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Rockford girl found safe

By Judy Reed

Maya Sippel, 14, of Rockford, has been missing since Sunday, April 5.

UPDATE: MAYA SIPPEL HAS BEEN FOUND SAFE.

Police are asking for the public’s help to find a missing 14-year-old Rockford, Michigan girl.

Maya Sippel, 14, left her home on Sunday, April 5, about 3:30 p.m. She was last seen in the area of S. Main Street and E. Division in Rockford.  Sippel made contact with her mother once using a restricted number and said that she was with a 50-year-old male she met online.

Maya is described as 5-feet 4-inches, 120 pounds, with dark brown hair, and brown eyes. She is Hispanic. She was wearing a light gray t-shirt, black nylon zip jacket for Calvin College volleyball, and black/white checkerboard vans (shoes).

She wears braces and has a scar on her left leg.

If you have information about their whereabouts, call 911 or (616) 866-9557.

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CTA response to governor suspending face to face learning for the rest of the year

From Dan George, Superintendent, Creative Technologies Academy

With the governor’s formal announcement this morning of the closing of school for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, I understand we are moving into unexplored territory. The decision to close our buildings is highly disappointing, but understandable and necessary.  The governor had no choice. If this decision saves only one life, it is worth it.

Our entire nation is facing a challenge perhaps unlike anything since World War II, certainly unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. But hope springs eternal for Americans and our community. We know how to pull together. And we will! And we are! Even though our campus is closed, teaching and learning will continue through the end of May. I have been so encouraged by the spirit of the educators in this community, those on my own staff and those at CSPS. I am blessed by the partnership of CSPS Superintendent Scott Smith to feed the children of CSPS and CTA. My administrators and teachers have been collaborating with educators from other districts, sharing ideas for distance learning. My staff has been sharing resources with parents and students for three weeks, having Zoom meetings, and preparing for this announcement. 

We continue the development of our plan for continuity of learning to meet the emotional and academic needs of all our students, and we will implement it as soon as possible. We will especially reach out to our seniors and collaborate on some innovative ways to celebrate their achievements. 

We also want you to know this:

  • Our staff is not surprised by this and we have been preparing for this event. We believe we are ahead of the curve in our preparation. We are experienced in innovation and personal instruction.
  • Our target date for implementing our plan is April 20. This date could change depending on factors for approval. We will keep you posted.
  • Spring Break (April 6-10) will be honored for our students.

We are extremely proud of our families and staff for their flexibility, patience, and understanding during this crisis. We also know this situation presents unique challenges to each family. We want our CTA families and the Cedar Springs community to know you are our family. We are in this together. Please reach out if you are in need of help.

Lastly, please take the appropriate measures to keep your family healthy.

Sincerely,

Dan George
Superintendent
Creative Technologies Academy
350 Pine Street
Cedar Springs, MI 49319
Office: (616) 696-4905
Mobile: (616) 893-1507

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Nursing home residents, staff test positive for COVID-19

Officials said 31 residents and five staff tested positive

By Judy Reed

A group of community members went to Metron Wednesday to offer hope and encouragement to residents and staff there. Photos from City Impact Facebook page.

A local nursing home in Cedar Springs is now on the front lines fighting COVID-19. 

Metron of Cedar Springs, a 77-bed community located at 400 Jeffrey Street, announced Tuesday that a number of residents and staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have had 31 residents and 5 staff members at Cedar Springs test positive for COVID-19,” said Paul Pruitt, Director of Operations.

“These individuals are all located in one section of our community, which has been isolated.  Two of those residents and the staff members are currently receiving care outside of our community.  One of those residents is expected to return back to our community within the next few days. The rest remain in our care, are stable and it does not appear as if any of them are at risk to be transferred at this time.”

When the Cedar Springs community got the news Tuesday it hit many people hard, realizing the virus was affecting some of the most vulnerable people we knew and in our own backyard.

On Wednesday, a group of people in the community reached out to show the residents and staff at Metron that they care about them and what they are going through.

City Impact, a local Christian outreach center, took a group there to pray, sing and show them they are loved with signs, balloons and more. 

Community members outside of Metron offered hope and encouragement to residents and staff there. Photo from City Impact Facebook page.

“Our City Impact Saturday night service prayer team reached out to Metron right when we heard the news story yesterday [Tuesday],” explained spokesperson Kelley Bergsma. “Our intentions at first were to do a park and pray in the parking lot, however Metron said that their residents could really use some hope right now and they wouldn’t be able to see us or hear us from our parked cars, so we were invited on the property by one of their staff who showed us which windows to go to. We had one of our worship leaders with a guitar and microphone singing, and we just moved around the building in prayer and worship.” 

Bergsma said that despite some of the negative comments on Facebook, they did practice social distancing, and the people seen in groups were families. “We were very cautious,” she said.

 “We decided to do this because Metron is located right in the center of Cedar Springs. We care deeply about our city and the people here. We care about the staff, the residents, the families involved, and we know that prayer makes a difference!”

So what is Metron doing to help stop the spread of the virus?

Pruitt said they are taking all the necessary precautions and have been following state and federal health guidelines, including restricting visitors and non-medical personnel.

“We have been working closely with local, state and federal health departments,” explained Pruitt. “As a member of Spectrum Health’s High Performing Network, we have also been in continuous contact with the health system, its doctors and staff. We are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of our residents, staff and community.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we have been closely monitoring and implementing the recommendations and requirements outlined by our local, state and federal health departments as well as the CDC in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  This is all in addition to our extensive health and wellness processes and procedures.

“As other facilities around the country have done, we have restricted visitors, guests and non-essential medical personnel to the building. Those essential visitors entering the facility, including doctors, are heavily screened prior to entry. Every staff member goes through the same screening process including having their temperature taken prior to starting every shift.  We are fully stocked with all necessary personal protection equipment and our staff members are wearing these items throughout their shifts to care for our residents and for their own protection.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our residents and our staff members is our top priority as we navigate this global pandemic and unprecedented health crisis.”

The Post first heard about the possibility of a positive staff member at Metron last Friday, and reached out to the Kent County Health Department at that time to get information. 

As of Wednesday, the State of Michigan shows 119 positive cases in Kent County, and two deaths. According to Lori Latham, with the Kent County Health Department, that number does include the 31 residents at Metron but it is unclear whether it includes staff, since some could be from a different county and they did not all go together to be tested at the same time.

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CTA names elementary principal for 2020-21

Creative Technologies Academy completed its search for a new elementary principal to take effect July 1, 2020. Current principal Autumn Mattson will become the Academy’s superintendent/school leader on that date, creating the need to hire a new principal. CTA is pleased to name Kate Bialkowski as the school’s elementary principal effective July 1.

Bialkowski is no stranger to CTA. She has served the Academy for five years—first as a teacher and currently she is an Instructional Coach at the Academy. 

Bialkowski received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University in 2006 and her Master’s Degree in Education from Montreat College in 2011. She and her husband, Steve, live in Cedar Springs with their two children.

Current Superintendent Dan George said this: “Ms. Bialkowski brings a wealth of experience and accomplishments to this position. She has approached each assignment at CTA with enthusiasm and she has been a key initiator in many of them. Her experience in compliance, interventions, academic support, student success teams, leading PLC groups, our WIN (Whatever I Need) program, and supporting teachers with her coaching will launch her into success as a principal. Most importantly, she loves kids, and they know it.”

Autumn Mattson, current Elementary Principal, commented: “Mrs. Bialkowski has played an important role in enriching and developing key instructional components at Creative Technologies Academy. She is a mentor to many, a leader of multiple teams, and a facilitator of growth for several diverse groups. Her charismatic leadership style allows for all voices to be heard while at the same time continually moving forward with a vision of success. She has a natural way of supporting and encouraging, reflecting, and growing others. She is continuously seeking ways to improve herself and the school experience for students and staff. The staff and student learning needs are at the core of all that she does and her broad experience brings the type of credibility that will make her asset to continuing to support the growth of our CTA World Changers!”

Ms. Bialkowski shared this statement: “It is with great excitement and honor that I accept the CTA Elementary Principal position! My family and I are thrilled to continue serving CTA and growing with this great community. My passion for education has always aligned with the mission, vision, and values of this district and it is a privilege to continue to grow professionally alongside such a strong and inspiring staff. I am grateful for the growth and leadership Mr. George and Mrs. Mattson have provided for me over the last 5 years and I hope to continue the great work they have done for the Elementary. I care deeply for the elementary students at CTA; I care for their academic growth, individual needs, and overall well-being as future world changers. Because of this, I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve as the next Elementary Principal!”

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World War COVID-19

by Lois Allen, publisher

We are fighting a new world war being waged by an invisible enemy. You can’t see it, but it’s literally everywhere. And now it’s in Cedar Springs as well. You may feel like you are taking your life in your hands when you buy groceries or go to the dollar store. The sound of a cough strikes fear in your belly. Is it on the woman you came close to in the grocery store? Is it on the guy standing behind you at the gas station? Or is it on that button you push to get your fountain pop? Does it linger on that package from Amazon sitting on your front porch? Is it on the handle of the gas pump that dozens of people have used in the past 24 hours? The answer to all these questions might be yes. There have already been many casualties. And there will be more before it’s over. When will it be over? Nobody knows.

Our world has changed. Normal is not normal anymore. We’ve watched our television personalities and news anchors deliver their messages from their kitchens and living rooms with children occasionally popping up on the screen. Sometimes their pets will make an appearance, which I like. Speaking of pets, our pets are the only ones loving the family’s stay-at-home order and couldn’t be happier to get the constant company and attention. We should call this the year of the dog.

Now is the time for leaders to lead. To step up and make the hard decisions to keep their customers, students and employees safe. Not only are medical professionals on the front lines, those that get up and go to work at our essential businesses are taking a risk for themselves and their families as well. We applaud them. When doing business face to face, wear a scarf and wash your hands for their protection. Tell them, “Thank you for coming into work today to serve me.”

When we are allowed to return to the world at large, it will be forever different than the world we knew just a few months ago. This “war” will take down people. Some will live and others will die. And like people, it will take down businesses, both large and small that cannot withstand the loss of revenue their customers brought them.

The Cedar Springs Post is considered an essential business as a media occupation. We have a journalist on the beat. All but one of our employees have been working from home for the past three weeks. Our office is closed to the public. Surviving through thick and thin, mostly thin as of late with the advent of the internet, Facebook and other social media platforms, The Post has appeared at around 80 newsstands every week for over 30 years. We’ve never missed a week. Not even when the roof of the building next door blew off and landed on top of our building during a severe windstorm and we lost our power. If you are under 30, and from Cedar Springs, you probably can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a Cedar Springs Post. Free to the public, both in print and online, each issue comes to you courtesy of our sponsors. They pay the bills.

We have five employees that are excellent at their jobs. The very best of the best. I believe they put out one of the nicest local newspapers I’ve ever seen (or read). While there are shortages of toilet paper and other products disappearing from shelves faster than stores can stock them, there is no shortage of commercials, junk mail and advertising. However, not enough advertising is going into newspapers to cover expenses as advertisers pull their ads. We don’t sell newspapers; we sell ad space. The local newspaper may be another casualty of the corona virus. Cedar Springs without the Cedar Springs Post? It will be a different place.

With the bulk of our local businesses shut down, they are struggling as well. And like many small independent stores, salons and restaurants, we may soon be unable to make payroll, pay the printer and other expenses that go along with running a business.

We thank our advertisers that remain in the paper. They brought you another week of local news.

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Post travels to Morocco

The Post recently traveled to Morocco with the Norris family. The photo above shows Solon Township’s TJ Norris, with husband Ken behind the iPhone camera, at the astounding Grand Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, in mid-March. The couple were on a two-week tour when international borders started to close due to COVID-19 restrictions, cutting short their vacation in a wonderful kingdom filled with amazing sights and amazing people. With the help of the in-country tour company and the American Consulate in Casablanca, they were driven to Marrakech, expatriated by flights to London and then back to the U.S.A., to Chicago. Local travel agent Lori Visser, who arranged the tour and had their back when times got sketchy, got them home from there. 

Thank you, Ken and TJ, for taking us with you! We are glad you got home safely!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Fast cash winner

We had several people guess our fake stories and ad correctly from last week’s paper. We put them in a drawing, and the winner is Keri Splitstone, of Cedar Springs!

Keri guessed the two stories were “Thrills and chills as you cross the new bridge” and “Kent County deputies confiscate stolen truck.” The fake ad was using toilet paper as currency.

We will be mailing Keri a check for $30. 

Thank you to all of you who entered the contest and thank you so much for reading the Post!

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#KindnessCatchesOn

From left to right: The Uhen’s dog Charlie, Wyatt (feet in stroller), Morgan, and Jack Uhen with their bag of trash. The picture was taken in the parking lot of Cedar Trails elementary school.
Jack Uhen with the plastic piece they picked up reading “Kindness Catches On.”

Jeff Uhen, of Nelson Township, said the family went for a bike ride recently and decided to start picking up trash along the way. 

“We found this big bag along the road so we started filling it up until it was full,” he explained. “Toward the end, there was this plastic piece on the ground marked ‘Kindness Catches On.’ How fitting was that? What a great reminder and so cool they found it while doing a good deed. Let’s all do our part to keep our communities nice and teach our kids a lesson!”

He then reminded us of a quote attributed to Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” 

What about you? Have you or someone you know done something nice? Share it with us. We’d like to showcase those stories when we can. Send to news@cedarspringspost.com with #KindnessCatchesOn in the subject line.


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We’ll get through this together

By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager

There is an old curse that goes; “May you live in interesting times,” well, these are interesting times indeed. The Governor’s 2020-21 “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order is unprecedented in our lives and sets a more serious tone for how we are expected to react to the COVID-19 disease. As necessary to protect and sustain human life, the Governor has ordered that all Michigan residents undertake a number of precautions including avoiding public and private gatherings, business operations closing except for minimum operations and the designation of certain businesses and employees as critical that are then able to continue working so long as they also practice COVID-19 safety precautions.  At City Hall, several persons are working remotely but we are operating and maintaining all critical infrastructure and services including fire, police and public works. Now, there are a number of clear exceptions to this statewide lockdown, including getting food or medical care but the overall goal is to reduce the likelihood of new infections being spread between people. Until at least April 13, don’t leave your house except for essential tasks and even then, maintain social distancing, avoid touching your face and wash your hands frequently in line with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

So, what are we all supposed to be doing in the meanwhile? Well, first of all, thank-you to all of the persons that are deemed “critical” and must continue working—nurses, grocery store employees, police and wastewater treatment plant operators alike.  I know that there are going to be a lot of people suffering financially because of this mess, and I earnestly hope that at the end of all of this that you end up in a safe position and are treated with dignity and fairness. To the bosses and managers, I implore you to treat your employees the way that you would like to be treated and extend safety, charity and opportunity whenever possible simply because it is the right thing to do. For the parents with unexpectedly home-schooled children, I wish you the patience of a saint and the wisdom of the ancient philosophers for all those “why” questions that you’re going to endure.

To paraphrase Gandalf, it is not for us to choose what times we live through, we only get to decide what to do with the time that is given to us. My time will be spent managing the City and saying “yes dear’ every time my wife comes up with something to add to the honey-do list at home. I see the first plant buds are breaking through the soil in my garden and it’s about time to start jogging off that “city manager 15” that has accumulated by sitting down for 10-12 hours a day at the office. Even though I can’t go visit with friends or family for the next several weeks I plan on lots of phone calls, texting and maybe walk-n-talks while maintaining at least 6 feet of separation. I’ll be checking in on friends and neighbors who live by themselves and I’ll be trying to order more take-out food than usual from our local restaurants.

Whatever it is that you are planning on doing over the next several weeks, stay happy, healthy and safe. We’ll all get through this together.

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Autopsy reveals cause of death in fire fatality

The resident of this mobile home was found dead after a fire destroyed his home in the early morning hours last Friday, November 29. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The home was totally destroyed. Courtesy photo.

In December 2019, The Post reported that Troopers from the Michigan State Police Hart Post were investigating the death of an Ensley Township man whose body was found after his mobile home burned.

According to Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander, they were dispatched at 12:23 a.m. on Friday, November 29, to a fully engulfed residential fire at 9300 E. 128th St. in Ensley Township, Newaygo County. 

Both Sand Lake and Grant Fire Departments battled the blaze at the single-wide mobile home. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters found the 59-year-old resident and only occupant of the home, Rodolfo Quesada, deceased. The MSP said he was identified using fingerprint identification technology.

Chief Holtzlander said the state fire marshal told him the cause of the fire was undetermined.

The MSP was waiting on autopsy results for Mr. Quesada to determine his cause of death. 

The Post was recently informed by MSP Spl/Lt. David Cope that following the autopsy, the cause of death was found to be from smoke inhalation and the death has been determined to be an accident.

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