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Tag Archive | "fire chief"

Village Council asks President to resign


by Judy Reed

With less than a month left on his term, the Sand Lake Village council voted at their regular meeting on Monday evening to ask Village President Tom Norton to resign. The motion, introduced by trustee Danielle Hardenburg, passed 5-0.

Norton has been under fire most recently for taking a Sand Lake Fire Department brush truck on Saturday, October 6 without speaking directly to the Fire Chief about it first, and allowing it to be used in the Pulaski Days parade by the Curt Benson for Judge campaign. 

Norton told the Post last week that as President, he had a right to take it. “The Chief doesn’t run the fire department, the President of the Village does,” he said.

Hardenburg had told the Post she felt it was an abuse of his power, and she was going to ask for his resignation at the meeting.

Norton, however, was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting, due to a family medical issue.

Hardenburg introduced the motion at the meeting, and the council discussed it.

“There was some discussion on the part of the council that we can’t force him to resign,” explained President pro-tem Dave Dewey. “But as a council we sensed that there was no way people would be content unless we sent him a letter requesting his resignation. So we decided we would send a letter out to Tom, and he would say yes or no.”

Dewey said an email went out to Norton Tuesday morning requesting his resignation. If he does resign, the Village council would then need to appoint an interim to run the village until after the November election, when a new president will be elected. Hardenburg is running for that position as a qualified write-in candidate. Former trustee Nyha French appears on the ballot, but she moved out of the area and is no longer a candidate.

Norton decided earlier this year not to run for reelection in Sand Lake, but instead ran for Supervisor of Nelson Township against their current Supervisor Robyn Britton and lost in the primary election. He told the Post last week that he and his family would soon be moving out of the area.

The Sand Lake Village council has seen several of its trustees leave recently, and will have several openings on the November ballot. Dave Dewey is retiring after 13 years; his wife Jan resigned earlier in the summer; trustee Greg Wheeler resigned; and French moved out of the district. 

All write-in candidates need to file declaration of intent forms by October 26.

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Missing fire truck sparks controversy in Sand Lake


By Judy Reed

Some tempers are flying hot again in the Village of Sand Lake after Village President Tom Norton took a Sand Lake Fire Department grass fire/medical truck without discussing it with the Fire Chief and allowed someone in the Curt Benson for Judge campaign to drive it in the Pulaski Days parade last Saturday, October 6.

The Post got a tip about it from someone earlier this week, and then called Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander to verify what had happened. 

According to Holtzlander, he went into the fire station Saturday and saw it was missing. “We already had engines 6 and 7 reserved to go to Cedar Springs for the Red Flannel parade and now this one was missing. We use it for grass fires but it’s also our second medical truck,” explained Holtzlander. 

He said he found out that Norton had spoken with a DPW taking the truck. When Holtzlander saw it was missing, he immediately called Norton. 

“I told him to he had 20 minutes to get it back here or I’d report it stolen,” said Holtzlander. “He told me he didn’t need permission to take it.”

The pickup did arrive back at the building about 20 minutes later. But none of the firefighters recognized the guys who brought it back.

The Post spoke to Norton about it, and he verified that he did take the truck without calling Holtzlander. “The Chief doesn’t run the fire department, the President of the Village does,” stated Norton. 

When the Post asked why he didn’t call him and let him know, Norton responded, “The Chief never calls me back anyway.” He also said he had a new phone and didn’t have everyone’s phone number in it.

He assured the Post that it was completely legal. “Under a general law village, a president can do that.” 

“We were asked by someone to send a truck to the parade. An email was sent out on Friday evening to the Chief and Council,” he said. “I got no response. People have smart phones with emails popping up all the time. There’s no reason not to see it.”

The email was reportedly sent at 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

“One of the reasons I delayed the email was to see if we were going to have rain,” explained Norton. “We’d had three days of rain so knew we wouldn’t need it. The only time it’s used is during a grassfire so this is a complete non-issue.”

But Holtzlander said that’s not the case. It’s also a four-wheel drive vehicle with medical supplies and they just recently used it to get back to where someone had fallen out of a tree stand.

But who was driving it in the parade? Norton said he swore a guy into the village so that he would be covered by the village insurance and legally be able to drive it.

In the email that was sent out (which Norton read to the Post over the phone) it was mentioned that doing this would help with grants by making other community’s parades look bigger. The Post spoke with some other Village sources (not Sand Lake) who said that they knew of nothing like that. Instead, they said they don’t allow the use of Village property for political purposes to avoid the look of impropriety.

“I’m appalled,” said Sand Lake Village Council member Danielle Hardenburg. “I did some investigating and don’t like what I found out at all,” she said. 

Hardenburg is also a firefighter and said she understands Holtzlander’s frustration. “We don’t even know the drivers, or if they were certified to drive the vehicle. I had to take a course, and then a test, and then a driving test, and then an annual test every year just to be able to drive it. The fire chief also signs off on who drives it.”

Hardenburg said the vehicle should only be used for when the village is responding to a call. “We just had a conversation recently about who can use village property,” she said. She also doesn’t think it should be used to endorse a candidate. “We should try to stay neutral.”

“This was a complete disrespecting of the head of the fire department by not asking to use the vehicle,” she added. “It shows extremely poor judgment and a complete disregard for public safety. This is a serious matter. I think he should resign and let president pro-tem Dave Dewey take over, even though he only has a month left.”

Norton’s term will be up this fall and he will soon be moving out of Sand Lake.

Hardenburg, who will run for Village President as a write-in in the November election, said she plans to call for Norton’s resignation at the next meeting.

“I feel Tom is incapable of performing his presidential duties. He’s abused his power. It’s a dishonorable service to the community. It makes our board look unhealthy and it needs to stop. I am so floored. What if we had been toned out and showed up at the station and the truck wasn’t there? What would’ve happened?”

The next Sand Lake Village Council meeting will be Monday, October 15, according to the dates posted on their website.

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LARRY GOULD


Larry Gould, 68, of Grand Rapids, died Saturday, July 21, 2018 at his home. Larry was born October 24, 1949 in Greenville, Michigan, the son of John Edward and Marian (Wulff) Gould. He had worked for Earl Phelps Heating and Cooling for 20 years and enjoyed hunting and fishing. Larry was on the Sand Lake Police Department for 12 years, an EMT for 15 years and Fire Chief for Sand Lake for 20 years. He was a member of the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce and volunteered at the car shows and parade and was an avid coin collector. Surviving are his fiancée and loving caretaker, Mary Husar; children, Clinton (Gwen) Gould, Jesse (Kristin) Gould, Paul Gould, Spencer (Jennifer) Gould, Josh (Krystal) Bialik, Matthew (Jennifer) Husar, Joshua (Zorayda) Husar; 15 grandchildren; brothers, John (Martin) Gould, Bill (Donna) Gould, Steve Gould; sister, Sue (Jim) Pike; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and two grandchildren. The family greeted friends Tuesday, July 24 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where the service was held Wednesday, July 25. Pastor Jorge Ballivian officiating. Interment Crandall Cemetery, Ensley Township. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sand Lake Fire Department.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Resident helps put out fire


 

The quick thinking of a Nelson Township resident probably helped save his home from burning down, according to Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser.

Cedar Springs and Sand Lake Fire Departments were dispatched to a structure fire at 6590 19 Mile, at 2:03 a.m., Friday, February 20. When the first firefighter arrived on scene, Fraser said flames were seen coming through the roof of the attached garage.

Fraser said that the man who lives there, Thomas Gilchrist, was on the roof of the home, throwing snow on the roof of the garage. “With what he did, combined with the firewall, it probably saved his house from burning,” said Fraser.

The Chief said it took firefighters about 25-30 minutes to put out the fire. There is a wood stove in the garage, and Fraser said the fire started in the attic, around the chimney. “It just goes to show that a proper firewall and resistant materials really help in a fire,” he said.

Fraser said the garage wasn’t a loss; it probably just needs a new roof.

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Fire starts in cemetery


Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

Firefighters were called to Elmwood Cemetery in Cedar Springs about 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 9, on a grass fire.

Upon arrival, firefighters discovered a pile of grass clippings smoking toward the back of the cemetery.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser said it might have been started by fireworks. Several remnants of fireworks, including an unused match, were littered across the area.

The Fire department had the fire out within minutes of arrival.

 

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Fire Chief sworn in


Fire Chief Marty Fraser. Post photo by J. Reed.

Marty Fraser, recently selected as the new Cedar Springs Fire Chief, was sworn in at the Cedar Springs City Council meeting last week Thursday, April 12.

Police Chief Roger Parent has been serving as interim Fire Chief for the last year, with Fraser serving as Deputy Chief. Fraser is a 35-year veteran of the department and has served in various roles. He has been a first responder since 1990.

Fraser publicly thanked Parent for his help with the department and how he’s helped during this transition.

Parent thanked Fraser, too, saying his 10 months as fire chief would not have been as easy without him.

 

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City chooses new Fire Chief


Deputy Fire Chief Marty Frasier has been chosen as the new Fire Chief for the Cedar Springs Fire Department. Photo by Sarah MacKinnon, www.smackphoto.net.

By Judy Reed

 

The City of Cedar Springs announced Wednesday that they have selected Deputy Fire Chief Marty Frasier to be the new Fire Chief for the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

“We are very excited about this decision and are confident the community will be very pleased with the direction of the Cedar Springs Fire Department,” said a statement from the city.

Police Chief Roger Parent has been serving as interim Fire Chief for the last year, with Frasier serving as Deputy Chief. Frasier is a 35-year veteran of the department and has served in various roles. He has been a first responder since 1990.

The city held public interviews for the position on Monday. Other applicants included Rockford firefighter John Vandermey, who is also a firefighter instructor and certified fire investigator; and Courtland Twp. firefighter Jerry Wineland, who also has been a wild land firefighter for the DNR and is a reserve police officer for the city of Cedar Springs.

Frasier will be sworn in as the new Chief at the Cedar Springs City Council meeting on April 12. The public is invited to attend. He will begin his duties as Fire Chief the following day.

 

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Fire Chief Gross appreciation party


Chief Gross was presented with an axe by the fire department for his years of service. Photo by T. Noreen.

The City of Cedar Springs held an appreciation party for former Fire Chief Jerry Gross Sr. last Thursday, June 9, before the city council meeting. Gross decided to step down from administrative duties, at the end of May, after 11 years as Fire Chief. “My intent is to stay with the department and still run fires and medical calls,” explained Gross, who turns 64 in September. He has been on the fire department for 32 years.
The Post thanks Jerry for his commitment to the community and the dedication he has shown through his service. We wish you the best!

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City police chief named interim fire chief


By Judy Reed

Police Chief Roger Parent will fill the job of interim chief while the city searches for a new one.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department now has a new chief to oversee operations, at least temporarily.
City Manager Christine Burns announced Thursday evening, June 9, that Police Chief Roger Parent would fill the job of interim chief while the city searches for a new one to replace Jerry Gross Sr. “We hope to have someone by the end of the year,” she said.
A committee made up of Burns, Chief Parent, finance and personnel director Linda Lehman, and a member of the fire department will interview candidates. “We’ll open it up to both internal and external applications,” said Burns.
Parent said he plans to be involved and not just a figurehead. “I’ve been given some instructions by the city manager, and I plan to be active in the fire department, not just hold it down (the position) for six months,” he explained.
Parent comes equipped to do the job. Prior to becoming police chief three years ago, he served 33 years with the Kent County Sheriff Department in various leadership roles, and 14 years with Alpine Township Fire Department as a firefighter, EMT and rescue captain.
Marty Frasier will still serve as Deputy Fire Chief, and Parent said he’s glad to have him in that position.
Parent said that some of what he’ll initially bring to the table would be written policies. Coming from the Sheriff Department, he learned that everything should be in writing so that everyone is on the same page. And he will start with the command staff. “In 2011 you have to cross all your t’s and dot your i’s,” he explained. “The firefighters don’t need to fear that.”
He said he would also begin looking at the consultant’s report for the fire department audit that was done a couple of years ago to see if there’s anything they can begin to implement. He said he also does plan to go on some calls.
Councilor Pamela Conley asked if the council had any interest in having one person (like Parent) over both the police and fire departments, as some communities have done. Parent told the Post he is not looking for another job. “I already stay busy,” he said.
Fire Chief Jerry Gross stepped down at the end of May, but will remain on the fire department as a firefighter. A reception was held in his honor just prior to Thursday night’s meeting. Several council members expressed their appreciation during council comments for Gross’s years of service as chief.
“I have a lot of respect for our outgoing chief and I wish him well,” said Conley.

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