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Parks and Rec to hire interim director

Late summer and fall programs to continue

By Judy Reed

North Kent Community Enrichment, formerly Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation, voted at its board meeting on Monday, July 8, to hire an interim director to replace current director Amanda Gerhardt, who is leaving the position after 13 years. They also plan to continue late summer programming, and have the new interim director begin planning fall programs.

“I’ve really loved what I’ve done,” Gerhardt told the board. “I’ve loved meeting new people and watching it grow.”

Amanda Gerhardt is leaving the Director’s position after 13 years. Facebook photo.

The board released a statement Wednesday about their decision and officially thanked Gerhardt for her tenure. “Her passionate commitment to providing affordable recreational activities for members of our community has made a real difference. The Board of Directors of NKCE is grateful for Amanda’s vision and leadership, recognizing that the program is what it is today because of her efforts,” they wrote.

Gerhardt’s last day is July 22. She will be pursuing a career in real estate, but will be available to help train the interim director on a consultant basis.

Members of the community have expressed concerns about the NKCE dissolving after the board met last month to start discussions on the fate of the cash-strapped program. 

Hundreds of kids and adults take part in the various enrichment activities offered each year through NKCE. While the number and variety of programs has increased exponentially, the funding level has not. The program is funded through the member municipalities and the fees charged for programs. While the 2018 audit shows that revenues from the programs have also increased, the organization continues to have more expenses than income, especially in the areas of payroll, insurance, and technology. This is causing their net position to decrease to the point where they may not be able to cover program costs in the coming year. 

The board formed a subcommittee last month to explore what the future of the organization might look like. Matt McConnon, the new board president, and Supervisor in Courtland Township, made it clear at Monday’s meeting that they don’t want the organization to dissolve. “Is it going to look the same or is it going to look different? We don’t know yet what it will look like but we are committed to supporting the existing programs through the end of August,” he said.

Since they do have a contract and budget for the year, the board agreed that a new interim director could begin to plan fall programs. They hope to have the person in place within a month.

“NKCE plans to hire an interim director by mid-August,” they wrote in the press release. “The Board acknowledges the need for time to clarify the future plans to collaboratively provide recreational programming for residents of the partnering townships of Algoma, Courtland, Nelson, and Solon and the City of Cedar Springs. The interim director will provide stability to continue to run existing programs while the Board of Directors determines the best plan of action for the future provision of affordable recreational activities for residents in our community.”  

If you or anyone you know is interested in the position of interim director, please see the full list of qualifications and details at csaparksandrec.com.. 

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$5,000 reward offered for info on suspicious fire

by Judy Reed

A Cedar Springs woman was out hunting for pokemon in the wee hours of Friday morning when she spotted a trailer on fire as she returned home.

Both Cedar Springs and Sand Lake Fire Departments responded to a fire at 401 Sarah Street just after 2:30 a.m. on Friday, June 28. Photo by Kelli Destrampe.

Kelli Destrampe reported the fire at 401 Sarah Street, in Cedar Springs Mobile Estates, right around 2:30 a.m. Both Cedar Springs and Sand Lake Fire Departments responded to the scene. A Kent County Sheriff deputy and Rockford Ambulance also responded.

“The came in as a report of a trailer fire well involved, and it was unknown if anyone was inside,” explained Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser. He said they had the fire knocked down in the first 10-15 minutes.

There were three other mobile homes surrounding the burning one—one on each side and one behind it. “We did have three exposures, and it melted some of their siding. It could have been such a mess if we didn’t have it knocked down quickly. There could have been three other trailers burning,” remarked Fraser. 

Fraser said the park owned the trailer and they were getting ready to remove it. No one was living there and there were no utilities hooked up, so the cause was not electrical.

No one was living in the mobile home at the time of the fire. Photo by Kelli Destrampe.

Fraser is ruling the fire as “suspicious but undetermined.”

Cedar Springs Mobile Estates is offering a $5,000 reward for the arrest, testimony against, and conviction of the perpetrators responsible for the suspicious fire. If you have any kind of information, please contact the CSME Office at (616) 696-0820 or the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6100.

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City receives $872,000 grant for industrial park

by Judy Reed

This photo shows West Street looking south, where the road and water and sewer will be extended to create an industrial park. Courtesy photo.

A federal grant to create a new industrial park will make it possible for at least two local businesses to expand and bring new jobs to the area.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced on Monday that they are awarding an $872,220 grant to the city of Cedar Springs, Michigan, to provide critical infrastructure improvements needed to develop a new industrial park at the end of West Street.

“The development of a business park should bring in significant investment into the City, not only in jobs and property taxes but also employee customers for other local businesses, as they go to and from work and out for lunch,” said City Manager Mike Womack, who has been working on the grant for some time with City Finance Director Darla Falcon and the City Council. 

This EDA grant will be matched with $581,480 in local investment from the City, and is expected to attract an eventual $30 million in private investment, create 80 jobs, and retain 72 jobs.

The project will help fund the roadways, and water and wastewater infrastructure to establish the West Street Industrial Park in the City of Cedar Springs. The project will also create 55 acres of development-ready land for future growth opportunities. 

 “President Trump is dedicated to helping communities across the nation build the critical infrastructure they need to support business development and growth,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. “This investment in Cedar Springs will help provide development-ready industrial space needed to attract new businesses and the high-skill, high-wage jobs they create.”

This photo shows a map of the West Street property area. Courtesy photo.

The project will extend West Street to the south, and extend water and sewer to two properties—725 West St NE and 730 West St NE. Those properties were formerly used as the City’s wastewater lagoons from 1965 to 1999, when they were closed. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1,453,700.

Two businesses already interested in expanding to the business park include J-Star Motion Corporation and Cedar Springs Brewing Company. 

J-Star, a manufacturer of adjustable height table bases, currently has a location on West Street with 35 employees, but are on the way to doubling that to 70 and cannot grow anymore in their current space. They said they would build a $275,000 square foot facility in the business park if the road and utilities were extended there. They said they would invest $22 million in building and $5 million in equipment, and add another 50 jobs on top of the 70.

Cedar Springs Brewing Company, located at 95 N. Main Street, is also running out of room for their manufacturing and package production. They are unable to grow in their current location, and there is no other site with city water that would be appropriate for their facility. They plan to increase the number of jobs by 30, and invest $1.5 million in construction and $1.5 million in new equipment.

A timeline has not yet been set for the project.

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission. EDA funds the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission to help bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

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Cars collide at Main and Maple

A car pulled out into traffic from Maple Street and hit a vehicle southbound on Main St Monday. Post photo by L. Allen.

An intersection that can be difficult to navigate even during slower traffic periods was the scene of a crash Monday evening.

A section of Main St. was closed for a time Monday due to a crash at Maple and Main. Post photo by L. Allen.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred about 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 1, at the intersection of Main and Maple Streets. Police said that an adult female pulled out into the intersection from Maple Street and hit a vehicle driven by an adult female that was heading southbound on Main.

Neither driver was injured and both refused medical help.

The driver who pulled out was cited for failure to yield.

The intersection can be difficult to navigate for two reasons: one, because it is hard to see oncoming traffic on Main when there are cars parked on Main right next to the intersection. That causes drivers to have to pull out further into the intersection to see, and that’s not always safe. And two, the sheer volume of traffic down Main Street at certain times of the day just makes it even more difficult to turn.

There will eventually be more parking in the area, but until then, you could play it safe and not turn onto Main from Maple Street. 

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Post travels to Battle Creek

The Post recently traveled with three members of the Sand Lake #1229 TOPS group (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) to the TOPS annual state recognition day in Battle Creek, Mich. The day is held to honor top loser and goals met for the year.

Traveling to the convention was leader Kay Johnston, weight recorder Tina Hansen, and Janice Hill. The three were volunteers at the convention.

Thank you so much for taking us with you!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Thief steals jet ski

Do you know anyone who suddenly has a new jet ski? 

According to the Algoma Township & Public Safety Facebook page, the 1985 Kawasaki Jet Ski pictured here was stolen from the Camp Lake area sometime between June 23 and June 26. 

Surveillance footage from a neighboring house shows vehicles in the area during the suspected time of the theft. They could possibly be the same vehicle. The nighttime video shows subjects loading what is thought to be the Jet Ski into the back of the car. The daytime video shows a very similar car driving back and forth past the Jet Ski on a previous day. The vehicle appears to be a late 90’s to early 2000’s red Saturn. If you have any information about this vehicle or regarding this theft, please contact Deputy Morin with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6181 ext. 4088.

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Veggie spirals sold at Trader Joe’s recalled

Growers Express issues voluntary recall of multiple fresh vegetable products due to potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes

If you’ve bought fresh butternut squash spirals or zucchini spirals from Trader Joe’s recently, you will want to pay attention to this recall.

Growers Express issued a voluntary recall of select fresh vegetable products in the interest of protecting its customers and end consumers from potential contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

The fresh vegetable products include packaged varieties of butternut squash, cauliflower, zucchini and a butternut squashed based veggie bowl. However, in Michigan, the recall applies only to 10.5 oz packages of butternut squash and zucchini spirals sold at Trader Joe’s.

Most of the affected products are labeled with a “Best If Used By” Date of June 26-June 29, 2019. No other Growers Express products are impacted or part of this recall. This recall does not affect or include any Green Giant® canned or frozen vegetable products.

Look for the following:

Butternut squash spirals, 10.5 oz, SKU BCN105106, UPC 623391, lot 190614-403565, best if used by 6/28/2019

Zucchini spirals, 10.5 oz, SKU MSC104106, UPC 634908, lot 190617-403814, best if used by 6/27/2019.

The products originate from a Growers Express production facility in Biddeford, Maine. The voluntary recall was issued due to the potential for contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. There are no reported illnesses.

Listeria is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

 “The safety of our consumers is our first priority,” said Tom Byrne, President of Growers Express. “We selfreported the need for this recall to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and stopped production immediately after being notified of a single positive sample by the Massachusetts Department of Health. We are deep sanitizing the entire facility and our line equipment, as well as conducting continued testing on top of our usual battery of sanitation and quality and safety tests before resuming production.”

Consumers who purchased any of the products listed from the affected sell by dates or with an unreadable date code are urged not to consume them and to throw the products away.

Stores also have been notified to remove any remaining products from shelves and inventory. Please refer to the toll-free number listed on each package with any questions or requests for refund. Visit www.GrowersExpress.com/voluntaryrecallExternal Link Disclaimerfor the most up-to-date information.

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City Hall Corner

By Mike Womack, Cedar Springs City Manager

In early 2018, the City sent out 1082 surveys to citizens in the survey, asking for feedback on various policies of and the direction of the City government.  City Staff and the City Council have used the survey to help determine our actions moving forward and it has been an invaluable tool in setting the direction of some of the things we are doing to improve the City.  

Some of the answers we received from the survey impressed upon the City the importance of blight removal and code enforcement. Common responses were “bad Main Street business appearance,” “poor home/yard maintenance”, “improve shabby looking store fronts,” “spruce up downtown,” “hold business accountable for upkeep,” etc. The number one thing that citizens indicated they would like to see in the City, by a wide margin, was “beautification of downtown.”

In response to these citizen comments, the City Council and I have worked to revamp a number of City departments to not only clean up city properties but to also encourage businesses and homeowners to clean up their properties as well.  The City’s code enforcement department and approach has completely changed in the last year and it is now much more responsive and proactive in eliminating blight than ever before. The City has adopted a more aggressive but sensible approach to code enforcement that, despite what you might read on social media, is working with little fuss from most people.  

The aim of code enforcement is simply the compliance of property with the property maintenance laws and is never to be used as punishment or retribution.  Compliance with the property maintenance laws improves business and neighborhood appearance and makes Cedar Springs a nice place to live for you and your neighbors. It also encourages nice businesses to locate in the City.  In each open code enforcement case, the property owner is informed of the problem, given ample time to fix the problem or is asked to contact the City to discuss the problem. In virtually every single situation, if the property owner contacts the City, they are asked when they expect to fix the problem and are told that so long as reasonable visible progress is being made that the City won’t contact them again. The code enforcer also has resources and contacts that might be able to help a citizen in need of assistance if they are unable to fix the problem on their own.  If the problem is fixed, the property owner usually doesn’t hear from the City again, except maybe a “thank-you.”

So, kindly help the City take care of structure maintenance and safety, overgrown vegetation, inoperable vehicles and other code violations for the common good. We know that nobody likes being told what to do on their own property but please be kind to the code enforcement officer who has a tough job trying to make the City nice for everybody. 

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Make safe driving decisions this holiday weekend

Operation C.A.R.E. will run through July 7

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is reminding motorists to make safe driving a priority during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Troopers will be on the roads, joining their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts) to reduce or eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries.

“Help make this holiday enjoyable for everyone who is using Michigan’s roads,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the MSP. “We know that wearing a seatbelt can save your life; buckle up every single time and never get behind the wheel after drinking.”

The official Fourth of July holiday period begins at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, July 3, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 5; however, troopers will continue this traffic safety focus through Sunday, July 7.

Last year, six fatal traffic crashes resulted in seven deaths over the Fourth of July holiday.

Operation C.A.R.E. began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and Indiana State Police, and is one of the nation’s longest-running traffic safety initiatives. It focuses on deterring the three main causes of highway fatalities: aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.

State police and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Quebec Police Force and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be participating in this lifesaving traffic safety initiative. Operation C.A.R.E. also includes participation from police agencies affiliated with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

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Patient Assistance Funds Established


Spectrum Health “United for Hope” campaign is underway

Facing a serious health issue is frightening. 

Paying for treatment and related costs on top of regular household bills can be downright terrifying. 

Sadly, some patients opt out of treatment in the face of this hardship.

“We have families and patients that stop treatment for reasons as simple as not having gas money to get to the hospital,” said Andrea Leslie, president of Spectrum Health United, Kelsey, Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals. “That’s tragic. And we are doing something to fix that.”’

The United for Hope – Patient Assistance campaign plans to ease that burden for area families, with your help.

Introduced by Spectrum Health United Hospital and the Spectrum Health Foundation, the United for Hope campaign has set a fundraising goal of $260,000 to assist both cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation patients, as well as patients diagnosed with cancer.

A cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation endowment fund will be developed to assist approximately 75 patients each year. Of the total goal, $200,000 is earmarked to establish the endowed fund. Only earnings on the fund are spent each year, thus gifts to the endowment provide a permanent legacy to the donor, while helping patients indefinitely.

In addition, campaign funds will establish a pilot program where immediate funds can be used for gas cards, taxi vouchers, medication assistance and other support to patients with cancer.

Dr. Rocky Hansen and Dr. Roger Coles are co-chairing the fund drive. 

Hansen is pleased that funds received will go directly to patients to continue care.

“What really caught my heart with this project is that it’s assistance to the patients,” Hansen said. “It’s not just creating new bricks and mortar or a new machine for the hospital.” 

Hansen said the goal is to complete the fundraising by November.

Coles believes the need is great.

“People are hurting,” he said. “They come in for a procedure and get a medicine prescribed and they can’t pay for it. It’s these sorts of things that are so troubling.” 

Coles referenced a recent article by the American Journal of Medicine stated that 42 percent of new cancer patients lose their entire savings because of treatment, and 62 percent are in debt. 

“That’s pretty staggering,” he said. 

Coles stressed that volunteers are running the campaign, and that all funds will stay local with no administrative fees.

 “If you give a dime, it’s going right into the project,” he said

 “I truly believe Greenville is a very, very giving community as we’ve seen in so many projects,” Coles said. “We’re looking forward to working with the community to make this happen.”

Supporters can choose cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation or cancer assistance when making a gift. 

Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation combines education and individualized exercise treatment for patients with heart and lung disease to improve cardiovascular and pulmonary function. 

Some patients start the program, but due to their inability to cover co-pays or even a $5 out-of-pocket cost, they stop going and their progress is lost.

“It’s really heartbreaking,” said Dana Adams, cardiac and pulmonary rehab lead at United Hospital. “Our team works with the patients in getting them feeling better, only to have them drop out because of costs.”

Moreover, many area patients seeking cancer treatment have similar stories. 

The Spectrum Health Cancer Center at United Hospital serves about 2,000 adult patients each year treating various types of cancers including breast, lung and colorectal.

Shelly Westbrook, Spectrum Health Foundation Director of Northeast Region hospitals including United Hospital in Greenville, said United for Hope will serve a critical need. 

“We have a significant part of our population who struggle to make ends meet,” Westbrook said. “This campaign addresses these needs and furthers our mission to improve health, inspire hope and save lives.”

Every donation makes a difference, regardless of size. Donors are encouraged to call the foundation office for more information at 616.225.6416.

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