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First queen recalls pageant

The first Red Flannel Queen, Maxine Smith Townsend, tries on a pair of the red longjohns that made Cedar Springs famous. This photo was taken in 1939. 

This article is a partial reprint of an article that appeared in the Cedar Springs Clipper on October 4, 1977, 38 years after the first Red Flannel Festival.

Maxine Smith Townsend, the first Red Flannel Queen, lives quietly with her husband in nearby Rockford. 

Mrs. Townsend was 16 when she became Red Flannel Queen in 1939. A tiny 4-foot 10-inches, she appeared in the contest in a hunting outfit. Because of her small stature, she recalls, “I had a problem with those hunting clothes.” Fitting men’s hunting garb on a 4-foot 10-inch frame was far from easy she says.

“I remember looking at all of us in those hunting clothes,” Mrs. Townsend says, “and wondering how the judges could even tell us apart.” 

The next year Red Flannel Queen contestants appeared in long gowns.

In 1939, Mrs. Townsend says Cedar Springs businessmen picked a girl to sponsor as a contest entry. Selection, she says, was mainly based on interviews.

As Red Flannel Queen, she not only presided over the Red Flannel Day festivities, but also presented red flannels to Michigan Governor Lurel Dickinson, who passed them on to his legal advisor, Judge Emerson R. Boyles. Dickinson’s summation of red flannel underwear: “It itches.”

During the year she rode the Snow Train to Petoskey for the Winter Sports Festival. Cedar Springs residents had chartered a car, she recalls. At Petoskey, she presented red flannels to Snow Queen Adelyne Eustrom.

She has fond memories of the Clipper Girls, Nina Babcock and the late Grace Hamilton, credited with starting the Red Flannel celebration.

“The Clipper Girls were dolls,” Mrs. Townsend says, “just terrific.”

Many thanks to Leonard Cadwell for bringing in this issue of the Cedar Springs Clipper.

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Red Flannel to celebrate 80 years

By Judy Reed 

Warm days and chilly nights, football, leaves beginning to change color—it all can mean only one thing—fall is almost here and it’s Red Flannel Festival time again! And not only is it that time again, it’s a milestone year. It was exactly 80 years ago that our town celebrated the first ever Red Flannel Festival. To celebrate that, the Post will be running a few articles that are oldies but goodies over the next few weeks—articles that will give you some insight on what it was like way back then, and how it came to be. The first one we are running this week on page one—Memories of the first Red Flannel Queen.

In line with the 80th celebration is this year’s theme: Still going 80—celebrating 80 years! According to RFF president Nancy Deyman, Rose Powell came up with this year’s theme. Brynadette Powell created the initial rough draft design of the logo, and artist Doris Vinton created the final design. 

The fun once again covers two weekends: September 27-28, and September October 4-5.

There will be a Silent Light Parade on the evening of September 27 after the football game, and lots of fun activities on Saturday, September 28, including
Kids Zone day from 11 -2 in the Heart of Cedar Springs park with games, bounce houses, raffle tickets for purchase, etc.; a 5/10k run/walk; a chili cook off from 9-noon; and the Lumberjack Supper and Queen’s pageant in the evening. That’s right—the chili cook off is back! Read more about that and some of the other events in our Red Flannel Post. Download here RedFlannelPost3819.pdf

Things to know about Red Flannel Day: the Lumberjack Show is back again this year; the car show will be back downtown again this year using both sides of Elm St.; the Market Place has been moved this year to Church Street; and the Children’s parade will line up inside the Main Parade (it no longer will be in the beginning of the main parade). 

Red Flannel booklets have been distributed around town at area businesses, and keep watching the Post for more news and information and a complete schedule of upcoming events!

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School saves taxpayers $500,000 by refinancing bonds

On Tuesday, September 10, 2019, Cedar Springs Public Schools successfully refinanced its School Loan Revolving Fund (SLRF) Balance, and saved the taxpayers over $500,000 in interest payments.

The District received its “AA” rating on the Michigan School Loan Qualification Program and an “A+” underlying district rating from Standard and Poor’s. The underlying rating reflects the District’s stable economy and a strong market value per capita, coupled with access to the greater Grand Rapids area. Steady enrollment projections, two consecutive audited general fund surpluses and moderate debt with above-average amortization were also contributing factors.

The day of pricing saw stable market conditions. The bonds, which have a final maturity of November 1, 2026, attracted interest from multiple investors, which is a strong indication that the Board and Administration are responsibly managing the District’s finances. The Board of Education recognized the opportunity to save taxpayer dollars and took advantage of a great bond climate for issuers.  

“Many other districts throughout the state are now following our lead and taking advantage of the great rate climate and are refunding their SLRF balances,” explained Cedar Springs Schools Superintendent Scott Smith. “Our goal is to be good stewards of the dollars provided to us by local taxes. The community and School District should be very pleased with the results of the bond sale.”

The federally taxable 2019 bonds were refunded in the amount of $6,100,000 at a lower interest rate for seven years. 

“The School District was able to save over $504,000 in interest payments for our taxpayers with a new true interest rate of 2.18 percent. The SBLF current variable rate is 3.40 percent and has a minimum 3.00 percent interest rate for the fund. The difference between the SBLF rate and the new fixed true interest rate of 2.18% is the recognized savings,” explained Smith.

Smith added that as the District faces an upcoming bond proposal, it is important to note that Cedar Springs Public Schools is an attractive place for investors. “Responsible financial stewardship will serve Cedar Springs Public Schools well as it looks to enhance the facilities used by our students and community.”

If you have any questions related to the 2019 refunding, please contact Scott Smith, Superintendent, at 616-696-1204 ext. 1004 or via email at scott.smith@csredhawks.org.   

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The Post travels to Alaska

The Post traveled to Ketchikan, Alaska, with Arvid Kiander of Cedar Springs when he traveled there in August to visit his sister. Together with his son and daughter-in-law, Kevin & Shila Kiander, they traveled on an Alaska Marine Highway Ferry from Bellingham, Washington to Ketchikan, through the inner passage. 

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

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 a photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Taking a ride on the wild side

Just because you grow older doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the things you used to, or that you can’t dare to pursue a dream. The Sparta Senior Neighbors have been doing just that. 

The Sparta Senior Neighbors Center consists of seniors from all over Kent County, including Sparta, Rockford, Cedar Springs, Sand Lake, Kent City, and Comstock Park.  There is no cost for membership and all are welcome. The center offers meals, socialization, exercise, trips and parties for any senior citizen, with or without membership. 

“We are currently working through our bucket lists with enthusiasm and excitement,” said Jane Ringler, coordinator at the center. “We are attempting to fulfill dreams if possible; many of the older generation still envision living life to the fullest.”   

The most recent opportunity came on Friday, September 6, when Hal and Sharon Vandervoord and the Sparta Moose Lodge bikers gave their time to help seniors check off yet another item from their bucket list. The morning was filled with the roar of Harleys, music, fun, and laughter. Every senior, including those who came out to watch, had a great time.  

“Friendships are a big part of staying active and healthy,” said Ringler. “To feel young at heart and get encouragement from friends is exhilarating.” 

For anyone who may be interested in the quest for new adventures and working on their bucket list with friends, please stop by the Sparta Senior Neighbors Center at 100 Ida Red Ave, inside the Harvest Way building, in Sparta. They meet Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and lunch is served at 11:30 a.m.

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Final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of year starts Saturday

As summer gives way to fall, volunteers will soon fan out along Michigan state roadsides looking for trash during the year’s final Adopt-A-Highway pickup. Thousands of volunteers in the popular Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) program will be picking up litter from Saturday, Sept. 21, through Sunday, Sept. 29.

There are three scheduled Adopt-A-Highway pickups each year: one each in the spring, summer and fall. Volunteers in Michigan have been participating in the program since 1990. Every year, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers collect 65,000 to 70,000 bags of trash. The popular program has grown to involve nearly 2,800 groups cleaning 6,100 miles of highway.

Motorists should be on the lookout beginning Saturday for volunteers wearing high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash.

Volunteers include members of civic groups, businesses and families. Crew-members have to be at least 12 years old and each group must include at least three people. Groups are asked to adopt a section of highway for at least two years. There is no fee to participate. Adopt-A-Highway signs bearing group names are posted along the stretches of adopted highway.

Sections of highway are available for adoption all over the state. Getting involved in the program is straightforward. Interested groups can get more information at www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway.

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Recall: 5 lb bags Gold Medal unbleached all purpose flour

General Mills announced on September 16, 2019, a voluntary national recall of five-pound bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour with a better if used by date of September 6, 2020. The recall is being issued for the potential presence of E. coli O26, which was discovered during sampling of the five-pound bag product. This recall is being issued out of an abundance of care, as General Mills has not received any direct consumer reports of confirmed illnesses related to this product.

This recall only affects this one date code of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour five-pound bags. All other types of Gold Medal Flour are not affected by this recall.

Consumers are asked to check their pantries and dispose of the product affected by this recall. Consumers who have had to discard products covered by this recall may contact General Mills Consumer Relations at 1-800-230-8103. or visit www.generalmills.com/flour.

Guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to warn that consumers should refrain from consuming any raw products made with flour. E. coli O26 is killed by heat through baking, frying, sautéing or boiling products made with flour. All surfaces, hands and utensils should be properly cleaned after contact with flour or dough.

This voluntary recall includes the following code date currently in stores or consumers’ pantries:

Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose 5LB Flour

Package UPC: 016000 196100

Recalled Better if Used by Date: 06SEP2020KC

Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick. E. coli O26 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Seniors, the very young, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

Any consumers concerned about an illness should contact a physician. Anyone diagnosed by a physician as having an illness related to E. coli O26 is also urged to contact state and local public health authorities.

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Man wanted in bank fraud case

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Post in Rockford are asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect in a bank fraud case.

Police said the suspect used bank cards from a victim’s wallet to withdraw over $300 in cash from the Chemical Bank in Belmont, and then purchased nearly $400 worth of items at the Walmart store in Greenville.

The suspect is a white male with tattoos on his left arm and may be driving a silver two-door vehicle, possibly a Ford Mustang. Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to please contact D/Sgt. Denise Bentley or Tpr. Jordan Tromp of the MSP Rockford Post at 616-866-4411.

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Community rallies to Breakthrough events

Many people here in Cedar Springs had never heard of the miraculous true story behind the movie Breakthrough, until last weekend. That’s when they not only got to see the movie, which is a Fox/Disney production now out on DVD—but they got to meet the real life characters as well.

L to R: Pastor Jason Noble, John Smith, and his mother, Joyce Smith shared their story with the audience at the Breakthrough events. Courtesy photos

The movie tells the story of the miraculous recovery of 14-year-old John Smith, who fell through the ice on a lake in St. Louis, Missouri in 2015. He was underwater for 15 minutes—and had no pulse for an hour. It was then that his mother prayed for Jesus to send his Holy Spirit and bring her boy back to life—and he did. But that was just the beginning of an amazing story.

A group of community leaders here in Cedar Springs wanted to give people the opportunity to see the movie and hear this inspirational story, so they created a weekend of events and brought the three main real life characters from the movie here to tell their story.

Last weekend’s Breakthrough events totaled almost 1,000 attendees. The events were coordinated by a Breakthrough Committee comprised of representatives from En Gedi, City Impact, Resurrection Life Church Rockford, and The Springs Church along with additional support from numerous community members, businesses, and organizations. 

The first of three events took place at the new community amphitheater located in the downtown Heart of Cedar Springs Park just west of the Community Library on Saturday evening. City Impact’s monthly worship service began at 5 p.m. A free roasted pig and hot dog dinner followed the service for the estimated 600 folks gathered. 

“It was a heart-warming site to witness the many community members and families sitting on blankets and lawn chairs surrounding the amphitheater and visiting with each other under perfect weather conditions,” said Sue Wolfe, and En Gedi representative working on the Breakthrough committee. “I believe this is exactly what was envisioned by all those who worked so hard on making the amphitheater a reality. Having this facility and working in partnership with existing organizations to provide free community-building events is part of En Gedi’s mission.” 

While waiting for the darkness to fall and the movie to begin, three of the real people featured in the movie Breakthrough spoke with the crowd and answered questions. A tapestry of miracles unfolded following John Smith’s accident, which were beautifully articulated by John, his mother Joyce Smith, and their then pastor, Jason Noble. John shared his story of struggling with being adopted, being rescued and brought back to life, and the loss of his opportunity to be a collegiate basketball player. Both his mother and pastor also shared their challenges and victories. 

“Our community is so fortunate to actually have three of the real people from this top ranked movie here to share their personal testimony. John is in his first year of college; Joyce has had some health issues; and Pastor Jason now lives in Oregon. Yet, they coordinated their schedules with a commitment to be here and share their walk of faith,” said Julie Wheeler, who was instrumental in making this connection and part of the Breakthrough Committee. 

Once it became dark enough and just prior to the start of the movie, the crowd paused, stood, and applauded in recognition and thanks for our local fire, rescue, and police officers. The movie features a heroic rescue by the St. Louis area fire, rescue, and police departments that set the stage to be reminded of the men and women who serve our community each and every day. 

The movie was then played on the 22-foot inflatable movie screen, donated by City Manager Michael Womack and his wife, Glenna. 

Sunday’s journey began with two worship services at Resurrection Life Church Rockford featuring Pastor Noble and the Smiths. After that, events took place at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Cedar Springs High School Auditorium, which included showing the movie, personal presentations, and the opportunity to ask questions. Ladies and Men of Honor, a partner with En Gedi, were on hand to share information about their faith-based program of developing honorable ladies and men. 

City Impact co-directors, Kelley Jo and Jonathan Bergsma, along with Sally Hart, Resurrection Life Church Rockford member, and Pastor Craig Owens, Executive Director for En Gedi’s free after-school youth center, were all instrumental with their leadership on the Breakthrough Team as well as securing funding and resources. 

“It was definitely a team effort to bring these events to Cedar Springs, which is what City Impact is all about,” explained Kelley Jo. “City Impact is an outreach organization for our community. I am grateful for all the businesses, organizations, and people who jumped in to help over the past weekend.” 

The Springs Church provided movie-goers with popcorn and had offered their fellowship hall as a back-up in the case of inclement weather on Saturday. Cherryl Rosenberger, The Springs Church office manager, also served on the Breakthrough Committee. 

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Students to create Athletic Hall of Fame

These Athletic Leadership Conference students spoke at the board meeting Monday evening. From L to R: Kaden Liggett, Kaylie Andres, Harlow Hovarter, Desiree Wise.

By Judy Reed

Do you know of someone that was an athlete or coach at Cedar Springs High School that excelled in their position, or went on to excel in sports outside of high school? That person might be a good candidate for the newly established Cedar Springs High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

The Cedar Springs Athletic Leadership Council (ALC), which is made up of student athletes and overseen by teacher Justin Harnden, has been working on this new Hall of Fame to “recognize and honor those Cedar Springs High School athletes, coaches, administrators, volunteers, and supporters who excelled in their respective sports or coaching/support roles.”

The student athletes have been working on the Hall of Fame for the last year—researching what other schools do, what Cedar Springs had before, planning how the nomination process will work, how the nominees will be elected, where it will be in the school. They will also design it and promote it as well.

Harnden said he knew they used to have something honoring athletes at the old high school (Red Hawk Elementary) and they had tried to find out what happened to it. He said his understanding was that it was more like press clippings and other things honoring the athletes, such as trophies. “This Hall of Fame will be something bigger and more prestigious—something at a higher level,” he explained.

Four of the students working on the project spoke with the Post on Monday, and went before the Board of Education Monday evening to talk about their plans.

“I think it’s a very special thing to start something as huge as this could be,” said Kaylie Andres, a senior. “It’s cool to acknowledge people I know and those who have been here before in athletics. It’s huge for the community.”

“We’ve been striving to improve the culture of the athletic department,” explained Harlow Hovarter, also a senior. “With this, the community gets to support our culture and see what we’ve been doing.”

Senior Kaden Liggett is excited about the work they’ve done, and will still be doing on the Hall of Fame. “I was really surprised we didn’t already have one,” he remarked. “When I have kids and bring them here, and I can point to it and tell them I helped create that. I had an impact here,” he said. 

He added that Cedar Springs is an athletically inclined community. “It’s a good way for the ALC to leave our mark,” he said.

Senor Desiree Wise has also been working on the Hall of Fame. “So many people focus on the here and now and don’t look at the success we’ve had. This will help us look at the show of leadership and be proud of what has come in the past.”

“It’s good to look at where we’ve come from and highlight Cedar Springs as a whole,” added Harlow. 

The goal is for forms for nominations to be out for distribution by Red Flannel Day, and they will take nominations through December. The forms will be available on the school website. Any community member can nominate someone, but Harnden said it would be a pretty stringent process. An athlete has to have been out of high school for 10 years. A coach has to have been at the school for at least 10 years, and then out of the school for at least five years. State champions or teams will automatically be considered, and do not have to be nominated. Once a person has been nominated, they will be up for consideration for five years. After that, they must be nominated again, and they can be nominated a total of four times.

No more than eight people will be chosen for the Hall of Fame each year, with a possible exception the first year. A board consisting 5-12 members will cast the deciding votes. To be elected, a nominee must get a yes vote from at least 75 percent of the board members. The board will be made up of the Athletic Director, a CSHS building administrator, a retired or former administrator, current and former coaches, current and former faculty members, and a current or former athletic booster member. They will each serve two-year terms. 

After the decisions are made, an induction ceremony will be held. 

The new Hall of Fame area will be in the hallway near the gymnasium, But it doesn’t come without cost. Harnden said that the Athletic Boosters have given them $1,000 in seed money, and if the community would like to donate to the Hall of Fame, they could do it through the Cedar Springs Athletic office. Any checks should note they are for the Cedar Springs Hall of Fame, and be sent in c/o AD John Norton.

Watch the Post for more information, as the forms for the first rotation of nominees for the Hall of Fame get ready to roll out!

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