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Grand prize winner 

N-Doll-winner-webJessa Riley Patin, 10, a 5th grader at Cedar View Elementary, was all smiles as she picked up her American Girl Doll, Saige, at the Post Tuesday. Jessa was the grand prize winner in our Christmas coloring contest. She even wrote a note thanking both the Post and the sponsors for the doll, and telling us how excited she was to get it! Congratulations, Jessa! And thanks to everyone who entered!

 

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The Post travels to Turkey

Rachel and Josh Hunt in the region of Cappodocia, Turkey.

Rachel and Josh Hunt in the region of Cappodocia, Turkey.

Rachel and Josh Hunt recently traveled to Turkey, a country not often thought of as a modern destination, but one rich in history.

They traveled with a tour of about 40 people and 1 guide. The people were all from Canada, the U.S., or Australia, but ranged in nationalities. “We counted around 15 nationalities ranging from Bosnian, to Argentinian, to Palestinian, to Indian, Slovakian/Czech,” explained Rachel.

She said they covered 2,200 miles in 13 days by bus around the western half of Turkey. “We started in Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents—Europe and Asia. We then drove down the coast of the Aegean Sea and visited the ancient city of Troy, and the battlefields of Gallipoli from WWI. Next stop was Pergamum, an ancient city started by Alexander the Great as a military base. Then we visited the ancient city of Ephesus, as referenced by Paul in the bible. The Pamukkale hot springs and city of Hieropolis were next, a UNESCO world heritage site.

“The next stop was the region of Cappadocia, with a stop at a Turkish carpet factory. In Cappadocia we saw the famous volcanic rock formations, caves, and underground cities.” That’s where they took their photo with The Post. In the background you can see many decorative blue eyes hanging from the tree. Those are called “evil eyes,” and are to protect people from evil, or bad luck. It is a popular souvenir in Turkey, and many shops and homes have them.

Their last stop before heading back to Istanbul was the capital city of Ankara and an Ottoman Hittite museum. Back in Istanbul, they cruised the Bosporus straights between Europe and Asian and visited the well-known spice market there.

“We had a great time,” said Rachel.

Thanks so much for taking the Post with you!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

 

 

 

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The Post travels—everywhere!

It’s been a great year for our “Post travels to” feature. The Post traveled far and wide this year, and most of the year we had them scheduled several months out. Alaska seemed to be a popular place to visit, and we ran several of those. It even traveled to an underwater destination in Findlay, Ohio! Other places the Post traveled included: Turkey; Europe (Netherlands); Cancun; Austria; Gettysburg; Belarus; Arctic Circle; Montana; Outer Banks of North Carolina; Washington; Zimbabwe; Saskatchewan, Canada; Mt. McKinley; Dollywood; Curacao; China; Boise, Idaho; Beckley, West Virginia; Schroon Lake, New York; Augusta, Georgia; Portugal; California; Geneseo, New York; Kenya; Orange County, California; Rivira Maya, Mexico; Prescott, Arizona; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; Assateague Island, Salisbury, Maryland; Sea of Galilee; Nashville, Tennessee; Bull Shoals, Arkansas; Hawaii; Israel; Kansas; Haiti; Montreal, Canada; Birmingham, Alabama; the Alamo (Texas); Lakeland, Florida; British Virgin, Islands; Costa Rica; Pasadena, California; and Beaver Creek, Colorado.

We only have a few left for this year that haven’t yet been published, so if you have one, please send it in!

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Over 800 cases of confirmed flu in Kent County

 

 

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has received 813 reports of influenza that were confirmed by rapid tests by health care providers this flu season. Nearly 17 percent of people visiting emergency departments in Kent County last week were suffering from influenza-like illness. This is the highest percentage tracked by KCHD since the H1N1 Influenza season in 2009. From September 1, 2014, through December 22, the number of confirmed cases of flu reported to KCHD was 415.

Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. “The virus can live on some surfaces for up to 48 hours,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “If you are sick, stay home until you recover, and limit contact with people who are not sick. The absolute, best protection from the flu is vaccination.”

There is no cure for the flu, but there are anti-viral medications that can help people recover faster if they are taken within the first 24-48 hours of getting sick.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, and people with already-weakened immune systems. Signs and symptoms can include:

• Fever

• Chills

• Cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (very tired)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55; FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine) is available for $41.

Children from six months through 18 years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare; private insurance is not accepted. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Most primary care providers and many local pharmacies also provide influenza vaccinations and can bill private insurance.

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Two arrested after fleeing police

Gabriel Cavasos

Gabriel Cavasos

Two teens were arrested and a third suspect fled after leading police on a chase Sunday evening.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, deputies attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle about 11:17 p.m. Sunday, December 28, on Plainfield Avenue near Woodworth in Plainfield Township. The vehicle had been reported stolen out of the City of Kentwood earlier in the evening.

The vehicle fled northbound on Plainfield Avenue and was pursued by deputies to Northland Drive and then continued northbound. The vehicle ran over spike strips, on Wolverine Blvd at Belding Rd, that were deployed by a Rockford City Police Officer. Deputies continued to pursue the vehicle into the city of Rockford and the vehicle became incapacitated due to striking the spike strip.

Three male suspects ran from the vehicle on 10 Mile near Courtland and went northbound. A perimeter was set and an Michigan State Police K-9 was used for a track. Two of the three suspects were located approximately 1.5 miles north of the scene and were taken into custody. The third is still outstanding.

An 18-year-old male from Wyoming and a 17-year-old male from Kentwood were both lodged on multiple charges.

The 18-year-old, Gabriel Jose Cavasos, was arraigned on Tuesday, December 30, and charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer, a probation violation, and with being a habitual offender, second offense. A charge of receiving and concealing stolen property-motor vehicle was dismissed.

His bond was set at $2,500 cash surety on the resisting/obstruction charge, and $100,000 on the probation violation. He is still in custody.

No info had been released yet at press time on the other suspects.

 

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A Christmas miracle

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Man receives thousands of cards from around the world

By Judy Reed

 

Donnie and his Uncle Denny.

Donnie and his Uncle Denny.

A simple request on a facebook page has led to an amazing outpouring of Christmas wishes for a Cedar Springs man. Donnie Whipple has received thousands of Christmas cards from every state in the U.S., except Utah and Hawaii, and several other countries around the world.

Donnie, 50, lives with his younger half sister, Spring Hobbs, and her husband, Neil, in Nelson Township. Spring became Donnie’s guardian 15 years ago, after their mother passed away. “He’s like a son to me,” explained Spring. “I’m a three-time cancer survivor, and it took my ability to have children. He is the joy of my life. My mother left him to me as a gift; that’s the way I’ve always seen it.”

One of the things Donnie looks forward to each year is sending a card to his Uncle Denny and receiving one from him. It’s the only contact he has with him, since he lives in Jackson. He hadn’t seen him in 30 years.

This year, the card Donnie sent was returned with no forwarding address. At first, Donnie thought it was a card from his Uncle. But when Spring explained it was his own card that came back, Donnie was devastated. She told him she would try to locate him. And she also did something else—she tagged 20 of her friends in a facebook post and asked them to send Christmas cards to her brother. “They took it from there, bless their hearts,” remarked Spring.

This was early December. Within days, cards began pouring in. She had 31 the first day. Spring met with her mail carrier, Janine, to let her know that there might be even more. “We haven’t had less than 200 a day since then,” she remarked. “Janine is no longer the bill lady, she’s the card lady.” As of last count on Tuesday, they were just short of 3,000 cards.

And Donnie loves opening each one. “It’s exciting, but also a little overwhelming for him,” explained Spring. She said that by the third or fourth day, he was just sitting and staring, and then began to cry. “I can’t believe all these people love me,” he told her.

“It’s really a big deal for him,” she said.

But it’s also a big deal for Spring. “It’s shown me there are still a lot of really good people out there. With everything going on in the world, to find out there are so many people who would do this, is amazing.”

But Spring said it’s doing just as much for others as for Donnie. “It’s no longer about what they are doing for Donnie; it’s what he’s doing for them. We get so many cards with people thanking him for reminding them what Christmas is all about.”

She said they also get Christmas cards with donations, but they don’t plan to keep the money. “He wanted to get a calendar, and a movie, and I’ll let him do that, and then we’ll donate the rest. Possibly to Special Olympics,” she said. “We just want Christmas cards. We are not a family in need.”

After Donnie’s story hit the news, a man who works with Donnie’s Uncle Denny in Jackson contacted Spring, and told her how to contact him. She said Denny  knew nothing about what was going on. He had apparently moved, and that was why the card was returned. Spring called him to set up a meeting between him and Donnie, and that happened last weekend.

“It was very emotional for Donnie, since he hadn’t seen him in 30 years,” she explained.

Spring is grateful to all who have sent cards to Donnie. “Thank you for making such a huge difference in his life this Christmas,” she said.

If you would like to follow what is happening with Donnie, you can follow the facebook page that Spring set up called cardsfordonnie. She said she would be updating it monthly. If you want to write Donnie Whipple, send your card or letters to: 15263 Pine Lake Ave, Cedar Springs MI 49319.

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Merry Christmas! Gas prices still falling

Drivers are lining up to take advantage of the lower gas prices. They fell to $1.94 this week. Post photo by L. Allen.

Drivers are lining up to take advantage of the lower gas prices. They fell to $1.94 this week. Post photo by L. Allen.

Gas prices fell another 19 cents in Cedar Springs this week. Last Wednesday, prices were at $2.13 a gallon, the lowest they had been since the spring of 2009. As of Tuesday, December 23, they had dropped to $1.94 per gallon. The average in Grand Rapids is $2.03, and the Michigan average is $2.18. The national average is $2.37.

“As Americans take to the road for Christmas travel, they’ve all been given a gift that keeps on giving: falling gas prices,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “Americans are saving over $13 million dollars an hour versus gas prices a year ago- adding up to over $315 million every day. Big declines were witnessed in Montana, Michigan, Indiana, Idaho, and Ohio, where average prices fell over 20 cents on average just in the last seven days but everyone has been a winner.”

“Just in the last 24 hours, the national average has declined nearly 7c/gallon, one of the largest single day decreases ever. However, I’m worried the decline may soon begin slowing- oil prices have held in the mid-$50s, and the concrete may be setting in. If it does, and oil prices fail to drop below $50/bbl, gas prices likely won’t drop more than another 10-20 cents per gallon. Either way, a sneak peak at our soon to be released 2015 gas price forecast reveals a yearly national average far lower than what we saw this year,” DeHaan said.

 

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The Post travels to Europe

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The Post recently traveled to Europe with Nadine Raders, of Grand Rapids, (formerly of Cedar Springs,) Nadine’s sister and husband, Nora and Bill Bolthouse, of California (formerly of Grant and Cedar Springs), and cousin Jeanette Denton from Baptist Lake, in Sand Lake, Michigan.

The group took a Viking Boat trip down the Rhein River. They flew into Amsterdam, Netherlands, and spent two days touring Holland, and then left on the Viking “Idi,” going through 15 days of touring Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

“It was a beautiful trip all the way to Budapest,” wrote Jeanette. “We spent two more days there, and what a beautiful city. It was a wonderful three weeks, so much history and lots of fun.”

Thanks for taking The Post with you on your adventure!

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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The Light of Christmas

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By Tom Noreen

 

Victoria Merlington, (owner of The Barn Vintage Décor and Consignment shop), and 35 volunteers brought “The Light of Christmas” to the residents of Cedar Springs Mobile Estates on December 14. Hundreds turned out as the group treated the community to a live nativity, a chili bar with macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and cookies galore. Teachers led the singing of Christmas Carols. Care packages of food were passed out to the elderly that couldn’t make the event and gifts were given to all of the kids.

N-Christmas-CS-Mobile-estates2-webBoth community members and businesses offered donations of money, food, gifts, and volunteers and time to make this 1st annual Light of Christmas possible. Over 450 gifts were collected.

With the success of this event, that of putting a smile on a child’s face and showing them the love of Christ, Victoria is planning an Easter event as well and some summer events as well. She said, “Our plan is to continue loving on this neighborhood.”

 

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City Council declines to investigate possible OMA violation

 

By Judy Reed

 

The Cedar Springs City Council has been in the news for over a year and a half regarding a possible violation of the Open Meetings Act, when it took then Mayor Bob Truesdale into a closed session to hear complaints against him. Since then, an open meetings act violation was filed, two council members recalled, a complaint was filed with the state bureau of elections over funding the investigation, rhetoric, drama and accusations took up time in countless Council meetings, and, after the most recent City Council declined to proceed any further with the investigation, we may never know if there really was any wrongdoing.

The saga began in July 2013, when the Council voted to take then Mayor Bob Truesdale into closed session to hear complaints against him. According to Truesdale, he did not ask for the closed session, but was instead told by two of the council members that they were going to do this in closed session. Truesdale said he voted with the council to go into closed session, figuring he had nothing to hide, and was not aware of his rights to end it at any time.

Citizen Mark Laws then filed recall petitions against two of the council members—Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer—and the alleged Open Meetings violation is one of the reasons listed. (Those two council members were the only two he could recall at that time due to laws regarding where they were in their terms.) The petitions were finally approved in February of this year.

The City Council then voted to conduct an investigation into whether a violation of the Open Meetings Act had occurred, and directed City Manager Thad Taylor to proceed. When Taylor went to the Michigan State Police, he was told that the City needed to collect as much information as possible, submit it to the Kent County prosecutor, and then the State Police would investigate. Truesdale said he didn’t feel it was necessary, that as far as he was concerned, it was water under the bridge.

Taylor then began to have staff collect the information necessary. It was then that Laws filed a complaint with the State Bureau of Elections, asserting that any money spent by the City in connection with the investigation, was an effort by the City to show that the recall was baseless and to encourage voters to vote against the recall.

The City then stopped their investigation into the alleged Open Meetings Violation, since there was now a complaint on whether they had violated the Campaign Finance Act.

Laws didn’t realize they had stopped the investigation, and once he found out, he filed his own OMA complaint with the MSP.

Attorney Michael Hodge filed an answer to the Campaign Finance Act complaint on behalf of the city and five of the council members, and the State dismissed the complaint in October, stating that “They [City] also had real and credible concerns that the public should know if they complied with the Open Meetings Act or not. Because the City Officers had legitimate legal concerns regarding the alleged Open Meetings Act violation, the Department finds that the evidence does not tend to show that the City Officers made an expenditure in regard to the recall election and your complaint is dismissed.”

Then, in mid-November, City Manager Thad Taylor was told by MSP D/1st LT Mike Anderson that Mark Laws reportedly called and told him he no longer wanted the investigation completed or presented to the prosecutor for review. Laws said that he asked the MSP to drop it right after the election in November, because he felt the voters took care of the issue. “None of those people are still on Council, so I thought why waste the MSP’s time when they have more important things to work on,” he explained.

Lt. Anderson also told Taylor that he did not find anything in the investigation so far that suggested an OMA violation. Taylor told him that the City still wanted the investigation and asked a summary of their conversation by email.

Taylor brought it to the Council in December to vote on continuing the investigation and presenting it to the prosecutor. Four of the council members are new, and did not vote on it last spring. When new council member Perry Hopkins made the motion, no one on the council gave it a second, causing the motion to die.

Mayor Jerry Hall told the Post that they didn’t want to spend any more money on lawyer fees. “The MSP didn’t think they (the previous council) did anything wrong; Mark withdrew the lawsuit; so why should we spend more money to prove we did nothing wrong?” he asked. “We would still have to pay our attorney.” He also noted there is still the other pending OMA lawsuit over the City Manager contract that they are paying attorney fees for.

City Manager Thad Taylor said it is possible there would be some attorney fees to continue the investigation; however, he felt they would be minimal. “But it’s now a moot point,” he added. “The council was comfortable with not continuing.”

Citizen Kathy Bremmer recently requested through the Freedom of Information Act the amount of attorney fees spent on three separate cases, and shared the figures with the Post: the City reportedly spent $1,439.50 in attorney’s fees for the alleged OMA violation regarding Bob Truesdale; $5,020 to defend itself against the Campaign Finance complaint; and so far has spent $6,372 on the lawsuit for the alleged violation of the OMA regarding the City Manager Contract.

 

 

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