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Tag Archive | "Courtland Township"

Man pleads guilty in wife’s murder

By Judy Reed

James Michael Pagel, 55, pled guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the 2006 murder of his wife, Renee Beth Pagel. She was brutally murdered in August 2006, in her Courtland Township home, while recovering from donating a kidney to the father of one of her students.

Renee Pagel and her children. Photo from the Justice for Renee Pagel Facebook page.

It was almost 14 years that ago that the Kent County Sheriffs’ Office responded to 9050 13 Mile Road NE in Courtland Township on a report of a deceased person. On August 5, 2006 first responders located Renee Beth Pagel deceased with obvious trauma to her body. There were no signs of forced entry into the home and valuables in plain sight were left behind. The medical examiner’s office completed an autopsy and ruled the death a homicide.

Through the course of the investigation, detectives learned Renee Pagel was nearing the end of a contentious divorce with her estranged husband Michael Pagel.  Following Renee’s death, the initial investigation had run its course with no charges filed and was eventually classified as a cold case. The couple’s three children went to live with their father.

Michael James Pagel

The case was turned over to a cold case review team in Lansing in the fall of 2018. The review team made up of Michigan prosecutors looked at the case file for the purpose of providing feedback on possible investigative leads that might help the investigation. Recent interviews and investigations provided valuable evidence that resulted in the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office charging Michael Pagel, 55, with the murder of his estranged wife. With the assistance of the Michigan State Police, Michael Pagel was taken into custody in the Bay City area in February 2020 and transported back to Kent County to face charges related to the murder of his wife.

A dual statement from Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker and Kent County Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young gave some details on the plea. “It is gratifying to see him finally accept some responsibility for her murder for which he has been a suspect since the very beginning,” it reads. “The children of Michael and Renee were consulted before considering a plea offer, and we decided on this course of action based on their response and approval. A trial involving their father in the murder of their mother would be extraordinarily difficult for this family. The ability to hold him accountable for his actions and save the kids from the trauma of such a trial played a major role in this decision.  In this agreement Mr. Pagel pled guilty to one count of second-degree murder with an agreement of a 25-year minimum sentence.  The judge will have the ability to set the maximum sentence.”

According to Prosecutor Becker, Pagel said he hired his brother to kill his wife, and that he provided a map and floorplan to allow him to do it. But authorities don’t yet know if he’s telling the truth.

“We were aware of the possibility that Michael Pagel may implicate others in the actual murder when he gave a factual basis for his plea. At this time, it is important to note that we are not aware of any independent evidence that can corroborate the statements Mr. Pagel made today. However, we have a duty to investigate his claims and will do so.  If Mr. Pagel wants to provide his version of events to the investigative team, they will listen to him, and follow up if he has any evidence to support his claim. This office and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department are committed to holding any person involved in Renee’s murder responsible for their actions. The statement of a defendant alone, with nothing more to support his version of events, is not enough by itself to charge anyone, with any crime.  Without any supporting evidence, it is merely a statement of a man perhaps trying to save face in admitting his guilt in the murder of his wife and should be treated as such.

“This office, with the Sheriff’s Department, has been committed to finding the truth since the beginning of the investigation. This commitment has not changed with this plea.  We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the detectives and crime scene techs at the Sheriff’s Department, the prosecutors assigned to the case, the Michigan State Police crime lab for their help, and especially Renee’s family for their strength and understanding though this entire process.  The investigation will continue and we will do everything we can to prove or disprove what Mr. Pagel stated here today. We want nothing more than to provide the truth of what happened to Renee, for her family and the community.” 

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Courtland man dies in crash

Chadwick Perry Kogelschatz

Courtland Township man died on Friday evening, November 23, in a crash in Plainfield Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred about 11:16 p.m. near West River Drive and Samrick. The initial investigation revealed that a Ford F-350 pickup truck was traveling westbound on West River at a high rate of speed when it crossed over the eastbound lanes and struck a cement wall for the White Pine Trail bridge over West River.

The driver and only occupant of the vehicle died at the scene. He was identified as Chadwick Perry Kogelschatz, 36, of Courtland Township.

Assisting at the scene was Plainfield Township Fire and Rescue, Rockford Police Department, and Rockford Ambulance.

It is unknown whether alcohol was involved. The crash is still under investigation.

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Four townships partner on 16 Mile Road construction

16 Mile Road, west of Keller Avenue: Two miles of newly constructed road, from Pine Lake Avenue to Keller Avenue. The third mile, between Keller Avenue and Harvard Avenue, will be complete in October 2018.

Where four townships meet: 16 Mile Road and Keller Avenue. Pictured (left to right) Patrick Malone, Commissioner, KCRC; John Wood, Trustee, Spencer; Sharon Fase, Trustee, Spencer; Lisa Wright, Clerk, Spencer; Catherine Knapp, Deputy Treasurer, Spencer; Jeff Knapp, Supervisor, Spencer; Mike Krygier, Supervisor, Courtland; Tom Hoskins, Resident, Courtland; Laura Hoffman, Clerk, Nelson; Maureen Mahoney, Trustee, Nelson; Robyn Britton, Supervisor, Nelson; Jerry Byrne, Deputy Managing Director, KCRC.

By Maura Lamoreaux, Kent County Road Commission

The Kent County Road Commission’s multi-year, three-mile-long, gravel-to-pavement construction project on 16 Mile Road, from Pine Lake Avenue to Harvard Avenue, readies for completion this summer. This is largely due to the collaborative effort among the townships of Courtland, Oakfield, Nelson and Spencer. The funding needed to transform the three miles of gravel road to pavement required a united effort from these neighboring communities because, as a borderline road, 16 Mile Road falls within each of the townships, which sit to its north and south.  

Generally, the financing of a borderline road improvement project can be tricky to secure because of the road’s physical divide among townships. Agreements made by townships prior to January 1931 sought to alleviate this type of confusion by assigning construction—and therefore, financial—responsibilities to one of the adjoining townships. As per the agreement, the identified township would be responsible for 100 percent of the local share of a borderline road project despite two townships sharing the border.

Assuming full responsibility for the local share of a road project, for which only half of the road resides in the township’s own jurisdiction, can be a tough sell. Given budgetary constraints, why finance a borderline road project when another improvement project resides fully within the township’s limits? Conversely, why would a township that is not assigned construction responsibility feel compelled to support a borderline road project financially?

In the case of 16 Mile Road, the road’s high-volume use helped to sway the four townships to partner in financing the three miles of work, despite the recorded assignment of construction responsibility. Ultimately, each township decided that the project was in their residents’ best interest because it provided a new, and in-demand, pavement-to-pavement connection.

“The traffic counts helped demonstrate how important 16 Mile was to the residents who live in this area. Once the project was considered a win for everyone, it became a matter of the townships discussing how to collaborate financially in order to complete construction,” said Jerry Byrne, KCRC’s Deputy Managing Director of Operations.

The funding of local road projects like 16 Mile Road is cost shared between the township and KCRC. For gravel-to-pavement construction, this equates to 45 percent of the funding coming from the road commission, 55 percent from the township. 

Although construction started on the first mile of the 16 Mile Road project in 2015, the conversation about the project began between KCRC and township officials in 2011. After these initial discussions, representatives from KCRC hosted multiple informational meetings for township residents, during which questions could be raised and issues discussed.

“That first meeting, we packed the house, and it was in January with really bad weather! So that was a good sign,” said Courtland Township resident Tom Hoskins, who lives on 16 Mile Road. 

Public Hearings held by KCRC’s Board then followed, preceding each mile of construction. Year after year, an overwhelming number of residents demonstrated their support by attending the hearings or writing to the Board in advance of the vote, to urge the commissioners’ approval.

“One of our township officials joked that the road commission’s parking lot was so full for the meeting, he couldn’t find a space,” said Hoskins.

In 2015, the first mile of the project began between Pine Lake Avenue and Tisdel Avenue, and the second mile, between Tisdel Avenue and Keller Avenue, followed in 2016. The local share of the two-mile stretch was funded by its bordering townships, Courtland and Nelson. In 2018, construction began on the final mile of the project, between Keller Avenue and Harvard Avenue, with the local share funded by the bordering townships of Oakfield and Spencer.

“We are happy to see the entire stretch completed and thank everyone for the cooperation,” said Greg Dean, Oakfield Township Supervisor.

“As we enter the third and final phase of this joint project, I have enjoyed the cooperative spirit of Nelson, Courtland and Oakfield Townships in making this project reality. A special thank you to the road commission for keeping us well informed and to the residents for their patience in enduring the construction activity,” said Jeff Knapp, Spencer Township Supervisor.
Resident support remains high, exemplified by the community-wide street parties thrown after each mile is completed. 

 “We’re very happy,” said Hoskins. “Some people have even purchased new cars!”

“This project has become a labor of love for each of the communities, and it exemplifies what can be accomplished when the road commission and townships partner and collaborate for the benefit of the residents we serve,” said Steve Warren, KCRC’s Managing Director. 

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Supervisors run close race

By Judy Reed

One local township voted to retain their Supervisor in Tuesday’s August primary, while another township voted a new leader to take the helm. 

In Nelson Township, current Supervisor Robyn Britton won with 449 votes to Tom Norton’s 343. There are 3,487 registered voters in Nelson Township, and 1,136 ballots were cast, for a turn out of 32 percent. Both Britton and Norton were registered as Republicans, which meant most all of the parties (except for 53 Democratic write ins) had to vote Republican since you couldn’t split your ticket. Some were happy to do it if it meant voting for the candidate they thought should win the Supervisor race, while others weren’t happy about it.

In an even closer race in Courtland Township, trustee Matt McConnon won the Supervisor job by just 36 votes. He took 457; current Supervisor Mike Krygier had 421; and challenger Eric Smith had 209. They also all ran on the Republican ticket, so voters in Courtland also had to vote Republican to vote for their Supervisor candidate. There are 6,358 registered voters in Courtland Township, and 2,118 cast ballots, for a turn out of 33 percent.

Fire protection millage renewals in both townships passed.

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Courtland opens disc golf course

The Courtland Township Disc golf course was dedicated July 3. From left to right is Chuck Porter, retired Supervisor; Mary Ann Andersen, trustee; Mike Krygier, Supervisor; Kimberly McIntyre, trustee; Colleen Brown, treasurer; Michele Mojzuk, trustee; Matt McConnon, trustee. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Thanks to Courtland Township, area residents now have a new form of recreation to try. Courtland just opened up a new disc golf course, on July 3, which was built on about 20 acres just west of the hall on 14 Mile Rd (M-57).

According to Supervisor Mike Krygier, he suggested the idea to the board a couple of years ago when he was still a trustee. After doing some research, they found that there was quite a bit of interest in it. 

“We also spoke with other communities that have them, and they are quite popular,” he said.

The course was designed by Jacob Stahl and installed by the retail outlet Disc Barren and a group of volunteers.

Disc Golf is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target. It is played using rules similar to golf. 

 It’s fun for families of all ages and they can get out there and walk for free—just like on any parkland. “I’ve seen fans from small kids to adults—it appeals to young and old,” explained Krygier. “This is right up into the woods. It’s fun but challenging.”

The disc golf course is open to the public from dawn to dusk and there is no charge to use it.

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Two crashes in two days


This crash occurred at 15 Mile and Shaner Ave on Sunday, July 8, when a motor home hit a Volvo. Photo courtesy of Ron Parker.

By Judy Reed

There were two crashes in just over 48 hours at a rural intersection in Courtland Township this week.

The first crash occurred at 15 Mile Rd and Shaner Ave on Sunday, July 8, at about 12:25 p.m. According to Deputy Tim Essig, with traffic and safety at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred when an 80-year-old from Whitmore Lake, Michigan, who was traveling westbound on 15 Mile Rd, ran the stop sign at Shaner Avenue and collided with a Volvo station wagon driven a by a 52-year-old from Grand Rapids. Neither driver was injured.

This crash occurred at 15 Mile and Shaner Ave on Tuesday, July 10, when a Ford Focus ran the stop sign and was hit by a Dodge Ram truck. Photo courtesy of Ron Parker.

The second crash occurred on Tuesday, at 5:53 p.m. Deputy Essig said that the crash occurred when a 61-year-old woman from Grand Rapids, who was traveling eastbound on 15 Mile in a Ford Focus, failed to stop at the stop sign at Shaner Avenue and was hit by a 21-year-old Cedar Springs man driving a 2010 Dodge Ram. The drivers only suffered minor injuries. Neither were transported to the hospital. 

Both Courtland Fire and Rockford Ambulance assisted at the scenes of both crashes.

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The Post travels to Sarasota

John and Carla Wood, of Courtland Township, recently traveled to Sarasota, Florida for a family vacation and took the Post with them. John said they had a good time. “We had a memorable inner coastal pontoon trip,” he said. “We almost sank the boat!”

Now that would’ve been a story! 

Thank you to the Woods for sending us your photo and 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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School board selects new trustee


Matt McConnon was appointed on Tuesday, January 23, to fill a vacant seat on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Courtesy photo.

But question arises on whether he can serve

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday evening, January 23, to fill the board seat vacated by Patricia Eary last week when she resigned. The board interviewed six candidates, and voted 6-0 to appoint Matt McConnon, of Courtland Township, to fill the seat until January. He was sworn in at the end of the meeting by School Resource Officer Deputy McCutcheon.

Several of the board members felt McConnon’s 10 years of experience in policy making and budgeting on the Courtland Township board would be beneficial to the school board. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will get to use his expertise.

“After we appointed Matt McConnon to the BOE, it came to light that there could be an outside concern with the incompatible office law as Matt is a trustee on the Courtland Township Board,” said Board President Heidi Reed.

“With the first look, the two positions (Township Trustee and BOE) appeared to only have a ‘potential of incompatibility,’ which meant the law did not apply. Matt’s longstanding board service to Courtland Township is to be admired. We have been in contact with Matt and we will amicably resolve this situation after we have gathered the facts,” she said. 

The concern arose because at the end of the meeting, the Post found, after speaking with Mr. McConnon, that he was still serving on the Courtland Township board. He explained that Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn had checked into it, and told him that there should be no conflict of interest since Courtland Township doesn’t do much voting on school issues.

However, the Post remembered that there was a similar case eight years ago, involving our own school board and the Cedar Springs City Council, and that the Kent County Prosecutor had deemed the two offices incompatible.

In that case, Pamela Conley, who was a Board of Education trustee, ran for Cedar Springs City Council in 2009 and won a seat. Both lawyers for the city and the school eventually agreed that the offices would be in conflict, and decided to send it to then Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth for a final opinion. He sent back his decision, explaining why the offices were incompatible. He also told Conley she needed to resign one of the offices by a certain date or he would file charges in Circuit Court. She decided to resign her BOE seat and still serves on the Cedar Springs City Council.

According to the opinion issued by Forsyth in January 2010, in which he cited the Public Offices Act, State Attorney General opinions and Supreme Court opinions, he noted that a person could serve on both boards if they do not negotiate or enter into contracts with one another, which the city and school do. “Of equal significance, an individual cannot avoid the incompatibility by abstaining from voting on resolutions…because abstention under such circumstances ‘is itself a breach of duty.’” He specifically mentioned the city collecting the taxes for the school, and the city conducting school board elections, and the school reimbursing the city for them.

Courtland Township does the same.

The Post emailed Board of Education President Heidi Reed and Superintendent Van Duyn to inform them of the prior case. Reed told the Post they would check into it. She then later issued her statement cited earlier in this article.

The Post will update this story when we know more.

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Courtland man dies after crashing into tree


This photo shows the tire tracks where the man’s pickup ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Photo from Woodtv.com.

This photo shows the tire tracks where the man’s pickup ran off the road and crashed into a tree. Photo from Woodtv.com.

Police believe alcohol and speed may have been a factor in a crash that killed a Courtland Township man early Wednesday morning.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, an off-duty Grand Rapids police officer came upon the crash scene on 14 Mile Ct, near Northland Drive, shortly before 2 a.m., April 12, and discovered a 56-year-old Rockford man unresponsive, after striking a tree with his pickup truck.

The Sheriff Department, Courtland Fire/Rescue, and Rockford Ambulance then responded to the scene.

The man was identified as Jeffery Alan Peterson, 56, of Courtland Township. He was driving a 2008 Lincoln Mark LT. He was the only person in the vehicle.

The crash is still under investigation.

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Two die in murder-suicide

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday, after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

Gloria Launiere was found dead in her home Monday, after being stabbed by her son. Photo from her Facebook page.

The Kent County Sheriff Department responded to a home in Courtland Township Monday and found a woman dead and her son injured.

Police were dispatched to the 9200 block of 14 Mile Road, on Monday, March 20, about 2:24 p.m., after receiving a 9-1-1 call from a third party asking them to do a welfare check. When they arrived, they went inside and found Gloria Launiere, 59, deceased. Soon after they found her son, David Applegate, 34 seriously injured. Both had been stabbed.

Applegate was transported to Butterworth Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

Police believe that Applegate killed his mother, then stabbed himself.

No other information is being released at this time.

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Sheriff Department crime stats


The Kent County Sheriff Department has issued their crime statistics for the year for the cities and townships they patrol.  Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing some of those statistics. Below are some statistics from three of the cities/townships in our area.

Algoma Township: Population: 9,932. Had 1,493 dispatched calls, 320 traffic stops. The top five dispatched calls were for broadcast to area police (832); suspicious conditions/noise/subject (193); assists (189); traffic crash-property damage (180) and alarms (160). The top five criminal offenses were obstructing justice (29); domestic simple assault (25); intimidation/stalking (25); driving law violations (23); OUIL or OUID (20). The highest number of calls occur on Friday; the peak time of day is 5 p.m. The hotspots for service calls are areas of US131.

Courtland Township: Population: 7,678. Had 829 dispatched calls, 143 traffic stops. The top five dispatched calls were for suspicious condition/noise/subject (104); assists (93); traffic crash-property damage (65); alarms (60); broadcasts (38).  The top five criminal offenses: domestic simple assault (16); obstructing justice (16); intimidation/stalking (14); damage to property (10); driving law violations (10). The highest number of calls occurs on Monday, with 9 p.m. being the peak time for calls. The hotspot for service calls is in the area around Peninsula, Eva, Orun and 11 Mile Rd.

Oakfield Township: Population 5,782. Had 707 dispatched calls, 91 traffic stops.

The top five dispatched calls were for assists (72); suspicious condition/noise/subject (62); alarms (48); domestic argument-no assault (45); traffic crash-property damage (39). The top five criminal offenses were domestic simple assault (17); violation of controlled substance (14); OUIL or OUID (10); intimidation/stalking (9). The highest number of calls occurs on Saturday, with 4-5 p.m. being the peak time of day. The hotspot for calls is in the area surrounding 14 Mile, Old 14 Mile and Lincoln Lake.

Next week we’ll review Spencer, Sparta, and Tyrone Townships.

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Whooo cooks for you?


Have you ever heard a sound in the woods or forest that sounds like a barking dog or the hooting call “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?” That is the call of the barred owl, a creature that lives in mature woods and mostly comes out at night to hunt. So it was a rare sight for Jean Smith, of Kentwood, when she spotted one during the day in Courtland Township.

According to Smith, she was recently out on Russell Road east of Northland Drive and looking to capture photos of the leaves turning color. “To my surprise, I looked up and saw an owl in the afternoon daylight,” she said.

Ranger Steve Mueller confirmed to the Post that it was a barred owl.

According to allaboutbirds.org, their preferred habitats range from swamps to streamsides to uplands, and may contain hemlock, maple, oak, hickory, beech, aspen, white spruce, quaking aspen, balsam poplar, Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, or western larch. They prey on many types of small animals, and hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears. They may perch over water and drop down to catch fish, or even wade in shallow water in pursuit of fish and crayfish. Though they do most of their hunting right after sunset and during the night, they sometimes feed during the day.

Thanks, Jean, for sharing your photo with us!

Do you have a wildlife photo you’d like to send us? Email it to news@cedarspringspost.com, and include some info about what’s in the photo, when and where it was taken, and your name and contact info. We will use as space allows.

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