old grain elevator in Sand Lake. The dog had been heard barking for a few days per town residents. The caller had investigated the area and believed him to be stuck under a silo so contacted Animal Control for assistance. 

It goes on to say that the Animal Control Officers were met by two more caring citizens who had located the dog stranded in an old bunker style silo. Due to the smooth 10’ walls, there was no way for him to climb back out. 

With the help of town citizens, one who happened to be a previous Animal Control Officer, a long rope was able to be looped around the dog. He was quickly pulled out from the silo and placed on secure ground. 

Lost Paws, LLC, located a posting for a similar dog that had been missing from Howard City since January 8. They contacted the missing dog’s owners and were able to confirm the found dog was in fact, Milo a Springer Spaniel, that had last been spotted in early February. There had been no sightings of him for nearly two weeks.

Milo’s owners rushed to meet the Animal Control Officers and their beloved dog. He remembered them immediately and many tears were shed from everyone. 

“What all Milo experienced during his journey will never be known. However, we do know he survived frigid temps, snowstorms, hunger and dehydration. He lost 33 lbs and traveled nearly 20 miles over the past 43 days. What he nor his owners never lost was hope and hope is what finally reunited them.”

Finian fell asleep in his bowl. Poor boy was exhausted. Photo from Crash’s Landing Facebook page.

The other incident involved a stray cat that was found nearly frozen next to a Cedar Springs resident’s tire last week.

The person who found the cat posted about it in a social media post early last week and a reader of the post then contacted Crash’s Landing, a non-profit cat rescue in Grand Rapids. The cat rescue took the cat in. He was in very poor shape and not expected to make it through the night. What happened was a miracle. 

Here is how he was described by Dr. Jen at Crash’s Landing:

“His body temp won’t register after warming him gently and pushing 500mL of warm fluids. He is beyond dehydrated. His nose was pouring pus and his eyes glued shut, well there is no left eye and the right is scarred. He weighs 4.64 lbs. His mouth is rotten and his tongue ulcerated. He’s intact. He has fleas and horrible ear mites with nubs for ears. His tail is half missing – I don’t dare attempt to remove the encasing on the top tonight. He smells like a sewer. His paws are frost bitten. He’s barely moving but he’s still trying to live. He’s a miracle. He rode all the way to the clinic in my coat nestled close to my chest. He is here now as my husband Brian takes us home.”

She named the cat Finian, which means “handsome warrior.” And he has been a warrior! He’s getting healthier every day and is now up to 6.88 pounds. If you’d like to follow Finian’s journey, visit Crash Landing’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/crashslanding.bigsids. If you’d like to donate to help with his and other cats’ care, visit www.crashslanding.org.

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Stay safe during bitter cold and snow impacting Michigan

Post file photo by J. Reed.

The Michigan State Police warned residents earlier this week about the snow-covered roads and sub-zero temperatures we faced Tuesday and Wednesday, and encouraged state residents and visitors to be extra cautious when going outdoors.

“With the National Weather Service forecasting sub-zero temperatures, it’s important that Michiganders take steps to stay safe during this period of cold weather,” said Capt. Kevin Sweeney, deputy state director of Emergency Management and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD). “If you must go outdoors or have to travel, be sure to dress appropriately and have an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting portions of Michigan to experience sub-zero overnight low temperatures tonight (Tuesday into Wednesday). Exposure to these temperatures could potentially cause frostbite and hypothermia.

To stay safe during cold weather:

  • Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Signs of frostbite include loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers and toes, numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin.
  • Signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss,slurred speech or drowsiness.
  • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away fromwindows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
  • Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.
  • Pets are also at risk for cold weather injuries and should be kept indoors.

Safe winter driving tips:

  • Check the weather before leaving for a destination. If the weather forecast looks dangerous, consider rescheduling or postponing the trip.
  • DO NOT crowd snowplows. Give snowplow drivers plenty of room to clear snow from the roads.
  • Keep tires at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.
  • Make sure the windshield solvent reservoir is full and check the condition of all wiper blades and replace when necessary.
  • Wash your vehicle for better visibility to other drivers. Remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and license plate before driving.
  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle stocked with batteries, battery powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, windshield scraper, jumper cables, shovel, blankets, first aid kit, nonperishable food and bottled water in the event you get stranded or stuck.

Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of year, but especially during the winter months. If you are stranded, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.

Motorists are encouraged to check travel conditions and weather reports before driving at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions. Major road closures can be found at www.michigan.gov/drive. The MSP/EMHSD asks that you tune into local news and/or view these websites rather than calling your local MSP post or 911 for travel conditions.

For more information on how to prepare before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit www.michigan.gov/miready or follow MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS.

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Man dies in Montcalm crash

This Eco Sport was hit head-on Monday by a Ford F-350. Photo courtesy of the Michigan State Police.

A 78-year-old Sheridan man died Monday when the car he was riding in was hit head-on by another vehicle.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post responded to the two vehicle, head-on crash at 2:01 p.m. on Monday, February 8, on County Farm Road and Derby Road, Sidney Township, Montcalm County.

Police said their initial investigation revealed that a 2015 Ford F-350 truck was traveling west on County Farm Road when the vehicle it was following slowed on the roadway to turn onto Darby Road.  The driver of the truck swerved around the turning vehicle and struck a 2020 Ford Eco Sport that was traveling east bound, head-on.  

The passenger in the Eco Sport, a 78-year-old man from Sheridan, was not wearing his seatbelt and was pronounced deceased on scene. His name has not been released.

Both drivers suffered only minor injuries and refused treatment at the scene.

Troopers were assisted on scene by Montcalm County EMS, Book Walter Towing, Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department, and Sidney Township Fire.

Neither drugs nor alcohol are considered factors in the crash. This crash remains under investigation. 

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Cedar Springs in need of substitute teachers

Do you have the credit hours to become a substitute teacher? Our kids need you.

By Judy Reed

Local school districts may have returned to in-person learning, but there is one problem putting a strain on their ability to keep students in the classroom during this pandemic: a shortage of substitute teachers. And they are turning to the community for help.

“It’s all hands, on deck,” remarked Matt Blood, human resources director for Cedar Springs Public Schools. 

Blood said there are a lot of parents and others in our community who may not realize they have the qualifications to be a substitute teacher. To become a substitute teacher, you need a minimum of 60 credit hours from a college or university. If you have the credit hours, you can apply online at EDUstaff (https://www.edustaff.org/). CSPS will reimburse you for any expenses that you may incur while registering to become a substitute teacher for them.

Once approved, you will be able to select the school you wish to pick up substitute days at, based on your availability.

So what’s the problem? Why do they have a shortage of substitute teachers?

Blood said that they have approximately 200 teachers in the district. In the past, whenever they’ve needed substitutes for things such as teacher training days, sickness, etc., they would put in a request to EDUstaff for substitutes and any substitute teacher in Kent County could respond. But they aren’t getting the responses they used to. And it’s not just happening to Cedar Springs.

“It’s what caused many districts to go to entirely remote learning,” explained Blood. “Right now, we are doing pretty well, but when we went into fully remote learning, we had a lot of staff needing to be quarantined.”

They aren’t doing the training days they used to do, but still have a problem covering teacher absences.

They have had to get creative with staffing. They hired eight floating subs, who work every day in their home building. “They work wherever the need is in their building and they keep pretty busy. If they are not in the classroom, they are serving as an interventionist or something else.”

They also made an exception for retired Cedar Springs teachers to serve as subs. “You cannot sign up through EDUstaff if you are a retired teacher,” explained Blood. “So Cedar Springs made an exception that if you are a retired teacher from Cedar Springs, you can sign up through an online application.” Retired teachers can find the link to the application at https://csredhawks.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx.

Blood said he was unsure why there was a shortage of substitute teachers, but it could be a number of things: they may not want to take the risk of subbing in many different districts; they may have kids at home doing remote learning; or it may just be the fluctuations of in-person and remote learning. Whatever the reason, they need to get more substitutes lined up—and Blood hopes that members of the community will step up to help.

“They just need 60 credit hours of college in any field, care about kids, and be willing to carry out the lesson plan,” he said. “Our main goal is to stay open.” They do not need to have received the vaccine.

If interested, fill out the form at: bit.ly/CSPSSubTeach and then register at edustaff.org. To see ad click here.

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