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Community development team buys property

The Community Building Development Team purchased property last week from Rob and Jodi Coxon. Shown at the closing from left to right: Jodi Coxon, CBDT president Kurt Mabie, Sun Title closing agent,  Rob Coxon, realtor Leon Stout, and CBDT treasurer Betty Truesdale.

The Community Building Development Team purchased property last week from Rob and Jodi Coxon. Shown at the closing from left to right: Jodi Coxon, CBDT president Kurt Mabie, Sun Title closing agent, Rob Coxon, realtor Leon Stout, and CBDT treasurer Betty Truesdale.

With the purchase of a parcel at the corner of Fifth and Pine Street in Cedar Springs last week, the non-profit Community Building Development Team is making headway in its mission to advance the “construction of buildings and spaces where the greater Cedar Springs Community can gather for cultural, educational, recreational, commercial, and family/community events.”

The 2.28 acre parcel with road frontage on Fifth and Pine Streets, was purchased on February 25, from Jodi and Rob Coxon, at a greatly reduced price. The property was appraised at $37,500 and sold to the CBDT for $15,000, according to CBDT treasurer Betty Truesdale.

“We are impressed with the involvement of so many people in our community to make our community a better place. It is our privilege to contribute part of the value of our land for the projects being planned by the CBDT, Library Board, and En Gedi Board. A new library and community building will be great assets for Cedar Springs. We are very happy to be a part of these efforts,” explained the Coxons.

Also joining in on donations toward this process were Thomas Cronkright II, owner of Sun Title Agency, who waived all closing fees and Leon Stout, of Stout Group Ltd, the real estate agency handling the sales transactions, waived a portion of his fees.

“It continues to amaze me on how people are jumping on board to be part of the movement to improve the quality of life in our community,” said Kurt Mabie, president of the CBDT. “Jodi and Rob’s support is greatly appreciated, along with Thomas and Leon’s assistance. It takes a group effort, a partnership of many, to bring about big things. That is exactly what is happening now,” he continued.

The exact use of the land has not yet been determined. According to Mabie, CS Manufacturing plans to donate a large section of land that adjoins the Coxon property to the CBDT next fall. Once that land is secured a site plan will be created.

All community members are invited to the CBDT Meetings held on the third Tuesday of each month at Hilltop School on the 3rd floor. The meeting run about one hour and begin at 6 pm.

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A Legacy of giving

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Mike and Alice Holton

 

Holton family gives generous gift to Education Foundation

By Tom Noreen

For many years, Mike and Alice Holton were generous patrons of Cedar Springs. Their gifts to the city and the public schools were instrumental in improving the facilities and capabilities each had to offer. Many of their contributions were given anonymously. Their gifts included building the pedestrian bridge over Main Street; renovating Skinner Field with new bleachers, lights, fencing, and a composite running surface track; paving the new section of the Elmwood Cemetery; key sponsors of Boomer Field; Cedar Springs Public Library projects; and the band shell used in the High School auditorium. The Cedar Springs Public School Board named Holton Drive on the school campus in honor of their generosity to the school.

Mike first came to town as a kid when his father was assigned as pastor to the Cedar Springs Free Methodist Church (now The Springs). They then went to Big Rapids but his sister, Lois, stayed and later married Elwood Larson.

It was in Big Rapids, according to Lois, that Mike met Alice. Alice lived across the road from the parsonage. After a tour in a US Navy Construction Battalion (SeaBee), they married and moved to Cedar Springs.

Kathy (Holton) Raudenbush wrote, “They moved to Cedar in the late 40’s and started the bottled gas business. We think the reason for their choice of Cedar was that Dad had gone, briefly, to high school here, and his sister and her husband, Lois and Elwood Larson, were living here. Their storefront was on Main Street across from what was then Skinner Drugs. Mom kept the books while Dad was out delivering gas and making sales. The business moved out to its present location in the early 60s when it became Holton’s LP Gas. It is important to know, from our perspective, that Dad’s biggest priority was always the comfort and safety of his customers. There were many nights and weekends when he would be out delivering gas when someone ran out, or going on a service call when someone had a problem.”

Lois said the business was initially in the building where the Fast Tax Service is now and then they built another building just to the north now occupied by the Reflections by Design hair salon.

According to Kathy, Mike was active in a number of local civic organizations. Alice spent many happy years volunteering in Marge Clark’s kindergarten classroom. She noted, “Dad and Mom had a great respect for education and what it could do to increase a person’s chances of success in life, and that is why they were so interested in helping the school whenever they could.”

It was in this environment that Mike and Alice reared their children, Kathy, Karen, Kevin, and Kris. The legacy of supporting education continues. The Holton family, in honor of their parents, decided to donate the Holton home on Northland Drive to the Cedar Springs Education Foundation so that the proceeds would go to the schools.

Bill Tucker, past president of the Cedar Springs Education Foundation said, “I was contacted by Kevin Holton in late 2013. I actually met with the family in February 2014 to discuss the details of the transfer.” The deed was transferred, some needed repairs were done, and the house put up for sale. Once on the market, the house sold quickly and the Education Foundation received a net of $171, 554 after expenses.

Once sold, the Foundation decided to make an initial grant to the school of about $25,000 for a significant project to recognize this tremendous gift from the Holton family. The school was asked to propose a number of projects for the family to choose from. These included a covered playground pavilion for Cedar Trails, a computer-learning lab for Cedar View, and a new sound system for the High School auditorium. After reviewing the projects, the family turned it back over to the foundation to make the selection. Kathy said, “They as a group would be happy with any of the options and felt the foundation would be better able to determine what would be most beneficial to the school.”

The Foundation met at a special meeting on February 4 to make that decision. After much discussion, moderated by Foundation President Jeni McIntyre, the board chose the High School auditorium sound system, for a number of reasons. Sue Spahr, board member and Middle School principal, said that the sound system would have a greater impact on both students and the community. Board members Audrey Debri and Chad Wight noted that each proposal was excellent and should be considered again at a later date.

The Education Foundation and the Cedar Springs Schools greatly appreciate this gift and the Holton family’s legacy of giving.

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Woman pleads guilty in bomb threat

Julie Ann-Marie Haff

Julie Ann-Marie Haff

A Cedar Springs woman pled guilty this week to calling in a bomb threat to Woodland Mall.

Julie Ann-Marie Haff, 46, reportedly called in the threat on January 11, at 11:23 p.m. and told mall security there was a bomb in the parking lot.

 Police traced the call to a man’s phone in Cedar Springs. The man told police his girlfriend used the phone to call in the threat. 

Haff entered the guilty plea on Tuesday, March 2, in Circuit Court. Sentencing was set for April 15. The charge is a felony, and she could face up to four years in prison.

The Post previously featured Haff in a story in August of 2013, when she gave her dog credit for saving her life after she suffered a mini stroke.

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128th Trooper Recruit School Begins 

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Hometown heroes prepare for State Police careers 

On Sunday, March 1, 85 prospective troopers reported to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Training Academy in Lansing for the first day of the 128th Trooper Recruit School.

Included in those recruits was Joshua Greeno, of Sparta, Andrew Dusendang, of Rockford, and Robert Perry II, also from Rockford.

For the next 21 weeks, between wake-up at 5 a.m. and lights-out at 10 p.m., the recruits will receive training in firearms, water safety, defensive tactics, patrol techniques, report writing, ethics, first aid, criminal law, crime scene processing and precision driving.

“The start of a new recruit school is an exciting time for the department,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “It is our hope these recruits will successfully meet and exceed the challenges they will face during these next few months and come July, we will welcome each of them to the ranks of the Michigan State Police.”

Recruits who successfully complete recruit school will graduate on July 24, 2015.

In order to be selected to attend the 128th Trooper Recruit School, recruits had to pass a stringent selection process that included a physical fitness test, background investigation and hiring interview.

Since 2011, with the support of Governor Snyder and the Legislature, the MSP has hired 430 state troopers, bringing the total number of troopers statewide to 1,023.

The MSP is actively recruiting for future recruit schools. To learn more about a career with the MSP, interested candidates should visit www.michigan.gov/mspjobs or follow the recruits’ blog at http://msprecruits.wordpress.com.

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Fire burns Harvard home

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This home on Harvard Avenue, between 15 and 16 Mile Roads, caught fire Tuesday. Post photo by J. Reed.

 

Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The Oakfield Fire Department and four other departments battled both the elements and a structure fire Tuesday morning in the 13000 block of Harvard Avenue NE.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene shortly after 10 a.m. Flames were coming through the roof. According to Oakfield Fire Chief Sam Peterson, the wind and cold were problems, but an even bigger problem was that the fire had gotten into the attic, and that area was restrictive.

Peterson said the fire started in the bathroom, possibly from some wiring issues. He said a fire investigator would be investigating the scene.

They cleared the scene at about 2:30 p.m.

A mom was home with children at the time of the fire, but the family had gotten out safely, as did their cat. No one was injured at the scene.

Oakfield was assisted by Courtland, Spencer, Grattan, and Montcalm Fire Departments.

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Shirley Merlington named 2015 Grand Marshal 

 

Cedar Springs resident Shirley Merlington has been named the 2015 Grand Marshal for the 76th Annual Celebration

Cedar Springs resident Shirley Merlington has been named the 2015 Grand Marshal for the 76th Annual Celebration

N-GrandMarshal-Merlington2By Judy Reed

The Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors proudly named Cedar Springs resident Shirley Merlington as the 2015 Grand Marshal for the 76th Annual Celebration, to be held on Saturday, October 3, 2015.

“The Festival is extremely proud and thankful for the many years of Shirley’s outstanding dedication to the Cedar Springs community,” said Michele Tracy, President of the Festival.

Shirley was shocked when she found out the board had selected her. “I was really surprised,” she said. “It never entered my mind.”

Shirley was born in Cedar Springs, at a house on Beech Street. She went to Cedar Springs Public Schools until 3rd grade, when her family moved to Sand Lake. She graduated high school there, and met her future husband there, Ronny Merlington. Shirley and Ronny settled in Cedar Springs after he graduated from Michigan State. “I’ve been in the same house in Cedar Springs for 48 years now,” she said.

Shirley served as Executive Director of the Red Flannel Festival from 1990 to 2003. She also served as Director of the Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce for 12 years, served on the Cedar Springs Board of Education, the Cedar Springs Women’s Club and was 5th District President of American Legion Women’s Auxiliary. “For 25-30 years I’ve been involved in everything in Cedar Springs,” remarked Shirley. Other positions she’s served in include the Board of Review, the DDA, the Elections Commission, and the Selective Service board. At age 77, she is still active in the Legion Auxiliary and has been for 34 years.

“It’s very obvious Shirley loves the Red Flannel Town, and especially the Red Flannel Festival! Her connection to Festival Founders Grace Hamilton and Nina Babcock is very special to us. The Red Flannel Town is a better place because of her involvement and extraordinary volunteerism!” said Tracy.

Shirley said it’s true that she loves Cedar Springs. “I love it! I love the Red Flannel Festival, and look forward to it every year. We usually have company. It’s always been thrilling to me. Ronny and I were both proud to be involved in it all of these years,” she remarked. “We couldn’t ask for a better town to live in.” Ronny was also a Grand Marshal several years ago.

Shirley will reign this year, the Festival’s 76th, over the two weekends of the 15th oldest Festival in the state of Michigan, sharing the Red Flannel warmth of our community with visitors and residents.

 

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Cedar Trails principal resigns

Longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper with a student.

Longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper with a student.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education approved a resolution Monday evening to enter into a separation agreement with longtime Cedar Trails Elementary principal Jennifer Harper.

Harper, who was co-principal with Mike Duffy, has been on paid administrative leave, and recently resigned. The reason for her paid leave and subsequent resignation has not been made public.

The Post has been contacted by concerned parents, who said she was there one day, and gone the next, with no explanation to staff or students and parents. “As a parent with students in the school I want to know what is going on,” wrote one parent. “This is crazy that the school district has said nothing to parents about this or anything that is going on. The kids are asking where she is.”

The Post spoke with the district office about the matter. “It’s been an ongoing personnel matter,” explained Superintendent Laura VanDuyn. “We can’t reveal the nature because it is a personnel matter. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not a matter that has to do with criminal conduct or the safety of students.”

Van Duyn said Harper was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. “We have clearly followed our district’s legal counsel in the matter,” she said.

Harper was originally hired to run the Parents as Teachers program, and then became co-principal with David Cairy.  She continued on as a principal at Cedar Trails after Cairy moved to Assistant Superintendent. Andy Secor and Mike Duffy have served as co-principals with Harper. Secor currently is principal at Cedar View.

VanDuyn said that Duffy would continue as principal at Cedar Trails and Harper would not be replaced.

While Harper said she could not discuss the terms of her resignation, she did have a statement for parents, staff and students.

“I have gladly dedicated my heart and soul to the students, staff and families of the Cedar Trails Community for the last 17 years. I have loved working with the staff, mentoring your young children, and have always supported high expectations for all. I wish only the best for CSPS and I pray for its continued success,” she said.

The Post submitted a request through the Freedom of Information Act on Monday, asking for any emails, documents, and minutes referencing the resignation of Jennifer Harper.

Harper is the second administrator to resign since the beginning of the school year. Assistant Superintendent Steve Seward resigned earlier this year.

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Chamber to hold auditions for Renaissance royalty

Chamber members in royal attire at last year’s festival.

Chamber members in royal attire at last year’s festival.

The Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce is planning their second annual Renaissance-themed summer celebration to kick off the summer during the second week of June. The celebration will take place from 18 Mile south to Morley Park in downtown Cedar Springs.

“This will be a great time to dress up as your favorite Renaissance character like Robin Hood, King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot, Gypsies, Pirates, Woodland Elves, Fairies, etc.,” said Chamber president Perry Hopkins. “This is a family event so kids of all ages can participate (adults can be kids too). We will have an outdoor movie in the park on Friday and have a variety of entertainers and vendors on Saturday and Sunday!”

Any individual or group who would like to participate in this event (vendors, volunteers, performers, etc) can contact Perry at 616-439-0890 or email kinofhope@yahoo.com. “We are looking to have as much of the community involved as possible,” he said.

 Mandy Stephenson, of Kalamazoo, will reign as Queen Victoria of Morleyshire, at this year’s Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire, put on by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mandy Stephenson, of Kalamazoo, will reign as Queen Victoria of Morleyshire, at this year’s Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire, put on by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

This year’s Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire’s Theme is Robin Hood.

Most Renaissance Faires have a royal court that is a part of the event. We would like to announce our Queen Victoria of “Morleyshire” for this year’s Cedar Springs Renaissance Fair—Mandy Stephenson, from Kalamazoo. “She was chosen by the Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire Committee for her for her experience with Renaissance Faires, her dress experience, language and knowledge,” explained Hopkins. He said she has been royalty at many Renaissance Faires, and has 13 years of experience in improvisational acting.

The Committee for the Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire will also be holding auditions for the rest of the royal court. We are auditioning for Prince, Princess, Duke, Dutchess, Lords,and Ladies, towns people and rogues (possibly other roles too).

Auditions will be held on Saturday March 28 at 4:30 p.m. at 90 North Main Street, Cedar Springs, in the dance studio on the second floor. Those interested in auditioning need to come dressed to part. For more details please call Perry at (855) 627-2262 ext. 103 or 616-439-0890

You can find more information on our face book page Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire. The CSACoC also has an event page on face book for the event The Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire  https://www.facebook.com/events/348962938597221/

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Post travels to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

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Kenneth Mitz and Tammy Metzger recently took the Post along on a Royal Carribean cruise to San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. They visited the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Grenada.

Thanks to Ken and Tammy for taking us 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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Police search for stolen vehicle

Kent County Sheriff DeptPolice are on the look out for a red truck that was stolen Tuesday evening.

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department-Cedar Springs Unit was dispatched at 6:58 p.m., on Tuesday, February 24, to the Tractor Supply Company on 17 Mile Rd regarding a stolen vehicle. It was reported that a 2001 Ford F350, Dark Red 4×4, with a black stripe near the bottom, chrome running boards and clearance lights on the truck cab, along with a snowmobile trailer and four sleds, were stolen from the parking lot while the owner was inside. The keys were with the vehicle.

On the morning of February 25, the trailer and contents were recovered near Howard City at the M-82 park and ride. The truck is still outstanding. Kent County Sheriff Department Scientific Support Unit responded to the park and ride to process the trailer.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345 or the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

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