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Body of missing woman found

Jenna Lynn Evans, 34, went missing New
Year’s Eve. Her body was found five days later.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post located the body Tuesday of a Montcalm County woman who had been missing since New Year’s Eve.

Jenna Lynn Evans, 34, of Sheridan, was last seen leaving a residence on East Evergreen Road, near Stanton, in Montcalm County on December 31, 2020.  She was reported missing on Sunday, January 3. Personal items were found near Vickeryville Road near Loon Lake, and the police sent out a missing person bulletin asking for help.

Investigators, with the assistance of MSP Canine and Aviation units, discovered her body, deceased, in a wooded, marshy area near Loon Lake, Crystal Township, Tuesday afternoon, January 5.

At press time Wednesday, the cause of death had not yet been released. The case is still under investigation. 

Anyone with information about this case should call the MSP Lakeview Post at 989-352-8444. 

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Man injured in Sand Lake crash

A Grand Rapids man suffered minor injuries after his car struck several objects in the Village of Sand Lake Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Teresa Johnson.

An elderly Grand Rapids man suffered minor injuries after he caused a string of crashes in the Village of Sand Lake Tuesday.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred on Tuesday, December 29, at W. Lake and 7th Streets in Sand Lake. The driver caused four separate crashes. He struck two separate utility poles, a tree, and an unoccupied car parked on W. Lake St. The driver suffered minor facial injury and was transported to United Memorial Hospital to be checked out.

Police said that the elderly gentleman who caused the crashes had previously had his license suspended due to his age-related health issues. His car was totaled because of the crashes and he will be cited for Driving While License Suspended for causing the crashes. 

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Merry Christmas from the POST

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Firefighters battle Solon blaze

A Solon Township home caught fire Tuesday evening. Photos from Solon Township Fire facebook page.

By Judy Reed

Several fire departments battled a fire in Solon Township Tuesday evening. It was located at 16685 Antler Drive, which is north of 20 Mile Rd, west of Algoma.

When the call came across dispatch shortly before 7 p.m., the fire was through the roof in the garage. It later spread to the house itself.

According to the Solon Township Fire facebook page, the family made it out of the house safely, and firefighters rescued two cats from the home.

Both Cedar Springs Fire and Algoma Fire Departments helped Solon put out the fire.

Complete details about the fire were not available at press time Wednesday.

That’s at least the third fire in a week for the Solon Township Fire Department.

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Family loses home in fire

by Judy Reed

This home at 15797 Algoma was a total loss. Post photo by J. Reed.

Smoke billowed from a Solon Township home Monday as seven area fire departments battled the blaze.

According to Solon Township Fire Chief Jeff Drake, they were dispatched to 15797 Algoma Ave, just north of 19 Mile Rd at 2:02 p.m. Monday, December 7, and arrived on scene three minutes later at 2:05 p.m. He said that the initial 911 call indicated the fire was outside of the home. When the first unit arrived on scene, they found heavy fire on the exterior wall of the double-wide mobile home with a walk-out basement.

A firefighter pulls away pieces of the home to get at the fire. Post photo by J. Reed.

“The fire was discovered outside by a family member earlier near the chicken coops,” explained Drake. “Fire spread to multiple chicken coops and eventually to the residential structure.” He said there was a delay in reporting the fire of more than 10 minutes.

With the fire spreading rapidly, the fire departments fought the fire defensively. The building and contents were a total loss, estimated at $200,000 for structure and contents.

Seven fire departments fought the fire at 15797 Algoma earlier this week. Post photo by J. Reed.

He said the fire was deemed accidental.

The three people at home at the time of the fire all escaped without injury.

Drake said the property was insured, and the insurance company is providing shelter for the family at an area hotel.  “They were referred to North Kent Connect for clothing and other assistance,” he said. Some donations were also being gathered for the family by area residents.

The fire departments assisting Solon on the call included Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, Algoma, Kent City, Sparta, and Plainfield Fire Departments. Kent County Sheriff deputies also assisted at the scene.

Solon finally cleared the scene at 5:00 p.m., only to be called out on another fire at 5:36 p.m. They arrived on scene at 43 Clear Lake Avenue NE at 5:47 p.m.

Dispatch reported that the caller said it looked like someone had purposely set the fire. The fire was out but the basement was full of smoke. The first Solon unit to arrive reported that the fire was out.

Drake said that damage from the smoke was estimated at $500.00, and there was no structural damage.

Cause of the fire was “incendiary” and allegedly set by a juvenile.

Assisting agencies included Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, Algoma, Kent City, and Plainfield Fire Departments and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

Solon finally cleared the scene at 8:30 p.m.

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Holiday celebrations begin

By Judy Reed

Holiday celebrations will look a little different this year in the cities and villages in our area. Officials are urging people to do drive by or walking celebrations, to look at lights and other holiday decorations rather than gathering in one place. Most parades have been canceled, but there are still ways you can celebrate. Visit our “Home for the Holidays” tab to see what’s currently scheduled. 

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MDHHS issues three-week epidemic order

Restaurant and Lodging Association files suit

By Judy Reed

MDHHS Director Robert Gordon

Fall high school sports were just ready to head to the playoffs and winter sports begin; movie theaters had just opened; and restaurants were starting to see a little more cash flow from indoor dining. But under a new emergency order by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that all changed this week.

According to press release from Governor Whitmer’s office, the action to limit indoor and outdoor gatherings and activities was done in an effort to curb rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates.

Under this order, indoor residential gatherings are limited to two households at any one time. However,

MDHHS strongly urges families to pick a single other household to interact with over the next three weeks, consistent with new guidance released by the department. The order is aimed at limiting residential and non-residential gatherings where COVID-19 spreads rapidly. 

Bars and restaurants will be open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery only. Gyms will remain open for individual exercise with strict safety measures in place. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes will be closed. 

Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators, however all other organized sports must stop. Colleges and high schools may proceed with remote learning but must end in-person classes.

In-person K-8 schooling may continue if it can be done with strong mitigation, including mask requirements, based on discussion between local health and school officials. Childcare also remains open to support working parents. 

“Indoor gatherings are the greatest source of spread, and sharply limiting them is our focus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “The order is targeted and temporary, but a terrible loss of life will be forever unless we act. By coming together today, we can save thousands of lives.”

The order, which took effect Wednesday, Nov. 18, is not a blanket stay-home action like in the spring. The order leaves open work that cannot be performed from home, including for manufacturing, construction and health occupations. Outdoor gatherings, outdoor dining and parks remain open.

Individualized activities with distancing and face masks are still allowed: retail shopping; public transit; restaurant takeout; personal-care services such as haircuts, by appointment; and individualized exercise at a gym, with extra spacing between machines.

 “The data we are seeing is alarming. COVID-19 is impacting every area of our state. Our healthcare systems are becoming overwhelmed, and our contact tracers cannot keep up,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “If we do not act now, we risk thousands more deaths, and even more people having long-term health consequences. The actions we are taking today are the best opportunity we have to get this virus under control.”

“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together. Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, frontline workers and small businesses,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Not everyone agrees that the action would protect small businesses. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) has filed suit in federal court for injunctive relief from the new order, which has prohibited indoor dining for the second time this year.

We have taken this action only after careful deliberation and as the last available option to prevent the outright devastation of restaurant operators and their hundreds of thousands of employees across the state,” said Justin Winslow, President & CEO, in a news release.
 “We want to be clear that we made several good faith efforts in advance of the public release of the Order issued November 15 to reach a compromise with the MDHHS that would have supported the goal of minimizing risk while still allowing for the continued operation of dining rooms. 

“The MRLA committed to substantially increased restrictions on our industry, including reducing capacity in restaurants to 25 percent and implementing a 10 p.m. curfew for the duration of the Order. While our proposal would undeniably challenge an already beleaguered industry, it was presented to Director Gordon and the Executive Office of the Governor in earnest to stave off the far worse impact of outright closure.”

According to Wilson, the following are important facts to consider regarding closing indoor dining:

 The COVID-19 Outbreak Investigation data tracked by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) attributes approximately 4.3% of all outbreaks to restaurants statewide.  

Despite serving millions of Michiganders each day, there are a total of (8) investigations statewide involving a restaurant patron.

MRLA survey data suggests more than 40% of restaurants will close, at least temporarily, if dining rooms are closed.

Approximately 250,000 employees are likely to be laid off from restaurants over the holiday season. With no federal funds and an exhausted Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, it is unclear where the revenue will derive to finance the influx of claims.

If the closure is prolonged and federal stimulus dollars are not made immediately available, upwards of 6,000 more restaurants will permanently close by spring. For the record, approximately 2,000 restaurants have already closed their doors permanently in Michigan in 2020.

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Beware the ides of November

On November 11, 1940, the Armistice Day storm, one of the worst storms in Great Lakes history, struck Lake Michigan, sinking several vessels along the West Michigan coast. In Ludington, the Carferry City of Flint 32 was driven ashore north of the breakwater where waves and blizzard conditions coated the ship in ice. The Photo is from the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum exhibit, operation by Mason County Historical Society.

By Judy Reed

There are storms, and then there are the deadly November gales on the Great Lakes with hurricane winds and ice—the stuff that legends are made of.

This week was the anniversary of three of the many storms that have taken lives of sailors and others in November. 

The White Hurricane of November 11, 1913 was the most devastating storm ever on the Great Lakes. The photo shows headlines from the Detroit News on November 11, 1913.

The deadliest of them all, according to NOAA, was the White Hurricane of 1913. “Although there have been many shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, what made the White Hurricane event of 1913 unique was the number of shipwrecks that occurred in that storm and the number of fatalities,” they said.

The storm included 35-foot waves and northerly hurricane force wind gusts. With over 12 ships destroyed and 31 crippled, the storm claimed more lives than all of the other major Great Lakes maritime disasters combined. Financial loss in ships and cargo totaled estimated at $117 million in today’s currency.

The storm was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and Ontario, Canada from November 7 through November 10, 1913. The storm was most powerful on November 9, battering and overturning ships on four of the five Great Lakes, particularly Lake Huron.

NOAA said that ships built prior to 1948 used a type of steel in their hulls that became brittle below 33 degrees. This likely contributed at least partially to their demise, during the twisting and turning encountered on the choppy waves. A common theme associated with many 20th century shipwrecks were high waves churned up at the end of a long wind fetch across the water.

This week was also the 80th anniversary of the Armistice Day storm that occurred on November 11, 1940. The day started out with balmy 55-degree weather. According to a story by the National Weather Service, many businesses and schools were closed due to the Armistice Day holiday; and duck hunters were pleased by the opportunity to take to the fields and streams. Few suspected the weather was about to change.

“During the day and into the night severe weather erupted across much of the Midwest. A tornado was reported one mile west of Davenport Iowa, 2-3 inches of heavy rain fell over the Mississippi Valley, and heavy snow began to fall across Minnesota and Western Iowa. Gale velocities were measured at 80 mph at Grand Rapids, Michigan, and were estimated to be even higher over the lakes.

“Mariners, aware of the dangers on the Great Lakes, paid close attention to the weather. But during the Armistice Day storm many of the crews were unaware that the winds would shift until their ships were struck broadside by the full force of the wind. During the storm three large ships sank near Pentwater, Michigan—66 sailors died in the sinking of three freighters, the SS Anna C. Minch, the SS Novadoc, and the SS William B. Davock, and two smaller boats.

Survivors on ships that ran aground waited for days on their damaged vessels until winds subsided and rescue boats could be launched from shore. 

Hunters couldn’t believe the amount of waterfowl they saw. But the birds knew something the hunters didn’t—they were fleeing the approaching storm.

“Across the Midwest hundreds of duck hunters, not dressed for the cold, were overtaken by the storm. Winds came suddenly then masses of ducks arrived flying low to the ground (Washburn, 2008). Hunters, awed by the site of unending flocks of birds, failed to recognize the impending weather signs that a change was in process. Rain started and temperatures fell rapidly. By the time the rain, sleet, then heavy snow reduced the visibility to zero, hunters lost their opportunities to return safely to shore. Hundreds of duck hunters lost boats, gear and guns as 15-foot swells and 70 -80 mph winds swept down channels and marshy backwaters. Some hunters drowned, others froze to death when the near 60 degree temperatures plummeted, first to freezing, then into the single digits (Knarr, 1941; Swails, 2005; Washburn, 2008).”

The NWS said that during the next few days search parties retrieved frozen hunters from islands and the icy waters. Some of those lucky enough be stranded on islands survived the storm, but lost hands or feet due to severe frost bite.

“Across the upper Midwest drifts up to 20 feet high buried cars and rescuers had to force long probes into the rock hard drifts in their search for missing people. Passenger trains were stranded, and roads and highways remained closed for days. Newspaper deliveries were halted; telephone and power lines were damaged as were homes, barns, and outbuildings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan.”

This week was also the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, on November 10, 1975. At 729 feet long, the Fitzgerald is the largest ship to ever sink on the Great Lakes. In transit to a steel mill near Detroit Michigan the Fitzgerald was hit by a storm with 70 mph winds and 40-foot waves on eastern Lake Superior. It was reported that 29 men died in the wreckage. Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the event with his song, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Edmund Fitzgerald was reportedly carrying a full cargo of ore pellets with Captain Ernest M. McSorley in command. She embarked on her ill-fated voyage from Superior, Wisconsin, near Duluth, on the afternoon of November 9, 1975. En route to a steel mill near Detroit, Edmund Fitzgerald joined a second taconite freighter, SS Arthur M. Anderson. By the next day, the two ships were caught in a severe storm on Lake Superior, with near hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35 feet (11 m) high. Shortly after 7:10 p.m., Edmund Fitzgerald suddenly sank in Canadian (Ontario) waters 530 feet (88 fathoms; 160 m) deep, about 17 miles (15 nautical miles; 27 kilometers) from Whitefish Bay near the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario—a distance Edmund Fitzgerald could have covered in just over an hour at her top speed.

Edmund Fitzgerald previously reported being in significant difficulty to Arthur M. Anderson: “I have a bad list, lost both radars. And am taking heavy seas over the deck. One of the worst seas I’ve ever been in.” However, no distress signals were sent before she sank; Captain McSorley’s last (7:10 P.M.) message to Arthur M. Anderson was, “We are holding our own.” Her crew of 29 perished, and no bodies were recovered. The exact cause of the sinking remains unknown.

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Honoring our Veterans

Veterans Park in Cedar Springs. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Next Wednesday, November 11, is Veterans Day, the day we honor all of our military veterans—those that have served in the armed forces (and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable). It was originally known as Armistice Day.

We celebrate on November 11 because World War I was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Click here to view our Veterans Tribute, we are honoring hometown heroes from about the last 20 years. But we say a big thank you to all that have served, no matter what time period you served in!

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Pumpkin giveaway hits the mark

By Judy Reed

It may have looked a little different this year, but last Saturday’s Green Family & Friends pumpkin giveaway was just what the doctor ordered for families in Cedar Springs this fall. 

The event, a drive-thru trunk or treat and pumpkin giveaway put on by the Cordell Green family and supported by partners from City Impact, Rise Up Church, and more, estimates at least 1,000 people attended.

The event was held from 2-6 p.m. in the Cedar Trails drop off/pick up area. About 300 cars entered from Northland Drive and on to Holton Drive (by Green Acres) and took turns driving through the drop off area. The area was set up with regular masked volunteers, and costumed volunteers who decorated their car trunks and served kiddoes in each car with all kinds of candy treats as they made their way around the circle. Kids saw all kinds of costumed characters, including sharks, spiderman, a dinosaur, and a gorilla who sometimes stole their candy!

Cordell Green estimated 300 cars drove through, and they gave out 850-900 trick or treat bags. They also gave out over 1,000 hot dogs, chips waters, cotton candy, and cookies. At the very end, each child also got a pumpkin.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers and co-hosts,” said Green. “Without them, it wouldn’t happen.”

Kelley Bergsma, with City Impact, was also excited on how well the event turned out. “The event was fabulous!” she said. “So many families commented that it was an amazing idea for the times we are in. There was joy! (There was) a sense of community and love, so many smiles and fun creative trunk or treat stations, so much yummy food and pumpkins! What a day of fun and it was bumper to bumper almost the whole time. Families said it was well worth the wait. Once again, Cordell Green’s event blessed this red flannel town! It was fun to partner with so many people.”

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