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Catholic parish breaks ground on new, larger church

Saint John Paul II Parish broke ground on a new church last Sunday. Photo by Sue Wolfe.


By Sue Wolfe

A Rite of Beginning Work on the Building of a Church (commonly known as a groundbreaking) was held on Sunday, August 19 following the 10:30 a.m. mass for a new Catholic church to be built near the existing Saint John Paul II Parish located at 3110 17 Mile Road, Cedar Springs, just west of Meijer. 

The Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, presided over this historic event in the presence of the parish’s first pastor Father Lam T. Le and many joyful parishioners.   

“It is an exciting moment when a bishop has the opportunity to break ground on a new church in his diocese,” said Bishop Walkowiak. “This growth shows the vibrancy of the Catholic faith in West Michigan.”

Since opening in 2013, the community’s first Catholic Church has done extensive remodeling of the sanctuary and added a commercial kitchen, classrooms, offices, storage area, and a large gathering room/dining area. The current church will remain as a holy chapel for weddings, funerals, and daily mass. The adjoining facilities will continue to be utilized for faith formation and an outreach center of the parish.

The Bishop cited the good works and powerful ministry being done through this small community church to include a free Tuesday night meal serving an average 70 people per night. The parish has youth ministries, faith formation programs, and outreach programs, as well as collaborating with other community Christian groups and organizations to address needs within the area schools and community. 

Following the opening words of Bishop Walkowiak, he then sprinkled holy water over the boundary lines of the proposed church and a corner piece of the foundation. Approximately 300 parishioners and guests attended the ceremony followed by a feast in the gathering room where they shared stories of celebration and hope. 

“Over the past five years, I have witnessed how God has been working through the faith community in Cedar Springs,” said Reverend Lam Le, pastor of St. John Paul II Parish. “I have seen a great number of people coming to this parish for the sacraments of Christian initiation. I have also observed families who have joined our parish and joyfully offered their stewardship of time, talent and treasure to the Lord. Truly, St. John Paul II Parish is living its mission of being the hands and feet of Christ.”

Construction of the new church began on Monday, August 20 and is scheduled to conclude in November 2019. The parish expects to have 600 families by the end of 2018. Church leaders believe their ability to grow is dependent on the space they have available. The rectory will wait until after the church is complete.

Saint John Paul II Parish welcomes all those who wish to explore and deepen their faith to include those who may have practiced the Catholic faith in the past, are currently practicing Catholicism, and those who may want to explore and learn what the Catholic faith involves. The office is open Tuesday–Thursday 9–4, and Fridays 9–noon.  Weekday Mass times are Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays at noon. Sunday Masses are: Vigil at 4 p.m. (on Saturday), on Sunday 8:30 and 10:30 am and 5 pm. You can call 616-696-3904 or visit the website www.JP2-MQA.org for more information. 

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Michigan State Police breaks ground on new building

New facility will house forensic laboratory, Sixth District Headquarters and Post

The Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget held a groundbreaking ceremony last week at the location for MSP’s new consolidated facility that will serve the greater Grand Rapids area.

The groundbreaking was held on Thursday, August 16, at 2290 4 Mile Rd NW. The new facility will be built on a previously undeveloped, 17-acre site centrally located in the city of Walker in Kent County. According to MSP, this site is ideally located to serve the public efficiently, and also allows for expansion opportunities in the future. When construction of this modern law enforcement facility is completed in the fall of 2020, it will house the MSP Grand Rapids Forensic Science Laboratory, Sixth District Headquarters and Rockford Post.

Constructing this new facility will bring three units together into a single, modern law enforcement facility, which will increase efficiency and decrease costs associated with maintaining and operating multiple aging facilities. Currently, the lab is located on Fuller Avenue near I-196. Sixth District Headquarters and the Rockford Post are located on Northland Drive in Rockford. 

Buiding features include:

  • Approximately 100,000 square feet of space
  • Will house 130 employees
  • Separate public, employee and receiving areas (for evidence deliveries and pickups)
  • Emergency generator backup for the entire facility
  • Independent exhaust and ventilation systems will be installed to prevent cross-contamination of forensic evidence
  • Segregated plumbing systems for domestic and forensic lab waste
  • As part of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget’s commitment to energy efficiency and sustainable building practices, all materials and systems will be selected with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system in mind.

The project was authorized by Public Act 241 of 2015, with a total cost of $57 million and is expected to be completed in 2020.

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Library groundbreaking next Saturday, July 9


Years of plans and dreams are finally coming true—Cedar Springs is really going to have a new, much needed library building! The Library Board chose the contractor at their June 27 meeting, and a groundbreaking is scheduled for Saturday, July 9 at 5:00 p.m. near the Cedar Springs Fire Station, at the corner of Main and W. Maple Street. Everyone is invited. See the ad on page 11 and watch the Library website and Facebook Page for activities being planned for this event.

You may have read in The Post or The Bugle that over 900 people of all ages have signed up for the Library’s Summer Reading Program. This growth, along with the significantly increased use of the Library in general, has taken place in spite of not having adequate room. Your Library Staff is persistent regardless of the obstacles.

The current library building has only 2,016 square feet. The new library will have 10,016 square feet, a well-deserved treat to the citizens of Cedar Springs and surrounding communities.

Library Director Donna Clark is excited about what this groundbreaking means for Cedar Springs. “I have the distinct privilege of being the Library Director of our community library at this historic moment of groundbreaking, but I do not stand alone,” she said. “I’m only one, standing on the foundation prepared from the early 1800s to this present day, by a long line of educators, professionals, town folk, volunteers, and enthusiastic people of vision and hope. I celebrate with you who have served your local library as library employees and board members, and with our great City, who is walking this journey with us. I love it that we are building a whole City block of beauty and culture for future generations.”

There are new developments every week because the Library Board and several committees are meeting regularly to accept the bids of contractors and subcontractors, to choose materials, and to keep up with all of the details that require timely attention. “One of the most significant contributions of time during the past two years has come from Duane McIntyre, who will continue to serve as the Project Construction Manager at no charge. This represents a huge savings to the donors and citizens of our communities,” said Community Building Development Team Chair Kurt Mabie. “Many others have also contributed hundreds of hours to reach this milestone so that this dream could come true. Thank you to everyone! These gifts of time are extraordinarily meaningful and are greatly appreciated.”

A finance committee, made up of a good mix of local, respected professionals, is keeping track of the donations that are being made to the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) and the Cedar Springs Public Library. Donations for the new building and its contents are still very much needed and greatly appreciated.

This new library building is just one facility planned for the Heart of Cedar Springs, thanks to the CBDT and the Cedar Springs City Council and Planning Commission. They have all brought their influence to bear on raising funds and negotiating with governmental entities, as well as making sure the right people are available to support the many needs of such a large undertaking. Kent County is a wonderful place to live, thanks to a history of good leadership and smart planning. What is happening in Cedar Springs fits perfectly into the scheme of friendly, up-and-coming communities throughout Kent County. The value of these projects to the residents and businesses of Cedar Springs, and to all of northern Kent County, cannot be overestimated.

The Heart of Cedar Springs will include the following projects that are critical to the continued growth of Cedar Springs.

A library, designed and developed as a place to gather, a place where educational opportunities can be extended, a place where a community can meet, grow and learn together.

An amphitheater where outdoor plays, musicals, movies, concerts and more will fill the summer days and evenings for residents, as well as a place of respite for White Pine Trail and North Country Trail enthusiasts.

Rain Gardens and a Sculpture are a part of the continual beautification of Cedar Creek and its historic flowing spring, which will provide multiple opportunities for several school districts to collaborate with science experiments, and participate in research that can benefit Michigan water way protection and development. The new library will be a great source and meeting place for these classes.

A Boardwalk and Bridges along the Creek, initially running from Main Street to the White Pine Trail but eventually spanning through to Riggle Park and 17 Mile Road to be enjoyed by walkers, nature enthusiasts, and fishermen.

A Community Center that can be used as a FEMA crisis center, as well as provide a beautiful venue for wedding and retirement receptions, and many other community and personal celebrations and gatherings.

A Recreation and Fitness Center where the Parks and Recreation Department, various other recreational and fitness organizations, schools, and individual residents can focus on health and wellness as a community.

All of north Kent County will benefit and appreciate these facilities and open spaces. The value they bring to the Cedar Springs Community will be a legacy for years to come. Please get involved now to be part of this legacy.

Tax deductible donations can be made out to the Community Building Development Team and sent to treasurer, Sue Mabie, 15022 Ritchie Ave, Cedar Springs, Michigan 49319.

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Christmas in July brings family fun, savings

See the Mane St. band at a free concert at the site of the future amphitheater on July 9.

See the Mane St. band at a free concert at the site of the future amphitheater on July 9.

The Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the Community Building Development Team to bring some exciting family events to this year’s Christmas in July sidewalk sales event, including a free movie in the park, the groundbreaking for the new Cedar Springs Library, and a free concert at the site where the new amphitheater will be built.

Christmas in July is an annual Chamber of Commerce event, which takes place the weekend of the second Saturday of July. The weekend starts with a free movie in Morley Park, concessions, and other activities Friday, July 8, at 6 p.m. This year’s movie will be the Christmas movie Elf. Some businesses in downtown Cedar Springs will have Christmas in July sidewalk sales on Saturday July 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Then at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 9, will be the groundbreaking for the new Cedar Springs Library at the corner of Main and W. Maple Streets, near the Fire Station. Everyone is encouraged to attend and celebrate this milestone.

The Community Building Development Team is also hosting a free concert performed by the band Mane Street, on July 9, from 6-10 p.m., at the site of the future amphitheater in the Heart of Cedar Springs. This is the lot where Cedar Springs began in the 1850’s, and is also in the same area where the new library is being built. There currently is a flowing well on the site, featuring one of the springs that Cedar Springs is named for. The address for the concert is 37 W. Maple Street, and is just west of the Fire Station and north of the White Pine Trail staging area. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and be ready to hear some good music!

For details on the weekend and to see the ads download the link below:


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Miracle Field groundbreaking sets goal of three months to first game

Surprise donation will allow accessible playground

By Beth Altena


In memory of Nate—Children wield golden shovels for groundbreaking of the Miracle League Nate Hurwitz Field on Ten Mile Road. Nate, a fan of baseball who had Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and was a member of the West Michigan Miracle League Board of Directors, passed away in 2012 at the age of 16.

In memory of Nate—Children wield golden shovels for groundbreaking of the Miracle League Nate Hurwitz Field on Ten Mile Road. Nate, a fan of baseball who had Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and was a member of the West Michigan Miracle League Board of Directors, passed away in 2012 at the age of 16.

When Tony Comden, Director of the West Michigan Miracle League, spoke to the members of the board of directors of the West Michigan Sports Complex, he was asking them to give up considerable space in the new baseball complex planned for property off Ten Mile in Plainfield Township. He wanted the space to build a Miracle League ballfield for children with disabilities to play with able-bodied buddies. As a father of a son who uses a walker, Comden is a strong believer in the importance that all children, regardless of ability, be able to experience the joys of playing ball.

“After five minutes I had them in tears,” he said of his talk about his vision for the field. “After 15 minutes they said yes.” Dick VanderMullen, Chair of the West Michigan Sports Commission, followed Comden in speaking to a crowd during the complex groundbreaking held Wednesday, May 15.

“He didn’t have to talk for fifteen minutes to get us to agree,” he said. “He just couldn’t stop talking about it.”

A $50,000-dollar surprise—After stepping up to the plate to be the premier sponsor of the West Michigan Sports Commission complex, David VanEslander, son of Art Van’s founder, announced the donation of an additional $50,000 to help fund a handicap-accessible playground on the Miracle League ball field grounds. Pictured are Eslander and Tony Comden, Director of the West Michigan Miracle League.

A $50,000-dollar surprise—After stepping up to the plate to be the premier sponsor of the West Michigan Sports Commission complex, David VanEslander, son of Art Van’s founder, announced the donation of an additional $50,000 to help fund a handicap-accessible playground on the Miracle League ball field grounds. Pictured are Eslander and Tony Comden, Director of the West Michigan Miracle League.

The groundbreaking for the Miracle League ball field took place at the site off Ten Mile where the field will be built this summer, with play beginning in September. With room running out for parking, there was an extensive crowd, including classmates of Comden’s son Jed.

Comden talked about the importance of baseball to our country’s culture, and how his childhood, like so many others, included the memories of playing ball in the summer. “I cried if the game was rained out, I wanted to play so bad,” he said. “Tonight thousands of kids will play baseball with parents cheering for terrible playing.”

“Unfortunately for thousands of kids they never have that opportunity to play, they never get to high five their teammates, they never get to wear their jersey to school on game day, they never get to hear the cheers of their parents.”

The Miracle  Field will allow kids of all abilities to play baseball and softball, with a two-part solution to the limitations of kids with physical or mental disabilities. The surface of the field is a smooth rubberized field that will allow kids in wheelchairs and walkers or other mobility challenges to compete. In addition, each disabled child will partner with an able-bodied buddy who will do those things their partner can’t do—reach down to pick up a fallen ball, or reach down to catch a groundball.

“For kids in a wheelchair this is the only place they will have this opportunity,” Comden stated.

“As you might imagine, we did not get to where we are without the hard work of a lot of people,” Comden noted. “West Michigan has an amazing philanthropic spirit.” Comden said in just 18 months much of the funding has come in, although more is needed. He said the donations for the project are at $689,667.33, not including the checks donated that day. The Rockford Lions contributed $10,000.

Tony included among the philanthropic leaders in the area David VanEslander, whose father founded Art Van Furniture. The company is the majority donor for the entire West Michigan Sports Commission project after last year donating $1.8 million dollars and earning naming rights.

David was one of the attendees of the groundbreaking, who stood to make a surprise announcement of the donation of an additional $50,000 for a handicap accessible playground on the Miracle League property. He stood and spoke about the importance his father placed on being involved in the local community and doing good works. Referencing the Sports Commission’s theme of the complex, “Everyone wins,” VanEslander said, “This will truly be a place where every child, regardless of ability, will be able to win.” He talked about the inspiration for the field’s namesake, Nate Hurwitz, 16-years old West Michigan Sports Commission board member who was wheelchair-bound by Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and who died last year. “Give it up for Nate,” VanEslander said.

The final speaker was Dan Hurwitz, Nate’s father, who spoke haltingly about how important the Miracle Field will be to children. “It has been eight months since we lost Nate,” he said. “He believed every kid should hear their name announced over the loudspeaker. He won’t be here to see the first game. But the Nate Hurwitz Miracle Field—what an amazing tribute for an amazing son.”

Comden wrapped up the event telling how in Nate’s obituary, he had wanted people to donate to this cause. He recalled the emotions the day Nate was laid to rest. “As people were saying goodbye to Nate, Dan came up to me and slapped me on the back—pretty hard—and said, ‘We have to get this done.’”

Comden said he couldn’t help but compare this ball field to the one in the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams. He said he was on the site well before the scheduled time of the groundbreaking, and couldn’t help to be apprehensive about the turnout for a project he believes in so strongly. He said as the time neared, he saw car after car turn in and drive down the long road to the site.

“How many kids are going to play on this field? I can’t tell you.” He said the long line of cars heading up the road to the groundbreaking for the Nate Hurwitz Miracle Field gave him the same haunting feeling as the final scenes in the movie with James Earl Jones telling Costner, “If you build it, they will come. People most definitely will come.” Speaking with difficulty, Comden stated, “I thought about that today as I saw all those cars.”



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