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Police search for driver that caused fatal crash

Meranda Baguss and her 5-year-old twin boys. Photo from Facebook.

UPDATE: The suspect in a hit-and-run crash that killed a mother and injured her twin boys has been arrested, according to authorities.

The mother who was killed in the crash has been identified as 33-year-old Meranda Baguss of Sand Lake.

A gofundme page has been set up in honor of Meranda and her boys at https://www.gofundme.com/jn5a88-meranda-baguss-tony-chauncey

All proceeds will go to Meranda’s family for funeral expenses and if there is any left over it will go towards the boys medical expenses.

A Nelson Township woman is dead and her two five-year-old twins were seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash Friday evening, September 15, in Courtland Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred at the intersection of 15 Mile and Ritchie. The 33-year-old woman was driving her 2011 Ford Fusion westbound on 15 Mile about 8:23 p.m., with her twin five-year-old boys seat belted in their car seats in the back seat, when her car was struck by a Ford F150 pickup that was northbound on Ritchie. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and the two children were transported to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the pickup fled after crash. Deputies searched the area with multiple canine units and were assisted by the Michigan State Police Helicopter for several hours. The suspect was still at large Saturday morning.

Police said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

The investigation is ongoing. Names are not being released pending family notifications.

If anyone has information about this crash please call 616-632-6100 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.


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“The Hummingbird Tree” at the Bob for ARTPRIZE Nine

“The Hummingbird Tree” is now on display at The Bob for ArtPrize Nine. Post photo by J. Reed.

by Judy Reed

Those visiting ArtPrize Nine next week will have the chance to see a variety of art, including some from artists here in Cedar Springs and the surrounding area. Blake Wondergem’s entry is one you don’t want to miss.

Wondergem, 56, a commercial sign artist by trade, has spent the last 7-1/2 months working 12-hour days on “The Hummingbird Tree,” an original piece of artwork he first imagined four years ago.

Artist Blake Wondergem puts some finishing touches on his artwork. Post photo by J. Reed.

“It was like a vision,” he said. “I had never seen it, but I knew I wanted to do a hummingbird bladder built into a tree.”

Wondergem was born in Grand Rapids, and came to Cedar Springs at age 9 or 10. He created his first mural at age 17, in Illinois. He later moved to Tennessee, and while there, he created a mural of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty that is displayed on Main Street in Bristol, Tenn. He estimates that more than 6 million people have seen it.

He also built a business as a commercial sign manufacturer, one that has sustained him for the last 30 years. But the creative side of the art world still calls him.

He began working on “The Hummingbird” while still in Tennessee earlier this year, then moved back to Cedar Springs three months ago, where his mom, Linda, still resides. He has been working out of a studio behind the Peacock Pet Parlor.

Wondergem calls his artwork a portable mural. It consists of 240 layers of acrylic paint on fabric, and hundreds of hours of study.

“The secret of the painting lies like a pirate treasure in all of this,” explained Wondergem, as he picked up a file of notes and photographs that he has spent countless hours studying, to get all aspects of the artwork the way they might look in a photo.

“When people look at this, I want them to ask, ‘Does it look like a picture?’ I don’t want it to look like a painting; I want it to look like a picture,” he explained.

An example of his perfection and attention to detail was working on refection. When looking at the artwork, people will be looking up at it, and the sun in the picture is in the southeast. He wanted to get the angle of the reflected light in the hummingbird feeder just right.

“I put a candle in a beer glass to study reflection,” said Wondergem. “It was one of the hardest studies I’ve ever done.”

He has used a variety of hummingbirds in the mural, as well plant and insect life. But the real star of the artwork is the ellipsis, with the nectar flowing from the tree limb into the feeder and out through the flowers. “I was so at peace when the egg was done,” remarked Wondergem.

The artwork is 7-feet wide and 9-feet tall, and is installed at The Bob, 20 Monroe Ave., Grand Rapids. The vote code is 66248.

Public voting for ArtPrize Nine begins on Wednesday, September 20 at noon and closes September 30 at 11:59 p.m. The public vote top 20 will be announced on October 1, and round two voting will begin the same day at 2 p.m. and close on October 5 at 11:59 p.m.

ArtPrize is an open, independently organized international art competition that takes place for 19 days each fall in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than $500,000 in prizes are awarded each year, and includes a $200,000 prize awarded entirely by public vote, and another $200,000 prize awarded by a jury of art experts. Any artist working in any medium from anywhere in the world can participate.

To register to vote and to get more info, visit www.artprize.org.

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Red Hawks rack up first conference win

Darius Barnett scores one of several Red Hawk touchdowns against the Yellow Jackets.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks rolled over the Greenville Yellow Jackets 48-7 last Friday, September 8, to bring home the win in their first conference game of the season. The Red Hawks now stand at 1-0 conference, and 2-1 overall. They previously won against Battle Creek Lakeview, 60-13, and lost to Zeeland West 50-12, in their first two games of the season, which were both non-conference.

The Red Hawks hit the road this week to take on Northview (0-3) in another conference match up. Click here for details on last week’s game against Greenville.

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Benefit to help family of girl with terminal cancer


September 22 at Factory Bar and Grill in Muskegon

In September 2015, Emma Orr was a beautiful, happy girl who loved sparkles, and loved being outdoors playing with her kittens and running hot wheels and monster trucks through the dirt. By the end of the month, the sweet second-grader at Beach Elementary was fighting for her life.

Emma was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk Neuroblastoma. The cancer was found in her shoulders, spine, left leg, pelvic bones, in her liver and around her liver. She went into remission in June of 2016. She relapsed with Neuroblastoma in December 2016 and was given a 5 percent chance of surviving. Emma went into remission again in May 2017 but she recently relapsed again in August 2017 with terminal Neuroblastoma. Emma’s survival chance is zero.

Emma lives here in Cedar Springs with her mom and stepdad, Michelle Crawford and Zak Fisk, and brother, Tyler.

Friends and family are pulling together to help the family with a benefit on September 22 at the Factory Bar and Grill, 2037 E. Laketon Avenue, Muskegon, MI 49442, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The cost is $10 per person and includes dinner, raffle tickets, live music and silent auction. Donations are also accepted. Contact Michelle via email or text michellecrawford85@gmail.com or by calling 616-915-0794.

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Motorcyclist dies in US-131 crash

A motorcyclist that ran into the back of a car on US-131 earlier this week did not survive his injuries.

The Michigan State Police responded to the crash, which occurred on Tuesday, September 12, shortly after 4 p.m. on the northbound side of the highway, in the construction zone, near Indian Lakes Rd.

A 53-year-old Ravenna man on a motorcycle reportedly struck a 2011 Subaru when the driver slowed for traffic. He was taken to Butterworth Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

The driver of the Subaru, a 33-year-old Kent City woman, was not injured.

Algoma Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

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The Post travels to Hawaii

Cayden Steinebach and Emily Fishman pose in front of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sign with their copy of The Post.

Curt and Carol Steinebach traveled with two of their children, Cayden Steinebach and Emily Fishman, to Hawaii in August and they took the Post along. They visited two of the Hawaiian islands; took a catamaran tour off the Na Pali Coast in Kauai; and also hiked some of the trails in Waimea Canyon in Kauai.  They also visited Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island (Hawaii) where they were able to see an active volcano. The family had a great time traveling Hawaii with the Post for the week!

Thank you to the Steinebach family for taking us with you. It sounds like you had a great time!

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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Gas prices rise

Average retail gasoline prices in Grand Rapids have risen 13.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.71/g Monday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 246 gas outlets in Grand Rapids. This compares with the national average that has increased 1.8 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.65/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Grand Rapids during the past week, prices Sunday were 63.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 20.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 30.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 48.1 cents per gallon higher than one year ago. According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on September 11 in Grand Rapids have ranged widely over the last five years: $2.08/g in 2016, $2.29/g in 2015, $3.53/g in 2014, $3.55/g in 2013 and $4.00/g in 2012.

Areas near Grand Rapids and their current gas price climate: Kalamazoo- $2.68/g, up 11.5 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.57/g. Lansing- $2.70/g, up 11.4 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.59/g. South Bend- $2.60/g, up 10.5 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.50/g.

Here in Cedar Springs, it was $2.67 at press time Wednesday.

“Harvey may be long gone, but his wrath continued to drive gasoline prices up in much of the country in the last week. However, the effects are finally starting to weaken as refineries return to production and fuel begins to flow once again from many Houston refineries,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “The national average gasoline price appears to have peaked last week Thursday at $2.67 per gallon and is beginning to slowly decline for the time being. Once again, motorists shouldn’t expect to see any impact from Irma on gasoline prices due to the path being a considerable distance from sensitive areas of the energy sector. With summer driving season now over, motorists stand to benefit from falling demand, which will help refineries bring gasoline inventories back to normal and thus gas prices, but as many Americans are now acutely aware, the impact on gas prices can outlive a storm, especially one like Harvey.”  For LIVE fuel price averages, visit http://FuelInsights.GasBuddy.com.

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MDOT construction updates

By Judy Reed

There are several road construction updates from the Michigan Department of Transportation that drivers will want to be aware of.

Paving on 17 Mile

Sept. 15-17: MDOT will be paving the interchange area on 17 Mile Road (M-46) between Edgerton Ave. and White Creek Ave. starting Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 a.m. to Sunday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. Both directions of 17 Mile Rd. will be maintained in a single lane with flag control for paving.

Ramp closure

Sept. 15-16: The off ramp from southbound US-131 to 17 Mile Road will close for road work 6 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 15, through 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.

Resurfacing of US-131 from Sand Lake to Pierson

Sept. 11-October 6: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will invest $1 million to resurface 4.2 miles of US-131 from the Kent/Montcalm county line (22 Mile Road) to Cannonsville Road.

At least one lane will remain open in each direction at all times. Lane closures will not be in effect for northbound US-131 on Fridays, no lane closures on Saturdays for both bounds, and no lane closures will be in effect on Sundays for southbound US-131.

This project will improve and maintain a smooth driving surface as well as extend the service life of the roadway.

The project started on Monday, Sept. 11, and is expected to run through Friday, October 6.

10 Mile reconstruction project

Sept. 11-Oct. 31: This project includes 0.62 miles of hot mix asphalt cold milling and resurfacing and concrete divider removal on 10 Mile Road from the US-131 northbound ramps to east of Belmont Avenue, from east of Belmont Avenue to east of Meijer Drive and from Childsdale Avenue to Rogue River Bridge. A signal will also be removed from 10 Mile Road at Belmont Avenue.

Spot curb, gutter removal and replacement, and sidewalk ramp upgrades started Monday, September 11 on 10 Mile Road between US 131 and Thrifty Drive and between Childsdale Avenue and the Rogue River Bridge.

Cold-milling and HMA paving is scheduled for the week of September 18.

All work will be completed with lane closures, while maintaining two-way traffic (minimum of one lane in each direction) at all times.

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Beekeeping ordinance sent back to Planning Commission


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council decided last Thursday evening to send the new beekeeping ordinance back to the City Planning Commission for more research and discussion, at the suggestion of City Manager Mike Womack. The Planning Commission had previously approved the new ordinance by a 5-4 vote.

The decision was made after the first reading of the new ordinance at the City Council meeting Thursday, September 7.

“The Planning Commission discussion went off track (in my opinion) and made a 5-4 recommendation to City Council to approve with some additional language. After discussing the matter with each individual PC member it sounded like a majority didn’t feel as though they had sufficient time to research and discuss the matter,” explained Womack. “So, I gave the City Council the recommendation of the PC but also made the suggestion to send it back to the PC for further research and discussion based upon the discussions that I had with PC members. This is obviously a complicated issue and I want the City to get it right and I don’t see any reason to rush to a decision.”

Womack said he received an email from one of the PC members asking for specific information regarding the resident who asked to be allowed to keep bees, Joe Frank. While he felt they were good questions if reviewing an applicant, the ordinance is a policy issue. So Womack sent an email to Planning Commission members explaining some of the things they should be thinking about regarding the beekeeping ordinance. “The Bee-Keeping Ordinance was brought to the PC’s review for policy reasons.  The question that PC members should be asking themselves is whether the PC is a body capable of reviewing an application to keep bees, whether the proposed ordinance gives the PC enough guidance with which to make future decisions regarding an individual being able to keep bees, whether there are any spelling mistakes, errors or omissions that you think the ordinance should have but that I missed and whether you have any problems with individual aspects of the ordinance, a good example would be whether you think 2 hives is too many on any property under 8,XXX square foot and instead you think that it should be only 1 hive etc. When the City makes policy/ordinances we absolutely should not be thinking about how it will affect any single individual but rather how it will affect everybody. A typical lot in the City is 66X132=8,712 square feet, If the PC wanted to limit bee-keeping it could recommend that the minimum lot size should be 9,000 square feet before being allowed to keep any bees. We also have parcels as small as 5,000 square feet (or smaller) in the City, does the PC want to say that there is a minimum size for the lot prior to allowing bees?”

City resident Joe Frank asked the city to consider allowing beekeeping in the city earlier this summer. He has kept honeybees as a hobby for several years. He had several hives on property he owned in Hesperia, and when he decided to sell the property, he re-homed all of the hives, except one, with other beekeepers. He had previously asked a city official if he could keep a hive on his property here, and was told he could. He moved the hive to his property, but was later told that he couldn’t have it under the current ordinance. That ordinance, Sec. 8-1 Domestic Animals and Fowls reads: “No person shall keep or house any animal or domestic fowl within the city, except dogs, cats, canaries or animals commonly classified as pets which are customarily kept or housed inside dwellings as household pets, or permit any animal or fowl to enter business places where food is sold for human consumption, except for leader, guide, hearing and service dogs as required by MCL 750.502c.”

“Bees are animals and no animals shall be kept except for the ones listed or are commonly classified as pets, which bees are not,” explained City Manager Mike Womack.

Frank said he was happy with the draft ordinance the council was considering.

“The State of Michigan has guidelines for beekeeping and the proposal is in line with the State of Michigan Agriculture guidelines, which I think is a good way to go,” he said.

A few of the other cities that allow bees in West Michigan include Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland.


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AccuWeather says cost of Harvey, Irma to be $290 billion

It has been a destructive and costly hurricane season, following the historic impacts from Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma.

This is the first time in the history of record keeping that two Category 4 or higher hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, have struck the U.S. mainland in the same year.

“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said Monday.

“And also unprecedented is that this particular storm, Irma, has sustained intensity for the longest period of time of any hurricane or typhoon in any ocean of the world since the satellite era began,” Myers said.

Irma has great staying power, and it is a unique storm. It had a brush with several islands in the Caribbean and ran on land in Cuba. It then hugged the Florida coast as a major hurricane.

“The storm is not only intense, it is also very large. The area affected by the strong winds along the west coast near the center of the storm will barrel along and hug the coast closely heading due north, and will bring winds gusts of well over 100 mph and conceivably over 125 mph,” Myers predicted earlier this week.

These types of storms cause extremely hazardous conditions, including flying objects, fallen trees, downed power lines, which carry the potential for electrocution, broken window glass on homes and cars and damage to roofs and other structures. Storm surge was another major threat.

Hurricane Irma caused damage from wind, flooding from heavy rain and damage from the sea in different places in Florida.

While the storm weakened as it pushed through the state, heavy rainfall over North and Central Florida from Hurricane Irma swelled 23 rivers and creeks to beyond flood stage Wednesday, threatening homes along their banks and potentially forcing a massive re-routing of drivers along I-75, according to the Miami Herald.

“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time. This amounts to 0.5 of a percentage point of the GDP of $19 trillion,” Myers said.

“We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion or one full percentage point of the GDP. Together, AccuWeather predicts these two disasters amount to 1.5 of a percentage point of the GDP, which will about equal and therefore counter the natural growth of the economy for the period of mid-August through the end of the fourth quarter,” Myers added.

  • Economic costs are incurred by, but not limited to, the following:
  • Disruptions to businesses
  • Increased unemployment rates for weeks, and possibly months in some places
  • Damage to transportation, infrastructure
  • Crop loss, including cotton crop and 25 percent of orange crop, which will impact the cost of consumables for all Americans
  • Increased gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel prices impacting all Americans
  • Damage to homes, cars, furniture, antiques, jewelry and other valuables
  • Loss of valuable papers, cherished belongings such as photos

“Some of the losses will be covered by insurance, some will not, so the losses will be felt in a variety of ways by millions of people. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another,” Myers said.

“AccuWeather takes our responsibility of providing the most accurate forecasts and warnings and the impact on people and business very seriously. This is a solemn responsibility that we have and our people are working extremely hard and with great intensity to make sure that all the people we reach can depend on our info for the utmost in reliability so they can make the right decisions during these stressful times.”

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