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Odyssey of the Mind state finals

Three Odyssey of the Mind teams from Cedar View Elementary traveled to Thornapple Kellogg High School on Saturday, March 18, to compete in the state finals.

The team that competed in Odd-a-bot Div I (the robot problem) finished fifth.

The team that competed in the problem It’s time, OMER Div I finished 10th.

The team that competed in Catch us if you can Div I finished 9th.

“It was a very tough competition at this level,” remarked Michelle Wiles, one of the team coaches. “We are very proud of all their hard work, team building skills, and creative minds put to work in a new challenging way.”


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Library sets opening dates

The new Cedar Springs Community Library is nearing completion, and will be opening in May. This is a view from the back, with the retaining wall where the plaques will be. Post photo by J. Reed.

The new Cedar Springs Community Library is nearing completion, and will be opening in May. This is a view from the back, with the retaining wall where the plaques will be. Post photo by J. Reed.

May 8 soft opening; May 13 grand opening celebration

By Judy Reed

It won’t be long, and Cedar Springs area residents will be able to enjoy a brand new library. Work will soon be completed on the 10,016-foot structure, which is 8,000 feet bigger than the current library.

The Library is shooting for a May 8 soft opening, with a May 13 grand opening celebration from 2-5 p.m.

The Library, which is designed to resemble a train depot, promises to be a main attraction in the heart of Cedar Springs.

Besides the area housing all the adult books, there will also be 12 public computers, a classroom, three tutoring rooms, an enclosed children’s area with glass panels, and a playroom area. There will also be four stations for children’s computers. Teens will also have their own area.

Another draw will be the community room, which will hold up to 75 people with the tables and chairs, and 100 without. A complete kitchen will open up into the community room. People can walk out of the community room to a patio, which will be facing the creek, where the retaining wall will be.

“There is also an area with a beautiful fireplace, which will be very warm and welcoming, comfy chairs, a table, and two more chairs on either side,” remarked Library Director Donna Clark.

In front of the library, at the corner of Main and W. Maple, will be a locally built clock tower, soon to be installed. Behind the library is a beautiful metal sculpture of dragonflies created by metal artist Steve Anderson.

The Library is still selling bricks. For $50 you can get a 4×8 brick with 3 lines, or an 8×8 brick with 6 lines for $100, and inscribe it as you wish. Bricks will be placed at the Library entrance and a few other places, as needed. They will also soon offer benches as a fundraiser. More info to come on that. Pick up a brochure to order a brick at the Cedar Springs Library or visit http://cedarspringslibrary.org/news/bricks-and-blocks-for-new-library/ to print one out.

The Library will close the week of April 24 to pack up and move. They need around 250 boxes of a standard size, easy to move and not too heavy. If you have boxes you would like to donate, please call the library to coordinate drop off at 616-696-1910.

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Prosecutor upholds deputy’s decision in shooting

Jonathan David Sper (Facebook photo)

Jonathan David Sper (Facebook photo)

By Judy Reed

N-Shooting-pullquoteThe Kent County Prosecutor released his opinion Tuesday on whether a Kent County Sheriff Deputy acted reasonably in the January 24 shooting death of Jonathan David Sper, 30, in Algoma Township.

Based on all of the events that led up to the shooting, Becker feels that Deputy Jason Wiersma acted reasonably when he discharged his firearm, killing Sper. But using his gun was not Wiersma’s first attempt to subdue Sper; he had also used a taser, which had no effect.

Sper was released from the Kent County Correctional Facility on January 24, after having spent six days in jail for failing to pay for food he ordered at a Grand Rapids restaurant. He suffered from bipolar disorder and bipolar schizoaffective disorder, and had been trying to rehabilitate himself for the last 10 years.

Jonathan reportedly had a plane ticket to fly out to California later that night, and asked his roommate to drive him to his brother Jarred’s home on Summit Avenue in Algoma Township to drop off a box. They arrived at approximately 5:15 p.m., and were met by another brother, Stephen, who was staying at Jarred’s home. Jarred was in Florida at the time.

Stephen thought Jonathan was only dropping off a box, and not staying. The roommate thought he was dropping Jonathan off and that his brother would get him to the airport, so he drove away.

Stephen had a work conference call happening at 5:30 p.m., and Jonathan was not allowed at the home because he had become more and more unstable over the last 6-8 months. The two agreed that Jonathan would stay in the garage, since he wasn’t allowed in the home, and Stephen went in and got him a cup of coffee. When he brought it out, Jonathan was drinking one of the beers in the garage. When Stephen suggested he shouldn’t be drinking, Jonathan got belligerent with him. Stephen went inside and did his work conference call, which he cut short when he heard Jonathan ranting in the garage.

He tried several times to talk to Jonathan, but each time, he said Jonathan acted like he wanted to fight him. Stephen called his brother Jarred to find out what to do. He also called Jarred’s wife, Sara, who was due home with the children at 7 p.m. and told her not to come home. She suggested he call 911.

Before calling 911, Stephen went back into the garage to talk to him, and this time they struggled. Jonathan pushed past Stephen to get into the house, and Stephen pulled him back by the shoulders. During the struggle, Jonathan ripped Stephen’s coat nearly in half. Stephen managed to get back inside the house and call 911.

After he hung up, he realized that the keys to his brother’s truck had fallen out of his coat pocket during the struggle in the garage, and that there was a handgun in the console of the truck, which Jonathan would have access to. He called 911 to report that fact, and reiterated to them that he felt his brother was having a manic episode.

During that second call, Deputies John Tuinhoff and Jason Wiersma arrived on scene. Deputy Tuinhoff indicated that after listening next to the closed garage doors, he could hear keys jingling. So the two deputies entered the house from the front and spoke with Stephen, who told them that Jonathan had told him to get a gun and shoot him with it.

When the deputies approached Jonathan in the garage, he had nothing in his hands. Deputy Wiersma holstered his gun, and Tuinhoff had his taser pointed at him. Jonathan was mumbling to himself, appeared disoriented, and would not respond to verbal commands.

Jonathan walked toward the door of the home, and Deputy Wiersma asked him if was ok, and told him that he needed to check him for weapons. Deputy Tuinhoff said Jonathan began to swing his arms violently, beating Deputy Wiersma repeatedly on his head and body. Deputy Tuinhoff could not deploy his taser because of the struggle and instead tried to help physically restrain Jonathan.

But Jonathan was tall and quite strong, and the three of them stumbled towards the door to the house, with Jonathan still beating Deputy Wiersma, while trying to push him down the stairs. Deputy Tuinhoff tried to stop it, but the two went tumbling down 15 stairs to the basement. The fight continued at the bottom of the steps, and Wiersma deployed his taser at Jonathan, but it had no effect, most likely due to the clothing he was wearing.

Broken bottles and glass at the bottom of the basement steps may be the sharp object Jonathan Sper used to try to stab one of the deputies on the scene.

Broken bottles and glass at the bottom of the basement steps may be the sharp object Jonathan Sper used to try to stab one of the deputies on the scene.

During the struggle at the bottom of the steps, Jonathan went unsuccessfully for Deputy Wiersma’s duty belt, and then struck the deputy on the back of the head with some unknown hard object. Deputy Tuinhoff attempted to grab Jonathan’s arm, and Jonathan jumped up on boxes, then struck Tuinhoff on the top left side of the head with a hard object, stunning him. Jonathan then jumped on him and tried to grab his gun as well. He then slashed at the deputy with a sharp object across his chest while laughing. The deputy tried to protect himself with his hands, and then Jonathan ran up the steps.

Deputy Tuinhoff told Wiersma he had been hit with something sharp, possibly a knife. Wiersma ran up the steps, and then Tuinhoff told him it might be a broken bottle instead. Evidence found later showed broken bottles at the bottom of the steps and a broken coffee cup.

Wiersma said that they ran towards the doorway leading to the house, which he could see was open. He said that Jonathan was just inside the house and turned to look at him, and gave him a crazed smile. Wiersma was about eight feet away, and said Jonathan was holding a sharp object of some kind at waist level. He said he backed up slightly and drew his pistol, and told Jonathan to drop the weapon. “At this point I knew the suspect’s brother’s life was potentially now in danger as well because the suspect now had access to the home once again,” said Wiersma. He went on to say that the suspect did not drop the weapon, but reached over with his left hand and slammed the door closed.

Becker said that Deputy Wiersma now felt that Stephen was in immediate danger of being attacked by Jonathan. Jonathan had struck him with some weapon, had attempted to stab Deputy Tuinhoff with something, and had attacked his brother previously, which led them to be dispatched to the home. Deputy Wiersma indicated that what was going through his mind was that Jonathan was in “a manic state of mind, my knowledge that he had used drugs and alcohol, his previous statement about having his brother shoot him, and currently being still armed with a dangerous weapon and possibly a gun, I had no other option than shooting to stop the suspect.” After the suspect slammed the door, Wiersma immediately fired four shots through the door, three of which struck Jonathan, with two of them being fatal.

“Applying the law to the facts as they occurred in this incident, it is clear that Deputy Wiersma was justified in using deadly force in the defense of another person,” stated Becker.

He said it was not surprising that the two officers could not subdue Jonathan, since it took four officers to subdue him in an incident at his parents home in May 2016.

While Tuinhoff was stabbed with something sharp, and Wiersma believed Jonathan had a weapon while at the top of the steps, he did not. Right in the area where the shooting occurred, keys were found in some shoes. This may be what the deputy mistook for a sharp object. They also did not know if he had the gun. He did not. It was found in the console of the truck.

“Under the law, the fact that the deputy was wrong about Jonathan being armed does not impact the decision. Based on the evidence, when he acted, Deputy Wiersma honestly and reasonably believed that Stephen was in danger of being killed or seriously injured. Because his belief was honest and reasonable, Deputy Wiersma could, and did, act at once to defend Stephen,” wrote Becker.

Both officers were injured during the struggle. Deputy Wiersma had a cut on the back of his head and a red mark on the back of his head near his left ear. There were abrasions on his knuckles, a large bruise on the front and inner portion of his thigh, and contusion on his elbow. He was treated for a closed head injury. Deputy Tuinhoff, had cuts on his hand, as well as cuts on his left forearm and abrasions on his hairline. He was also treated for a closed head injury.

“There is no question that this incident is directly attributable to the fact that Jonathan had suffered from severe mental illness since the time he was 18 years of age,” noted Becker. “By all accounts, he was an intelligent, much loved son and brother, who would not engage in the sort of violent behavior he exhibited that night if he was not suffering from the effects of his severe mental illness combined with the consumption of alcohol. These manic episodes had occurred over Jonathan’s lifetime, he was impacted that night, and clearly was not in his correct state of mind when all of this occurred. This is a complete tragedy for everyone involved.”

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Post travels to Fort Myers, FL


The Post traveled to Fort Myers, Florida recently with Nancy Hatch, of Sand Lake.

“There’s nothing like a long road trip with the one you love to bring you closer together or tear you apart!” wrote Nancy. “Fortunately it brought us together.”

“We left the frigid cold weather from Sand Lake at the stroke of midnight on Monday the 31st (of January) and arrived on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Florida, to 80-degrees and sunny weather, warm wind in our hair, and sand between our toes. People are so, so friendly there, the fresh seafood, the cocktails, the sunset. I would highly recommend Fort Myers. Just tell them Nancy sent you!”

Thanks, Nancy, for taking us with you!

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CTA Campaigns to stomp out the R-word 

Second grade students rocking their socks on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

Second grade students rocking their socks on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day.

Creative Technologies Academy, a K-12 Charter School in Cedar Springs, takes pride in character education in their 300 students, which is why they saw the great importance of promoting the Spread The Word To End The Word (STW) Campaign.

The STW campaign is a youth-driven campaign that was founded in 2009. It was created to build awareness for society to stop and think about its use of the R-word. Use of that R-word—retard or retarded—can be hurtful and painful, and whether intended or not, is a form of bullying. The STW campaign is an ongoing effort to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Education Administrator Lori Dulak made a to CTA Middle School and High School Students on March 20. Dulak believes, “Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.” She shared two brief videos about the wide spread effect of the R-word and invited students to sign to take the pledge to not use the word—but only when they were ready to make that commitment. The poster was put up in the high school building and many students have signed. The campaign had such a profound impact on students that the National Honor Society at CTA is planning on expanding the school-wide campaign and will be planning additional activities throughout the remainder of the school year.

The Kindness Hearts are displayed in the elementary building as a visual reminder to use kind words.

The Kindness Hearts are displayed in the elementary building as a visual reminder to use kind words.

Similarly, Sarah Classen, Elementary Special Education Teacher, presented to Kindergarten through 5th grade students. She kept the 4th and 5th grade students a bit longer to have a more candid conversation with them. At the end of the presentation, the elementary students received a large heart, to which they were either to write kind words on them or sign their name pledging to use kind words – regardless of differences. They also received smaller hearts so they could write a kind word about a classmate and share it with them to wear for the day.

“I enjoyed hearing students around the school and in the hallways complimenting and encouraging one another throughout the week,” shared Classen.

STW events typically take place on March 1, but CTA took the opportunity to promote World Down Syndrome Awareness Day  on 3/21 (for three copies of the 21st chromosome) in conjunction with the Spread the Word to End the Word, as CTA has two elementary students with Down syndrome. World Down Syndrome Awareness Day uses a “Rock Your Socks” theme as an opportunity for conversation starters throughout the day about the abilities of those with Down syndrome. Many students and staff participated by rocking bright, mismatched, knee-high or other fun socks.

“Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities,” it said in a press release from CTA. “However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word. The STW campaign is intended to engage schools, organizations and communities to rally and pledge their support at www.r-word.org and to promote the inclusion and acceptance of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

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Cedar Springs Fire barn: will it stay or will it move?

The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

With all the talk of the opening of the new library at N. Main and W. Maple Streets, the question arises: what is happening with the Cedar Springs Fire barn? Will it stay where it is, or will it be relocated?

Chances are, it will be relocated close to the very same area it started in.

“We are strongly looking at the area behind the old library building (between Elm and Cherry fronting on 2nd) as the location,” said Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack. “We are trying to figure out what the fire department’s future needs will be and have put together a couple of potential renderings about what the building will look like. Once we are satisfied with the basic design of the building we will take it to an architect and get a cost estimate.”

According to The Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, a new fire station was built at the corner of Cherry and Second Street in 1874. When the book was published in 1976, the Fire Department also had a station at that same location, 43 W. Cherry. It later became the home of the current Cedar Springs Library.

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, they shared the building for a time with the Cedar Springs Library. The Fire Station had the west part of the building, and the library had the east side. Then a new fire station was built on W. Maple in the late 70s or early 80s. That’s where the fire department is today.

Come May, when the new library opens at Main and W. Maple, the fire department and library will once again be sharing the same property, although not the same building. That is, until a new fire station is built.

The new location would be just behind the old library, in the area where the Cedar Springs Community building used to stand.

Womack said that another idea was to share a building complex with the county, on property they own on 17 Mile, behind Taco Bell, but the timing wasn’t right.

“That project is 3-5 years in the future and we want to break ground in the next 1-2 years,” he explained.

Stay tuned! The Post will pass along more info on the building of the new fire barn as we get it.

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KDL board and Fire commission needs volunteers


Are you a citizen in northern Kent County that is interested in the Kent District Library? Or an elected township official interested in serving on the county Fire Commission?

The Kent County Board of Commissioners is seeking citizens who are interested in serving the community through appointment to the following Boards and Committees:

Kent District Library Board Region 1 – to fill an unexpired four-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must live in Nelson, Oakfield, Spencer or Tyrone Township. The Kent District Library Board meets monthly at the District Headquarters, 814 W. River Center, Comstock Park, as well as at other participating libraries.

Fire Commission – to fill an unexpired two-year term ending December 31, 2018. Applicants must be a township elected official from a unit of government that participate in the Fire Commission. The Fire Commission meets monthly on the second Friday of the month (does not meet in April, July and October) at 8:30 a.m. at the Kent County Road Commission, 1500 Scribner, Grand Rapids (with the exception of the October meeting).

Applicants must complete an online application form via the County’s website at www.accesskent.com/boardappointments. Resumes and cover letters are encouraged and may be attached. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 28, 2017.

Please call the Board of Commissioners Office at 616.632.7580 if you have any questions.

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Howard City to interview manager finalists


Former CS Mayor Charlie Watson a finalist

N-HowardCityBy Judy Reed

N-HowardCity-logoThe Village of Howard City has selected four finalists to be interviewed for the job as Village Manager. Their current Manager, Randy Heckman, has been doing double duty as Village President and Village Manager. He recently notified the Village he was resigning as Manager and a search got underway.

One of the four finalists is familiar to residents in Cedar Springs. Charlie Watson, who served on the Cedar Springs City Council for eight years, including some of that time as Mayor, will be one of those interviewed.

Interviews will take place on Monday, March 27, and Monday April 3, in the Village of Howard City Council Room, 125 E Shaw St, Howard City.

The schedule for March 27 will be Wally Delamater at 7 p.m.; Charles Watson at 7:30 p.m.; and Thomas Raymond at 8:00 p.m. On April 3, Michael Falcon will interview at 6 p.m.

Wally Delameter grew up and worked most of his life in Montcalm County. He is currently the Village Manager in Suttons Bay, and has worked for them since 2008. He has also served as their Zoning Administrator and DDA Director. Prior to that, he worked from 1994-2008 for the Village of Lakeview as Village Manager, Zoning administrator, DPW Director, and in other areas.

Charles Watson was a full time aircraft rescue firefighter at the Kent County Airport from 1994-2015, when he retired. He also served on the Cedar Springs Fire Department, was a reserve police officer in Cedar Springs, worked for the CS DPW, and worked as an ambulance attendant. Watson served on the Cedar Springs City Council for eight years, both as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. He most recently got his Bachelor’s Degree in Public and Non-Profit Administration, with a Business Minor from Grand Valley State University. He interned at Spring Lake Township, the City of Ferrysburg, and the Village of Spring Lake.

Thomas Raymond was Manager for the Village of Lexington, Michigan, from March 2013 to March 2015, and Supervisor in Cottrellville Township, Michigan, from 2007 to 2012. He served as Chairman of the St. Clair County Chapter of Township Supervisors from 2010-2012, and as a City Commissioner from 1994-1998 in Marine City, Michigan. He received certification as a public manager through Saginaw University.

Michael Falcon received his Master of Public Administration degree in 2004 from Northern Michigan University. He has worked at Northern Michigan University since January 1999, in various areas of Continuing Education, including Workforce Development. Prior to that he was a security specialist and law enforcement officer in the U.S. Air Force.

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Two die in murder-suicide

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday, after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday, after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

The Kent County Sheriff Department responded to a home in Courtland Township Monday and found a woman dead and her son injured.

Police were dispatched to the 9200 block of 14 Mile Road, on Monday, March 20, about 2:24 p.m., after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a third party asking them to do a welfare check. When they arrived, they went inside and found Gloria Launiere, 59, deceased. Soon after they found her son, David Applegate, 34 seriously injured. Both had been stabbed.

Applegate was transported to Butterworth Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

Police believe that Applegate killed his mother, then stabbed himself.

No other information is being released at this time.

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Fire Department purchases life-saving equipment


Cedar Springs Firefighters show off their new LUCAS automatic chest compression device. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

People living in Cedar Springs who suffer sudden cardiac arrest now have a better chance of survival, thanks to new equipment recently purchased by the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

The CS Fire Department held a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on March 8 to raise money for the LUCAS automatic chest compression device, which would help them give CPR to heart attack victims. The device was $15,000.

“This piece of equipment is costly but well worth the price,” noted Fire Chief Marty Fraser.

March 8 was the Wednesday evening that high winds blew through the area, and many areas were without power. That translated to people going out to dinner, including the fundraising spaghetti dinner at Big Boy.

“We had a large crowd and through the generosity of everyone, raised a sizable amount of money,” said Fraser. “We also had several anonymous donors contribute to our cause.”

The Fire Department made enough to purchase the equipment, and they put it into service on Tuesday evening, March 21. “I and the staff at the Fire Department are very grateful to the community and the surrounding areas for their generosity in making this a very successful project,” remarked Fraser.

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