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Red Flannel Festival to see change in leadership

Michele Tracy, President Emeritus of the Red Flannel Festival (front right), with the 2015 Red Flannel Festival Queen Bailey Lachniet (front left), and her court (back row left to right) Jessica Plowman and Megan Zinn. Courtesy photo.

Michele Tracy, President Emeritus of the Red Flannel Festival (front right), with the 2015 Red Flannel Festival Queen Bailey Lachniet (front left), and her court (back row left to right) Jessica Plowman and Megan Zinn. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed


Michele Tracy has been the guiding hand and president of the Red Flannel Festival since she joined the organization 15 years ago. But she is now easing out of that role after a recent move to Hershey, Pennsylvania to work for Penn State University, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

She is still active on the RFF board, however. “I’ve been voted in the position of President Emeritus (Past President), a non-voting member of the Board,” Tracy explained. “I am extremely active this year,  ‘virtually’ helping new President Randy VanDuyn transition, and am honored to stay in that position as long as the Board decides they benefit from this advisory position,” she said.

The Red Flannel Festival has blossomed under Tracy’s leadership, adding many new events and drawing 40,000-plus annually to the unique celebration. The RFF also broke away from the prior Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce and became a non-profit organization in its own right, and purchased its own building on Maple Street, and another on Main Street a few years later.

Her tenure, however, has not been without controversy. Most notably was when the RFF board threatened to sue the city over its use of the logo, and the city voted to no longer be called The Red Flannel Town. With new leadership in place at City Hall, the two entities have since come to an agreement over that issue.

So how does Tracy feel about her time on the Festival board?

“The Red Flannel Festival truly has been a labor of love for me,” she remarked. “Quite simply, I love the Red Flannel Festival! It’s been such an honor and privilege to be a part of the 77-year tradition of all of the volunteers that have made this Festival great. It truly is the heart and soul of Cedar Springs and the pinnacle of our community pride. I’m hoping Grace and Nina would be proud of my service, as I always tried to have them in mind. I am confident the current Board of Directors, Matt Andres, Laura Nozal, Lea Drake, Rick Knapp Jr., Liz Thorington, Mark Laws, and Andrew Bartoszek, with the outstanding leadership of new President Randy VanDuyn, will continue the legacy in all of the great traditions! Of course, I’ll ALWAYS be home for Red Flannel Day!”

For some of the Red Flannel events coming up next week, turn to pages 8-9.

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IT owner arrested on child exploitation charges

Richard Eric Webb, owner of Zylatech, was arrested on child exploitation charges.

Richard Eric Webb, owner of Zylatech, was arrested on child exploitation charges.

A Cedar Springs business owner is in hot water after police allegedly found child sexually abusive material on his home computer.

According to D/Sgt. Chris Prevette, the Michigan State Police (MSP) Computer Crimes Unit, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of a Richard Webb, 44, of Nelson Township.

A search warrant was conducted at Webb’s residence, where he was found to be in possession of, and distributing, child sexually abusive material. He turned himself in on Thursday, Sept. 8, for video arraignment in 61st District Court in Grand Rapids.

Webb was charged with one count of distributing child sexually abusive material, and one count of using a computer to commit a crime. Bond was set at $25,000. He was released on his own personal recognizance.

Webb is the owner/operator of Zylatech, an IT business based in Cedar Springs. The business provides service to the greater Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas.

According to D/Sgt. Prevette, clients of Zylatech shouldn’t have anything to worry about regarding their own computers. “We don’t have anything showing that he co-mingled his personal files with business files,” expained Prevette.

Prevette said that MSP initiated the investigation into Webb’s files, but couldn’t yet divulge what led them to suspect him.

A probable cause conference is scheduled for September 20 at 9 a.m., and a preliminary exam is scheduled for September 27 at 1:30 p.m., both in 61st District Court.

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Suspects sought in armed home invasion

N-Kent-County-Sheriff-logoPolice are looking for two men who invaded a woman’s home in Spencer Township Tuesday by pretending to be police officers and then robbed her at gunpoint.

According to Lt. Ron Gates, of the Kent County Sheriff Department, dispatch received the call of a home invasion and armed robbery at 16000 Force, just north of Walander, at 4:40 p.m., on Tuesday, September 13. The two men, who were dressed in all black, reportedly told the woman, who was home alone, that they had a search warrant. She saw something that looked like a badge and thought they were the police. Once inside, they held her at gunpoint and robbed her of an undisclosed amount of cash. They also stole firearms and escaped in a vehicle of unknown description.

A dog from the Wyoming K9 unit was called in but didn’t find anything.

Lt. Gates said that a crime like this one doesn’t occur often in northern Kent County. “We might get a home invasion or an armed robbery at a business, but to have an armed home invasion like this is quite unusual,” he said.

Suspect one was described as a white male in his 20s or 30s, average height (possibly about 5 feet 8), medium weight (possibly 160 pounds), with a short beard. He was wearing a black fedora; buttoned down long sleeve black shirt; black pants; and black gloves.

Suspect two was a dark complexioned white male, about 5 feet 7, 200 pounds, with dark hair. He also was dressed in all black, like the other suspect.

If anyone has any information, please call Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345, or the Kent County Sheriff non-emergency dispatch at 616-632-6357.

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Sculpture installed in Heart of Cedar Springs


A unique metal sculpture, made by artist Steve Anderson, of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture, was installed last week on the property behind where the new library is being built, at the corner of Main and W. Maple Street.

“This sculpture, donated by the Community Building Development Team, will add the cultural touch that enhances the educational nature of all the projects planned for this ten-acre site,” said Library Director Donna Clark. “It will add culture and beauty within the areas of the rain gardens and near the planned library building.”

The sculpture is a stainless steel, artistic representation of cattails among dragonflies. It will provide a point of special interest for children and adults alike, and will enhance the area that is home to the historic, Cedar Springs natural flowing spring.

Anderson is the same artist that also created the metal hawk sculptures at Cedar Springs High School and the athletic stadium.

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Car bash raises money for Velzy Park


Michigan/Michigan State rivalry was alive and well at Solon Market this past Saturday!  Under a mostly overcast sky, fans vied to size up and destroy each other’s colors in Velzy Park’s first Car Bash fundraiser. Tony Owen led the charge, circling to find the most vulnerable spot on the State side before taking his swings. Combatants had their choice of weapons, from an array of bats and sledge hammers.  Solon Fire and Rescue was on hand to assist should a participant’s enthusiasm turn to injury. A good time was had by all who attended.

Despite the best combined efforts of Solon Market and Solon Park committees, few took advantage of the promised entertainment, however. Threatening weather was likely a factor in the low turnout, though rain held off until after Market hours. The weather did not dampen participants’ enthusiasm as they did their best to destroy the vehicle. The rivalry heated up when firefighters, Chris Paige, Matt Schievink, Jordan Nielsen, and James Taylor got into the action, bringing in some of their own equipment. The result, as you can see, was a satisfying crunch. Who won? You be the judge!

The event was made possible with donations from local auto and hardware businesses, Solon Township, Solon Fire and Rescue, and the many volunteers who assisted. All proceeds went to benefit the planned park, to be located behind Solon Township Hall. Monies generated were close to $200.00. For more information on the event, please visit Solon Market’s Facebook page. Like them for updates.

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The Post travels to Boston


New residents, Kaye and her son, Sam Nimphie, of Solon Township, traveled with the Post to Boston, Massachusetts to visit her son (and Sam’s brother) Ben, July 23-29.

They spent three days touring downtown Boston and visiting many historical sights, including Paul Revere’s house.

Thanks so much Kaye and Sam, 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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Deer in the city


We aren’t the only ones fascinated by the building of the new library at Main and W. Maple. These three deer wandered on to the property earlier this week to check things out, and Ed Bremmer snapped this photo for us. Thanks so much, Ed!

Readers—do you have a wildlife photo you’d like to send us? Email it to news@cedarspringspost.com and include your name, contact info, and a little info about your photo. We will print them as space allows.

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Distracted driver causes four-car crash


Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department responded to a four-car personal injury crash at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Sunday, September 11.  The crash occurred on South Greenville Road/M-91, north of South County Line Road in Eureka Township.

According to police, a 2002 maroon Ford Explorer driven by Nancy King, age 55, of Belding, was travelling northbound on Greenville Road. A silver 2011 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Vivian Harrell, aged 79 of Belding, was stopped facing northbound on Greenville Road, while waiting for traffic to clear to make a left turn. A tan 2013 Chevrolet Equinox driven by Jack Bartholomew, age 58, of Saranac, was stopped behind Harrell. King was distracted and did not realize traffic was stopped in front of her. She swerved to the right, leaving the roadway in an attempt to avoid a collision. King continued northbound and re-entered the way, striking the front of Bartholomew’s vehicle and the rear of Harrell’s vehicle. King then continued into the southbound lane, where she was struck by a white 2012 GMC Sierra driven by Donald Carlton, age 54, from Ionia.

King sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to United Memorial Hospital by Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services.

Bartholomew and his passenger, Annette Bartholomew, age 54, from Saranac, were not injured.

Harrell and her passenger, Harry Weimer, age 87, from Belding, were not injured.

Carlton sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to United Memorial Hospital by Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services.  Carlton’s passengers, Eugene Carlton, age 77, from Lowell, and Jennifer Domasik, age , from Grand Rapids, sustained minor injuries and were transported to United Memorial Hospital by Life Ambulance from Ionia.

All of the crash victims were restrained except for Domasik, who was a rear seat passenger. There are no other known contributing factors to the crash.  King was cited for careless driving.

In addition to Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services and Life Ambulance from Ionia, the Greenville Department of Public Safety and Michigan State Police assisted at the crash scene.

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Family hurt when car strikes buggy


An Amish family was injured Monday evening, September 12, after a car hit the buggy they were riding in on Northland Drive.

According to the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred on Northland Drive, near Polk Road, about 8:52 p.m. The driver of the car, a 22-year-old from Morley, stated that he crested the hill going southbound, and the Amish buggy was in the middle of the roadway, also headed southbound. He then struck the buggy, causing the three occupants to be ejected. A 35-year-old male, his 34-year-old wife, and one-year-old son, were all injured and transported to the Big Rapids Spectrum Health Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Deputies were assisted by Mecosta County EMS, Mecosta/Austin Fire and Rescue, and Morley Fire and Rescue Units.

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Plane crashes at Greenville airport


Two Illinois men were injured last weekend after their plane crashed at the Greenville Municipal Airport.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, a Piper Super Cub PA 18 was taking off from the Greenville Municipal Airport, on September 11 at approximately 3:50 p.m., when it crashed on the south side of the north/south runway. The plane was occupied by two males (ages 24 and 29) both from Illinois who sustained serious injury and were transported to Grand Rapids Butterworth Hospital, via both Aero Med and ambulance.

The FAA was contacted and the crash is under investigation.

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