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Tag Archive | "Kent County Sheriff"

Super fit reading program parties in the park


Kids had a splashin’ good time on the water slide at the summer reading celebration party. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It was a super celebration Wednesday, July 27, when the Cedar Springs Public Library celebrated the end of their summer reading program at Morley Park.

At least 500 people (and possibly more) attended the finale to this summer’s reading program. “It was an awesome turn out,” said Library Director Donna Clark.

The heat didn’t keep people away. Clark said that 400 bottles of water were gone within the first hour of the two hour program.

The theme for this year’s reading program was Super Fun and Fitness. They had 1,031 people sign up—734 kids and 297 adults—the most ever, and held 25 different programs over a six-week period.

In keeping with the fitness theme, the grand finale celebration was a field day program set up with lots of activities for kids to do. Kids had a riot playing games, jumping in the bounce houses, slippin’ and slidin’ on the water slide, getting their face painted, munching on popcorn, and cooling off with ice cream and ice water.

The Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit was a big hit with kids of all ages at the summer reading celebration. Photo by J. Reed.

The Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit was a big hit with kids of all ages at the summer reading celebration. Photo by J. Reed.

Also on hand was the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit, a Kent County Sheriff Deputy from the Cedar Springs Unit, a petting zoo, and the Cedar Springs Fire Department to hose kids down.

The kids who won prizes also picked them up at the event.

The event was staffed and sponsored by dozens of people and businesses in the community. “I love my community partners—the businesses, service organizations, and individuals—they make this all possible,” remarked Clark.

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Candidates for August primary


Election time is here, and there are a lot of candidates running for both local and state government. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, August 2 to make their selections. Because there are so many candidates to cover, and we couldn’t possibly fit bios in of them all, the Post chose to send questions only to those running for Kent County Sheriff and contested Supervisor positions in area townships.

Kent County Sheriff 

Five people are running for Kent County Sheriff—four Republicans and one Democrat. They are running for a four-year term.

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Lawrence A. Stelma (R) – Larry Stelma is the current Sheriff in Kent County, and has held that position since 2000. He was born and raised in Kent County. “In the early 60’s, my father purchased land and a business in Cedar Springs and it is the same land on which we live today, located in Solon Township,” said Stelma. He graduated from Creston High School, the bible college now known as Cornerstone University, and has been married to his wife, Iris for 44 years. They have two adult daughters and one grandchild. “I remain active with all things outdoors and on our farm, raising horses and Christmas trees,” he said.

Stelma joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1972 as a corrections officer and worked his way up through the chain of command, serving in every capacity and division within the Sheriff’s office. This included training and graduation from the FBI National Academy, the National Sheriff’s Institute and the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection Academy. In 1999 he was appointed Undersheriff, and then was elected Sheriff in 2000, and reelected in 2004, 2008, and 2012, by overwhelming margins.

Stelma wants to run for office because he said that his father instilled in him a service attitude at an early age, and service is in his DNA. “My life’s calling has been serving our community as an officer with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. I am running for office again simply because it’s my passion and calling,” he explained. He said that over the years as Sheriff, he has initiated over 40 new initiatives and programs that help to keep schools a safe place for learning (such as township patrols and the school resource officer program), provided the mechanism for more efficient law enforcement (such as township patrols, the Cedar Springs Police Department consolidation project, and dispatch consolidations), reduced jail populations, and maintained a crime rate half the national average. He’d like the chance to continue these initiatives and complete those in progress.

Stelma says the major challenge facing law enforcement is the ever increasing demand for more and more services brought on by a growing population with ever increasing expectations. “These expectations are driven by society’s obsession with technology, drugs, and violence, and law enforcement needs to stay current on how crime is facilitated by these influences and how these influences can help solve crime. All of this is constrained by tighter budgets,” he explained, noting that expectations increase while resources decrease. He said the only way to deal with these complex issues is to have the ability to develop and maintain strong strategic relationships with community leaders, education, mental health and medical providers, and faith-based community. “These relationships have served this community well, and enable me to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Stacy Browe

Stacey Browe

Stacey M. Browe (R) – Stacey Browe is a certified police officer with 9 years of prior law enforcement experience. Her experience in Michigan includes 7 years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Wayland. “During this time, I was responsible for handling every aspect of assigned calls including reports, follow-up, and subsequent investigation. Following my time with Wayland, I worked for two years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Swansboro, North Carolina,” she said.  After missing her family, she decided to move back to Michigan and currently lives in Kentwood.

I am running for the Office of Sheriff because the people of Kent County deserve a leader as their Sheriff. I will be a Sheriff who is visible and accessible in the county every day of my term. Under my leadership, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will become a model for law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” she said.

Browe said she will bring the experience acquired through 9 years of certified law enforcement, including investigations, field training, crisis intervention, drug interdiction, and numerous other specialized areas of policing to this Sheriff’s Office. “I will use my experience to devastate the heroin industry in Kent County. I will protect Kent County from terrorism and related crimes and I will protect the constitutional rights of my constituents. I will also work to eliminate dispatching fees, which are fees unethically assessed to local units of government for dispatching services, in addition to the taxes already paid for the same services. I will support all townships, villages, and cities including those that wish to operate their own police departments as well as those preferring a contractual agreement.”

Browe said the biggest challenge facing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office is multifaceted. “There are numerous county residents upset by the violence and terrorism nationwide. Residents look to the Sheriff’s Office for protection and leadership in times like these. Sadly, other candidates including the current Sheriff have been mostly silent on these issues and have not articulated any plan for protecting the people they wish to serve. My plan is to actively monitor terror alerts and keep my staff abreast of relevant information on a daily – not monthly basis. I will also begin requiring all law enforcement personnel to complete counter-terrorism as well as active shooter training and I will be in daily communication with our county’s emergency management coordinator. I will work with and be in regular communication with the Michigan State Police as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make sure all residents of Kent County are safe and secure in their homes, places of businesses, and public venues. That being said, The Sheriff’s Office, State Police, and local law enforcement will be conducting all enforcement activity that does occur in Kent County except activity that involves violations of federal law.”

John Stedman

John Stedman

John G. Stedman (R) – John Stedman was born and raised in the Heart of Grand Rapids, Mich. His family later moved to Wyoming, where he still lives today. “I have been in my current home for over 25 years in the Wyoming panhandle. I have managed and owned businesses since I was 17 years old. In the late 70s I followed in my father’s footsteps, opening my own insurance company, which has operated for over 40 years. In 2004 I purchased the building at 508 28th Street SW and US 131 where I had been a tenant since 1986. I am a dedicated family man with two wonderful children, Jon and Kari and celebrated 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart Susan in June,” he said.

Why is he running for Sheriff? “Times are changing in Kent County and we must change with it. There are several diverse communities that make up our great county and we need someone who has experience working with many of them. This is to ensure that we are increasing equality in a time when the divide between the community and police is growing. In addition, the Sheriff’s department makes up a large portion of the county’s general fund. We cannot arrest our way out of certain issues and our attempts to do so are currently unsustainable and costing taxpayers too much. We must use a business mindset in order to identify inefficiencies and adjust where needed,” explained Stedman.

He noted that he is proud of his role in developing  a ministry that seeks to help those who are returning from prison so they may lead productive lives and not contribute to the counties 80 percent recidivism rate.

Stedman sees his main strength has having a business background that has molded him into someone with keen financial sense who can identify budgetary issues and implement proper remedies. “I have managed a diverse staff of employees over the decades and understand organizational development. The staff of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department deserve to have the best opportunities in their careers. Reactionary cost cutting that decreases law enforcement jobs will not be tolerated under my term as Sheriff.”

Stedman said that the main challenge facing Kent County is a heroin epidemic. “The lack of recovery resources in the county, coupled with a financially wasteful ‘War on Drugs’ mentality is doing nothing but fueling the fire. We must look at individuals such as Chief Leonard Campanello, of Gloucester, Mass. and other proactive law enforcement leaders around the country and implement solutions that will decrease use and save lives especially the county’s youth,” he said.

Timothy Lewis (R) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Michael B. Scruggs (D) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Township Supervisor Candidates

Algoma Township has two people vying for the seat of township supervisor—both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary – Nancy Clary is the current supervisor in Algoma Township. “I have lived in Algoma for the past 29 years and have provided public service to the community since my arrival. I was born and raised in Montcalm County where I served as Montcalm County Administrator for 17 years. My husband, Jack R. Clary Esq. and I have 4 grown married children and 7 grandchildren.

Clary said she is running again because she’d like to continue the collaborative work on projects with other units of Government and the State that are now ongoing in the Township. “It has been my good fortune to work over the years with many of the excellent people who are in leadership roles in the area and we have mutually respectful relationships. Those working relationships are very helpful when problems need to be solved that require services and cooperation with adjoining communities. The Archery Center on 10 Mile Road is an example of what can be accomplished with collaboration. River’s Edge Park is now being expanded and Rockford Public Schools will be partnering with the Township to provide an outdoor learning experience for students,” she said.

Her past experience includes: Algoma Township Planning Commission member for 11 years, Trustee for 7 years, Deputy Supervisor and Currently Supervisor.  “I am a founding Board Member of a Private Children’s Charity as well as Past President of the following:  Michigan Association of County Administrative Officers, Michigan Association of County Personnel Officers, Michigan Association of Governmental Computer Users and United Way of Michigan, Public Services Sector.”

Clary said her main strength is the strong regional relationships she has maintained to create greater collaboration with the West Michigan Community. “I have developed and monitored multi-year, multi-million dollar municipal budgets that ensure long-term financial security for Algoma’s assets and services.  I have the endorsements of the following leaders and individuals:  State Senator Peter MacGregor, State Representative Rob VerHeulen, State Representative Ken Yonker, State Representative Jon Bumstead, Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, County Commissioner Tom Antor, County Commissioner Diane Jones, County Commissioner Harold Voorhees, Former Supervisor Dennis Hoemke, and Kent County 63rd District Judge, Retired Steven R. Servaas.”

“The major challenge facing our district is continuing to maintain the rural character of the Township while accommodating development where desired and assuring that the rights of all property owners are considered and protected,” she noted.

Kevin Green

Kevin Green

Kevin Green (R) – Kevin Green is a former State Representative running to be Algoma’s next Supervisor. “I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, have lived in Kent County for 20 years and am now living in Algoma Township for almost 5 years,” he said. “I own a small business helping property owners with zoning, planning issues and outdoor advertising. I have two beautiful young children, Elliot, 7, and Meadow, 6, that attend a Rockford elementary school.”

Green said he is running for supervisor because he wants to give a fresh perspective to the community while using his education and professional experience as a leader. “As a State Representative I worked hard for our residents for 6 years. I also bring experience as a business manager and a former City Councilman. As the House Whip, I used years of proven negotiating skills to bring people together and get things done in a timely manner. Helping our Algoma residents is my number one concern,” he explained.

Green said he has been a leader in many non-profit organizations including the Lions Club, Chambers of Commerce, Sons of American Legion and more. “I recently joined Moose Club and Rockford Sportsman Club. I started my career in Cedar Springs over 20 years ago, as an intern for former City Manager Frank Walsh,” he recalled.

Green believes that treating people with kindness and compassion is his main strength. As the former House Whip, it was my job to bring people of many backgrounds together to get things done for our State. People deserve to be treated with respect and I bring the sense of true public service to our residents,” he said. “I am highly skilled business manager, negotiator and mediator.”

Green sees over taxation as a major challenge facing Algoma Township. “Over taxation on residential property is a huge concern of Algoma’s residents and must be addressed by utilizing fair assessments. Protecting private property owner rights and our residents’ freedom of decision-making must not be eroded any further than it already has been. We must be diligent in preserving the character of our community by maintaining a quaint rural atmosphere and welcoming small town values,” he said.

Nelson Township

You will see two names on the ballot for Nelson Township Supervisor, both Republican. However, we found out that one of the candidates—current Supervisor Tom Noreen—has decided to withdraw from the election. “I just don’t  have the time,” said Noreen. The other candidate is:

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton (R) – Robyn Britton said she lives 27 minutes from the house she grew up in. “I’ve spent my whole life (48 years) living in either Solon Township or Nelson Township,” said Britton. “I graduated from Cedar Springs in 1986. I’ve been married to my best friend Scott Britton for 27 years and we have 3 amazing children, Hannah, Jesse and Jake. Both Hannah and Jesse are in college and Jake is a junior at Tri County High School. Both my husband and I have owned and operate Britton Builder’s Inc. for the last 25 years. I just recently left my position to start my own endeavor—a renovation company purchasing old homes and putting love back into them. And let’s not forgot my love for farming. We own and operate a 30-head Scottish Highland Farm. You want to talk about up and downs. All my friends that own what they call the ‘Real Cows’ get a chuckle at me because I love my Grass fed, big horn babies.”

Britton said the main reason she is running for office is for her children. “I’ve tried to teach my children if you don’t like something do your best to fix it. Well, if I’m going to ‘Talk the Talk’ I better ‘Walk the Walk.’ I had the fortune to work with some amazing people during my time working for Cedar Springs Police Department; it gave me a real insight on our community and the people servicing our community. It’s a tough job. The biggest thing I learned is if one person tries then others will follow or at least pay attention. I’m not a politician. I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be the best person I can be and try to make the community I raised my children in a place they may want to raise their children in.”

What does she feel she can bring to the position of Supervisor? “Own and operated a building company for nearly 25 years, negotiated buy sell agreement hundreds of thousands dollars, and worked in the corporate world for 15 years. My background has lead me to work with architects, engineers, subcontractors, financial institution, state and local government officials etc. I love people and I make no bones about it – I love to talk and meet people listen to their views and ideas, but more importantly I want them to know they matter regards of who they are,” she said.

Britton feels the that the major challenges facing Nelson Township are communication, accountability, and just plain common sense. “Fixing the problems start with the people. Five boards can’t fix everything that’s going on in this community.  If you want this community to prosper it has to be a joint effort.” She feels that the Supervisor and community will have to do it together, and she urges the public to attend their meetings the second Tuesday of every month.

Oakfield Township 

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Oakfield Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

William Greg Dean

William Greg Dean

William G. Dean (R)– Greg Dean is the current Supervisor in Oakfield Township and has been for the last 24 years. He was born in Oakfield Township 62 years ago and has lived there his entire life. Besides serving as Township Supervisor, he also drives truck for a living. He is married and has five children.

Dean said that his main reason for running for office is to ensure the township remains on sound footing, as they are now.

Dean believes that his main strength is that he practices excellent fiscal management of township funds and budgets and will continue to do so. “The township has no debt, and we borrow no money,” he explained. “We pay cash for everything and will continue to do so as long as I remain Supervisor.”

He said the main challenge facing Oakfield is the paving of more roads and funding Fire Department operations. “This is done by strong fiscal management,” he said.

Paul H. Decess (R) – He provided no info on his candidacy.

Solon Township

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Solon Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick (R) – Bob Ellick is the current Supervisor in Solon Township and has been for 12 years. He is 63 years old and has owned a home and lived in Solon Twp. for 44 years. He and his wife have raised three sons in Solon. Ellick is a self-employed builder, semi retired, in addition to being supervisor. Prior to that he was a trustee for four years, trustee. He has also been a state certified building inspector for 10 years.

Ellick said his main reason for running for office is “to help make Solon Township a better place to grow families and businesses, while impacting the rural character of the Township as little as possible, and also to make certain that the residents get the best service possible at the most economical rate possible.”

Ellick has also served on the Cedar Springs Public Library board for the last four or five years, the last two years as Chair. He has also served on the Solon Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission, and the market committee member and chair for a couple of years.

Ellick said the main strength he brings to the position is “a good understanding of the job and all its constitutional and fiscal responsibilities, and to keep the Township running in the green with a good fund balance for our future. We do not take our lead from the federal government,” he said.

He said one of the biggest challenges in government is money and patience. “It seems that there is never enough of either to go around. But zoning, public water and sewer, traffic/roads are big issues in the Township, particularly with the 17 Mile and White creek interchange.”

Jerrod Roberts (R) – He provided no information about his candidacy.

For a complete list of candidates running for office in your area, and a list of proposals, download the pdf below:


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Sheriff, Larry Stelma meets with local Pastors

Sheriff Larry Stelma with Pastor Timothy Hall of Grace Community Church in Belmont.

Sheriff Larry Stelma with Pastor Timothy Hall of Grace Community Church in Belmont.

Asks for their help to address root cause of youth crime

Grand Rapids — In a recent meeting with Kent County area pastors, Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma urged active involvement from the clergy to address youth crime and incarceration. He outlined the scope of the problem with troubled youth who end up in custody.

 Far too many teenagers that we see in our facility lack adequate education and have no marketable skills to be successful in the workforce,” said Sheriff Stelma. “Furthermore, many have mental health issues and are drug or alcohol dependent.”

Sheriff Stelma said the Kent County Correctional Facility will process 25,000 inmates a year. “Of that 25,000 inmates, over 2,100 are teenagers—14 to 19 years old. And these numbers do not include those in juvenile homes.  Of the 2,100 teenagers incarcerated in the Kent County Correctional Facility during the course of a year, 1,500 of them indicate they have some gang affiliation,” Sheriff Stelma added. 

 Sheriff Stelma said 78 percent of these teenagers will go back in the system within three years. At $80 a day, with the average length of stay being ten days, this equates to $1.7 million dollars a year to jail teenagers in the Kent County Jail.

 Sheriff Stelma also addressed solutions to the youth crime problem that that can begin early in a child’s life—before a crime has even been committed. These solutions include high-quality early education and programs that support at-risk youth and families and are shown to address the root behavioral causes of criminal activity.

 He pointed to the evidence developed by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit anti-crime organization, of which he is a member. It includes more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, attorneys general and other law enforcement leaders and violence survivors. 

 “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids supports programs that are proven to cut crime and save taxpayer dollars by making wise investments in programs that reach kids early,” he said. “I am proud to be a member of this organization since it started 20 years ago. We have worked with our lawmakers both in Lansing and Washington to make sure they understand the benefits of investing public dollars in proven programs to help kids succeed in school and beyond,” Sheriff Stelma emphasized. 

Programs that Fight Crime: Invest in Kids supports include high-quality preschool, voluntary home visiting, effective programs delivered in the after school time period, and child and family coaching for troubled children. All these programs help kids get on track and stay on track for success and opportunity—and avoid a life in and out of the criminal justice system.

 In Michigan, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is led by more than 500 of Michigan’s best-known police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and crime survivors. It operates under the Council for a Strong America, the umbrella nonprofit for five membership organizations comprising the unique and powerful voices of law enforcement, business, military, faith and sports, working together to prepare young Americans for success.

The Council for a Strong America’s faith organization, Shepherding the Next Generation, is led by former Kent County State Representative Tom Pearce, who serves as the national director. Pearce also spoke to the pastors and encouraged them to join Shepherding the Next Generation and to be advocates for youth as part of their ministry.

By getting at the front-end through prevention programs, as pastors we can reduce the negative consequences at the tail-end that usually result in shattered lives and high costs associated with incarceration,” he said.

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Trick or treat in Cedar Springs

Are you ready to trick or treat in Cedar Springs?

Are you ready to trick or treat in Cedar Springs?

It’s only two days until Halloween—are you ready for a night full of fun? Does the thought of greeting scores of trick or treaters make you break out in a cold sweat? Forget staying home! Pack up the kids and come out Halloween night for the Annual Cedar Springs Area Halloween Spooktacular in Cedar Springs! Sponsored by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, area businesses and churches, the fun begins at 4:30 p.m. with trick or treating at area businesses up and down Main Street, some side streets, and 17 Mile until 7 p.m. Special events include a haunted library at the Cedar Springs Library at the corner of Cherry and Second from 5-7 p.m.; a haunted school house at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum on Cedar Street in Morley Park from 5-7; Calvary Assembly of God will have lots of games and candy and prizes at the corner of Main and Ash from 5-7 p.m.; the Kent County Sheriff Traffic Squad will hand out hot chocolate and donuts at the Cedar Springs firebarn at W. Maple and Second St. again this year, and The Springs Church will host Trunk-or-Treat from 6-8 p.m., in their parking lot at the corner of Maple and First Street, along with a giant slide, and refreshments.

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New 35,000 square foot arena a public/private effort

Property offers Olympic sized outdoor arena, indoor arena, trails

By Beth Altena


 Kent County Sheriff Deputy Celesta VanderVeen snuggles with horse Dewey during an event for the public to see the new arena. Children were given rides on the facility’s eight horses during the evening. Photo by B. Altena.

Kent County Sheriff Deputy Celesta VanderVeen snuggles with horse Dewey during an event for the public to see the new arena. Children were given rides on the facility’s eight horses during the evening. Photo by B. Altena.

“This is the result of public/private efforts,” said Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma during the grand opening of the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Division indoor arena last Wednesday, October 16. The event happened two years after Kent County donated 30 acres of land and a 100-year-old barn to the Sheriff Department to house the mounted division at 4687 Kroes in Rockford.

Stelma said the new facility could not have happened without countless volunteer hours and effort and offers a permanent home to the horses of the mounted division. In addition, there will be a wide variety of opportunities for the public to interact with officers and horses and use the facilities for any number of equestrian events and competitions. The 35,000-square-foot arena went up this summer and will offer indoor riding, space for ten horses, classrooms, offices and equipment storage.

The need for a mounted division became apparent after the 2000 opening of Millenium Park, which Stelma characterized as a “very large park.” As a search and rescue tool, the mounted division is priceless for covering terrain of all types. Officers on horses are also ideal for crowd control because of the height and visibility of the riders. Stelma said it is estimated that one mounted officer is as effective as ten officers on foot in crowds.

The mounted division is an extension of the Traffic Squad, which is Kent County’s oldest civilian law enforcement support organization—serving Kent County since 1917. Mounted officers serve in a volunteer capacity and are responsible for their own gear and equipment. Stelma said the division currently has eight horses, but there is a need for ten or twelve. He praised Kent County’s Director of Parks, Roger Sabine, for recommending this property. He praised Kent County for having the vision to see what a good fit the property would be for the use and offering it.

The first phase for the project took place in 2011 with a renovation of the barn and fencing an outdoor arena and pastures. Phase II was the stalls, facility and riding arena. Visitors were told there are outside trails prepared as well. Stelma also thanked key personnel on the project, Don DeGroot who spent so many hours cutting and nailing the boards of the facility and stalls that his fellow officers threatened to buy him a hammock so he could sleep over. His efforts go back to day one.

“I told him we wanted a mounted division and he asked what the budget was,” stated Stelma. “I told him there wasn’t one.”

DeGroot said the research into what a mounted division would look like goes back two years before the “real” work began. He said most are reservists who keep their animals themselves. “We decided that wasn’t the way we wanted to go,” DeGroot said. He said it is much more efficient, especially for search and rescue, for the horses to be at one location. He described that all officers and all horses are cross trained, so if one horse is under the weather, another will do just as well.

 Kids were all smiles while sheriff deputies help them ride around the new arena for the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Division during a grand opening last week. Photo by B. Altena.

Kids were all smiles while sheriff deputies help them ride around the new arena for the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Division during a grand opening last week. Photo by B. Altena.

The department was able to purchase their first horse in 2007 and build up a stable that was kept at the Kent County Honor Camp. In 2011, budget issues closed the camp and the horses were stabled individually as space was available. DeGroot said mounted search and rescue is so effective the organization receives many requests for help all across the state of Michigan.

He said since the beginning, the organization of the project, and the fundraising, became such a challenge the department assigned the duties to Chad Wieber, who donated his hours free of charge on top of his full-time job with the Sheriff Department. “Chad has done a wonderful job getting us to this point.”

Stelma spoke about the importance of generous donors to the project and introduced a family member of the late Peter Cook to speak. Donations toward the arena allowed it to be the Peter Cook Arena, and Ryan Cook said, “Our community works best when we work together. The traffic squad is a good example of that.” He said the work of the volunteers offered the best bang for the buck. “It’s hard to say no to that.” He said he knew the mounted division does unparalled work in search and rescue, as well as many other duties, such as presidential security.

Stelma introduced world-renowned philanthropist Peter Secchia, who was on hand for the event. Secchia talked of his determination to see the mounted division become a reality. He recalled friends the late Fred Meijer and Peter Cook, who also strongly believed in the idea. “They were two wonderful, wonderful people. This was something they wanted and I wanted. I am sure they are looking down on this now. They wanted it to happen.”

Kent County Administer Daryll Delabbio and Cook were both presented with Kent County Mounted Division gold shields, but were warned the position was honorary and had no law enforcement powers included.

The arena and grounds will be available for the public to use for horse-related events, from shows to 4-H events and for the Rockford Public School Equestrian Team. Dr. Shibler, Superintendent of RPS, said the team competes across the state. He called the whole complex “outstanding,” and said he was most impressed that it was accomplished without taxpayer money, but by fundraising, donations and volunteer work.


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Police seek suspects in home invasion

The Kent County Sheriff Department is seeking the suspects responsible for at least one and maybe more home invasions in northern Kent County last week.
Police took a report on September 8 of a home invasion in the 11600 block of 16 Mile Road, another on September 9 in the 1500 block of Hull Street, and another in the 3300 block of 20 Mile Road.
According to Detective Justin DeBoode, the home invasions took place during daylight hours, and in one case, two suspects were seen by the homeowner. One of the suspects knocked on the door, and the homeowner, thinking it was someone selling something, didn’t answer it.  A short time later he heard a noise downstairs, and found a man climbing through the window. He was described as a black male, mid 20s, medium build, with short hair. The homeowner also saw a second suspect, a white female, age 30-40, medium build, who had shoulder-length black hair.
The couple got away in a light tan or bronze mid-size SUV.
If you have any information, please call the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

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