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Tag Archive | "City Manager Mike Womack"

Goodbye Sgt. Kelley


Sgt. Jason Kelley, formerly supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department, has taken on a new position in the investigative division. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

When the Cedar Springs Police Department dissolved in 2014, and the Kent County Sheriff Department took over policing for the City of Cedar Springs in a unique partnership, many residents weren’t sure how smooth the transition would be, or what to expect. But there was one person working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure it was everything residents expected and more—Sgt. Jason Kelley. 

Kelley has been in charge of the new Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department for the last 3-1/2 years. As of this week, he took on a new assignment as Detective Sergeant with the investigative division. 

“We are both excited for and saddened by Sergeant Kelley’s promotion and departure from Cedar Springs,” said City Manager Mike Womack. “He has been a valuable asset to the community and he will be missed but we do wish him the best in his new position with the major cases unit.”

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the community, and being part of a smaller community,” remarked Kelley. “The residents have been great to work with on problem solving and any community policing efforts we’ve tried.”

As far as accomplishments, he said he feels that he and the deputies have forged a good relationship between the Sheriff Dept. and the citizens of Cedar Springs. “We have a highly visible patrol, and we’ve made contact with community members that we might not have if we had not been as visible,” he said.

Another accomplishment he’s been happy with is that of the placement of a school resource officer at Cedar Springs Public Schools. “That has been a great success,” noted Kelley.

He also feels that they have made a lot of headway into arresting and convicting those using and manufacturing narcotics. “There have been at least four or more meth labs busted. And our vice teams have cooperated so much with us here in Cedar Springs in helping us get if off the street.”

What does he think was his best accomplishment? “Somehow I’ve been able to get great deputies,” he remarked. “All who have worked here have wanted to work here. They need to be great deputies for it to work.”

The original Cedar Springs officers that trained to be Sheriff Deputies have moved on to other sectors in the county, according to Kelley, and it was their own choice. There have also been other deputies who have served here since the transition that had ties to Cedar Springs such as Deputies Jason VanDyke, Todd Frank, and Mike Tanis. Tanis is now a detective at the north substation.

Kelley said that of all the cases he’s been involved with here, one of the most memorable was the vandalism, theft, and recovery of the Timothy Brown monument. “It may not be the most significant, but it is probably the nearest and dearest to my heart because of the family and community emotions tied to it, and my ties to the veteran community,” he explained.

Kelley said one of the most important things he’s learned from his assignment here is how important it is to have buy in and cooperation from the community. “We can’t do our job without community involvement. We know that already, but when you are closer to the community, you realize that even more so.” He said the Timothy Brown monument case was a good example of that. “When we put the word out, and you publish things in the paper that we are looking for someone, people give us tips. We get that community involvement.” He added that once they give the tip, it’s also important that community members will feel safe and confident that the officers will do their job. “Citizens really play a key role in law enforcement,” he said. 

Kelley grew up in Benzie County and graduated from Benzie Central High School. After graduation he joined the Navy and served on active duty for six years, and earned his degree in Criminal Justice. After leaving the Navy, he attended the Police Academy in Traverse City, and then served with the Benzie County Sheriff Department for two years, from 200-2002. He was with Rogers City Police Department from 2002-2003, and was hired by the Kent County Sheriff Department in January of 2003.

While at the KCSD, he has worked road patrol out of the Central, North and South substations, had several assignments with the detective bureau including the burglary and theft unit, and served on the major case team. He was also a road patrol day shift supervisor, and road patrol night shift supervisor for the Central/North sector, before coming to Cedar Springs.

Kelley was named Deputy of the year for 2014 for his success with the Cedar Springs transition, among other things. “Due to his outstanding performance, enthusiasm and work ethic, Sgt. Kelley was selected to be the Cedar Springs Unit supervisor and was instrumental in making this ‘Change of Command’ transition a huge success,” wrote Sheriff Larry Stelma at the time. 

Kelley has made a lot of friends in the community and will be missed by many. He has some mixed emotions of his own. “I’m sad to leave this assignment but excited for my new role in the investigative division,” he remarked.

On behalf of the community of Cedar Springs, The Post wishes Sgt. Kelley well on his new assignment!

Next week, we will introduce you to the new supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit, Sgt. Todd Probst. 

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City to go to 2-day work week


Cedar Springs City Manager hatched out a new idea to make the City more efficient. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs has been experimenting with a four day work week with extended hours for awhile now, and City Manager Mike Womack said it’s been working really well. So well, in fact, that he has challenged the rest of the employees to step up their game.

“Instead of working four 10-hour days, we are going to be working two 20-hour days each week, starting next week,” he told the Post. “Just think with that many hours in the day, how much more we can get done!”

Womack explained that they will rotate the 20-hour days so that one week it will be Monday and Wednesday, the next week Tuesday and Thursday, and the next week Wednesday and Friday. Hours will be from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

Womack said the hours won’t bother him because he usually works long hours anyway. But he plans to bring a lot of coffee for his employees. He might even throw in an energy drink or two. And donuts will be on the house. “You have to do what you can to keep your employees happy,” he said with a laugh. 

Once the public gets used to the hours, Womack thinks they will also come to appreciate it. “Just think about it. The bar closes at 2 a.m., right? You are leaving the bar at 2 a.m. and suddenly realize you forgot to pay your water bill or your taxes. It was due earlier in the day, but now that we are open until 3 a.m., you actually can still get here on time!”

He said it would also be great for Planning Commission and City Council meetings. “We can put so much more on the agenda. The meetings can go on until the wee hours of the morning if need be, and we won’t have to worry about getting home.”

A couple of things might take some getting used to. If you have a water main break in front of your home, you won’t be able to call the DPW if it’s their day off. “You will need to call a plumber,” advised Womack. “Just have them put some duct tape on the leak and we’ll fix it the next day.” He suggested that if anyone has a problem knowing where to put the duct tape, just google “Red Green.” 

“He always has good ideas,” noted Womack.

It will be the same type of thing if we get a snowstorm. “The same way people are required to shovel the sidewalk in front of their home, you’ll need to shovel the roadway in front of your home,” explained Womack. He added that people would be ticketed if caught using a snow blower. “You are not allowed to use a snow blower. It might ding up the asphalt and lead to another pothole. We can’t have the money we are saving by not turning the lights on go to fixing a pothole you created yourself.”

Womack said he’s really looking forward to starting the new hours. He said they plan on starting on Monday, the day after April Fools Day!

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City of Cedar Springs water shows no contamination


In the wake of recent news reports regarding Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) chemicals in West Michigan drinking water, the City of Cedar Springs decided to test its water supply to ensure that City provides the highest quality water to its residents.

The City sent water samples to Fleis and Vandenbrink for testing on December 21, 2017 and received results back January 17, 2018. Fleis and Vandenbrink sampled and tested (in compliance with USEPA method 537) wells 3 and 4, each drawing from one of the two supplying aquifers for the City. Analysis for both wells shows “no detection” for PFOS and PFOA with zero parts per trillion.  Federal advisory limits for PFOS and PFOA are seventy parts per trillion and the State of Michigan is considering setting its standards at five parts per trillion.

“Cedar Springs Department of Public Works monitors and tests the municipal water supply and distribution system on a daily basis to comply with DEQ standards and to ensure the highest water quality for our citizens,” Director of Public Works David Ducat said.  

City Hall received several phone calls over the last several weeks from concerned citizens asking about whether city water had been tested. “We hadn’t tested the water for PFOS because we aren’t in the PFOS expansion zone and our geography made it unlikely that we would be affected,” explained City Manager Mike Womack.  

“The city obviously cares about the well-being of its citizens’ water supply and wanted to remove all doubts. We’re satisfied that the aquifers that Cedar Spring draws its supply from is not contaminated and we are not impacted by the problems to the south.”  

The city’s most recent water quality report can be found on the City’s website under “NEWS” or under the Public Works page.

While the city municipal water supply is uncontaminated, Womack pointed out that those results do not apply to private wells and citizens with concerns about their home’s well-water should consider getting their well-water tested. “The most recent DEQ map seems to show the recent PFOS problems are all located south of 12 Mile Road,” said Womack.

Over the last several months the State of Michigan started an investigation into Wolverine World Wide’s tannery waste dump sites from the 1960s and 1970s in northern Kent County after it was discovered that residents living around the dumpsite had incredibly high levels of the toxic chemicals in their blood and in their drinking water.  Several municipalities have been affected by the PFOS plume emanating southward from 10 Mile Road including Rockford, Plainfield Township, and Belmont.

Any Cedar Springs residents with questions about the city’s water safety can contact City Manager Mike Womack at manager@cityofcedarsprings or the DPW Director David Ducat at DPW@cityofcedarsprings.org or 616.696.1330.

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Beekeeping ordinance sent back to Planning Commission


 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council decided last Thursday evening to send the new beekeeping ordinance back to the City Planning Commission for more research and discussion, at the suggestion of City Manager Mike Womack. The Planning Commission had previously approved the new ordinance by a 5-4 vote.

The decision was made after the first reading of the new ordinance at the City Council meeting Thursday, September 7.

“The Planning Commission discussion went off track (in my opinion) and made a 5-4 recommendation to City Council to approve with some additional language. After discussing the matter with each individual PC member it sounded like a majority didn’t feel as though they had sufficient time to research and discuss the matter,” explained Womack. “So, I gave the City Council the recommendation of the PC but also made the suggestion to send it back to the PC for further research and discussion based upon the discussions that I had with PC members. This is obviously a complicated issue and I want the City to get it right and I don’t see any reason to rush to a decision.”

Womack said he received an email from one of the PC members asking for specific information regarding the resident who asked to be allowed to keep bees, Joe Frank. While he felt they were good questions if reviewing an applicant, the ordinance is a policy issue. So Womack sent an email to Planning Commission members explaining some of the things they should be thinking about regarding the beekeeping ordinance. “The Bee-Keeping Ordinance was brought to the PC’s review for policy reasons.  The question that PC members should be asking themselves is whether the PC is a body capable of reviewing an application to keep bees, whether the proposed ordinance gives the PC enough guidance with which to make future decisions regarding an individual being able to keep bees, whether there are any spelling mistakes, errors or omissions that you think the ordinance should have but that I missed and whether you have any problems with individual aspects of the ordinance, a good example would be whether you think 2 hives is too many on any property under 8,XXX square foot and instead you think that it should be only 1 hive etc. When the City makes policy/ordinances we absolutely should not be thinking about how it will affect any single individual but rather how it will affect everybody. A typical lot in the City is 66X132=8,712 square feet, If the PC wanted to limit bee-keeping it could recommend that the minimum lot size should be 9,000 square feet before being allowed to keep any bees. We also have parcels as small as 5,000 square feet (or smaller) in the City, does the PC want to say that there is a minimum size for the lot prior to allowing bees?”

City resident Joe Frank asked the city to consider allowing beekeeping in the city earlier this summer. He has kept honeybees as a hobby for several years. He had several hives on property he owned in Hesperia, and when he decided to sell the property, he re-homed all of the hives, except one, with other beekeepers. He had previously asked a city official if he could keep a hive on his property here, and was told he could. He moved the hive to his property, but was later told that he couldn’t have it under the current ordinance. That ordinance, Sec. 8-1 Domestic Animals and Fowls reads: “No person shall keep or house any animal or domestic fowl within the city, except dogs, cats, canaries or animals commonly classified as pets which are customarily kept or housed inside dwellings as household pets, or permit any animal or fowl to enter business places where food is sold for human consumption, except for leader, guide, hearing and service dogs as required by MCL 750.502c.”

“Bees are animals and no animals shall be kept except for the ones listed or are commonly classified as pets, which bees are not,” explained City Manager Mike Womack.

Frank said he was happy with the draft ordinance the council was considering.

“The State of Michigan has guidelines for beekeeping and the proposal is in line with the State of Michigan Agriculture guidelines, which I think is a good way to go,” he said.

A few of the other cities that allow bees in West Michigan include Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland.

 

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Cedar Springs Fire barn: will it stay or will it move?


The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

The current Cedar Springs Fire Station, at W. Maple and Second Street. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

With all the talk of the opening of the new library at N. Main and W. Maple Streets, the question arises: what is happening with the Cedar Springs Fire barn? Will it stay where it is, or will it be relocated?

Chances are, it will be relocated close to the very same area it started in.

“We are strongly looking at the area behind the old library building (between Elm and Cherry fronting on 2nd) as the location,” said Cedar Springs City Manager Mike Womack. “We are trying to figure out what the fire department’s future needs will be and have put together a couple of potential renderings about what the building will look like. Once we are satisfied with the basic design of the building we will take it to an architect and get a cost estimate.”

According to The Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, a new fire station was built at the corner of Cherry and Second Street in 1874. When the book was published in 1976, the Fire Department also had a station at that same location, 43 W. Cherry. It later became the home of the current Cedar Springs Library.

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, they shared the building for a time with the Cedar Springs Library. The Fire Station had the west part of the building, and the library had the east side. Then a new fire station was built on W. Maple in the late 70s or early 80s. That’s where the fire department is today.

Come May, when the new library opens at Main and W. Maple, the fire department and library will once again be sharing the same property, although not the same building. That is, until a new fire station is built.

The new location would be just behind the old library, in the area where the Cedar Springs Community building used to stand.

Womack said that another idea was to share a building complex with the county, on property they own on 17 Mile, behind Taco Bell, but the timing wasn’t right.

“That project is 3-5 years in the future and we want to break ground in the next 1-2 years,” he explained.

Stay tuned! The Post will pass along more info on the building of the new fire barn as we get it.

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