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Family loses home to fire

This fire in Oakfield Township burned the home of the Doug and Tonia Zain family on New Year’s Eve. Courtesy Photo

This fire in Oakfield Township burned the home of the Doug and Tonia Zain family on New Year’s Eve. Courtesy Photo

By Judy Reed

An Oakfield Township family had a tragic end to 2014, when they lost their home in a fire New Year’s Eve.

Firefighters were called to the home of Doug and Tonia Zain, 10638 15 Mile, on Harvard Lake, at 8:13 p.m. on December 31. According to Oakfied Fire Chief Sam Peterson, a neighbor saw the fire and called 911. The Zains, who own Zain’s Party Store on 14 Mile Road, were not home at the time, but arrived shortly after the firefighters arrived.

“Fighting the fire was really difficult,” said Peterson. “The winds were really strong, and battled against us. It just pushed the fire through the house.”

He said the fire started in the corner of the dining room/living room. A fire investigator was scheduled to investigate the scene Wednesday, to try to determine a cause.

courtesy photo

courtesy photo

Peterson said the home was likely a total loss. “We stopped the fire before it got to the bedroom section, but it was already in the attic, and there was a lot of water and smoke damage,” he explained. An unattached garage was also damaged.

The damages were estimated to be at $175,000.

There was one pet in the home, but Peterson said the neighbor opened the door and let it out before firefighters arrived.

Assisting Oakfield at the scene was Courtland, Grattan and Spencer Fire Departments.

At last report, the family was staying with friends.


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Fire ravages Solon home

This home in Solon Township development is a total loss after a fire consumed it January 4. Photo by J. Reed.

This home in Solon Township development is a total loss after a fire consumed it January 4. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

A Solon Township man is lucky to have escaped with his life after his home went up in flames last weekend.

According to Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake, they were toned out to the fire at 16296 Trent Ridge, a new housing development off 20 Mile, just west of Algoma, at 9:39 p.m., on Sunday, January 4.

“When we arrived on scene, the roof collapsed,” explained Drake. “The 30 mph winds were like a blow torch to the house. We were purely in defensive mode.” He said the wind and cold presented a difficult challenge for the firefighters. Hoses and nozzles were freezing, as well as a pump.

Despite the cold and wind, he said they saved the truck in the driveway with minimum damage, and cooled the house next door so it wouldn’t catch fire. Assisting Solon at the scene was Cedar Springs, Kent City, and Algoma Fire Departments, and a fire investigator from Plainfield Township Fire.

They cleared the scene at 1 a.m.

The homeowner, Ryan Gorter, was home at the time the fire started. Drake said he was in his bedroom, on the phone, when he was alerted by the smoke detector. When he opened his bedroom door, there was heavy, black smoke in the house. “He said he dropped to his knees and crawled to the slider door,” explained Drake. “He had some trouble getting it open, because so much pressure had built up in the house. When he did get it open, it blew him out the door like a backdraft explosion. He thought he was going to die.”

Gorter has three girls who were not there at the time of the fire.

Drake said the home was a total loss, and estimated the damage at $150,000 for the structure, and $50,000 for the contents. The cause of the fire was undetermined.

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Family Fare property sold

N-Family-fareFamily Farm and Home coming to Cedar Springs

By Judy Reed

The former Family Fare Store at 4175 17 Mile Road in Cedar Springs will soon be home to another “Family” store—Family Farm and Home.

Owner Al Fansler confirmed to the Post this week that they had recently purchased the property at 4175 17 Mile Road. “We are very excited about coming to Cedar Springs,” he said.

Family Farm and Home logoFamily Farm and Home, a family-owned company out of Muskegon, was established in 2002. Fansler said they now have 32 stores—30 in Michigan, and two in Indiana. Nearby stores include Sparta, Newaygo, and one on Plainfield in Grand Rapids. Family Farm and Home supplies a wide variety of products in departments such as tools, hardware, automotive, pet, work and casual clothing, footwear, farm supplies, horse and livestock feed, bird food, lawn and garden, and alternative heating.

Fansler explained that they have a lot of work to do with the heating and cooling systems before the store opens. “We plan to be open no later than May 1,” he said.

They plan to hire locally, and will start out with about 15 employees, he said. They will hire more depending on the volume of sales.

Fansler promised to keep the Post updated as the time gets closer for the store to open.

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The Post travels to Bogota

A group from The Springs Church with children in Bogota, Colombia. Front row (L to R): Karen, Mayerly, Jennifer Middle row: Jeimy, Phil Moore, Nathaly, Shane Jewell Back row: Heather Ellsworth, Pastor Barry Briggs, Bill VanOss, Cathy VanOss

A group from The Springs Church with children in Bogota, Colombia. Front row (L to R): Karen, Mayerly, Jennifer
Middle row: Jeimy, Phil Moore, Nathaly, Shane Jewell
Back row: Heather Ellsworth, Pastor Barry Briggs, Bill VanOss, Cathy VanOss

Last fall, a team from The Springs Church visited Bogota, Colombia and took the Post with them.

From October 11-18, they worked on tiling two bathrooms in a school for local girls. The girls who attend there have been rescued from difficult situations, and live next door to the school, where they are cared for by volunteers.

While The Springs team was there, they had the opportunity to not only work on the school, but also spend time with each of the girls.

A spokesperson for the team said that the trip had its difficulties, but each member of the team was happy they had the chance to go and each one was changed by the experience they had in Colombia.

Thank you to The Springs Church for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!






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North Country Trail: the next step


By Tom Noreen


December 13 dawned cool, gray, and misty. Not the ideal weather for a hike through the woods but better than blazing a new trail in the rain or snow. A group of folks met at the North Country Trail (NCT) trailhead on Red Pine Drive to map out a proposed new route from that location to the east boundary of the Rogue River State Game Area (RRSGA). This field rendezvous began the next step in routing the NCT through Cedar Springs before it turns west to join the existing trail in RRSGA.

Jeff McCusker from the National Park Service (NPS) met with NCT volunteers Chuck Vannette, Paul Haan, Jim Charvat, and Jim Bradley and community representatives Rose Powell, Kurt Mabie, Carolee Cole, and Tom Noreen. The goal of the day for the NCT volunteers was to blaze a new trail, identified earlier by Paul, across the lower RRSGA (see map) that would avoid a 1/2 mile section along Red Pine Drive, add some scenic views, and place the end of the trail a mile further east than its current terminus. For the Cedar Springs community representatives, the objective was to give both the NPS and the NTC group an outline of possible routes that would connect this new trailhead to Cedar Springs.

The group pushed out east from the trailhead through the oak-hickory forest with its understory thick with red maple and a scattering of white pine. The party trekked up the rise of a low glacial moraine. On one side was a fair size bog and on the other the forest. At the south end of the bog someone had built a dam at one time blocking what appeared to be the natural outlet of the bog. From there we headed east towards Division Avenue.

As we walked along, members of the group pointed out things like the delicate red berry of the partridge berry, with its two red dimples formed from the fusion of the double partridge flower. Then there were the thickets of autumn olive, an invasive plant introduced as an ornamental and cultivated for wildlife habitat and soil erosion control. Thickets of it grew along the openings, crowding out the native vegetation.

On the other side of Division, the RRSGA is much narrower and less interesting to traverse until you join up with Duke Creek about half way across. The amber colored creek flows swiftly through this area and ranges in width from 10-30 feet. The walk along the creek was pleasant. It was easy to see where deer had come down to either cross or drink and we found the bank side den of muskrats. At one point, the creek makes a sharp bend undercutting a steep, sandy moraine.

Just before we reached the east end, we encountered the remnants of what appeared to either be another dam or the embankments that would have anchored a railroad trestle. We speculated that the dam could have been built as a cofferdam to create a pond in which to float logs down to the Rogue River. In the spring, the dam pond would be full of logs from the winter harvest and water from the snow melt. The dam would have been blown, allowing a wall of water and logs to surge downstream to the Rogue. While we really couldn’t see a good approach from the south side for a railroad, the north bank was relatively flat and wide. Narrow gauge railways were built out into the forest that logs could be directly shipped to the mills. At one time there were 25 mills within a five-mile radius of Cedar Springs.

Farther up the creek, we came to the concrete remains of the old Lime Lake Road bridge abutment. In the past, Lime Lake Road was a two-track running north from its current terminus on Solon Road to Sherwin.

After the hike, we met for lunch and discussed options for the routing west of Cedar Springs. At the conclusion of the meeting, Jeff announced that we were now at the point where we should formalize the Optimum Location Review (ORL) process. With that, the group could begin the process of coordinating with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reroute the trail through the RRSGA and working with landowners on gaining easements to route the trail off the road across private land.

Unlike the White Pine Trial, which is a multiuse trail, the NCT is a single use trail for hiking. Only in a few places are bicycles allowed. The goal is create a 4,600-mile trail that links upstate New York with western North Dakota. Much of the trail has been included in part of Governor Snyder’s Governor’s Showcase Trail.

While much has yet to be done, we have taken the next step to bring the NTC to fruition.



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Amazing race on snow


Largest winter adventure race in U.S. to take place in Rockford

ENT-Amazing-race-in-snow1The Michigan Adventure Race: Winter Edition will be held February 7, 2015, at Camp Roger in Rockford. Registration is now open. Last year’s race drew 300 participants, making it the largest winter adventure race in the U.S.

Two-person teams will set out at 9:30 a.m., running through the woods to hidden checkpoints pre-marked on a map, collecting as many points as they can within three hours. They’ll encounter Amazing Race-like challenges throughout the area along with short snowshoe and fatbike/snowbike sections. Snowshoes and fatbikes will be provided.

Newer racers find that the challenges and checkpoint hunting give them just enough of a break in between the running sections to catch their breath. Experienced adventure racers looking for a greater challenge will face several intermediate level orienteering checkpoints, requiring good map reading and basic compass skills (free clinic on January 31; details on the website).

ENT-Amazing-race-in-snow2“West Michigan has a culture for challenging outdoor sports like adventure racing and trail running that does not exist in many other areas in the nation. These races draw more people than Chicago, Indianapolis and other larger cities do to similar events,” says Mark VanTongeren, race director. “We always get a great turnout because of this. Racers are also looking forward to a new venue, Camp Roger, which gives us beautiful terrain and a warm place to hang, get a free massage and eat pizza after the race.

Friends, family and the general public are welcome to experience the race, although keeping up with the racers in the snow is an adventure in itself. Spectators can get copies of the race maps that will direct them to the challenges, many within easy walking distance.

The charity partner selected for this edition of the race is Camp Roger. Camp Roger offers a weekly overnight summer camp experience for young people and serves 10,000 participants in the fall, winter, and spring.

For more information about the race and to register, go to www.MiAdventureRace.com and visit www.facebook.com/MIAdventureRace to join a growing community of adventure racers.

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Campus Kids Enjoy Autumn!!

Campus Kids enjoy learning Yoga.

Campus Kids enjoy learning Yoga.

by Teresea Schlump, Campus Kids Director


This fall, the students enrolled in the Campus Kids program have been enjoying the nice weather and doing lots of fun activities.  Campus Kids is the Before and After school program located in Cedar Trails Elementary School.

Campus Kids enjoying Zumba.

Campus Kids enjoying Zumba.

We have expanded our morning programming to include Arts and Crafts, gym time, group games, and Just Dance videos.  The children are enjoying the morning structure, and look forward to what each morning will bring!

Campus Kids has enjoyed learning how to do Yoga in the afternoons.  Michelle, from Moxie Fitness, has been coming on Thursdays to teach a Beginner Class.  All of the students were given the opportunity to try the exercise, and a number of them signed up to continue on in a more advanced class.   The students are learning poses to help with flexibility, strength, concentration, posture, and breathing.  It is our goal to continue to expose our students to a large variety of new activities.  Zumba is a favorite activity for many of our students, and that is offered once a month on Early Release Fridays.

Campus Kids enjoy learning how to serve, set, and spike the ball from the Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team.

Campus Kids enjoy learning how to serve, set, and spike the ball from the Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team.

We have also received a visit from the Girl’s Varsity Volleyball Team this fall!  The team came over and showed everyone how to serve, set, and spike the ball.  It was a very fun filled afternoon for everyone.

Campus Kids is looking forward to winter and doing many winter activities and craft projects, while also learning about various customs around the world.

For additional information about Campus Kids, please call us at 616 696-1716.

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Middle school cheer still undefeated

Cedar Springs Middle School’s red cheer team took first place at Coopersville and remains undefeated this season.

Cedar Springs Middle School’s red cheer team took first place at Coopersville and remains undefeated this season.

The two teams from CSMS Competitive Cheer traveled to Coopersville Middle School this week for a conference meet, where eight teams met to compete against each other. These girls train like champions and it shows every time they step on the mat. Scores are as follows:

Cedar Springs White was in 5th place after round two, where they earned a score of 105.52. They came back and earned another 251.50 points in round 3, for an overall score of 345.02, and third place in the meet. This score is their highest scoring competition so far and highest ranking of 3rd Place.

Cedar Springs Middle School’s white cheer team took third place at Coopersville.

Cedar Springs Middle School’s white cheer team took third place at Coopersville.

Cedar Springs Red took the lead after round 2, with a score of 139.20. They earned an additional 265.90 points after Round 3, and remain undefeated with an overall score of 399.10. They scored 22 more points than Kenowa Hills, who came in second place, with an overall score of 376.88.

Their next competition will be held at the Cedar Springs High School this coming Saturday, January 10, at 10 a.m. Come support the Cedar Springs Middle School, Junior Varsity and Varsity Cheer teams when they take the mat and show off their skills. These girls work extremely hard to represent their coaches, school and community.

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frontpage4414By Judy Reed


What was your favorite moment of 2014? What was important to you? Here at the Post, we went over the stories we featured in the Post. In this issue, you will see not only brief blips about some of stories, but will also see some of our favorite front pages scattered throughout the paper (not just in the news section). We couldn’t possibly feature every important story or each front page that we liked, so we apologize in advance if a story you thought was important is not listed here. You can visit our website at www.cedarspringspost.com to read all past articles, or download an e-edition of that week’s paper. Here’s to 2015!


*One of the biggest and most exciting stories of 2014 was the way our varsity Cedar Springs Red Hawks football team took charge on the gridiron and blazed their way to an outright conference championship. It was the first conference championship since 1978, when they shared it with Sparta. They went on to win the first district game at Red Hawk Stadium, before losing to the Muskegon Big Reds in a close game at Muskegon. Coach Gus Kapolka was named Detroit Lions Coach of the Week in early September, and sophomore quarterback Collin Alvesteffer was named MVP of the season by fans on WZZM13.

*Two Cedar Springs Cross Country runners—Kenzie Weiler and Austin Sargent—made an outstanding appearance in the state finals, for the second year in a row, when both took second place in the Division 2 Cross Country finals.


*The area had its share of fires this year. One of the worst was the one at Harvard on Tuesday, February 11, which destroyed the old Harvard Fire Department. The fire could be seen for miles, as flames licked the sky and thick, black smoke coiled upward. The Harvard Fire Department was disbanded in the 1980s, when Oakfield built a new township hall, and the firefighters and equipment was split between Oakfield and Spencer. The building was being used for apartments at the time of the fire, but everyone got out safely.

*The Cedar Springs Post took a direct hit when winds blown in by a fierce spring-turned-winter storm ripped through our area on Saturday, April 12. High winds lifted the roof of Len Allington’s brick building on the corner of Main and Maple Streets and sent it airborne across the back alley where it landed on top of the Post, wrapped around a utility pole and was entangled in electrical wires. It was one of several storms that night, and what many people thought was a tornado turned out to be straight line winds. The winds blew in, and hail rained down, damaging cars, mobile homes, and other outside objects. The size ranged from a dime to a quarter. Some mobile homes were pelted with hundreds of holes. It covered the ground to a depth that looked like snow. Trees were ripped out of the ground or broken all across the area. The wind even blew the roof off of the gymnasium at Kent City.


frontpage3814*The Cedar Springs Historical Society restored a 1911 bas relief sculpture of the Mayflower Compact that was donated to Hilltop School by the class of 1929. It hung on the walls of Hilltop at least into the 1950s. A photo in the 1952 yearbook shows students standing by it. Cracked and dilapidated after years of being neglected, Marie Patin restored the piece, and DM White made a frame for the artwork. It was one of a set, but the museum does not own the other piece.

* The building at 95 N. Main—almost as old as the town of Cedar Springs—made way for a new chapter of history to begin at the corner of Main and Maple Streets.

Built in 1890, it housed a flourmill and was used for hay storage. Later it housed several grocery stores, including the IGA store that many of the older folk in town remember. In its last days, it was an auto parts store—Cedar Springs Auto Supply. It was sold for unpaid taxes in 2009 to the City of Cedar Springs.

The dilapidated building was demolished Thursday, September 18, to make way for the development of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company—a new business featuring a full-menu restaurant, with full kitchen, and outdoor biergarden that will be both family and community-friendly, according to owner David Ringler. A groundbreaking was held on October 14, but building has not yet begun. They are still waiting on some site approvals and looking for it to be completed in summer 2015.

*The Red Flannel Festival celebrated 75 years this year, and 70 years of the Queen’s pageant. There was a reception for all past Queens and royalty, and all were invited on stage during the pageant. Over 30 past Queens and court members attended the event, including the 1941 Queen, Jean Thrall Erickson. Named Queen this year was Melissa Maguire, with Kaleigh Keech and Ellie Ovokaitys as court members. John Teusink was named Grand Marshal, and brothers Bill and Bob Pollock were named honorary Grand Marshals.


*Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Ron McDermed retired after 25 years with the school system, the last five as superintendent. He also served as both an elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. Taking his place as Superintendent is Dr. Laura VanDuyne. She was chosen from among five candidates interviewed by the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board as potential replacements. The other finalist was Assistant Superintendent David Cairy. VanDuyne served as executive director of the Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority in the San Francisco Bay area from 2010 to the present. She was born in the suburbs of Detroit and graduated from Memphis High School, which is about 60 miles north of Detroit. Her husband was raised in Jenison, and they have family in the area.

*Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent retired at the end of August after a 40-year career in law enforcement. Parent came to Cedar Springs 6-1/2 years ago, after a 33-1/2-year career with the Kent County Sheriff Department. Parent said he really enjoyed it here, and never regretted the decision to leave KCSD. He brought a lot of knowledge, professionalism and expertise to the police department and would obviously need to be replaced. The announcement in February of his impending retirement started a chain reaction of events that would bring about one of the greatest changes in the city in years.

*After Parent’s initial announcement, the city began to search for a new Police Chief. However, that was put to a halt after the City Council asked the City Manager to speak to Kent County Sheriff and Cedar Springs resident Larry Stelma about contracting with the Kent County Sheriff Department for law enforcement services. It took several months, but the City Council finally approved a contract with the Sheriff Department that would not only save the city money but enable the city’s current full time officers to be hired on and to stay in the Cedar Springs unit if they wished to. The former CSPD officers are being trained in all aspects of being Sheriff Deputies, and the city police department is being utilized not only by our own officers on patrol, but by other KCSD officers as well, which means a greater presence of officers in the area. The program is the first of its kind for the KCSD. Sgt. Jason Kelley is now supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit.

*Howard City also negotiated a contract with the Montcalm County Sheriff Department for services, and their three officers became Sheriff Deputies.

*The Family Fare grocery store, formerly Great Day Foods, closed in September. The store originally opened in the 1960s when Meijer moved out of town. Great Day moved into the store space vacated by Meijer (where the current American Legion is on Main Street). Later the store moved to the larger location on 17 Mile. In 1999, Spartan Stores acquired Great Day, and it became a Family Fare in 2008. Rumors of its closing began earlier this year, when the property went up for sale, but SpartaNash would not comment. The property was recently sold and the deal closed, according to inside sources, but an announcement has not yet been made and paperwork not yet publicly recorded on who the new owner is.

See more Year in Review next week!


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Gas prices continue to fall

Photo by J. Reed.

Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed


After a year that saw the average price of gas stay between $3 and $4 per gallon, drivers are finally getting some much needed relief at the pump. Last week the Post reported gas had dropped to $1.94 in Cedar Springs, from $2.13 the week before. As of Tuesday, December 30, gas in Cedar Springs is now $1.79 per gallon. That’s the lowest it’s been since early 2009.

According to GasBuddy.com, the average price of gas, as of Tuesday, in Grand Rapids is $1.86; the state average is $2.00; and the national average is $2.26.

“The dramatic decline at the pump continues to reap significant savings for the motoring public—over $525 million less spent every day versus this past summer, or $375 million less than the same time last year,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “The slump in crude oil has wavered slightly and we’re in the fourth quarter of the game. However, there is still a chance that crude prices resume their slump again, and carry the pump plunge into overtime,” DeHaan said.

According to DeHaan, as of Monday, gas prices had fallen $1.85/gal in Michigan since June 28, the largest drop in the nation. Following close behind: Kentucky, down $1.66/gal, Indiana, down $1.62/gal, Ohio, down $1.61/gal, and Illinois, down $1.60/gal over the same time frame.


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