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Did you walk the Mighty Mac on Labor Day?


2019 Mackinac Bridge Walk

For the first time in three years, crowds at the Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk grew, with an estimated 30,000 people shrugging off blustery weather to walk the Mighty Mac this Labor Day.

This was the third year that the bridge was closed to public traffic during the walk, and the second year of the event starting from both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace with options for participants. About 25,000 people participated in the walk each of the last two years.

“We’re thrilled that more people chose to join us this morning for this 62-year tradition,” said Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Executive Secretary Kim Nowack. “Each year is different, with people from across the globe coming to walk the bridge, and we hope everyone enjoyed this opportunity to see the bridge from this vantage.”

Michigan State Police St. Ignace Post Commander F/Lt. John Schneider, who coordinated the law enforcement security and traffic control during the walk, said the event went incredibly well from a safety standpoint.

“The numerous agencies and entities involved in the security component worked together flawlessly with great cooperation and collaboration to ensure the welfare and safety of the staff and the citizens,” Schneider said. “An event of this magnitude would never succeed at this level without such great partners.”

The bridge was closed to public traffic from 6:30 a.m. to noon during the event, as it was in 2017 and 2018. Although southbound traffic on US-2 and northbound on I-75 did start to back up at around 11:30 a.m., traffic cleared quickly once the bridge reopened at noon.

The most significant change to the walk for people who had not participated prior to 2018 was that it started from both ends of the bridge, eliminating the need for buses transporting participants from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Many people reported walking the entire bridge, either in one or both directions, and arranged their own transportation, if needed.

Starting the walk from both ends of the bridge offered new options for participants, including turning around at the midpoint of the bridge and returning to the city they started from, walking the entire bridge and arranging their own transportation, or walking the entire bridge twice and returning to the city they started from.

The MBA decided to close the bridge to public traffic during the walk beginning in 2017, based on recommendations from the Michigan State Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Emergency vehicles are still permitted to cross the bridge during the event, but no public vehicles were allowed until the walk concluded and participants were off the bridge.

2019 Mackinac Bridge Walk


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Rockford Post seeking “Angel” volunteers


The Michigan State Police Rockford Post is seeking volunteers to assist with the Angel Program, which allows an individual struggling with addiction to walk into any post and ask for assistance without fear of arrest or investigation.

Angel volunteers respond to assist MSP post personnel in locating the appropriate treatment option and with transporting the participant to a treatment center. Volunteers are reimbursed for mileage and meal expenses. MSP personnel will train volunteers on the responsibilities and expectations of being an Angel. 

The MSP Angel Program is supported by P.A.A.R.I. (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative) and is modeled after a similar initiative developed in 2015 by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department.  

The Rockford Post will soon be conducting training for new volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about the MSP Angel program or becoming an “Angel” volunteer, please contact the Rockford Post at 616-866-4411 or visit  www.michigan.gov/AngelProgram. 

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High winds take down trees


High winds that preceded the storm last Thursday evening, August 29, took down several trees in the area, including this tree near Beach and Linda Street in the City of Cedar Springs. According to Tom Parker, who took the photos, this tree fell about 4 p.m. last Thursday, near the City pump house.

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City Hall Corner


By Mike Womack, City Manager, City of Cedar Springs

Sidewalk snow removal

Well, it’s that time of year again when the changing leaves and their beautiful colors fool us into hoping that maybe this time the “dog days of summer” will last straight through till April. Unfortunately, as all Michiganders know, winter is coming and with it is coming that time when sidewalks will need to be cleared after snow falls.

Some residents have previously wondered if this is the responsibility of the DPW department; especially for those living along the Muskegon St. or Main St. corridors.  According to the City Ordinance (Sec. 32-76), every sidewalk directly in front of your property (both business and residential) is the owner’s responsibility to keep clear of snow and ice build up. This includes both sides for corner lots. The snow removal in the downtown business corridor is paid for by the Downtown Development Authority.

Another common question asked is in what time frame is the snow removal expected to be done?  Normally, per the ordinance, snow removal should occur within 12 hours of the most recent snowfall or by 6 p.m. of the following day if it snows overnight. In extraordinary circumstances, snow should be removed from sidewalks within a reasonable period of time after the snow stops falling.  

When clearing the sidewalks, the snow should be removed to create a clear walking path and cannot be pushed into the street. Pushing the snow into the street and leaving it there is an offense under both local and state law. 

Now is a good time to check on your snow shovels and fire up that snowblower to make sure it is ready for the season. As the snow falls, the temptation to read a good book in front of a roaring fire is strong, but please remember that your sidewalks also need attention. Your neighbors will love you for it! For bonus points, remove snow from around adjoining fire hydrants. The fire department will love you for it!

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Red light running deaths hit 10 year high


New AAA Foundation data analysis finds more than two people are killed every day in red light running crashes, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists

More than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights, according to data analysis performed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most recent crash data available shows 939 people were killed in red light running crashes in 2017, a 10-year high and a 28 percent increase since 2012. With the number of red light running crashes on the rise, AAA calls for drivers to use caution when approaching signalized intersections, and for pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert when crossing the street.

According to the AAA Foundation:

*28 percent of crash deaths that occur at signalized intersections are the result of a driver running through a red light.

*Per capita, Arizona has the highest rate of red light running fatalities while New Hampshire has the lowest rate.

*Nearly half (46 percent) of those killed in red light running crashes were passengers or people in other vehicles and more than 5 percent were pedestrians or cyclists. Just over 35 percent of those killed were the drivers who ran the red light.

“Drivers who decide to run a red light when they could have stopped safely are making a reckless choice that puts other road users in danger,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The data shows that red light running continues to be a traffic safety challenge. All road safety stakeholders must work together to change behavior and identify effective countermeasures.”

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, 85 percent of drivers view red light running as very dangerous, yet nearly one in three say they blew through a red light within the past 30 days when they could have stopped safely. More than 2 in 5 drivers also say it is unlikely they’ll be stopped by police for running a red light. Nevertheless, it’s against the law and if a driver is involved in a deadly crash, it could send them to jail.

While enforcement is the best way to get drivers to comply with any law, it is impossible for police to be at every intersection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that when properly implemented, red light cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate of large cities by 21 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 14 percent.

“Deaths caused by red light running are on the rise,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS Vice President for Research. “Cameras increase the odds that violators will get caught, and well-publicized camera programs discourage would-be violators from taking those odds. Camera enforcement is a proven way to reduce red light running and save lives.”

Proper implementation of red light cameras helps to ensure drivers’ safety and trust in the systems. When using red light camera programs, local governments should incorporate best practices, such as:

*Using the camera program as part of a comprehensive traffic safety strategy, including engineering and education.

*Only implementing programs on roadways with a demonstrated pattern of violations or crashes.

*Notifying drivers that cameras are being used (signage and other methods).

*Calibrating cameras regularly.

*Only operating cameras under the direct supervision of law enforcement personnel.

*Evaluating the programs on a periodic basis to ensure safety benefits are being realized.

Changes in driver behavior are also critical to reducing the number of red light running crashes on U.S. roads. To prevent red light crashes, AAA recommends that drivers:

*Prepare to Stop: Lift your foot off the accelerator and “cover the brake” when preparing to enter any intersection by positioning your right foot just above the brake pedal, without touching it.

*Use Good Judgment: Monitor “stale” green lights, those that have been green a long time as you’ve approached the intersection. They are more likely to turn yellow as you arrive at the intersection.

*Tap the Brake: Tap your brakes a couple of times before fully applying them to slow down. This will catch the attention of drivers who may be inattentive or distracted behind you.

*Drive Defensively: Before you enter an intersection after the light has turned green for you, take a second after the light changes and look both ways before proceeding.

Pedestrians and cyclists should also stay safe when traveling near intersections. AAA recommends:

Wait: Give yourself a few seconds to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before moving through the intersection.

Stay Alert and Listen: Don’t take chances and don’t wear headphones. Watch what is going on and give your full attention to the environment around you.

Be Visible: Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.

Make Eye Contact: Look at drivers in stopped vehicles to ensure they see you before crossing the road in front of them.

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Gas prices falling


Grand Rapids gas prices have fallen 14.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.46/g Tuesday, September 3, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 246 stations. Gas prices in Grand Rapids are 21.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago, yet stand 30.5 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Grand Rapids is priced at $2.22/g while the most expensive is $2.69/g, a difference of 47.0 cents per gallon. Gas in Cedar Springs is also at $2.69/g.

The lowest price in the state t is $2.16/g while the highest is $4.39/g, a difference of $2.23/g. The cheapest price in the entire country today stands at $1.61/g while the most expensive is $4.99/g, a difference of $3.38/g. 

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 1.9 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.56/g today. The national average is down 14.6 cents per gallon from a month ago, yet stands 26.1 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

Historical gasoline prices in Grand Rapids and the national average going back a decade:

September 3, 2018: $2.76/g (U.S. Average: $2.82/g)

September 3, 2017: $2.59/g (U.S. Average: $2.63/g)

September 3, 2016: $2.22/g (U.S. Average: $2.20/g)

September 3, 2015: $2.48/g (U.S. Average: $2.43/g)

September 3, 2014: $3.52/g (U.S. Average: $3.43/g)

September 3, 2013: $3.73/g (U.S. Average: $3.58/g)

September 3, 2012: $3.95/g (U.S. Average: $3.83/g)

September 3, 2011: $3.83/g (U.S. Average: $3.66/g)

September 3, 2010: $2.73/g (U.S. Average: $2.66/g)

September 3, 2009: $2.48/g (U.S. Average: $2.57/g) 

Neighboring areas and their current gas prices:

Kalamazoo- $2.34/g, down 14.5 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.48/g.

Lansing- $2.52/g, down 11.2 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.63/g.

South Bend- $2.37/g, down 6.2 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.44/g.

“With last week’s decline in the national average, the tally now stands at seven straight weeks of decline, and heading into the fall, its nearly guaranteed that gas prices will continue to fall as we switch back to cheaper winter gasoline and demand plummets, especially as Hurricane Dorian shuts down the Southeast,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “While a China/U.S. trade deal could undermine the normal seasonal decline in prices that we anticipate, its still nearly guaranteed that average gas prices in nearly every state will stand lower on Thanksgiving and Christmas versus where we stand today. With the changeover to winter gasoline just two weeks away for a bulk of the country, we believe there will be additional drops in gas prices ahead.  For those concerned about pricing impacts from Hurricane Dorian, we remind motorists that not all hurricanes impact prices- in fact few truly leave a mark- the last being Hurricane Harvey in 2017 which impressively, knocked out an third of all U.S. refining capacity. The number of refineries seeing such impacts for Dorian will likely be zero, and that makes all the difference. GasBuddy’s app also continues to track where motorists can find gas in Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina with Dorian bearing down.”

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Fugitive arrested in Iowa

by Judy Reed

The Sidney Township man wanted by police for assaulting his wife and threatening to kill her with a handgun last weekend has been arrested in Iowa after a 9-1/2 hour standoff.

Eric David Kramer was arrested in Iowa.

According to Sgt. Alex Dinkla with the Iowas State Patrol, the standoff began about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, September 5. Troopers knew he had active warrants, and acting on a tip, set up in the area where he would be traveling, on Highway 370 near the Iowa-Nebraska state line.

As soon as Kramer was stopped, Dinkla said that he displayed a handgun and put it to his head. Officers tried to negotiate with him to surrender, and a special Iowa State Police negotiator was also brought in. However, they were unsuccessful, and about 3 p.m. the ISP tactical team deployed chemical agents into the vehicle, and Kramer then exited the vehicle without the gun and was taken into custody.

It all started on Sunday, September 1, when Michigan State Police Troopers from the Lakeview Post responded to the felonious assault call involving a firearm on Carlson Rd north of W. Sidney Rd at about 2 a.m. The investigation found that Kramer had assaulted his wife, Jennifer Callaghan. He threatened her at her residence on Carlson Rd with what was said to be a five-shot revolver handgun, with white handle. He pointed the handgun at her and advised that “either he or she would die tonight.” Kramer then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to her car where he then struck her with the revolver on the left temple causing injury. He continued to assault her by throwing her on the ground and forcing his body weight on her. Jennifer was able to get back into the vehicle and drive off. Kramer then got into his vehicle and left the residence. Jennifer followed him but disengaged at southbound M-66 and Sidney Rd. Troopers searched several locations in the area, but couldn’t find him.

Kramer is now facing two Iowa charges—felon in possession of a firearm and fleeing from justice. Sgt. Dinkla said he would have to face those charges before extradition to Michigan, where he will face more charges for felon in possession of a firearm and the assault charge.

ORIGINAL STORY:

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Woman dies in two-car crash

A Gowen woman died Thursday afternoon from injuries she suffered after her vehicle hit another car head-on.

A Gowen woman died Thursday after she crossed the centerline and hit another car head-on. Courtesy photo.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred on Thursday, September 5, about 4:21 p.m. on Johnson Road, south of Sidney Road, in Montcalm Township.

The investigation revealed that Ruby Hardin, age 63, from Gowen, was traveling southbound on Johnson Road, in a 2007 Chrysler Town and County, while Seth Davis, age 18, from Gowen, was traveling northbound in a 2012 Dodge Charger. Hardin approached a curve in the road, which she failed to negotiate, and crossed the center of the road hitting Davis’ vehicle head-on.

Davis sustained minor injuries and sought his own treatment. Hardin was unconscious at the scene and was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids by Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services, where she was pronounced deceased.

Police said that both drivers wore seat belts and speed does not appear to have been a factor. The crash remains under investigation.

Assisting with the crash were Montcalm County Central Dispatch, Montcalm Township Fire, and Michigan State Police.

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Man wanted for assault

Michigan State Police Troopers from the Lakeview Post are looking for Eric David Kramer, 45, of Sidney Township. He is wanted for assaulting his wife and threatening to kill her with a handgun over the weekend.

Eric David Kramer assaulted and threatened to kill his wife last weekend.

Troopers responded to the felonious assault call involving a firearm on Carlson Rd north of W. Sidney Rd at about 2 a.m., Sunday, September 1.

The investigation found that Kramer had assaulted his wife, Jennifer Callaghan. He threatened her at her residence on Carlson Rd with what was said to be a five-shot revolver handgun, with white handle. He pointed the handgun at her and advised that “either he or she would die tonight.” Kramer then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to her car where he then struck her with the revolver on the left temple causing injury. He continued to assault her by throwing her on the ground and forcing his body weight on her. Jennifer was able to get back into the vehicle and drive off. Kramer then got into his vehicle and left the residence. Jennifer followed him but disengaged at southbound M-66 and Sidney Rd. Troopers searched several locations in the area, however Kramer was unable to be located.

Kramer was said to be driving a 2014 Toyota Camry, white in color, bearing Georgia plate RAX2688. Vehicle was also said to have a sheet metal union workers sticker in the back window.

Suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous. If located please use caution.

State Police were assisted on scene by, Montcalm EMS and Montcalm County Central Dispatch.

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Ready for some Red Hawk football?

Last fall the Red Hawks were OK-White Champions

By Judy Reed

Another exciting year of Red Hawk football is about to begin and you won’t want to miss it. It starts tonight, Thursday, August 29, at Red Hawk Stadium, with a rematch against the only team to snatch victory from the Red Hawks during the regular season last year—Saginaw Swan Valley, who was also last year’s opening game.

After the loss to Saginaw Swan Valley (who made it to the District 5 semifinals last fall) the Red Hawks went on to win 10 straight games—including their first ever OK-White Championship and two playoff games. They became District Champs, defeating a previously undefeated Mount Pleasant for the title, and ended the season with a 10-2 record. They only allowed 95 points during the regular season, and 55 during the post season, with their regional finals loss (18-34) to the Muskegon Big Reds making up the bulk of that. 

The Red Hawks will face the same non-conference and conference teams this year: Saginaw Swan Valley, Caledonia, Northview, Greenville, Allendale, Forest Hills Central, Lowell, Ottawa Hills, and Forest Hills Northern. 

Come on out tonight and support your Red Hawks! See spirit themes for all the games on page 8.

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