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Two MSP troopers given bravery award

From L to R: Tpr. Elie Awad, Capt. Hinz, Tpr. Trevor Rogers as they receive their citation for bravery.
Tpr. Trevor Rogers
 Tpr. Elie Awad

Michigan State Police Troopers Elie Awad and Trevor Rogers, both from the Lakeview Post, were two of five troopers in the state honored last Friday, February 18, with a citation for bravery. It was one part of the annual awards ceremony which celebrated 60 department members who earned promotion, achieved 35 years of service, or were awarded other special recognitions.

The Citation for Bravery is awarded when a member knowingly performs an act in the line of duty which endangers or exposes him or herself to serious injury and when, because of the nature of the action, a life may be saved, a serious crime prevented, or a person arrested who has committed a serious crime.

Troopers Awad and Rogers were given the award for their response to an armed subject who fired upon law enforcement.

According to Public Information Officer Spl/Lt. Michelle Robinson, on the afternoon of February 21, 2021, Troopers Awad and Rogers responded to a call of a male with a long gun standing in traffic in the Edmore area in Montcalm County. The incident occurred in the 9700 block of North Wyman Road, and it was reported that the armed subject was exhibiting irrational behavior. The suspect, later identified as Andrew Allen Courser, age 38, from Edmore, was firing his weapon near residences and yelling at passing motorists.

While the troopers were enroute to the location, the call was updated to report that the male was now attempting to gain access to an occupied residence. Additionally, it was reported that the suspect was armed with an AK-47 rifle and a handgun.

Upon arriving at the residence, the troopers approached on foot in knee-deep snow and soon encountered the armed subject. The troopers gave loud verbal commands for him to drop his weapon, which he refused to do.  Instead, he turned and fired several rounds from the rifle at Troopers Awad and Rogers. The two troopers attempted to take cover in the open area, with Trooper Awad returning fire to force the subject to take cover himself, giving the troopers the critical time they needed to seek better cover.

Trooper Awad reported seeing rounds hitting the snow dangerously close to his position.  And later, an evidence technician found 15 rounds that were fired by the subject.

From their position, the troopers spotted the man moving north on a nearby road but chose not to fire again due to approaching traffic. The armed subject fled to a nearby barn, and the troopers took quick action to evacuate a family out of a home on the property.

During this time, Trooper Awad continuously updated responding units of the fluid situation.  His communication was clear, concise, and well understood, which allowed perimeters to be established and response plans to be made.

Members of the MSP Emergency Support Team, Aviation, and Canine were dispatched to the scene.  After an approx. four-hour stand-off, Courser emerged from the barn with the firearm and was confronted by Emergency Support Team members. Courser did not obey commands to drop the weapon and instead leveled it at troopers, who fatally shot him when he didn’t comply with their commands to drop the firearm. 

The quick actions of Trooper Awad and Trooper Rogers to engage the suspect and put him on the defense, potentially saved the lives of nearby civilians around the scene.  As a result of their brave actions, no other civilians or MSP personnel were injured.

In awarding the Michigan State Police Bravery Award, the Board of Awards found that these troopers knowingly endangered their own lives in order to protect others.

The other troopers cited for bravery included Tpr. Eric Morrow, of the First District, for his response to a head-on traffic crash on US-127 in Ingham County that occurred in August 2021; Tpr. Jacob Strong, of the Alpena Post, for the safe rescue of two persons trapped inside a burning home; and Tpr. Jason DeVries, of the Niles Post, who was shot while conducting a traffic stop. 

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Parks and rec program to vote on whether to dissolve

Contact your township or city prior to March 7 vote 

By Judy Reed and Sue Wolfe

The annual daddy/daughter dance is a popular annual event put on by North Kent Community Enrichment. Photo from NKCE facebook page.

Board members for North Kent Community Enrichment (NKCE), formerly known as Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation, will be voting on March 7 to decide whether to dissolve the program due to funding issues.

The board met on February 7 for their monthly board meeting, and the main topic of the meeting centered around whether to continue with the NKCE organization or dissolve. Board Chairman Matt McConnon, of Courtland Township, cited financial instability as the primary reason for considering dissolving the organization.

NKCE, which offers a variety of recreational programs, enrichment programs, and community activities for children and adults, is a partnership between the City of Cedar Springs, the Cedar Springs Public School System, and Algoma, Courtland, and Solon Townships, and has been for over 30-plus years. Each governmental body has a seat on the board, and each body contributes funding to NKCE. The school provides office space and space for programs and activities.

According to Cedar Springs Finance Director Darla Falcon, who sits on the board, last year’s funding amount was $6,500 per unit, and this year’s funding is $7,000. Residents who participate in programming also pay a modest fee. They currently have $49,000 in the bank, but that won’t last the entire year. In 2019, the last year they had a full slate of programming, expenses were $118,000 and they brought in $108,000. But they had $10,000 in their fund balance to offset the loss.

“This funding model is just not sustainable,” explained Falcon. “I’m not saying the programs can’t exist.”

The program has struggled for several years now, and the board had a similar crisis in 2019. They hired a new director after long-time director Amanda Gerhardt left, and the plan was to create a new budget they could live with, and make some changes, as requested by the townships. 

“I started in August of 2019, and I felt like we were off to a great start,” said Jaime Gunderson, current director of NKCE. “We revised the Daddy daughter dance, and added the mother son nerf war, which was a huge success. We tried the Freezin’ for a Reason which raised several thousands of dollars.  We were making great connections in the community and with the schools. Then only about 6 months after I started, we were shut down due to the pandemic.  I am hoping we can keep moving forward in a positive direction and keep our heads up with support from our community.  We will have to be resourceful and find new programs to bring in funds.”

Gunderson said that in 2019, about 2,000 people took part in the NKCE programs. And this year is already in full swing.

“We had 386 people registered for the Daddy Daughter Dance,” said Gunderson. “It was a great event.  We had to close ticket sales because we were at capacity.”  

She added that they had about 90 kids that just signed up for the Wee Hawks program that started last Saturday and will run for another 3 weeks; and 60 more for the youth boys basketball program which consists of 3-6th grade kids. “We are getting ready for our Mother Son Nerf War next weekend March 5th, and we currently have 120 participants signed up for that and we anticipate that to grow by 50 percent. We have 150 adults that take advantage of our open volley and basketball; and 56 participants in pickleball.  All three of those are currently growing.”

They have several other programs coming up also, including spring volleyball, Tae Kwon Do, and 7th and 8th grade baseball and softball.

There is obviously a need for the programming, with so many kids and adults taking part. But the townships have not always been happy with the amount they’ve been asked to pay, relative to the benefit their residents receive. Especially if the number of their residents participating is on the low end.

Back in 2019, Matt McConnon, Supervisor of Courtland Township, said their board agreed to a one-year commitment and to give up to $4,000. “But we need to see some changes made or we’re out,” he remarked. He noted back then that with the numbers he had received that only 145 people in Courtland had participated in the past year, and he didn’t think that justified $10,000 (which they were being asked to give at the time). “But for the community good we’re in,” he said. He later added that he felt they needed a sustainable plan, one where they wouldn’t just keep asking the townships to continually increase their giving.

Another reason that giving will be down for the organization is that Nelson Township, who had been in the program since the beginning, voted to no longer give their annual support. According to Nelson Supervisor Robyn Britton, there were several reasons why, but the biggest one was lack of money and direction. “We supported them for 34 years. And not only did we support them, we gave them $1,000 more each year than we were asked,” she said. “We just didn’t see the program continuing to go on. There wasn’t a clear direction,” she explained. 

She said that there were also some things they asked of the program (before Gunderson took over) that were never addressed. One of them was moving a few of the programs further north. She said that they had some seniors who would love to go to some of the programs but couldn’t drive, and they had a lot of Tri County students nearby who’d also love to attend but didn’t feel welcome. “We expressed our concerns, but they were just kind of brushed off,” she said. 

Britton said that In February 2021, seeing only $12,000 in the NKCE’s bank account and no clear direction on where they were headed, Nelson Township voted to end their support with a 90-day notice, which meant that the program had 90 days to respond to them, to try to change their mind. “Not one member of the board reached out to us or ever responded to us,” said Britton.

While it hasn’t been a bed of roses, the unique partnership established between the townships, city, and school district has long been recognized throughout the state for being a united organization sharing in resources, facilities, and equipment. This partnership is also designed to qualify for various state and local grants. Competitive community grants are awarded each year from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other organizations. Previously awarded NKCE/CSAPR grants funded most of the originally constructed softball and baseball fields, which are still used as the CSPS high school fields.  A DNR grant was also awarded for funding the nature and walking trail by Beach Elementary School.  

The program is set to continue until at least June, 2022. But a decision on its future must be made at the March 7 meeting, since most all of the city and township boards will be adopting their budgets for the year in the next month.

Is there another way to fund these recreational activities? Most entities fund them at a much higher level, and some do it with a millage. Do you have any ideas? Do you want to see the programs continue, either through NKCE or another way? Contact your local governmental unit and let them know. Download ad below for the number to contact.

NKCE-HELP3x8fc0722.pdf

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Is this our last issue?

By Lois Allen

The Cedar Springs Post may soon be shutting down after 34 years of publishing a local newspaper for the people of Cedar Springs and the world at large.

Before Facebook, and a host of other social media platforms that followed, everyone was on the same page. The same pages as sponsors, our advertisers, who pay the bills and allow a free press for our hometown. When a business came into town, they would seek out the local newspaper to advertise their services and goods.

Moving to Cedar Springs to start a newspaper, I saw a great potential for growth. The community was growing quickly with new homes and new businesses.

Today is a different world than the one when we started covering and printing the news here in Cedar Springs back in 1988. Now people are on multiple pages (platforms) and are scattered in multiple “bubbles” of news and information. Some of it true and some not—and a host of opinions!

But you can be sure that CNN will not show up for your school board meetings or the city council meetings while you live your life. Your local journalist is there for you in your place and she (he) works for you. If it applies to you and your life, the paper is on it. Asking the questions, finding the answers, our sources are reliable and the facts are confirmed.

We also partner with our area schools for parents and to highlight our children’s accomplishments to the community and the world. 

When sponsors began going the way of social media and using high tech software to connect with their customers, local newspapers across the country began to fail, thus creating “local news deserts” And there is no shortage of advertising in our mailbox!

We are so grateful for the businesses that continued to see a value in going into the local newspaper. It was an investment in both their business health and in a growing community. The Post has survived through thick and thin all these years thanks to our dedicated staff and our loyal local advertisers! 

Capitalism is all about making the money. Paying the stockholders is primary. Local journalism is not so. It’s not how much we make, it’s about what we do. We serve the people of Cedar Springs  and show the world what a great place it really is.

The days when you can pick up that print paper, sit back and read without anyone monitoring you are slipping away. When we can no longer afford to pay for the printing (which has continued to rise and rise again), the staff, and the cost of doing business, we have no choice but to close. And if you think you can just go to the website, there won’t be one.

We are attempting to do a “Go fund me page” to give our readers the opportunity to partner with us and to help save us. It might help us last for a week, a month, or more—we don’t know. But we will be grateful for whatever you may give and we’ll keep working for you.

The Post also compiles all issues for the year to bind into a hardcover which is donated to the Cedar Springs Historical Society to keep a record of our history from today until a 100 years or more!

The Post remains free to the public. Free but priceless!

You may donate if you can at GOFUNDME https://gofund.me/648d7613. You can also use the link at the top of the page.

And we gladly accept cash and take checks as well, or if you prefer to donate through PayPal use our Donate with PayPal button located on the right side of this page under the subscription button. Thank you Cedar Springs.

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Deputy Todd Frank to retire after 29 years of service

Deputy Todd Frank, a well-known officer in  Cedar Springs, is retiring after 29 years of  service in law enforcement.

By Judy Reed

Deputy Todd Frank, 53, of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, has come full circle. He started his first full-time job as a police officer working for the Cedar Springs Police Department in 1995, and within a couple of weeks, he will end his career here as well, after 25 years with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. 

But a lot has happened in between.

Dep. Frank grew up in Kentwood and graduated from Kellogsville High School. He attended Grand Rapids Junior College (GRCC) to get a radiology degree, but then switched to criminal justice, and also attended the police academy. From 1993-1995, he was with the Kent County Sheriff Reserve; from 1993-1994 he had a part time job with the Lake Odessa Police Department; and in 1995, he was hired full time by the Cedar Springs Police Department. In 1997, he was hired as a county patrol officer by the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

He’s done a variety of things in his line of work besides patrol officer, including working with the district emergency unit; being a community police officer; teaching a variety of safety courses such as hunting, boating, and snowmobiling, and working as a school resource officer at Kent City Schools after the Columbine shootings. For the last several years, he’s worked out of the KCSO Cedar Springs Unit as one of the city’s dedicated police officers.

In 2018, Captain David Kok, Road patrol commander with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office (left) presented Deputy Todd Frank (R) with a Life Saving award for his rescue of an 11-year-old from a 2017 fire at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. Photo courtesy of Deputy Ryan Morin.

What does Frank like about his job? “I’ve always hated bullies. I like being an advocate for the underdogs. There are a lot of evil, cruel people out there, and a lot of people that need help,” he explained. He added that a lot of people will come up and thank him for something he did, when he just felt he was doing his job. “It may have been a little thing to me, but it was a big thing for them.” 

Frank has faced a lot of horrific things in his career. His very first week on the job in Cedar Springs, he went to the scene of a fire at Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. He tried to save a baby that was inside. “She was already gone,” he said sadly. “I was almost killed by smoke inhalation.”

During his last week with the Cedar Springs Police Department, there was another fire in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates. This time two people died in the fire.

“For a long time I would hear a fire tone and just feel sick to my stomach,” he said.

Throughout his career, Frank has tried to be a force for good—sometimes in a superhero kind of way.

In 2017, when he was back here in Cedar Springs, there was another fire, in the same park. And this time, he received a lifesaving award for saving the life of an 11-year-old boy who had went back into the burning home to retrieve a pet. A sofa was blocking entry through the front door, and black smoke was rolling out. Frank then found a window and smashed it and began yelling for the boy. He saw the boy run past then disappear in the smoke. “He was scared. I was afraid he was going to get smoke inhalation,” remarked Frank.

When the boy ran by again, Deputy Frank reached inside and grabbed him and pulled him outside.

“I did what any deputy would do under those circumstances,” he said. “Any of us would do the same thing.” He was pleased that it had a happier ending, with the entire family—including a newborn and the pets—getting out safely.

This was not first time Frank has been recognized for an action. He and another officer tackled a suicidal subject who was going to jump off the overpass on M57 that runs over US131. He received a commendation for that, too.

The Post asked Frank how he deals with the all the traumatic things he encounters. “I see a lot of horrific things, but I don’t dwell on it,” he explained. “I have a lot of things I enjoy doing, especially in nature—hiking, kayaking, archery, bowhunting, photography. I stay busy. You have to leave your job at work. Some don’t handle it well, but I’ve been fortunate.”

Frank said that mostly, he tries to remember the funny things that happen. He said he once had to do a well-being check on someone in Cedar Springs, and couldn’t get in the front door, so needed to go in through the second-floor window. He and another deputy had to use a bucket truck from the DPW. “I was trying to figure out how to operate the bucket truck, and I think the deputy down below was taking pictures to document my imminent death,” he said with a laugh. He did finally end up getting in through the window.

Frank recalled another funny incident when he was off-duty. He was returning from a Halloween party, and he still had his Batman costume on. He got behind a drunk driver, who exited on the same ramp he was getting off on, and he knew he had to pull him over and call it in. So he blocked the guy in, but couldn’t get out of his costume. So he got out of his car and talked to the guy, with his Batman cape flapping in the breeze. The guy’s eyes grew wide. “He kept calling me ‘Batman, officer, sir,’” said Frank with a laugh. 

Frank has seen a lot of changes over the years. For instance, he said his class was the last one to be trained to use revolvers. After that, they switched to semi-automatics. Police also didn’t carry tasers, or cell phones. They had a pager. And there are several things that seem all too common-place now, that were rarities in the 1990s: suicide attempts, school shootings; a lack of respect for authority; and more. He noted that technology has brought a lot of changes, including computer crimes and cell phone and social media use. Mental health issues also loom large. 

“The types of calls change, but the core of the work stays the same,” he said.

Frank has loved working in northern Kent County. He still lives in the area with his wife and has two grown daughters. One is a social worker, and the other is a police cadet. 

“It has been an honor to serve everyone in northern Kent and all across Kent County,” he said. “We have one of the best sheriff departments in the state. I work with great people.” He noted that they have a lot of new hires coming in, and he encourages people interested in making it a career to go for it. 

“It’s a rewarding career if you stick with it. Conduct yourself in a professional manner, and you’ll never have a problem,” he said.

What does he have planned for the future? Frank said he plans to pick up photography again and do some guided steelhead trips on the Muskegon River. “I really like doing that,” he said.

Frank’s last day on the job is February 13, with his retirement effective March 1.

Thank you, Deputy Todd Frank, for your willingness to serve us here in Cedar Springs, and across Kent County!

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Dog saves family from fire

By Judy Reed

A dog woke a woman early Tuesday morning to let her know their house was on fire. The woman then woke up her dad and stepmom to get them all safely out of the house.

According to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser, they were dispatched to the fire at 67 E. Beech Street (Beech and First St) at 3:15 a.m. When they arrived on scene, Fraser said there was smoke coming out of the eaves. 

Chief Fraser said it was an old home with balloon construction, which had been remodeled. That means there were no firestops between the first and second floors, which made fighting the fire difficult. 

“We couldn’t get to where the fire was,” said Fraser. “It spread easily up the wall and then to the left and right, and into the attic. It was tough to knock down.” 

Those living in the home lost everything.

Cedar Springs had automatic aid from the Sand Lake Fire Department, and after arriving on scene, they requested mutual aid from both Courtland and Algoma Fire Departments. They had all cleared the scene by 8:41 a.m.

“We greatly appreciate all the assistance we received, especially under those conditions,” said Fraser, referring to the frigid temperatures and the difficulty of the fire. “There was a lot of great help between the departments. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A gofundme has been set up for the family. To contribute, go to https://gofund.me/5234fbbe.

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Two die in Montcalm crash

Two people were killed Monday, January 17, after a driver lost control during icy road conditions and hit another vehicle.

According to the Michigan State Police, troopers from the MSP Lakeview Post were dispatched to the scene at approximately 1:23 p.m. Monday on Sidney Road, east of Fitzner Road, Montcalm Township, Montcalm County. 

Their preliminary investigation showed that a 2002 Dodge pickup was traveling west bound on Sidney Road when the driver lost control on the icy roadway, crossed the centerline, and struck an eastbound 2009 Ford head-on.  The driver of the pickup, a 67-year-old female from Edmore, and the driver of the Ford, a 64-year-old male, also from Edmore, were both declared deceased on scene.  

The passenger in the Ford, a 66-year-old female from Edmore, was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.  

Troopers were assisted on scene by Life EMS, Montcalm EMS, Montcalm Township Fire, Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, and MSP Sixth District Accident Reconstructionist.

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Red Cross: National blood crisis may put patients at risk

Dire situation facing blood supply, those in need of blood transfusions; donors have the chance to help save lives, win trip to Super Bowl LVI

Kala Breder and her family. Kala needed 58 different blood products to save her life. Courtesy photo. 


The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis and they say it’s the worst blood shortage in more than a decade. A recent news release said that dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.

The Red Cross said that blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types—especially type O—are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

Pandemic challenges

The Red Cross continues to confront relentless challenges due to COVID-19, including about a 10 percent overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to a 62 percent drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

The Red Cross and the NFL are partnering this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals to give blood or platelets and help tackle the national blood shortage. Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As an extra thank-you from the Red Cross, those who come to donate will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Who donations help

Kala Breder knows all too well how dire not having blood available can be. In July 2020, hours after the birth of her son by emergency Cesarean section, Breder developed a complication and began bleeding uncontrollably. As doctors fought to save her life, they exhausted the entire blood supply at the hospital as well as all available blood within a 45-mile radius. Ultimately, she was flown to another hospital because there wasn’t enough blood locally.

Breder credits the 58 different blood products she received with helping save her life. “Without one of those, I probably wouldn’t be here,” she said. “I needed every last unit.”

Volunteers needed

In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross also needs the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections across the country. Blood drive volunteers play an important role by greeting, registering, answering questions and providing information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Blood transportation specialists – another volunteer opportunity − provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals in communities across the country. To volunteer to support Red Cross blood collections, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood drive safety 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

Save time during donation

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Health insights for donors 

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.    

 Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.  

Editor’s note: So there is no confusion, the American Red Cross is NOT affiliated with Versiti (formerly known as Michigan Blood), who holds blood drive in Cedar Springs each month (see page 2). Both supply blood to hospitals in Michigan.

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Winter storm hits Michigan

This was the scene on US131 southbound Wednesday near Post Rd. There were no injuries. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

The snow is falling, the wind is blowing, and US131 is like a skating rink, with no relief in sight. That’s the situation as we go to press Wednesday evening, amid a winter storm warning that has been extended until Friday morning at 10 a.m.

“It’s not impossible that some places in Michigan could get 2 feet of snow in 72 hours and a drift of 4-5 feet,” said Bill Steffen, former Chief Meteorologist at WOOD-TV.

There have been at least two different pile ups on US131 today, with cars involved numbering in the double digits. And dozens of slide offs all over the area.

If you can, avoid traveling during the storm. Check on your neighbors and the elderly. The National Weather Service said temperatures will be in the 10s and 20s, with blizzard-like conditions.

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Red Hawks overcome adversity to have stellar season

Top story of the year

The Red Hawks Celebrate the District Title after a 21-14 win over Muskegon. Photo by Brandon Kramer.

By Judy Reed

In a season that was an emotional rollercoaster for the Cedar Springs football players, coaches, and fans, the team overcame adversity and showed everyone exactly what they are made of.

The team started out well, winning two of their first three games, winning by handy margins over Saginaw Swan Valley and Ottawa Hills, and losing only to Division 1 powerhouse Rockford. The Red Hawks were fresh off a a record-setting win over Ottawa Hills (70-35) and preparing for the game against Kenowa Hills when they were blindsided by a tragic event—the death of longtime assistant football coach and middle school teacher Kevin Martens. 

Martens, 46, of Sparta, passed away of an unknown heart condition on Thursday, September 16, 2021, at his home in Sparta.

Coach Kevin Martens was honored posthumously as Asst. Coach of the Year for Region 1 Division 3.

Martens had been a teacher at Cedar Springs Middle School since 1999. He coached middle school track and was a Cedar Springs High School assistant football coach for over 20 years. 

“Kevin was the first coach I hired when I became the head coach 9 years ago,” said Cedar Springs Head Coach Gus Kapolka. “His passion for young people and helping them succeed was obvious the first time I met him.”

The blow was something that could have derailed the Red Hawks. Instead, it spurred them on to play better than ever. The Red Hawks were pumped up to win the game. They took the field like they were on fire. They scored five times, racked up over 400 yards total, and limited Kenowa Hills to only 48 yards in the 38-0 win. But the team didn’t stop there. 

The Red Hawks went on to play some outstanding football, beating Forest Hills Eastern, Middleville Thornapple Kellogg, and Wayland. They lost by only one point (41-40) to Division 5 state champion Catholic Central (no other team scored that many points against them). They they went on to be the first Cedar Springs team in history to beat South Christian (38-32), and take second in the OK-Gold behind Catholic Central. They beat Coopersville easily in the Pre-District game, and the biggest thrill of all, was defeating the Muskegon Big Reds to win the district championship game 21-14. Their season ended with a loss to DeWitt in the regional championship game. 

Their accomplishments included the team finishing with a 9-3 record; being district champs; making it to the state quarter finals; Coach Kapolka getting his 100th win; Aiden Brunin kicking an 86-yard punt in the 3rd quarter of the Muskegon game that is the 2nd longest punt in MHSAA history, and the longest punt in a playoff game ever; losing to Catholic Central by one point; beating both South Christian and Muskegon for the first time ever; being ranked as having the best team offense in the OK Gold by media covering the OK Gold; being ranked 7th in Division 3 in the final AP Poll and Detroit Free Press; rnked 8th in Grand Rapids Press final power poll; ranked 18 out of the top 50 teams in the state by MLive’s final power poll; and having many players voted to the final dream teams and all state teams. And to top it all off, Coach Kevin Martens was voted assistant coach of the year in region 1 of Division 3, by the MHSFCA (Michigan High School Football Coaches Association).

“This was the most resilient team I have ever coached,” said head coach Gus Kapolka. “They have had to deal with unimaginable tragedy and heartbreak, but it only served to bring us closer together. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of young men. I am honored to be their coach.”

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Christmas tree still shines bright

But funds for upkeep are dimming

By Judy Reed

It’s a colorful beacon for miles around. And when you see it lit, you know Christmas is just around the corner.

The beacon of cheer we are talking about is the 90-foot-plus evergreen at 427 S. Main Street (Northland Drive), Cedar Springs, at the Reep family home. 

The former owner of the home, Evelyn Cossin, used to decorate the tree with red and white lights each Christmas, and the city has continued that tradition. When she died in 1988, she left a $15,000 CD to help the city with a portion of the expenses to maintain the tree each holiday season. 

However, according to City Manager Mike Womack, with the low interest rates over the last few years and an increase in maintenance costs, the CD is no longer able to generate enough funds in interest to pay the DPW to complete the necessary upkeep costs.

“I know that the DPW has worked with the current property owner to explore various ways to reduce costs and the current owner has also volunteered to pay some of those upkeep costs but any way you slice it, the interest just is no longer sufficient to maintain the holiday light display’s costs,” he said.

Womack said he’s developed an administrative policy for the City where they will begin dipping into the principal of the trust to help maintain the tree, which will eventually eliminate the funding for the yearly maintenance but should enable the City to continue paying for the tree for a few more years.  

“We have also discussed the idea of simply restringing the entire tree with brand new heavy duty LED bulbs, which should be relatively maintenance free for years to come (7-8) but would also come at a substantial price now and would likely eliminate most of the Cossin principal,” he said.

Womack also noted that the Cedar Springs City Council has not yet weighed in on the issue, and perhaps they might have some other ideas or want to go in a different direction.

In the meantime, enjoy the beauty of the lights, and have a merry Christmas!

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