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State mourns passing of injured MSP Trooper 

Trooper Chad Wolf

Trooper Chad Wolf

A Michigan State Police Trooper died last Friday, August 28, when another vehicle collided with his motorcycle.

“It is with very heavy hearts that we confirm the death of one of our own, Tpr. Chad Wolf,” stated Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP. “Our troopers know the dangers they face each time they put on their uniform, but the calling they feel to serve the public is stronger than any fear. Trooper Wolf will forever be remembered as a loving husband, dedicated father and outstanding public servant.”

State Police said that Wolf, 38, of Fenton, was on patrol with his department-issued motorcycle, driving on northbound Dixie Highway, and crossing over southbound I-75, when a passenger vehicle towing a trailer collided with Wolf’s motorcycle.

Preliminary investigation indicates Wolf was dragged by the trailer on I-75 for several miles until the driver pulled over at the Holly Road rest area. The driver, a 72-year-old male from Waterford, is cooperating with the investigation.

They said the investigation is ongoing and investigators are asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact the MSP at 1-855-MICH-TIP.

“The MSP wishes to acknowledge our many law enforcement partners who assisted at the scene and who continue to provide support to our department during this difficult time. We also wish to thank the staff and medical professionals at Genesys Regional Medical Center for the outstanding care given to Wolf,” said an MSP spokesperson.

Wolf enlisted with the MSP in 2008, graduating as a member of the 121st Trooper

Recruit School. He has served at the Jackson, Flint and Metro posts, and has been a member of the Motor Unit since September 2013. He was also involved in his church, Great Lakes Baptist, as a youth leader. Wolf is survived by his wife Erin, and four children, Autumn, Mikah, Korbin, and Koltin.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, September 1, at Fenton High School. Anyone wishing to make a contribution may donate to the Chad Wolf Memorial fund, via Sharp Funeral Home in Fenton.

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“Lost Boy” inspires school staff to not give up on kids


Deng Jongkuch, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, stands in the middle of a group of school children in his former village in Sudan. He helped raise money to build a school and give the children uniforms. Photo courtesy of Impactavillage.org.


Deng Jongkuch with Cedar Springs resident Tim Bauer, who visited Deng’s village and others last year while on a medical mission trip to Sudan.

Deng Jongkuch with Cedar Springs resident Tim Bauer, who visited Deng’s village and others last year while on a medical mission trip to Sudan.

by Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Public Schools staff came together Tuesday, September 1, for their opening day of the school year with heavy hearts, as they grieved the deaths of two of their high school students this summer, and the parent in another family. But many left the gathering with a new determination and inspiration to speak into the lives of their students, and give them a fighting chance to succeed, after hearing the story of guest speaker, Deng Jongkuch, one of the “lost boys” of Sudan.

Deng was just five years old when civil war came to his village, in 1988. “My village and nearby villages were attacked by Arab militants,” he explained. “A lot of people were killed, tortured, raped and mutilated. People ran in all different directions and got separated from their families. That’s how I became lost.”

Deng escaped with several other young boys in the middle of the night. They joined a group of 26,000 people to walk to Ethiopia. “I walked for 30 days with my cousins,” he said. “We encountered wild animals, such as lions. Some lost their lives.”

He stayed in the refugee camp in Ethiopia until 1991. Deng said the people there were beyond our definition of poor; many were naked, others had no shoes. They were rationed one meal a day of corn and beans.

In 1991, the refugee camp was attacked, and Deng fled with others back to Sudan. Many died trying to cross the river. “They were eaten by crocodiles or drowned,” he said. The war was still raging in Sudan, so they walked to Kenya. Many more died of starvation, disease, and wild animal attacks. It took about a year to walk to Kenya. “Those that survived drank their own urine,” he remarked.

Deng lived at the refugee camp in Kenya from 1992 to 2001. It held about 150,000 people. But only 16,000 of the original 30,000 had survived. He said the camp was overcrowded with refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and the Congo. “We only had one book for every 10 students for school,” explained Deng. “We would see the book once every 10 days, so had to study it well.”

Finally, after seven interviews and a lengthy screening process, Deng was one of 3,800 “lost boys” chosen to come to the United States. He arrived in California with 60 other boys, at the age of 18. He had a lot to learn about American culture, and how to speak English, but he persisted. He worked nights and went to school during the day, eventually graduating with a Masters degree in Public Health in 2011.

In 2005 a peace treaty was signed, and in 2006 Deng returned to his village in Sudan. “My mom was cooking, and she shined a light in my face and asked if I was her son. I told her I was, and she asked me what my nickname was. I told her, then she knew it was me,” he said. Happy as he was to see his mother and father and some of his siblings, he was saddened that his grandmother had died just the day before he arrived.

Deng was also saddened to walk around the village and see the way the children were learning. They were sitting in the dirt with books because there was no school house, no chairs. “I returned with a heavy heart, wondering how I could help,” he explained.

Deng went on to help raise $30,000 for a new school building and uniforms for the children. “There were 470 kids in the school, and I noticed there were a lot more boys than girls. That’s because the girls had to stay home to help grind the corn by hand. I knew they needed to be integrated into the school; they are the backbone of the family. So I bought a grinder so that the girls could attend school,” he said.

Deng said he returns to his homeland about once a year, but his family hasn’t expressed any desire to come to America. He has written about his experiences in his book, “The Story of Hope: The Journey of  Lost Boy of Sudan.”

Currently, Deng, is development director at Partners in Compassionate Care (PCC), in Grand Rapids. Dave Bowman, founder and chairman of PCC, also spoke at the school staff meeting and related how he took in five Lost Boys from Sudan.

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The Post travels to Alaska

 Pictured is Sara Thornton with her grandson, Carson.

Pictured is Sara Thornton with her grandson, Carson.

Members of the Thornton family in Cedar Springs traveled with their West coast family on a Disney cruise to Alaska this past summer, to celebrate their grandson’s 9th birthday.

They cruised from Vancouver to Tracey’s Elbow; to Skagway, where they did hiking and horseback riding; to Juneau for zip lining and ax throwing; and to Ketchikan, for bear tours. And the Post got the grand tour!

Thanks 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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Red Flannel house decorating contest


It’s that time of year again—only one month until Red Flannel Day, when thousands of people descend on Cedar Springs. Are you ready to show your hometown pride? How about showing it by decorating your house? The RFF has a contest where you can win a cash prize for showing your Red Flannel pride. And it’s free to enter! Just get an application online at www.redflannelfestival.org. Need some ideas? You can check out the house of the chairman of the event at 366 E. Beech Street. (He also happen to be last year’s inaugural winner of the event.)

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Warning: new phone scam


The Michigan State Police (MSP) Lakeview Post would like to notify residents that a new scam has been reported involving persons posing as members of the Department of Treasury and the IRS, claiming there is a criminal law suit against you or you are being charged with tax fraud.

Scams can take many forms, but citizens should know that the Department of Treasury or the IRS will never call you to notify you that you are being charged in a criminal matter.

Most scams involve obtaining a victim’s personal information under false pretenses. The scammer usually portrays a sense of urgency, pretending to be an official of a legitimate organization to fool a victim into providing personal information or money.

  • To avoid becoming a victim of a scam:
  • Do not give personal information to unknown callers.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails from unknown senders.
  • Confirm the identity of a contact by independently speaking with the identified source (your bank, credit card company, government agency, etc.)
  • Ask for a call-back name and number and then use a reliable source, such as the phone book or Google search, to confirm the contact’s phone number or e-mail.
  • Report any suspicious contacts to police.

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Motorists to save $1.4 billion this weekend


Americans hitting the road this weekend stand to see the cheapest Labor Day prices at the pump in over a decade, leading to huge savings- $1.4 billion- over the four day weekend.

“August gasoline prices plummeted by 18 cents per gallon, the greatest decrease since 2008, and as a result we have a national average that’s 99 cents lower than a year ago ($2.44 versus $3.43). I’m sure motorists will have plenty of company on the nation’s thoroughfares this weekend,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

While motorists enjoy the cheapest Labor Day prices in over a decade, GasBuddy currently identifies as many as 19 states where at least one retail outlet is already selling gas below $2, while South Carolina is the lone state to see an average under that level: $1.995/gal. Nationally, gas prices stand some 21 cents below where they were just a month ago.

This weekend, GasBuddy analysts predict nearly 70% of the nation’s gas stations to be priced at under $2.50/gallon compared to 0% last year (currently 65.9%). A fact that may shock motorists: over the last 14 Labor Day weekends, the holiday itself had the lowest average: $2.744/gallon, while it was $2.75 for Sunday and $2.751 for Saturday and Friday.

Motorists in the south will spend the least, with 68.4% of stations in South Carolina at $1.99 or less. Other states that saw plenty of sub $2/gal gasoline: Alabama: 44.4%, Mississippi: 40.1%, Tennessee: 21.4%, Louisiana: 19.5%, Virginia: 17.8%, Arkansas: 10.4%. Nationally, some 8,060 stations are currently offering gas at $1.99/gal or lower.

It was $2.44 in Cedar Springs at press time.

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Trooper receives Cormier award


Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue is pleased to announce that Lt. Patrick Lawrence, commander of the MSP Aviation Unit, was awarded the Airborne Law Enforcement Association Robert L. Cormier Award on Friday, July 17 at the ALEA National Conference in Houston.

The ALEA Robert L. Cormier Award recognizes an individual or individuals whose personal efforts or actions have perpetuated the professionalism and advancement of airborne law enforcement in public service. It acknowledges activities during any period of time, including lifetime achievement.

“The MSP Aviation Unit is an essential service because it provides support to all Michigan law enforcement agencies,” said Etue. “Lieutenant Lawrence is well-deserving of this award. He is an incredible asset to the department and his dedication has made our Aviation Unit stronger and more effective in keeping the citizens of Michigan safe while also increasing officer safety for law enforcement statewide.”

As a 20-year member of the MSP, Lawrence has served in the Aviation Unit for the last 16 years. He is a fixed-wing and rotor-wing instructor. Most recently he is credited with developing the training program for the department’s new tactical flight officer program.

Lawrence played an active role in the department’s purchase and authorization to fly an Unmanned Aircraft System, which established the MSP one of the first police agencies in the nation to successfully obtain statewide flight authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration for law enforcement missions.

Lawrence enlisted with the department in 1994, graduating as a member of the 110th Trooper Recruit School. He was assigned to the Caro Post and transferred to the Aviation Unit in 1999. Lawrence has also served with the Michigan National Guard as a pilot for 30 years.

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Former owner of Muskegon restaurant pleads guilty to social security disability fraud 


Pablo Razo Fierro, 66, pled guilty Monday, August 31, to Social Security Fraud. Fierro applied for and began receiving disability benefits in 1996, after claiming he had a back injury that prevented him from working. As part of the application process, he promised to notify the Social Security Administration if his health improved, or if he returned to work.

In 2004, he opened “Pablo’s Tacos,” a popular Mexican restaurant in Muskegon. Fierro concealed his gainful employment from Social Security, because he knew it would lead to the termination of his disability benefits.

In 2008, the Muskegon Chronicle published a newspaper story and an internet video about the success of Pablo’s Tacos, and interviewed Fierro on camera. Fierro told the reporter he had been working long hours, nearly seven days a week, since opening the restaurant. The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation, and discovered Fierro had been fraudulently receiving disability payments for years. Federal agents interviewed Fierro, who admitted concealing his income so he could continue receiving disability, and admitted spending the money on car payments and other personal expenses.

After plea negotiations broke down in 2012, Fierro disappeared. On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Marshal’s Service arrested Fierro in Twin Lake, MI. Fierro admitted he fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution, but returned to the United States after family members mistakenly advised him that there was no pending warrant for his arrest. Fierro now faces up to five years in prison.

The amount of restitution he must pay back will be determined at his sentencing.

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It’s time for football!

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks will host the Comstock Park Panthers in the new GRidiron Classic at Grand Valley State University on August 29. The photo shows Red Hawk quarterback Collin Alvesteffer being tackled by a Panther during last fall’s win over Comstock Park.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks will host the Comstock Park Panthers in the new GRidiron Classic at Grand Valley State University on August 29. The photo shows Red Hawk quarterback Collin Alvesteffer being tackled by a Panther during last fall’s win over Comstock Park.

Saturday, August 29, marks the first game of the 2015 season for the Cedar Springs Red Hawks, and you don’t want to miss it! They will host the Comstock Park Panthers at Grand Valley State University Lubbers Stadium, in the brand new GRidiron classic, at 4 p.m.

The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) partnered with Grand Valley State University and the OK Conference to promote the newly created high school football showcase, which will feature three games:

1:00 p.m. Hamtramck vs. NorthPointe Christian (host)

4:00 p.m. Comstock Park vs. Cedar Springs (host)

7:00 p.m. Oak Park vs. Zeeland West (host)

“West Michigan prides itself in our high school football and this event will highlight the start of the season with some great matchups at a superb facility,” stated Mike Guswiler, President of the WMSC, in a press release last spring.

Each purchased ticket entitles the bearer to attend all three scheduled games. Tickets are available online at a cost of $8 Adults / $6 Students. Tickets purchased on the day of the event at the door will be sold for $10 Adults / $8 Students.

Last year, the Red Hawks took on Comstock Park in their opening game on the Panther’s home turf, and ran away with the game, 50-13. They went on to become OK-Bronze Champions, and ended their season after losing to Muskegon in the second game of the playoffs.

Come on out and cheer on your Cedar Springs Red Hawks!

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Teen hurt in rollover crash

This Trailblazer (right) rolled after colliding with a pickup (left) Wednesday evening in Courtland Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

This Trailblazer (right) rolled after colliding with a pickup (left) Wednesday evening in Courtland Township. Post photo by J. Reed.

A Plainfield Township teen was sent to the hospital Wednesday evening with life-threatening injuries after a collision in Courtland Township.

The accident happened about 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 26, at 13 Mile and Myers Lake Roads.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a Chevrolet Trailblazer, driven by Matthew Gorkowski, 17, of Sparta, was traveling westbound on 13 Mile Road and did not stop at the the stop sign at Myers Lake Road. His vehicle was struck on the passenger side by 2003 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that was southbound on Myers Lake. The collision sent both vehicles off the road into the southwest corner of the intersection, with the Trailblazer rolling over.

Neither Gorkowski, nor the driver of the pickup truck, Andrew Rotunno, 18, of Cedar Springs, were injured. However, a 15-year-old female passenger in the Trailblazer suffered life-threatening injuries. She was transported by Rockford Ambulance to Spectrum Butterworth and then to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

Everyone involved was wearing seatbelts and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

Courtland Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.


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