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Red Hawks RULE the OK-Bronze

Red Hawk MavRick Cotten takes down the Eastern Hawks’ ball carrier. Photo by R. LaLone.

Red Hawk MavRick Cotten takes down the Eastern Hawks’ ball carrier. Photo by R. LaLone.

By Judy Reed

 

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks Varsity football team did something this season that they haven’t done since the late 1970s—take a conference title in football. While this season marks the fifth time that the Red Hawks have made it to the playoffs since 2000, this is the first time since 1978 that the Red Hawks have earned a conference title. That year they shared it with Sparta, in the Tri River Conference. We knew last week that they had earned a share of this year’s title, but last Friday’s win over Forest Hills Eastern gave Cedar Springs sole possession of first place, with a 5-0 record in conference, and an 8-1 overall record.

This Friday, they host Forest Hills Northern in the first playoff game at 7 p.m. at Red Hawk Stadium. Turn to page 9 for more info on last Friday’s game.

 

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Bridge recognized as historic, one-of-a-kind

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By Beth Altena, Rockford Squire

 

Did you know that the Pine Island Drive Bridge, just north of the Pine Island and Ten Mile Road intersection, in Algoma Township, is the only one of its kind in the country? Built 90 years ago, the bridge has never been more beautiful. It underwent a lengthy restoration, and was recently recognized by the State of Michigan with a historic marker detailing its unique qualities.

Julie Sjogren, of Algoma Township, described the long process of recognizing the bridge among the state’s historic landmarks, a process begun in 2006 with the help of Tom Byl, with the Kent County Road Commission. Sjogren spoke at the dedication on Friday, October 17, at the site of the marker, before its unveiling, and practically in the shadow of the bridge it references.

N-Bridge-signAlgoma Township Deputy Supervisor Nancy Clary was the next speaker at the event, addressing a crowd of onlookers and news cameras. “This bridge has always been the jewel and crown of Algoma Township and its never shined brighter than it does since it was restored.”

James Carr spoke about the research he undertook to better recall the bridge’s history. “History means so much more when it is local,” he stated. Construction for the bridge began in 1922, and the county still has copies of the original plans. He said he looked to find his father’s initials on the project because at that time his dad was director of the road commission. “Many individuals had a hand in making this happen,” he said.

David Groenleer, P.E. Vice Chairman for the Kent County Board of Road Commissioners spoke next. He said the bridge was completed in 1924. “If you look at the plaque on the bridge, you’ll see Townsend, Johnson and Ramsdell. Townsend was Warren Townsend of Townsend Park.” Johnson was another notable public servant, recognized by the park in his name in Grand Rapids. Ramsdell, although lacking a park in his name, is the individual after which Ramsdell Road is called.

“I thought that was pretty neat, those three guys were pretty important to this area.” He also recognized another local of note, Otto Hess. “Otto was the driving force behind the organization of the Road Commission,” Groenleer stated. He said the road commission was organized in 1911. Hess was later recognized by the State of Michigan for his implementation of many of our lovely roadside parks.

Groenleer said he can picture Hess at his former place of work, sitting, tie loose, undoubtedly with a cigar in his mouth. Back in those days, Hess had some options when a new bridge was needed, and at the time, a replacement to the old 14-foot-wide steel truss bridge was needed.

N-Bridge-Old“This was a state reward bridge, where the state designed it and paid half,” Groenleer described. He said Hess was reluctant to put in another steel bridge because he had just paid $5,000 to repair the North Park steel bridge. That bridge, finally replaced with the current bridge in the 1980s, was a segmented steel bridge. When it was replaced in the 80s, one of the conditions was that a section of it be preserved. That one section from the original seven or eight, is now in Riverside Park.

“They floated the section down, but what you might not know, is that when they got it where they were supposed to, they pushed a spike into the riverbottom to stop it but it just kept going.”

Hess knew that if he put in another steel bridge, he was going to continue to see maintenance costs, so he considered the concrete camel back bridge design, similar to one in Ada, which is now gone. Another Michigan camelback bridge can be seen from I-96 near Nunica.

The Pine Island Bridge, however, is unlike either of its Michigan cousins because of the unique braces across the top, joining it all the way around. The low banks of the Rogue River under the bridge required an additional structural component, to keep the bridge from failing if the river floods it.

In this respect the Pine Island Bridge is unique from any other camelback bridge in the entire United States, a structure both beautiful, but built for purpose.

“The concrete was shipped by rail from Englishville,” Groenleer said. “A lot of towns have gone away but this one is still there if you want to look it up on a map.”

Groenleer quoted the Grand Rapids Press at the time the bridge was built. It read: “The Algoma/Solon Road bridge will last indefinitely.” He said he looked in Webster’s Dictionary for a definition of indefinitely and failed to find one. “Well, for sure we know indefinitely means at least ninety years.”

“Now in 2014 for ten times the cost of the 1920 construction it has been renovated.” He praised the contractor and noted some details. The concrete was cleaned with baking soda blasts to remove graffiti and grime. He said damage to the superstructure, such as chipping and pitting, was hand-repaired with epoxy seal silicone and the rail on the northwest corner was replaced.

He credited the Kent County Road Commission and staff, specifically Wayne Harroll for “all their efforts on this historic structure that is also an important transportation structure.”

Larry Wagenaar, Michigan Historical Commissioner, had the honor of unveiling the historic designation marker for the bridge. “I am here wearing three hats,” he stated. First he was present for the State of Michigan on behalf of the Historic Commission. Second, he is the Executive Director for the nonprofit Historic Society of Michigan. Finally, he stated, he was there as a resident of Kent County, specifically Ada, which lost its own camelback bridge.

“This is a unique span of 100 feet and is the only one like it in the country. I hope it stands another 90 years, gets restored again and stands another 90 years,” he said.

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City Manager a finalist for Howard City top spot

 

By Judy Reed

 

_N-City-manager-thad-taylor-2#1DA3Cedar Springs City Manager Thad Taylor may be moving on sooner than anyone expected. He was chosen Monday evening as one of the three finalists for the part-time Village Manager job in Howard City.

Taylor came to Cedar Springs in 2012, after previously working in Alpena. The Cedar Springs City Council just renewed Taylor’s contract in August, by a 4-3 vote, after a closed session meeting that resulted in a lawsuit by two members of the council and a citizen. (See story on page 3.) The new contract was for three years.

Taylor is on vacation, so was not available for comment.

According to a report from the Greenville Daily News, other finalists are former Edmore Village Manager Eric Dodson, and Daniel Faulkner, an operations and maintenance specialist employed by Wade Trim, and working with the Village of Lawrence Department of Public Works. He is also the Chairman of Watervliet’s Downtown Development Authority.

At press time, the Village of Howard City President S. Michael Scott had not yet returned a call from the Post requesting more details.

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Change of command ceremony for police department

 

Kent County Sheriff badgeNovember 7, 6 p.m., Hilltop boardroom

By Judy Reed

Friday will officially be the last day of the Cedar Springs Police Department.

To honor the years of service and dedication of the Cedar Springs Police Department to the City of Cedar Springs and its citizens, the public is invited to a “Change of Command Ceremony” on Friday, November 7, at 6 p.m., between the City of Cedar Springs Police Department and the Kent County Sheriff Department. The ceremony will be held in the Cedar Springs Public Schools Hilltop Administration building, 3rd floor boardroom.

“The Kent County Sheriff Department recognizes the responsibility and trust the citizens and city officials of Cedar Springs have placed with the Kent County Sheriff Department. Sheriff Stelma and his staff look forward to bringing the Sheriff Department’s reputation for professionalism and top notch law enforcement resources to the citizens of Cedar Springs,” said Undersheriff Jon Hess.

According to Sgt. Jason Kelley, with the Kent County Sheriff Department, The Cedar Springs officers will be “depinned” of their current badges, and repinned as deputies with the KCSD. They will also take their oaths of office there. Kelley said that Officer Mike Stahl, who patrols a night shift, would begin his shift right after the ceremony (about 7 p.m.) as a Kent County Sheriff Deputy.

Sgt. Kelley said he began all the behind the scenes work to transition the department as soon as the City Council agreed to the contract October 9. “It’s been going well. We are on, or even ahead, of schedule,” he remarked.

Kelley said he has been in contact daily with the police in Cedar Springs or on site. He said that both Acting Chief Chad Potts, and former Chief Roger Parent, who recently came back part time as a consultant, have been helpful with the transition. “There is a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that has to happen,” explained Kelley. “It takes everyone working together many hours to make it all happen seamlessly.”

Once the officers become deputies, a full time officer from the KCSD will ride along with them on their shifts as part of the FTO training program. “It’s an officer-specific program,” explained Kelley, who is also an FTO training program supervisor. “It’s tailored for every officer. Our goal is to help any new hire. We want them to succeed, so we give them all the tools and training they need.”

The training program is expected to last through mid-February. “We don’t rush them through the program,” noted Kelley. “They can take as much time as they need. They know how to be a police officer; this helps them learn how to be a police officer with the Kent County Sheriff Department.”

Sgt. Kelley will be at Cedar Springs City Hall police offices daily, Monday through Friday, once the transition takes place.

 

 

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The Post travels to the Outer Banks

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The Steinebach family took the Post with them on a family vacation to Rodanthe, North Carolina this past summer.

Pictured is Cayden Steinebach, age 10, and sister Monica Dean, 26, children of Curt and Carol Steinebach. They spent a week in a house on the beach of this Outer Banks town.

“As the picture shows, there was a lot of time spent riding the waves on their body boards and soaking up sun on the beach,” said Curt.

Cayden was pictured previously in the January 31, 2013 Post, with a picture of their trip to Walt Disney World. “He thought that was pretty cool and wanted to make sure we brought the Post for our trip to North Carolina this year,” explained Curt.

Thank you, Cayden, and the rest of the Steinebach family, for taking us with you on your vacation! It sounds like it was fun!

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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Saying goodbye to “Reserve Unit” at CSPD 

Galen Green is just one of three of the Reserve officers left with the Cedar Springs Police Department.

Galen Green is just one of three of the Reserve officers left with the Cedar Springs Police Department.

by Chief Roger Parent (retired, CSPD)

 

With City Council members voting to contract police services with Kent County, the long tradition of having a reserve unit will come to an end. Most residents probably never knew the difference if they were interacting with a reserve officer in uniform or a fully sworn certified police officer. The men of the reserve unit assisted regular patrol officers during special events, rode as a second uniform officer in the patrol unit and worked for the school at home football games.

When I became chief, I thought of changing their uniforms so that they appeared slightly different than the full-time officers. My patrol officers asked that I not do that. They wanted the reserve officers to have the same respect as they did while in uniform working for the Cedar Springs Police Department. This said a lot about those working the unit, because the full-time officers knew we had some very dedicated, professional, volunteers helping them with their police duties. I soon realized this was the right decision and enjoyed having these men help when needed over my years as chief.

Liaison Galen Green (12 years of service), Mike Hansen (18 years), and Steve Berkenpas (13 years), were the last men remaining assigned to the unit. Some former reserve officers have attended Criminal Justice programs through college and went on to become full-time or part-time police officers at CSPD and other police agencies.  Reserve officers volunteered their time between family and their other full-time jobs, but enjoyed what they did and took great pride in wearing the Cedar Springs police uniform. I’m not aware of an existing list showing all of the names of those who served, but Bernie, Tom and others reading this article know they served as a reserve officer, putting in many volunteer hours and working patrol shifts and school events over the years.

A “thank you” seems like such a small gesture of appreciation for what you and others who served before you have done for the City and its Police Department. I’m proud to have known each of you and wish all of you the very best.

 

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Walkathon raises money for PTO

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

The Cedar Springs Elementary PTO held a Walk-a-thon Friday, October 17, which was their one fundraiser for this year. They raised $24,192.96, which will go directly to the four elementary schools that participated—Cedar Trails, Beach, Cedar View and Red Hawk.

According to Liz Grice, with the PTO, the money will go toward playground equipment, library books and other educational items.

“We had 2,119 participants, including students, staff and volunteers,” said Grice. “We accepted sponsorships from companies in and around Cedar Springs to purchase a t-shirt for every student at these four schools. The day of the event the students and staff all wore their matching red shirts and walked the stadium.”

The students took pledges from friends and family prior to the event. On the day of the Walkathon, classes walked to Red Hawk Stadium at the High School, and then around the track for a half hour while music played. The top classes in each grade won $200 for their class.

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Three northern Kent residents hurt in crash

 

 

A Rockford man is in critical condition and a Cedar Springs couple is in stable condition after a traffic accident in Lowell Township Sunday morning, October 26.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Joseph Kelly, 66, of Rockford, was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Prism southbound on Segwun Avenue, about 9:26 a.m., when he failed to stop at the stop sign at Cascade Road. He was hit by an eastbound 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by David Ladd, 65, of Cedar Springs.

Both vehicles drove off the roadway and into a field. Kelly was not responsive at the accident scene and was transported by Aeromed to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in critical condition.

Ladd and his wife, Vickie, 63, were transported by ambulance to Spectrum in stable condition.

The accident is still under investigation at this time. Neither Alcohol nor speed appears to be factors.

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Councilors file lawsuit over closed session

 

City calls special meeting for Thursday Oct. 30

Two Cedar Springs City Council members and a city resident are suing the Cedar Springs City Council over what they believe to be an Open Meetings Act violation. And now the City of Cedar Springs has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday evening, October 30, at 7 p.m. at City Hall to consider whether to rescind the motion that started the whole thing.

City Council members Bob Truesdale and Dan Clark, and resident Mark Laws, filed the suit October 7. They allege the OMA violation occurred at the August 21 City Council meeting, when they went into closed session believing there was a written communication from the attorney to consider. Mayor Mark Fankhauser told the council during the workshop portion of the meeting that they needed to go into closed session because he had correspondence from the attorney, and it was added to the agenda that way. They went into closed session at the tail end of the meeting, and when they came out, they voted 4-3 to renew the contract of City Manager Thad Taylor.

The lawsuit alleges that there was no attorney correspondence considered.

Those who voted against the contract—Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale—noted that they had not seen it before, and did not have time to digest it. And, in fact, said they did not know they were going to be voting on it that night.

The Council had also not done a formal evaluation on the City Manager. Truesdale said it was based on an evaluation that he had put together as Mayor after Taylor had been here only a short time. Two of the present Council members were not on the Council at the time so had no input.

Council member Clark said a lawsuit wouldn’t be his first choice. “I have tried to reach out to the Council and to Thad  (Taylor) about the way we handle things related to the OMA,” he explained. “We have not aligned ourselves at all with the attorney general handbook on the OMA. Although I’ve encouraged the Council to align ourselves with it, they didn’t take any action. A major part of my job is to represent the citizens. So when a major part of the Council does something I feel is wrong, after talking with them, what are we left with to do? It’s an attention-getter.”

He said that the procedure used was irresponsible, careless, and unprofessional. “I feel like we can do better than that,” he remarked.

Truesdale feels the same way. “We saw it was something that needed to be addressed to prohibit illegal closed session of Council,” he explained. “I feel that we are the laughingstock of the surrounding communities, and we can do better. We should be a model.”

The City has scheduled a special meeting of the Cedar Springs City Council on Thursday October 30, to “consider a motion to rescind the motion to adjourn to executive/closed session as described in the minutes of the August 21, 2014 meeting (Item No. 11) and to affirm, approve, reenact and ratify the Employment agreement between Thad Taylor and the City of Cedar Springs dated September 10, 2014.” The Post called and left messages for Acting City Manager/Clerk Linda Christensen both Tuesday and Wednesday for clarification, but did not get a return call before press time. The special meeting will include a public hearing, Council deliberations, and a decision.

Mayor ProTem Patty Troost told the Post that while she didn’t think they did anything illegal, the meeting would allow them to discuss and discover whether they had done something wrong.

Truesdale feels the meeting was called to circumvent the pending lawsuit. He doesn’t want to see the City Manager’s contract reaffirmed. He says that one reason is because of the amount of money they would be giving Taylor if he were terminated: six months severance totaling over $35,000. “It just doesn’t sound like good business practice to me,” he said.

The contract does not allow severance, however, if he is terminated for reasons such as fraud, impropriety, dishonesty, neglect of duty, and violations of the law, and several other reasons.

Truesdale said he hopes people will turn out to voice their opinion. “Unless you attend this meeting and provide your support for wanting city leaders of higher integrity, these shenanigans will continue to happen,” he said.

 

 

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City Candidate Forum

 

About 30 people turned out Tuesday evening for the Cedar Springs City Council Candidate Forum hosted by the Community Action Network and The Cedar Springs Post newspaper.

Six of the seven candidates running for City Council were on hand to answer questions from the emcee and the audience. Candidate Ashley Bremmer was missing due to illness.

The Post and the Community Action Network would like to thank all who attended, and both Metron and Alpha Omega Coffee and Games for their donations of refreshments and other supplies for the evening.

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