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Howard City to interview manager finalists

 

Former CS Mayor Charlie Watson a finalist

N-HowardCityBy Judy Reed

N-HowardCity-logoThe Village of Howard City has selected four finalists to be interviewed for the job as Village Manager. Their current Manager, Randy Heckman, has been doing double duty as Village President and Village Manager. He recently notified the Village he was resigning as Manager and a search got underway.

One of the four finalists is familiar to residents in Cedar Springs. Charlie Watson, who served on the Cedar Springs City Council for eight years, including some of that time as Mayor, will be one of those interviewed.

Interviews will take place on Monday, March 27, and Monday April 3, in the Village of Howard City Council Room, 125 E Shaw St, Howard City.

The schedule for March 27 will be Wally Delamater at 7 p.m.; Charles Watson at 7:30 p.m.; and Thomas Raymond at 8:00 p.m. On April 3, Michael Falcon will interview at 6 p.m.

Wally Delameter grew up and worked most of his life in Montcalm County. He is currently the Village Manager in Suttons Bay, and has worked for them since 2008. He has also served as their Zoning Administrator and DDA Director. Prior to that, he worked from 1994-2008 for the Village of Lakeview as Village Manager, Zoning administrator, DPW Director, and in other areas.

Charles Watson was a full time aircraft rescue firefighter at the Kent County Airport from 1994-2015, when he retired. He also served on the Cedar Springs Fire Department, was a reserve police officer in Cedar Springs, worked for the CS DPW, and worked as an ambulance attendant. Watson served on the Cedar Springs City Council for eight years, both as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. He most recently got his Bachelor’s Degree in Public and Non-Profit Administration, with a Business Minor from Grand Valley State University. He interned at Spring Lake Township, the City of Ferrysburg, and the Village of Spring Lake.

Thomas Raymond was Manager for the Village of Lexington, Michigan, from March 2013 to March 2015, and Supervisor in Cottrellville Township, Michigan, from 2007 to 2012. He served as Chairman of the St. Clair County Chapter of Township Supervisors from 2010-2012, and as a City Commissioner from 1994-1998 in Marine City, Michigan. He received certification as a public manager through Saginaw University.

Michael Falcon received his Master of Public Administration degree in 2004 from Northern Michigan University. He has worked at Northern Michigan University since January 1999, in various areas of Continuing Education, including Workforce Development. Prior to that he was a security specialist and law enforcement officer in the U.S. Air Force.

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Two die in murder-suicide

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday,   after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday, after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

The Kent County Sheriff Department responded to a home in Courtland Township Monday and found a woman dead and her son injured.

Police were dispatched to the 9200 block of 14 Mile Road, on Monday, March 20, about 2:24 p.m., after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a third party asking them to do a welfare check. When they arrived, they went inside and found Gloria Launiere, 59, deceased. Soon after they found her son, David Applegate, 34 seriously injured. Both had been stabbed.

Applegate was transported to Butterworth Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

Police believe that Applegate killed his mother, then stabbed himself.

No other information is being released at this time.

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Fire Department purchases life-saving equipment

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Cedar Springs Firefighters show off their new LUCAS automatic chest compression device. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

People living in Cedar Springs who suffer sudden cardiac arrest now have a better chance of survival, thanks to new equipment recently purchased by the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

The CS Fire Department held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on March 8 to raise money for the LUCAS automatic chest compression device, which would help them give CPR to heart attack victims. The device was $15,000.

“This piece of equipment is costly but well worth the price,” noted Fire Chief Marty Fraser.

March 8 was the Wednesday evening that high winds blew through the area, and many areas were without power. That translated to people going out to dinner, including the fundraising spaghetti dinner at Big Boy.

“We had a large crowd and through the generosity of everyone, raised a sizable amount of money,” said Fraser. “We also had several anonymous donors contribute to our cause.”

The Fire Department made enough to purchase the equipment, and they put it into service on Tuesday evening, March 21. “I and the staff at the Fire Department are very grateful to the community and the surrounding areas for their generosity in making this a very successful project,” remarked Fraser.

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Groups donate to Library

The Cedar Springs Historical Society donated 40 chairs like the blue one in this photo to the Cedar Springs Library. From left to right is Fred Gunnell, CS Historical Society; Amy Hall, CS Library Board; Jerry Hall, Mayor, CS City Council; Sharon Jett (in front of Jerry), CS Historical Society; Tanya Eldred, CS Historical Society; Donna Clark, CS Library Director; Dan Clark, Cedar Springs City Council. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society donated 40 chairs like the blue one in this photo to the Cedar Springs Library. From left to right is Fred Gunnell, CS Historical Society; Amy Hall, CS Library Board; Jerry Hall, Mayor, CS City Council; Sharon Jett (in front of Jerry), CS Historical Society; Tanya Eldred, CS Historical Society; Donna Clark, CS Library Director; Dan Clark, Cedar Springs City Council. Post photo by J. Reed.

The Cedar Springs Rotary Club donated $8,000 to the CS Library for their children’s area. Pictured from left to right is Jerry Hall, Mayor, CS City Council; Amy Hall, CS Library Board; Donna Clark, CS Library Director; Julie Wheeler, Rotary; and Linda Stout, Rotary.

The Cedar Springs Rotary Club donated $8,000 to the CS Library for their children’s area. Pictured from left to right is Jerry Hall, Mayor, CS City Council; Amy Hall, CS Library Board; Donna Clark, CS Library Director; Julie Wheeler, Rotary; and Linda Stout, Rotary.

The Cedar Springs Public Library is nearing completion, and two local community organizations recently stepped and made donations toward the cause.

On Wednesday, March 15, the Cedar Springs Historical Society donated 40 chairs for use at the new library. The chairs were originally donated to the CS Museum several years ago by Steelcase, and valued at $100 each at the time. Now that the Museum has several pews from East Nelson UM church, they don’t have the need for the chairs. “Our whole board was so happy to be able to share them with another group right here in our community,” said Sharon Jett, Director.

The Cedar Springs Rotary also made a donation to the Library at its meeting on Wednesday, March 15.

“Cedar Springs Rotary is happy to help the new Cedar Springs Public Library with the children’s area via this $8000 donation,” they said in the announcement on their Facebook page.

Watch for more information in the Post as the Library gears up for opening in May!

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Boy Scouts collect food for pantry

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Boy Scout Troop 222 recently collected hundreds of items for the United Methodist Food pantry. They collected both food donations and money, and Troop leader John Kerr bought more food items with the money they were given.

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Hometown Hero 

 

U.S. Air Force Airman Courtney G. Butler graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training also earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Butler is the daughter of Kelly A. and Todd D. Butler, and sister of Jonathan S. Butler and Kyle D. Butler, all of Cedar Springs, Mich.

She is a 2015 graduate of Rockford High School, Rockford, Mich.

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School board bits

 

Contracts, privatization of transportation

By Judy Reed

Board votes on administrative, other contracts

The Cedar Springs Board of Education found themselves split 4-3 Monday evening, March 13, when voting on contracts for administrators, executive assistants, and administrative assistants.

Dr. Laura VanDuyn, Superintendent of Cedar Springs Public Schools, brought the contracts to the Board that evening. She told them that all the administrators, except one had agreed to the contracts.

Trustee Ted Sabinas said up front that due to the lack of time they had to review, read, and compare the administrator contracts to the previous contracts, and due to the lack of collaboratively working with the administration on the contracts, as had been done in the past, he would be voting no.

VanDuyn assured the board that she and Carrie Duddles, human resources director, had met with the administrators several times, fielded phone calls, and gave them opportunities to ask questions.

A vote was taken on whether to table the administrator contracts, and it was defeated 3-4. Sabinas, Michelle Bayink, and Brooke Nichols all voted to table. A motion was then made to approve the contracts, and it passed 4-3. Shannon Vanderhyde, Heidi Reed, Patricia Eary, and President Matt Shoffner all voted to pass the contracts.

The Board voted 4-3 to table the executive assistant and administrative contracts, because they had not seen them. Sabinas, Bayink, Nichols, and Shoffner all voted to table them. Shoffner said that he voted to table them because the contracts were not in the packet and he wanted to see them. He said he voted to pass the administrator contracts because they did see that information.

The Board then had to vote on a non-renewal of contracts for two employees—high school principal Ron Behrenwald and transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin.

VanDuyn said that Behrenwald was the administrator that did not approve his contract. She explained that he had asked for more time to review it because he had a question about salary. She then explained that in order to meet the requirements of Section 1229 of the Revised School code, and to meet contract language, the board had to give 30 days notice that they were considering non-renewal if there was any delay in signing the contract. The Board would have to give final notice on April 24, so the process needed to start that evening, March 13. According to the law, the administrator would be notified with a letter, which was reportedly dated March 10, and would give the reasons for non-renewal. VanDuyn said Behrenwald could still sign his contract up to April 24.

Nichols questioned the letter. “I feel like if we pass this, it’s a non-renewal,” she said. “I feel like there should be reasons in the letter, with written statements on why we’re doing non-renewal,” she said.

VanDuyn told the board their attorney drafted the resolution and the letter, and that the letter spoke to multiple discussions or opportunities to discuss the contract, and spoke of the delay.

The Post sent a FOIA request for the letter, among other items, but the administration opted not to fulfill the request for another 10 days.

The Board also needed to vote on non-renewal of Gavin’s contract, due to the fact that they are looking at restructuring transportation, and possibly privatizing it. VanDuyn said he would not have the same contract, and they currently haven’t offered him another contract. She said that they can’t give him a definitive yes or no on his job, and that they have had discussions with him. “We will wait and see as we explore privatization,” she said. “He’s well aware.”

VanDuyn noted again that the process of non-renewal needed to start that night to meet the timeline, and that waiting until March 27 would be too late, since they need 30 days and the final vote is April 24.

The Board voted 4-3 to pass the non-renewal of Behrenwald’s and Gavin’s contracts. Sabinas, Bayink and Nichols all voted against it. Shoffner said he only voted to pass them in order to make the needed time line.

Under Section 1229, those getting a non-renewal notice are also allowed a hearing before a majority of the Board. According to Thrun Law Firm: Strict adherence to the Section 1229 timelines is critical, as a school must give the affected administrator notice that the board is “considering” nonrenewal along with a written statement of the reasons for nonrenewal at least 90 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires.

Section 1229 also requires a period of 30 days before the board can make a final determination on whether to nonrenew the affected administrator. During this period, the affected administrator must be given the opportunity to meet with a majority of the board members to discuss the stated reasons for the nonrenewal.

The school board then must make its final determination and give the administrator notice of that decision not later than 60 days before the affected administrator’s contract expires. Under Section 1229, a school may not nonrenew an administrator’s employment contract for a reason that is “arbitrary or capricious.”

Privatization of transportation

Supt. VanDuyn spoke to the Board about the plans to explore privatization of busing. She said the one of the recommendations made by the Excel Consulting Group last year was to get a quote on privatizing busing. They received an informal quote from Dean’s Transportation, and they brought them in to meet with the bus drivers, first in small group, then in a larger group. She noted that they wanted the bus drivers to weigh in on this, and that there would be meetings with them last week. “It’s been a great collaboration process,” VanDuyn told them. She said that she would have information for the Board at the March 27 meeting.

According to the most recently amended budget, the budget for transportation is $2,926,976. And, according to statistics posted on their website from April 2016, they had 41 buses in their fleet.

The Post asked the Superintendent some questions about the possibility of privatization, savings, what would happen to the buses, and other things, but she declined to comment, because the board had not yet seen any information.

SPECIAL MEETING

Please note that there will be a special board meeting on Monday, March 27, and it will start at 5:45 p.m. That is an hour earlier than normal.

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FFA week gains new meaning

The Cedar Springs FFA Group that competed at the regional level. Pictured from L to R:  Mr. Reyburn, Kaitlin Rounds, Diane Howe, Evan Young, Mykenzie Gage, Cecelia Brandt, Madison Strain, and Tanner Anderson.

The Cedar Springs FFA Group that competed at the regional level. Pictured from L to R: Mr. Reyburn, Kaitlin Rounds, Diane Howe, Evan Young, Mykenzie Gage, Cecelia Brandt, Madison Strain, and Tanner Anderson.

by Madison Strain

As National FFA Week approached, the Cedar Springs FFA sought new ideas to celebrate. This year, the chapter chose to raise money for a local family in their community.

National FFA Week ran February 18 -25. The chapter extended a few of their events outside of FFA Week to raise money: a silent auction, a movie night at Kent Theatre, and a dinner at Culver’s. The silent auction was held at both Tractor Supply and Family Farm and Home in Cedar Springs. Many businesses participated by donating items or services for the auction. At Cedar Springs High School, the students participated in a Kiss the Piglet Coin Drive. Any teacher who wanted to take part in the event received a pig container, which held the change students dropped off throughout the week. The top five teachers with the most money will kiss a piglet on video; this video will later be shown to the entire school.

The community also took part in a movie night at the Kent Theatre. Miracles from Heaven—a touching story about a little girl who was cured of a disorder after a terrible accident occurred—brought many community members out in support. Dinner at Culver’s allowed students to “work” for one night to raise extra money for the Ricker family; 10 percent of the evening’s profit will be given to them.

Many students and community members came out to support the fundraisers. Instead of hosting events to promote FFA, the club decided to take a more meaningful opportunity to help a family in their community. Cedar Springs is a wonderful place to live and serve.

Many of the same members who took part in FFA Week also participated in leadership contests a few weeks prior. Leadership contest were held at Beal City; the chapter was very proud of their participants. The results are the following: Ag. Issues-2nd place, Cecelia Brandt, Tanner Anderson, and Evan Young. Demonstration-2nd place, Diane Howe, Mykenzie Gage, and Kaitlin Rounds. Demonstration-4th place, Adam Parker and Cade Hall. Job Interview-6th place, Jeff Davis. Job Interview-7th place, Dylan McConnon. Public Speaking-1st place, Madison Strain. Public Speaking-5th place, Nathan Schoen. Congratulations to Madison, Evan, Cecelia, Kaitlin, Tanner, Diane, and Mykenzie for moving on to Regional contests. Regardless of the results, each member put in hard work and bettered their skills by getting involved.

Now that leadership contests are over, the chapter is shifting their focus to Spring skills contests. they currently have a Livestock Judging team and a Forestry team. The FFA chapter has been busy serving their community while learning lifelong skills along the way. Thank you to the community members, businesses, and alumni for their endless support.

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Community supports En Gedi fundraiser

Pastor Craig Owens and some of the En Gedi youth at their fundraiser last weekend. Courtesy photo.

Pastor Craig Owens and some of the En Gedi youth at their fundraiser last weekend. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs High School cafeteria was bubbling with excitement last Friday when approximately 175 attendees gathered for the one and only En Gedi annual fundraiser event. En Gedi is a Christ-centered Cedar Springs non-profit organization focused on keeping kids in our community safe, encouraged, and mentored. A free afterschool youth center is provided for students in grades 6-8th grades, along with special events throughout the year for high school students and community members.

This year’s event brought in proceeds totaling $20,995.50, with those funds being matched by CS Manufacturing and equaling almost $42,000. “Once again the business owners and community members have been extremely supportive of En Gedi. This event continues to be a humbling experience due to the outpouring of support,” explained John Huffman, En Gedi Board Trustee and Event Chairman.

The evening began with 12 tables lined with a wide variety of items ranging from college sports tickets, home furnishings, outdoor and hunting equipment, games, tools, collectable dolls, athletic training items, subscriptions, and many more items attendees could bid for through a silent auction.

The En Gedi 8th Grade Student Leaders gave testimonials on why they appreciate the after-school youth center. While the program is free to all students, the estimated cost is $150 per student per year. The center serves an average of 75 students per day and approximately 130 different students per school year.

The last segment of the event included a live auction with opportunities to Sponsor-a-Student and then bid on the larger items, which included a speed bike, kayak, leather recliner, Tiger tickets, guided pheasant hunt, and more.

En Gedi is dependent upon donations to achieve the organization’s mission of “building up families in our community.” In addition to Huffman’s leadership on this year’s event, he was assisted by Kevin Pike, Jodi Coxon, Liz Pigorsh, Chris Mabie, as well as all the En Gedi board members.

A Free Family Day at the Belmont YMCA is currently scheduled for Friday, April 28, an early release day for Cedar Springs Public Schools. Please check out the En Gedi Facebook page or contact Pastor Craig for more details and to register. All families in the area are welcome.

Pastor Craig Owens serves as the Youth Center Director, assisted by Pastor Josh Schram and Tabi Carter, along with volunteer adult and high school honor society students.

“Part of our goal at the youth center is to introduce various hobbies, life skills, and special interests to our young people. If community members would like to get involved, please contact me at Craig@CSCalvary.org,” said Pastor Owens.

Huffman added, “The entire En Gedi Team would like to thank everyone who has and continues to support this local mission within our community. Your commitment to the youth of our community is greatly appreciated. Mark your calendars now for next year’s event in mid-March!”

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Benefit to help family of third grader with cancer

Beach third grader Emma Orr with her mom, Michelle Crawford, stepdad Zak Fisk, and brother Tyler, 11. Courtesy photo.

Beach third grader Emma Orr with her mom, Michelle Crawford, stepdad Zak Fisk, and brother Tyler, 11. Courtesy photo.

Emma sleeping soundly. Courtesy photo.

Emma sleeping soundly. Courtesy photo.

March 24, 6-8 p.m. at Beach Elementary

By Judy Reed

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 lives here in Cedar Springs with her mom and stepdad, Michelle Crawford and Zak Fisk, and brother, Tyler, 11. Michelle related how she first knew something was wrong with Emma.

“Emma woke me up with a serious bloody nose, and as the days followed, she became very pale with high fevers and she all but quit eating. Emma was admitted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital September 24, 2015 and a series of tests were taken including an MRI, bone marrow and blood tests. On September 25, 2015, 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.”

Emma Orr has relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. Courtesy photo.

Emma Orr has relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. Courtesy photo.

Michelle couldn’t believe what she heard. “I was an emotional roller coaster running off of 2-3 hours of sleep. I was in denial at first because Emma was always a healthy child,” she explained.

According to cancer.gov, Neuroblastoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in neuroblasts (immature nerve tissue) in the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. In stage 4, it has spread to distant lymph nodes or other parts of the body, and may be hard to cure.

Emma started on treatment immediately. According to Michelle, Emma completed 8 rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, four cycles of antibody therapy and 12 rounds of radiation. Her treatments started September 2015 and went until August 2016. On June 10, 2016, she went into remission.

It lasted six months.

On December 12, 2016, Emma, now in third grade, relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. There were four tumors with the main tumor wrapped around blood vessels. Emma was given a 0 percent chance of survival.

“Emma did 17 rounds of radiation in hopes to shrink the tumors and expand her life a little longer,” explained Michelle. She said that radiation did shrink some of the tumors, however it has caused the main tumor to start bleeding. Emma’s survival chance went up slightly to 5 percent, but the bleeding will only increase as time goes on.

The Post asked Michelle how much Emma knows about this, and how is she taking it?

“Emma realizes her chance to survive is small and she understands the bleeding will continue to get worse until the unthinkable happens.”

The family is making the most of and treasuring their time together with Emma. “Emma has dropped out of school to spend more time with family as time is ticking away,” said Michelle. “It’s been a very emotional experience for all family members involved and we are all just trying to enjoy having Emma with us as long as possible.”

Recently, they attended Disney World together and made many happy memories, through a trip made possible by the Make-A-Wish foundation. “She loved every moment of it. Emma got to meet almost every princess possible and she loved the roller coasters!”

Emma’s mom said that insurance has covered about 90 percent of Emma’s medical treatments and some of the prescriptions. But they still need some financial support. There is a gofundme page set up at http://tinyurl.com/emmaorr for those who wish to donate.

Also, the Beach Elementary PTO is holding a special 25-cent sale fundraiser for Emma on Friday evening, March 24, from 6-8 p.m. Come join in a fun night of shopping to help raise money for Emma and her family. Booths will be set up with local direct sales consultants. Two raffle prizes will be available from each booth, each valued at a minimum of $25. Purchase 25-cent raffle tickets throughout the event and drop your tickets into the cup next to the raffle prize you wish to win. To make it even better, for every $10 spent at the booths, you will earn Golden Tickets. Golden Tickets get placed into a separate raffle drawing. One lucky winner will be announced at the end of the event. That lucky winner will receive a raffle prize valued at a minimum of $25 from each of the booths present. There will also be a custom Fight for Emma “No one fights alone” bracelet at the Plunder Design booth. Be sure to check that out.

To follow Emma’s fight, you can follow the Fight for Emma facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/732117343587400/.

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