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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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Knee high by the Fourth of July?

N-Lois-in-the-corn-web“Knee-high by the fourth of July” is an ages-old yardstick we tend to think of when we see corn around this time of year. With modern techniques, however, it’s usually waist-high at this time.

However, as you can see in the photo, taken in Courtland Township, the corn height varies right now, from three to over five feet.

According to the Michigan State University Extension’s  southwest Michigan crop report dated July 9, field activities continue to be slowed due to rains on June 30 and July 1 and then added to by rains this week. Many fields have standing water over the rows. Significant soil erosion has occurred in some fields causing washouts and covering plants. Some hail damage was reported from the storms on June 30 and July 1.

“This is usually the time of year we want rain, but many sites have had 3 or more inches already in July on top of the six or more inches in June,” reported Ron Goldy with MSU.

Sweet corn grown under row covers should be close to harvest. Early, uncovered plantings are silking.

Other crops, such as early planted summer squash, zucchini and cucumber fields are being removed. Watermelon and cantaloupe fruit is sizing well. Pumpkins are at early bloom. With the continued wet weather, growers need to protect these crops against powdery mildew.

 

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Summertime tips for keeping kids safe from predators 

N-Summertime-tips-online-predators-web

Summer is here, and children around the country are spending more time online and unsupervised. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, the FBI, and the Michigan State Police recommend that this is the ideal time to talk to kids about the dangers of online predators, sex trafficking, and other risks that arise for kids with additional free time and access to the Internet during the summer months.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles notes that, “Child predators will find any way they can to contact kids, gain their trust, and exploit them. Summer poses a particular risk because children spend more time unsupervised. Now that smart phones put the Internet directly into kids’ hands, it is much harder for parents to exert the kind of supervision they once had over the shared family computer or house landline telephone.”

“The danger posed by online predators has the potential to pose real-life harm toward adolescent victims,” said Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “Those who attempt to exploit children online often use coercion, fear, and sometimes threats of violence to commit these crimes. As we enjoy the summer months, and our children spend more time outside of normal adult supervision, it is important for parents to remember that the children being victimized by online predators don’t live in some faraway place, outside of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, these are far too often our children—in our communities—and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect them from those who would do them harm.”

Protecting Children from Online Predators:

Predators target children of every background. One in seven children reports receiving sexual solicitations online. Seventy percent of those are girls. Fifteen percent of teens ages 12-17 who own a cell phone say they have received sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude images of someone they know via text message. Four percent of teens ages 12-17 who own a cell phone admit to sending sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude images to others via text message. Parents should monitor children’s online activity closely, and although children feel that their online life is private, they need to know it is anything but and is more permanent than they think.

Some predators are in positions of trust and authority over kids, while others are strangers. Predators meet children on social media, chat rooms, and internet-based video games, among other places. All of these activities present opportunities for predators to gain children’s trust and groom them for eventual sexual conduct. Predators sometimes use a false identity, posing as other children or using a fake name to develop a friendship with a child. The predator may even establish social media accounts under that false identity to provide an additional sense of legitimacy. Predators often advance the relationship to text message or live video chat and encourage kids to send sexually explicit photos or videos. By that time, the child may have developed a certain level of trust in the offender that makes the child less likely to report the activity and more likely to keep the activity a secret at the request of the offender.

Here are a few Internet safety tips to discuss with your children:

- Only “friend” and connect to people online that you know personally and delete those you do not know personally;

- Set social media security settings so that only confirmed friends and connections can see what you are posting;

- Never take a picture of yourself or write anything by text, email, or social media that you would not want everyone in the world to see;

- Immediately delete and never forward a picture of anyone doing something sexual;

- Choose screen names and usernames that are appropriate;

- Never post publicly or give anyone your phone number, email address, or home address unless you know them personally;

- Be aware that anyone you meet online may not be who they say they are; and

- Immediately tell a parent or trusted adult if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation online, even if you are afraid that things have already gone too far.

U.S. Attorney Miles also indicates that families may be in the best position to identify the warning signs of illicit computer use by adults and teens at home. Some warning signs include:

- an excessive amount of computer use, often when others are out of the house or sleeping;

- multiple computers, some of which are password protected or only used by one person in the home;

- peer-to-peer programs downloaded onto the desktop including Ares, Limewire, and others;

- cell phone security programs that hide a person’s photos from casual view by others;

- multiple email addresses, including one using false names;

- various USB thumb drives and external hard drives, especially if the person hides them or is reluctant to leave them unattended;

- lack of desire or motivation to seek employment or activities outside the house or away from the computer; and

- unfamiliar or inexplicable contacts stored on video chat programs such as Skype or Face Time.

U.S. Attorney Miles adds that it is important to note that not everyone involved in child pornography establishes in-person relationships with children, so families should not rule out possible child pornography trading just because a person does not interact with children in daily life. Anyone who suspects illicit computer use should report the activity to law enforcement for further investigation.

Protecting Children from Sex Trafficking: 

Not all predators rely on the Internet. Even in West Michigan, sex trafficking and child exploitation exist.

Families, teachers, hotel workers, convenience store employees, and students are in the best position to identify potential child sex trafficking activity. While children of every background can be lured into prostitution, some warning signs of child sex trafficking include:

- lack of organized afterschool/summer activities and supervision;

- running away (not necessarily overnight);

- recent friendship/attention between a teenager and an older adult who may drive the teen places or provide a place to stay overnight;

- tension and fighting at home;

- new clothing, nails, and hair styles (for girls) generally outside the financial reach of a teen;

- new cell phone not purchased by parent/guardian;

- checking in at a hotel with no luggage or sneaking into a hotel through a side door;

- drug/alcohol dependency; and

- low self-esteem.

As part of the Innocence Lost Initiative—a collaboration among the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the FBI, and the Department of Justice—3,100 child victims of sex trafficking were recovered nationwide from 2003 to 2013. The youngest was nine years old. In a 2013 national sting on child sex trafficking, Detroit ranked second-highest out of 76 cities in the number of child victims recovered.

Project Safe Childood

To address the growing concerns about child sexual exploitation in the digital age, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood in 2006. Project Safe Childhood expanded in 2011 to include sex trafficking of minors, crimes against children committed in Indian country, and failure to register as a sex offender. The national initiative relies on partnerships with organizations including U.S. Attorneys’ Offices; federal investigative agencies; and state, local, tribal, and military law enforcement officials. Approximately 70 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces operate around the country for federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to collaborate in investigating online child exploitation.

Under Project Safe Childhood, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan prosecutes people who create, download, share, possess, and view child pornography. Federal sentences for these crimes are steep: up to 20 years for viewing and possessing child pornography, a mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years for downloading and sharing child pornography, and a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years for producing child pornography. The penalties increase for each of those charges if the defendant has a prior sex offense conviction.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan also prosecutes those who seek to exploit children sexually by chatting online or arranging to meet children for sexual encounters. Federal sentences for those crimes are significant: 10 years to life for coercing or enticing a child for sex, 10 years to life for causing a child to travel out of state for sex, and up to 30 years for traveling to another state to have sex with a child. Defendants who traffic minors for prostitution face a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison.

In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Western District of Michigan successfully prosecuted the following cases, among others under Project Safe Childhood:

- sex trafficking of three girls ages 14-16 in Grand Rapids;

- online enticement of a 12-year-old by a man in California;

- producing sexually explicit photos of a teenage boy (resulting in forfeiture of the defendant’s house);

- sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl on Indian territory;

- distribution and possession of over 44,000 files of child pornography by a formerly licensed counselor;

- streaming live video over the internet of children being sexually abused;

- downloading and possessing child pornography;

- receiving child pornography;

- cyber-stalking of students at Michigan State University and committing child pornography offenses; and

- viewing child pornography online.

 

The FBI has recently formed the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX), a collaborative effort between the FBI and state and local law enforcement partners to combat the sexual exploitation of children across West Michigan. This task force will primarily focus on investigations of child abductions, child sex trafficking, interstate travelers for sex with minors, and producers and distributors of child pornography. The participating agencies include the Michigan State Police, Grand Rapids Police Department, Ionia County Sheriff’s Office, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The task force also has the support of the United States Attorney’s Office and will coordinate prosecutions between federal and state prosecutors.

How to Report Child Exploitation: 

If you suspect illegal activity involving child exploitation, contact law enforcement immediately. If a child is in imminent danger, call 911. Other resources for reporting these crimes include:

- West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX) at 616-456-5489;

- Homeland Security Investigations, Grand Rapids, at 616-235-3936 (x. 2215); and

- CyberTipline (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).

To report a child missing and gain immediate assistance in launching a campaign to locate the child, or if you think you have seen a missing child, call:

- 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

 

 

 

 

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The Post travels to Rome

Father Lam Le and church members from Saint John Paul II Catholic Church visited Rome last April. Pictured is: Front (left to right): Dawn Falicki, Chris Pigorsh, Anna Witters, Katie Mendenhall, Nancy Drummond, Mary Ann Mendenhall, and Kara Dault. Back (left to right): Deacon John, Jennette Pigorsh, Mike Pigorsh, Darlene Cooper, Milton Cooper, Shannon Brewster, Tom Witters, Fr. Lam Le, Logan McGahan, Marcella Fase, John Drummond, and Aaron Dault.

Father Lam Le and church members from Saint John Paul II Catholic Church visited Rome last April. Pictured is: Front (left to right): Dawn Falicki, Chris Pigorsh, Anna Witters, Katie Mendenhall, Nancy Drummond, Mary Ann Mendenhall, and Kara Dault. Back (left to right): Deacon John, Jennette Pigorsh, Mike Pigorsh, Darlene Cooper, Milton Cooper, Shannon Brewster, Tom Witters, Fr. Lam Le, Logan McGahan, Marcella Fase, John Drummond, and Aaron Dault.

The first year anniversary of the opening and renaming of Blessed John Paul II, to Saint John Paul II Catholic Church in Cedar Springs, was commemorated with a 10-day pilgrimage tour throughout Rome, Italy. Father Lam Le, along with several Church members took in the experience of a lifetime when Pope Francis made history Canonizing two Popes to Sainthood together on April 27—Pope John XXIII and their Parish’s Patron, Pope John Paul II.

The travelers stayed in apartments within walking distance to the Vatican. They came very close to meeting with the current Holy Father of the Catholic Church, while joining in a general Papal audience he gave to the public on April 23, in St. Peter’s Square. It was announced to the crowd that a group from Cedar Springs was in attendance. Fr. Lam was able to celebrate a Latin Mass and distributed Holy Communion at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican, along with about 30 other priests. The group was also able to witness Father Lam celebrate Mass at the Pontifical North American College seminary, where he lived and studied for 4 years, as well as many other Churches throughout the city, and was many times assisted by Deacon John Falicki, from Sand Lake, and other members from the group.

The congregation poses in front of the Vatican.

The congregation poses in front of the Vatican.

The pilgrims also toured the Colosseum, Catacombs, and visited the city of Assisi, the home of St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment. It was noted Pope John Paul II had met with World Religious Leaders while in Assisi to encourage all to pray for world peace.

The travelers all agreed that they felt honored and proud to not only represent their Cedar Springs Church but also their community. They came back with an even stronger faith. They will miss the bond they made with their new friends in Italy.

The Post thanks Saint John Paul II Catholic Church for taking us with you. It sounds like you had a great time!

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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A fantastic Fourth of July

The sun was shining, the temperatures were mild, and residents from far and wide flocked to the Sand Lake Fourth of July Festival last week.

Sand Lake held its annual festival last Wednesday, July 2, through Sunday, July 6. A carnival in Salisbury Park, crowning of Miss Sand Lake, a grand parade and fireworks on July 4, music every night, and a rodeo were just a few of the events festival go-ers could take part in.

The festival is put on each year by the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

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Solon firefighters receive badges

Solon Township Firefighters Russell Papke (left) and Josh Putnam (right) were presented their badges this week by Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake (center).

Solon Township Firefighters Russell Papke (left) and Josh Putnam (right) were presented their badges this week by Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake (center).

Two members of the Solon Township Fire Department received their badges Tuesday night, in a ceremony at the Township board meeting.

Firefighters Russell Papke and Josh Putnam received the honor, presented by Fire Chief Jeff Drake, as a result of their completion of the Michigan Fire Fighter’s Training Council Firefighter I & II exam.

Papke was hired in August 2013, and is employed by the Michigan Army National Guard, and works at Fort Custer in Battle Creek. He and his wife, Anna, live in Solon Township with their 8-year-old twin boys, Nolan and Leyland.

Putnam was hired in June 2011. He works at Profile Industrial Packaging, and has been youth pastor for Maranatha Baptist for 11 years. He and his wife, Amy, live in Solon Township with their daughter, Olivia.

“I am proud to recognize the commitment and sacrifice you have endured by completing this task and providing a level of competency, compassion, and licensure to the Solon Fire Department,” wrote Chief Drake, in the letter of recommendation for the firefighters.

The firefighters were required to take 256 hours of instruction and eight hours of exams to complete the training.

 

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Time to apply to Thrive

North Kent Community Services is seeking individuals to participate in Thrive, its new program to help people become self-sufficient. Thrive is designed to give those who are struggling in northern Kent County the support they need to achieve their life goals, such as owning a home, obtaining a better paying job or furthering their education.

Thrive is for anyone in the NKCS service area, 5 Mile to 22 Mile Roads and east and west to the county lines. You do not need to be a current client of NKCS to qualify for Thrive.

Thrive participants will be meeting in a small group as well as one-on-one with coaches to help answers questions such as:

“How can I save money when I don’t even have enough to pay my bills?”

“What are my strengths and how can these guide me towards my career path?”

“How can I have hope when I feel so hopeless?”

“I see the future I want for myself, but how do I get there?”

Thrive will take place on Monday evenings at NKCS from 6:30-8:30 beginning September 22. Fifteen mothers will be selected for the pilot program. “The best thing we can give our children is a confident and hopeful mother,” said Chérie Elahl, NKCS Program Director. “That is why we are choosing women with children for our Thrive pilot program. Everyone can succeed with proper resources in place as well as with encouragement from others. Through Thrive, participants will have the opportunity to become empowered as they achieve their goals.”

Deadline to apply is Friday, August 15.

Contact Chérie Elahl at cherie.elahl@nkcs.org or 616-866-3478 ext. 109.

 

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Motorcyclist killed in crash

A Sparta man lost his life last weekend, when he hit a car in Sparta Township with his motorcycle.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the accident occurred Friday, July 4, at about 6:18 p.m. Police said that according to a witness, Eric Vanslyke, 44, of Sparta, was traveling westbound on 13 Mile, west of Fruit Ridge, at a high rate of speed, when he struck a 2004 Buick that was attempting to back into a driveway, on the south side of 13 Mile.

Neither the driver of the Buick, Andrew Sorensen, 82, of Ravenna, nor his passenger, Norma Sorensen, 85, of Ravenna, were injured.

Vanslyke suffered fatal injuries due to the crash.

Police believe that speed and alcohol may have been contributing factors in the accident.

According to his obituary, Vanslyke was a 1989 graduate of Comstock Park High School, worked at Storage Control Systems and was passionate about his involvement in Dirt Modified Racing. Funeral services were held Wednesday, July 9.

 

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