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$200,000 grant will help restore wetlands


 

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

The 50-acre conservation easement will protect lakes and emergent wetlands in the watershed from development. Nelson Lake, just off Division, and east of Sparta, is one of the lakes in the conservation easement. Photo Credit: Pete DeBoer

Cedar Springs and Sparta to benefit

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently announced more than $4.3 million in grants to protect Michigan lakes and streams from pollution, and a group working on projects in Cedar Springs and Sparta received a portion of it.

Trout Unlimited received $239,449 to restore wetlands, and to protect a 50-acre property with a permanent conservation easement in the Rogue River watershed, as part of the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

Specific wetland activities include restoring approximately 5 acres of wetlands in the Cedar Springs and Sparta area. Two wetlands will be restored in Cedar Springs, both on City of Cedar Springs property. One is a half acre by the fire barn, where the new library will built (between the firebarn and Cedar Creek) and two acres at North Park, just east off of Main Street (between Oak Street and Cedar Springs Mobile Estates).

Two wetlands will also be restored in the Sparta area—one acre on the corner of M37 and Main St, and 1.5 acres off of Phelps, on private property.

Once restored, these sites will play a huge role in reducing sediment in Cedar and Nash Creeks and helping to stabilize water temperature by controlling stormwater runoff.  In addition, identification and prioritization of historically lost wetlands will be done and potential wetland restoration areas in the entire watershed will be quantified for future projects.

A second portion of the project is the completion of a conservation easement, permanently protecting approximately 50 acres in the watershed. The 50-acre conservation easement is located just east of Sparta, off of Division, on private property.

This property is directly adjacent to 124 acres of permanently protected land. The area just outside of the property is experiencing development pressure. The conservation easement will eliminate all development in this area, as well as provide buffer zones to the waterways and wetland areas.

These grants will help restore impaired waters and protect high-quality waters by reducing nonpoint sources of sediment, nutrients and other contaminants. Nonpoint source pollution is runoff that picks up both natural and human contaminants as it moves across the ground and eventually deposits it into waterways.

This two year project will begin in October 2016 and will be part of the current Trout Unlimited Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. This project is a multi-year collaborative watershed restoration project. Local foundations, businesses and other donors have contributed funds towards the Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project. The City of Cedar Springs and the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team has contributed $22,000 to this project. Additional project partners include the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, SouthPeat Environmental LLC, the Rogue River Watershed Partners, and the Kent County Drain Commissioner Office.

A Trout Unlimited Project Manager and Project Coordinator work to improve existing river conditions through restoration actions, work with local governments to improve municipal planning, and increase capacity to help ensure advocates for long-term protection of the Rogue.

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Health Department receives grant 


 

To enhance emerging disease preparedness

GRAND RAPIDS–The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is one of only eleven local health departments in the United States, and the only one in Michigan, to be awarded a $25,000 grant to enhance coordination for preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks. The grant is awarded by the National Association of County and City Health Organizations (NACCHO).

With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Lessons in INfection Control (LINC) Initiative awards recipients will test new approaches to prepare for and respond to healthcare-associated infections and other emerging infectious diseases.

“Not only will this funding increase KCHD’s capacity to respond to healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and other emerging diseases,” says Brian Hartl, Supervising Epidemiologist at KCHD, “it will also increase collaboration and communication between public health and health care facilities across West Michigan to strengthen HAI surveillance and control activities.”

The LINC Initiative supports local health departments in improving healthcare and community infection control practices by working with hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings to identify and address the needs and opportunities. KCHD and other award recipients will test creative solutions and ways to combat the estimated 700,000 healthcare related infections in the U.S. each year.

Local health departments that received the award include the following:

• Barren River District Health Department (KY)

• Clark County Public Health (WA)

• Eau Claire City-County Health Department (WI)

• El Paso County Health Department (CO)

• Flathead City-County Health Department (MT)

• Florida DOH Pasco County

• Kent County Health Department (MI)

• Marion County Public Health Department (IN)

• Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (WV)

• Public Health – Seattle & King County (WA)

• St. Louis City Department of Health (MO)

The awardees will implement this project throughout 2016.

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Nature Center awarded grant for boardwalk


 

Howard Christensen Nature Center recently received a $2,000.00 grant from the Sparta Community Foundation.

According to Nature Center Director David Kieft, the grant will be used to repair and rebuild the Thunderwood Swamp Boardwalk at the Nature Center, located on Red Pine Drive, in Tyrone Township.

“This boardwalk is one of two remote trails on the HCNC property and was closed in the summer of 2015 because of disrepair and for general safety,” explained Kieft.

He said the grant money, along with donations from local businesses, and service from local groups, will rebuild the boardwalk to the high safety standards of HCNC. It will then reopen to provide uninhibited natural experiences in the hardwood swamp called Thunderwood.

HCNC is still accepting volunteers and contributions to help complete the project and those interested are asked to call the office at (616) 675-3158 to inquire.

HCNC has received several grants from the Sparta Community Foundation. Others included funding for the Planetarium, the Bird Wall, the Chrishaven Boardwalk, the aquarium wall and Animal Resource Center.

“Howard Christensen Nature Center greatly appreciates and thanks the Sparta Community Foundation for their continued support in the improvements and programming intended to enrich the community and offer a place of solitude for hikers, runners and families,” said Kieft.

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Local non-profit looks to improve area


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By Judy Reed

 

There are a lot of plans in the works for the corner of Main and Maple Streets and the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) hopes to be a big part of it.

In addition to the new Cedar Springs Library, on the northwest corner, and the brewery on the southwest corner, the CBDT hopes to build an ampitheatre on the city’s property (the old foundry property) to the west of where the library will be. The team was at the Cedar Springs City Council meeting last Thursday, October 9, to pitch the project.

“The Community Building Development Team is a group of people who want to make the community better,” explained CBDT trustee Tom Holloway, and Pastor at Solon Center Wesleyan Church. “We believe this fits with the prior library board’s plans in 2007 of having both a library and ampitheatre.”

Holloway asked the City Council to let the group build the ampitheatre—and they would do it for free. “All we ask is for the city to maintain it,” he said, “and pay the utilities.”

He explained that they hope to develop the whole area—on both the east and west side of the trail. They are currently buying the Johnson lumberyard property to that end. Besides the ampitheatre, they are working towards helping to restore wetlands, and install walking bridges, to give kids a place to fish. On the lumberyard property, they hope to build a community center and recreation center. Other plans include a boardwalk along Cedar Creek, rain gardens, skate park, spash pad and playground equipment, campground, and fish hatchery.

They have already been working on rain gardens along Cedar Creek with Trout Unlimited, and other groups, and recently voted to take advantage of a matching 3 to 1 grant opportunity. They voted unanimously to pledge  $20,000 towards Trout Unlimited’s Department of Environmental Quality 319 Grant Proposal, which will restore and enhance wetlands in downtown Cedar Springs and elsewhere in the Rogue River watershed, if funded. The project will look to develop future conservation projects in the Rogue River watershed, including other wetland restoration projects, buffer strip plantings, and other efforts directed at improving the health of the Rogue. According to the CBDT, the grant could be worth $300,000 to $400,000 to the community.

The group’s mission is to retain the small-town character of Cedar Springs, incorporate natural features, link neighborhoods and people, enhance characteristics that already define our community, and make it easy for families, youth, senior citizens, organizations, and all community members to gather, celebrate and serve each other.

With that in mind, they’ve adopted a railroad theme for their group, since two railroads ran through the community in its early days. They have chosen an old photo for their logo. In it you can see Lute Fullington’s carriage. His livery service transported people from the trains to hotels, businesses, and homes in our area.

The Cedar Springs City Council heard the CBDT’s presentation, but no agreement has yet been made on whether they will allow the ampitheatre to be built there. Holloway said that after the library is built, they would try to match it in design.

Members of the CBDT are Kurt Mabie, President; Tom Mabie, Vice President; Betty Truesdale, Treasurer; Carolee Cole, Secretary; and Sue Wolfe, Dale Larson, Sally Howland, Nick Andres and Tom Holloway, trustees.

The public is invited to attend their meetings the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Amish Furniture Store, 141 S. Main Street, Cedar Springs.

 

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Beach Picnic basket awarded grant


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A local organization that makes sure kids don’t go hungry at night received a shot in the arm last week, in the form of a grant.

Beach Picnic Basket was formed five years ago, when Robin DeLine, a secretary at Beach Elementary, realized that some of the children were going home after school and not eating again until school the next day. So she created the program that sends home 100 meals a day with students from preschool to high school.

Kevin Pike from Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, recently presented DeLine, the director of Beach Picnic Basket, a check for $500.00 from the York Children’s Foundation. Bliss-Witters & Pike purchases their caskets from York, and nominated Beach Picnic Basket for the grant. The York Children’s Foundation was established in 1992 to disburse funds to non-profit organizations that work for the benefit of children. During the 2012-13 school year, Beach Picnic Basket sent home 15,000 meals for children who would otherwise not receive an evening meal.

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Police agencies receive tech grant


Several area police agencies are receiving federal funds to support anti-drug and crime-fighting efforts in Michigan. Cedar Springs, Rockford, and Howard City are three of the numerous agencies across the state receiving part of the $1.2 million in grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program.

This year’s grants focus on technology. “Protecting Michigan citizens is a top priority and these grants will go a long way toward improving the technology and tools that support our public safety community,” said Governor Rick Snyder.

The Cedar Springs Police Department was awarded funds in the amount of $15,255 for Technology Enhancement Projects. They will enhance their technology in three areas: the Computer Aided Dispatch system will be linked to the Records Management System to increase information sharing; traffic citations will be produced and submitted electronically; and mobile data terminals will be enhanced to receive and transmit additional information.

The Village of Howard City Police Department will receive funds in the amount of $4,200. They will enhance their cruiser video evidence system by purchasing the necessary equipment to have completely tamper-proof and automated processing of video evidence for courtroom presentations.

The Rockford Police Department will receive $13,500 to purchase new in-car camera systems and video management software. The cameras will be utilized in the new public safety patrol vehicles’ platforms.

Other nearby agencies receiving grants include the Michigan State Police and Newaygo County Sheriffs Office.

Agencies have until July 31 to spend their awards.

The Byrne JAG grants are named in honor of New York City Police Officer Edward Byrne, who was fatally shot by drug traffickers in 1998, while on assignment protecting a witness in a drug case.

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City receives tree grant


The City of Cedar Springs recently received a grant for $1,800 for the purchase and planting of 18 trees throughout the city. The grant was made possible through the Michigan Forestry and Park Association and Consumers Energy.
The trees planted last week included three sugar maples along the bank of Cedar Creek in Veterans Park (to help produce shade to keep the creek cool for trout); five Cedar trees on the south bank of the creek behind the firebarn; five flowering crabapple trees on Man Street between Beech and Maple Streets; and five red sunset maples in the new section of Elmwood Cemetery.
“We’re really thankful to Consumers Energy and the MFPA for making this possible,” said DPW Supervisor Roger Belknap.
Earlier this year the city received a grant for 12 trees from DTE Energy, and planted a mixture of crabapple and lilac throughout the Main Street streetscape.

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Bellowood gets grant to vaccinate dogs for influenza


Bellowood, a small dog rescue in Cedar Springs, now has help in protecting dogs against canine influenza virus (CIV), a highly contagious disease that spreads easily from dog to dog, especially those in close proximity. The shelter received a grant for the vaccines as part of a Petfinder.com Foundation program to build community immunity against this respiratory infection. The foundation partnered with Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, a global animal health company and makers of the NOBIVAC(r) Canine Flu H3N8 vaccine, to fund the grant.

Because CIV is relatively new, most dogs have not built up immunity to the disease. Dogs can get the disease by being exposed to those that have it, as well as playing with toys or drinking from bowls used by other dogs. People can also unwittingly spread the germ if they come in contact with infected dogs.

“Shelters and rescue organizations are often the first places that new diseases already in the community become evident. Dogs come in from the community and are released back into it, and often move to and from states with confirmed cases,” said Liz Neuschatz, director of the Petfinder.com Foundation. “Canine flu can be a real problem for shelters, where one sick dog can cause an outbreak through an entire facility. We are pleased to be part of this effort to help protect the community by providing canine flu vaccine to Bellowood.”

Kim Schreuder, owner of Bellowood, was grateful to get the grant. “I think it’s a fantastic way to keep dog influenza under control,” she said.

The dog rescue received 172 doses of the vaccine, worth $1,548. Each dog receives two doses, which means they received enough to vaccinate 86 dogs. They have already vaccinated 10. Schreuder noted that they have not experienced this flu yet at Bellowood, and she is glad the vaccine is out there to prevent it.

Dog flu is a growing problem throughout the U.S. It has been confirmed in 35 states so far, but tracking the disease is hard because it is so difficult to diagnose. Dogs are contagious before they show any symptoms. By the time the dog starts coughing, it’s too late. Virtually all dogs exposed to the virus will become infected, and some will get more serious infections, such as pneumonia, which can be fatal.  Dogs that go to doggie daycare, boarding facilities, groomers and shows and are vaccinated for canine cough (Bordetella) are also at risk for canine flu.  Information about canine flu is available at www.doginfluenza.com.

The grant for Building Community Immunity seeks to protect all at-risk dogs in the community, including those in close proximity with other dogs, as is the case with shelters and rescue facilities. It also provides greater assurance to adopting families that their new pets will be healthier and much less likely to be sick or get more serious, and sometimes fatal, infections. The grant further links Petfinder.com member shelter and rescue grant recipients with local veterinarians to protect all adoptable dogs in their care. The program promotes veterinary visits for wellness exams and, when appropriate, the second dose administration of Nobivac Canine Flu vaccine.

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City gets new warning siren


By Judy Reed

Post photo by J. Reed

Residents of Cedar Springs now have a brand new siren to warn them of severe weather this spring and summer. It was installed Tuesday at North Park, at the north end of Cedar Springs.

The city sought a grant for the siren through Kent County a year and a half ago, after the original siren tower outside the Cedar Springs Library was deemed unsafe. Burns said they were notified last week that they had received the $19,900 grant for the siren tower, which would be turned on through Kent County’s central dispatch. The old siren was manually turned on at the pole.

A poll on the city’s website showed that residents are in favor of continuing the tradition of blowing the siren at noon everyday. That is not covered in the grant, however, and the city will cover the $500 cost with money from their 2007 bond proceeds.

According to specs, the siren will be heard over most of Cedar Springs, including all the way to White Creek to the west, and Ritchie to the east. To the south, however, it will only cover to just north of Dio Drive. “We hope to someday qualify for another siren to cover the south end (of the city),” said Burns. She previously explained that the siren was erected at North Park to cover the area with the greatest density.

The old siren was scheduled to be torn down immediately, and possibly given to the Cedar Springs Historical Society if they want it.

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Crash data going digital


Law Enforcement Agencies receive grant for electronic crash reporting

Keeping up in the age of blackberries and Wi-Fi is no easy task, but for 59 Michigan police agencies, including the Law Enforcement Agencies of Montcalm County, a federal grant will allow them to move traffic crash reporting to an electronic system.
With the addition of these agencies, approximately 450 of Michigan’s police agencies will now be reporting crashes digitally. The upgrades have been paid for with more than $3.6 million in grants administered by the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) over the past four years.
Grant funds will allow agencies to upgrade and enhance their crash reporting systems to allow officers to record the details of a crash via in-car computers. Program costs include necessary equipment, software, connectivity wires, electronic license readers as well as training.
“By outfitting police cars with the computers and software necessary to record crash data electronically, the data is processed faster and more accurately,” said Howard City Police Chief Steven DeWitt. “With the ability to report crash data electronically, we are well on our way to a less expensive, more modern system.”
Since electronic crash reporting began in Michigan in 2003, the processing time has dropped from an average of 103 days to just 15; the number of errors on crash forms has also declined due in part to the electronic system.
Crash reports will be typically completed and transmitted to the state the same day it occurred, allowing those involved to download the crash report to their own computers from the State of Michigan website once it is processed by the state.
Each agency was required to submit a grant application for the funds.
The Grant was applied for on behalf of the combined Law Enforcement Agencies in Montcalm County in a continued effort to consolidate Law Enforcement Efforts and to apply for beneficial grants as a whole to reduce costs and continue to make services more efficient and less costly.

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