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Post celebrates 26 years

By Judy Reed, editor


Any town’s history is only as good as its local newspaper.

Did you ever wonder how we know so much about our town’s history? It isn’t by word of mouth (though stories have been handed down); it isn’t taught in school; and it’s not from old movies or magazines. There are a variety of ways we know about the early days of Cedar Springs, or can piece it together. But the biggest resource we have for information is the early newspapers of this town. Our town fathers had the foresight to hold on to each issue, dating from 1867 to the 1970s and they are now on microfilm at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum.

The Cedar Springs Story, a history of our town written in the 1970s by Donna DeJonge and Sue Harrison, used those newspaper clippings as major source material (along with interviews, census data, plat maps, and much more) to give us a treasure trove of information. But the Cedar Springs Clipper shut down in the 1970s, leaving a hole that needed to be filled.

The Cedar Springs Post has filled that hole since 1988. Our newspapers are kept on file at the museum now. We print 5,000 copies each week for readers, and keep a few extra copies for ourselves. We have them bound into books each year, at The Post’s expense. One copy for us, and one for the museum.

The books are a record of what happened in our town, in the greater northern Kent County and western Montcalm County, each year. It’s our history—history that some day, another generation will research.

Life at The Post is different than it used to be. Gone is the hey day of having an editor, reporter, several stringers, photographers, a bustling sales staff, multiple designers, office manager and publisher. We have had to do what newspapers and businesses across the country have done—cut expenses. And that usually means cutting personnel. Our only revenue to support what we do is by local businesses advertising, or readers paying for things like announcements and classified ads. The problem is that just like everyone else, businesses are looking for ways to cut expenses. And too often, the newspaper advertising is the first to go. Businesses will often ask why they need to advertise in the local paper if people already know they are here? Or if they can do it free on Craigslist?

There are many reasons. But the most important reason is this: it will help keep our town’s history alive for another generation. 

We thank the local businesses who continue to support us, even in tough economic times.

Our readers have an equally important part in keeping the newspaper going. Keep sending us your stories and photos. This paper is about you—it’s your story we are chronicling. But the other important piece is for readers to shop at their local businesses. Let them know you read The Post, and that you saw their ad.

On July 28, it will be 26 years that we have served you. Twenty-six years of writing your stories. We hope to be doing it for many more!

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Sparta Town & Country Days

Fun, friends, and family—what more could ask for in a festival? Sparta Town and Country Days had all of that last week, including some great weather. The fair had a multitude of events scheduled over five days last week, from Wednesday to Sunday. Saturday was the big parade, and we even spotted our own Red Flannel Queen and Court. Grand marshals were Don Reed and Paul “Sharkey” Badgerow.


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City residents hear Sheriff’s proposal on policing




About 40 people turned out Tuesday night at the Cedar Springs Middle School to hear the presentation by Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma on a proposed partnership between the City of Cedar Springs and the Sheriff Department on policing the City.

Present was the Cedar Springs City Council, and a team from the Kent County Sheriff Department.

Stelma gave his presentation, and then both the audience and the Council asked questions.

Stelma assured residents that he was not trying to take over the police department. “This is my community, too. I raised my family here, pay taxes here. This is our project—an opportunity to discuss and impact our community for the future.”

The city’s current Police Chief, Roger Parent, will be retiring in September. And before deciding to hire a new chief, the Council asked City Manager to look into whether there would be any benefits to contracting with the Sheriff Department. The Sheriff and his team then came up with a proposal for the City to consider.

Stelma said that this particular proposal has never been offered to a city or township before. “This is a brand new approach. You would get to design the program. It’s not a dictatorship, it’s a partnership,” he explained.

Last year’s police budget came in at $681,190. The 2014-2015 budget is projected at $685,511.

Under the proposal the Sheriff gave the city, Cedar Springs could see a possible savings of $120,000 to $130,000 over last year. However, expenses could be expected to go up about 3 percent each year.

Under the Sheriff Department proposal, option 1, they would provide one patrol officer on duty at all times—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to the patrol officer, they would provide a Sergeant to work a 40-hour week. The Sergeant would provide supervision and command staff support, and work with the City leadership to establish the agenda and direction of the patrol officers, much as the Chief does now. Detective services, scientific support, record management (an $11,000 savings), management reports, IT and radio service support for mobile equipment, dispatch services ($35,537) would all be included.

Vehicle costs would be provided free of charge for the regular patrols, but the city would be responsible for the sergeant’s at $350 per month. They would provide a vehicle credit for the current police cruisers.

All uniforms, equipment, supervision, liability and training costs would be provided at no additional charge. Cars and uniforms could look the way that Cedar Springs wants them.

And the Sheriff said that the City’s fulltime officers could keep their jobs, and work in Cedar Springs. He noted that was important to residents, based on what he saw at the last meeting. They would undergo a physical and application process, but he didn’t see any reason they wouldn’t qualify. He also said their financial pay and benefits would be more than what Cedar Springs provides. And, they would have more career opportunities to go into other types of law enforcement such as investigative, forensics, motorcycle patrol, local task forces, etc.

Under the second option, they would provide a community policing officer for 40 hours instead of the sergeant, at a lesser rate. Everything else would be the same.

But the proposals aren’t set in stone. If the City wants a second patrol between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., they could pay for another patrol.

Many of the residents had questions about officers leaving the city to back up another deputy, or about deputies coming in to back up the Cedar officer. Stelma said it wouldn’t be much different than it is now, since Cedar officers often do back up deputies if an incident is close to the city. They would get back as soon as possible. And if an officer here needed backup, one or more would be sent, just as they are now, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

Chief Parent said that he checked with Hudsonville and Coopersville, who both have done this with Ottawa County, and they gave it a 98 percent approval rating.

City Manager Thad Taylor said that he checked with both Cascade and Plainfield Townships, who also partner with the Kent County Sheriff Department, and got good feedback. “Neither had any quality control issues,” he reported. Cascade said they were getting more than they were paying for. Both said they were very satisfied. There’s nothing negative that I’ve uncovered.”

Mayor Mark Fankhauser said the Council has a lot of information to digest. “I don’t want to enter into a decision haphazardly. I want to look after the best interests of the citizens. I don’t want to regret this two or three years down the road.”

Fankhauser said there would be a spot on the agenda at the next City Council meeting, in August, for council discussion and for residents to ask more questions.







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Post travels to Mexico


Adam and Allison Randall were married in Rivira Maya, Mexico, January 31, 2014. They took along a Post and had their picture taken with it as part of the festivities!

Pictured are Lindy and Kyle Scheuneman, Larissa and Jed Avery, Adam and Allison Randall, Dacia and Long Ta, Doug and Jean Randall, Ron Brott, Chelsea Koppenaal, and Jared Randall.

Thank you for taking us with you on this special occasion!

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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White-tailed squirrels

N-White-tailed-squirrel-Adam-Stout-webLast week, we ran a photo of a white-tailed squirrel on a telephone pole, and asked if other readers had ever seen one. Ranger Steve Mueller said it was probably a genetic mutation.

We received a couple of different letters and photos about it from readers this week. One came from Adam Stout. He said he told his father in 1996 that he had seen a black squirrel with a white face, feet, and tail behind the family farm off 19 Mile and Snauble Avenue, in Solon Township. He said his father didn’t believe him, until he told him he was going to go out and back and hunt it. “If you get it, we will get it mounted,” his father told him. And he did.

N-White-tailed-squirrel-Smith-webAnd in case you had any doubt that The Post really does go worldwide through its online presence, the second photo came from a reader in Hudson, Massachusetts. Sandi Smith said that she and her friend Paula saw two white-tailed squirrels last week. “Since we saw a fully albino one about a month ago, we believe they are related,” she said. “I grabbed my phone to catch a shot as they scurried by.” We asked Sandi if she used to live in Cedar Springs, and she said she has no idea where Cedar Springs is located, that she just moved to Massachusetts from Illinois. But she was searching on the Internet and The Post came up, so she sent the photo our way. Thanks so much Sandi! We hope you enjoyed The Post!

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Michigan State Police: Looking for a Few Good Women


N-MSP-seeks-a-few-good-womenMona Shand, Michigan News Connection

When it comes to fighting crime and keeping Michigan streets safe, Michigan State Police (MSP) want women to know law enforcement isn’t just a man’s job. Trooper Marjorie Richardson has been with the state police for over 25 years, and while many believe police work is purely physical, she says that’s just one portion of the job.
“You deal with people, you deal with conflict, it’s conflict resolution,” says Richardson. “It’s helping other people, seeking justice on their behalf, working within your community. For people who really want meaningful work and want to make a difference, it’s a good feeling.”
While Michigan State Police currently has the first female director in its history, women make up only about nine percent of the force. The MSP is holding an informational seminar on career opportunities for women this Saturday in the Detroit area. Details on that event and for women across the state, are available at Michigan.gov/MSP.
A mother of three, Richardson says balancing a career in law enforcement with family offers the same challenges as most other professions. She says in her experience, men and women on the force are treated equally.
“Whether you’re a male or a female, if you can’t withstand the physical and mental rigors of the academy, you’re out. It’s that simple,” she says. “I think once you either go through it with someone, or know that you’ve all been through it, there’s an instant respect and a knowledge you have the same training.”
Richardson adds that while the number of female troopers has grown from fewer than 50 in 1982 to roughly 170 today, there has been a decline in the number of female recruits in recent years. Recruits must successfully complete a 21-week training course at the MSP academy in Lansing, considered one of the most rigorous programs in the nation.

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Several candidates running for judge


63rd District Court Judge Steven Servaas is retiring after 41 years on the bench. He was elected in 1972, and at age 27, was the youngest judge elected in Kent County. There are six candidates who are running in the August 5 primary to fill his spot: Four men and two women, all from the Rockford and Courtland Township area. Here they are:

Andrea Crumback

Andrea Crumback

Andrea Crumback, of Rockford, is currently a partner at Mika Meyers, Beckett & Jones law firm, and also served several years as a prosecutor for the City of Grand Rapids. Over the course of two decades, Crumback has handled over 100 civil and criminal court cases in roughly 25 counties in Michigan—and argued cases on appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. She has also participated in over a dozen jury trials and more than 40 non-jury trials and traffic hearings.  “In criminal cases, I have been both the voice of the prosecuting agency and of those being prosecuted,” says Crumback. “In civil cases I have been the voice of the plaintiff and of the defendant.” She points out that this broad and balanced experience in all types of district court matters makes her the most well-rounded candidate for judge. “The experiences you have as an attorney shape your viewpoints—whether subconsciously or consciously,” says Crumback. “My work experience has given me a unique ability to see both the strengths and weaknesses of each side of the argument.”

Crumback is endorsed by Kent County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Feeney; Catherine Mish, City Attorney, City of Grand Rapids; Josef R. Soper, 61st District Court Administrator (retired); Robert Atkinson, Retired Director of the Grand Rapids City Attorney’s Ordinance Enforcement Division; Dennis Keiser, Supervisor/Assessor,  Bear Creek Township; Lori Bluhm, City Attorney for Troy, MI; Charles F. Smith, Supervisor Pentwater Township, Oceana County; and more.

Brent Boncher

Brent Boncher

Brent Boncher, of Courtland Township, works for the law firm of Schenk, Boncher & Rypma. He says he has handled hundreds of cases in federal courts and state courts at all levels in a wide spectrum of subject areas from real estate, to personal injury, to contracts, to construction, to landlord/tenant, to business disputes. “Of equal importance, in my law practice I represent plaintiffs and defendants, and individuals and businesses, so I am already used to sizing up cases from all angles,” said Boncher. “In the courtroom, I will strive to conduct my court in a way that all people feel they were respected, that the judge cared about what they had to say, and that he took the time to make the fairest decision possible.” He said that the vehicle to deliver that culture of justice is his professional background guided by a Christian and Pro-Life compass.  He currently serves on the Courtland Township Board as a trustee, and also serves on the Zoning board of appeals, the Grand Valley Metro Council, and other boards.

Boncher is endorsed by Right to Life of Michigan, and the Rental Property Owners Association.

Charles Boekaloo

Charles Boekaloo

Charles Boekeloo, of Rockford, is a Kent County trial attorney that has been practicing for over 30 years in the courtroom and says he is a frequent advocate in the very court he seeks to serve as judge. He has handled matters of civil litigation, neglect and abuse of children, landlord-tenant and insurance, although his primary specialty is criminal litigation. He appears in both state and federal courts, including the Michigan Supreme Court and the United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Chuck and his wife Karen have five children. One lives in Cedar Springs with his wife and their only grandchild. Boekeloo is a past president of the Kent County Criminal Defense Bar, and he recently served as Rockford School Board president and trustee. A graduate of Sparta High School, he credits his Northern Kent County upbringing for supplying him with the relaxed and courteous demeanor he believes would be vital in allowing him to continue the tradition maintained by Judge Servaas for the last 42 years.

He is endorsed by both the Kent County Law Enforcement Association (KCLEA) and the Kent County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Together, these groups comprise almost the entire staff of officers of the Kent County Sheriff, including the court officers providing security for all the county state courts. He is also endorsed by Dr. Mike Shibler.

Jeffrey O'hara

Jeffrey O’hara

Jeffery O’Hara, of Rockford, is a skilled criminal defense trial attorney. He has over 25 years jury trial experience in the state and federal courts. He said he has diligently represented his clients by protecting their individual rights and counseling them to change their lives for the better. He is proud of the work he has done and the families he has helped. Now, Jeff wants to put his skills and dedication to work for our community, a community that he has been a part of for over 40 years. He feels he has the experience, the judgement, and the temperament to serve our community justly and fairly.Family is the most important part of O’Hara’s life. He has been married for 32 years to his wife Christie who teaches second grade at Rockford Public Schools. They have three grown children (Kathryn, Daniel, and Colleen) and a son-in-law (Nick Wallis) who all graduated from Rockford High School.

O’Hara is endorsed by Roy H. Johnson, retired agent FBI; Kent County Law Enforcement Association; Michael B. Quinn, Attorney at Law; Joel Oosting, Juvenile Probation Officer – 17th Circuit Court Family Division; Carl R. Paganelli, Retired United States Probation and Parole Officer; Dan Helmer, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney – Kent County; Gene Debbaudt, Retired FBI Agent and small business owner; and more.

Jody Jernigan

Jody Jernigan

Jody Jernigan, of Rockford, a partner in the Golden & Jernigan law firm and member of the bar since 2000, describes herself as a quiet listener, a fair and honest leader, and a woman of integrity. Jernigan prefers working for a small firm, one that cares about people and is able to do pro-bono work when necessary. She realizes that people may struggle or find themselves in situations they could have never foreseen and has been committed to their wellbeing. Working for a small firm has given Jernigan extensive courtroom experience in a variety of cases. She understands the intricacies of the court from a unique vantage point. She helps out at God’s Kitchen North, and is a part of Woman’s Life, a group that provides support to volunteer organizations. She also enjoys participating in Rockford’s Sweetheart Splash.

Jernigan is endorsed by Honorable Graydon W. Dimkoff, Newaygo County Probate Court; Honorable  Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger, 8th Circuit Court Ionia and Montcalm; John Kmetz, Circuit Court Referee, 17th Judicial Circuit Court; Rob Kirkbride, Senior Editor of The Monday Morning Quarterback; and others.

Rock Wood

Rock Wood

Rock Wood, of Courtland Township, has 26 years of hands on courtroom experience. He rose to the rank of senior partner at one of Michigan’s largest law firms, Dickinson Wright PLLC, and now works for the State of Michigan, Department of Attorney General. Wood’s experience is not limited to only a narrow practice area of the law. He says he has handled hundreds of cases, including matters that involved contracts, landlord and tenant, real estate, development, corporate disputes and shareholder issues, insurance policy claims, banking and finance cases, a wide range of construction matters, non-compete and employment cases, civil rights claims, disputes involving various debts, and sales, dramshop, product liability, personal injury and death, corporate and business sales, mergers and many others. His experience includes Michigan District Courts, Circuit Courts, and Court of Appeals; Federal District Court and Court of Appeals; Bankruptcy Court, Tax Court, and many different arbitration forums. This broad experience allowed him to develop the ability to quickly master different sets of rules of legal procedure, evidence, and areas of the law. Wood is a member of the State Bar Judicial Qualifications Committee, which interviews and rates judicial appointee candidates for Michigan’s Governor. Wood’s experience led to the legal community recognizing Rock as one of Michigan’s Super Lawyers, as one who has been rated for over a decade as having the highest possible rating in legal ability and ethical standards, and as one of the “Best Lawyers In America.” He is currently a member of the Courtland Township Planning Commission and several other organizations,

Wood is endorsed by Jon Muth, Attorney and Past President State Bar of Michigan; Rick Davies, Cannon Township Treasurer; Gary Moody, Sparta Village Council; Colleen Brown, Treasurer, Courtland Township; and others.


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Red Flannel Festival moves to Main Street


The Red Flannel Festival has a new home at 18 S. Main Street, most recently the home of Take Two Game Shop. The RFF bought the building from Terry and Diane Bengtson on June 27. Bengtson ran his State Farm Insurance business from that location before he retired several years ago.

“Since 1969, the Bengtson’s have owned this building and a successful insurance business, and we are proud to continue their legacy of honesty and integrity,” said Michele Tracy-Andres, Festival President. “It meant a lot to us to receive such a warm welcome from our new neighbors!”

Andres explained that they decided to buy the building at 18 S. Main Street because they felt it would be better to be in the center of town. “The visibility will be great for selling souvenirs,” she said. “Our goal is to eventually have it open all the time.”

The Festival still owns the building at 21 E. Maple, which they bought in 2006, the former Bob’s Barbershop. The building is up for sale or lease. And for now, they will still hold their meetings there. “It was a great buy for us at the time, but we didn’t really need this big of a building,” she said.

Andres said that the Maple Street has been paid off for a year or two, and that they bought the new building on a land contract. She said the money would come out of the Festival’s operating expenses. “It’s a small monthly payment,” she noted.

The Festival headquarters will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. New additions to their shop include Red Flannel Festival coffee, and coming soon will be custom cookie cutters and cake pans made especially for the RFF.

See pages 14-15 for more business stories in our Business section.

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Music Booster embezzles over $100,000

Robyn Amy Heintz

Robyn Amy Heintz

The Kent County Sheriff Department was contacted by board members of the Kenowa Hills Instrumental Music Boosters (KHIMB) who wished to report a fraud complaint on May 2, 2014. KHIMB Board Members reported several suspicious charges and withdrawals on the KHIMB bank account dating back several months.

Investigators from the Kent County Sheriff Department worked along side KHIMB Board Members to review financial documents and bank statements and uncovered hundreds of unauthorized charges and cash withdrawals spanning several years. The total amount of money missing from the account is in excess of $100,000.00.

Investigators identified a suspect, Robyn Amy Heintz, as a board member and treasurer of the KHIMB with access to the bank account in question. She was interviewed and confessed to her involvement in the theft and was charged by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office with one count of Embezzlement over $100,000.00.

On July 10, 2014 arrangements were made for the suspect to be booked at the Kent County Jail with a $10,000 cash/surety bond.

If you have any information please contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100


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Local researcher honored at museum

Post photo by J. Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

By Judy Reed


For Betty Heiss, 91, doing genealogical research isn’t a job; it’s a passion. And on Wednesday, July 16, The Cedar Springs Historical Society honored Betty by naming their genealogical library after her.

“It’s such an honor,” shared Betty through her tears, after the board surprised her with a plaque reading “Betty L. Heiss Genealogical Library.”

“When we started here 20 years ago, all we had was a bookshelf with a couple of books and they weren’t even genealogical books,” recalled Sharon Jett. “Betty came in and asked if she could help, and she built this entire library over the last 20 years, and so it seemed appropriate to name it after her.”

They now have an extensive collection that Betty acquired a piece at a time—microfilm, microfiche, a civil war collection, census books, surname histories, county histories, phone books, all the school yearbooks, Cedar Springs Clipper newspapers, Cedar Springs Post newspapers, and much more. Betty said a fund was set up for the collection through the research she did. She was frugal with the money and shopped estate sales, and other low cost venues for items.

Post photo by J. Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

Betty said that she got the genealogy bug when she was 12 years old. “My grandfather showed me a book that had been written about the Martin family (her family) and I knew I wanted to write a book about our family,” she explained.

She has now written two books, which can be bought at the museum, and helped countless people with their family research. “I liked being helpful to people. When I saw them happy, I was happy,” she explained. “It made me feel like I had done something worthwhile. “

Betty retired last year, but still comes in on Wednesdays to help finish up some of the things she was working on before she retired, such as making cards for the old library cabinet donated from the library. “I just don’t take work home anymore, “ she explained. That gives her more time to spend with her husband Melvin (Jack) Heiss. They will have been married 64 years in October.

Post photo by J. Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

But Betty doesn’t feel her work is done yet. “I want to write another book—my memoirs,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye.

We think she can do it.

The Post thanks Betty for her tireless dedication, and all the help she has given to others and us over the years. You deserve the honor!

The Cedar Springs Historical Museum is located in Morley Park, on Cedar Street, and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, and other days by appointment.

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