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City Manager gets high marks in first year

 

Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack recently completed his first year on the job here in Cedar Springs, and the City Council gave him high marks. The Council completed a one-year performance review of City Manager Mike Womack at their September 7 meeting.

“The worst thing they said was they think I work too much. I was surprised that was the worst thing, but I’ll take it,” he said.

Mayor Gerald Hall was the one who voiced concern about that. “I feel Mike is doing an excellent job as our Manager,” he said. “But he might get burned out if he continues to work as he does.”

Womack has been with the City since August 1, 2016 and has hired several new staff members in that time. The team at City Hall now includes a new Finance Director, Deputy Finance Director, City Clerk, DPW Director and Utility Billing Clerk. Womack has received high praise from City Council for recruiting multiple high-quality employees and building a strong team.

“I was both unlucky and fortunate to lose so many people over my first year,” Womack said. “I was given the opportunity to bring together the team I wanted in City Hall representing the direction that Council and I envision for the City.” Womack elaborated that, “It was important to bring in friendly people with fresh ideas who want to do good things for the City.”

City Hall has invested a lot of work and time in ongoing projects in the City over the last year. Womack stated, “The City is really coming alive with economic activity,” and “I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken towards being more business friendly here in the City.”

“Some of the sign and zoning ordinances are out of date and unnecessarily restrictive, and we’ve got blighted property that we’re trying to manage,” he explained.

He plans to continue City Hall’s efforts to update and streamline City ordinances and to address the blighted properties in the City. Womack said that having a good staff and an active Council is helping propel these many plans forward.  Womack also praised local businesses and philanthropic groups for their work. “From the Halloween Spooktacular event to the new Community Library Building we are very fortunate to have so many that donate their time and money to make this such a great place to live, work and play,” Womack said.

When asked about his goals over the next year Womack talked about all the businesses coming to town. He also specified that “I’m focusing on pedestrian safety, the new fire station and bringing more life to the downtown area, especially the pocket park in front of City Hall and working with the CBDT on the Heart of Cedar Springs amphitheater.”

For their part, City Council rated Womack an average of 4.66 out of 5 and noted that overall they were very satisfied with his work, his commitment and the professional environment he brought to City Hall. Councilor Powell stated that “This small city is growing so fast.  We need his knowledge and experience in all these new projects.” Councilor Nixon appreciated his “emphasis on best practices and planning for the future.” Councilors did note that Womack could come off as somewhat distant and unfriendly due to his direct communication style, dry sense of humor and naturally straight-faced demeanor.

“What can I say, people who get to know me like me. I’ll try to smile more!” he joked.

Womack has two more years in his current contract and said he was very happy working in Cedar Springs.  “The City has been so warm and welcoming to me over the last year,” Womack said. “It’s been a nice change of pace for my life.” He said he really enjoys living in the west side of the state and likes the slower pace and smaller cities in the area. Womack came to Cedar Springs from his legal practice in Macomb County and lives in the local area with his wife Glenna and their two dogs, Fitz and Leo.

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Kids who wrote “April’s Baby” book get surprise

These Beach Elementary students wrote the book “April’s Baby” in Vicki Burke’s art class last spring. Courtesy photo

By Judy Reed

Earlier this year, second and third grade students at Beach Elementary School in Cedar Springs celebrated March is Reading Month by illustrating and publishing a book about the internet sensation, April the Giraffe. They will now get something in return.

Thirty-one students, affectionately dubbed “Team April,” volunteered their drawing talents for a short story titled “April’s Baby,” which Vicki Burke, Beach Elementary art teacher,  penned and graphically designed. The book has received rave reviews on Amazon, and Burke has received positive feedback from people she meets in person as well.

“What started as a simple art project exploded into so much more,” remarked Vicki Burke, at the Cedar Springs Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Sept. 11. She said that the book taught the children about art, literacy, giraffe conservation, and more. When it was finished, it went on Amazon.

This summer, Burke went to New York to see the giraffes. But it was bittersweet, because she felt like she wanted the kids to see the giraffes, too. So, while they cannot take a field trip to see April and her baby, a couple people and businesses worked together to make something happen closer to home.

Transportation supervisor Jerry Gavin, who now works with Dean Transportation, said they are willing to donate one school bus and one school bus driver free of charge to take the kids to Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto, to see the giraffes. And Ryanne Donahue, with the new State Farm office on Main Street here in Cedar Springs, said she will donate admission for the students and chaperones and also enough for them to feed the giraffes as well. The announcement was made at the school board meeting.

The children who were there were all smiles, and seemed excited by the news.

There is no word yet on when the trip might happen.

To purchase the book, go to www.amazon.com and search for “April’s Baby.”

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The Post travels to E3 in Los Angeles

Chris Grondman, Cody Cook and Jacob Prahl of Cedar Springs traveled to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California and brought their favorite newspaper along. It was a three-day event that showcased many new gaming products, designs and concepts.

It sounds like a great time! Thanks so much 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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Walking path paved at library

 

The walking path behind the library was paved with asphalt last week. It’s between Cedar Creek and the North side of the library. The bricks and blocks will also soon be installed on the retaining wall. If you haven’t been over to the new Cedar Springs Community Library to see how the landscaping and grounds are coming together, you should take a walk around and see what a beautiful place it is!

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Bark in the Dark in the park

 

Fun run/walk to benefit animals awaiting their forever family

Is there anything more enjoyable than seeing a dog walking or running in the park—tongue hanging out without a care in the world? How about hundreds of dogs (and owners) in Halloween costumes at the park? That’s what participants in Humane Society of West Michigan’s (HSWM) 5th Annual Bark in the Dark extravaganza at Riverside Park will witness on Saturday, October 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Hosted by HSWM, Bark in the Dark is an annual fundraising 5K & 1 Mile fun run/walk supporting animals awaiting their forever families. This fun-filled event, perfect for the whole family, but especially those furry family members, will feature a photo booth, face painting, and balloon animals before the run/walk from 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. The run/walk begins at 6:30 and will be followed by music, complimentary snacks, and a beer tent!

In 2016, more than 3,750 animals found their forever homes through the efforts of HSWM. However, there is much work left to be done, as HSWM continues to work tirelessly to support animals in crisis.

“Bark in the Dark has grown substantially since its introduction five years ago,” said Tammy Hagedorn, Director of Development at HSWM. “Animal lovers across West Michigan look forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones, while enjoying a beautiful Michigan fall evening. We continue to be blown away by the generosity and support we receive from participants and sponsors as we seek to achieve our primary mission—promoting humane treatment and responsible care of animals through education, example, placement and protection.”

Those interested in participating in this annual event are encouraged to register and create an online fundraising page at www.barkinthedark.org, and then share on social media platforms or through email to facilitate donations to benefit HSWM. Because HSWM operates solely on donations, all funds raised allow continuation of care for thousands of animals each year, which includes: daily care, medical treatment, spay/neuter surgeries, behavior assessments, training, exercise, and enrichment.

Kids under 5 free with registered adult; youth 5-17 $10; and adults 18 and over $35 ($40 on race day).

To learn more about Bark in the Dark, visit www.barkinthedark.org.

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Fact correction on Nature Niche article

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

In the Nature Niche article titled Solar Eclipse and Science Credibility printed August 31, 2017, I stated Copernicus was placed under house arrest for not recanting that the Earth goes around the sun. It was Galileo that was placed under House arrest for building on Copernicus’ work. Source of corrected information is found by Googling Copernicus house arrest and reading Wikipedia account. Galileo’s information is near the end.

“In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for «following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture», and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.”

I apologize for my error in memory recollection.

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Little Free Library at Spencer KDL

Spencer Township resident Tim Nowak built this Little Free Library, which now sits in front of Spencer Township Library. Courtesy photos.

 The Spencer Township Branch of Kent District Library is pleased to present a Little Free Library located at Spencer Township Park, 14960 Meddler Ave. in Gowen. The structure was created by a library patron and will house around 30 books, including youth, teen and adult fiction and nonfiction materials. People are encouraged to take a book and leave a book.

“We are so excited to have a Little Free Library so close to our branch,” said Kaitlin Tang, Branch Manager of the Spencer Township Branch of Kent District Library. “If the branch is closed, people still have free access to an assortment of books. This is also a great place to drop off unused books for others to enjoy!”

Kent District Library would like to thank Spencer Township resident Tim Nowak for handling the installation of the library. The new structure is registered with Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

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Rotary donations to Hurricane Harvey victims

The Cedar Springs Rotary collected donations for Hurricane Harvey victims last week. Courtesy photos.

Cedar Springs Rotarians join with you and many others with their sadness on the natural disasters happening in the US. We worked together to offer drop off sites last week for donations to send to those suffering in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. There were locations at many local Rotarians offices to drop off items. Locations included Choice One Bank, Independent Bank, State Farm, Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation and Northern Physical Therapy. The items collected include baby food, diapers, kids clothes, medicine, work gloves and other basic needs. The items are being sent directly to Texas with a local church headed down on a mission trip. We will be monitoring the situations there and with the other disasters and their long term affects and be considering future endeavors to help our fellow Americans in need.

Rotarians are called to service projects and put “service above self.” The group works to serve local projects, like the Cedar Springs Library youth room and the pavilion in Morley Park, and international projects as well. We welcome community members to help in these projects and encourage them to consider joining us if they are feeling called to serve others. We have a variety of membership options and welcome a conversation with you to see if it is a fit for you. Please check out the Facebook page “Cedar Springs Rotary Club” to see more about what we do or visit us at Red Flannel and enjoy a Chicken dinner before the parade.

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US-131 reconstruction in 2018

 

This year the Michigan Department of Transportation has been working on reconstructing US-131 between 14 Mile to just north of White Creek Avenue. Next year, the project will move just to the south when they reconstruct US-131 between 10 Mile and 14 Mile Roads.

According to MDOT, the work will be from April to October in 2018. While one side of US-131 is being reconstructed, both directions of traffic will be maintained on the other side of the roadway and separated by a moveable barrier wall. The moveable barrier will cater to predominant traffic movements, with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane open on weekday mornings and Sundays. During weekday afternoons and Fridays, one southbound lane and two northbound lanes will remain open.

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Police search for driver that caused fatal crash

Meranda Baguss and her 5-year-old twin boys. Photo from Facebook.

UPDATE: The suspect in a hit-and-run crash that killed a mother and injured her twin boys has been arrested, according to authorities.

The mother who was killed in the crash has been identified as 33-year-old Meranda Baguss of Sand Lake.

A gofundme page has been set up in honor of Meranda and her boys at https://www.gofundme.com/jn5a88-meranda-baguss-tony-chauncey

All proceeds will go to Meranda’s family for funeral expenses and if there is any left over it will go towards the boys medical expenses.


A Nelson Township woman is dead and her two five-year-old twins were seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash Friday evening, September 15, in Courtland Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred at the intersection of 15 Mile and Ritchie. The 33-year-old woman was driving her 2011 Ford Fusion westbound on 15 Mile about 8:23 p.m., with her twin five-year-old boys seat belted in their car seats in the back seat, when her car was struck by a Ford F150 pickup that was northbound on Ritchie. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and the two children were transported to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the pickup fled after crash. Deputies searched the area with multiple canine units and were assisted by the Michigan State Police Helicopter for several hours. The suspect was still at large Saturday morning.

Police said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

The investigation is ongoing. Names are not being released pending family notifications.

If anyone has information about this crash please call 616-632-6100 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.

 

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