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Tag Archive | "city of cedar springs"

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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Beekeeping now legal in city


Residents can now apply for a permit to keep bees in the City of Cedar Springs, after the City Council approved an ordinance last month on beekeeping. 

According to the ordinance, it will be for an experimental period of two years. “To strike a balance between those who desire to keep honeybees and the concerns raised by others regarding possible problems with allowing honeybees to be kept in the City – and to allow the City Council to assess whether honeybees should be allowed to be kept in the City on a permanent basis – the City Council finds that permitting the keeping of honeybees on an experimental two (2) year basis is the appropriate intermediate compromise solution,” reads the ordinance.

A person will need to apply for a permit from the planning commission to keep bees. Letters will be sent to all those with adjacent properties informing them of the person’s intention to keep bees. If anyone objects, that objection will be given to the planning commission along with the application.

The Planning Commission shall review the permit application in light of the following factors:

  1. The number of honeybees the applicant desires to keep;
  2. The size of the lot on which honeybees are proposed to be kept;
  3. The adequacy of the applicant’s plans for housing and confining the honeybees, specifically the intention to follow the guidelines promulgated and known as the Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Practices for the Care of Farm Animals January 2015 – Beekeeping and Apiary Management as published by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
  4. Input received from adjacent property owners; and
  5. Other factors relevant to the applicant’s particular circumstances.

A beekeeper must follow all guidelines in the ordinance, including: Keep no more than a total of two hives on real property less than 10,890 square feet; no more than 4 hives on real property less than 21,780 square feet; no more than 6 hives on real property less than 43,560 square feet; and no more than eight hives on real property more than 43,561 square feet.

For more of the guidelines, see sections 8-73 to 8-79. Go to http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/ordinances/

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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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Top story of 2017: Library grand opening


The new Cedar Springs Community Library was a dream that finally became reality in 2017. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

This is one of the library’s newest visitors, who seems to be enjoying reading and returning books. Courtesy photo.

A lot of things happened in Cedar Springs in 2017, but one that will be remembered and treasured for generations to come was the building and grand opening of the new Cedar Springs Community Library, located in the heart of Cedar Springs, at the corner of Main and W. Maple Streets.

The project, which was many years in the making, became a reality on May 13, with a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony. The library, which is designed to resemble a train depot, is now a main attraction in the heart of Cedar Springs. 

The new 10,016 square-foot building was built with donated funds, products, and services from the community and local businesses. The additional 8,000 square feet (the former library was 2,000 square feet) allows for much greater areas for reading, special events, and small group gatherings.

The new library is beautiful, spacious, modern, and comfortable. It includes separate areas for children, teens, and adults; 12 computer stations; four stations for children’s computers; a cozy reading or meeting area with fireplace and chairs; three small group rooms for tutoring or studying; and a classroom with white board and screen. 

Another draw is the community room, which holds up to 75 people with the tables and chairs, and 100 without. A complete kitchen opens up into the community room. People can walk out of the community room to a patio, which is facing the creek. 

The Community Building Development Team partnered with the City, Solon Township, and the Library board to get the project up and running. Many local residents and businesses made generous donations or provided in-kind services, and frequent fundraisers were held to help raise the funds. In July, the $1,845,190 project was officially paid off.

“We are so excited to be able to announce that our community’s library building is now completely paid for,” said Library Director Donna Clark, in a previous Post article. “With a lot of substantial financial help and support of the Community Building Development Team, the Library Board’s Building Committee and the wonderful members of our community, we have no mortgage, no interest, no debt!”  

Also sitting on the property is a Veteran’s Clock Tower, a bridge across Cedar Creek, a steel dragonfly sculpture, and the historic flowing well. An amphitheatre is slated to be built on the rear of the property in the near future.

If you are interested in helping the library raise funds for books and other equipment, you can purchase a brick for $50 or $100, or simply make a donation. For more information, visit http://cedarspringslibrary.org/news/bricks-and-blocks-for-new-library/ or call the library at 696-1910 for more information.

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Slippery roads result in crashes


This truck was one of the two involved in a crash at W. Muskegon and 6th Street Wednesday. Photo by B. Sanderson.

Slippery roads contributed to crashes all over Kent County on Wednesday, January 3. There were a multitude of slide offs, rollovers, and crashes on both the highways and local roads.

One of the crashes occurred in the City of Cedar Springs. The Kent County Sheriff Department responded to a property damage crash at W. Muskegon and 6th shortly before 10 a.m. Sgt. Jason Kelley reported that a westbound pick-up truck lost control, crossed the centerline and struck an eastbound pick-up truck. No injuries were reported. The driver of the westbound vehicle was cited for violation of basic speed law—driving too fast.

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City changes water meter reading schedule


Many residents in the City of Cedar Springs will notice that this month’s water bill shows that it is an estimated reading. That is because the City will temporarily go to quarterly manual readings, with two months estimated and the third month being an actual reading, while they continue the process of upgrading all water meters in the City.

According to information from City Hall, some water meters have been in use for 50 years. The Department of Public Works has been replacing meters that become defective with the radio read style meters since 2014 as funding was available.  City council has approved $35,000 for the purchase of radio read meters each year, but there isn’t enough funding to keep up with the demand for the new style meters as the Rockwell meters age.

Currently the city has 742 Rockwell manual read meters and 236 Neptune radio read meters. It takes a DPW worker approximately 40 hours per month to read the manual meters and the new radio read meters take approximately 2 hours. 

Currently the Department of Public Works obtains actual reads for the nearly 1,000 homes and businesses in the city.  This change will generate an estimated bill for two months and an actual read will be taken on the third month. The savings generated by saving staff time would then be used to purchase new Neptune radio read meters.

Residents should not see a significant change in the price of their bill with this change. The estimate of water usage will be based on the usage for the same month 1 year ago. If the estimate is larger than your actual use you will receive a credit on your third month. If your estimate is less than your actual usage you will be charged for the additional usage in the third month of the billing cycle.

This change will eventually bring an end for estimated bills and in turn allow the DPW to get actual meter reads in a fraction of the time it currently takes.  It is expected that by 2020 all meters will be replaced and will begin receiving actual read bills each month.

This change became effective Wednesday, November 1, 2017:

Water bills will still be sent MONTHLY and Payments will still be due on the seventh of each month and can be paid in person, online, or automatically through your bank account.

The new bill will clearly state when your bill was an estimate or an actual read.

Citizens concerned about this change can monitor their water usage each month. Residents can manually read all manual and radio read meters.

How to read your meter:

Locate your water meter (generally in the basement or crawl space closest to the road).

Record the number displayed on the meter. (New meters require a flashlight to activate the digital display. Shine a flashlight at the digital display for 3-5 seconds to activate the display.)

Example: May 1st 2018 Meter Displayed: 0000220

In 30 days record the number displayed on the meter.

Example: June 1st 2018 Meter Displayed: 0000224

Take the number that you most recently recorded and subtract it from the number that you recorded at the beginning of the month.

Example:

00000224 -00000220= 0000004

Water usage is billed for every 1,000 gallons used. This number never gets rounded up.

****Your number on your water meter will never go down. It is like the odometer on your car it will always go up showing you how many gallons have passed through since it was installed.*****

Example: Meter reading * 1,000 = gallons used since meter installation

8/16/2016 –  10*1,000 = 10,000 gallons used since installation

8/16/2017 – 224*1,000= 224,000  gallons used since installation

8/16/2018 – 1457*1,000= 1,457,000  gallons used since installation

For more information on the water bills, please visit: http://dev.cityofcedarsprings.org/hrf_faq/water/ 

Customers with specific concerns about their bill should contact the City’s Department of Public Works Director at 616-696-1330 Ext. 108.

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Winter parking in effect


The Kent County Sheriff Department Cedar Springs Unit would like to remind the residents of the City of Cedar Springs that winter parking is now in effect.

Under Ordinance No. 180 Section 36-86, no parking is allowed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. from November 1 to April 1 on streets and areas that have a curb, such as Main Street and connecting side streets, and no parking within a distance of 20 feet of the center of a street for all other areas. The ordinance was created to help with snow removal.

There are public lots available to park in overnight, but cars must be moved daily. Lots can be found at the NE corner of Ash and Second; the SE corner of Elm and Second; the SW corner of Ash and First; and the NW corner of Cherry and First.

“Compliance with the ordinance is key in keeping the city roads clear during the winter months,” said Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs Unit. “Your attention to and assistance with this matter is greatly appreciated.”

A violation of the ordinance is a civil infraction.

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Don’t forget to vote Tuesday


It should be a pretty quiet Tuesday as far as elections go. There is not much on the ballot in Kent County—and the only thing in northern Kent County is the City of Cedar Springs has two people running for two seats. Gerald Hall, who is currently serving as Mayor, is running for his seat; and Lisa Atchinson, who currently serves on the planning commission, is running for the seat vacated by Dan Clark, who decided not to run again.

Other cities in Kent County having elections include East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Kentwood, Lowell, and Walker. There are a few ballot proposals for those cities as well.

The only other issue that might affect some people in Kent County is that Greenville Public Schools is also having residents vote on a bond proposal. They are asking to borrow the sum of not to exceed Forty-Six Million Four Hundred Forty Thousand Dollars ($46,440,000) and issue its general obligation unlimited tax bonds therefore, in one or more series, for the purpose of: erecting, furnishing and equipping additions to school buildings; remodeling, equipping and re-equipping and furnishing and refurnishing school buildings; acquiring, installing and equipping or re-equipping school buildings for instructional technology; and preparing, developing, improving and equipping playgrounds and sites.

The estimated millage that will be levied for the proposed bonds in 2018 is 2.26 mills ($2.26 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a 1.20 mills net increase over the prior year’s levy.

For a complete listing of proposals go to accesskent.com and click on elections, then current election cycle.

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City to consider beekeeping ordinance


By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs may soon join the ranks of other progressive cities that are helping to support the environment by allowing residents to keep bees. The City Council will consider the first reading of the ordinance at their monthly meeting this Thursday, September 7.

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.

Womack gave the council a copy of the beekeeping ordinance in Traverse City, and a draft ordinance for the Planning Commission and City Council to consider.

This green box is Frank’s beehive, and the two white boxes are honey supers, which collect honey. Courtesy photo.

Frank’s hive is a green box inside a shed on his property. There are ports from the hive for the bees to travel through to get outside. They do not fly around inside the shed.

“They are not dangerous,” he explained. “There are already bees flying around outside. They have to live somewhere. Better in a hive than in the wall of your garage,” he noted.

At the August 10 council meeting, former Mayor Mark Fankhauser stated that he supports and recommends allowing bees in the city. He said he has seen a direct increase in the number of flowers as a result of Frank’s bees.

According to Ranger Steve Mueller, our resident wildlife and biology expert, bees are more important than butterflies as pollinators and are not dangerous. “Bees are experiencing population decline for a variety of reasons and can use human help. They are of great positive economic importance. People have an unreasonable fear of bees. Riding or driving in a car is a greater health threat than bees in the neighborhood. Why people develop unhealthy fear of bees and other insects makes little sense but many are taught unreasonable fear as a child and hold on to those fears throughout life,” he explained.

“[Bees] are a community-building, economic resource that benefits people, plants, and wildlife. I encourage people to maintain a portion of their yard for wildflowers and native species to help maintain and sustain biodiversity. Bees are an essential component if we want plants to reproduce,” he remarked.

Mueller said he has a friend that lives close to downtown Denver, Colorado and she has a small beehive in her backyard. “The bees fly about the city in nearby areas pollinating flowers, gathering nectar, and make honey. We eat at their picnic table in the backyard and are not disturbed by bees. We watch them at flowers in the garden that surround the picnic table. We sit on their deck to enjoy the day and have had not problems with the bees that are about 30 feet away. She suits up to open the hive to extract honey and uses normal bee keeping practices for safety,” he said.

Under the proposed ordinance, residents would need to apply for a permit. They could keep no more than a total of two hives on real property less than 10,890 square feet, no more than 4 hives on real property less than 21,780 square feet, no more than 6 hives on real property less than 43,560 square feet and no more than eight hives on real property more than 43,561 square feet. Honeybees must be housed in a properly designed and constructed hive, which may be located only in the “rear yard” of the property. They also cannot be any closer than 10 feet to any property line of an adjacent property.

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

Please note that this article has been updated to refer to the specific ordinance under which bees are not currently allowed in the City of Cedar Springs. We also removed Rockford as a city that allows them. It should have read Muskegon. We apologize for the error.

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Library signed over to city


The Cedar Springs Community Library reverted to the City of Cedar Springs in a signing ceremony Wednesday, August 30. From L to R: Julie Wheeler, notary Independent Bank; Kurt Mabie, Chair of the CBDT; Bob Ellick, Library Board Chair; Gerald Hall, Mayor of Cedar Springs; and Rebecca Newland, Cedar Springs City Clerk. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

The ownership of the Cedar Springs Community Library was transferred to the City of Cedar Springs Wednesday in an official signing ceremony at the new Library.

The Community Building Development Team had previously entered an agreement with the City to develop the library on City property, and then sign it over to the City on completion. Both the CBDT and the Library signed a real estate conveyance agreement, quit claim deed, and transfer agreement.

Signing for the CBDT was Chair Kurt Mabie; signing for the Library board was Chair Bob Ellick, who is also Solon Townships Supervisor; and signing for the City of Cedar Springs Mayor Gerald Hall. City Clerk Rebecca Newland was on hand to distribute the paperwork, and Julie Wheeler of Independent Bank served as notary.

The City will now lease the building to the library board.

The new $1.6 million facility was completed in the spring. “This just shows what we can do when we work as a team,” remarked Hall. “We owe a debt of gratitude to a great many people.”

Included are Tom and Claudia Mabie, who donated $300,000 in December of 2006 toward the construction of a new library in an effort to kick start enthusiasm for the project. The signing was an emotional event for Claudia, who has waited a long time to see the library come to fruition. “Cedar Springs is full of kind, caring, hard working people. Good things can and will happen in Cedar Springs,” she said. “Cedar Springs has something to be proud of.”

Other people mentioned included the Holton family for their contributions; Duane McIntyre for his volunteer work; and the dedication of Nugent Builders on the project.

Kurt Mabie said that the next part of the project would be the amphitheatre, which will sit to west of the library. They also hope to have all the bricks in place by Red Flannel Day. There are bricks still available to purchase. You can pick up a brochure at the Library or contact them at 616-696-1910.

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