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Wounded Warrior Dogs Project to visit Ford Museum

The nationally-acclaimed sculptures and 2016 ArtPrize winner will be on display Feb. 15-May 10

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, will host the traveling exhibit, “Wounded Warrior Dogs Project & K9 War Stories.” The exhibit, on display Feb. 15–May 10, is comprised of two installations, featuring seven wounded warrior dogs and four canine war dogs. The exhibit’s Wounded Warrior Dogs Project received top ArtPrize honors in 2016. A new installation, K9 War Stories, tells the true stories of courage and sacrifice of actual K9 teams during the Global War on Terror.

“Wounded Warrior Dogs Project & K9 War Stories” was designed by Ohio master craftsman James Mellick to bring attention to the service and heroism of military working dogs, and also symbolize the courageous sacrifices and wounds their human companions suffered during battle and raise awareness about their needs.

“What I think is so poetic and so beautiful is this bond or melding that takes place between the handler and the dog of complete dependence, unconditional love, and the will to survive in the most dire of situations among the two of them,” said Mellick. “And the narrative way that I work of storytelling was perfect for this group, so I had to tell the story of the dogs and their handlers.”

Mellick began wood carving while working as a teacher in New Hampshire in 1976. After retiring in 2014, he was inspired by news stories about soldiers coming home to the Veterans Administration with horrific injuries. It was then that Mellick received a new calling for his carving craft and began creating the Wounded Warriors Dog Project.

“The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is honored to have the opportunity to display James Mellick’s Wound Warrior Dogs & Canine War Dogs sculptures,” said Joel Westphal, deputy director, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. “The art piece speaks volumes to the heroic sacrifices our service men and women and their four-legged companions have made and continue to make for our country.”

Mellick, who spent 14 months creating Wounded Warrior Dogs, spends an average of 160 hours on each dog sculpture. He begins each project with a small sketch that he puts on his computer and enlarges, then cuts the drawing into patterns that he traces on blocks of wood. Mellick carves away the corners and starts shaping the sculpture, carving the heads, legs and tails separately before fastening them together at the end.

After winning the People’s Choice Award at the Ohio State Fair in 2015, Mellick expanded his Wounded Warrior Dogs to seven dogs and started touring the exhibit.

In 2016, Mellick’s project won the ArtPrize public vote and the $200,000 grand prize. The entry also earned the most votes in its category, 3-D. Additionally, Mellick received a Commendation of Service from the Ohio state senate in the same year. Since then, the exhibit has been featured at the Ohio Craft Museum, Southern Ohio Museum, Airborne and Special Operations Museum, National Museum of the Marine Corps and National Museum of the United States Air Force. It has also been featured in Ohio Magazine and The Bark.

Although Mellick did not serve in the military, he views his sculptures, which tell stories of courage, honor, faithfulness and sacrifice, as his payback to those who have served and continue serving today. Mellick has since become involved in the military dog community, serving as an honorary member of the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association.

“I’ve had young veterans put their arms around me sobbing, crying and thanking me for doing this,” Mellick said.

Visit  https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/ to learn more about the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.


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Cheer teams take second at Northview

The Cedar Springs Varsity Competitive Cheer team came in second at the LMCCOA Scholarship Invitational last Saturday. Courtesy photo.

On Saturday, February 1, the Lady Red Hawks traveled to Northview High School to compete in the LMCCOA Scholarship Invitational. Many of the best teams in West Michigan were present at this event and each team (32 overall) came prepared to win. Once again, the character of this team was tested by adversity when a teammate injured her wrist during warm-ups the morning of the meet. 

“We had an injury during warm-ups that sent one of our girls to the ER. We had to scramble hard and add someone to round 2 and 3. Last minute changes to detailed rounds are always the most dicey thing to do with our sport,” explained Coach Anne Olszewski. “Competitive Cheer rules require round 1 and 3 to match in the number of athletes on the mat, or suffer a 10 point penalty. We stunted only three groups and the fourth group had to sell it with all the attitude and enthusiasm they had. I am so proud of this team and this program! The parents in the stands that stood up and screamed for their kids to press on taught them that someone has their backs through any adversity we come across!” 

Despite the challenges and anxiety, the Varsity team performed strongly and ended round two in first place by .36 of a point! With a spirit of determination and perseverance, the team gave it all they had for round three and earned a very respectable score of 311.4 and slipped into second place, trailing first place Mona Shores by only 5.84 points. 

Coach Olszewski praised the team. “What to take away from this? A little wisdom about what this sport takes and that these girls are not quitters. They fought hard. I am 1000 percent impressed and proud of these girls and what they accomplished this Saturday…each week they amaze me!”

The JV squad also continues to face adversity and despite challenges placed 2nd against the teams in the Division 2 JV bracket with a combined round three score of 569.3. “Another week battling illness for our JV program. The remaining girls stepped up and covered positions for their ill teammates and did so without any complaint. I am very proud of the way these girls keep rolling with the punches, week after week,” a proud Coach Katy Hradsky commented.

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Counting is Caring: Join the Great Backyard Bird Count


Around the world, people are helping birds by counting them for science.  

New York, NY, Ithaca, NY, and Port Rowan, ON—Show the wild birds some love by taking part in the 23rd Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This year’s count begins on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, and continues through Monday, February 17. Volunteers from around the world count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.

Jocelyn Anderson, of Milford, Michigan, won 4th place in last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count photo contest in the composition category for this picture of a tufted titmouse.  

There is no better time to get involved because we are facing a bird emergency. In a study published by the journal Science last fall, scientists revealed a decline of more than one in four birds in the United States and Canada since 1970—3 billion birds gone. In addition to these steep declines, Audubon scientists projected a grim future for birds in Survival By Degrees, a report showing nearly two-thirds of North America’s bird species could disappear due to climate change. Birds from around the world are facing similar challenges and declines. Counting birds for science is one simple action that individuals can take to protect birds and the places where they live.

“In order to understand where birds are and how their numbers are changing, we need everybody’s help,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program, which collects the GBBC data. “Without this information, scientists will not have enough data to show where birds are declining.”

With more than 10,000 species in the world, it means all hands on deck to monitor birds found in backyards and neighborhoods as well as in suburban parks, wild areas, and cities.

“Birds are important because they’re excellent indicators of the health of our ecosystems. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one of the easiest and best ways to help scientists understand how our changing climate may be affecting the world’s birdlife,” says Chad Wilsey, interim Chief Scientist for National Audubon Society. “All over the world people are paying more attention to our environment and how it’s changing. There’s a lot of bad news out there, but in just 15 minutes you can be part of a global solution to the crises birds and people are facing.”

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During the 2019 GBBC, bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted more than 210,000 bird checklists reporting a record 6,850 species–more than half the known bird species in the world. Bird count data become more and more valuable over time because they highlight trends over many years, apart from the normal short-term fluctuations in bird populations.

“At times, we can feel like there’s little we can do on environmental issues,” says Steven Price, president of Birds Canada. “The Great Backyard Bird Count gives all bird enthusiasts a chance to help, as well as a great opportunity to include family and friends of all skill levels in a common conservation effort. Go out, have fun, and take heart that you are helping birds and nature!”

To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit birdcount.org.

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January 2020 Middle School Students of the Month


First row: Domanic White, Liam Rich, Raven Middleton, Caelun Conley, Alecia Alber, Kylee Northrop, Kathryn Pellerito, Gracie Balkema, Jonathan Cox, Ian Vanderlugt Second row: Neil Myers, Marshall Proctor, Brody Nichols, Devin Jobson, Nate Robinson, Nolan Myers, Izzy Nelson, Emma Smith, Katelyn Johnson, Shylee Fletcher, Abby Radebach, Hannah Grice Absent: Keira Afton, Kailyn O’Downd, Josh Trendt


Cedar Trails Elementary

“The Trail to Success Starts Here”

PreK Parent Information Meeting

February 11, 2020 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

in the Cedar Trails Multi-Purpose Room

PreK enrollment opens on 2/17/2020

Young 5/Kindergarten Parent Information Meeting

February 25, 2020 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

in the Cedar Trails Multi-Purpose Room

Young 5/Kindergarten Enrollment opens 3/2/2020

Beach Elementary

Mrs. Elenbaas’ 3rd grade class entered a sweepstakes through Scholastic for the book “The Binder of Doom” Book 1 signed by the author Troy Cummings. The kids were so excited to be chosen as the winners!

Cedar View Elementary

Collaborative Lava Experiment with Mrs. Baas’ and Mrs. Sewell’s classes.  Cone vs. Shield Volcanoes.

Board of Education meetings 

Cedar Springs Public Schools Board of Education meetings are open to the Public!

2020 Board Meeting Dates:

February 10, 2020 – 6:45 p.m.

February 24, 2020 – 6:15 p.m.

March 9, 2020 – 6:45 p.m.

March 23, 2020 – 6:15 p.m.

April 13, 2020 – 6:45 p.m.

April 27, 2020 – 6:15 p.m.

May 11, 2020 – 6:45 p.m.

June 8, 2020 – 6:45 p.m.

June 22, 2020 – 6:15 p.m.

Regular Board meetings are held on the 2nd Monday of the Month.

Work Session Board meetings are held on the 4th Monday of the Month. (unless otherwise noted)

These meeting are held at the Hilltop Community Building, 3rd Floor, Board Room, 204 E Muskegon Street, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Regular Meetings begin at 6:45 p.m.

Work Session Meetings begin at 6:15 p.m.

On every agenda, there is an item designated as Public Comment. The Board president will ask if there are any individuals wishing to address the Board in the audience.

Indoor Walking is going on Now


Red Hawk Elementary will open their doors to all community members who would like to walk the halls.  Monday through Thursday 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.

If Cedar Springs Public Schools is closed due to inclement weather, holiday or no school scheduled, walking is canceled that day.  For inclement weather school closings, please stay tuned to your local TV Station listings.

2019-2020School Calendar

February 7  Student Early Release

February 14  No School for Students

February 17 – 18  Mid-Winter Break

March 6  Student Early Release

March 20  Student Early Release

April 3  No School for Students

April 6-10  Spring Break

April 24  Student Early Release

May 1  Student Early Release

May 15  Student Early Release

May 22  No School – Snow Day Make-Up Day

May 25  Memorial Day Break

June 1 Student Early Release – CSHS ONLY

June 2 Student Early Release – CSHS ONLY

June 3 Student Early Release – CSHS ONLY

June 3 Last Day for Students

June 4, 5, 8, 9, Snow Day Make-Up Days

A message from our Superintendent

Cedar Springs Public Schools will once again be mailing quarterly newsletters to its residents. Three recent surveys of parents and community members have indicated the need to provide more information about the District to the people who call Cedar Springs home. The quarterly updates will primarily showcase the accomplishments of our students and staff. It will also contain updates on various projects throughout the District.

Improving the impact of District communication is at the core of four out of seventeen growth goals found in our strategic plan. Our District strategic plan is called FLIGHT Plan 1.0. FLIGHT stands for Focused Learners Imagining Greater Heights Together. Based on the input we received when drafting FLIGHT Plan 1.0, healthy communication is found at the heart of the majority of our improvement initiatives.  In addition to the quarterly updates that are printed and mailed to District residents, we will continue to develop ten electronic updates annually. These updates will be posted on our website and sent out to parents and community members via email. If you are interested in being added to the list of people receiving an electronic update, please send an email to newsletter@csredhawks.org, and we will add you to our electronic mailing list.

Cedar Springs Public Schools is getting stronger each day as a result of the willingness of our students, parents, community members, and staff to put their ideas on the table for consideration. Members of the Cedar Springs community are sharing a rich collection of feedback that is shaping our work. We are listening.

With respect and appreciation, Scott B. Smith, Superintendent

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Shrek The Musical

from CSHS Musical facebook page

Reviewed by Tom Noreen

The Cedar Springs High School Musical Productions has done it again with their performance of Shrek The Musical. Every aspect of the musical was well done. I sat in the front row and you could see that every one of the actors put their heart and soul into the performance. The choreography was great, especially the tap number.

In her Director’s Notes, Rebecca Casavant said, “This by far the biggest show I have ever directed. We have hundreds of light and sound cues and over 200 costumes, wigs, and props.” During intermission I talked with Justin Harnden, Technical Director and head of the high school Drama Department. He said that, “This was the most stressful production with all of the light and sound cues to track plus more wireless microphones that we’ve ever used before.” He went on to say, “I am impressed with Gabe Park as Shrek. He is the best male vocalist I’ve seen in my 17 years in Cedar Springs.”

Park looked and sounded like Shrek. He was impressive and he could sing. Martin Yakes did a great job as the annoying Donkey. Kaeleigh Casavant played Fiona well. Nathanial Hackbardt did justice to the half-pint Lord Farquaad and Rylie Tate a good job of portraying the Dragon. Everyone did fantastic. 

If you get a chance to see it, this coming weekend, February 7-9, do it.

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Kent County approves new sheriff campus in Cedar Springs


The new North County Campus housing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Kent County Health Department will be built on land west of Taco Bell. Photo by L. Allen.

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Board of Commissioners gave the green light last week to the development of a new $12.5 million North County campus in Cedar Springs that will house both the Kent County Sheriff’s Office  and the Kent County Health Department. 

The new North County Campus will be built on 14 acres of county-owned property on 17 Mile Road NE, west of Taco Bell. The site’s conceptual master site plan includes a full-service sub-station for the Sheriff’s Office, a clinic for the Health Department, and additional space for other County services as needed. The County said this new shared facility will improve response times by the Sheriff’s Office and increase access to services in northern Kent County.

“By consolidating and upgrading our facilities and operations, we are focusing on the County’s quality of life and addressing long-awaited projects to better serve our residents now and into the future,” said Kent County Administrator Wayman Britt.

According to Sgt. Todd Probst, who supervises the Cedar Springs Sheriff’s Unit, the deputies who currently work out of Cedar Springs City Hall will move into the new building, along with officers and detectives who work out of the current north substation in Kent City. He sees it as a great advantage for the deputies and residents.

“Besides still being in the city of Cedar Springs, it will allow the dedicated city officers to collaborate directly with the north road patrol deputies, community policing officers, and detectives,” explained Sgt. Probst.  “Having the North Sub within the city will also bring additional officers coming and going from the city, which will give Cedar additional coverage for police related incidents.”  

The new North County Campus was one of three strategic capital improvement projects approved by Kent County, with all three totaling $18.7 million. The projects, meant to address the growing needs of Kent County residents, include: 

• $12.5 million for the development of a North County Campus,

• $2.68 million for a Parks Department office near Millenium Park, and

• $3.5 million for a 16,100 square-foot fleet facility on the county’s Fuller campus to repair and maintain the county’s more than 290 vehicles. When the original facility was built, they only serviced 35.

The funding for these projects was allocated from the County’s Capital Improvement Program Fund. The fund was established in 2015 to reserve funding for future capital needs and to reduce the size of debt associated with large capital projects.

“I am very proud we were able to address the needs of the community and offer better, more efficient services without the need to issue bonds,” said Kent County Board of Commissioners Chair Mandy Bolter. “Our fiscal team has been very responsible with taxpayer dollars over the years so we could make that possible. These projects wisely invest taxpayer dollars in areas that will not only improve access to County services but prepare our infrastructure for the future.”

The Kent County Building Authority will assume project management responsibility for these initiatives. All projects are scheduled to immediately commence with architectural and engineering services and the projected timeline for the North County Campus is twenty-four months; fifteen months for the Parks Department office; and eighteen months for the fleet facility. Design renderings are currently unavailable for these projects.

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Solon fire frees man pinned in vehicle


A man was freed from this vehicle and treated for minor injuries after he hit a tree in Solon Township. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

The crash occurred on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma. Photo from Solon Fire Facebook page.

Police suspect that alcohol was involved in a crash that occurred in Solon Township last weekend.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, it happened about 10:55 p.m. on Friday, January 24, on 18 Mile Rd near Algoma Ave NE. A 39-year-old man from Cedar Springs was traveling westbound on Algoma when the vehicle he was driving went off the roadway and struck a tree.

The man was pinned inside his car, and Solon Fire, with mutual aid from Cedar Springs Fire, extricated the man from the vehicle. He was then transported to Spectrum Hospital for treatment for some minor injuries. 

Police are waiting on lab tests before sending this to the prosecutor’s office for review.

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Library staff receives CPR training


Library staff underwent emergency training and received an AED. From L to R: Cassandra Hall and baby Jason; Mark Fankhauser; Melissa Dubridge; Library Director Donna Clark; Laura Parks; Doug Christensen; Shannon Rip; Kathy Prokopy; Matt Schievink. 

The staff at the Cedar Springs Library were delighted to find out about the “Student Emergency Response Coalition,” a non-profit organization founded by Kevin McGraw.  It is made up of some local firefighters and others, who make it their business to see that local schools receive CPR training and even an AED machine, if possible.  The group has been mainly working with the schools in the inner City of Grand Rapids but are also heading North.  They have worked with schools in Sparta, Belding, Comstock Park, and now with Cedar Springs Public Schools.  They envision working also with schools in Montcalm and Mecosta Counties. 

On Thursday, January 23, they made it all the way to Cedar Springs.  Former President of SERC, Matthew Schievink, also a local firefighter for Solon Township, came to train and certify seven Library staff members, assisted by none other than Grand Rapids Firefighter Mark Fankhauser, also a citizen of Cedar Springs and a former Mayor.  

“The hours of training seemed like minutes, it was so interesting and well-presented,” said Library Director Donna Clark.  “Staff finished feeling that they were empowered to respond to an emergency situation, if it should arise, and gave Mark and Matt an A+.”

The Library Board and Clark are also thrilled that the training fulfills another key piece of the Library’s Strategic Plan.  The Board and Staff said they greatly appreciate the donations of expertise, time and equipment so generously given by the Team at SERC.

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6 Tips for Avoiding Emotional Spending


(c) maurusone / iStock via Getty Images Plus

(StatePoint) Decisions about spending money are often driven by emotions, even if what your heart is telling you goes against logic. Emotional financial choices may provide you with short-term happiness, but they are just as likely to result in long-term regret or debt.

Here are six tips for making spending decisions, without allowing your emotions to take over.

• Get an accurate picture of what it costs to maintain your lifestyle and fund your goals. Knowing your fixed and variable expenses and being able to quantify your goals in terms of dollars and timeframes will help you understand what you can afford to spend in the near term.

• Ask yourself if you want something or need something before you buy it. If you do need it, or if it will make a huge difference in your life and you can pay for it right away without touching funds that are earmarked for other important goals, then go for it.

• Pause and think twice before buying large items. When making major purchases (for example, over $500), take some time between deciding to buy and making the actual purchase. Prioritize your expenditures by categorizing them in terms of cost and effect. For example, you should pay your health insurance and car insurance before booking a short-term vacation.

• Make a list before shopping. Whether shopping for groceries, household items or gifts, creating a list — and sticking to it — will help you avoid impulse buys and save money.

• Shop for major holidays throughout the year. Set a budget for annual gifts early in the year and take the time to comparison shop to find the best prices and take advantage of discounts when you find them. This not only helps to spread out giving expenses, it also ensures you do not pay a premium for last-minute purchases. 

• Experts say financially savvy people know their emotional triggers for spending, and are able to rein them in when necessary. Unfortunately, this is not easy for everyone. However, working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional to manage your spending can help you stay focused on achieving your long-term financial goals. To find a CFP professional near you who can help you look at your life through a financial lens and avoid the cost of emotionally driven decisions, visit www.letsmakeaplan.org.

Remember that your financial priorities should almost always be focused on your long-term goals. A bit of planning and some outside help can go a long way toward better spending decisions.

Posted in Business, FeaturedComments (0)

Lady Red Hawks take down Northview and Lowell

Junior Kaelyn Colclasure(5) drives to the basket in recent game versus Lowell. Photo by Dennis Buttermore.

The Cedar Springs Girls Basketball team claimed two victories last week over Conference foes Northview and Lowell.  

After a slow start against Northview last Tuesday, the team turned up the heat defensively and cruised to a 42-15 victory.  

Taking a 7-2 lead after the first quarter, the Red Hawks put 15 on the board in the second quarter behind three pointers from Juniors Kaelyn Colclasure and Jenna Powell. Colclasure scored 7 of her 9 points in the quarter giving Cedar Springs a 22-9 lead going into the locker room.

The defense remained stingy in the second half allowing Northview 6 total points over the final 16 minutes for the 42-15 victory.  

Scoring was spread evenly among the team. Colclasure’s nine points led all scorers, followed closely by classmate Maggie Prins with 7.

Junior Arianna Rau (21) passes the ball to Senior Kyla Andres (12) in last weeks action against Northview. Photo by Dennis Buttermore.

On Friday, January 24, the Red Hawks welcomed the Red Arrows of Lowell to town.  A back and forth game, the Red Hawks showed up big in the fourth quarter and downed the Red Arrows 48-39 for their second consecutive victory.  

Cedar Springs fell behind 0-4 to start the game before Colclasure and Sophomore Darrah Miller each nailed a three pointer.  Another basket by Colclasure gave the Red Hawks an 8-6 lead after 1 quarter.  

The second quarter was a battle of the defenses as the Red Hawks held Lowell to 5 total points and Cedar Springs was only able to muster 6 points.  Cedar led 14-11 at halftime.  

Lowell came to life in the third quarter outscoring the Red Hawks 17-10.  Colclasure and Miller each scored a pair of baskets, but it was not enough as Lowell took over the lead, 24-28, after three quarters.

After falling behind by 7 points early in the fourth quarter, the Red Hawk defense started to shine and the offense hit its stride. Cedar Springs held Lowell to just one point over the final 3:41 of the game and put up 24 fourth quarter points to secure a 9-point win.  

Senior Kyla Andres and Junior Arianna Rau each scored 8 points in the quarter, while Colclasure and Miller scored 5 and 3, respectively. The Red Hawks were 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the quarter.

Miller led all scores with 16 points, followed by Colclasure with 11 points and 5 rebounds, Andres with 9 points, and Rau with 8 points and 10 rebounds.  Prins pulled down 6 rebounds.

The Red Hawks (7-4 overall, 2-2 Conference) are on the road this week in OK White action as they travel to Greenville on Tuesday (1-28) and Ottawa Hills on Friday (1-31).

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