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Man pleads in child porn case

 

A former Cedar Springs man recently pleaded no contest to two counts of child pornography in Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court.

According to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Circuit court records, Brian James Zimmer, 41, pled no contest on November 27 to one count of child sexually abusive commercial activity and one count of using a computer to commit a crime, as part of a plea deal. Two other charges were then dropped. 

According to court records, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent acting in an undercover capacity downloaded a child porn video on October 17, 2016, from someone that was later identified as Brian James Zimmer, of Cedar Springs. On February 7, a search warrant was executed at his then residence on Becker CT NE. Computers there were seized and examined, and 433 images of child pornography were discovered. Zimmer then confessed to agents in an interview on February 7.

Zimmer was then arrested in April, and released on bond. He has since moved to Twin Lakes.

The prosecutor’s office recommended a guideline range of 21-35 months minimum sentence to be served concurrently on both counts. Zimmer is scheduled to be sentenced on January 29 at 2 p.m.

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Sand Lake to host live nativity

 

The indoor live nativity at Sand Lake United Methodist will take you through the town of Bethlehem on the day Jesus was born, with actors of all ages dressed as various characters. Courtesy photo

By Judy Reed

Shepherds from a past nativity. Courtesy photo.

If you’d like to experience a fun family activity to celebrate Christmas that’s a little different this year, head to Sand Lake and experience the entire town of Bethlehem on the day Jesus was born through their live nativity.

The event will be held at Sand Lake United Methodist Church this weekend on Friday, December 1, from 6-8 p.m., and Saturday, December 2, from 1-3 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall.

As you walk through the nativity, actors will reenact the story. You will see shepherds watching their flocks; soldiers registering people for the census; people peddling wares; angels singing; wise men searching for the Christ child; Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. Real live animals will greet you, and a real baby will play the part of Jesus. Visitors can also enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the courtyard area.

This is the 5th year for the event, which was originally created and put on by South Ensley and Sand Lake United Methodist Churches, and now includes cast members from many of the village churches and even some that aren’t members. 

“The program takes about 30 people and we love having visitors,” said Sandra McConnell, who decorates and does publicity for the nativity. She said over 100 people walked through the live nativity last year, and they are hoping for more this year.

McConnell said that they got the idea for the live nativity when they saw one in Coopersville several years ago. “We went through it, and decided we wanted to do something like that,” she explained. Little by little, people came forward to help to make it into the event it is today. “We’ve added a lot in the last four years,” she added.

If there is anyone else who would like to be part of the nativity, you can call Sandra at 616-570-8713. 

 

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Mingle with Kris Kringle this weekend

Looking for some holiday cheer? You don’t want to miss the “Mingle with Kris Kringle” event this Saturday, December 2, put on by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The day-long event starts with make and take crafts and ornaments at the Cedar Springs Community Library at 107 N. Main St from 9-noon. You can also enjoy a story time with Mrs. Claus from 2-3 p.m. at Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more at 90 N. Main St. There will also be a meet and greet and photos with the Cedar Springs cheerleaders, a petting zoo, bake sale, and caroling from the Cedar Springs High School choir, all before the mini-parade that brings Santa to the corner of Main and Ash Street at about 4:30-4:45.

Following the parade will be a live nativity scene by Calvary Assembly of God and mingling with Kris Kringle at the American Legion Hall, where kids can get their photo taken, and do an activity while they wait. 

The fun then continues next weekend with the Kent Theatre Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 9 from 3-5 p.m., and the Kent Theatre Christmas Dance Extravaganza on Sunday, December 10, from 3-5 p.m. Admission is $3 for each show. For more info on both weekends of fun, see ad on page 10.

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It’s time for the tour of lights

Some people go crazy at Christmas decorating their home. But you don’t have to go all out (like the photo above) to get listed on the Cedar Springs Post Annual Tour of Lights! If you’ve decorated your home or yard with beautiful lights or know someone that did, please send us the address and we’ll add it to our list of places to visit. Send the address to news@cedarspringspost.com with “Tour of lights” in the subject line, or mail to Tour of Lights, c/o The Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. Or, you can call us at 696-3655. See what we have listed so far below. There is no charge to be added. 

 

 

There’s nothing like the warm glow of Christmas lights this time of year to give you a good dose of Christmas cheer! So pack up the kids, go for a ride, and enjoy the decorations your friends and neighbors have put up this year. We’re sure you’ll find a few other treasures along the way!

1. 88 N. Grant Street (Corner of Maple and Grant).

2. 65 E. Muskegon, corner of First and Muskegon Streets. The home of Larry and Audrey Young is a classic home decorated with style.

3. Downtown Cedar Springs is aglow with lights on the trees and decorations on the lampposts. 

4. 427 Northland Drive, near the corner of South Street and Northland. See the 90-foot evergreen Christmas tree at the Reep family home.

5. 15581 Cedar Springs Avenue. Take Main St north to Cedar Springs Ave. 

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Post to collect toys for needy

 

Would you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys. Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always especially needed.

Cedar Springs Wireless Zone, 4021 17 Mile Rd, and Independent Bank, 4115 17 Mile Rd, are also collecting Toys for Tots.

“We have been participating in the Toys for Tots campaign for the past four years,” said Renee Doren, general manager at Cedar Springs Wireless Zone. “The community support last year was our largest yet as we had a couple of boxes full of toys.”

Doren feels it’s important to give back to the community. “Being in a small town like Cedar Springs, there is such great community support for events like these and giving back and pulling together when needed.”

The program runs now through December 19. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to any of the businesses mentioned. If you’d like to bring one to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, we are open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Visit https://grand-rapids-mi.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx to find a drop off location near you.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

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Rockford band marches in Macy’s parade

The Rockford High School Marching Band performing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” in front of Macy’s Department Store in New York during the annual Thanksgiving parade. Courtesy photo.

The Rockford High School drum line in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Courtesy photo.

From the Rockford Squire

Thanksgiving 2017 was a day to remember for the Rockford High School Marching Band as the 308 member ensemble performed in the national spotlight in the 91st annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Over 1,000 family members and friends of the band joined 40 chaperones to witness this once in a lifetime event.

The band had a grand send off for the Thanksgiving week as hundreds of fans lined the road leading from the school with signs, fireworks and words of encouragement. After over 12 hours on the seven coach busses, the group arrived at their destination to begin their whirlwind week of activities. History and arts were mixed as the students took in the historical sights of New York including the 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Broadway show “Wicked” and the Rockette’s Holiday Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. 

Prior to the parade, the band performed a concert in Central Park and showcased for a large audience their 2017 state championship music from their show “TAO.” In addition, the listeners treated them to the Motown favorite “I Want You Back” by the Jackson-5, “Armed Forces on Parade” and the school’s fight song.

To prepare for their parade, the band had to travel two hours outside of New York City to Connecticut for rehearsal to put the finishing touches on their day in the national spotlight.

Thanksgiving morning came early with a 3:00 a.m. call time to head to Herald Square for their run through of their special performance of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in front of the iconic Macy’s store for broadcast by NBC. Following breakfast, the group headed to Central Park to line up for the 2.5-mile parade, which began at 9:00 a.m. and concluded at noon. They capped off the day with a celebratory dinner/dance cruise of the New York harbor with family and friends, where they were able to witness the NY skyline and Statue of Liberty lit up again the dark night sky.

The band thanks everyone for their support and encouragement that made this trip a reality.

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Local business reports spoofing activity

 

By Judy Reed

If you get a phone call from a local number and the caller ID says it’s White Creek Lumber or another local business, be sure it’s them before giving out any personal information.

According to Jane Gosling, of White Creek Lumber, a customer called them recently to let them know the customer had received a phone call and the caller ID showed it as White Creek Lumber—but it wasn’t. Instead, it was someone saying it was their last chance to get a lower rate on their credit card. 

The customer hung up and didn’t give out any information, which is the best thing to do, other than letting it go to voicemail.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “spoofing” occurs when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Spoofing is often used as part of an attempt to trick someone into giving away valuable personal information so it can be used in fraudulent activity or sold illegally. U.S. law and FCC rules prohibit most types of spoofing.

How does spoofing work?

Caller ID lets consumers avoid unwanted phone calls by displaying caller names and phone numbers, but the caller ID feature is sometimes manipulated by spoofers who masquerade as representatives of banks, creditors, insurance companies, or even the government.

Go to https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/spoofing-and-caller-id and scroll down the page to where it says, “How do I file a complaint on suspected spoofing?” and click on “file a complaint.”

You can also print out the Caller ID and Spoofing guide on the same page.

The Federal Trade Commission also takes reports on spoofing. You can visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 to file a complaint. The FTC then takes the data and compiles and publishes it each day at https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/open-government/data-sets/do-not-call-data to help those working on call blocking technology.

However, if you get a phone call from an 877 number that says it’s the FTC, it’s not. Don’t answer it. Scammers have also been spoofing their number. While the FTC may sometimes call you back about a report, they will not use that 877 number, and they will never ask for sensitive information, such as your bank account or social security number. 

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Business ceases operations without customer notice

 

From the Better Business Bureau

Since mid-September, more than 23 people have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau against Secure Beginnings LLC, after paying for a SafeSleep Breathable Crib Mattress, but receiving nothing. Secure Beginnings, LLC is a Michigan based business that has marketed patented “breathable” crib mattresses online and through a number of retail resellers, since 2010.

Consumers report that they placed their orders and Secure Beginnings or other retailers selling the product charged their credit cards, but they never received the merchandise. In several complaints and customer reviews, consumers say they repeatedly tried to contact the company without getting their issues resolved. 

BBB has received over 40 complaints from residents in 26 states since the company opened in 2015. Through August 2017, the business was responsive to all consumer complaints. BBB has had repeated conversations with the company founder, Julie Andreae, since September 2017, when a delay in complaint resolution first became apparent. 

Based in part on information provided by the founder of Secure Beginnings, Julie Andreae, BBB has now concluded that Secure Beginnings has ceased online operations. The company website https://www.securebeginnings.com/ is no longer available. Secure Beginnings’ SafeSleep products are still carried by other retailers, such as Walmart, Overstock.com, Amazon and on EBay. Secure Beginnings claims to have no means of issuing refunds to customers who have not received purchased items. It is unclear whether manufacturer warranties will be honored on SafeSleep products, given the current operating status of Secure Beginnings. 

Consumers who are awaiting arrival of purchases should do the following, immediately:

If purchases were made via credit card, dispute the charges with your card issuer. Contact info for the issuer is generally found on the reverse of your card. Most issuers provide an online means of filing a dispute.

If purchases were made by debit card, you must contact your issuing bank. The process for filing a debit card dispute varies. If the debit card was used “as a credit card,” meaning without supplying your pin number, you may have additional rights. Proof of purchase will be required to open the dispute.

If purchases were made via Paypal, please take the following steps:

• Log in to your PayPal account.

• Go to the Resolution Center.

• Select the dispute you want to escalate, then click Escalate.

• Follow the instructions.

• Click Escalate to a Claim.

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Should 15 Mile and Ritchie intersection be a four-way stop?

Meranda Baguss was killed at the intersection of 15 Mile and Ritchie in September when a pickup ran the stop sign. Photo from gofundme.com.

By Judy Reed

On September 15, 2017, a young Cedar Springs mother, Meranda Baguss, 31, was killed and her twin five-year-old boys critically injured when a pickup truck ran the stop sign at Ritchie and 15 Mile and slammed into her vehicle. Since then, and even before the crash, that intersection has been a topic of complaint among residents. One person related that she recently slowed down as she reached the intersection, and witnessed another pickup truck blow through the stop sign. She was glad she slowed down, especially with having her two young grandchildren in the car. After hearing this, the Post decided to contact the Kent County Road Commission to find out if the intersection qualified for some type of traffic control upgrade.

Maura Lamoreaux, spokesperson for the Kent County Road Commission, explained how the system works. “Although it seems logical that traffic control modifications would improve the safety of an intersection, it is not always the case. In some instances, the traffic control change serves to only alter the type of crashes that occur and can potentially increase the number or severity of accidents,” she explained. “Therefore, it is essential that KCRC investigates each accident thoroughly, works with law enforcement to determine causation, and follows federally-mandated warrants regarding modifications to traffic control.”

Lamoreaux said that after the accident that occurred at the 15 Mile Road and Ritchie Avenue intersection in September, KCRC conducted a crash site investigation, as is procedure for crashes involving serious injury or fatality. “This investigation included performing an updated traffic study for the intersection. The study included analysis of both traffic volume and crash history to determine if specific warrants were met to modify traffic control. These warrants are defined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the Federal Highway Administration and serve as the criteria that must be fulfilled for road agencies to implement a traffic control modification. Based on the warrant study conducted, neither volume levels nor crash numbers/patterns meet warrant criteria for a traffic control modification,” she said.

Lamoreaux said that the most recent traffic counts at this intersection indicate that the volumes are about a quarter of the required volumes.

“The accident warrant in the MUTCD states that a 4-way stop may be considered if there have been 5 or more correctable accidents in a 12-month period. Correctable accidents include right-angle, right-turn, and left-turn accidents. Over the last 5-¾ years (2012-September 2017) there have been 3 correctable (angle-type) crashes; this averages to less than 1 per year,” she explained. 

Lamoreaux added that there are currently “Stop Ahead” signs in each direction on Ritchie Avenue and intersection warning signs in both directions on 15 Mile Road.

The Kent County Road Commission will continue to monitor the intersection for changes that would warrant traffic control modification, she said.

 

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State Police reports 10 fatalities over holiday weekend

The Michigan State Police (MSP) announced on Monday, November 27, that preliminary reports indicate 10 people lost their lives in 10 separate traffic crashes during the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which is the same as the previous year. 

One of those was Christina Kent, of Cedar Springs. (See page one story.)

 “These numbers are preliminary and only reflect those fatalities reported to the MSP as of 11 a.m. today,” stated Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, State Services Bureau. “The preliminary numbers show the same number of fatalities from this holiday period last year. The MSP continues to urge motorists not to drive while impaired, always use proper restraints and to make responsible driving decisions.” 

The 2017 Thanksgiving holiday weekend ran from 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 22, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. 

Operation C.A.R.E. is a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing traffic crashes and fatalities on highways across the country. It began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Indiana State Police. Today, Operation C.A.R.E. is one of the nation’s longest running traffic safety initiatives and includes state and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, as well as some American territories, Canadian provinces, and the Virgin Islands. Beginning this year, Operation C.A.R.E. includes participation from police agencies affiliated with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as well. 

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