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Cedar Springs Village life a century ago

The old Union High School, which sat up on the highest hill in town. It was razed in 1923. A mosaic of the school is in the entryway of our current high school.
This photo was from a vintage postcard posted at genealogyhound.com.

Contributed by Sharon Jett, Cedar Springs Historical Society

Picture our small town in 1890. Many of its dirt streets were lined with maple trees. We had wooden sidewalks and gas street lamps. From George and W.J. Hake’s blacksmith shop the sharp ringing sounds of hot iron being pounded into shape could be heard. They made cant hooks for the lumbermen’s use. Hardware stores, hotels, and a tavern or two lined each side of the street.

The three-story school sat high on a hill at the south end of town [where Hilltop is now]. An apple orchard behind the school was a great place to swipe a snack after school.

Mac Sellers, editor and publisher of the Cedar Springs Clipper, could be seen through the front window of the Clipper building. Mac’s large bowl of popcorn was kept warm on the pot-bellied stove. You were always expected to have some when you stopped in, as he was greatly insulted if you didn’t.

We had four churches at that time, their steeples standing tall. On Sunday morning you could hear their bells toll. When there was a death in the village, the bell would ring once for each year the person had lived. 

The sound made by the horse and wagon as it clattered and jingled down the street was common, and your watch could be set by the whistle of the trains passing through the village. Hitching posts and water troughs were found in front of most establishments.

The old-timers would gather around the pot-bellied stove in Black’s Busy Store and talk about the great fire of 1884. Black Friday, they called it. Forty acres in the heart of town turned to ash. Eight blocks of the finest businesses and homes were lost. They would all shake their heads and agree they would never forget Black Friday.

Hearing the train whistle in the distance, announcing the train’s approach, the old-timers easily recalled the early days when Cedar Springs was the end of the line. The sounding whistle was a call to all able men to come to the turntable at the end of the tracks. The engine would be disconnected from her cars, moved onto the turntable and all these men would push the turntable around to face the engine south again.

Business was good in the village of Cedar Springs. In 1883, we had nine doctors and five hotels, some with 20-30 rooms. One of these was the Union Hotel, whose register shows that Senator Horace Greeley and former President Ulysses S. Grant stayed there in 1878.

We had a music shop, sewing machine shop, barber shops, furniture stores, jewelry and clock shops, and shoe and boot shops. Everything you could ever need could be found in the Village of Cedar Springs. 

Social life revolved around school, church, family, and friends. Horse races were held often just south of town and many area people raised racing horses. A large fair was usually held after harvest. You could plan on games, livestock competition, a pie-baking contest, and photographers waiting to take your family photo.

Life was good in Cedar Springs.

You can get learn more about the history of Cedar Springs by purchasing a copy of The Making of a Town, A Historical Journey Through Cedar Springs, Michigan. The book is a collection of stories about the pioneering families and businesses they build along Main Street. The book was put together and published by the Cedar Springs Historical Society. You can pick one up at the museum at Morley Park on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Board of Ed selects officers, swears in trustee

Mistie Bowser was sworn in Monday, January 14, as a new trustee on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Photo from csredhawks.org.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held their annual organizational meeting on Monday, January 14.

Newcomer Mistie Bowser was sworn in as a new trustee. Bowser is a perfect example that persistence pays off. She ran for the board in 2011 and 2016, and was defeated both times. She also applied for the interim positions that popped up throughout last year after several board members resigned but was not chosen. She decided to run again for a position in 2018, and was elected. 

The board also chose their officers for the year. President is Heidi Reed, Vice President is Matt Shoffner, Treasurer is Trent Gilmore, and Secretary is Traci Slager. Rounding out the board are trustees Jeff Rivard, Shannon Vanderhyde, and Bowser.

The remaining meeting dates for the 2018-19 school year are February 11, 25,* March 11, 25,* April 22, May 13, June 10, 24. *Dates are a work session.

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Grant woman named C10F Sea Sailor of the Year

by Petty Officer 2nd Class William Sykes, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. TENTH Fleet

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (NNS) – U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet (FCC/C10F) announced the 2018 Sea and Shore Sailors of the Year for C10F Jan. 11. 

190110-N-XK809-1113 WASHINGTON (Jan. 10, 2018) Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Shastyn Nelson, from Grant, Mich., poses for a photo in the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Ship Yard. Nelson is U.S. 10th Fleet’s Sea Sailor of the Year. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes/Released)

At an award ceremony held in the FCC/C10F Fleet Operations Center at Fort George G. Meade, Md., Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Shastyn Nelson, assigned to Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Georgia, was named the C10F Sea Sailor of the Year and Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Anthony Kevan, assigned to NIOC Colorado, was named the C10F Shore Sailor of the Year. 

Also announced during the ceremony were the C10F Junior Sailors of the Year. Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 2nd Class Kayleen Stoeser, assigned to NIOC Georgia, was named the C10F Sea Junior Sailor of the Year and Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class John Rapetti, assigned to NIOC Pensacola, was named the C10F Shore Junior Sailor of the Year.

Twelve Senior Sailor of the Year nominees from commands across C10F traveled to FCC where they participated in a final selection board for a chance to represent C10F as Sailor of the year. 

According to Command Master Chief Dee Allen, the command master chief of FCC and Sailor of the Year board member, Sailor of the Year boards are always difficult when you have a community full of outstanding Sailors.

“Selecting winners from this group of Sailors was very difficult since we had to choose from some of the highest performing Sailors in the U.S. Navy,” Allen said. “Each and every one of our Sailor of the Year candidates demonstrated sustained superior performance in support of our mission and has shown a dedication to our Navy that sets them apart. They have all earned the right to be here today.”

Allen said Petty Officers Nelson and Kevan epitomize the Navy’s core values and are clear leaders among their peers.

“What set these Petty officers apart was their confidence and ability to articulate their leadership vision and how they are able to make such a significant impact at their commands. I’m filled with pride to be in the Navy today and feel privileged to be able to recognize these Sailors,” Allen said. “They are an inspiration to me and fill me with great confidence that the future of the Information Warfare Community is in great hands.”

Nelson, a native of Grant, Mich., will travel to Suffolk, Va., to compete for the Naval Information Forces Sailor of the Year. She attributes her selection as Sailor of the Year to her mentors and fellow Sailors.

“My mentors have been my toughest critics and biggest supporters for many years,” said Nelson. “They helped me in becoming the Sailor I am today. Also, every single Sailor that I have had the privilege of serving with and working with or for; all their hard work inspires me to push harder. It was such an honor to be selected. My Sailors and I have worked extremely hard over the last year and I feel this selection is a direct reflection of that.” 

Kevan, from Merced, Calif., will compete in Washington to be named the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year. He views his selection as a way to set an example for others and to represent his command. 

“It is an absolute honor to be selected to represent C10F as Shore Sailor of the Year,” said Kevan. “I have had a remarkable opportunity to stand next to some of the best Sailors in the fleet which is a very humbling experience. These First Class Petty Officers display the best attributes in leadership and care deeply for the growth of their Sailors and continuing their development as fine Navy leaders.”

While at FCC, the Sailor of the Year candidates toured cultural and historic sites in the area as well as attending a social, hosted by Vice Adm. Timothy “T.J.” White, commander, FCC/C10F. 

“This whole week I have learned so much about naval history, had the great pleasure to meet different levels of leadership, and understand the bigger picture of why we do what we do,” said Nelson. 

“There are many ways the Navy recognizes its Sailors, but none more distinguished than the Sailor of the Year program. It is a time to bring together the very best Sailors our commands have to offer, show them our appreciation for their hard work over the past year, and publicly recognize their outstanding performance,” Allen said while reflecting on the week’s events.

Since its establishment, FCC/C10F has grown into an operational force composed of more than 14,000 Active and Reserve Sailors and civilians organized into 28 active commands, 40 Cyber Mission Force units, and 26 reserve commands around the globe. FCC serves as the Navy component command to U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command, and the Navy’s Service Cryptologic Component commander under the National Security Agency/Central Security Service. C10F, the operational arm of FCC, executes its mission through a task force structure similar to other warfare commanders. In this role, C10F provides support of Navy and joint missions in cyber/networks, cryptologic/signals intelligence and space.

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Wolverine investigation town hall meeting postponed

Due to the federal government shutdown, the joint EPA and DEQ Wolverine town hall meeting, originally scheduled for January 23, 2019 at the Rockford High School, is postponed until further notice. This meeting will be rescheduled once EPA staff returns to work.

For more information on DEQ’s Wolverine House Street investigation visit the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) web site at www.michigan.gov/belmont. Additional information on EPA’s investigation can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/mi/wolverine-world-wide-tannery.

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District Courts of Kent County Celebrate 50th Anniversary

 “People’s Court” began operations in 1969

The District Courts of Kent County gathered last Friday, January 11, at the 63rd District Court to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Michigan’s district court system with past and current judges, community leaders and court employees. Kent County joined other district courts across Michigan in marking the milestone.

As required by the 1963 Constitution, legislation took effect on June 17, 1968, creating district courts and abolishing justices of the peace and circuit court commissioners. Today, the public has more contact with the district court than with any other court in the state and many people go to district court without an attorney.

“District court is known as the people’s court because thousands of people interact with this court each year,” said 63rd District Court Chief Judge Sara J. Smolenski. “Our court employees across the entire County are very proud of our service and we look forward to providing even better service in the years ahead.”

The district court has exclusive jurisdiction over all civil claims for damages up to $25,000, small claims (damages up to $6,000), landlord-tenant disputes, land contract disputes, and civil infractions. The court may also conduct marriages in a civil ceremony. Additionally, it handles a wide range of criminal proceedings, including most misdemeanors, for which the maximum possible penalty does not exceed one year in jail. These offenses include driving under the influence of intoxicants or on a suspended license, simple assault and shoplifting. Lastly, district courts also conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases, after which, if the prosecutor provides sufficient proofs, the felony case is transferred to the Circuit Court for arraignment and trial.

“I am happy today to recognize the achievements of the district courts and district court judges who have worked for 50 years in dealing with criminal and civil matters fairly and justly,” said Judge William G. Kelly (62-B Kentwood). “We look forward to the next 50 years.”

Additional historical information can be found on the Michigan District Judges Association 50th Anniversary page at https://courts.michigan.gov/Courts/trialcourts/Pages/District-Court-50th-Anniversary.aspx.

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Police still seek info on deadly house fire

Evelyn Ware

The Michigan State Police in Mt. Pleasant is still looking for information in regard to a deadly house fire that happened a year ago.

January 10, 2019, marked one year since the homicide of Evelyn Louise Ware, 79. She was discovered deceased beneath the rubble of a house fire at her home at 1487 Lakola Rd, Ellsworth Township, Lake County, Michigan.

The Lake County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Ms. Ware’s death a homicide. Detectives from the Michigan State Police (MSP) continue to investigate this case and encourage anyone with information to come forward. The information does not have to be firsthand knowledge of the crime, and any information, regardless of seeming importance, is requested. Remember, the information you possess could be the information investigators have been hoping to receive, and it could lead to a critical advancement in this case. 

There is still up to a $5,000 reward in place for anyone who contributes information that leads to an arrest in this case.

There are several ways to submit information. Tipsters can contact the MSP Mt. Pleasant Post at 989-773-5951. They can also contact the Cadillac Area Silent Observer at 231-779-9215 or 1-800-528-8234.  Tips can also be submitted through www.P3tips.com.

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January is National Radon Action Month

Test your home and protect your family

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is reminding homeowners that January is National Radon Action Month. This is an opportunity for all Michiganders to take steps towards protecting themselves and their families.

One in every four Michigan homes is expected to have radon levels that exceed the recommended federal action level. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. It’s estimated that radon causes more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States, with more than 600 of those occurring in Michigan. In-house testing is the only way to know if residents of the home are at risk.

Testing is recommended every two years because as homes settle, new cracks form in the foundation, and radon levels can change. Accurate short-term radon testing requires closed house conditions, and the length of the testing period is a minimum of 48 hours. January is an ideal time to test.

If test results show radon levels at or above 4 picocuries per liter, a radon mitigation system can be installed. These systems capture radon gas before it enters the home and vents it outside.

During National Radon Action Month, the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality urge homeowners to protect their health by testing for radon.

For more information about radon testing, mitigation, levels across the state, etc., visit http://www.michigan.gov/radon. For a free packet of information about radon, e-mail radon@michigan.gov, or call 1-800-RADON GAS (1-800-723-6642).

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Brett A. Kangas, age 48, of Trufant died Monday, January 7, 2019. Brett was born December 26, 1970 in Grand Rapids, MI the son of Martin and Sandra (Neilsen) Kangas. He was a craftsman in wood and leather and enjoyed hunting and fishing. He loved his grandchildren. Surviving are his children, Tiffany (Joseph) Baldus, Brittanie Sheler, Michaela (Anthony) Sheler; 8 grandchildren; mother, Sandra Kangas; father, Martin (Norma) Kangas; brother, Richard (Nicole) Kangas; half-sister, Marcia Ketchum. He was preceded in death by a sister, Shannon Kangas. The family will receive friends Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until time of service at 1:00 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Bill Dixon officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to the family to help with funeral expenses.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Crash takes lives of infant and teen

The family of Michelle and William Baker. Baby Annalee, the daughter of Julie Baker is in the forefront. Samantha Baker can be seen on the far left. Both died as the result of a car crash Sunday, January 6. Photo from gofundme page.

A nine-month old baby and her 18-year-old aunt died and four others were injured in a three-car crash on M-46 (W Howard City-Edmore Rd) Sunday.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, the crash occurred on Sunday, January 6, about 1:15 p.m. on W Howard City-Edmore Rd near Amble Rd in Winfield Township.

The preliminary investigation showed that Michelle Baker, a 46-year-old woman from Howard City, was headed eastbound on W Howard City-Edmore Rd and was waiting to turn left on to Amble Rd when she was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by Brian Johnson, 27, of Cedar Springs. The Baker’s sedan then crossed the centerline and was struck by a westbound pickup truck driven by a Annette Dow, 54, of Sand Lake. 

There were four people in the sedan. The driver (Michelle Baker) and an 18-year-old male passenger, Zachary Buckles, of Six Lakes, were both transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Samantha Baker died Monday, January 7, of injuries she sustained in the January 6 car crash.

Baker’s 18-year-old daughter, Samantha Baker, of Howard City, was transported to Spectrum with critical injuries. She died Monday as a result of her injuries. According to a Facebook post by her father, William Baker, the Gift of Life organ donation group would be harvesting her organs Tuesday to donate to those in need of a transplant. 

Baker’s 9-month-old granddaughter, Annalee Baker, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police confirmed she was in a car seat. Annalee is the daughter of Julie Baker, Samantha’s sister.

The other two drivers—Johnson and Dow—were transported to Kelsey Hospital with minor injuries.

It is unknown at this time if alcohol or driver distraction were factors in this crash. The crash remains under investigation. 

Assisting the Michigan State Police at the scene was Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, Montcalm County EMS, Howard City Fire Department, Lakeview Fire Department, Maple Valley Fire Department, Aero Med, Mckays Towing, and Montcalm County Central Dispatch.

A gofundme account has been set up to help the Baker family with expenses. In just 24 hours, they are less than $300 away from the $10,000 goal. To donate, go to:  https://www.gofundme.com/5j5nmc-the-baker-family

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New program begins to feed hungry kids

By Judy Reed

While children are in school, they receive breakfast and lunch through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. However, over the weekend many students do not have access to the nutritional food they need.

Thanks to a new partnership between the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association, Hand 2 Hand Ministries, and Cedar Springs Public Schools, some kids that go hungry on the weekend won’t have to anymore. 

Hand 2 Hand is an organization that helps communities feed hungry kids in Michigan. Founded in Hudsonville, they currently serve 40 school districts across six counties, including Sparta, Rockford, and Northview schools.

The way it works, is they have one church take a school building, and they provide food for a backpack to be placed in a child’s locker for the weekend. It usually consists of breakfast items, items for lunch, snacks, and items to make a simple dinner, often with a recipe card.

Craig Owens, of the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association, said they really like that approach, but here in Cedar Springs, the approach will be a little bit different. “We have the uniqueness of all of our buildings on one campus, and our ministerial association works so well together, we thought why not have the whole ministerial association take on the whole campus? Let’s pool our resources, share the responsibility,” he said. They will also supply food to Creative Technologies Academy students as well.

How will our churches be involved? “We have some meal planners for the month. As they project out, we might go to a church and ask them to get canned chicken, another church fruit cups, or boxes of cereal—common things and make it simple,” said Owens. “To fill in the gaps, others have made financial commitments and we have a couple of shoppers to pick up what else we need.”

Volunteers will also be needed for the next step. “We will have volunteers to pack meals and delivery people to go to particular buildings to put meals in the lockers,” explained Owens. He said the backpacks would initially be provided by Hand 2 Hand. The child can bring the backpack back on Monday and leave it in their locker to be refilled on Thursday.

How will students be selected? “We have talked to the principals, social workers/counselors, and asked them to identify students who might need it,” he explained. Once identified, the school will send a letter to the parents, and if they agree, the child will get food in their locker on Thursday evenings to take home on Friday. “Hand 2 Hand has designed the letter that goes out to parents. The application just has a parent list the names and grades of students for them to get food at the right location. It’s not a screening tool. We are not trying to see if they qualify,” noted Owens. He said principals are already beginning to identify students and they are already rolling on a limited basis. 

Superintendent Scott Smith was familiar with the program when he was assistant Superintendent at Hudsonville and he thinks it’s a great program for Cedar Springs. He was more than happy to make space at the Hilltop Administration building for the pantry area and to prepare bags for delivery. “I think it’s a phenomenal community outreach that supports an essential need in the lives of students. Families are benefitting as well,” he said.

He explained how they had Beach Picnic basket at Beach Elementary for many years, founded by Robin DeLine. “She did a great job, much of it herself. But the needs continued to grow, and we couldn’t do it with the limits of Robin’s team. 

“We are happy to be able to benefit families across the district. We are happy to partner with Craig and the Ministerial Association and the community of Cedar Springs to make a difference in the lives of kids.”

Jenny Steele is the Hand 2 Hand representative for northern Kent County. She said the feedback they get on the program is wonderful. She mentioned that a teacher told her about a student who used to act up at the beginning of the week. “He was so disruptive it was hard for her to teach. As the week wore on and the student had breakfast and lunch daily, the student would settle down. But on Monday, it would start again. Once the backpacks started coming, they didn’t have those issues anymore,” she said.

She also related a story a principal told her about a student whose home life was hard. Her mom had been in jail, and she and her siblings had been in a few foster homes, and were preparing to be moved again to another family. The student was in tears about it, not knowing what to expect. The principal, not sure how to help her, used the Hand 2 Hand program to connect with her. She and her siblings were part of the program, and she was the oldest. 

“The principal asked her, what did she find in her locker every Friday morning? And she told him the backpack with food. He told her that it would always be there, it was something she could depend on. Then added, ‘There are people who love you and care for you. They put that food there because they believe in you and that you can do great things.’ He said it seemed to bring her some relief.

“We just know there’s a need for this,” added Steele. “We are physically helping and emotionally filling a need, and ensuring they have something they can rely on.”

There are several ways people can help here in Cedar Springs:

*They can donate the food asked for through their church.

*They can make a financial donation to the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association through their church for the program and the church can pass it along. Or they can send it directly to the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association c/o Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, PO Box K, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

*They can volunteer to pack bags or deliver them. If you’d like to volunteer, call Craig Owens at (616) 667-7773 or email him at craig@cscalvary.org.

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