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Year in Review: Local grad in Hollywood film

Joshua Burge, a 1998 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, played Stubby Bill in several scenes of “The Revenant.”

Joshua Burge, a 1998 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, played Stubby Bill in several scenes of “The Revenant.”

Early last year, the Post featured 1998 Cedar Springs graduate Joshua Burge for his role in the movie “The Revenant,” a film that was up for 12 Academy Awards. Burge landed the role of Stubby Bill in the period drama about a frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, who fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy were just two of the seasoned actors that Burge got to work with. DiCaprio ended up winning an Oscar for best actor in the film.

In honor of Burge being in the film, the Kent Theatre made an exception to its normal PG-13 and lower rule and later showed the movie, which is rated R.

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Santa sighting!

Above: Ethan Gerhardt, 7, tells Santa what he wants for Christmas. Post photo by J. Reed.

Above: Ethan Gerhardt, 7, tells Santa what he wants for Christmas. Post photo by J. Reed.

With only a few days left until Christmas Eve, Santa Claus made a special stop at the Cedar Springs Library on Tuesday, December 20, to hear what kids in Cedar Springs want for Christmas. In the photos, Ethan Gerhardt, 7, and his brother, Zach, 10, tell him what they want for Christmas this year.

Right: Zach Gerhardt, 10, thinks about what he wants from Santa. Photo by J. Reed.

Right: Zach Gerhardt, 10, thinks about what he wants from Santa. Photo by J. Reed.

And don’t forget that you can track where Santa is on Christmas Eve by visiting www.noradsanta.org. Watch as he delivers toys around the world! You can also visit the North Pole and explore Santa’s Village on the website. Have fun!

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Man dies in rollover crash

Jason Groenke, of Kent City, died in a rollover crash Sunday. Photo from his gofundme page.

Jason Groenke, of Kent City, died in a rollover crash Sunday. Photo from his gofundme page.

A 31-year-old Kent City man died Sunday when he crashed his vehicle on 18 Mile Road in Tyrone Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a passing motorist reported at 1:31 a.m. that a vehicle had rolled over and ejected the driver. The investigation found that Jason Groenke, 31, was  headed east in the 3600 block of 18 Mile Road, in Tyrone Township, when he lost control of the vehicle and ran off the roadway. The vehicle then overturned and he was ejected. Police said he was not wearing a seatbelt. Rescue attempts were unsuccessful at the scene.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

His family has set up a gofundme page to help pay for his cremation and a headstone. You can visit the page at https://www.gofundme.com/e7-funeral-cost-for-jason-groenke.

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The Post travels to the Mediterranean

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Dave and Jan Malmo, of Howard City, toured Italy, Greece and Turkey in October. They saw all the highlights of those amazing countries including the 700-year-old Leaning Tower of Pisa. “It actually is the bell tower of the nearby cathedral, Il Duomo, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site,” they said. “It leans because it was built on soft ground and the tilt is now more than 5 meters off.” They also visited Ephesus, Turkey where the book of Ephesians (from the Bible) was written; visited the “house” the Apostle John built for Mary to live out her life; and the cave where John was inspired by God to write Revelations. Those were the highlights for the Malmos as well as the Sistine Chapel. “It was amazing!” they said.

Are you traveling during the holidays? 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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You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!

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On Tuesday, December 13, Mrs. Bellamy’s kindergarten class made a gingerbread man cookie after completing a literacy unit including many different Gingerbread Man stories. The kids made signs warning others not to peek while he was baking. But to their utter surprise, the gingerbread man was gone when they went to retrieve him from the oven! This sparked a school wide hunt for the gingerbread man! After following many clues throughout the school, he was eventually found hiding the group room of classroom 408. The children enjoyed eating his legs off first just to ensure that he would not run away again!

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Horse on the loose

This mini horse escaped his home on 18 Mile in Nelson Township and headed to town last Friday, December 16. Gizmo is shown here with his owner, Ann Hughes. Post photo by J. Reed.

This mini horse escaped his home on 18 Mile in Nelson Township and headed to town last Friday, December 16. Gizmo is shown here with his owner, Ann Hughes. Post photo by J. Reed.

It’s not something you see every day—a mini horse traveling down the streets of Cedar Springs on his own.

But that was the case last Friday morning, when a 911 caller reported seeing a  pony loose at the intersection of Main and Muskegon Street, and dispatch reported he was skittish around vehicles. Soon after he was reported on First Street, where some quick thinking gentlemen captured him in the parking lot across from Sue’s Kountry Kitchen.

The animal’s owner, Ann Hughes, of Nelson Township, arrived soon after to retrieve the four-year-old mini horse, whose name is Gizmo. Another gentleman there in the parking lot was trying to find a trailer to haul the animal back home again for her when the Post left the scene.

The amazing thing is how far the mini horse traveled—the owner said they live on 18 Mile Road, between Shaner and Ritchie, so it came quite a ways on its own! We are glad Gizmo was recovered safely, and we wish him and his family a merry Christmas!

 

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Tour of Lights

There’s nothing like the warm glow of Christmas lights this time of year to give you a good dose of Christmas cheer! So pack up the kids, go for a ride, and enjoy the decorations your friends and neighbors have put up this year. We’re sure you’ll find a few other treasures along the way!

1. The Springs Church, 135 N. Grant Street (enter off First Street)

2. 88 N. Grant Street (Corner of Maple and Grant) Rosenberger home

3. Park and Oak Street

4. Elm Street east of Park St.

5. 19 N. Second Street – the Colborn family home between Cherry and Elm.

6. 65 E. Muskegon, corner of First and Muskegon Streets. The home of Larry and Audrey Young is a classic home decorated with style.

7. Downtown Cedar Springs is aglow with lights and decorations on the lampposts and the town Christmas tree is at the corner of Main and Ash.

8. 427 Northland Drive, near the corner of South Street and Northland. See the 90-foot evergreen Christmas tree at the Reep family home.

9. Dio Drive (off Northland, just south of town)

10. Northland south of 16 Mile.

11. Indian Lakes west of Northland Drive.

12. The Fieldstone Meadows subdivision, first cul de sac, just off 18 Mile. Head north on Main Street in Cedar Springs, turn east on 18 Mile. Go around curve, past mobile home park, and then east into Fieldstone.

13. Subdivision off Pine Street (behind Wesco)

14. 6th Street (south at dead end)

15. Vista View Estates on Algoma Ave., between 17 Mile and Indian Lakes.

16. Nolan Patin’s lights synced to music! Located at 2207 15 Mile Rd NE, Sparta 49345.

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Winter parking in effect

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The Kent County Sheriff Department Cedar Springs Unit would like to remind the residents of the City of Cedar Springs that winter parking is now in effect.

Under Ordinance No. 180 Section 36-86, no parking is allowed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. from November 1 to April 1 on streets and areas that have a curb, such as Main Street and connecting side streets, and no parking within a distance of 20 feet of the center of a street for all other areas. The ordinance was created to help with snow removal.

There are public lots available to park in overnight, but cars must be moved daily. Lots can be found at the NE corner of Ash and Second; the SE corner of Elm and Second; the SW corner of Ash and First; and the NW corner of Cherry and First.

“Compliance with the ordinance is key in keeping the city roads clear during the winter months,” said Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs Unit. “Your attention to and assistance with this matter is greatly appreciated.”

A violation of the ordinance is a civil infraction.

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Grant woman dies in crash

Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

A 35-year-old Grant woman died last weekend when the car she was driving collided with a pickup truck.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred about 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, December 17 in Alpine Township.

The investigation showed that a 2015 Ford F150 pickup truck was headed westbound on 6 Mile Rd NW, and a 2002 Chevy Malibu was headed south on Baumhoff when they crashed. Police said it was undetermined if the Grant woman, the driver of the Chevy Malibu, had rolled through the stop sign, or made a complete stop and then pulled out into the intersection. The pickup truck had the right of way.

The driver of the Malibu, Christina Lenora Perales, 35, of Grant, died at the scene. The front seat passenger, Brent Thomas Aishe, 39, of Grant was taken to Spectrum Butterworth with serious injuries, including a broken left hip, cranial bleed, and abrasions on his elbow. One of the back seat passengers, Melinda Marie Lynch, 20, of Fremont was taken to Butterworth laceration to her forehead. The other back seat passenger, Dylan Rogers, 17, of Grant, was taken to Butterworth with a cranial bleed.

There were three occupants in the pickup truck, all from Essexville, Mich. The driver, Brent Joseph Raap, 45, was not injured. Passenger Benjamin Matthew Raap, 15, sustained a minor injury and was taken to the hospital by private transport, where he was treated and released. The third passenger, Judith Louis Mcelhinny-Raap, 45, was not injured.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Assisting at the scene was the Walker Police Department, Alpine Fire Department, Walker Fire Department, Aeromed, LIFE, Rockford, and AMR ambulance services.

The crash is still under investigation.

Christina was a single mom, and there is a gofundme page set up to help with food, clothes, and Christmas for her three boys. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-these-boys.

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More officials charged in Flint water crisis investigation

 

Schuette files criminal charges against two former emergency managers, two         ex-Flint employees; investigation now totals 43 criminal charges against 13 defendants

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges this week against two former State of Michigan Emergency Managers—Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose—with multiple 20-year felonies for their failure to protect the citizens of Flint from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water.

“All too prevalent in this Flint Water Investigation was a priority on balance sheets and finances rather than health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” said Schuette.

Additionally, Schuette announced that Earley and Ambrose, along with ex-City of Flint executives Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson, also face felony charges of false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretenses related to their roles in a process that led to the issuance bonds to pay for a portion of the KWA water project.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, Flint Water Investigation Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, and Chief Investigator Andy Arena joined Schuette in the announcement, the third round of criminal charges brought by Schuette in the Flint Water Investigation. Schuette has also filed a round of civil law suits against water supply engineering firms.

What Went Wrong

The false pretenses and conspiracy to commit false pretense charges against Earley and Amborse are based on the Defendants gaining authorization to borrow millions using the alleged reason of an environmental calamity.

Without the funds from Flint, the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) Pipeline would have to be mothballed. However, as a bankrupt city, Flint needed the Michigan Department of Treasury’s approval to get loans.

Emergency Manager Earley’s attempts to get funds in January and February of 2014 were rejected because the City was in receivership, had a $13-million deficit and no credit rating. State law banned the City from accumulating any more debt.

However, the Defendants allegedly used the Home Rule City Act emergency bond clause, created to deal with cases of “fire, flood, or other calamity,” to borrow the tens of millions required to pay for Flint’s portion of the KWA. The clean-up of a troublesome lime sludge lagoon—holding by-products of water treatment—became the vehicle to get a state waiver for the bonds.

To make the situation even worse, tucked inside the 15-page Statement of Purpose for an upgrade of Flint’s Water Treatment Plant system was a one-paragraph requirement that bound the city to use the Flint River as an interim water source, and the Flint Water Treatment Plant as the sanitizing and distribution center.

The Flint Water Treatment Plant, however, was not ready to produce safe, clean water to the citizens of Flint. Regardless, the Defendants mandated the City to use the Flint Water Treatment Plant as part of the deal to get the ability to issue bonds.

Defendants Croft and Johnson allegedly pressured employees of the Flint Water Treatment Plant to get the plant in working order before April of 2014, the scheduled date for re-start. When the deadline closed in, rather than sound the alarm, the defendants allegedly ignored warnings and test results and shut off the pipes pulling clean water from Detroit, and turned on the Flint River valves.

Defendants and Charges

Darnell Earley: Earley, of Lansing, was appointed as Flint’s Emergency Manager by Gov. Rick Snyder, serving from September 2013 until January 2015.  He is charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

He allegedly participated in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

*Misconduct in Office, Felony, 5 Years and/or $10,000.00

He allegedly allowed the Flint Water Treatment Plant to produce water despite knowledge the plant was not ready for use, allowed Flint to enter into a contract requiring use of the Flint Water Treatment Plant during that time, and authorized false and misleading public statements that the water was safe to drink.

*Willful Neglect of Duty in Office, Misdemeanor: 1 Year and/or $1,000.00

He allegedly failed to perform his duty of protecting the public health.

Gerald Ambrose: Ambrose, of Wyoming, Michigan, began working for the City of Flint in January 2012, first as finance director for three emergency managers and then succeeded Earley when he was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder as emergency manager from January 2015 to April of 2015. He is charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

He allegedly participated in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

*Misconduct in Office, Felony, 5 Years and/or $10,000.00

He allegedly obstructed and hindered a healthcare investigation conducted by the Genesee County Health Department with regard to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak.

*Willful Neglect of Duty in Office, Misdemeanor: 1 Year and/or $1,000.00

Allegedly failed to perform his duty of protecting the public health.

Howard Croft and Daugherty Johnson: Croft was the City of Flint’s Director of the Department of Public Works from December 2011 to November 17, 2015. Johnson served as the City of Flint’s Utilities Director for the Department of Public Works. They are charged with the following:

*False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

Croft and Johnson are alleged to have aided and abetted Defendants Ambrose and Earley in in a process that allowed the use bonds to fund the construction of the KWA pipeline despite the City’s problem with its high debt level. The City of Flint, with MDEQ approval, used an exception to state law by claiming the bonds were needed to fund an emergency cleanup of a retention pond, when in fact the funds were intended to pay for the KWA. During that time, the defendants actively worked in various fashions to discourage a return to using water produced by the Detroit Water and Sewer Department, require the use of Flint River water through a Flint Water Treatment Plant, that was deemed unready for service by several people involved with its management, and to ensure the construction of the KWA.

*Conspiracy to Commit False Pretenses, Felony: 20 Years and/or $35,000, or 3 times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.

13 Defendants in Flint Water Case so Far 

As of today, in total, Schuette has filed 43 criminal charges against 13 current and former state and local officials since the start of the Flint Water Investigation, which has included interviews with approximately 200 witnesses.

The first round of criminal charges from Schuette’s Flint Water Investigation were filed on April 20, 2016 against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees and one City of Flint employee. Schuette’s second legal action took place on June 22, 2016, when he filed a civil suit against water infrastructure firms Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam for their roles in the Flint water poisoning crisis. In July, Schuette filed 18 criminal charges against four current and two former employees from two state departments.

“The crisis in Flint was a casualty of arrogance, disdain and a failure of management.  An absence of accountability. We will proceed to deliver justice and hold those accountable who broke the law,” commented Schuette.

Schuette’s investigation remains ongoing and the charges filed do not preclude additional charges later.  A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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