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North Kent Pastors got talent

The winning act was Fr. Tony Russo and and Fr. Mike Hodges from Our Lady of Consolation with “Soul Man” from The Blues Brothers.

The winning act was Fr. Tony Russo and and Fr. Mike Hodges from Our Lady of Consolation with “Soul Man” from The Blues Brothers.

Cedar Springs Librarian Donna Clark and her daughter, Tamar, enjoying the show. 

Cedar Springs Librarian Donna Clark and her daughter, Tamar, enjoying the show.

Pastors from various churches in the area showed they not only have talent in the pulpit, they are pretty good at helping raise money as well.

North Kent Community Services (NKCS), a food and clothing pantry that serves struggling families in northern Kent County, held its first “North Kent Pastors’ Got Talent” event last month, and hit a homerun.

They had 10 competing teams from churches in Rockford, Sparta and Cedar Springs who sang, danced, and performed stand-up comedy to a crowd of 480 guests to net more than $66,000 for the non-profit. The entire amount will go towards food and educational programming for their clients.

Pastors Keith and Judy Hemmila from Crossfire Ministries in Cedar Springs hamming it up in the photo booth.

Pastors Keith and Judy Hemmila from Crossfire Ministries in Cedar Springs hamming it up in the photo booth.

“The event surpassed our expectations. We have incredibly generous people in Kent County; and some truly talented pastors,” said Claire Guisfredi, executive director at NKCS.

The top winning act was Fr. Tony Russo and and Fr. Mike Hodges from Our Lady of Consolation with “Soul Man” from The Blues Brothers. The runner-up winning act was Fr. Mark Peacock from St. Patrick Parnell singing an old family favorite.

North Kent Community Services ministers to hundreds of families in need each year, especially during the holidays. Anyone wishing to donate can visit their website at www.nkcs.org and click “Donate Now.” They can also mail a check to 10075 Northland Drive NE, Rockford, MI 49341.


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Post travels to Alaska

N-Post-travels-Alaska-HemmeHank and Debbie Hemmes, of Howard City, took the Post with them on a cruise to Alaska in August.

“Our cruise ship stopped in Ketchikan, Alaska where we took the Bering Sea Crab Fishman Tour. We learned how they go about catching King Crab. The ship that we were on, the Aleutian Ballad, was on the second season of the Deadliest Catch before it was retired. It was very interesting to listen to their stories and the risk they all took,” they said.

They noted that they also saw a lot of bald eagles on their trip.

Thank you, Hank and Debbie, 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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Rifle raffle winner



The Sons of the American Legion, Glen Hill Squadron 287, of Cedar Springs would like to congratulate Andrew Stanley of Cedar Springs. Andrew’s winning ticket for the annual Rifle Raffle was drawn on November 8 at Post 287.

Pictured are SAL 1st Vice Commander Keith Tyler, Andrew Stanley holding his new Remington 30-06, and SAL Commander Dominic Merlington.

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Undersheriff selected for leadership course


N-Hess-Cut-photo-from-document-2Name selected by expert panel from more than 20 entries 

Kent County Sheriff’s Office is proud to announce that Undersheriff Jon Hess has been selected to attend a GE executive leadership development program in New York. Developed in close collaboration with the Major County Sheriffs’ Association (MCSA), the course will take place at GE’s Crotonville Management Development Institute, which was founded in 1956 and was the world’s first major corporate university.

“Handling ever increasing public demands for services, with reduced resources, is a real challenge for all law enforcement organizations,” said Sheriff Youngblood, President of Major County Sheriffs’ Association. “The opportunity to apply leadership and management tools, honed in the private sector over many years, will give us an advantage in managing and addressing public safety issues in our communities. This collaboration with GE Healthcare is a great example of how public/private partnerships can provide new perspectives on how Sheriff’s Offices can improve service to our clients (the public) and develop new strategies to further our efforts to operate efficiently.”

Sheriff Larry Stelma, who nominated Undersheriff Jon Hess to attend the course said, “Jon’s outstanding record, high level of commitment and open attitude were key factors in making him a stand-out candidate to benefit from this opportunity to further develop their leadership skills with GE. We are looking forward to sharing the insights that Jon will be able to bring back to our team after attending the course.”

GE Healthcare Life Sciences is sponsoring six participants from member Sheriff’s Offices to attend their “Leadership for Customers” program from November 10-13, 2014. The interactive 3-1/2 day course will examine critical priorities, business and leadership models, as well as organizational values. There will be a focus on leadership skills development, including interactions and coaching, executive stamina and strategic storytelling.

GE Healthcare’s partnership with law enforcement strengthens a relationship built through its industry-leading product offerings, including the DNAscan Rapid DNA Analysis System. DNAscan enables law enforcement agencies to analyze DNA in less than 90 minutes, making it a powerful investigational tool that is expected to help solve crimes more quickly.

The MCSA Executive Board selected participants based on the applications that were submitted by MCSA member Sheriffs, on behalf of their Undersheriffs, Chief Deputies and Assistant Sheriffs.

Jon Hess began his career with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in 1980 as a Corrections Officer. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 1987, Lieutenant in 1994, Captain in 1996, and Undersheriff in 2001. He has a Criminal Justice degree from Southern Illinois University, a graduate degree from Northwestern University Staff and Command, and attended the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Police Academy in 2000. He is a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Jail, Detention, and Corrections Committee and serves as a board member and past president of the American Jail Association. He attended the National Institute of Corrections Large Jail Network, National Sheriffs’ Association Conference, FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, FBI National Academy #221/2006, and Major County Sheriffs’ Association Conference.

See http://www.ge.com/careers/culture/university-students for more information about the GE Crotonville Management Development Institute.

For more information about the MCSA, see http://www.mcsheriffs.com/index.php.



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Man leads city police on pursuit

Jason Schoonmaker

Jason Schoonmaker

Officer Mandy Stahl’s last shift as a Cedar Springs Police officer turned out to be a pursuit of a drunk driver minutes before her shift ended Friday afternoon, November 7.

According to Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, a call came in about a man doing “doughnuts” in his vehicle across from City Hall on Main Street. He had also reportedly struck several vehicles.

Kelley said Officer Mandy observed the vehicle and attempted to stop it on N. Main near Maple Street. The driver, later identified as 34-year-old Jason Schoonmaker of Cedar Springs, failed to stop and accelerated northbound. A short pursuit ensued with Schoonmaker stopping his vehicle on Northland near 19 Mile.

Schoonmaker refused to exit his vehicle, and other officers responded to the scene and removed him from the car.

One witness told the Post she followed the man while on the phone with dispatch. “Even after crashing several times, he just kept on going. Speeding through stop signs and right past some kids on the street playing soccer,” she reported.

Another witness said the man was driving although his airbag had deployed.

Schoonmaker was arraigned in 63rd District Court on charges of Operating While Intoxicated-3rd offense, a felony; fleeing and eluding a police officer, 3rd degree; malicious destruction of property (police); resisting and obstructing a police officer; and driving on a suspended license. His bond was set at $20,000 and he was still in custody at the Kent County Correctional Facility at press time.


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Cedar Springs Schools and GRCC partner to form Middle College program

Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

Dr. Steven Ender of GRCC and Dr. Laura VanDuyn of Cedar Springs Schools.

By Judy Reed


Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn and Grand Rapids Community College President Dr. Steven Ender signed a letter of intent Monday evening to create the Cedar Springs Middle College for fall of 2015.

Under the program, freshman with at least a 2.5 GPA will be able to apply for the program, which would begin in their sophomore year, and provide the opportunity for them to earn both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree in five years. The student will graduate high school and also earn an associate’s degree, without spending any money towards tuition.

It’s just the third program of its kind in Kent County. GRCC also partners with Wyoming, and Davenport partners with Kenowa Hills High School.

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Dr. Steven Ender, president of GRCC

Utilizing dual enrollment/early college status, these students will continue to acquire high school credits toward graduating with a Michigan Merit Curriculum diploma, while also completing requirements toward an associate of arts degree. To do this, students will take fewer classes toward high school completion and more toward their college degree in each subsequent year. Due to the uniqueness of acquiring both certifications, the program would take an additional (fifth) year of high school.

Dr. VanDuyn said she was proud of the district’s students, of whom 72 percent go on to post secondary education, the same as the national average. But she said this program could be a big change for our community, noting that the program has about a 95 percent success rate of those going on to get their four-year degree.

Dr. Ender noted GRCC is celebrating 100 years of post-secondary education, and this is currently a program wave happening in post-secondary education. “It’s a price you can’t beat. You are clearly on the right track. And your students will definitely get a university education,” he assured the Board of Education.

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Violent crime decreases in U.S.


The estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased 4.4 percent in 2013, when compared with 2012 data, according to FBI figures released this week. Property crimes decreased 4.1 percent, marking the 11th straight year the collective estimates for these offenses declined.

The 2013 statistics show the estimated rate of violent crime was 367.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, and the property crime rate was 2,730.7 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The violent crime rate declined 5.1 percent compared to the 2012 rate, while the property crime rate declined 4.8 percent.

These and additional data are presented in the 2013 edition of the FBI’s annual report Crime in the United States. This publication is a statistical compilation of offense and arrest data reported by law enforcement agencies voluntarily participating in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

The UCR Program collects information on crimes reported by law enforcement agencies regarding the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, as well as the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. (Although the FBI classifies arson as a property crime, it does not estimate arson data because of variations in the level of participation by the reporting agencies. Consequently, arson is not included in the property crime estimate.) The program also collects arrest data for the offenses listed above plus 20 offenses that include all other crimes except traffic violations.

Prior to 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program collected rape data in the Summary Reporting System under the category “forcible rape.” In 2013, the program removed the term “forcible” from the title and revised the definition. The legacy UCR definition of rape is “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The revised UCR definition of rape is “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

A total of 18,415 city, county, state, university and college, tribal, and federal agencies participated in the UCR Program in 2013. A summary of the statistics reported by these agencies, which are included in Crime in the United States, 2013, follows:

In 2013, there were an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes. Each of the violent crimes show declines (murder and non-negligent manslaughter—4.4 percent, rape [legacy definition]—6.3 percent, robbery—2.8 percent, and aggravated assault—5.0 percent) compared with estimates from 2012.

Nationwide, there were an estimated 8,632,512 property crimes. The estimated numbers of each of the property crimes also show declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates. Burglaries dropped 8.6 percent, larceny-thefts declined 2.7 percent, and motor vehicle thefts were down 3.3 percent.

Collectively, victims of property crimes (excluding arson) suffered losses calculated at an estimated $16.6 billion in 2013.

The FBI estimated that agencies nationwide made about 11.3 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2013.

The arrest rate for violent crime was 159.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the rate for property crime was 513.2 per 100,000 inhabitants.

By violent crime offense, the arrest rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was 3.4 per 100,000 inhabitants; rape (aggregate total of revised and legacy), 5.5; robbery, 32.0; and aggravated assault, 118.8 per 100,000 inhabitants.

By property crime offense, the arrest rate for burglary was 82.9 per 100,000 inhabitants; larceny-theft, 405.5; and motor vehicle theft, 21.4. The arrest rate for arson was 3.4 per 100,000 inhabitants.

In 2013, there were 13,051 law enforcement agencies that reported their staffing levels to the FBI. These agencies reported that, as of October 31, 2013, they collectively employed 626,942 sworn officers and 275,468 civilians, a rate of 3.4 employees per 1,000 inhabitants.

Caution Against Ranking

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

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CSPD now Kent County Sheriff deputies

(L to R) Deputies Mike Stahl, Chad Tucker, Chad Potts, Ed Good and retired Chief Roger Parent. Post photo by J. Reed.

(L to R) Deputies Mike Stahl, Chad Tucker, Chad Potts, Ed Good and retired Chief Roger Parent. Post photo by J. Reed.

Four Cedar Springs Police officers were sworn in to the Kent County Sheriff Department Friday night in a change of command ceremony.

Officer Mike Stahl, Officer Chad Tucker,  Acting Chief Chad Potts, and Sgt. Ed Good are now officially Kent County Sheriff Deputies.  Sgt. Jason Kelley, from the Kent County Sheriff Department, will be in charge of the Cedar Springs unit.

The officers went through an unpinning ceremony, where their spouses unpinned their Cedar Springs badges. They then went out and changed into their deputy uniforms. Sheriff Larry Stelma and others spoke while they were changing, and when he called them back in, they received their new badges and were sworn in. A blessing was also said over the officers.

The officers and retired Chief Roger Parent were all presented with shadow boxes that contained a CSPD badge and police patch. A shadow box was also given to the city to display.

Watch for more in next week’s Post.

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Veteran’s Day – 11•11•2014

Veterans-leadinDownload our special Veteran’s Day Tribute, which includes:

  • Local veteran, George Hesley, tells his story
  • Social Security – Serving Veterans on Veteran’s Day and  Always
  • A new generation of veterans
  • Photos of LOCAL Veterans

click the link below to download




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WWII Veteran takes flight of a lifetime

WWII Vet George Hesley, right, and his escort, National Guard Captain   Brian Anderson.

WWII Vet George Hesley, right, and his escort, National Guard Captain Brian Anderson.


WWII Vet George Hesley

WWII Vet George Hesley

It was in the early 1940s when a young George Hesley was called from building B-24 bombers in Ypsilanti, to bear arms in World War II.

On Saturday, September 27, the 91-year-old WWII Army Veteran from Cedar Springs was found winging his way to Washington D.C., on one last mission, along with 79 other Veterans, courtesy of Talons Out Honor Flight. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of the men to visit the memorial to them for service to their country.

Each Veteran was accompanied by a Military member “Guardian.” George’s escort was National Guard Captain Brian Anderson, son of Rex and Kathy Bremmer, also of Cedar Springs.

Talons Out Honor Flight is Southwest Michigan’s hub for the national Honor Flight Network, a non-profit charity organization, whose purpose is to honor our World War II Veterans with an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. Each Guardian donates funds for the privilege of escorting their Veteran, helping to make it possible, for as many as possible, to make the journey.

George was greeted by two columns of military personnel standing at attention upon arrival at the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport. Check in time was a very early 5:30 a.m. and breakfast was served as the Mall City Harmonizers sang the Armed Services Military Songs, God Bless America, America the Beautiful and other patriotic songs in the background.

Throughout the event, there were retired and active duty Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel interacting with the Veterans and attending to their every need.

Following breakfast the Veterans boarded a Delta MD90. The jet then rolled through a water cannon salute on the tarmac, which was lined with Military, Talons Out Volunteers and families standing at attention to honor those on board as the plane passed by.

The Veterans also enjoyed water cannon salutes upon landing and takeoff at the Reagan International Airport and were amazed at the groups of people who were there to greet them at every turn.

The first stop on their tour was the World War II Memorial followed by the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. The bus tour also included all the various landmarks around Washington D.C. and the Veterans and Guardians alike enjoyed a full police escort, complete with sirens and flashing lights, throughout the tour.

The next stop was Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard where over 220,000 of our dead are buried. George was especially touched when thinking about those men and women who gave their all for America; some of whom he most likely trained for war. Visits were then made to the Marine Corps Memorial, the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial.

Upon arriving back at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, the Veterans’ buses were led to the Air Zoo by fire trucks with sirens blaring, passing through an archway made up of two ladder trucks holding a huge American Flag and a stunning display of hot air balloons that were lit up for the occasion.

They were then escorted along a pathway to the Air Zoo lined with hundreds of people of all ages, who clapped, whistled and thanked them for their service as they rolled by. The crowd of people reached out and shook the Veterans’ hands, expressing how much their sacrifices were appreciated and welcoming them home from that “One Last Mission.” There were tears of joy and smiles on all faces as they drank in the love that was shown by one and all.

Veterans remarked over and over at the numbers of people who came out to greet them and most of all with the sincerity with which they were thanked. One Veteran remarked that it would take a week to wipe the smile off his face, while George mused it had taken 91 years for him to become a celebrity!

Read George’s personal story on page 8.

For more info, visit their website at http://talonsouthonorflight.org or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TalonsOutHonorFlight.


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