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Reminders for those who hunt deer where there is wild elk

out-deer-elk1-size-comparison

Deer and elk comparison. Elk can weigh several hundred pounds more and stand 2-4 feet taller than deer

A bull and cow elk in Michigan.

A bull and cow elk in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds deer hunters hunting in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan that wild elk are also found in this area and cannot be harvested without an elk hunting license.

“Unfortunately, in the past we have had deer hunters who make the mistake of harvesting a young male or a calf elk thinking it’s a white-tailed deer,” said Shelby Hiestand, DNR wildlife biologist. “Although a mistake, this would be an illegal take of game, which is a serious wildlife offense.”

Elk and white-tailed deer are close relatives and from the same , but hunters can tell the difference between them by looking at a few characteristics.

“Always positively ID your target before pulling the trigger,” said Hiestand. “You have all of the control over taking an animal, so be certain on what you are harvesting.”

Deer and elk have significant size differences. Elk can weigh several hundred pounds more and stand 2-4 feet taller than deer. Elk males also have a different appearance, with a lighter back and hindquarters and a darker, reddish-brown neck and head. Female elk are a reddish-brown color without a color variation. Both male deer and elk have antlers. Adult bull elk antlers are typically significantly larger than white-tailed deer antlers and branch beyond the ears; however, young spike bulls can have significantly smaller, unbranched antlers.

“If you know of a wildlife violation that has taken place or you have made a mistake, call our Report All Poaching line at 1-800-292-7800,” said Hiestand.

Michigan has had an elk hunting season annually since 1984, and a weighted lottery system has been used since 2003. In 2016, 200 elk hunting licenses were available to those selected in the random drawing.

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Difficult conversations today can provide a world of comfort tomorrow

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If you knew you had a limited time to live, how would you want to spend your time? Do your family members and friends understand how you’d want to spend those precious moments? Would you know how to honor their final wishes?

Talking about end-of-life preferences is never an easy conversation, but it’s an important one to have to ensure that you and your loved ones’ wishes for care and comfort are properly honored when serious illness sets in. With November’s designation as National Hospice & Palliative Care Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to begin or revisit this difficult discussion, before the reality of illness makes it a much more emotional process.

“We often see a distinct difference in the experiences of the patients and families we serve who have documented their thoughts on end-of-life care and those who have not,” said Michael Paletta MD, FAAHPM, Hospice of Michigan vice president, medical affairs and chief medical officer. “Having shared preferences regarding medical intervention and comfort care, those who’ve pre-planned enter this difficult time with a peace of mind that comes from already knowing the answers to tough decisions that may lie ahead.”

Most of us wouldn’t think of going into a major life event without advance thought and planning—buying a house, getting married, and entering retirement. Yet many don’t plan for one of the most critical life experiences we all will face. Taking the time now to clarify your final wishes and understand those of your loved ones can ensure that preferences regarding medical intervention, as well as personal, emotional and spiritual desires, deliver the best quality of life, even in the midst of serious illness.

“If you’re having trouble starting an end-of-life conversation with family and friends, look for opportunities to segue into it from other discussions,” said HOM Social Worker Susan Mueller, MSW. “The news of the day could be the catalyst. The death of a celebrity may open the door. Engage older family members by asking about the deaths of their loved ones. Such communication provides an opportunity to naturally shift into talking about your own mortality in a way that’s comfortable for everyone.”

As you and your loved ones gather for this sensitive conversation, consider the following:

*Who do you want making your healthcare decisions if you are unable? Sometimes a spouse or family member is the best choice. Sometimes not. It’s most important to choose someone who knows you very well and can make difficult decisions to ensure your wishes are followed.

*What kind of medical treatment do you or don’t you want? It’s more than just deciding whether or not you want life support. It’s identifying your definition of life support and expressing any religious or personal beliefs that will help those around you understand which intervention(s) you find acceptable.

*How comfortable do you want to be? Completely comfortable seems the obvious answer, but if that leaves you more drowsy and sleepy than you otherwise would be is there a balance you’d like to achieve? But it’s not just pain management. Is there favorite music you’d like played and readings you’d like to hear? What about massage therapies and personal care? No end-of-life wish is too insignificant and should be shared.

*What do you want your loved ones to know? Providing clear direction regarding funeral and burial arrangements is vital. But, it’s also an opportunity to leave a personal legacy. Sharing your expressions of love, forgiveness and peace, even your thoughts and acceptance of death itself, can bring years of comfort to your friends and family.

Nobody knows what the future will hold, but planning and communicating end-of-life wishes can provide some certainty during a difficult time. Hospice of Michigan offers Have you had the talk? (www.haveyouhadthetalk.com) one of many online resources that can help you and your loved ones discuss and document your preferences. For those needing help broaching the subject, Hospice of Michigan spiritual care advisors and social workers are also available to offer tips on getting the conversation started. Having the difficult discussion today means you and your loved ones can live all of your tomorrows in dignity, comfort and peace.

For more information, call 888-247-5701 or visit www.hom.org.

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Game show comes to Grand Rapids

Pastor Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs UMC (left) and Pastor Ken Bremer, Rockford UMC (right), were both part of the game show fundraiser for North Kent Community Services last week. Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

Pastor Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs UMC (left) and Pastor Ken Bremer, Rockford UMC (right), were both part of the game show fundraiser for North Kent Community Services last week.
Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

North Kent Pastors Square Off for food pantry fundraiser

Local pastors entertained community members and leaders to net more than $70,000 (after expenses) for North Kent Community Services Wednesday night, November 2, at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park.

The third annual fundraising event featured church leaders from Rockford, Sparta, and Cedar Springs stacked in a giant “Tic Tac Toe” square on stage (similar to the old TV show Hollywood Squares) before 550 guests and dozens of sponsors. Proceeds from this lively and hilarious competition benefit the programming and services of North Kent Community Services (NKCS).

“We are so grateful to our local pastors for their willingness to have fun and raise money for people in need in northern Kent County,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director at NKCS. “Each year, our generous community and sponsors step up to ensure NKCS is able to provide resources and lead people to self-sufficiency. We are truly blessed.”

Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

Contestants Lydia Syrba and Dave Jensen with game show host Dean Lichtenwalner.

The guests were treated to another version of the classic song, “American Pie”—with accompanying slideshow—by the singing duo Pastors Darrin Compagner (Blythefield Christian Reformed Church) and Jon Huizenga (River Rock Church). A new video highlighted how NKCS impacts our local community. Kimberly, one of the participants of the Thrive Empowerment Program, spoke about her journey of transformation because of Thrive.

The game show included guests as contestants trying to win prizes based on the pastors’ correct or incorrect responses. The 11 pastors bantered and bluffed their way throughout the evening, providing comical commentary to the amusement of all the guests. The celebrity square pastors were:

Jeff “Spanky” Amlotte of Mamrelund Lutheran; Paul Bradford, Rockford Reformed; Ken Bremer, Rockford United Methodist; Jeff DeRyke, Bridgeway Community; Fr. Darrel Kempf, Our Lady of Consolation; Steve Lindeman, Cedar Springs United Methodist; Mark Pietscher, Bella Vista; Justin Rowland, Rockford Baptist; Bryan Schneider-Thomas, Peace Lutheran; Laurie TenHave-Chapman, First Congregational Church; Nate Wagner, Sparta Baptist Church.

For pictures of North Kent Pastors Square Off and more information about North Kent Community Services, please visit www.nkcs.org.

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Ribbon cutting Ceremony

 

Cedar Springs Health Center – October 18, 2016


csps-ribboncutting
(LtoR) Chris Shea – Cherry Health CEO,  Dorothy Weller – Weller Family Foundation, Denise Gates – ChoiceOne Bank, Tasha Blackmon – Cherry Health COO, CSPS Superintendent Dr. VanDuyn, Kristina Paliwoda – Cherry Health – Cedar Springs School Health Center Manager

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Area trees display color

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Area trees popped with color last week, proudly showing off deep red, glowing orange, and bright yellow leaves against the blue sky. Several readers sent us their photos, including the one here of Upper Lake in Solon Township from Cherri Rose. While the color show is winding down, there are still some trees that haven’t yet lost their leaves. Get out there and see them while there is still time!

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Police recover fallen soldier’s monument, arrest suspects

The Kent County Sheriff Department has recovered the stolen monument dedicated to fallen soldier Timothy Brown and arrested three suspects in connection with that crime and others.

The Kent County Sheriff Department has recovered the stolen monument dedicated to fallen soldier Timothy Brown and arrested three suspects in connection with that crime and others. Photo courtesy of the KCSD.

by Judy Reed

 

Four Cedar Springs men were arrested last week in connection with two acts of theft and vandalism that recently occurred in the city.

Three of the men—David Edgar Sommerville, 17, Austin Lee Coleman, 20, and Justin Lynn Rossman, 27—were arrested Thursday, October 27, for a break-in at Skinner Field, and the theft and desecration of the monument of fallen hero SPC. Timothy Brown from Veterans Park. A fourth man, Tracy Lyn Coleman, 45, the father of Austin Coleman, was arrested on Friday October 28.

JUSTIN ROSSMAN

JUSTIN ROSSMAN

TRACY LYN COLEMAN

TRACY LYN COLEMAN

AUSTIN COLEMAN

AUSTIN COLEMAN

DAVID SOMMERVILLE

DAVID SOMMERVILLE

The break-in at Skinner Field was discovered Friday morning, October 21. Pieces of cooking equipment were taken from the concessions stand, as well as food items. The suspects also took items out of the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer and scattered them all over the floor. Other buildings on the property were also broken into.

The Brown family discovered the monument was missing Saturday, October 22, and called police. They also appealed to the public to have the suspects return the statue, no questions asked, but that never happened.

Police took video from the trail cam at Skinner Field and displayed video and photos of the suspects on their Facebook page and distributed the information to media, who also posted the photos online. Police received several tips in the investigation, which helped them to identify the three suspects shown in the video.

Police obtained a search warrant for a home owned by Tracy Lyn Coleman, in the 100 block of E. Muskegon. They found several items in the home from the Skinner Field break-in, and the stolen monument was also found on the property.

After they completed the search, they arrested David Sommerville, 17, and Austin Coleman, 20. The search then led them to arrest Justin Rossman, 27, who resided at Red Flannel Acres on Maple Street.

The three were arraigned on charges of breaking and entering a building with intent (for the Skinner Field break-in), and Rossman and Sommerville were also both charged with receiving and concealing stolen property worth more than $1,000 but not more than $20,000 (in relation to the stealing of the monument). Rossman is also being charged as a habitual offender.

On October 28, police arrested Tracy Lyn Coleman and he was arrested for receiving and concealing stolen property. He reportedly admitted to police that he knew the rifle and helmet were stored in his shed, and that he had told one of the defendants to get it out of there. Rossman reportedly told police that Sommerville stole the rifle and helmet and hid them in the storage shed.

“We are proud of the work of our investigators as they worked tirelessly to bring SPC Brown’s Monument back into safe hands,” said the Kent County Sheriff Department in an announcement on their Facebook page.

The Brown family is relieved that the monument has been found. “It’s great news!” said Dan Brown, who is Tim Brown’s uncle and the man who helped create Veterans Park and Tim’s monument. “I’m glad it’s back. The Kent County Sheriff Department did a great job.”

The community raised $10,000 in donations several years ago to fund the creation of the monument for Timothy Brown, who died in November 2005 in Iraq (see his memorial on page 5). Residents were outraged when they heard the monument had been stolen, and not only shared the suspect photos, but offered the Browns their support. “The community has been great,” remarked Dan Brown. “There has been such an outpouring of people just asking what they can do to help.”

According to Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack, the monument is city property, so they will pay to have it repaired. “We have been in contact with someone to fix the monument, which will cost the city approximately $500. We are thankful to the Sheriff’s department for the recovery of the monument that was stolen, otherwise it would’ve cost the City approximately $10,000 to replace,” he explained. “We will likely pay the $500 out of pocket and then seek restitution as part of any sentencing that might occur with the three individuals who were arrested for the crime.”

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Things that go Boo! In the night

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_n-halloween2Hundreds of little ghouls and goblins (and some big ones, too!) hit the city streets on Monday evening, October 31, when the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual Halloween Spooktacular. Businesses, churches, the museum, library and fire department all stayed open to hand out treats to little ones and to make their night much safer and a whole lot more fun!

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The Post travels to Sweden

Joyce Jones, left, traveled to Sweden to visit former exchange student Sonia Frangsmyr-Dermes, right. 

Joyce Jones, left, traveled to Sweden to visit former exchange student Sonia Frangsmyr-Dermes, right.

At the end of August, Joyce Jones traveled to Umea, Sweden, to visit a friend and former Cedar Springs High School foreign exchange student, Sonia Frangsmyr-Dermes. Umea, located in northern Sweden, is the cultural capital of Europe, and also known as the “City of Birches.”

“We met in high school as she came from Sweden as an exchange student, and then graduated from Cedar Springs High School together in 1963,” explained Joyce. “Sonia has been here many times to visit and renew acquaintances, and I have visited her in Sweden numerous times. Some members of our graduating class meet once a month over breakfast, and Sonia was able to join us this past August.”

Thank you, Joyce, 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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En Gedi receives donations

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En Gedi, a Christ-centered non-profit Cedar Springs organization formed in 2009 that focuses on building up families in the community, recently received three significant donations from area organizations.

En Gedi is funded only by donations typically received at their annual spring auction. However, three area organizations recently provided significant donations outside of the event. Cherryl Rosenberger, a representative of the recently dissolved non-profit Resurrection Celebration, presented a check for $900.00.

“The organization’s governing body wanted to give the remaining funds back to our community and felt En Gedi was a perfect fit,” explained Rosenberger.

East Nelson Methodist Church donated a wide assortment of games, school supplies, and other items needed at the youth center along with a check for $25.00. Lynn Zank, a member of the church along with a personal supporter of En Gedi, delivered the items and said, “Our parishioners continue to support En Gedi as a local mission and believe the youth center provides young people with a safe and fun place to hang out after school.”

Dena Wever, President of Woman’s Life Chapter 841, noted the local chapter has donated approximately $28,000 to Cedar Springs Area organizations over the last four years. “A matching donation totaling $800.00 is being presented with an appreciation of the En Gedi goals and efforts. Some of our members have had or still have students attending the youth center and have seen the great things happening at En Gedi,” Wever explained.

The youth center is offered free of charge to 6-8th grade students Monday-Thursday between 2:15 and 5:30 p.m. on school days. New this year, En Gedi is also open on early release Fridays. An average of 65 students have been attending the program, which provides a healthy snack, tutoring, guest speakers, engaging activities, study and fellowship times, and mentoring.

Eighth graders can apply to serve as Assistant Leaders for Pastor Craig Owens, Executive Director of the Youth Center. Four of the Leaders were present for the presentation of the donations, including Casey Fisk, Alex Andringa, Carley Shears, and Maddie Boomgaard.

“I am grateful En Gedi provides high school students and adult tutors to assist with homework, if needed,” explained Fisk.

“En Gedi is a safe place to be refreshed and relax after a hard day’s work,” added Andringa.

“The entire En Gedi team wishes to thank all three organizations for their generous donations,” said Owens. “Our mission to serve this community will be greatly enhanced from this support. Hope to see you all at the 2017 En Gedi Auction on Friday, March 17.”

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Candidates in city/township races

 

Tuesday is election day here in the U.S., and residents will be voting for president, vice-president, federal and state senators, representatives, judges, sheriff, and many varied city and township positions and proposals. Below are just a few of the races in our area. (Mostly just the contested ones.) To see what will be on the ballot for your township or city, please visit www.michigan.gov/sos, and click on Michigan Election and Voter information, and then on “View your sample ballot.” You will input your county, then jurisdiction (city or township), then precinct to see your ballot.

CITY OF CEDAR SPRINGS

Two people are running for two City Council seats in the City of Cedar Springs: incumbent Rose Powell, and Jerry Gross, who was recently appointed to fill the seat vacated by Robert Truesdale earlier this summer.

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

Rose Powell: Incumbent Rose Powell is seeking her second term as a City Council member. She has been married to Chris Powell for 46 years. They have three children: Gina, Brynadette, and Christopher. “It has been an honor to serve our community,” she said.

Rose said her primary reason for running for office was that she felt the citizens of Cedar Springs were betrayed when the Red Flannels were destroyed. “I hoped to help restore trust and confidence in our city government and city staff,” she said.

Besides one term on the council, Rose has also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals, the DDA, and the Community Building Development Team. She feels that the main strength she brings to the board is common sense and respect for others’ opinions.

Rose said the major challenges facing Cedar Springs right now is the need for a new firebarn and finding the money for it. She’d also like to see simple and inexpensive improvements to the downtown business district and storefronts.

Jerry Gross

Jerry Gross

Jerry Gross Sr.: Jerry Gross Sr. has been married to Barbara K. (Anderson) Gross for 43 years. They have two children, Lisa and Jerry Jr. (JJ); four grandchildren, and two stepgrandchildren. He has lived here for 43 years, was born and raised in Sand Lake, and graduated from Tri County High School. He spent four years in the Navy during Viet Nam. He has an associates degree from Ferris State University in social service technology, with a juvenile corrections major. He is semi-retired, and has worked part time as Nelson Township Zoning administrator and code enforcement for 10-1/2 years. He also worked half a year as Solon Township code enforcement, and has spent 36 years on the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

Jerry’s main reason for running for office: “To paraphrase something my father told me a long time ago: If you believe that there is a problem and you are  not part of the solution, then you may be part of the problem.” He said that he believes that there may be too many decisions that have been made to satisfy personal interests or special interest groups and not always to the benefit of the taxpayer and residents of Cedar Springs.

He said the main strengths he would bring to the position are logic, reasoning, look at all angles before making a decision, and to remember needs before wants.

Jerry said that the major challenge facing our community is keeping up with the cost and commitments that they already have to the citizens of Cedar Springs, while developing the dreams of others in the community. “We have business, residential, and manufacturing areas that cannot be developed because we cannot provide the fundamental services that will draw growth into the city. We need to find ways to repair our infrastructure and roads without having to hope and pray we can find grants,” he said.

NELSON TOWNSHIP

Supervisor Tom Noreen is on the ballot, but he is asking voters to WRITE IN his current Deputy Supervisor, Robyn Britton. Noreen had initially decided to run, but later decided that he would retire and missed the deadline to get his name off of the ballot before the primary. He won the primary over Britton by 20 votes. After the election, he spoke with her, and appointed her as his deputy.

“I thank the voters for their support and confidence over the years,” said Noreen, “but I encourage them to support Robyn.” Noreen said that if he wins, he would be retiring in December or January. Britton would not automatically become supervisor; instead the board would have to appoint either her or someone else.

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton (R): Robyn Britton said she lives 27 minutes from the house she grew up in. “I’ve spent my whole life (48 years) living in either Solon Township or Nelson Township,” said Britton. “I graduated from Cedar Springs in 1986. I’ve been married to my best friend Scott Britton for 27 years and we have 3 amazing children, Hannah, Jesse and Jake. Both Hannah and Jesse are in college and Jake is a junior at Tri County High School. Both my husband and I have owned and operate Britton Builder’s Inc. for the last 25 years. I just recently left my position to start my own endeavor—a renovation company purchasing old homes and putting love back into them. And let’s not forgot my love for farming. We own and operate a 30-head Scottish Highland Farm. You want to talk about up and downs. All my friends that own what they call the ‘Real Cows’ get a chuckle at me because I love my Grass fed, big horn babies.”

Britton said the main reason she is running for office is for her children. “I’ve tried to teach my children if you don’t like something do your best to fix it. Well, if I’m going to ‘Talk the Talk’ I better ‘Walk the Walk.’ I had the fortune to work with some amazing people during my time working for Cedar Springs Police Department; it gave me a real insight on our community and the people servicing our community. It’s a tough job. The biggest thing I learned is if one person tries then others will follow or at least pay attention. I’m not a politician. I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be the best person I can be and try to make the community I raised my children in a place they may want to raise their children in.”

What does she feel she can bring to the position of Supervisor? “Own and operated a building company for nearly 25 years, negotiated buy sell agreement hundreds of thousands dollars, and worked in the corporate world for 15 years. My background has led me to work with architects, engineers, subcontractors, financial institution, state and local government officials etc. I love people and I make no bones about it – I love to talk and meet people listen to their views and ideas, but more importantly I want them to know they matter regards of who they are,” she said.

Britton feels the that the major challenges facing Nelson Township are communication, accountability, and just plain common sense. “Fixing the problems start with the people. Five boards can’t fix everything that’s going on in this community.  If you want this community to prosper it has to be a joint effort.” She feels that the Supervisor and community will have to do it together, and she urges the public to attend their meetings the second Tuesday of every month.

SOLON TOWNSHIP

There are four people running for two positions for Solon Township trustee: incumbent V. Fred Gunnell; Mark S. Hoskins, who has been an interim trustee; Christine M. Witt; and Bruce Gravelin.

Fred Gunnell

Fred Gunnell

V. Fred Gunnell (R): Fred Gunnell is running as a Republican for his seat as Solon Township trustee. He’s lived in Cedar Springs and the surrounding area, including Solon Township, for over 40 years. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School, and married Carollee Crane, who also lived in Solon Township. He graduated from Mich. State Univ. with a Master’s Degree and took some post-graduate work at Western Mich. Univ. and Univ. of Mich. His professional career was at Mich. Tech. Univ. for 25 years. He’s been serving Solon Township for about 22 years. First, as a planning commissioner, and later as a trustee to the Solon Twp. Board since the mid nineties.

Other boards he’s served on include the Michigan Township Association, the Cedar Springs Education Foundation, several Rotary Clubs, Red Flannel Rod and Gun club member, chairman of the trustees of Cedar Springs United Methodist and member of their administrative board, and as President of the Cedar Springs Historical Society.

Mark Hoskins

Mark Hoskins

Mark S. Hoskins (R): Mark Hoskins is running as a Republican for a seat on the Solon Township board. He grew up in the Cedar Springs area and graduated from Cedar Springs High School, as did several of his children. He and his family have lived in Solon Township for the last 11 years. He began working as a realtor in 1985, and currently works for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Rockford.

His primary reason for running for office? “As a Christian, I believe it is important to be an active participant in the community in which I live, to have input into decisions that are made and to use my time and ability to serve the residents of Solon Township,” he explained.

Hoskins has some experience in government service. He was elected to a four-year term on the Cedar Springs City Council in 1982, and has served on the Solon Township Planning Commission, Board of Review and Board of Appeals. In 2015, he agreed to fill the remaining term as trustee of the seat vacated by a former member.

Hoskins said his main strength is fiscal responsibility, morals of right and wrong, and just plain common sense. He said he sees Solon’s main challenge as their fire department. “It is my goal to retain our on-call firefighters and medical responders. I believe that losing so many of them is partially a result of our very fluid society. We need improved methods of training and ways to retain those who join the department,” she said.

Christine Witt

Christine Witt

Christine M. Witt (D): Christine Witt is running as a Democrat for a trustee seat on the Solon Township board. She was born in Muskegon, moved to Grand Rapids during college, and has lived in Solon Twp. since 2004. She is married and has two children. She will graduate with a law degree in Janauary, and has worked in local government for the last two years as a deputy clerk and archivist.

What is her primary reason for running? “I care about the community and want to be a part of it. I see Solon Township growing. I’d like to make sure that it retains its rural charm and strong community,” she said.

Witt said she has served on other types of boards in the past, and has a long history of volunteering. “I believe we should all lend a helping hand to keep our community strong,” she noted.

Witt said the main strength she’ll bring to the position is a background rooted in the understanding and analysis of legal issues, current and former work experience in local government, and a desire to expand the work she does in the community.

Witt said she sees Solon’s major challenge as keeping up with growth and the resources necessary to support it. “I would work diligently to understand the issues, examine the information, and hear public input. I would also look for ways to streamline processes and maximize efficiency if needed.”

Dave Gravelin

Bruce Gravelin

Bruce Gravelin (NPA): Bruce Gravelin is running with no party affiliation. He originally came from Ottawa County, but has lived in Solon Township for 32 years (since 1984). He is a Metroligist\Tool & Die Maker at GM.  “I have a wife and two wonderful adult children. I am in my early 60’s and I was born in the early 1950’s,” he said.

Why is he running for office? “I see an opportunity to better my community.  Instead of a division between the other communities within Solon Township I feel we should work together to form a partnership that will benefit us all in the long run,” he explained.

Gravelin said he has served on numerous team problem solving oriented committees while working for GM for the last 33 years. He said his main strength is “a multitude of life skills including ISO-9001 and ISO-14001 Lead Auditor certifications, with on the job work skills which give me a unique insight on how to problem solve and achieve all of the goals that the individual citizens of Solon Township require.”

Gravelin said the major challenge facing Solon Township is that property taxes should be established in a more impartial manner that will benefit individuals, businesses, and the township. He noted that infrastructure also needs a more aggressive strategy to improve the community’s quality of life. He also said there should be more transparency in the decisions made in Solon Township.

VILLAGE OF SAND LAKE

Residents in Sand Lake will be voting for a new Village President, and three seats on the Village Council. Two trustees are running for Village President. Thomas Norton is on the ballot, and Bette Towsley is running as a write-in candidate.

President

Thomas Norton: Thomas Norton is running for Village President. “We live in the village of Sand Lake and my family has been part of that community most of my life. I’m a small buisness owner which started about 2 years ago and has been going very well. I am married and have 3 kids that are very happy to go to the Sand Lake park and I can say are all loved very much by myself and people in the community,” he said.

What is his reason for running? “My main reason for running for Village President is to make sure our road construction project of Lake St. is completed, then to lay out a plan to fix roads throughout the village. Secondary reason is to start working on making sure there are budget standards to continue to have snow clearing of sidewalks, police and fire departments. My third reason for running is to make sure that there is a more open meeting format. The agenda needs to be expanded to have more input from the community during meetings than we have now. For example, two sections for public comment,” he explained.

Norton has served as a trustee on the board for two years of a four-year term, and was elected as a write-in candidate. “I am very happy to have been on the budget committee and balanced the budget while maintaining services,” he said. He has also served on the police committee.

Norton feels the main strength he brings to the office the ability to negotiate. “Since being on the council I have negotiated the reopening of the boat landing, with the majority of the council oddly enough opposed during the meeting by my write in opponent. I also have negotiated the telecommunications contracts, which saved the village thousands of dollars and hadn’t been done in years.”

He said he also brings leadership. “I have led soldiers in the army and have had a knack for vision of where we need to go to put ourselves on solid footing. This is the reason why the majority of the council has had me do negotiations and agreements that would traditionally be done by the village president.”

Norton said he feels the major challenges facing Sand Lake will be roads and budgets, and the next biggest challenge will be “making sure we begin to improve our infrastructure projects and have standards met and enforced when it comes to testing water and enforcing law.”

Bette Towsley

Bette Towsley

Bette Towsley: Bette Towsley is running as a write-in for President of the Village of Sand Lake, a seat her husband Roger Towsley currently holds. She has been married to Roger for almost 54 years. “We came to Sand Lake after living in Trufant on a small farm for about 5 years, and were headed back to the Grand Rapids area. We got sidetracked here and have now lived her about 43 years,” said Bette. “I am a 40-year-old in mind, physical strength and spirit—72 by this world’s time clock.  We are parents of four kind, thoughtful and successful adult children.”

Bette said one of her main reason for running is availability. “I feel availability is very important in daily operations as well as attending informative and often beneficial meetings. I am retired and available on a daily basis. I am physically active, care for people, am free to volunteer and actively serve not just as President of the Village Council, but to serve the community or individuals in whatever capacity as I see occasion or need,” she explained. She noted that there is also another reason. “Recently, there have been concerns  of change that have come to my attention that I feel would not be beneficial for the Village and its residents. As President I would hope to foster a healthy, friendly community for the peace and success of the Village as a whole.”

What is the main strength she would bring to the position? “Availability and willingness to serve whenever and almost whatever is needed. I was Village Clerk about 8 years, custodian for 2 years and have been a council member twice.  As clerk I found everything passed through me—mail, phone calls, communications of every sort; thus I feel it important to have  a good relationship and communication with the Clerk as well as the Treasurer, Police, Fire Dept., DPW and the community,” explained Bette.

The major challenge she sees is the role of President at the meetings. “I do not have the knowledge of much that comes natural to men.  However, I am counting on the understanding of all while I learn, and hope to be able to depend on the Council and Council member Dave Dewey in particular, who is wise and has served as President and Council Member over a period of over 25 years (or more).”

Sand Lake Village trustees – 3 seats

Nyha French

Nyha French

Nyha French: Nyha French is running for Sand Lake Village trustee. She is 36 years old, married, and has four daughters, ages 18, 12, 11 and 9. “I have lived in Sand Lake Most of my life. I grew up in Sand Lake and worked at my grandfather’s hardware store, grandmother’s gift shop, and mowed lawns for those in need,” she said. “I have worked with the people in our community for a long time now. I am also a part of the Sand Lake Fire department and have been a First Responder and Fire Fighter for the past 2 years. I love serving the community in this way. I work at Williamson Family Medicine in Rockford as a Medical Assistant.”

French said her main reason for running for office is to “help improve our little town. To hear the concerns and ideas of our community and help address and or achieve those concerns and ideas. I want to be a part of making our community a better place,” she explained.

What is the main strength she would bring to the position? “I would have an open mind and hear all options before making a decision, not only that but my decision would be based off what is factual and right for our community. I want to hear the people of Sand Lake and what their concerns are for our community and help improve in any way I can.”

Tonia Parkhurst

Tonia Parkhurst

Tonia Parkhurst: Tonia Parkhurst is running for Sand Lake Village trustee. She is 42, and a 17-year resident of the Village of Sand Lake. “I was born and raised in the greater Grand Rapids area. I graduated from Aquinas with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems with a focus in Systems Analysis. I am the Senior Technologist for TrackCore, Inc. located downtown Grand Rapids. I’m happily married with four grown children and two beautiful grandchildren.”

What is her main reason for running? “Sand Lake is facing some major issues and challenges.  I would rather be part of the solution than part of those who gossip and complain after the tough decisions have been made,” she explained.

Parkhurst served on the Village council once before. “I’ve served several years previously on the Village of Sand Lake Council as trustee, including being part of the budget committee.  When I chose not to continue in the trustee position several years ago, I continued my service on the Planning Committee for the Village of Sand Lake.” She has also served as a leader in Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and filled various positions in Boy Scouts.

What is the main strength she’ll bring to the board? “In addition to the experience gained from serving previously on the board, I bring a strong analytical mindset, a desire to do what is best for the Village and a strong background in technology and problem solving.”

The major challenges she sees facing Sand Lake include limited funds, poor road conditions, limited community involvement and communication, as well as needed image improvement of the downtown district. “These challenges cannot be overcome by a single person; it will be a group/community effort to overcome them,” she said.

Incumbents Danielle Hardenburg and James Ward are also running for their seats as trustees, but did not return a candidate survey.

Proposals on ballot for all of Kent County:

John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum millage: The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum are seeking a millage to establish dedicated funding for the care of animals and artifacts, to provide enhanced educational programs and for the repair and renovation of exhibits. This proposal will create a dedicated source of funding for these publicly owned institutions. This is a 10-year, .44 millage that starts in 2016 and ends in 2025. If passed, the proposal is an annual increase of $37.44 per year or $3.12 per month, for the average homeowner in Kent County. All millage dollars will be split equally between both institutions and go through an independent financial audit every year.

Kent County 911 surcharge: The ballot question asks to increase the current 9-1-1 surcharge you already pay for phone service in Kent County. An additional $0.70/month per line for a total of $1.15/month would address 9-1-1 Dispatch technology improvements and fire dispatch operations. Residents with one phone would pay approximately $13.80 a year per phone. Visit https://accesskent.com/Sheriff/surcharge.htm for more information on who the money would be used.

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