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The Post travels to California

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The Cedar Springs Post traveled to California with the Thornton family, where they celebrated the marriage of Tommy Thornton (2004 Cedar Springs grad) to Inge Hergenrather. The couple resides in San Clemente, California, where Tommy is an Orange County Sheriff Deputy and USMC Reservist, and Inge is an events manager.

Joining in the fun were Tommy’s parents, Tom and Sara; brothers Austin (2007 CSHS grad), and Judson (2010 CSHS grad); nephew Carson; and Cedar Springs High School friends Brandon Bauer and Mike Bigney (both 2004 grads).

The couple was married in the same church as Tom and Sara—South Shores Church, Laguna Niguel, California.

Thanks so much for taking us with you, and best of luck to the happy couple!

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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Kindergarteners check out Cedar Springs

Kids had the chance to spray a fire hose during a visit to the fire department last week.

Kids had the chance to spray a fire hose during a visit to the fire department last week.

On June 1, Mrs. Bellamy and Mrs. Shoffner’s kindergarten classes made social studies come alive with a community walk.

First, students stopped by the police department, where Kent County Sheriff’s talked about safe adults and calling 911 for help. Next, the kindergartners stopped by the U.S. Post Office, where they mailed a persuasive letter home to their parents. Then both classes were escorted to the fire station, where they learned about a firefighter’s job and fire safety tips, followed by each kindergartner spraying the fire hose! The next stop brought the kids to the library where they learned about the summer reading program and enjoyed a good story. And lastly, students ended the community walk with pizza in the park.

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Senior neighbors take a trip to the Kent

N-Senior-NeighborsThe historic Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs was the entertainment for the Sparta Senior Neighbors on Wednesday June 1.

The Sparta center was provided transportation to and from this nostalgic theatre by Senior Neighbors and Ride Link. This energetic group of seniors, ranging from age 60 and older, received a walk down memory lane as they entered this wonderfully restored theatre from days gone by. The seniors were treated to the movie Jungle Book, as well as popcorn and a drink served to them from the Theatre’s antique equipment. The smiles couldn’t have been brighter as these seniors enjoyed yet another day out together exploring what our community has to offer.

Senior Neighbors offers any Kent County resident 60 years and older a program that includes several valuable services.  The program may include wellness speakers, exercise classes, healthy lunches, parties, raffles with prizes, educational classes geared for senior citizens, games, fun outings, various crafting interest groups, worship services, bus transportation,  health related checks from blood pressure to hearing aid and foot care,  and more. The centers are located throughout Kent County, making it convenient for anyone to attend the functions and events offered Monday through Friday of every week.

The consensus from the large number of senior citizens who take advantage of the Senior Neighbor services is that they feel a part of an extended family and are given a sense of belonging. They also feel empowered with the educational and informative items discussed from day to day. The daily entertainment brings laughter and enrichment to these seniors’ lives.

The Senior Neighbors’ mission is to promote independent living for people age 60 years and older in our community. These essential services are offered to help senior citizens remain independent into their later years. Senior Neighbors is supported in part by the Kent County Millage, the Area Agency on Aging of West Michigan, Kent County businesses and an advisory council of volunteers.

Lois Hall, a member of the Sparta Senior Neighbors center for the last seven years, said that she enjoys coming to the center to meet her friends and have company during her days. Lois said, “It’s a great place to meet people and to spend my day.” Lois commented that she never feels alone anymore.

Any senior citizen age 60 years and older is welcome at any center.  Please stop by a center near you to see what is happening and pick up a newsletter with a schedule of events and activities. You will receive a warm welcome by not only the center coordinator, but the other members of that particular center. Kent County centers are located in Sparta (ph: 887-1273), Walker (ph: 735-3240), Lowell (ph: 897-5949), Grand Rapids (ph: 459-3040) and Grandville (ph: 531-5250). Transportation is provided to the centers if needed.

“Together we can age with grace, dignity and a whole lot of fun,” added Sparta Center Coordinator Jane Ringler, who resides in Cedar Springs. Jane says that she loves going to her job at the center and it is because of the senior citizens she works for that make it such a pleasant and happy place to be.

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Cleaning up the trail

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These Boy Scouts cleaned up the White Pine Trail between 16 and 18 Mile Roads, Tuesday evening, June 7. The clean up was done in conjunction with the Cedar Springs Rotary Club.

Thank you for helping keep our trail clean!

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School board approves deputy on campus

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By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education showed Monday evening that school security is high on their priority list, when they approved a partnership with the Kent County Sheriff Department to have a School Resource Officer on campus (SRO) 40 hours a week for the upcoming school year.

Building relationships with students to prevent problems and increasing campus security are just two of the things that a SRO would do. Sgt. Jason Kelley noted that there had been 168 calls on school property since the beginning of 2015. “These are reactive—someone called us. We could lower that number and intervene before something happens,” he explained.

Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn reminded everyone that there are 4,000-plus people on campus every day, when you include students, staff, and parent volunteers.

“Security has been on everyone’s mind, especially with recent developments,” said trustee Joe Marckini.

The Kent County Sheriff Department offered to fund 30 percent of the program.

The outstanding cost to the district would be approximately $76,000, after the Sheriff Department’s contribution. The cost would cover wages and benefits for 40 hours per week for the deputy; all standard issued deputy equipment; a Kent County Sheriff car, fully equipped, fueled and maintained; and all police training and supervision.

VanDuyn explained that because of a layoff at the high school of a security officer, the net cost would be about $40,000 to the district for the program.

Marckini wanted to make clear that them hiring the SRO is not why the security officer was being laid off.

“No,” said VanDuyn. “We’ve had bomb threats and intruders on campus this year. This is a very difficult decision. We are looking at our emergency plan. We have worked hard, but we can’t have everything in our budget. We are moving toward a whole new model,” she explained.

The SRO will be based at the high school, but visit other buildings. Cedar Springs Middle School, located on 16 Mile, will keep their security officer.

The school and the Sheriff Department will work together on the process of choosing the deputy. The Sheriff Department will accept letters of interest from deputies, then narrow the field down to those they think might be a good fit for the district. School representatives will then interview the deputies, and forward their decision to the Sheriff Department for final approval.

There are currently six schools actively involved in the program, each with their own officer—Northview, Kenowa Hills, Kent City, Forest Hills, Lowell, and Byron Center. Caledonia also just approved joining the program.

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$200,000 grant will help restore wetlands

 

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

Cedar Springs and Sparta to benefit

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently announced more than $4.3 million in grants to protect Michigan lakes and streams from pollution, and a group working on projects in Cedar Springs and Sparta received a portion of it.

Trout Unlimited received $239,449 to restore wetlands, and to protect a 50-acre property with a permanent conservation easement in the Rogue River watershed, as part of the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

Specific wetland activities include restoring approximately 5 acres of wetlands in the Cedar Springs and Sparta area. Two wetlands will be restored in Cedar Springs, both on City of Cedar Springs property. One is a half acre by the fire barn, where the new library will built (between the firebarn and Cedar Creek) and two acres at North Park, just east off of Main Street (between Oak Street and Cedar Springs Mobile Estates).

Two wetlands will also be restored in the Sparta area—one acre on the corner of M37 and Main St, and 1.5 acres off of Phelps, on private property.

Once restored, these sites will play a huge role in reducing sediment in Cedar and Nash Creeks and helping to stabilize water temperature by controlling stormwater runoff.  In addition, identification and prioritization of historically lost wetlands will be done and potential wetland restoration areas in the entire watershed will be quantified for future projects.

A second portion of the project is the completion of a conservation easement, permanently protecting approximately 50 acres in the watershed. The 50-acre conservation easement is located just east of Sparta, off of Division, on private property.

This property is directly adjacent to 124 acres of permanently protected land. The area just outside of the property is experiencing development pressure. The conservation easement will eliminate all development in this area, as well as provide buffer zones to the waterways and wetland areas.

These grants will help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients and other contaminants. Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up both natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually deposits it into waterways.

This two year project will begin in October 2016 and will be part of the current Trout Unlimited Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. This project is a multi-year collaborative watershed restoration project. Local foundations, businesses and other donors have contributed funds towards the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

A Trout Unlimited Project Manager and Project Coordinator work to improve existing river conditions through restoration actions, work with local governments to improve municipal planning, and increase capacity to help ensure advocates for long-term protection of the Rogue.

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Newaygo Sheriff deputy suspended

 

Newaygo Sheriff Pat Hedlund sent out an announcement this week that he has suspended a ranking road patrol deputy over several issues, including on-duty political activity.

“Recently, it has come to my attention that a ranking member of this department may have defied election laws, department policies regarding insubordination, ‘on-duty’ political activity and policy regarding the release of departmental information,” said Hedlund.

“To that end, I have taken and will continue to take the necessary steps as a Sheriff to make sure that persons employed at this agency put the needs of the citizens before their own personal agendas. I simply refuse to tolerate behavior like that.”

Hedlund said that the person had been put on paid administrative suspension pending the investigation into the allegations of improper conduct.

The name of the deputy was not released. WZZM reported that sources told them it was Lt. Chad Palmiter, who was disciplined last March after a video posted on YouTube showed Palmiter talking to Newaygo County Commissioners about requiring quotas on tickets, which is against state law.

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Memorial Day services 

It was a beautiful day across West Michigan Monday, May 30, and many residents gathered in cemeteries and parks for the annual Memorial Day Services.

Here in Cedar Springs, the Glen Hill American Legion Post held services at Elmwood Cemetery, where the Avenue of Flags memorialized veterans laid to rest there; at Solon Cemetery; at East Nelson Cemetery; and at Veterans Memorial Park on Oak Street. Nelson Township resident Lt/Col. Tom Noreen was the guest speaker.

Memorial Day services were also held at Algoma, Sand Lake, and Pierson.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society held their annual cemetery walk honoring veterans on Sunday, May 29.

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City Council fires assessor, hires interim City Manager, City clerk resigns

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council fired their assessor, hired an interim City Manager, and received the resignation of their City Clerk, all during the course of a special meeting on Thursday evening, May 26.

The Council has been in disagreement with City Assessor Jason Rosenzweig, over six parcels of city-owned property that he says the city should be paying tax on. The Board of Review upheld Rosenzweig’s assessment, and the Council will be appealing it to the state. Michigan property tax appeals can be filed after the March Board of Review and on or before June 30 of the tax year involved.

In Thursday night’s meeting, Rosenzweig spoke to the Council. He told them that the Council has no authority to terminate him because under the City’s charter all employees are placed under the City Manager. He quoted sections from the Charter that say the Council cannot request the employment or dismissal of an employee.

“The Mayor broke the law when he visited me yesterday and asked me to resign,” said Rosenzweig.

He added that he is not a contract employee because he has never received a 1099, and holds office hours. He also noted that under his employment agreement, it states that 30 days notice should be given by either party. He said that he could sue the City for missed wages, and the Council for misconduct in office.

“I am following the law,” he told them. “The state tax commission told me to look closer at the properties. Your own attorney gave me an opinion that I am doing my job,” he said.

Rosenzweig then offered to resign, if the Council agreed to pay his salary for the rest of the year, which he said amounted to about $11,000.

City Council members listened, then went forward with the resolution to fire Rosenzweig.  Mayor Jerry Hall said that their City attorney drafted the resolution and felt they had the authority to dismiss him.

The resolution states that the Council believes the actions of Rosenzweig, in placing certain city-owned properties on the tax roll, were not properly analyzed or communicated to Council, and that according to the city’s charter, the assessor serves at the pleasure of the Council. It also said that under due consideration, the City Council had lost confidence and became dissatisfied in his performance as City assessor, and his termination was effective immediately. It directed the City manager to take action to effectuate the resolution.

The Council decided to leave the hiring of a new assessor up to the new City Manager when hired.

The hiring of an interim City Manager was next on the agenda. They introduced Barbara VanDuren, of Wyoming, who had recently retired from the City of Wyoming as Deputy City Manager, and was previously City Manager in Wayland. “I truly believe in local government, and when the Michigan Municipal League asked if I’d like a shot at being the interim City Manager in Cedar Springs, I said yes,” she told the Council. (See article introducing her on page 3).

Longtime City Clerk Linda Christiansen has been acting City Manager since November. She was visibly upset at the development. “This week is the first time I heard about this,” she told the Council. “I feel very disrespected. I feel like 22 years of my life has gone down the toilet. I will be retiring July 1,” she added, and gave them her letter of resignation.

Christansen had previously said she would stay on until a new City Manager was found.

Members of the Council tried to assure her that they were trying to alleviate the pressure of doing two jobs.

“We were dumbstruck,” said Mayor Jerry Hall. He explained that they had said at last month’s meeting that they wanted to get Christiansen some help. “With the work piling up, and elections coming, we thought maybe it was time to take some pressure off so that she has time to train someone before she leaves,” he explained. “It was not our intent to have her resign. It was to help her, not replace her. If the other manager had taken the job, this wouldn’t be happening. We just thought we needed to get someone in to help her.”

The Council voted 6-1 to hire VanDuren, with Councilmember Perry Hopkins being the lone no vote. He said he had too much respect for Christiansen, and later said that if she couldn’t handle both jobs with the election coming, that should be up to her.

In her resignation letter, Christensen said it had been a privilege to serve as City Clerk. She has worked for five City Managers; along side five treasurers/finance officers; three DPW directors, several fire chiefs; and countless employees, police officers, mayors and city council members. “With all we have shared good times and not so good times; but no  matter what we were going through at the time, we all pulled together working as a team to make Cedar Springs the best it could be under whatever circumstances we were facing,” she wrote.

The Council set another special meeting date of June 6 to review candidates who have applied for the City Manager job. They will review the candidates in closed session and choose the top ones they wish to interview in a public meeting.

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Sweet Adelines win in regional competition

Area Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines members celebrating wins at Sweet Adelines Region 17 Competition in Cleveland:  (l-r) Margaret Durga and Judie Wabeke from Greenville; Mary Myers from Rockford; and Sue Harrison from Cedar Springs.

Area Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines members celebrating wins at Sweet Adelines Region 17 Competition in Cleveland:  (l-r) Margaret Durga and Judie Wabeke from Greenville; Mary Myers from Rockford; and Sue Harrison from Cedar Springs.

The Grand Rapids Sweet Adelines had an amazing weekend at the Great Lakes Harmony Region 17 Convention and Competition in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this month. They competed against 16 other choruses (over 3000 women) from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The 56 member Grand Rapids Chorus is proud to represent Region 17 as the 1st Place Mid-Size Chorus and the 1st Place Overall Champion. This win allows them to compete in the Sweet Adelines International Competition in Las Vegas in Oct, 2017.

The GRSA chorus also had three quartets that scored in the top 11 out of 30 competing quartets, with “Sublime” taking home 2nd place medals.

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