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Public meeting date set on police proposal


Cedar-Springs-new-logoThe Cedar Springs City Council wants to get the public’s feedback on whether the city should keep their own police department, or contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department for services. They have set up both a public meeting and community survey so that people can give their input.

The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Cedar Springs Middle School, in room C201, which is upstairs in the large group meeting room, which seats 90.

According to Cedar Springs City Manager Thad Taylor, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma and his team will be on hand to give a presentation and answer questions. The proposal they have given the city could save $120,000 to $132,000 a year.

There will be time during the meeting for the public to ask questions about the proposal and how it will affect them, and give their input.

The community survey is another way to let the City know how residents and business owners feel about the issue. The survey asks, Is it important to you that the city has its own police department?  Yes or No. If yes, why? And if no, why?

It also asks the question that if the City were to contract with the Sheriff Department, what should the City do with the annual savings? Several options are given, such as reducing taxes, repair streets, repair or add sidewalks, etc. There is also room for additional comments.

The surveys went out this week in tax bills. They will also be handed out in the next week at both mobile home parks within the city limits, and the apartment complexes at the end of Oak Street. Surveys are also available at Cedar Springs City Hall for those who are renting elsewhere in the city.

Taylor urges people to fill them out and get them back to the City as soon as possible. “This is a community decision, and the council needs to know what people think,” he said.

Surveys can be dropped off in the payment box at City Hall, or mailed to The City of Cedar Springs, PO 310, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Post turtle rescue club

The Walma family, in Spencer Township, has been busy rescuing turtles over the last month.

Matthew Walma said he rescued a snapper turtle in Newaygo in May, and a box turtle on Harvard Ave in June.

Ashley Walma rescued a red painter turtle last week at Harvard and 15 Mile.

Ken Walma rescued a box turtle last month on Lincoln Lake Rd and 16 Mile.

Congratulations to all of the new members of the Post Turtle Rescue Club! Please call us at 696-3655 to make arrangements to pick up your certificates and keychains.

As a reminder, if you see a turtle trying to cross the road, pull your vehicle off the road and put on your hazard lights. You only need to help them to the other side, in the way they were traveling, not keep them. Here are some tips from the Turtle Rescue League:

*When picking up a small turtle, grasp it on either side of its shell behind the front legs. The turtle will still be able to kick at you, but many will choose to stay safely tucked in, during the short time you are moving them.

*Keep the turtle low to the ground when moving them. Even small turtles have surprising strength. If a turtle pushes free of your grip, you do not want it to fall and injure itself.

*If you are helping a large snapper, simply push it from behind with a blunt object. Don’t use anything sharp or pokey. You don’t want to hurt the turtle. Although snappers can seem dangerous, they are just protecting the babies they are carrying, like any wild animal, and you need to exercise caution.

*Make sure to put the turtle in the direction it was heading, never turn them around! The turtle is on a mission, and if you turn it around, it will simply go back across the road when you drive away.

*Although you may be tempted to relocate a turtle, don’t. Many turtles have “Home Ranges,” a territory they call home, and when relocated, they will search out ways back. Besides risking many additional road crossings, some turtles, if they cannot find their way back will stop eating and just wander listlessly.

If you’ve rescued a turtle, you can email photos and a brief summary to news@cedarspringspost.com; mail to Post Turtle Rescue Club, PO 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319; or stop in at our office at 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs. Please do not post them to our Facebook page.

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Tired of struggling? Apply now for Thrive

North Kent Community Services is seeking individuals to participate in Thrive, its new program to help people become self-sufficient.  Thrive is designed to give those who are struggling in northern Kent County the support they need to achieve their life goals, such as owning a home, obtaining a better paying job or furthering their education.

North Kent Community Services (NKCS) is the comprehensive food pantry and resource center serving low-income families in our community, primarily Cedar Springs, Rockford and Sparta. Thrive is for anyone in the NKCS service area. You do not need to currently be receiving services from NKCS to qualify for Thrive.

Thrive participants will be meeting in a small group as well as one-on-one with coaches to help answers questions such as:

“How can I save money when I don’t even have enough to pay my bills?”

“What are my strengths and how can these guide me towards my career path?”

“How can I have hope when I feel so hopeless?”

“I see the future I want for myself, but how do I get there?”

Thrive will take place on Monday evenings at NKCS from 6:30-8:30 beginning September 22 and lasts for six months. Fifteen (15) mothers will be selected for the pilot program.

“The best thing we can give our children is a confident and hopeful mother,” said Chérie Elahl, NKCS Program Director. “That is why we are choosing women with children for our Thrive pilot program. Everyone can succeed with proper resources in place as well as with encouragement from others. Through Thrive, participants will have the opportunity to become empowered as they achieve their goals.”

Deadline to apply is Friday, August 15. Contact Chérie Elahl at cherie.elahl@nkcs.org or 616-866-3478.


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Sheriff’s Department to add four School Resource Officers In 2014-15 school year

N-Car vs Motorcycle Kent County Sheriff badgeThe Kent County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted last week to approve contracts between the Kent County Sheriff Department and four Kent County school districts, to provide one School Resource Officer (SRO) for each district. The SROs will work to improve school safety by investigating school related incidents and will take a proactive approach to improve security of the campus, staff and students.

So far, Byron Center Public Schools, Kent City Community Schools and Kenowa Hills Public Schools have agreed to the SRO contracts. Lowell Area Schools are currently working with a community partner to fund their position and hopes to formally commit in the coming weeks.

“Public safety is one of the fundamental services that government provides,” says Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dan Koorndyk. “This is a great example of collaboration between the Sheriff and the school districts.”

Northview and Forest Hills Public School districts currently have a long-standing partnership with the Kent County Sheriff Department through the SRO program.

“Sadly, we’ve seen many tragedies occur in schools across the nation over the past 15 years,” says Sheriff Larry Stelma. “We’ve also seen countless incidents where officers working inside schools have prevented attacks or crimes on campus. SROs can provide early intervention, security, and long-term solutions for existing safety concerns.”

The school district will pay 70 percent of the costs of the officer, with the Sheriff Department General Fund Budget providing for the remaining 30 percent. All other expenses (remaining vehicle, equipment, and operating costs) will be provided for via the cost allocation plan and absorbed by the County’s General Fund.

In addition to the sheriff department, the Byron Center School district is collaborating with Byron Township to fund the SRO position. The Byron Center SRO will be Deputy Andy Jonkman.

In addition to the sheriff department, the Kent City School District is collaborating with both the Village of Kent City and Tyrone Township to fund the SRO position. The Kent City SRO will be Deputy Scott Cook.

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West Nile Virus activity detected

“Fight the Bite” During the July 4th Holiday

The first West Nile virus (WNV) activity for Michigan this summer has been identified in a mosquito pool from Saginaw County. With this activity prior to the holiday, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is urging residents to apply repellents during peak mosquito biting periods such as dusk and dawn and to drain standing water around their homes.

Last year, WNV was responsible for 34 serious illnesses and two fatalities in Michigan. Nationally 2,469 WNV cases and 119 deaths were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WNV can cause serious neurological illnesses, such as meningitis and encephalitis. Symptoms of WNV include a high fever, confusion, muscles weakness, and a severe headache.

“While everyone is at risk, adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile virus. Additionally, people who work in outdoor occupations like construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten by an infected mosquito,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive for the MDCH. “One bite from an infected mosquito can lead to a severe and possibly life-altering illness. Prevention is the key to protection.”

This past week a mosquito pool collected in mid-June by the Saginaw County Mosquito Abatement Commission tested positive for WNV at Michigan State University. Further, the mosquitoes that can transmit WNV are on the rise in Michigan according to the state’s mosquito control districts.

“The mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus may breed near people’s homes in storm drains, shallow ditches, retention ponds, and unused pools,” said Erik Foster, Medical Entomologist at the MDCH. “As summer temperatures rise, the mosquitoes and the virus develop more quickly so it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites.”

west nile virus transmission cycle

People can stay healthy by using simple, effective strategies to protect themselves and their families. In particular, residents are advised to use mosquito repellent products containing EPA-approved active ingredients, such as DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Draining standing water, and making sure door and window screens are in good repair will also help keep mosquitoes out of the home.

For information about WNV activity in Michigan and to report sick or dead birds, visit www.michigan.gov/westnile. Additional information can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

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Detroit man arrested near Howard City

A report of a man slumped over in his vehicle turned into an arrest for fleeing and eluding in the Howard City area last week.

James Carl Leichtweis

James Carl Leichtweis

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff Office, it was reported about 4:44 p.m. last Wednesday, June 25, that a man was slumped over in a vehicle that was parked in the parking lot of Bethel Lutheran Church, in the 18000 block of West Howard City-Edmore Road. Medical staff arrived first on scene and tried to speak to the man, but he drove away. As he was leaving the parking lot, his vehicle struck a member of the medical staff, who was not injured.

The deputy arrived in the area and began to search for the suspect vehicle, a 1998 Chevrolet S-10 pickup, and located it on Almy Road near Amy School Road. The deputy initiated a traffic stop but the suspect fled from the deputy.  The pursuit led through the back roads of Reynolds Township, where the suspect drove in excess of 85 Mph and disregarded stop signs. The suspect eventually pulled over on the on ramp of north bound U.S. 131at M-82.

The man was identified as James Carl Leichtweis, 54, of Detroit. He was arrested and arraigned on a charge of Fleeing and Eluding Fourth Degree and held on a $1,000 bond. Leichtweis has also been charged with reckless driving in connection with the pursuit and him striking a Montcalm County Emergency Services employee. A charge of Fleeing and Eluding Fourth Degree carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison while the reckless driving charge carries a maximum sentence of 93 months in jail.





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Fireworks Law and Safety

As the 4th of July fast approaches, the Kent County Sheriff Department wants to remind you to be safe and follow the fireworks laws.

Michigan law prohibits using fireworks:

• On public property such as a city, township or county park.

• On church or school property.

• On private property, such as business parking lots, without the owner’s specific consent.

• While under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.

Michigan law also prohibits the sale of fireworks to anybody under the age of 18.

Michigan law also permits local governments to impose firework curfews between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m. the day of, before and after the holiday. Fireworks may be prohibited other days of the year. Check with the city, village or township that you plan on using fireworks in for their specific restrictions. (See specifics for City of Cedar Springs below.)

Always use caution when lighting fireworks. Last year, more that 8,700 people were treated in US hospital emergency rooms for firework related injuries. One-third of those were children under the age of 15.

In addition to injuries, fireworks caused more that 17,800 fires which resulted in eight civilian deaths, one firefighter death and $32 million in property damage.

Fireworks Safety Tips:

• Only buy from licensed dealers

• Never alter or combine fireworks

• Children should never handle fireworks

• Never point fireworks toward anything other that open sky

• Only use away from structures, vehicles and trees

Follow the rules, be a good neighbor and be careful and you will have a happy holiday.

In the City of Cedar Springs: People may only use consumer fireworks in the city if it’s on the day before, the day of, or the day after a national holiday, but not between the hours of 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. The national holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

If residents want to use fireworks any other day of the year, they will need to purchase a permit, but must do so 15 days prior to the event. In order to receive a permit, the applicant needs to show proof of financial responsibility by a bond or insurance for possible damages to property or personal injuries resulting from the fireworks. They also must not be within 15 feet of another person’s property except with permission.

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Drunk driving crackdown this weekend

Zero tolerance for drug or alcohol impaired driving

During this Fourth of July holiday weekend, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is reminding motorists to make safety a priority during their holiday travel. Again this year, troopers will join their counterparts from across the country in the international traffic safety initiative, Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort).

“Be warned that as part of Operation C.A.R.E. and the statewide drunk driving enforcement crackdown, troopers will take a zero-tolerance approach to drivers who are operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “Troopers will also pay special attention to motorists who are not using proper restraints or driving in a reckless and unsafe manner.”

The official Fourth of July weekend begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 6. Last year, 17 traffic crashes resulted in 19 deaths over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Operation C.A.R.E. was formed to deter three causes of highway fatalities including aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use occupant restraints.

Operation C.A.R.E. began in 1977 as a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Indiana State Police and is one of the nation’s longest-running traffic safety initiatives. Today, it includes state police and highway patrol agencies from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, Quebec Police Force and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Garden-tainment creates lasting memories for guests

by Melinda Myers

Summer is filled with parties, gatherings, picnics and more. We all want to make these occasions special and memorable for our guests.

Many gardeners tend to schedule events around peak bloom or harvest in order to share the beauty and flavor from their garden.

Unfortunately nature does not always cooperate. It seems we are saying “you should have been here last week” or “come back next week when the flowers will be at their peak.”

No need to worry. It may be considered cheating by the purist, but isn’t it all about creating a great space and event for our guests? Consider adding some fun flower accents. Metal flower sculptures like daisy bouquet stakes, hollyhock stem stakes or aluminum fiddleheads insure color throughout the season.

Or make it fun with faucet handle flowers (gardeners.com), which are sure to spark some conversation amongst your guests.

You can also add some extra color with a bit of floral paint. Use garden colors to paint seedheads of flowers past their prime. Just cover the stem and leaves to insure only the seedheads get painted for a more realistic look. It might fool your guests or give them a good idea for their own garden.

Or stop by your local garden center. Many have flowering planters and large size annuals that you can use to fill in voids and add color to the garden.

Pot a few of these up and use them as centerpieces on the tables. A search of the garage or visit to a thrift store may find reasonably priced fun items you can convert into containers.

Keep your guests comfortable and the mosquitoes at bay with the gentle breeze of a fan. Mosquitoes are weak fliers and the gentle breeze of a fan can keep them away. Or step it up with the help of geranium oil. It’s natural, fragrant and can help repel mosquitoes.

And be sure to include fresh-from-the-garden flavor in your beverages and dishes. A pot of basil or mint near the party means guests can flavor their own lemonade tea or mojito. The hollow stem of lovage, cut down to size makes a great straw for your tomato juice or bloody Mary. Your guests won’t forget the fun of sipping their drink through this celery-flavored straw.

Then add some color and a gourmet touch to your salads with a few edible flowers. Nasturiums, roses and calendulas are just a few to consider. Just be sure they are edible and pesticide-free before serving them to your guests.

Use fresh-from-the-garden or container herbs for grilling, salads and your main course. And consider drying a few herbs or starting cuttings from your plants to use as party favors.

Don’t let the sunset put an end to your celebration. Light up the evening with solar illuminated planters, solar pathway lighting and decorative fiber optic lights. Or go old school and set votive candles in a mason jar or tucked safely in the garden.

So set aside some time to take a walk through the garden and plan a party or two for you, your family and friends to enjoy its beauty.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

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Celebrating Summer

Photo by Peryy Hopkins

Photo by Peryy Hopkins

The first annual Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Summer Celebration kicked off last weekend with a Renaissance Festival in Morley Park.

According to Chamber member Perry Hopkins, Friday night was damp but they still had a crowd of 20 for the outdoor movie “Sword and the Stone,” which was shown under a big tent. Riccardi’s sold pizza by the slice and Pinnacle Popcorn donated popcorn to hand out.

On Saturday, Hopkins estimated that they had around 200 people (not counting entertainers and vendors) enjoy the festivities. The mermaids, belly dancers, and pirates filled the day with entertainment, and at 6:30 p.m. they had the Royal Dinner and entertainment. Entertainment included two solo acts from Middle Eastern dancers and one drum soloist.


Photo by Peryy Hopkins

“One comment I received from an attendee at the Royal Dinner was ‘Wow! This is so great I feel like a real king eating this meal with the entertainment in front of us—outside!” said Hopkins.

On Sunday the crowd was slower but picked up a little after 2 p.m. They had pirates, sword demonstrations, and belly dancers.

“We had many people on Saturday and Sunday that dressed the part for the renaissance era,” remarked Hopkins. “We received great comments from the attendees and have new volunteers from this year’s event to make next year’s event bigger and better.”

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