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Joyrider arrested after driving stolen vehicle through gate

Keonte Jarrell Moore

Keonte Jarrell Moore

What started out as a case of malicious destruction of property turned into the recovery of a stolen vehicle and arrest of a suspect earlier this week.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, they were called to the Lake Side Campground about 2:40 p.m., Tuesday, August 9. The caller said that a gray Jeep was speeding through the campground and drove through a gate when exiting the park.

The vehicle description and license plate number they gave matched a vehicle that had been reported stolen in Grand Rapids.

Deputies discovered the vehicle abandoned at a nearby business. Witnesses gave police a description of the driver, and it was broadcasted to other police units. The suspect was spotted a short time later walking on 17 Mile Rd near Cedar Springs. After additional investigation, he was arrested and lodged at the Kent County jail.

Keonte Jarrell Moore, 24, of Grand Rapids, was arraigned on Thursday, August 11, and charged with one count of receiving and concealing stolen property—motor vehicle; and one count of malicious destruction of property between $1,000-$2,000. Bond was set at $10,000.

Moore is also being held on a parole violation. He served two years in prison for a 2013 Kent County home invasion, and was paroled in December 2015.


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West Michigan Hawks call it quits

Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

By Shae Brophy

In a surprising announcement, West Michigan Hawks owner David Lange has confirmed that the team has ceased operations after losing several players. Due to this, the team did not play in their scheduled playoff game on August 13 against the Battle Creek Coyotes. Their playoff spot was filled by the Lima Warriors.

“This stems beyond the issues that the Hawks had,” said Lange. “This is an issue with semi pro football in general. There are a lot of issues at this level that I do not find acceptable. Some examples include owners allowing their players to drink on alcohol free grounds; (players/coaches) starting fights with no consequence; players fighting with other players, refs, coaches, owners etc. These are only a few things out of many that cross my mind or that have happened. It was my dream and passion to not only put on a great family event, but to help those in need in the process. It takes a collective effort from all teams involved to make these things happen, and I do not feel that we can successfully do that, as there are only a handful of semi pro teams who aspire to do the same.”

The Hawks had a two-year run in the Minor League Football Alliance, which saw them win the league’s “Organization of the Year” award in 2015, the team’s first year of existence. The team won their first four games of the 2016 season, before dropping their last four to close out the regular season.

Over the course of their two years, the team was able to raise funds and awareness for numerous causes, including Brison Ricker (16 year old battling a brain tumor; Libby Walla (3-year-old battling Charlie Finch (who passed away in an auto accident); and Alan Beamer (suf periventricular leukomalasia); Shae Brophy (brain tumor); Stephanie Cornwell (breast cancer); the family of fering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease).

“I’d like to sincerely thank every single person who helped with the organization over the last two years,” said Lange. “Everyone from those who ran the concession stands at our home games, to those who ran the chains during the games. Josh Morris, who controlled the audio/music at home games; Shae Brophy, who announced our home games; Scott Fuller, who painted the field for us before each game; Friends of Skinner Field for allowing us to play at their facility; all of our sponsors; the Cedar Springs Fire Department and medical response team; all the players who stuck it out until the very end; and coaches Rashaad Powell and Michael Henderson. And, last but most definitely not least, the fans/community. Without the support of the fans and the community, none of what we accomplished would have been possible.”

Lange has a unique appreciation for the game of football, and plans to continue getting valuable experience in the realm of coaching. “I am all about progression,” he said. “I will continue to learn the game of football, and continue to coach at the youth level until another progression opportunity arises. When one door closes another opens. I aspire to inspire.”

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Class of 1942 holds 74th reunion

Members of the Class of 1942 that met last week: Front row (L to R): Jean Thrall Erickson, Mary Lewis Hawkins, Ethel Waller Ergang. Back row (L to R): Esther Sullivan Bosscher, Virginia Dailey Schumann.

Members of the Class of 1942 that met last week: Front row (L to R): Jean Thrall Erickson, Mary Lewis Hawkins, Ethel Waller Ergang. Back row (L to R): Esther Sullivan Bosscher, Virginia Dailey Schumann.

On Friday, August 5, the Cedar Springs Class of 1942 met at Main Street Restaurant for their 74th class reunion.

Five classmates were able to attend: Mary Lewis Hawkins came from Tennessee; Esther Sullivan Bosscher came from Jenison; Jean Thrall Erickson came from Grand Rapids; Ethel Waller Ergang from Cedar Springs; and Virginia Dailey Schumann from Cedar Springs. All are in their 90s.

“Our class advisor Ray Rynberg and wife Jean usually come but have moved to East Lansing to be near family and were unable to come,” explained Schumann. “He is 98 and sharp—Jean is also.”

The group graduated during World War II. “We lost the men early due to the war,” wrote Schumann. “Most were injured. Mary Hawkins was in the WAVE, as well.”

She said the ones she knew that served right after graduation included Carl Middleton, Richard Goodell, Clifton Linderman and Jack Hough.

Those unable to attend the reunion included Dorothy Smith Briggs; Dorothy Nixon Sedenor; Lorena Perry Presley; and Jim Haynes.

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Sparta Seniors help out Cedar Springs youth


Sparta Senior Neighbors Center is just a hop, skip and jump from Cedar Springs, and a neighbor to the west of Red Flannel town. So it’s not surprising that the Sparta Senior Neighbors have become cheerleaders to a Cedar Springs youth and his family.

This past spring, Jane Ringler, from Cedar Springs, accepted the position of center coordinator for the Sparta Senior Neighbors. Ringler’s sons attend Cedar Springs High School with Brison Ricker, who has recently been battling a rare brain tumor. Ringler started sharing Brison’s story and the Sparta seniors have been actively following Brison’s journey ever since.

The seniors wanted to take up a collection to assist with Brison’s needs. “Our hearts go out to this family,” said one senior.

“Senior citizens have been through so much over their own life journey,” commented Ringler. “Many have lost their spouses, children and grandchildren. They understand grief and rely upon their faith, as the Ricker family has been. I commend the seniors here, as so many are on limited incomes, yet want to help Brison with what they can.”

Receiving the last update on Brison’s treatment (that the tumor had shrunk to 1/3 of the size it was after alternative treatment) was cause for great celebration at the Senior Center. “We are witnessing a true miracle right before our eyes,” remarked Ringler. “Miracles really do happen. We hope that when Brison is strong enough, he and his family will pay us a visit here at the Sparta Senior Neighbors Center.”

If you are able to help the Ricker family with Brison’s astronomical medical expenses, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker. Any amount will help them continue treatment.

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Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo 


Kids and animals alike enjoyed Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo last Saturday, August 13. Photos courtesy of Rachaelyn’s Photography.

Kids and animals alike enjoyed Solon Market’s Pet Daze Expo last Saturday, August 13.
Photos courtesy of Rachaelyn’s Photography.

N-Pet-Daze-Expo-red-haired-girlA chorus of joyful voices greeted Market-goers as they entered the community room at Solon Township’s Dog Daze Pet Expo Saturday, August 13. Humane Society of West Michigan led the choir with six puppies who were excited to be there. Excitement was the general consensus among the canine crowd, as they mingled while their people browsed exhibits, watched demos and stayed to watch and participate in the popular Pet Show.

Many people and their pets braved the weather to attend and forever homes were found for several of the animals, including five of WMHS’s six pups. The fundraiser garnered over $200.00 for area rescues and non-profit services and served to educate the public and bring awareness to animal needs, as well as highlight pet-related services. Kids who entered the Pet Show received bags of gifts donated by area businesses. Three lucky winners received pet beds and gift cards, donated by another business.

Kent County Sherriff’s Deputy Dekorte and his canine partner, Ritzey, a goldador, demonstrated their skills in arson detection and stayed to answer questions related to their duties. The Sheriff’s department is looking to add six dogs to their unit including a therapy dog. Donations can be made by accessing the following link:  http://www.trafficsquad.com/#!k9/c66d3

For more on the Expo, check out Solon Market’s facebook page and to see photos of the event.

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Treasury warns of fraudulent phone calls


N-Seal-MDTThe Michigan Department of Treasury is cautioning taxpayers of fraudulent phone calls being made demanding taxpayers pay an immediate amount of money or face actions from the department. Calls are being received from a legitimate Grand Rapids-area Treasury phone number, which has apparently been cloned by the scammers. Victims are told they owe money to the Department of Treasury and if not paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer the caller will face arrest, legal action or suspension of business.

Please be advised The Department of Treasury will not:

  • Demand immediate payment without first mailing you a letter
  • Require you to pay your taxes a certain way (for instance require you pay over the phone with a prepaid debit card)
  • Threaten to call the police or other law enforcement agencies to arrest you for not paying
  • Ask for a PIN, passwords, access codes to your bank accounts, or credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Michigan Department of Treasury, but you suspect he/she is not a Treasury employee:

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do, do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.

If you believe you may owe taxes or that the Department of Treasury may need to legitimately contact you, please record the employee’s names, call back number and caller ID available then call the Department of Treasury at (517) 636-5265 to determine if the caller is a Treasury employee with a legitimate need to contact you.

Please use caution and never provide personal information unless you are sure the situation is legitimate.

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Councilmember Truesdale resigns, firefighter pegged to fill spot


By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council met on Thursday, August 11.

The Council accepted the resignation of Council member Robert Truesdale, who retired effective June 30, and adopted a resolution honoring and thanking him for his service. He was elected in 2012, and was mayor during his first year on council.

Current Mayor Jerry Hall asked to appoint firefighter Jerry Gross Sr. to fill Truesdale’s spot. Gross is already running for the seat in November’s election, and Hall felt since Gross was already interested, it might be good to appoint him for the last couple of months preceding the election. However, a question arose on whether it might be a conflict of interest to have a firefighter on City Council, and whether he would have to retire from firefighting.

Gross, who also formerly served as fire chief, said he asked the interim City Manager about that before deciding to run and was told it wasn’t a problem. “There was a former firefighter who served on the Council for many years (Leon Avery) and it was never a problem,” noted Gross, who said he could abstain from voting on financial issues concerning the fire department.

“I don’t want to quit firefighting yet,” he said. “It’s my life.”

City Manager Mike Womack said he received some information from the City Attorney regarding the issue, and was going to look into it before the next City Council meeting.

City Council member Rose Powell will also be running for her seat in November. She and Gross are the only two on the ballot.

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Vote: Designated driver

West MiN-Drive-sober-or-get-pulled-overchigan agencies participate in stepped up enforcement


This election year, selecting a designated driver is a vote to get home safe as police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Michigan State Police (MSP) in west Michigan will be conducting extra drunk driving patrols across the state to locate and arrest drunk drivers.

The stepped up enforcement is part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign Aug. 18-Sept. 5.  The initiative includes the Labor Day holiday period, a popular Michigan travel time.

“Motorists who choose to drive drunk endanger everyone on the roadway. In 2015 Michigan saw a drastic increase in alcohol- and drug-involved fatalities,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) director. “The extra officers participating in this enforcement effort will send a clear message: if you drive drunk you will be arrested.”

According to information released by the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center this spring, alcohol-involved fatalities were up 28 percent, from 236 in 2014 to 303 in 2015. Drug-involved fatal crashes spiked 19 percent, up from 150 in 2014 to 179 in 2015.

During last year’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement, officers arrested 351 drunk drivers and issued 2,630 seat belt and child restraint citations. Fifteen people died in 12 traffic crashes during the 2015 Labor Day holiday period, a significant increase from six fatalities during the 2014 Labor Day holiday. Nearly two-thirds of the 2015 Labor Day holiday cashes involved alcohol.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. Motorists face enhanced penalties if arrested for a first-time drunk driving offense with a .17 BAC or higher.

Grant-funded drunk driving enforcement is part of Michigan’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013.

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Corrected vote count changes winner of Supervisor race in Nelson Township


UPDATED on August 11, 2016

by Judy Reed

The Post reported in last Thursday’s paper that Nelson Township Supervisor Tom Noreen lost to his opponent, Robyn Britton in last week’s primary election. But it turns out that wasn’t the case.

On Wednesday morning August 3, the morning after the election, the voting results displayed through electionmagic.com, the software that Kent County uses, showed that Britton had won 138-86. But by Thursday, August 4, the election totals had changed, and showed Noreen winning with 221 votes to Britton’s 201. The Post called Kent County Elections Director Sue DeSteiguer to find out what happened.

It turns out that the problem was that she had not included the absentee ballots in the results. “The county (me personally) does the programming and has the reports showing the votes by both precinct and absentee counting board. When I printed that report Wednesday morning in preparation for the canvass is when I realized I hadn’t uploaded those votes,” she explained.

According to the Election Official’s Manual of 2016, there are two ways absentee ballots can be counted. Absent voter ballots may be processed and counted by the board of election inspectors appointed to serve at the voter’s assigned precinct, or by an absent voter counting board. If done by the election inspectors, the votes are tabulated in with the precinct. But, if they are counted by an absent voter counting board, that board is considered a separate precinct, and reports its results separately from regular precincts.

“Each municipality has the option to count absentee ballots as an absent voter counting board,” said DeSteiguer. “But up until this year, Nelson had never done an absent voter counting board. The software didn’t flag it; it showed all votes in, that all precincts were counted. It wasn’t until we started to do an official count on Wednesday that I noticed I forgot to upload the absentee ballots,” she explained.

That means that all the vote totals changed. But the only race it affected was the Supervisor’s race. The Post reported before the election that Supervisor Tom Noreen had wanted to withdraw, but it was too late to get his name off the ballot. DeSteiguer said that since he won, he would still be the Republican candidate on the ballot in November. He could still face a write-in, or another alternative party candidate. “If he wins, but does not want to accept the office, it becomes a vacancy and the township board then must appoint someone,” explained DeSteiguer. She said that Britton does not automatically get the office. But she could run as a write-in.

Noreen told the Post that since the voters voted him in, he will stay on as Supervisor, for the time being, but with an eye on retiring in the near future. He said he’d like to possibly appoint Britton as his deputy supervisor, since Nelson Township does have that office, though it’s not currently filled.

Britton acknowledged that she did have that conversation with Noreen, but will have to wait til November to see what happens after the general election, since a write-in could still run. “I’m keeping my options open and checking on running as a write-in. But for now, I’m just going to attend the Planning Commission meetings and board meetings and just see what plays out.”

Britton said she wasn’t running “against” Noreen, but for the office. “I have the utmost respect for this man. I ran because I believed that I could fill an open position and could work with a group of people and try to make a difference in my community. I’m very happy with my decision to run, even though I didn’t like how it ended. But at the end of the day, I taught my kids the most important lessons of all—that one vote does count.”

One other count that changed had to do with the overall voter participation in Kent County. The electionmagic software reported it at just under nine percent. But it turns out it was over 15 percent. While the actual vote totals were correct for the other municipalities, DeSteiguer said that the software did not reflect the absentee ballots when totaling the percentage of registered voters who turned out. “It was a minor third party software glitch,” she said.

In other election news, DeStiguer said that in Oakfield Township, Paul Decess may ask for a recount in the Oakfield Supervisor race. Oakfield Supervisor Willam (Greg) Dean won over Decess by 9 votes. She said that the official canvass would be finished by midweek. Decess has six days after the official canvass is completed to petition and pay for a recount. As of Wednesday morning, August 10, she said she had not heard from Decess.

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Blood donors help save lives of baby girl’s parents


When they needed it most, blood transfusions were readily available

N-Blood-donors-Grace-Brunett-Family-OutdoorsGrace Brunett is not only a regular blood donor, but helps host a blood drive in her hometown. And as if that weren’t enough, this tireless cheerleader works for Michigan Blood as a phlebotomist.

Grace can trace her commitment to her days as a student at Cedar Springs High School, where she learned in anatomy class the power of O-negative blood—her type and a universal option for anyone in need.

Just nine percent of the Michigan population has O-negative blood, which puts Grace in a class by herself. But her story is even more compelling since the day nearly six years ago when, while pregnant with her firstborn, she developed chorioamnioitis.

She eventually underwent an emergency Caesarian section. During her ordeal, which lasted nearly five hours and included an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 21, she required a blood transfusion.

“I almost died,” she says, noting that she was conscious during the entire trying episode. What she took away from that traumatic experience, however, were two rewards: One, a daughter Charlotte, now going on six years old. And two, a personal story to share about the importance of stepping up to donate blood and blood products.

Grace actually began donating blood as a student at Cedar Springs, where, coincidentally, she met Cory Brown, the father of their child. “I was a sophomore and he was a senior,” she relates. Both were members at the time of Business Professionals of America, which was sponsoring a blood drive at the high school.

Little did they know then that not only would Grace lean on blood donors for her own vital needs, but that Cory, too, would come to require multiple transfusions. “He was in a car accident before we had Charlotte, back in 2007, and then in 2011, he was hit by a drunk driver,” says Grace. In both instances, her common-law husband needed donor blood.

Today, the happy trio makes its home in Cedar Springs, where Charlotte – described by mom as being “bubbly, fun and smart” — is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles and is set to start kindergarten this comi.ng fall. Grace is diligent about giving blood for obvious personal reasons, and also because it’s just the right thing to do. She enjoys tracking her progress, pint by pint, acknowledging that she just passed the 6-gallon mark this past March.

It’s fun for her to travel back in her mind to those days in anatomy class, when the instructor mapped out how “With O-negative blood, you can basically save anybody,” she says. “It’s kind of awesome, that the whole world is basically eligible for my blood, and so that has spurred me to action.”

“It’s one hour out of one day just every two months of your life,” says Grace. “You can be selfless in that single hour and make a huge difference.”

Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health St. Mary’s. Donations given outside of Michigan Blood do not have direct local impact. Donating blood with Michigan Blood helps save the lives of patients in Michigan hospitals. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. We are currently in urgent need of O-Negative blood donations.

The next blood donor drive in Cedar Springs will be on August 23, at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, Gym, 140 S Main St., Cedar Springs, 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more locations, visit www.miblood.org.

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