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Courtland man dies after crashing into tree

 

This photo shows the tire tracks where the man’s pickup ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Photo from Woodtv.com.

This photo shows the tire tracks where the man’s pickup ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Photo from Woodtv.com.

Police believe alcohol and speed may have been a factor in a crash that killed a Courtland Township man early Wednesday morning.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, an off-duty Grand Rapids police officer came upon the crash scene on 14 Mile Ct, near Northland Drive, shortly before 2 a.m., April 12, and discovered a 56-year-old Rockford man unresponsive, after striking a tree with his pickup truck.

The Sheriff Department, Courtland Fire/Rescue, and Rockford Ambulance then responded to the scene.

The man was identified as Jeffery Alan Peterson, 56, of Courtland Township. He was driving a 2008 Lincoln Mark LT. He was the only person in the vehicle.

The crash is still under investigation.

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Major US-131 project starts this week

MDOT plans to reconstruct the stretch of US131 from south of 14 Mile to two miles north of where it crosses over White Creek Ave.

MDOT plans to reconstruct the stretch of US131 from south of 14 Mile to two miles north of where it crosses over White Creek Ave.

The road project many residents have hoped for finally begins this Thursday, April 13.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will invest $22 million to reconstruct northbound and southbound US-131 between 14 Mile Road and White Creek Avenue (just north of 17 Mile Road). Work also includes repairing three bridges, culvert and drainage improvements, new signs, and ramp reconstruction at 14 Mile Road and 17 Mile Road.

Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction with the use of temporary crossovers and a split-merge traffic shift. This configuration is scheduled to go into effect April 21. Intermittent ramp and lane closures will be used throughout the project.

Ramp closures for ramp reconstruction will be allowed for a maximum of 14 calendar days per ramp. Ramps to be reconstructed include all 17 Mile Rd ramps, northbound 14 Mile Rd on ramp, and southbound 14 Mile Rd off ramp.

Visit www.Michigan.gov/drive for updates and sign up to receive Kent County traffic notices via text or email.

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Sand Lake motorcyclist killed in crash

 

Jonathon David Allan Harden

Jonathon David Allan Harden

A 25-year-old Sand Lake man died last weekend after his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck in Plainfield Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, witnesses said that Jonathon David Allan Harden, of the Village of Sand Lake, was headed eastbound on Rogue River Rd near Woodwater Dr, in Plainfield Township, on Saturday, April 8, about 6:45 p.m., when he drifted into the westbound lane for some reason and was struck by a westbound pickup truck.

Harden died at the scene from his injuries.

The driver of the pickup truck, Ryan Dargie, 40, of Rockford, was uninjured. His front seat passenger, Crystal Dargie, 35, of Rockford, sustained a minor hand injury.

Plainfield Fire and Rockford Ambulance assisted at the scene.

Police believe that the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet. The crash is still under investigation. Speed and alcohol are not believed to be factors in this crash.

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The Post travels to the Bahamas

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The Post recently traveled to the Bahamas with the Mabie family. Shown here is June Mabie, with her great-granddaughters, Emerson and Failla, in the Bahamas during the first week of March.

Thanks so much for taking us with you to the warm, sunny Bahamas!

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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House burned for training

Pictured here with area firefighters is Taylor and Eli Gunderson, during the last burn on their old home. Courtesy photo.

Pictured here with area firefighters is Taylor and Eli Gunderson, during the last burn on their old home. Courtesy photo.

When a Cedar Springs family decided to build a new home on their property, they decided to donate their old home to a good cause—fire training.

According to Jaime Gunderson, they built the new home behind the old one, and offered the old home to the Solon Fire Department, who has used it for the last year for training. On March 25, Solon and firefighters from other area departments burned it down.

Gunderson said the property has been in the family for 75 years. “We will clean up the mess and fill in the hole (basement), and turn it into a yard (with grass) for our new house,” explained Gunderson.

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Adopt-A-Highway in Michigan begins 

 

N-Adopt-a-highway1First litter pickup April 15


Highway roadsides across lower Michigan get their first cleanup of the year beginning Saturday. Volunteers in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program will pick up litter from April 15 to 23.

Due to snow still on the ground in some areas, the first Adopt-A-Highway pickup for the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula will be later, from April 29 to May 7.

“Adopt-A-Highway volunteers take great pride in keeping Michigan roadsides clean,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “We have tremendous appreciation for their hard work. Please be alert and drive with caution when you see the crews picking up.”

N-Adopt-a-highway-fastfactsVolunteers pick up litter three times each year. Statewide, there will be a summer pickup from July 15 to 23 and a fall pickup from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.

Dedicated AAH volunteers collected about 65,000 bags of trash last year, an estimated $5 million value for the state. Volunteers wear high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests required by federal regulations when working within a highway right of way. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash.

The AAH enters its 27th year in 2017 with more than a quarter century of accomplishments behind it. There are 2,887 groups currently active in the program, and they’ve collected more than 2 million bags of litter the state’s roadsides since 1990. Currently, 6,400 miles of highway are adopted.

Current volunteers include members of various civic groups, businesses, and families. Crew members have to be at least 12 years old and each group must number at least three people.

Sections of highway are still available for adoption. Groups are asked to adopt a section for at least two years. Adopt-A-Highway signs bearing a group’s name are posted along the stretch of adopted highway. There is no fee to participate.

Several landfills in southwestern Michigan are also chipping in to help the Adopt-A-Highway Program. Westside Landfill in Cass County, C&C Landfill in Calhoun County, Orchard Hill Landfill in Berrien County, and Republic Services Gembrit Circle Transfer Station in Kalamazoo, have all agreed to accept trash generated by the three annual scheduled AAH pickups at no charge. In exchange, they receive a sign recognizing their support. Most of these landfills have been making this contribution since 2010.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/adoptahighway.

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School board considers privatizing busing

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By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday, March 27, to finalize contract issues, and heard information on the possibility of privatizing transportation.

Earlier in March, a split board had voted to issue non-renewals of contracts for high school principal Ron Behrenwald and transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin. Those were rescinded after Behrenwald and the administration agreed on a contract, and Gavin decided to retire from public education. It appears he will likely go to work at Dean Transportation, and do the same job he is doing now with Cedar Springs, if the school chooses to privatize.

The board did vote 5-2 to approve a non-renewal for part time employee Linda Bayink. Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn explained that Linda had been with the school for many years and they couldn’t appreciate her more, but they needed someone full time in that position. She said that Linda understood, and that they were hoped to keep her in the district, and that they were checking out other positions for her. Both Ted Sabinas and Michelle Bayink voted no, with Sabinas saying he didn’t think it was an accurate account.

The board heard a presentation on the possibility of subcontracting busing to Deans Transportation. Dean’s currently buses Cedar Springs special education students, and several area districts also currently use them, including Sparta, Tri County, Muskegon, Reeths Puffer, Grand Rapids, Kent Intermediate School District, and Ottawa Intermediate School District.

VanDuyn said that the same team that currently oversees Cedar Springs transportation would be running it for Dean’s, using the same software, and from the same building they currently work out of. The buses would be housed at Cedar Springs, and Dean’s is willing to hire the drivers.

In January they received an informal quote from Dean’s, then meetings began with the district and the bus drivers. VanDuyn said they wanted the drivers to know what it would look like to be employed by Dean’s, what their pensions would like, etc., so had Dean’s meet with the drivers, then the drivers met with the administration. Then, in a private vote, the bus drivers voted to go with Dean’s. There were 21 drivers present, with 16 voting yes, 3 no, and 2 undecided.

Gavin said that when he started in the 1970s in transportation, it was a whole different type of job—many retirees and others who only needed some part time work took advantage of the job. He said that now, with all the changes, such as training and medical requirements, it’s no longer really part time. “You can’t expect to keep people working split shifts with no insurance and no summer hours. We haven’t been fully staffed for the last 6-10 years.” He also noted their aging bus fleet. “If Dean comes in, we’ll automatically nine buses out,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s the right thing to do at this point.”

Bus driver Rebecca Fisk, who has been with the district for 15 years, spoke to the board on behalf of the bus drivers. She told the board that to be honest, she was going to work for Dean (no matter what they decided). “They have what I need,” she said. She explained how she is supposed to be unassigned—to sub for other drivers—but they are understaffed. “When Obamacare hit, it reduced my hours to 28. It hurt. That’s $300-$400 a month. At Dean’s we can get that,” she said.

The 2016/2017 Transportation Budget is $2,943,208, The 2017/2018 Transportation Budget is set at $3,683,314, which includes six new buses and two mechanics instead of just one, because they cannot keep up with the repairs.

The proposed budget from Dean’s, comparing apples to apples will be $1,774,274. The school will still be responsible for fuel ($270,000) and payments to other schools ($1,146,000), for a total of  $3,190,274. That’s a savings of $493,040.

Dean’s will also purchase their bus fleet at blue book value, which causes a one-time infusion into the budget of $638,600. Between the savings and the purchase of the bus fleet, the school would see a financial impact of $1,132,640.

They also received bids from three others:

Durham bid $1,615,000 plus requiring CSPS to buy buses as follows: 1st yr 12, 2nd yr 1, 4th yr 13.

First Student bid $1,450,000, a generic quote per bus figure but it was verbal only with nothing in writing.

Operation Engineers Local 324 – Operate as they  currently do or $3,683,314 with CSPS running all operations.

Sabinas noted that when he was asked if he could attend the meeting between the administration and the bus drivers, he was told yes (by board president Matt Shoffner) and that later he was told no by VanDuyn.

“I know that I said that,” explained Shoffner, “but I did send an email rescinding that saying that it probably wasn’t the best thing for one of us to be there.”

Sabinas noted that it was a big decision. “We will be remembered as the board that decided,” he remarked.

The board may vote on it at their next meeting on April 24, at 6:45 p.m.

In other action, the board also voted to update facility fees for users within and outside of the community.

For a complete list of items discussed and voted on, visit the school website at www.csredhawks.org. The meetings are also recorded on video, and you can access them through the school website.

 

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Tornado confirmed in Kent/Ionia Counties

This covered bridge at Tyler Creek in Bowne Township sustained damage from Monday night’s tornado. It was built in 1955. Photo from Woodtv.com.

This covered bridge at Tyler Creek in Bowne Township sustained damage from Monday night’s tornado. It was built in 1955. Photo from Woodtv.com.

By Judy Reed

Tornado sirens sounded here in Cedar Springs and all across Kent County Monday evening, April 10, as severe thunderstorms rolled through.

N-Tornado2-pathThe National Weather Service in Grand Rapids confirmed that a brief EF-1 tornado formed and touched down in southeast Kent County about 8:36 p.m. and traveled about five miles into.

According to the NWS report: “Dozens of large trees were snapped or uprooted and three barns were heavily damaged. The damage began on 100th St just east of Alden Nash Ave and then continued to the east-northeast, crossing Wingeier Ave where a barn lost metal roofing. One metal section was carried 0.6 miles by the tornado and landed in a field. The tornado damage intensified as the funnel narrowed and crossed 92nd St in the vicinity of the Tyler Creek Golf Course, where a swath of trees were snapped and uprooted. Peak winds in this area were estimated at 90 mph. The tornado crossed Freeport Ave and Keim Road. It then crossed Hastings Road with peak winds estimated around 65 mph, taking down large tree limbs. The damage ended around Bell Road north of Keim Road.”

The tornado lasted about five minutes. It was the first tornado in Kent County this year. Last year there were two.

Next week (April 16-22) is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and according to Michigan’s Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, there were 16 tornadoes across Michigan in 2016. Michigan averages about 15 each year. Six of the 16 tornadoes occurred across the Upper Peninsula, a record for that peninsula. All of the tornadoes in Michigan were in the weak categories of EF0 and EF1 (tornadoes are rated from the weakest EF0 to the strongest EF5).

The August 20, 2016 tornado outbreak across southwest Lower Michigan was the most damaging and significant event across the state in 2016. Six tornadoes touched down from Bangor to Grand Rapids to Orleans, causing over $5 million in damages. The longest and strongest of the August 20 tornadoes touched down just southwest of Bangor and then tracked through the town. The 10-mile long EF-1 winds estimated up to 110 mph, caused the entire city to lose power and downed hundreds of trees. Multiple structures in Bangor were damaged, including the police department. The outbreak also produced two EF0 tornadoes in the metro Grand Rapids area. The first hit Grandville and Wyoming, and the second was in Grand Rapids. Both of these tornadoes downed trees, some onto homes.

Kent County has seen 35 tornadoes from 1950-2016, the second highest number of tornadoes in the state. Genesee leads with 45 tornadoes during that same time frame, and Kent is followed by Monroe County with 34, and Allegan with 33.

“Severe Weather Awareness Week is the time of year to learn what to do before, during and after severe weather occurs,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “That includes flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes. By taking the initiative and learning about possible hazards, you and your family will be better prepared when an emergency or disaster happens.”

Spring and summer frequently bring fast-changing weather conditions that increase the potential for severe weather. Steps can be taken to prepare before severe weather strikes to minimize damage and ensure safe evacuation or shelter, such as understanding severe weather warnings and terms, preparing an emergency supply kit, making an emergency plan, and creating an emergency contact list.

To learn more about severe weather in Michigan and what you should do, download the Severe Weather Awareness packet at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/SWApacket_554981_7.pdf.

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Kent County announces Smart911 to help save lives

 

Residents can now sign up for free service that provides first responders with critical information

The Kent County Dispatch Authority is investing in the community’s safety by adopting Smart911.

Smart911 is a nationwide service that allows individuals to create an online safety profile for their household, which provides key information to 911 call takers during an emergency. This information enables faster and more effective emergency response by law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. When citizens who have signed up with Smart911 make 911 calls, their safety profile is automatically displayed to 911, providing dispatchers with an enhanced level of information that can assist in assigning the correct public safety responders.

Available for the first time to Kent County residents, this free service enables them to create individual and household profiles at www.smart911.com. Residents can add photos, detailed medical information, pets, cell phones, vehicle descriptions and other information that can be critical during an emergency situation.

“Smart911saves critical time in an emergency and has proven to save lives nationwide,” said Curtis Holt, chair of the Kent County Dispatch Authority. “The additional information provided in a Smart911 safety profile can save critical minutes in an emergency and help responders offer better services. Smart911 allows residents to link both home and work addresses to mobile phones, which can be passed on to responders in the field for a more detailed, rapid response. All information is optional, and each citizen has the ability to choose what they would like to include.”

Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. The service has been credited with positively impacting emergency outcomes, including the recovery of a missing child, whose photo and physical description were immediately available to law enforcement units, as well as a heart attack victim, whose address and medical notes allowed responders to be dispatched to his location and provide timely medical assistance.

“The benefits of having detailed information on a 911 call from a cell phone are immeasurable,” Holt said. “Mobile phones do not provide an address to the 911 call taker. In situations like a weather emergency, seconds matter, and the additional information in a safety profile allows help to arrive better prepared.”

Kent County residents are encouraged to create their safety profile with Smart911 at www.smart911.com to ensure their information is available to 911. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the secure online form that will be stored in the confidential Smart911 database. All information is kept private and protected and is only available to 911.

About Kent County Dispatch Authority

The Kent County Dispatch Authority was formed in 2007 to address issues that related to 911 services in the County. KCDA develops policies and procedures for administering 911, creates the annual operating and capital budget, establishes goals and objectives through a strategic plan for future technological or operational enhancements, distributes 911 surcharge funds and other initiatives to maximize efficiency of 911 services. For more information, visit www.kent911.org.

About Smart911

Currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities, Smart911 allows citizens to create a free Safety Profile online for their household that includes information they want 911 and response teams to have during an emergency, such as their address, medical conditions, pets, etc. When an emergency call is made, a citizen’s Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the 911 call-taker. Last year, 25 million 911 calls were assisted by Safety Profiles. All information is kept private and secure, only appearing when the associated number calls 911.

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MDHHS reminds parents spring chicks may carry Salmonella

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LANSING, Mich. – Health experts at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are warning parents about the potential for baby poultry to carry Salmonella. A common bacteria found in the droppings of poultry, Salmonella can cause illness in people. Salmonella germs contaminate feathers, feet and beaks of birds, as well as cages, coops and the environment where the birds live and roam. “Washing your hands thoroughly before and after handling chicks and other poultry protects both you and your family from the risk of Salmonella, and also helps keep the birds healthy,” said MDHHS Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells. “Even birds appearing cute, healthy, and clean can carry bacteria that can make people sick.”

In 2016, there were nine nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella illness linked to contact with live poultry, causing illness in 911 people in 48 states. Michigan reported 55 cases, of which almost half (45 percent) were in children.

During spring, live baby poultry are often displayed in stores in a way that children may be able to reach and touch the birds or areas where the birds are contained. This is one way people become exposed to harmful bacteria that leads to illness. People may also obtain birds through the mail by placing an order directly with a hatchery that supplies baby birds to raise for food or as pets.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting four to seven days or more. Salmonella infections can be especially serious for the very young, the very old, and those with weak immune systems.

Baby poultry have special requirements for warmth and protection. Backyard flock owners may not be aware of the risk of Salmonella from baby poultry and consequently, may keep the birds inside their home. Potential poultry owners should plan ahead to provide a proper space that is safe for the birds and for the people in the household. To address this, backyard flock owners should give live poultry their own space to live, outside of the home. People should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:

  • Children younger than five years old, older adults or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching the birds or anything in their environment. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Do not kiss the chicks.
  • Do not put anything to or touch your mouth, eat or drink after handling poultry.
  • Do not keep live poultry inside the house where people live, eat or sleep.
  • Do not give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment associated with raising or caring for poultry, such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/.

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