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Tire recycling event


Join us for a one-day event to recycle your tires for free! Area townships and Kent County DPW are co-hosting a tire event for area residents at Long Lake Park, on Krauskopf NE, just off 17 Mile in Solon Township, on October 13, from 8-noon.

  • Kent County residents can bring up to 10 tires per vehicle. ID is required. 
  • Passenger tires only (car, SUV, or pickup truck). Larger tires such as semi, tractor or loader tires are not accepted. 
  • Tires must be off the rims and in “clean” condition.

Contact Kent County at 616-632-7920 for questions or more details. 

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New royalty reigns

Court members Harlow Hovarter (L) and Alyssa Washington (R) with Red Flannel Queen Zoe Castor (Center). Photo by Megan Rosenberger.

According to Zoe’s dad, Dave Castor, her Aunt Anna made this Red Flannel Queen costume when she was not quite 2. “Her mom Terrie and I never guessed that she would be Queen,” he said. Courtesy photo.

The 74th annual Red Flannel Queen’s Scholarship Pageant took place this past Saturday, September 29, at Cedar Springs High School, where seven young ladies competed to be the next Red Flannel Queen. 

Judges for the evening chose Zoe Castor, daughter of David and Terrie Castor as the 2018 Red Flannel Queen, and her two court members are Harlow Hovarter, daughter of Will Hovarter and Raelene Davis, and Alyssa Washington, daughter of Steve and Joy Washington. Castor was also voted as Miss Congeniality by the other contestants.

The circus-themed event was started with an exciting opening number that included flips, light up hula hoops, ribbons, and confetti, which was thrown by the “ringmaster” for the evening, the returning Master of Ceremonies, David Stuart Jr., a teacher at Cedar Springs High School. Assisting him for the evening was the 2008 Red Flannel Queen Breeann Ovokaitys Gibson. 

From L to R: Larissa Fettig, Harlow Hovarter, Paige Pierson, Zoe Castor, MC David Stuart Jr, Kalli Green, Alyssa Washington, and Rileigh Warner. Photo by Megan Rosenberger.

The seven talented contestants competed in a one-on-one interview with the judges before the pageant, and onstage they answered a question about the Red Flannel Festival in a business outfit of their choice as well as having a spontaneous conversation with the MC while wearing a lovely evening dress. Another highlight of the evening was when hostess Breeann Ovokaitys Gibson interviewed the 2018 Grand Marshals, Bob and Betty Truesdale. 

“I am so happy with how this year’s pageant went,” remarked Pageant Director Kaleigh Goehler. “Every year we have a great group of contestants participate in the pageant but the seven young ladies this year were an exceptional group! They worked hard and had fun doing it. More than ever I am so thankful I’m not a judge because choosing three of these seven was no easy task. I am so excited for our new Queen and Court. They are going to have a phenomenal year! The parents of all of our contestants should be very proud.” 

Queen Zoe Castor with her mom and dad, Dave and Terrie Castor. Courtesy photo.

Next year will mark the 75th Queen’s pageant and will be held on Saturday, September 21, 2018. 

If you have not yet donated to the Queen scholarship fund, there is still time. 

The Scholarship Committee’s goal is to raise $5,000 for the Queen, and $2,500 for each of the two court members. If you would like to contribute, you can donate online through Paypal at redflannelfestival.org, or you can send a check or money order to Red Flannel Queen Scholarship Fund, PO box 43, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. Every contribution helps! Donations of $100 or more earns the donor two free passes to the Red Flannel Queen pageant. Donations are accepted through June 30, 2019 for the 2018 Queen and court. All contributions are tax deductible.

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Suspicious fires deemed arson

Four fires were set around 4 a.m. Monday morning in Mecosta and Montcalm counties. Fire photo taken by a resident.

A Howard City man has been arrested and police are seeking charges against two alleged accomplices in a string of suspicious fires and a break-in that occurred early Monday morning in Mecosta and Montcalm Counties.

According to the Mecosta County Sheriff Office, the Morley Area Fire Department was dispatched to a report of a structure fire located in northern Deerfield Township on Monday, October 1, at approximately 4:32 a.m. During the response several other fires were discovered in the immediate area. A total of three structure fires were found to have occurred in Deerfield Township, Mecosta County. There was also a fire and a break-in that took place in northern Montcalm County at the same time that the Mecosta County fires were happening.  

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, the Montcalm incidents occurred in Reynolds and Winfield Townships.

Multiple surrounding fire departments responded to the fires, including, Lakeview Fire, Mecosta Twp. Fire, Morton Twp. Fire, Big Rapids Twp. Fire, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety Fire Division, Big Prairie fire in Newaygo County, and Maple Valley Fire in Montcalm county.  

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office was also notified and the Mecosta County Fire Investigation Team was also requested and responded. There were no  reported injuries and all of the structures were unoccupied.    

The Michigan State Police Fire Investigation Unit also responded and investigated the Montcalm County fire. 

The investigation revealed that around 4 a.m. on 10-1-18 the three suspects drove to the locations, gained entry into the buildings, and purposely started all four fires. They also attempted to break into a residence where the owner was asleep. The resident awoke to the sound of the door being kicked in. He yelled at the suspects who then fled from the scene.

A joint investigation led to the identification of three suspects involved in these incidents. Those involved include an 18-year-old female from Morley; a 20-year-old male from Howard City; and a 32-year-old from Howard City. The 32-year-old was arrested for an outstanding warrant while warrants are being sought for the other two suspects.  

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone that saw anything suspicious to contact the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office at 231-592-0150 or tips@mecostacounty.org, or call the Lakeview Post at 989-352-9444.

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Undersheriff Michelle Young appointed Kent County Sheriff


Kent County announced last week that Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young has been appointed Sheriff.

First female sheriff for the County

There’s going to be a new sheriff in town. 

Kent County announced last week that Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young has been appointed Sheriff to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Larry Stelma who retires on Nov. 1, 2018.

Two individuals applied for the position: Undersheriff LaJoye-Young and Lt. Marc Burns. Kent County Chief Probate Judge David M. Murkowski chaired the statutorily mandated selection appointment committee and served along with Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus-Lyons. The committee’s decision was unanimous.

“The committee appreciates both candidates interest in the position and their commitment to law enforcement,” said Judge Murkowski. “Lt. Burns has served the Kent County Sheriff’s Department well and has an impressive resume,” Murkowski concluded.

“However, today it is an honor for the committee to appoint Undersheriff LaJoye-Young to the position of Kent County Sheriff. She possesses an unparalleled knowledge of the operation and procedures of the Sheriff’s Department, having worked in every division and served in every rank in the Department. Furthermore, the Undersheriff enjoys wide-based community support and commands the respect of every law enforcement agency across the state of Michigan and beyond. She has demonstrated throughout her career a great capacity and ability to lead and possesses an unwavering enthusiasm for the administration of justice. The fact Michelle LaJoye-Young will serve as the first female Sheriff for Kent County serves as the perfect exclamation point to a truly momentous day,” stated Murkowski.

LaJoye hired in as a corrections officer in December 1989; was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the records bureau in July 1994; promoted to Lieutenant in November 1999; promoted to Captain in January 2007; promoted to Chief Deputy in January 2011; and was promoted to Undersheriff in June 2015. 

She also went to school while working for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. She attended the Grand Rapids Community College Police Academy; received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. She graduated from Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command in 2012.

Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young’s appointment to Sheriff will be effective Nov. 1, 2018.

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Solon Fire goes pink

Shirts must be ordered by this Friday, Oct. 5

Would you like to show your support of the Solon Fire Department and breast cancer awareness at the same time? You’ll need to act fast to get in on it.

Solon Fire Department is wearing pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Shirts are being sold for $15.00 each with $7.00 per shirt to be donated to the Susan G Komen foundation.

Orders with payment (cash only) can be placed at the Solon Fire station thru October 5, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 2305 Nineteen Mile Road NE, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

Shirts can be picked up at the station after 10-12-18.

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West Nile Virus claims life of second Kent County resident

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported Wednesday that a Kent County resident who was hospitalized with West Nile Virus has died due to complications of the illness.

They said that there are currently 13 suspected or confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Kent County, and that the threat of contracting West Nile Virus through a mosquito bite is still a concern here.

This threat will remain until consistently cold weather kills the insects.

“It can take two or three good frosts to get rid of all of the mosquitoes,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We want to ensure that people don’t put their guard down and continue to follow precautions until then.”

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water from flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long- sleeved shirts and long pants.

Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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Man injured in motorcycle crash

A Spencer Township man was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash last Friday, September 28.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a motorist came across a crashed motorcycle lying in the roadway at Maston Lake Dr NE and Penelope Dr NE, in Spencer Township about 4:20 a.m. Spencer Township Fire and Rescue was first on the scene and found the rider off the roadway and unresponsive. 

Aeromed transported the man, identified as Raymond Hilliker, 39, of Spencer Township, to Butterworth Hospital, with life-threatening injuries.

Police said the preliminary investigation showed that the bike was traveling northeast on Maston Lake Drive and the rider failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway and crashed. There were no passengers on the bike, and the rider was not wearing a helmet. Speed and/or alcohol may be a factor, but the crash is still under investigation.

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Youth hunt

Hunter Hankiewicz, 12, of Spencer Township, had a successful youth hunt Sunday, September 23, in Mason County, where he took this three-point buck. This is the second buck for Hunter, and  third deer total. Hunter is in the 8th grade at Cedar Springs Middle School. Congratulations, Hunter! 

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Family loses home in fire

This mobile home was the scene of a fire last Friday, September 21. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The Solon Township Fire Department was called to the scene of a mobile home fire at 17551 Algoma Avenue, near Fisk’s Knob on Friday, September 21, about 9:55 a.m. 

According to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Paige, firefighters reported flames and heavy smoke coming from the north end of the structure when they arrived. “They had it knocked down within about 10 minutes, and it was totally out within a half hour,” he said.

Assisting Solon at the scene was Algoma, Sand Lake, and Kent City Fire Departments.

Paige said that the owner was at a neighbor’s home directly behind the mobile home when they spotted the flames. No one was in the mobile home at the time.

Paige said that an investigation was done, and the fire appeared to start in the living room, but the cause was undetermined. He said that the owners were staying with other family members.

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Seniors soar with the eagles

A group of local seniors crossed an item off their bucket lists earlier this month after they had a chance to go skydiving for the first time.

Four women from Sparta Senior Neighbors made the trip to Sky Dive Grand Haven on Saturday, September 15, to jump out of a plane. Jane Ringler, coordinator of the Sparta Senior Neighbors center, planned the trip as an effort to incorporate some active outings into the members’ lives. “We are working on those bucket list adventures,” said Ringler, “and this group of seniors is raring to go.”

One of the women jumping Saturday was Vivian Livermore. The 85-year-old is a three-time cancer survivor who says she is now going blind. Regardless, she was looking forward to jumping from a plane, saying, “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I never had the nerve to do it. Today is the day. I’m getting too old to wait.”

Going up in two small groups, the four women—Vivian Livermore, Tess Cantile, Donna VanOeffelen and Judy Smith—all went through with their jumps and safely struck their landings. Smiles were wide on their faces as each of the women landed and made their way over to friends and family who were cheering them on.

Donna VanOeffelen said she is eager to do it all again. “My 11-year-old granddaughter wanted to go, but you have to be 18. The day I turn 80, she will be 18, so we’ll go together then.”

Tess Cantile came down with her arms spread like wings and waving to the ground crew, she said, “It was indescribable, a beautiful feeling.”

Judy Smith, a member of the Senior Neighbors Walker Fire House Café, shared that she is afraid of heights but wanted to participate in the experience. “Everybody was proud of Judy’s courage,” said Ringler.  

The Sparta Senior Neighbors Center is planning additional adrenaline-packed outings soon that could include rock climbing, parasailing and bungee jumping.  

Anyone who is interested in these upcoming adventures can contact the Sparta Senior Neighbors at (616) 887-1273.  

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