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Board selects finalist in Superintendent search

Scott Smith

Community forums and second interview set for June 18

The Cedar Springs Board of Education conducted first round interviews Friday evening, June 8, in their search for a new Superintendent, and narrowed their field down to one finalist. Scott Smith, Assistant Superintendent at Hudsonville, will return for a second-round interview.

The board gave high marks to all three candidates who interviewed, but seemed to like Smith’s leadership style, community focus, and experience with a larger district. 

The other two candidates who interviewed were Karl Heidrich, of Stockbridge Community Schools, and John VanLoon, of Ravenna Public Schools.

A second-round interview is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18. (Please note this date is a change from that listed in the tentative calendar previously released.) The interview will take place in the District Office Board Room, 204 E Muskegon St., Cedar Springs, Mich.  

“The public is strongly encouraged to attend,” said Search Consultant Gary Rider. “Feedback from the audience has already been very valuable to the Board in the selection process.” Rider is the consultant that was selected by the Cedar Springs Board to facilitate the search effort.

Prior to the second round interview in the evening, focus groups will be held during the day on June 18 so that the community, staff, business, and government officials can all meet with Smith and give feedback to the board. There will be two community forums: one at 10 a.m. and one at 4 p.m. Both will be held in the District Office board room. Smith will have dinner with the board at 5:30 p.m., followed by the interview at 7 p.m. in the board room.

Scott Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Hudsonville Public Schools for seven years. Prior to this work he served as the Middle School Principal for Hamilton Community Schools for six years, and as a Middle School Science teacher for Holland Public Schools for three years. Smith holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Earth Science both from Western Michigan University.

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Grand Marshals chosen for 2018 Red Flannel Festival

Bob and Betty Truesdale are this year’s Grand Marshals of the Red Flannel Festival. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Bob and Betty Truesdale, of Cedar Springs, have been chosen as Grand Marshals for the 79th annual Red Flannel Festival. They own the Amish Warehouse at 141 S. Main Street.

“We chose Bob and Betty for the Grand Marshals because of their long history in Cedar Spring and the love they have for the festival,” explained Nancy Deyman, President of the Red Flannel Festival board.

This year’s theme is “Step back in time.” And you can certainly do that when talking to Bob and Betty!

Bob was born a mile north of Pine Lake to Eula Eldred Truesdale, who was a rural schoolteacher for 30-plus years. It was just Bob and his mom, in those early years, and he often traveled with her to the rural schools she taught at in and around Cedar Springs and helped by building the morning fires. 

He first met Betty, the daughter of James and Dorothy Albright, of Ravenna, at a church rally in Rockford, when she was a freshman in high school. “He had a date but I flirted with him,” she said.

They went their separate ways but later reconnected at Spring Arbor High School, a Christian school that later became Spring Arbor University, and eventually married.

The couple spent four years on a reservation in Alberta, Canada, from 1960-64, where they helped build a church. “Bob was a lay preacher there,” explained Betty. “The kids say it was the highlight of their lives. We have wonderful friends up there.”

Bob said he has been an entrepreneur most of his life. He worked for the Rand Corporation selling typewriters, mechanical calculators, etc. He then created his own business, Mr. Dictate, and later sold it. He then went to work for Peter Secchia as director of maintenance for a line of restaurants and wood products. He has now been selling Amish furniture for 25 years. 

Betty stayed home with their four children—Dean, Vicki, Collette, and Dan—for 23 years. She also worked for INA, which later merged with another company and became Cigna.

The two have always attended the Red Flannel Festival and been big supporters of the event. They have also been active in other areas of the community. Bob served on both the City Council and Planning Commission. While on the City Council, he brought to the board the possibility of bringing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in to do the policing here. Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma, also a Cedar Springs resident, presented a plan to Council for a partnership between the two entities, and it was approved. The plan was eventually implemented with great success. 

“It was the highlight of Bob’s political career,” remarked Betty.

Bob wasn’t the only one that dabbled in politics. Betty served on the Courtland Township board for a year. “I found politics wasn’t for me,” she said.

Betty was treasurer of the Community Building Development Team for three years, and Bob was also a part of the team. But they had to drop that when they began spending part of their time in Marshall, with family. They have also always been busy with their church activity at Pilgrim Bible. 

How did Bob feel when he was told they had been selected as Grand Marshals? “I felt like there must be some mistake. We are only commoners. I’m humbled. It’s a great honor. It excites me and pleases me that we have so many friends in Cedar Springs and we are proud to serve as Grand Marshals.”

Red Flannel Day will be Saturday, October 6, 2018. Watch the Post for more information about this year’s activities.

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Public invited to attend meeting on Cedar Springs Drain

 

Meeting on June 21, at 7 p.m. at Cedar Springs High School

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Drain Commissioner recently sent out a notice about a meeting determining the future of the Cedar Springs County Drain, which will affect quite a few residents on the east side of Cedar Springs, and a few on the west side as well.

The Board of Determination will meet at 7 p.m. on June 21, at Cedar Springs High School to decide whether a petition to clean out, relocate, widen, deepen, straighten, tile, extend or relocate along a highway is necessary to the public health. It will affect both the City of Cedar Springs and some of Nelson Township.

The Cedar Springs County Drain is an open and enclosed storm system that collects the storm water runoff from properties and road within the drainage district. (See map above.)

According to Kent County Drain Commissioner Ken Yonker, due to recent permit requests, it was discovered that the Cedar Springs Drain runs under several existing buildings. Those properties cannot be further developed due to the County’s easement on the drain area. For instance, there is a restaurant that wants to buy the Gun Tavern and expand it, but cannot due to the drain running underneath. It also runs underneath the city property at the corner of Elm and Second Street, next to the old library, where the new fire station is to be built.

“The drain was installed years ago, before motorized vehicles,” explained Yonkers. “They didn’t think of that. It worked great back then. The Gun Tavern was able to store their beer down there to keep it cold. But now we have roads that go over those drains.”

He noted that there are other reasons it’s not a good idea to have drains run under buildings. “If a gas tank ruptures, it would spill into the same catch basins that collect the storm water. The drain is flat; it doesn’t move, and gas fumes would build up. They would move upward until they exploded.” 

It also puts development at a stand still. “In the city you have land that now can’t be developed because it’s sitting over the drain. It’s a bad scenario. It needs to be developed for the growth of Cedar Springs,” he said.

They don’t yet have a definite plan to on what they would do, or where it would be moved if the board decided it was needed. But one thing is sure: both the city and the people in the drainage district will pay a portion of the cost. “I know it’s not an easy thing for Cedar Springs because it’s not a lot of people for the cost,” said Yonkers. He added that it would be a bonded cost and they would put it out as far as possible to keep the cost as low as possible for residents.

City Manager Mike Womack said that they have been given an estimate for their share. “The City government has already been informed that the government will likely be seeing a minimum of $25,000 per year share of the overall cost for 15 years and we have already started to budget for it. Homes and businesses in the district will also see a 15 year special assessment and that amount will be based upon the size and perviousness of their property. Since the final drain costs are not known it is impossible to predict with any reasonable accuracy what that dollar amount will be at this time.”

Yonkers told the Post that if the Board votes to go ahead with the project, work would likely not start until late 2019 or early 2020.

For more information, attend the meeting on June 21 or contact the Drain Commissioner at (616) 632-7910, or email drinfo@kentcountymi.gov.

 

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The Post travels to Bavaria

The Post traveled to Bavaria this spring with the Cedar Springs Brewing Company Tour of Bavaria to sample some German beer, eat some great food, and see some amazing sights. According to Director of Happiness David Ringler, they had 26 guests join them on a guided tour of history, beer culture, and dining. The photo was taken in Bamberg, Germany, in the state of Bavaria.

Thanks David for taking the Post with you on your Bavarian adventure. 

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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Cedar Springs Women’s Club selects scholarship recipient

Erika Larsen

By Sue Harrison

Each year the Cedar Springs Women’s Club presents a $1,000 scholarship to a female of any age who resides in the Cedar Springs School District and is planning to attend a college or skill training program. This year’s recipient is Erika Larsen, a Cedar Springs High School senior who was a member of the National Honor Society, played soccer, and volunteered in a local food pantry. 

Erika has over 150 hours of volunteer work, has tutored students, has aided students in the En Gedi program after school, and has traveled to Costa Rica and Mexico to volunteer in orphanages and serve food to poverty-stricken children. 

Erika graduated with honors and is planning to attend Western Michigan University in the Biomedical field and study auto-immune diseases and immunology.  She will be the Women’s Club representative in the Red Flannel Parade in October.

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Summer reading program kicks off

By Judy Reed

The 2018 Summer Reading program at the Cedar Springs Library kicked off a weeklong summer celebration of events this past Monday.

This year’s reading program theme is “Libraries Rock” and it certainly did. According to Library Director Donna Clark, 1,550 people came through the library Monday, with 823 signups on that day alone. With 367 pre-signups, that means 1,190 people have signed up to be part of the reading program so far. 

“We had incredible crowds,” remarked Clark.

The Red Flannel Court was on hand to pass out “Happy Birthday” stickers in celebration of the Library’s first birthday, with 450 given out. Kelly’s Restaurant bought 900 ice cream cups to last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. but they ran out at 3 p.m. Mayor Gerald Hall and his wife, Amy, passed out popcorn in the morning and again in the late afternoon.

Kids also could get a balloon hat; pet animals from Double K Farms; enjoy a magic show; see the Cedar Springs Fire trucks; play carnival games; take part in a rubber duck race; and more.

It’s not too late to sign up for the summer reading program. Just head over to the library, at the corner of Main and W. Maple Streets, or call 616-1910 for more info.

For more info on the Summer Celebration week, visit the “Cedar Springs Community Summer Celebrations” page on Facebook, or check out last week’s story and ad in our e-edition at http://www.cedarspringspost.com/pdf/ThePOST2318.pdf.

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Beautiful blossoms

The peonies and many other flowers are in bloom right now, and Ron Parker, of Courtland Township sent us photos of many of the beautiful blossoms in his yard. Aren’t these gorgeous? Such a great reminder to stop and smell the roses (or any other flower) each and every day!

Do you have photos of wildflowers or wildlife you’d like to send us? Please email them to news@cedarspringspost.com, and we will print them as space allows.

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Former nature center director sentenced

David Keift. Facebook photo.

By Judy Reed

David Kieft, the former director of Howard Christensen Nature Center, was sentenced this week in connection with embezzling money from the center.

Kieft was charged in February with one count of embezzlement over $1,000 but less thank $20,000 of a non-profit or charity. He later pled no contest to attempted embezzlement as part of a plea agreement.

He was sentenced on Tuesday, June 12, by Judge Paul Sullivan, in Kent County Circuit Court. According to the court, he received three years probation; 90 days in jail at the end of his probation; 200 hours of work crew in lieu of 100 days in jail (that is separate from the 90 days he will serve at the end of probation); and restitution. Restitution is currently set at $4,000 but a hearing date is not yet set to determine the full amount, which will likely be more. 

Kieft, of Kent City, was employed at the HCNC, located in Tyrone Township, for about four years. He resigned on August 28, 2017, reportedly because he had opened a new sandwich shop and wanted to spend more time there and with his family. Upon his resignation, one of the board members noticed that some of the bills had not been paid, and began digging into all the financial activities of Kieft. On September 3, the board member called the Kent County Sheriff Department to report he had embezzled funds.

Kieft reportedly wrote himself numerous checks, which he made out to unregistered businesses, and used the Nature Center Paypal account to purchase a multitude of items for himself and his businesses. The investigation found a minimum of $4,000 to $5,000 in misappropriated funds, mainly through the Paypal account.

There are IRS and Michigan State Treasury investigations separate from the Kent County Sheriff investigation, and more charges could eventually be leveled on Kieft.

Treasurer Kim Gillow read a victim impact statement to the court that listed a litany of offenses committed by Kieft that have put the nature center at risk of closing. Most of the offenses involving missing money (including several grants); lack of payment on necessary bills and taxes; late fees; and payments to himself. She noted that they have incurred expenses of over $5,000 to make up payments and late fees, change locks, etc. and that’s over and above the money that was missing. She also said he converted a handicap accessible bathroom to a personal shower without notifying KISD, who owns the Nature Center. She said it was not installed properly, and caused several plumbing issues. It is estimated it will cost about $6,000 to fix.

Gillow is happy that this part of the case is finally over. And she understands why the judge sentenced him to probation first. “The judge said if he was in jail it wasn’t going to help us get our money,” she explained.

The Nature Center is located at 16190 Red Pine Dr. Kent City, MI 49330. 

The Center is also looking for donors to help sustain the center. You can visit them online at www.howardchristensen.org to donate.

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Board requests feedback from residents on term lengths

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education would like to hear from residents whether they think six years is too long of a commitment to serve on the board. They began their discussion on Monday evening, July 11, on whether to transition to four-year terms or stay with six.

The board heard a presentation from interim Superintendent Mark Dobias on the issue, who said some people have said six years is too long of a commitment. “I think it’s a good move (to transition to four years). Then they won’t have to be on the board for more than half a decade,” he said.

Treasurer Shannon Vanderhyde explained that when she first came on the board, they did four years at that time. It was because of Michigan law changing regarding when they needed to do elections that they transitioned to six years. Schools used to be able to run elections every year, in either May or November. In February of 2012, the board voted to switch to six-year-terms after the state passed legislation mandating that school elections be held every two years during the general election in November. They made the switch at the time to avoid there being a 4-3 rotation: 4 members up for election, then the other three in two more years. Instead, with a six-year-term, it’s a 2-3-2 rotation.

“That’s why we went to six years, so we wouldn’t have four new members at a time,” she said. “So far it hasn’t been a deterrent.”

Vice President Matt Shoffner said he would be in favor of the switch. “It does seem like a long time. But that’s a good thought—four could go out or come in at a time,” he said.

Currently, the seats held by McConnon and Nichols expire this year, and whoever wins them would serve until 2024 under the current system. Shoffner’s and Vanderhyde’s seats expire in 2020, as does Rivard’s. However, since Rivard was appointed, he has to run in November and be elected to finish out the term. The seats held by Reed and Slager expire in 2022, but Slager must also run in November and be elected to finish out the term. 

If the board switched to four-year terms, there would be three seats up for election in 2020 and the other four seats in 2022. 

Dobias is asking the public to give their input before the June 25 board meeting. “The rationale behind choosing 6-year terms involved providing more stability over a longer period of time as well as the belief that an entire Board would not turn over as quickly.

“However, there is now a feeling that six years is an awfully long time for people to commit to the Board of Education. Also, a shorter term of office could entice more individuals to seek office and ultimately lead to a Board with greater diversity of opinions, which could yield more rich discussion,” he explained.

The board would like to know what residents and staff think before making a decision at the June 25 meeting. You can email your thoughts to mark.dobias@csredhawks.org.

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Board selects finalist in Superintendent search

Scott Smith, Asst. Superintendent at Hudsonville Public Schools.

The Cedar Springs Board of Education conducted first round interviews Friday evening in their search for a new Superintendent, and narrowed their field down to one finalist. Scott Smith, Assistant Superintendent at Hudsonville, will return for a second-round interview.

The board gave high marks to all three candidates who interviewed, but seemed to like Smith’s leadership style, community focus, and experience with a larger district. The other two candidates who interviewed were Karl Heidrich, of Stockbridge Community Schools, and John VanLoon, of Ravenna Public Schools.

A second-round interview is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m., Monday, June 18. (Please note this date is a change from that listed in the tentative calendar previously released.) The interview will take place in the District Office Board Room, 204 E Muskegon St., Cedar Springs, MI.

“The public is strongly encouraged to attend,” said Search Consultant Gary Rider. “Feedback from the audience has already been very valuable to the Board in the selection process.” Rider is the consultant that was selected by the Cedar Springs Board to facilitate the search effort.

Scott Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for the Hudsonville Public Schools for seven years. Prior to this work he served as the Middle School Principal for Hamilton Community Schools for six years, and as a Middle School Science teacher for Holland Public Schools for three years. Mr. Smith holds a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Earth Science both from Western Michigan University.

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