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Winter parking in effect

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 approved last year by the City Council 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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Fire departments to look at cooperative services

 

By Judy Reed 

 

Both Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs will vote next week on whether to commit to funding a feasibility study on ways to improve services of both fire departments, including a possible consolidation of services.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake applied for and received a partial grant to fund the study. He said the study, to be done by an independent consulting service, would evaluate all aspects of the fire service delivery model in Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs fire district proper. “This study will include alarms, training, fire prevention, fire inspection, code enforcement, building needs, apparatus and equipment inventory/needs, recruiting, duplication of equipment and services, etc. The end result will include recommendations to improve response, ability, and efficiency for our customers jointly in a cooperative manner,” explained Drake.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser agrees that the study is a good idea. “I think it would be a good thing to do. We all need to make improvements,” he said, noting that some of the boundaries don’t really make sense. He used the example of Solon needing to respond to a call at 16 Mile and Northland, because it’s in Solon Township, even though the Cedar Springs Fire Department is closer.

Drake made a similar observation. “I believe this study will highlight some deficiencies that exist with our service delivery that are based on tradition and political boundary lines that quite frankly have just been chosen to be ignored in the past. I think as good stewards of the authority designated to our position, we owe it to the taxpayers to examine our delivery model and be prepared to correct any deficiencies and/or disservice to the customers.”

Both departments do automatically respond to fires in each other’s jurisdiction, but not medical calls or accidents unless aid is requested. And assistance is often needed during daytime hours, when on call firefighters are hard to come by. Drake said that’s one problem that could be addressed in the study.

“The fire service across the nation (not just locally) struggles to put enough certified firefighters on the emergency scene during weekday hours (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.),” he explained. “This study will provide recommendations for improving this fundamental function. I would anticipate this study would suggest the possibility of sharing personnel at a minimum in a cooperative manner, or even consolidation of resources. Either way the local municipality makes those decisions.”

The grant, which came from the State of Michigan, Department of Treasury, Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, was approved for $11,750, 25 percent of the estimated feasibility study cost of $47,000. Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick said that he hopes that the Cedar Springs City Council will participate in helping to financially fund the study at some level. “I think it could be eye opening for the community,” said Ellick. “I think it will suggest some things that could help us give better service.”

“I find it interesting that an analysis of the Law Enforcement delivery model in the City (of Cedar Springs) was just performed and the decision was made to make a change in the interest of cost and customer service,” noted Drake. “I think this study will follow right on the coat tails of this movement.”

Drake said that the grant has language that the feasibility study will be reimbursed at 100 percent if the local unit can demonstrate that, within one year of the completion of the feasibility study, steps have been taken to consolidate services.

Drake said he has no pre-disposed desire of any particular outcome. He just thinks they owe it to taxpayers to examine what can be done better. “Why not complete an in depth analysis by a certified professional organization and examine their findings with unbiased anticipation? Answering this question is the ultimate goal of this cooperation study that these two municipalities are considering. I commend both local units for the courage to consider such a challenge,” he said.

Both boards need to submit resolutions committing to the study by December 29, 2014.

 

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Santa Claus is coming to town

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Santa parade, tree lighting and more next Saturday, December 6 

 

Are you ready to have yourself a merry Christmas Cedar Springs-style? Come on out and experience a day of goodwill and cheer on Saturday, December 6, when the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce presents “Come Mingle with Kris Kringle.”

The day will start at 10 a.m. with families able to create decorations for the Christmas tree at the Cedar Springs Library from 10-1, then decorate the tree at Main and Ash with their ornaments at 1 p.m. There will also be a bake sale, free hot chocolate, a storytime with Mrs. Clause, a Christmas puzzle time with Santa’s Elves, and a petting zoo, all before the mini-parade that brings Santa to the corner of Main and Ash Street at about 4:30-4:45.

Following the parade will be a live nativity scene, tree lighting, caroling, and mingling with Kris Kringle at the corner of Main Street and Ash. The Cedar Springs Historical Museum will also conduct a candlelight tour of the museum from 5-7 p.m.

Bring the whole family out on Saturday, December 6, for a fun, community Christmas celebration! Click here to see info in our holiday events section for complete details on times and locations.

 

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Letters to Santa Claus

Hey kids, it’s time to write a letter to Santa! Photo courtesy of S. Read.

Hey kids, it’s time to write a letter to Santa! Photo courtesy of S. Read.

It’s that time of year again, when kids can’t wait to mail their letters to Santa! To help parents out, the Cedar Springs Post will have a special North Pole drop box. Every year dozens of kids use our special box for express delivery to the North Pole, and we make sure Santa reads each and every one! So, if you’d like to send a letter to Santa, and maybe get it printed in the newspaper, just drop off your letter, in the bright red box labeled “Santa Mail” outside our office at 36 E. Maple Street, or mail your letter to: Letters to Santa, c/o the Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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Post to collect toys for needy

-N-Toys-for-tots-TrainLogoN-toys-for-totsWould you like to do something special for families in need this Christmas? You can partner with us to provide toys for needy children in Kent County. The Post is participating in the Toys for Tots program again this holiday season, as a drop off site for toys.

Toys for Tots is a volunteer organization whose goal is to collect new, unwrapped toys for kids 0-16, and distribute them to children who would not otherwise receive a gift during the holiday season. Toys for teens are always especially needed.

The program runs now through the first two weeks of December. Just bring a new, unwrapped toy to our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you can’t make that time, call us to make other arrangements.

Together we can make this Christmas special for many children!

 

 

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The Post travels to Belarus

Barb Groth at Mir Castle in Belarus.

Barb Groth at Mir Castle in Belarus.

Barb Groth and her nephew, Cawa, in Grodno, Belarus. Barb Groth at Mir Castle in Belarus.

Barb Groth and her nephew, Cawa, in Grodno, Belarus.
Barb Groth at Mir Castle in Belarus.

Barb Groth sent us some photos from her 3-1/2 week visit last summer to Belarus. She wrote: “Most people ask, ‘Where’s that?’ ‘Is it a city?’ or ‘Isn’t that where all the conflict with Russia is happening? Aren’t you afraid?’

“Belarus is a country. It is between Poland and Russia and north of the Ukraine, where all the conflict is occurring. No, I am not afraid to go there. I have family there and they showed me their country from end to end. I spent time with my half sister on her rural farm that has no indoor plumbing, and time with my nephew, who is an architect. He proudly showed me his achievements in his town of Grodno, which is comparable to Grand Rapids.

“I also visited a historic castle called ‘Mir,’ which is near the capital city of Minsk. Minsk has a population of nearly 2 million.”

Barb said that she took the Post everywhere she went in Belarus. “It was truly a wonderful place to explore and enjoy,” she wrote.

Thanks so much, Barb, 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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Michigan/Shiga high school student exchange program

 

High school students currently in grades 9, 10 and 11 are invited to apply to a statewide student exchange program that would take them to Shiga, Japan, our Sister State, for two weeks during the summer of 2015. The program is the Michigan-Shiga High School Student Exchange Program, a program co-sponsored by the Michigan-Shiga Sister State Program and Michigan State University Asian Studies Center. Fifteen high school students from Michigan are selected to participate each year, and paired with Japanese students with similar interests.

The Michigan students will live with host families and attend school with the Shiga exchange students from June 24-July 10, 2015. Then, beginning August 28-September 12, 2015, the Japanese students will come here and spend two weeks with the Michigan families, attending school with their Michigan partners.

Any student who is adventurous, likes to meet new people and is open-minded qualifies for the program. Knowledge of the Japanese language is helpful, but not necessary. There is a mandatory orientation on Saturday, February 28, 2015 to acquaint selected students and parents with Japanese customs and basic language, held on the Michigan State University campus.

Students interested in applying can receive an application and descriptive brochure online at http://www.mishiga.org/programs/highschool. If you have further questions, please call the program coordinator, Kathee McDonald, at 517.388.1308 or by e-mail at mcdon288@msu.edu.

 

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Holiday online shopping online shopping

 

From Deputy Jennifer VanSingel, Kent County Sheriff Department

 

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will be doing some, if not all, of our shopping online. This is a $46 billion industry that offers convenience and flexibility. However, it is also an attractive target for cyber criminals.

Cyber Criminals use multiple ways to prey on unsuspecting citizens including:  fraudulent classified ads/auction sites, gift card scams, and resale of stolen items. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone to be safe online this season and has provided the following tips to help make your shopping experience safer and more stress free.

1. Make sure the electronic device that you’re using to make your purchase has up-to-date security software, programs, and applications.

2. If there is any doubt with the authenticity of the link, email, or online advertisement, don’t click on it.

3. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of any communication that states an action must be taken immediately.

4. Do not share personal information over an unsecure wifi hot spot or network.

5. Make sure the website being visited is legitimate. There should be a closed padlock icon on the web browser or a web address that begins with “shttp” or “https.”

6. Use a credit card to make your purchases, when possible. Never send cash or use a money-wiring service. Always doublecheck your credit card statement for unauthorized charges.

If you believe you have been the victim of online fraud, report it to the appropriate organization right away. Advise your financial institution immediately so they can monitor for unexpected changes to your account and change your passwords to any account that has been compromised.

 

 

 

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Sheriff Department recognizes victim advocates and citizens

Pictured from L to R: Victim advocate Jay Groendyke, residents Ron and Mavee Blain, and victim advocate Charles Roetman.

Pictured from L to R: Victim advocate Jay Groendyke, residents Ron and Mavee Blain, and victim advocate Charles Roetman.

The Kent County Sheriff Department honored two volunteer victim advocates and two county residents on Thursday, November 13, by presenting them with Public Service Awards and Letters of Appreciation.

According to the Sheriff Department, victim advocates Jay Groendyke and Charles Roetman and Kent County residents Ron and Mavee Blain were recognized for their exceptional efforts and kindness in aiding a spouse after the death of her husband in an ultra-light plane crash last summer.

On August 24, 2014, Victim Advocates Jay and Charles were called to assist on a fatal airplane (Ultra-Light) crash located at 7360 Lincoln Lake Avenue, in Vergennes Township. Once at the scene of the crash, the victim advocates were introduced to Mrs. Delia Bowker, the wife of deceased pilot Bryan Bowker. Delia and Bryan had driven their motor home from New Mexico to Lowell, Michigan, for the sole purpose of purchasing this ultralight aircraft.

The Bowkers had no family or friends anywhere in the State of Michigan. Delia was born and raised in the Philippines and spoke broken English, which made it extremely difficult for the victim advocates to communicate with her. Delia was a witness to the accident, and she was exhibiting a high level of distress, grief, anger and anxiety over what had just taken place.

Sheriff Larry Stelma honors the victim advocates and citizens that helped a grieving spouse after an ultra-light plane crash last summer.

Sheriff Larry Stelma honors the victim advocates and citizens that helped a grieving spouse after an ultra-light plane crash last summer.

Jay and Charles were comforting and assisting Delia, and within a short period of time a local couple, Ron and Mavee Blain stopped by, asking if they could help in anyway. Mrs. Blain was also born and raised in the Philippines, and offered to translate between the victim advocates and Delia. This was an overwhelmingly generous gesture and a much needed miracle for everyone involved.

Jay and Charles worked tirelessly over the next several hours gathering information from the Deputies on scene, while they worked at keeping the media away from the grieving spouse. They also comforted the owner of the aircraft, Mr. Paul Nichols who was showing extreme grief over the unfortunate accident. Jay and Charles assisted with arrangements for funeral homes in Grand Rapids and New Mexico. They called several of Bryan and Delia’s friends, and informed them of the tragic accident. Arrangements were made for friends of Bryan and Delia to fly into Grand Rapids the following day.

Following their generous offer, Mrs. Bowker agreed to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Blain, until her friends from New Mexico arrived the following day. Victim Advocates Jay and Charles drove the Bowker’s motor home, trailer and dog to the Blain home, as Mrs. Bowker was unable to drive the motor home herself. Jay and Charles then facilitated a gathering where all involved continued to support and comfort Delia.

The next day, Victim Advocates Jay and Charles met the Blains and Delia at the Gerald R. Ford Airport to pick up the friends arriving from New Mexico. Information, comfort and resources were shared over dinner, with all involved. The Blains once again opened their home to Delia and her friends; they accepted the invitation and were very appreciative of the generous hospitality.

The Sheriff Department said that Kent County Victim Advocates Jay Groendyke and Charles Roetman went above and beyond the traditional expectations of the role of victim advocate. They provided compassionate and professional care for Mrs. Bowker, spending in excess of thirty hours with her over a three-day period, following the tragic event. During the three-day period, Jay and Charles unselfishly placed the needs of Mrs. Bowker ahead of their own lives and responsibilities.

Mr. and Mrs. Blain opened their hearts and their home to a complete stranger, who was in great distress, for three days and two nights providing care and comfort to her. Their unselfish kindness was not only a comfort to Mrs. Bowker, but a source of great relief to our victim advocates, knowing that someone was watching over Mrs. Bowker, grieving so far away from home.

For more information on the Victim Services Unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, please visit www.accesskent.com/Sheriff/victim_services.htm or email Sandi Jones at sandi.jones@kentcountymi.gov, or call (616) 632-6221.

 

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Expect extra patrols for Thanksgiving

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State Police conducts largest Operation C.A.R.E. enforcement effort

 

As motorists across Michigan prepare for a Thanksgiving holiday filled with travel, food and family, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is conducting Michigan’s largest Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) traffic enforcement initiative November 26-30, 2014.

“Our goal is to prevent traffic crashes and fatalities so every family can celebrate a safe holiday season,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “With extra troopers on patrol, make sure your Thanksgiving to-do list includes wearing a seat belt, designating a sober driver and avoiding distractions like talking on your phone while driving.”

Thanksgiving is the second deadliest holiday in Michigan for traffic crashes. In 2013, there were 12 traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday; a 30 percent increase from nine fatalities in 2012.

Beginning Wednesday, troopers across the state will conduct high-visibility enforcement focusing on impaired driving, seat belt use, careless driving and speeding. The extra patrols are paid for with federal traffic safety funds coordinated by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

The effort is supported by the Give thanks. Drive safely. public awareness campaign that includes a public service announcement available at www.youtube.com/OHSP.  Each campaign element features illustrations of traditional Thanksgiving items to create a connection between driving safely and enjoying the holiday.

In addition, the Michigan Department of Transportation will display safe driving reminders on its freeway message boards and at rest areas throughout the busy travel weekend, and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is supporting the effort by placing campaign materials in her branch offices.

Operation C.A.R.E. is a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing traffic crashes and fatalities on highways across the country. It began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Indiana State Police. Today Operation C.A.R.E. is one of the nation’s longest running traffic safety initiatives and includes state and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, as well as some American territories and Canadian provinces.

 

 

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