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Man killed in Spencer Township

Silent Observer offers $2,000 reward for information

Lincoln Lake Ave. and Pinewood St. was were Luttrell was found in the roadway with multiple wounds.

Lincoln Lake Ave. and Pinewood St. was were Luttrell was found in the roadway with multiple wounds.

Brent Luttrell

Brent Luttrell

A 34-year-old Gowen man was murdered early Monday morning in Spencer Township.

The Kent County Sheriff Department said that the victim, Brent Luttrell, 34 years old, was sleeping at his home at 12849 Pinewood N.E., when three armed masked males entered the residence about 1 a.m. Luttrell immediately ran outside and was confronted by at least one of the suspects. He was then forced into a red passenger vehicle with a loud muffler (driven by a fourth person) and transported to the area of Lincoln Lake and Pinewood, where he was later found in the roadway with multiple wounds. Luttrell was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth, where he died as a result of his injuries.

An autopsy was conducted and it was determined Luttrell died from multiple gunshot and stab wounds.

Police reported there were three other adults in the residence (one male and two females) and a juvenile male. The adult male, reported to be a cousin of Luttrell, received facial injuries and was treated and released from the hospital.

Luttrell was paroled from prison in April, after serving a year (on a plea deal) on one count of delivery and manufacturing of marijuana, and one count of conspiracy to manufacture and deliver marijuana. Prior to that he served 14 years in prison, from 1998-2012 for multiple charges, including kidnapping, escape, safe breaking, home invasion 2nd degree, and weapons-larceny. Police have not commented on whether they think this crime is related to his criminal past.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff Department at 616-336-3113 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345. Silent Observer will pay a reward of up to $2,000 if your tip information leads to the arrest of those responsible for Luttrell’s death.

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Newlyweds help flooding victims

Motorists help push stalled vehicles at Tidewater Drive and Virginia  Beach Boulevard in Norfolk on Monday, Sept. 8. Patrick French, of Cedar Springs, second from the left, married Erica (Placers) French earlier, and the two spent their afternoon helping motorists stalled in the floodwaters. (The’ N. Pham|The Virginian Pilot)

Motorists help push stalled vehicles at Tidewater Drive and Virginia Beach Boulevard in Norfolk on Monday, Sept. 8. Patrick French, of Cedar Springs, second from the left, married Erica (Placers) French earlier, and the two spent their afternoon helping motorists stalled in the floodwaters. (The’ N. Pham|The Virginian Pilot)

A Cedar Springs man and his new wife helped out stranded motorists during flooding in Norfolk, Virginia earlier this week. And we mean really newly wed. Patrick French, a 2004 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, had just been married to bride Erica Placers a half hour on Monday, Sept. 8, when they began helping drivers whose cars had stalled during the flooding.

Patrick is the son of Laura DeLange, of Cedar Springs. “It’s so like them to help others,” she said.

The couple is stationed in Norfolk with the Navy.

Thank you to the Virginian-Pilot for sharing their photo with us!

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Man charged in fatal crash


Matthew Joseph Vainavicz

Matthew Joseph Vainavicz

A Tyrone Township man was arraigned on multiple charges Monday for causing the accident that took the life of a Wyoming woman last week. According to police, he was driving on a suspended license and was intoxicated.

The accident occurred about 7:54 p.m., September 3, at the intersection of 20 Mile and Tyrone Ave NW. The Kent County Sheriff Department said that a 1994 Ford truck, driven by 26-year-old Matthew Joseph Vainavicz, was southbound on Tyrone Ave, and failed to stop at the intersection, where it struck a 2010 Charger. The front seat passenger of the Charger, Anna Escutia-Chavez, 25, of Wyoming, was transported by Aero Med to the hospital, but died from her injuries. The driver of the Charger, Jose Alfredo Gavina, 25, of Kentwood, and Vainavicz were also transported to the hospital.

Vainavicz was arrested on Friday, September 5, and arraigned on Monday, September 8, on four charges: 1. Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death–Victim Anna Lissette Escutia-Chavez; 2. Operating While License Suspended Causing Death–Victim Anna Lissette Escutia-Chavez; 3. Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Impairment of a Body Function–Victim Jose Alfredo Gavina; 4. Operating While License Suspended Causing Serious Impairment of a Body Function–Victim Jose Alfredo Gavina.

Bond was set at $100,000.


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The Post travels to China

N-Post-travels-to-China-Waite1-webN-Post-travels-to-China-Waite2-Polo-Action-webRecently the Post traveled to Tianjin China, with Thomas Waite, a 2013 graduate of Cedar Springs High School. Thomas and the Harvard Polo Team played in the Metropolitan Intervarsity Polo Tournament against Yale, Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge and London U. The trip also included cultural exchange forums, tours and youth polo coaching sessions.

Thank you, Thomas, 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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Hometown Hero

Alexander Hemry

Alexander Hemry

Alexander Hemry, a graduate of Cedar Springs High School class of 2011, recently completed Basic Training at Lackland AFB. Alexander graduated as part of the 323 Squadron flight 208, on March 28 and 29. He completed his advanced training on August 28 and is now known as Airman 1st Class (A1C) Hemry. He has been assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing, aboard AC-130U Spooky II Gunship and will be stationed out of Hurlburt Field, FL.

Hemry is the son of Don and Jeannine Hemry, of Cedar Springs.

The Hemry family says, “Congratulations Alexander, we are very proud of you!”


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Two clubs are better than one

Jack Clark (left ) presents door prize to Art Probst (right)

Jack Clark (left ) presents door prize to Art Probst (right)

By Nancy Noreen

The Rotary and Lions Clubs of Cedar Springs met together for their annual picnic Wednesday evening, August 20.

During the get-together, Rotary President Carolyn Davis asked Jack Clark, the longest sustaining Rotary member, to present the traditional door prize to Art Probst, the longest sustaining Lions member. This custom began in 2006, when the Lions bestowed the Rotarians with an actual door as a “door prize.”  Since 2006 the door prize has passed back and forth between the groups.

N-Rotary-lions2-group-webThis year Dan and Carolyn Davis upgraded the door with photos of some of the good works the Clubs have done in the community as well as informational data about each group. Although the Rotary/Lions picnics are currently centered around eating and talking, that wasn’t always the case.

The joint picnics began shortly after the Lions Club was chartered in 1959. They were held in Morley Park and the highlight of the gathering was the tug-of- war between the Clubs. One year the rope snapped and Lion Ed Hoven ended up with a broken nose, after it was accidentally jabbed by a tumbling teammate. Whether or not a broken rope and busted nose were the cause, the joint picnic moved to Gordon Park with a game of volleyball replacing the tug-of-war.

Lions President Jerry VanderWal shared that Lions does not symbolize wild jungle animal. L-I-O-N-S stands for: “Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation’s Safety,” great watchwords for every citizen.

The Lions and Rotary mottos “We Serve” and “Service Above Self,” aptly describe these two organizations. Cedar Springs is privileged to have active Rotary and Lions Clubs. Their labors benefit the whole community.




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School board member resigns

Todd Hanson

Todd Hanson

The Cedar Springs Board of Education is looking for a replacement for Todd Hanson, the board’s vice-president.

According to his resignation letter, which was effective Monday evening, Hanson resigned due to the sale of his home and moving out of district. He said there was not another reason.

“I have served the community of Cedar Springs for 5 years as a member of the board of ed,” he wrote. “I have enjoyed my time and I believe we have a great school system. Although I have to resign, I am confident that CSPS will continue to be a strong district and keep moving forward under the leadership of Dr. Laura VanDuyn. I was looking forward to getting to know her and working with her on district goals. I have also enjoyed working with all the other board members, administrators, teachers and support staff of CSPS. Collectively we have accomplished a lot in the last 5 years, especially considering the tight fiscal constraints that the state and district have been under. Thank you for allowing me to serve the community and I wish you well.”

Whoever is appointed to the fill the position will serve until December 31. Please see ad in this week’s POST, page 3, for more information.


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Home Depot payment system breached


From the Better Business Bureau


A perfect storm is hitting consumers who use debit cards. Data theft from major U.S. retailers and new bank policies are changing the security landscape. Banks have been getting crunched by expenses related to covering credit and debit card fraud; and recently, Chase Bank announced that very soon if you don’t exercise ordinary care you will be responsible for all authorized and unauthorized debit transactions. Examples of not exercising ordinary care include keeping your PIN with your card or using your birthday as your PIN.

Home Depot has now confirmed its payment data system was breached. If you used a debit or credit card at a Home Depot store from April forward, crooks have your card numbers. The Home Depot official press release indicates that debit card PIN numbers were not compromised. However, financial institutions contacted by KrebsOnSecurity are reporting a steep increase over the past few days in fraudulent ATM withdrawals on customer accounts. Krebs reports that card data for sale on criminal websites was stolen from Home Depot, allowing thieves to create counterfeit copies of debit and credit cards. If criminals change the PIN on those accounts, the fabricated debit cards can then be used to withdraw cash from ATMs. Krebs reports that a large bank on the West Coast lost more than $300,000 in two hours to PIN fraud on multiple debit cards that had all been used recently at Home Depot. The bank manager said the criminals called customer service at the bank and provided the last four of each cardholder’s Social Security number, date of birth, and the expiration date on the card.

Home Depot is offering free identity protection services, including credit monitoring, to any customer who has shopped at a Home Depot store in 2014, from April on. Customers who wish to take advantage of these services can learn more at www.homedepot.com or by calling 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (800-466-3337). Responding to the increasing threat of cyber-attacks on the retail industry, Home Depot will roll out EMV “Chip and PIN” to all U.S. stores by the end of this year. October 2015 is the deadline established by the payments industry.

If you have shopped in a Home Depot store, BBB recommends you take advantage of this free identity protection service. Other steps you should take include:

* Do not use the same password or PIN for your financial accounts as you do for any other account. If your password/PIN information is stolen from one site, the risk is greatly reduced if that is the only place you are using it.

* Take caution in the PIN number you use, how it is stored, and who you share it with.

* Regularly check all your accounts to make sure there are no unauthorized withdrawals or expenditures.

* Use annualcreditreport.com to check your credit on a regular basis through the three major credit reporting agencies.

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Read to ride

Mrs. Kate Norman’s 5th grade class

Mrs. Kate Norman’s 5th grade class

Mrs. Kate Norman’s 5th grade class walked to the Cedar Springs Library on Monday, September 8, for their back-to-school library orientation and to get their Read-to-Ride reading logs.

Students were delighted to find out that by reading only 6 hours they could earn two free tickets to ride two carnival rides on Red Flannel Day, compliments of Elliott’s  Amusements, in partnership with the Cedar Springs Library and the Red Flannel  Festival. Logs were also sent electronically to area schools, charter schools, private schools and home schooling families.

All area Red Flannel town citizens and fans, grades K-8, are invited to drop by the Library to get a log or print one from the Library’s website: cedarspringslibrary.org.

It’s a royal salute to 75 years of volunteers! Get your students to join the red reading challenge this year. Logs can be cashed in at the Cedar Springs Public Library during open hours or on Red Flannel Day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  at the Friends of the Library’s big book sale across the street from the Kent Theatre. Have you REaD a good book lately?

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Local woman named fitness ambassador


Shila Kiander (right) and Leslie Cardinal (left) after the Mackinac Bridge Run. Shila was one of several fitness ambassadors in the race.

Shila Kiander (right) and Leslie Cardinal (left) after the Mackinac Bridge Run. Shila was one of several fitness ambassadors in the race.

By Judy Reed

When the throng of 500 runners set off on the Mackinac Bridge run on Labor Day, one of our very own was leading the pack. Shila Kiander, of Cedar Springs, was honored as one of 13 fitness ambassadors from across the state, due to her commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

“It felt really good to be chosen,” said Shila, “like it validated all my hard work. Like they felt my story should be shared.”

Shila decided to take charge of her health two years ago, at the age of 42, after a visit to her doctor. Being genetically predisposed to diabetes, she decided it was time to change her life, not only for her, but to be a role model for her daughters. She began logging calories and working out the very next day. Within nine months she saw great results, and overall has lost 120 pounds.

For Shila, one of the secrets to her success has been having a supportive network of family and friends. For example, when her daughters would cook dinner, they would have all the calories figured out for her. Her daughter, Sarah, told Shila that if she would run, she would run with her. And the rest of the family also participates with her in the races. Her friend Leslie Cardinal, also of Cedar Springs, ran with her in the Mackinac Race, as well as others.

Shila after her weight loss.

Shila after her weight loss.

Shila before her weight loss.

Shila before her weight loss.

“Having a network is really important; not to hold you accountable, but to support you,” Shila explained.

Running is not something she ever thought she’d do. She started out slowly, walking in her first few races. In May 2013, she ran her first 5K, and has done 23 races since then. In order to qualify for the Mackinac Bridge Run, she had to have run in two other races, and then was picked through a lottery to participate. Her friend Leslie also was chosen through the lottery. Shila’s family walked the bridge afterward.

“It was about 4-1/2 miles. I ran the whole thing, and saw the sunrise as I was running. It was awesome,” remarked Shila.

Since losing the weight, Shila has noticed a big difference in the way she views herself. “It really helped my self-confidence,” she remarked. “Before, we would go out to eat, and I would be concerned on whether I could fit through the chairs. I don’t have to do that anymore. It’s also been great being able to purchase regular size clothes. I can now share clothes with my daughter Kelsey, and it’s great when someone likes an outfit on her, and she says, ‘It’s my mom’s.’ I never thought she’d be able to say that.”

Shila said her weight loss journey has made her kids more aware of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. And they love what their mom has accomplished.

I’m so proud of my mom’s weight loss, she’s worked so hard and she never gives up,” said Sarah. “I am so happy that she got selected to be a fitness ambassador, I think she worked so hard for this and I think she is a great example for others who are trying to lose weight.”

The rest of her family echoed those sentiments.

Shila said she doesn’t plan to push to lose even more weight. “I’m just trying to maintain. I want to be able to live and not worry about one more pound. I’m comfortable where I’m at.”

Her current workout routine includes three days of crossfit (aerobics and strength training) a week, one 3-mile run, and walking in between.

We asked Shila if she had any tips for people wanting to get healthier. “If you want to do it, you can—just decide to do it. Start where you are. Go for a walk. Drink more water. Choose healthier options. Just start with one thing at a time and do it,” she said.


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