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Public meeting Tuesday on police proposal

N-City-logo-webThe Cedar Springs City Council wants to get the public’s feedback on whether the city should keep their own police department, or contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department for services. Don’t miss the public meeting next week where you will hear a presentation and be given a chance to give the Council your input.

The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Cedar Springs Middle School, in room C201, which is upstairs in the large group meeting room, which seats 90.

According to Cedar Springs City Manager Thad Taylor, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma and his team will be on hand to give a presentation and answer questions. The proposal they have given the city could save $120,000 to $132,000 a year.

There will be time during the meeting for the public to ask questions about the proposal and how it will affect them, and give their input.

They also have distributed a community survey to residents and business owners asking if they think it is important that the city has its own police department?  Yes or No. If yes, why? And if no, why?

It also asks the question that if the City were to contract with the Sheriff Department, what should the City do with the annual savings? Several options are given, such as reducing taxes, repair streets, repair or add sidewalks, etc. There is also room for additional comments.

Surveys are available at Cedar Springs City Hall for those who did not receive one.

Taylor urges people to fill them out and get them back to the City as soon as possible. “This is a community decision, and the council needs to know what people think,” he said.

Surveys can be dropped off in the payment box at City Hall, or mailed to The City of Cedar Springs, PO 310, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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The Post visits Arizona

N-Post-travels-Arizona-Prokopy-webKathy Prokopy, of Cedar Springs, visited Prescott, Arizona with her Mom on a girls’ overnight and took the Post with her. Kathy’s Mom lives in the Phoenix area. “Prescott is a quaint old western town that is a 2 hour drive north of Phoenix,” explained Kathy. “It is a place of colorful history and cute main street shops and eateries.”

Thanks, Kathy, for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Should you move turtle eggs?

*N-Turtle question Snapping turtle_2_mdWe had a question recently from a reader about a turtle nest he felt was in danger. Here is his email:

There is what I believe is a snapping turtle nest up against a hot top road that I walk on a daily basis. I only noticed it because an animal dug up and destroyed all the eggs the first year, which made me aware it was there. The second year the baby turtles hatched but the vegetation adjacent to the nest was so thick they stayed on the road and were all killed by cars. This year I know where the nest is and was wondering if it would be wise to carefully dig up the eggs and bring them home buried in a small pail of the same dirt they were in by the edge of the road? If I leave them where they are, I know with certainty that none of them will survive. If this is feasible then I could release them in a much safer environment once hatched. Please advise.

Thank you, Paul

We went to Ranger Steve and asked his advice. Here is his response.

“It will be dangerous to move them. Turning an egg will usually cause them to die. For some reason they are very fragile. I do not have a good solution but have a couple ideas.

1. Fence the road for a short distance to force the turtles to go a different direction.

2. Make a pathway the baby turtles can access away from the road.

Turtles like loose bare soil away from water to lay eggs. Near water they are even more vulnerable to raccoons, skunks, and other egg predators. Roadsides and trails are often selected for egg laying.

Raccoons and skunks have become over abundant and have made turtle survival difficult.”

We hope Ranger Steve’s suggestions help you protect these baby turtles!

 

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White-tailed squirrel

N-White-tailed-squirrelJennifer Tomodachi posted on our Facebook page that she saw this white-tailed squirrel near the corner of Church and 3rd Street. She asked if anybody knew anything about this type of squirrel, because she’d never seen one like it before.

We asked our wildlife expert, Ranger Steve Mueller, and he said he thought it was probably just a genetic variation.

We did a Google search, and saw that there are white-tailed squirrels seen in other states, from time to time. Has anyone else out there seen a white-tailed squirrel? Where? Let us know, by emailing us at news@cedarspringspost.com.

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New library moving ahead

N-Library-front-South-elevation-web

If you noticed stakes on the property just northeast of the firebarn, it’s because the Cedar Springs Public Library board recently voted to put the new library on the east side of the property. Board Chair Earla Alber gave an update to the City Council on the new library Thursday evening.

The building will be 10,000 square feet.

Alber explained that she was the lone nay vote, because she thought the library would be better served on the rear (west) portion of the property. She said the board had been “bullied” into the decision.

Council member Bob Truesdale noted that the property was bought and donated to the city (where houses used to be along Main Street) for the library to be put on.

However, at the time, it was thought that the fire barn would be moved, and that has not yet happened.

Mayor Mark Fankhauser pointed out that the west side would not require as much work to prepare, and Alber said that the east side would require a lot of a fill, being so near the creek.

Alber said she thought the east property should be put back on the market and bring money back to the city.

Truesdale then asked her, “What would you tell the people who bought and donated the property for a library?” Alber commented that only the corner was bought privately (where the parking lot is going to be), and it would fit about four cars.

The library building committee was interviewing architects for the project this week.

 

 

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City Council clips

By Judy Reed

 

Various Red Flannel Festival fees waived

The Cedar Springs City Council approved the Red Flannel Festival as a community event, and waived various fees for the event, as it does every year. Those fees included parade fees, peddler’s fees, and any other fees applicable. The only fees that will be charged to the Festival is the one for police protection, which they pay each year.

Cedar Springs Brewing Company

The City Council approved an additional 60 day extension for the Cedar Springs Brewing Company to purchase the property at 95 N. Main, on the southwest corner of  Main and Maple Streets. The extension will allow them time to provide the site plan information required by the planning and engineering consultants to do the required review and provide a recommendation to the Planning Commission. According to David Ringler, of Cedar Springs Brewing Company, they plan to tear down the existing building, and build a new one, where they will serve their own variety of craft beers, and will include a full menu and full service kitchen. Visit them on Facebook for updates, and watch the Post for more info.

 

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Two more tornadoes confirmed by NWS

N-Tornadoes-webLast week The Post reported on two tornadoes spawned by the storms West Michigan experienced the evening and early morning of July 6-7. One was in Kent County and the other in Ionia County. This week the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids confirmed two more tornadoes touched down during the storm—another one in Ionia County and one in Clinton County.

The one in Ionia County was an EF-0, and touched down near Pewamo about 12:34 a.m. July 7, and stayed on the ground for four minutes. It traveled ¾ of a mile, and had was 150 yard wide. Top wind speed was 80 mph. At least two structures were damaged and two trees were blown down.

The second tornado was in Clinton County, about 5 miles WNW of Saint Johns. The EF-0 tornado touched down about 1 a.m. July 7, and stayed on the ground for 8 minutes. It traveled 1.6 miles and had a width of 880 yards. Top wind speed was estimated at 85 mph. One structure was reported damage and several trees were blown down.

The NWS said these storms were very brief and lasted only a few minutes. Radar did show circulation with the Pewamo storm.

The NWS upgraded their Doppler Radar last week to help them better predict short-lived tornadoes that form near the base of the cloud. The weak, short-lived tornadoes are the most difficult for them to predict, and the NWS said that additional low-level radar scans would be crucial in seeing tornado formation.

All four tornadoes that West Michigan experienced July 6-7 were this type of tornado, and no warnings were issued.

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Wireless emergency alerts enabled on mobile phones

During the severe weather West Michigan experienced the evening of July 6-7, many people received a warning from their cell phone that they weren’t expecting.

According to the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD), newer mobile phones are automatically enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

“Many people have been asking questions about Wireless Emergency Alerts,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “This is a life-saving technology that helps inform the public about a potential life-threatening situation. When these alerts are received at the right time, they can help direct you to safety during an emergency or disaster.”

Known as WEA for short, these alerts are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities—such as the National Weather Service and state and local emergency response officials—through a user’s mobile carrier. If an imminent threat does occur and an alert is sent, a WEA-capable mobile phone will emit a special emergency tone or vibration with a text-like instructional message.

There are three different kinds of alerts:

Imminent threats, such as extreme weather and other life-threating emergencies in your area

AMBER Alerts

Presidential Alerts during a national emergency

Mobile phone users are not charged for receiving these notifications and are automatically enrolled to receive them. Users may opt out of receiving imminent threat warnings and AMBER Alerts; however, they may not opt out from receiving Presidential Alerts.

For more information about WEA, go to www.ready.gov/alerts. To learn more about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, visit the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS or go to www.michigan.gov/beprepared.

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Tornado hits south of Grand Rapids

Photo from WOODTV.com

Photo from WOODTV.com

By Judy Reed

 

Photo from WOODTV.com

Photo from WOODTV.com

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that the damage done just south of Grand Rapids during thunderstorms on Sunday evening, July 6, was due to a tornado.

Calls began pouring into Kent County’s 911 dispatch about 10:30 p.m. reporting roofs caved in, power lines and trees down, and people trapped in homes and vehicles.

The tornado reportedly developed near 64th Street and Burlingame in Byron Center about 10:20 p.m, and traveled 6.25 miles, through Wyoming and Kentwood, ending at 28th Street and Breton. It was on the ground for about 10 minutes and produced significant damage. The NWS rated the tornado an EF-1, with maximum wind speeds from 100-110 mph. Its width was 300 to 400 yards wide. There were six injuries, and no fatalities. It was the first EF-1 in Kent County since 2001, and the first tornado since 2006, when an EF-0 hit Caledonia.

Daniel Cobb, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said it was definitely a tornado, and not straight-line winds, explaining during a news conference that the debris they surveyed had the classic signature of a tornado.

People have questioned why there was no warning with the tornado. Cobb explained that the tornado developed near the ground and grew upward. And, because of the time delay between radar scans, they didn’t realize it was there until they picked up the debris on radar that lifted in Kentwood. It was already lifting back up moments later, too late for a warning.

“They always want to get it right, and it kills them if it doesn’t play out right,” he explained. “If they warned on every scan that looked like a possible tornado, they would be warning all the time. We prefer to wait for two scans. We are trying to say with severe thunderstorms that a tornado is possible, and warn on the big tornadoes.”

“We are very successful at detecting big tornadoes that blow your house down,” he noted.

He also noted that these smaller tornadoes are not rare, but not frequent either. Here it just happened in a populated area. “You have to respect Mother Nature. Always be inside during a storm,” he urged.

On Wednesday, July 9, the NWS also confirmed another tornado that spawned from the storms that moved through Sunday evening and Monday morning, July 6-7. This one was an EF-0 in Ionia County, and developed about 12:16 a.m., July 7, just a couple of hours after the one near Grand Rapids. It started just east of Sunfield Highway, and south of Reeder Road. It went about one mile, ending just west of South Keefer highway, north of Reeder Road. It lasted about 4 minutes. One home lost roofing material and five farm buildings were damaged along Reeder Road. Tree and crop damage also occurred along the path of the tornado.

 

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Court of appeals affirms teacher’s conviction

Jon Eric Jungkind

Jon Eric Jungkind

By Judy Reed

 

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of former Cedar Springs High School teacher Jon Eric Jungkind, 46, on a charge of third degree criminal sexual conduct with a 17-year-old student.

They released their decision on June 24.

Jungkind, a popular teacher with students, was arrested in the fall of 2011, after the victim told police she had sexual intercourse on two separate occasions during the summer with Jungkind, who was her chemistry teacher. The incidents allegedly happened at his home in Nelson Township. The teen said that she became pregnant and that Jungkind bought her abortion pills to terminate the pregnancy, which she testified she took.

He denied having sex with her, but did admit to buying the abortion pills. He testified that he threw them away when she wouldn’t tell her parents about her pregnancy.

He was sentenced in December 2012 to 40 months to 15  years in prison.

Jungkind’s appeal argued that the trial court erred by allowing evidence regarding the student’s alleged pregnancy or alleged abortion, because the evidence was unfairly prejudicial.

However, The Michigan Court of Appeals felt the abortion evidence was relevant because it demonstrated that Jungkind believed she was pregnant and that it was likely that he was the one who got her pregnant.

“While the evidence also had a potential for prejudice, in light of the controversial nature of abortion, this did not substantially outweigh its probative value,” the court stated in its opinion released Wednesday, June 25.

The court also rejected Jungkind’s argument that he should have been able to look into when the victim took the abortion pill. He argues that she took it after being sexually active with another person. However, the trial court had referenced the rape-shield statute, noting that the victim’s sexual history was not relevant to the issue at trial.

Jungkind is serving time at the Pugsley Correctional Facility in Grand Traverse County. The earliest he could be released is March 2016, and the latest date would be November 2027.

 

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