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Sand Lake Chamber cancels Fourth of July festivities

The Sand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce will not be hosting their usual Fourth of July festivities this year. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

For the past 150 years, people have come from the surrounding areas on July Fourth to stroll through Salisbury Park in Sand Lake and revel in the festivities. They come to watch the parade; eat ice cream, popcorn, corn dogs, candy apples, and homemade sausages; ride the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round; play games; dance to music; enjoy a rodeo or demolition derby; enjoy the fireworks; laugh with friends; forget today’s cares; and become part of history. But, unfortunately, that won’t happen this summer.  

The Sand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce made the difficult decision earlier this week to cancel this summer’s annual Fourth of July Festivities. They made the announcement on their Facebook page Monday evening.

They cancelled it due to the restrictions surrounding COVID-19 and the current protests (with rioting and vandalism) taking place after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis, at the hands of police.

The Sand Lake Chamber’s announcement reads: “We have come to a very hard decision tonight on the Sand Lake 4th of July celebration. With all the restrictions that the Covid-19 pandemic brings, and the current protests taking place, we cannot go forward with this event.
“It is with very heavy hearts, and a lot of discussion that brought us to this decision.
“As many of you, we wanted this to take place very much, as we held on until the last possible minute to make this decision. With all the regulations in place, it’s just not possible.
“We are going to work hard to bring a fall event to our community, with all of us working together to make that happen. We would love your ideas on this also, as it will give us something to look forward to yet this year. Thank you all for your patience while we worked through all of this, and your understanding on our decision to do what’s safe for our awesome little community. Very hard decision for all of us tonight.”

This year’s celebration would have been the 151st celebration. 

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Celebrating the Class of 2020

Graduation this year will likely look a little different than the above photo. Social distancing and masks may make an appearance. The above photo was taken in 2017 by Kelly and Rob LaLone.

By Judy Reed

The end of the 2019-20 school year has been anything but normal. In-class learning ended abruptly in March after the COVID-19 virus made its appearance here. In April, the rest of the school year was canceled, though students continued to learn online and from home. The school year is now over, and the senior class of 2020 missed out on many of the things that make a senior year special. So this week, we are celebrating our seniors, as we normally do this time of year. You can find photos of the Class of 2020 from various schools and their highest honors seniors by downloading the following link: 2020 Graduation.pdf

Some schools have given us tentative graduation dates: 

Creative Technologies Academy has a tentative date of June 23 at Red Hawk Stadium. “We are still working out the details, but we will follow the governor’s Phase 4 guidelines for crowd size and social distancing rules,” said retiring Superintendent Dan George. “The guest speaker is Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. As you know, this will be my last ceremony, so I’m thrilled that we get to do this for our seniors who have endured so much this year.”

Cedar Springs Public Schools has a tentative date of June 25 at 7 p.m., according to high school principal Ron Behrenwald.

Tri County Area Schools has two tentative dates with the first one being on Sunday, June 14.  “Not highly likely that one will happen but we also have Sunday, August 2 penciled in,” said Connie Butler, of Tri County.

Algoma Christian School had their graduation on Friday, May 29, with students and their families in the school parking lot, where they also practiced social distancing.

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City prepares to adopt marijuana ordinance

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Planning Commission and Cedar Springs City Council are preparing to move forward on a proposed ordinance allowing the establishment of various types of adult recreational marijuana businesses in the city.

“The Cedar Springs Planning Commission and City Council will be reviewing two ordinances at their June meetings that would permit marihuana businesses to open and operate within the City,” reads an announcement on the city’s website. “The idea of allowing marihuana businesses to locate in the City has been discussed since November of 2018 when voters initially passed Prop 1 of 2018. The final draft would allow marihuana businesses to operate in various industrial and commercial parts of the City with certain restrictions imposed on them to maintain the safety and character of the City for its citizens.”

City Manager Mike Womack said that he’s tried slow-walking this marihuana ordinance process “because we’ve wanted transparency and public input throughout and with COVID19 and virtual ZOOM meetings, I have felt it especially important to give the public more opportunity for input and discussion. At this point I am confident that all persons with interest in the matter have been given ample notice and opportunity for input and I believe the Planning Commission and Council are ready to move forward.  Council will have the opportunity to pass the ordinance on June 11th but they could also table for discussion into July if they choose.”

To read the memo about what types of businesses can be located where, read the memo at https://cityofcedarsprings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/MJ-Final-Draft-Memo-5-26-2020.pdf.

If anyone has any thoughts, comments or concerns regarding this proposal please e-mail the City Manager at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org or you can e-mail individual Council members by goi  online to https://cityofcedarsprings.org/city-council/ and choosing a City Council member to email.

Due to the ongoing COVID19 threat, the Planning Commission and City Council June meetings will be available to view and participate in virtually via the City’s telephone and online meeting platform ZOOM. Instructions of how to participate in those meetings via ZOOM are posted by the City Clerk on the City’s website under NEWS.

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Kent District Library Launches Curbside Pickup and Announces Reopening

Libraries gearing up to reopen

Good news! All those library materials that patrons have been holding onto for the last couple of months can be returned soon. Exterior book drops at all Kent District Library locations will open on Monday, June 8. Curbside service, for picking up items, will begin Monday, June 15 and the projected reopen date for limited service in the branches is Monday, July 6. 

KDL is taking this phased approach to reopening, introducing those services that can be immediately provided while staff make adjustments within the facilities to ensure safety and compliance. The most significant changes are required within the library facilities, to move public computers, designate safe-distancing areas and implement additional sanitation procedures. Executive Order 2020-110 states that the library may reopen for public access, subject to the rules governing retail stores described in Executive Order 2020-97 or any order that may follow from it. 

Library patrons are reminded that since KDL is a fine-free library, it is okay to hold onto materials until it’s convenient to return them. With more than 240,000 items currently checked out, book drops may become busy during the first few days, but the library will be ready for returns. Items will be placed in quarantine for three days before being returned to the collection for future checkouts. 

The new curbside service is an easy and safe way for people to pick up checked out materials from the convenience of their car. To use curbside service: 

1.      Visit kdl.org, search the catalog and place items on hold, indicating the branch location for pickup. 

2.      After receiving notification that items are ready for pick-up, visit the branch during normal open hours and park in one of the designated Curbside Pick-up spots. 

3.      Call the number listed on the signs in the parking lot; please have your library card number ready. 

4.      A library staff member will bring the items to the car. 

Details for visiting library branches will be announced shortly before the July 6 reopening date. Check kdl.org for the latest updates. 

The Cedar Springs Public Library is also getting ready to reopen, but has no firm date. “Here we are weeks into our ‘Safe Homes,’ longing for the day we can host you once again in the CS Library!  You are surely wondering WHEN we will reopen. Though there is no official date, we are making plans to reopen in stages, along with KDL and all of our library neighbors in Western Michigan,” said Library Director Donna Clark.

Full Summer Reading Program starting June 8 with registration, reading logs, prizes and programs are all online.  Pick from dozens of prizes with reading points. Story on page 3.

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Summer reading to kick off at CS Library

The Cedar Springs Public Library may not be physically open, but they still have a great lineup for their summer reading program, titled Imagine Your Story.

You can watch their fun-filled Launch Day on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 8. They will be giving away a huge prize basket and going over how to register and fill out your reading log online via a program called  READsquared. Everyone can sign up, from babies to adults.

There are a few changes to the summer reading program including online registration; online reading logs; and you can earn points for reading and put those points towards prizes. There will be virtual events with no registration; and if you attend events you get points towards prizes. The readsquared app is downloadable for phones and other devices. There are in app games and you can create your own avatar and so much more. Register online at http://cedarsprings.readsquared.com.

Check out the ad on this page for a list of virtual programs and events and the various prizes you can win! 

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Auditions for “We are Monsters” children’s musical

Children ages 8-18 invited to audition

The Cedar Springs Community Players will be holding virtual auditions for the children’s musical “We are Monsters June 15 and 16. 

“We Are Monsters” is a hilarious new musical that follows human kids into a monster cabaret filled with quirky monster characters. The adventurous humans uncover vegetarian vampires and rock n’ roll werewolves, gradually realizing there may be more to these monsters than meets the eye! Most importantly these monsters and kids discover the importance of friendship and celebrating in the attributes that make each of us different and unique.

Auditions are for ages 8 to 18 and will be done virtually on Monday, June 15 and June 16.  The sign up schedule for auditions can be done at the following link: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/805094DA5A623A75-wearemonsters

Rehearsals will be on Mondays at 6:00 p.m. beginning on June 29. Practices will be virtual until further notice. For updates on performances, please refer to the Cedar Springs Community Players website or its facebook page.   

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City breaks ground on new fire station

City of Cedar Springs welcomes construction of new community asset

Representatives from the City of Cedar Springs, the Cedar Springs Fire Department, Orion Construction and others broke ground last week on the new fire station. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It’s been a long time coming, but the City of Cedar Springs and Orion Construction finally broke ground last week on a new fire station in downtown Cedar Springs. 

The groundbreaking ceremony was held at 38 N 2nd St last Thursday, May 21. The fire station will be built on the site that once housed the old library on the corner of Cherry and 2nd, and the old Community building, on the corner of Elm and Cherry. Both have been torn down.

“Today we put shovels in the earth to break ground on a new fire station that will be a much needed tool in the arsenal of our firefighters to be utilized in protecting both the hearts and homes of the people of Cedar Springs,” said Mayor Pro Tem Pam Conley, prior to the groundbreaking. “As our firefighters are the people running into the buildings, the rest of us are running out. We are proud of a community that understands the need for proper facility to provide this heartfelt service to the citizens.”

The new fire station will provide added space and equipment necessary to service a growing Cedar Springs population. The Cedar Springs Fire Department serves a 16 square mile area, including the City of Cedar Springs and parts of Nelson Township, and approximately 5,600 residents. The Cedar Springs Fire Department is a fully volunteer/paid on-call fire department providing fire suppression, emergency medical services, rescue and other services. The department is comprised of 20 firefighters and medical first responders.

What will it cost?

The Cedar Springs City Council approved placing a proposal for the new fire station on the ballot for the   November 2018 election. The proposal passed and provided the necessary financing through a millage and tax bond not to exceed $3,115,000, which will pay for site improvements, build design and construction, as well as additional equipment, vehicles and other related expenses for the fire department.

“The voters have entrusted the city to use their money wisely to build a new fire station that will propel us into the future. The current fire station has been in place for 40 years at this point, and we’re looking to build a facility that will last for the next 40-plus years,” said City Manager Mike Womack. “With any project we undertake here in the city, we are very cognizant of the costs involved. We thank the citizens for entrusting us with their money and we will use it to the best of our ability. Not only is Orion Construction providing us the best bang for our buck, but we were also able to secure an incredibly low interest rate on the bond issuance that is going to save a ton on interest as well.”

According to Womack, citizens approved a 15-year option with an estimated $4,013,850 payback on the $3,115,000 loan. But since the interest rate was only 1.35 percent, they now only expect to have to pay back $3,454,816. 

“That is a savings of $559,034 over the original 15-year projection,” Womack told the Post. “That accounts for an estimated $37,000 reduction in each yearly payment that the City has to make on the bond payback.  For the citizens, it translates into a reduction from the original estimated 3.4 mills tax increase that was approved by voters down to only about 2.59 mills in the first year (it’s technically a variable rate but we don’t expect it to change much from year to year). With all of the economic development going on in the City, that number could go down even more as more businesses come to town.” 

“I am happy that we waited until the optimal time to issue to the bond because even though the project was a little delayed in starting, it will strongly benefit the taxpayers in the long run,” he added.

A rendering of the new fire station. Photo courtesy of Orion Construction, developed and provided to Orion by Hubbell, Roth & ClarkInc.

What will the new fire station have?

The new 10,000 square foot fire station will be triple the size of the existing facility, providing much-needed space for meeting, training, and equipment storage. It will also be compliant with new federal standards and local code.

“We have equipment stored off site that we’ll be able to bring back on-site, and we’ll have a meeting room big enough to hold meetings without having to pull trucks out of the apparatus bays,” said Cedar Springs Fire Chief, Marty Fraser. “The new station will give us room to expand with new and updated equipment to serve the community as the need grows in the future. It will be a great asset to the community and something we can all be proud of.”

The new fire station features a nearly 7,000 square foot pre-engineered metal building for the apparatus area with four vehicle bays for fire engines, as well as storage areas for cleaning and storing gear, as well as a hose tower.  Directly adjacent to the apparatus bays is a 3,300 square foot office area with a 60-person meeting room, full kitchen, laundry room, office and storage areas, two full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms.

“We’re proud to be a partner with the Cedar Springs community and work with them to create a new home for the Cedar Springs Fire Department,” said Roger Rehkopf, President of Orion Construction. “The new facility will provide necessary updates and adequate room and resources for the firefighters to best serve their community and keep them safe.”

Orion Construction is serving as the general contractor. Hubbell, Roth & Clark, Inc. is providing all architectural and engineering services, construction engineering, and oversight of the project.

Construction is estimated to begin in the next couple of weeks and be complete by April or May of 2021.

Construction Engineering and Oversight of the project

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Child rescued from Rogue River

Plainfield Fire warns against anyone getting out on the Rogue River in recent conditions, and said they need assistance from neighboring townships (such as Cannon Twp above) on water rescues. This photo is not related to the child rescue but shows the swiftness of the river. Facebook photo from Plainfield Professional Fire Fighter’s Union Local 3890.

A three-year-old boy was rescued from the Rogue River last Sunday, thanks to some good Samaritans.

According to the Plainfield Fire Department, they were dispatched to a water rescue on the Rogue River, near the Childsdale dam, shortly after 5 p.m. on May 24. The boy had been kayaking with his water when their kayak overturned and they became separated

Austin Angell of Grandville and Halie Peters of Cedar Springs found the missing kayak about an eighth of a mile downriver. The kayak was flipped over, and the boy was trapped underneath it. They turned it upright and rescued the child, who was tangled in some webbing. To their surprise, the child was alert and uninjured. 

“If it wasn’t for their quick actions, the outcome would have been much worse,” wrote the Plainfield Professional Fire Fighter’s Union Local 3890 on their Facebook page. “PFD would like to commend Austin and Halie for their actions. Their willingness to take action saved the child’s life.”

They also said they discourage anyone from boating on the river. “The water is moving very fast and conditions are unpredictable.”

They noted in an earlier post about river conditions that they do not have a water craft and require assistance from neighboring agencies, such as Cannon Township Fire, on water rescues.

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Everything’s coming up flowers

This metal sculpture was made by Chris Powell.

Have you noticed some larger than life flowers around the area? 

There is one on the front lawn at the Cedar Springs  Post and a few more at the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. All turned up mysteriously on Mother’s Day.

According to Brynadette Powell, they are the craft of her father, Chris Powell, of Cedar Springs. “My dad started getting bored with retirement. He picked up a plasma cutter and has been making these beautiful flowers and other pieces,” she explained.

She said that her dad picks up various forms of scrap and recycles the material into the works of art. For instance, the flower at the Post was made from an old propane tank. She said he has made other types of pieces, including a sunfish, windchimes, a lightning rod, etc. 

She said many are on display at Pro Auto Works on Northland Drive. All of his sculptures are for sale. If anyone is interested in one of them, call Carl Straub at Pro Auto Works at 696-8863.

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Governor Whitmer extends stay at home order

Last Friday, May 22, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-100 to extend Michigan’s Safer at Home order until June 12, 2020. She also extended the temporary closure of certain places of public accommodation such as theaters, gyms, restaurants and casinos. 

The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-99 to extend the state of emergency declaration related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was upheld by Judge Cynthia Stephens on May 21, 2020. According to a press release from the Governor’s office, cases of COVID-19 in some counties in Western and Mid-Michigan are now doubling approximately every 10 days. “To continue to protect Michigan families from both the public health and economic impacts of the virus, and to lower the chance of a second wave, the governor’s emergency declaration is extended until June 19, 2020,” it said. 

“While the data shows that we are making progress, we are not out of the woods yet. If we’re going to lower the chance of a second wave and continue to protect our neighbors and loved ones from the spread of this virus, we must continue to do our part by staying safer at home,” said Whitmer. “If we open too soon, thousands more could die and our hospitals will get overwhelmed.  While we finally have more protective equipment like masks, we can’t run the risk of running low again. We owe it to the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis—our first responders, health care workers, and critical workers putting their lives on the line every day—to do what we can ourselves to stop the spread of the virus.” 

 Executive Order 2020-100 also clarifies and, as necessary, extends the duration of a number of previous executive orders. The extended orders cover protections for workers who stay home and stay safe when they or their close contacts are sick, restoring water service to those whose water has been shut off, the affirmation of non-discrimination policies in the provision of COVID-19 care, and more. 

“All of us know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again,” said Governor Whitmer. “We’ve already loosened some restrictions on construction, manufacturing, landscaping, retail, and more. But the worst thing we can do is open up in a way that causes a second wave of infections and death, puts health care workers at further risk, and wipes out all the progress we’ve made.” 

Last week the Governor also signed executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment statewide on Tuesday, May 26, as part of her MI Safe Start plan. Effective on Friday, May 29, the governor also lifted the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide. And the governor also authorized small gatherings of 10 people or less starting immediately, as long as participants practice social distancing. 

 Businesses that the governor has authorized to reopen must provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions.   

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