What was your favorite moment of 2014? What was important to you? Here at the Post, we went over the stories we featured in the Post. In this issue, you will see not only brief blips about some of stories, but will also see some of our favorite front pages scattered throughout the paper (not just in the news section). We couldn’t possibly feature every important story or each front page that we liked, so we apologize in advance if a story you thought was important is not listed here. You can visit our website at www.cedarspringspost.com to read all past articles, or download an e-edition of that week’s paper. Here’s to 2015!
*One of the biggest and most exciting stories of 2014 was the way our varsity Cedar Springs Red Hawks football team took charge on the gridiron and blazed their way to an outright conference championship. It was the first conference championship since 1978, when they shared it with Sparta. They went on to win the first district game at Red Hawk Stadium, before losing to the Muskegon Big Reds in a close game at Muskegon. Coach Gus Kapolka was named Detroit Lions Coach of the Week in early September, and sophomore quarterback Collin Alvesteffer was named MVP of the season by fans on WZZM13.
*Two Cedar Springs Cross Country runners—Kenzie Weiler and Austin Sargent—made an outstanding appearance in the state finals, for the second year in a row, when both took second place in the Division 2 Cross Country finals.
*The area had its share of fires this year. One of the worst was the one at Harvard on Tuesday, February 11, which destroyed the old Harvard Fire Department. The fire could be seen for miles, as flames licked the sky and thick, black smoke coiled upward. The Harvard Fire Department was disbanded in the 1980s, when Oakfield built a new township hall, and the firefighters and equipment was split between Oakfield and Spencer. The building was being used for apartments at the time of the fire, but everyone got out safely.
*The Cedar Springs Post took a direct hit when winds blown in by a fierce spring-turned-winter storm ripped through our area on Saturday, April 12. High winds lifted the roof of Len Allington’s brick building on the corner of Main and Maple Streets and sent it airborne across the back alley where it landed on top of the Post, wrapped around a utility pole and was entangled in electrical wires. It was one of several storms that night, and what many people thought was a tornado turned out to be straight line winds. The winds blew in, and hail rained down, damaging cars, mobile homes, and other outside objects. The size ranged from a dime to a quarter. Some mobile homes were pelted with hundreds of holes. It covered the ground to a depth that looked like snow. Trees were ripped out of the ground or broken all across the area. The wind even blew the roof off of the gymnasium at Kent City.
*The Cedar Springs Historical Society restored a 1911 bas relief sculpture of the Mayflower Compact that was donated to Hilltop School by the class of 1929. It hung on the walls of Hilltop at least into the 1950s. A photo in the 1952 yearbook shows students standing by it. Cracked and dilapidated after years of being neglected, Marie Patin restored the piece, and DM White made a frame for the artwork. It was one of a set, but the museum does not own the other piece.
* The building at 95 N. Main—almost as old as the town of Cedar Springs—made way for a new chapter of history to begin at the corner of Main and Maple Streets.
Built in 1890, it housed a flourmill and was used for hay storage. Later it housed several grocery stores, including the IGA store that many of the older folk in town remember. In its last days, it was an auto parts store—Cedar Springs Auto Supply. It was sold for unpaid taxes in 2009 to the City of Cedar Springs.
The dilapidated building was demolished Thursday, September 18, to make way for the development of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company—a new business featuring a full-menu restaurant, with full kitchen, and outdoor biergarden that will be both family and community-friendly, according to owner David Ringler. A groundbreaking was held on October 14, but building has not yet begun. They are still waiting on some site approvals and looking for it to be completed in summer 2015.
*The Red Flannel Festival celebrated 75 years this year, and 70 years of the Queen’s pageant. There was a reception for all past Queens and royalty, and all were invited on stage during the pageant. Over 30 past Queens and court members attended the event, including the 1941 Queen, Jean Thrall Erickson. Named Queen this year was Melissa Maguire, with Kaleigh Keech and Ellie Ovokaitys as court members. John Teusink was named Grand Marshal, and brothers Bill and Bob Pollock were named honorary Grand Marshals.
*Cedar Springs Public Schools Superintendent Ron McDermed retired after 25 years with the school system, the last five as superintendent. He also served as both an elementary principal, and assistant superintendent. Taking his place as Superintendent is Dr. Laura VanDuyne. She was chosen from among five candidates interviewed by the Cedar Springs Public Schools Board as potential replacements. The other finalist was Assistant Superintendent David Cairy. VanDuyne served as executive director of the Contra Costa Special Education Joint Powers Authority in the San Francisco Bay area from 2010 to the present. She was born in the suburbs of Detroit and graduated from Memphis High School, which is about 60 miles north of Detroit. Her husband was raised in Jenison, and they have family in the area.
*Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent retired at the end of August after a 40-year career in law enforcement. Parent came to Cedar Springs 6-1/2 years ago, after a 33-1/2-year career with the Kent County Sheriff Department. Parent said he really enjoyed it here, and never regretted the decision to leave KCSD. He brought a lot of knowledge, professionalism and expertise to the police department and would obviously need to be replaced. The announcement in February of his impending retirement started a chain reaction of events that would bring about one of the greatest changes in the city in years.
*After Parent’s initial announcement, the city began to search for a new Police Chief. However, that was put to a halt after the City Council asked the City Manager to speak to Kent County Sheriff and Cedar Springs resident Larry Stelma about contracting with the Kent County Sheriff Department for law enforcement services. It took several months, but the City Council finally approved a contract with the Sheriff Department that would not only save the city money but enable the city’s current full time officers to be hired on and to stay in the Cedar Springs unit if they wished to. The former CSPD officers are being trained in all aspects of being Sheriff Deputies, and the city police department is being utilized not only by our own officers on patrol, but by other KCSD officers as well, which means a greater presence of officers in the area. The program is the first of its kind for the KCSD. Sgt. Jason Kelley is now supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit.
*Howard City also negotiated a contract with the Montcalm County Sheriff Department for services, and their three officers became Sheriff Deputies.
*The Family Fare grocery store, formerly Great Day Foods, closed in September. The store originally opened in the 1960s when Meijer moved out of town. Great Day moved into the store space vacated by Meijer (where the current American Legion is on Main Street). Later the store moved to the larger location on 17 Mile. In 1999, Spartan Stores acquired Great Day, and it became a Family Fare in 2008. Rumors of its closing began earlier this year, when the property went up for sale, but SpartaNash would not comment. The property was recently sold and the deal closed, according to inside sources, but an announcement has not yet been made and paperwork not yet publicly recorded on who the new owner is.
See more Year in Review next week!