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Tag Archive | "Lois Allen"

World War COVID-19

by Lois Allen, publisher

We are fighting a new world war being waged by an invisible enemy. You can’t see it, but it’s literally everywhere. And now it’s in Cedar Springs as well. You may feel like you are taking your life in your hands when you buy groceries or go to the dollar store. The sound of a cough strikes fear in your belly. Is it on the woman you came close to in the grocery store? Is it on the guy standing behind you at the gas station? Or is it on that button you push to get your fountain pop? Does it linger on that package from Amazon sitting on your front porch? Is it on the handle of the gas pump that dozens of people have used in the past 24 hours? The answer to all these questions might be yes. There have already been many casualties. And there will be more before it’s over. When will it be over? Nobody knows.

Our world has changed. Normal is not normal anymore. We’ve watched our television personalities and news anchors deliver their messages from their kitchens and living rooms with children occasionally popping up on the screen. Sometimes their pets will make an appearance, which I like. Speaking of pets, our pets are the only ones loving the family’s stay-at-home order and couldn’t be happier to get the constant company and attention. We should call this the year of the dog.

Now is the time for leaders to lead. To step up and make the hard decisions to keep their customers, students and employees safe. Not only are medical professionals on the front lines, those that get up and go to work at our essential businesses are taking a risk for themselves and their families as well. We applaud them. When doing business face to face, wear a scarf and wash your hands for their protection. Tell them, “Thank you for coming into work today to serve me.”

When we are allowed to return to the world at large, it will be forever different than the world we knew just a few months ago. This “war” will take down people. Some will live and others will die. And like people, it will take down businesses, both large and small that cannot withstand the loss of revenue their customers brought them.

The Cedar Springs Post is considered an essential business as a media occupation. We have a journalist on the beat. All but one of our employees have been working from home for the past three weeks. Our office is closed to the public. Surviving through thick and thin, mostly thin as of late with the advent of the internet, Facebook and other social media platforms, The Post has appeared at around 80 newsstands every week for over 30 years. We’ve never missed a week. Not even when the roof of the building next door blew off and landed on top of our building during a severe windstorm and we lost our power. If you are under 30, and from Cedar Springs, you probably can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a Cedar Springs Post. Free to the public, both in print and online, each issue comes to you courtesy of our sponsors. They pay the bills.

We have five employees that are excellent at their jobs. The very best of the best. I believe they put out one of the nicest local newspapers I’ve ever seen (or read). While there are shortages of toilet paper and other products disappearing from shelves faster than stores can stock them, there is no shortage of commercials, junk mail and advertising. However, not enough advertising is going into newspapers to cover expenses as advertisers pull their ads. We don’t sell newspapers; we sell ad space. The local newspaper may be another casualty of the corona virus. Cedar Springs without the Cedar Springs Post? It will be a different place.

With the bulk of our local businesses shut down, they are struggling as well. And like many small independent stores, salons and restaurants, we may soon be unable to make payroll, pay the printer and other expenses that go along with running a business.

We thank our advertisers that remain in the paper. They brought you another week of local news.

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Making a newspaper during Covid-19

By Lois Allen, Publisher

Life as we know it will be life as we knew it with a completely different normal. It is like living in a Sci-Fi movie. Our new normal is like nothing any of us has experienced in our lifetimes. The streets are nearly deserted, restaurants and businesses are dark and empty. Bars once filled with cheer and laughter are now silent and vacant. And people are hurting.

The Cedar Springs Post has a staff of six employees. Over half are over 50 and at least one has underlying health conditions. My mother is 89 and has congestive heart failure.

Last Thursday, at our weekly staff meeting, we had a come to Jesus moment. There was a lengthy discussion about what to do if we had to close to the public and work from home. I’d be lying if I said everyone was expecting it. It seemed like a worst case scenario that might happen in the future. I told my staff that it probably wouldn’t happen, but we had to have a plan of action—just in case.  And then, on Friday, the schools shut down. It was time for plan B, or C for Corona, or COVID-19.

The Post has been here in Cedar Springs for over 30 years. Beginning operation in 1988, at a time when papers were turning into shoppers, laying off their journalists and printing almost all advertising. Not having to pay reporters and editors, their money went into larger circulation at a cheaper cost taking many advertisers away from newspapers. Not a great time to start a newspaper. But it became clear that people in Cedar Springs loved their local hometown newspaper and enough advertisers stuck by us as we danced between the red and the black.

When the internet happened, it was another blow to newspapers as advertisers flocked to this new form of advertising. But we were fortunate, we cut corners, buckled down and amazingly still had enough local businesses that saw an advantage to advertising and supporting the local weekly newspaper. So we hung in there, thanks to them.

And then, there was something new. Something called Facebook. What can I say about Facebook? It was a great way to connect with friends and family. Businesses used it to connect with their customers too. But it had no filter and launched us into the disinformation era. What to believe?

And now, life has come to a virtual and screeching halt from sea to shining sea. Will the demise of our local news be from some unseen foe sweeping through our cities and towns? Will it be something so small it cannot be seen with the naked eye that dooms us?

If businesses can’t do business, why advertise?  How can they afford it? And without advertisers, we will lose our local newspaper. Not just here, but everywhere. It will be a domino effect that will change the lives of many. The local newspaper is like a magnifying glass highlighting the community it serves—its people, its growth, its history. But like any other small business, it must pay the bills.

Currently, our staff is working from home and our office is closed to the public. In this era of emails and internet, we can do it. Stories, news releases, photos, ad copy, obituaries can all be sent via the web. But without our advertisers, we are history.

If you call, we have one employee here to answer the phone, but our office is closed to the public.

Also, if you are refraining from public places where the Post will still be found, you have the option of paying a minimal amount to have it mailed directly to your home. We’re offering a three month subscription for just $15 or a 6 month subscription for $25. And, don’t forget, we always take donations through paypal on our web pages at www.cedarspringspost.com!

We’re prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. God bless our readers and our advertisers and stay well!

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Toys for Tots

Shown here is Post publisher Lois Allen with all the toys we collected. Post photo by J. Reed.

A big thank you to everyone that dropped off toys at The Post for the Kent County Toys for Tots program this year! It was a big success, and we’d like to offer special thanks to the Food service program at Cedar Springs Public Schools, and the Cedar Springs Women’s Club for their great donations. The toys are going to make a lot of kids happy this Christmas!

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Happy 30th birthday to us

by Lois Allen

Thirty years. The Post has been here for 30 years! When I started the Post operations in 1988, I wasn’t sure we’d make it thirty days! But we have. Starting with a staff of three, my mother, Alice, myself, and shortly after, a salesperson. We struggled to produce and publish the small weekly paper.

I had worked for The Squire doing administrative work. No reporting. But after the Squire was sold in 1988, the new owner had no interest in owning the Post. The Post had been produced in Rockford at the Squire offices. It was then that I became a publisher. 

Operations began in the old Kent Theatre building. Not the theater part, which was then used for storage by the previous owners, but in an office area in the building. A small office with small rent. Almost too small for my mother and me to work together!

It was so long ago, that we didn’t even use computers. Oh, I had one. It was a Mac. The screen was about the size of a toaster. There was no software for layout or ad composition. Everything was cut and paste on a light table. Very labor intensive.

I wasn’t even sure what a newspaper did. I knew I had to cover accidents and fires, so I bought a $50 used camera and a police scanner. With my Mac, a copy machine, a waxer and my mother, I began to make a newspaper. Then I became a journalist. 

I lived in Rockford at the time and having grown up in Grand Rapids, I didn’t know a soul in Cedar Springs. I was alone and on my own. But the one thing I learned quickly was that the people here loved their little local newspaper. It kept me going when things seemed overwhelming. 

After two years of consistent publishing without missing a week, I went down to GR City Hall and applied to be a legal newspaper. Quite an accomplishment for three employees, although my mother wasn’t really an employee because we didn’t pay her.

As each issue hit the streets, I began to understand the value of a local newspaper and what it did for a community. I could see that it is definitely a public service, however not supported with tax payer money. All funding came from advertising dollars paid by the local businesses which is why I hired a salesperson. 

We were always grateful to have just enough advertisers who said “yes” to the local paper, giving us enough revenue to pay the bills and our meager paychecks. It was, and is, a labor of love. You don’t get rich and there were no benefits, no 401K, no health care and sometimes no paycheck. 

It’s difficult to place a value on what we [the newspaper] offer to a community. While other news publications covered several communities, we covered just the one. If it was important to the people of Cedar Springs, we covered it.

It was also near the time when shoppers began to “bloom” as journalists were laid off and news print with advertising minus the news was the new way to advertise. Then came the internet and then Face Book, and now tariffs that threaten all newspapers, big and small.

I don’t think anyone can truly understand what a miracle it is that the Post is still here with so much going against it. There were times when our bank balance was literally at zero. I would write a check to the printer and then go out and collect money from advertisers to cover it. At one point, we mortgaged our building to keep going. Another time, during a severe wind storm, the roof from our neighboring building blew off and landed on top of us, just like the wicked witch of the West! We lost power, but we got the paper out that week anyway.

There are 30 years of “behind the scenes” stories I could tell about running a weekly newspaper. I like to joke and say that I don’t run the paper, it runs me! We have never missed an issue, not one. Missing just one week would mean the paper would lose its legal status and no longer be able to print legal or public notices. No pressure!

Now, we have a staff of five. All working together like a well-oiled machine. I wouldn’t be lying if I said we’re all pretty tired, especially on Wednesdays when the paper is finished and “put to bed” for Thursday’s delivery. Everyone works hard especially our super duper editor, Judy Reed, who I think we all agree does an outstanding job of covering all the important stuff that CNN and other news agencies don’t. She’s our only reporter doing the work of three. 

There’s an old newspaper saying, and I mean really old, that goes, “A dog bite in [Cedar Springs] is bigger news than a war in Europe!” And that has proved true to this day. It also applies to coyote attacks as well, which we also covered in this week’s issue.

The story of the local newspaper can be summed up as a whole bunch of challenges and obstacles. This little paper has overcome them all! And it’s never, ever boring.

We continue to struggle and will always struggle like a print form of David & Goliath, as advertising dollars continue to leave newspapers to go to other, more exotic and “smart” ad venues. And yet, we still survive. Truly a miracle.

We especially appreciate and owe our survival to the businesses that continue to say, “Yes, we want to advertise in our local newspaper.” With so many other choices they are truly our heroes. They are vital to us. They invest in community by giving back more with their ad money, delivering an invaluable service to you, the people that call Cedar Springs home.

Will The Post make it another year, or another 30? I hope so, but we never know. I need to wrap this story up, as it’s Wednesday night and they’re waiting for this piece so the paper, and then we, as well, can go to bed.

Happy birthday Cedar Springs Post!

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Post for sale on Ebay

The owner of The Post is looking to retire from the newspaper business and hoping to do so with big bucks. “I’m hoping to find someone who really wants to own and run a newspaper,” said publisher Lois Allen who has owned and operated the local newspaper for nearly 30 years. “I’m really tired,” said Allen. 

According to Allen, posting it [The Post] on Ebay opens up the sale to anyone, anywhere. “I’m hoping to get the interest of a couple millionaires and possibly start a bidding war.” She continued, “Maybe it could be someone like Bill Gates or even Donald Trump. He [Trump] could make sure all the news was real—no fake news.” 

“You never know with an auction. Maybe some lucky sucker will win a newspaper for a buck!” said Allen.

The paper would come complete with four employees and an office cat. “It’s easy,” she continued. “Everything is set up and operational. You just have to make sure to make enough [money] at the end of the week to cover payroll, printing, insurance, rent and some other stuff,” Allen said. “It’s like a weekly fundraiser. You have a whole week to make a profit or lose it.”

The new publisher could keep the paper here in Cedar Springs or move it to wherever they wanted. Of course, the name would change from The Cedar Springs Post. It could be called The Gates Post or maybe the Trump Twitter. It would be totally up to them.

Bidding starts at just one dollar with no reserve. The building is not included but would be available to rent or lease. The winning bidder would get all the equipment, an editor, graphic designer, office manager, sales person and the office cat, all who will be looking for a job and available to start immediately at the time of sale. (Cause we can’t sell people, you will have to “rent” them.)

“It’s been 30 years of not boring,” claims Allen. She continued, “I would like to make enough to take a trip to a place where there is a beach and I could sip on pina coladas from noon until about dusk.”

“Mostly, it would be nice to just relax with no deadlines!”

The listing will be on Ebay and the auction will begin on April 1st, 2018. Happy bidding!

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Happy birthday, Cedar Springs Post

By Post editor, Judy Reed

What were you doing, in July, 29 years ago, when the Cedar Springs Post was born? Some of the headlines for July 1988 included:

  • USSR launches Phobos II for Martian orbit
  • Sting performs first rainforest concert
  • Florence Joyner runs 100m in 10.49 seconds for world record
  • 4 billion tv viewers watch Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute
  • Michael Dukakis selected as Democratic presidential candidate
  • Pedro Delgado wins Tour de France
  • Gorbachev pushes plan to elect president and parliament in March
  • Cedar board sets millage election to recover earlier budget cuts

Many people that have grown up here (at least those under 30) don’t remember what it was like not to have their own hometown newspaper. The previous newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper, served the area well for over 100 years. Once it closed, the area relied on out-of-town newspapers for several years to publish only bits and pieces of Cedar Springs news, much like area newspapers do today. Then on July 28, 1988, Roger and Alice Allen, founders of the Rockford Squire, rented out an office from Sipple TV, on 36 E. Maple Street in Cedar Springs, and started the great little newspaper you still have today—The Cedar Springs Post.

Roger’s daughter, Lois, took over operation of the paper, with her mother Alice, in 1989, and she’s still holding the paper to a strong standard today. The introductory issue of the Post pledged that “the community will once again receive the concentrated attention of its own local newspaper. The newspaper will be dedicated entirely to Cedar Springs and to the Cedar Springs area, and should prove to be the stimulus that the district needs to reach its highest potential.” Those are lofty words, but a promise that we still strive to fulfill today. We try to deliver the news you can use each week. In addition to the regular “hard” news such as accidents and fires, where else will you find what size catfish Johnny caught, who won the spelling bee, what the women’s club did last week, and who was arrested for drunken driving? Nowhere! Because the other papers don’t care but we do. This newspaper is about you and for you. And it will continue to be as long as we’re here.

Many people don’t realize that we wouldn’t know much about the history of our area if weren’t for the local newspapers. The Clipper told us about the early days of our town and the surrounding townships. And we can find most issues on microfiche at the Cedar Springs Historical Museum. That’s 100 years of history! The Post carries on that heritage by having a year’s worth of Post newspapers bound in a book each year. We then give that book to the Museum so that future generations can look back on the history we are living today.

Our readers tell us they love the paper. We continue to print 5,000 copies each week with the bulk delivered to newsstands and businesses, and they are gone within days. We wish we were able to cover even more of your local news and print more copies; but as advertising evolves, our revenues have declined, and so has our budget and our staff. The paper is free to our readers, but printing the paper is not free. We have overhead such as payroll, taxes, equipment, and supplies, along with the cost of just getting the paper printed. The Post is supported 100 percent by local businesses advertising on our pages. We sincerely appreciate those businesses that choose to advertise with us because they know that the newspaper and the information it supplies is important to this community.

Besides our printed paper, you can also visit our website at www.cedarspringspost.com to read some of our news stories, or you can download our e-edition from our website, which is an exact replica of our printed paper, as a pdf. You can also like our facebook page for breaking news and/or updates.

Thank you for letting us into your home each week, and we look forward to our 30th year of serving you.

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Winter is here!


n-winter-photo-lois-allenWe had our first big winter snowstorm last weekend, bringing 8-10 inches of snow across parts of Michigan, including here in Kent County. Kids were rejoicing Monday morning, when many schools were canceled, including here in Cedar Springs. Reader Shaun Cook sent us this nice photo of downtown Main Street, taken after road crews had plowed Main Street late Sunday night. Thanks, Shaun!

Publisher Lois Allen took this photo of her bird feeder, showing just how much snow had fallen at her home in Nelson Township.

More snow is on the way. If you’d like to send us photos of winter weather, or kids having fun in the snow, send them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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What a difference a week makes


Post photo L. Allen.

Post photo L. Allen.

Photo by Mary Lou Fuller

Photo by Mary Lou Fuller

Signs of Spring

By Judy Reed

A week ago last Tuesday, we were hit with the second snowstorm in a week and kids all across Kent County had last Tuesday and Wednesday of school. By the weekend, however, it started warming up, and as of this past Tuesday, all of the snow was gone. Mary Lou Fuller, of Solon Township, sent us two photos showing the difference. “I thought this was quite a contrast in photos,” she said.

She took the photo of the cardinal sitting on snow-covered branches on Tuesday, March 1. The second photo, of a blooming crocus, she took on March 8. What a difference!

Our publisher, Lois Allen, spotted a robin in a local business parking lot and snapped this photo. So she gets kudos for the first robin sighting photo of the season! We know that some robins winter here, probably from further north, so it’s hard to know if it’s one that’s come back, but we choose to be optimistic and believe spring is right around the corner!

What signs of spring are you seeing? Send them our way. Email your photos and some info to news@cedarspringspost.com. Put “signs of spring” in your subject line. We will print them as space allows.

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The Post travels to…the hospital


As many of you know, Post publisher Lois Allen was in a car accident earlier this month. She spent several days at Butterworth Hospital, in Grand Rapids, and was a good sport to pose for this photo with a Post! Lois is home now, but still on the mend. Thanks to everyone for your cards and well wishes! We hope to have her back with us soon. If you’d like to send her a card, you may send it to her here at The Post. Our address is PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Post publisher injured in accident

Damage to Allen's black Chrysler Sebring convertible can be seen here

Damage to Allen’s black Chrysler Sebring convertible can be seen here

By Judy Reed

Lois Allen, owner and publisher of The Cedar Springs Post, was injured and hospitalized for several days following a two-vehicle crash last weekend in Nelson Township.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the accident occurred about 7 p.m., on Saturday, April 6. Deputy Chad Tucker, the officer at the scene, said that Allen was southbound on Shaner Avenue, in her black Chrysler Sebring convertible, when she failed to stop at the stop sign at 17 Mile. She then collided with a westbound 2004 silver Saturn Ion.

Allen was transported to Butterworth hospital by Rockford Ambulance, where she was diagnosed with several broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a cracked verterbrate in her neck.

Sara Butler was the driver of this Saturn Ion.

Sara Butler was the driver of this Saturn Ion.

According to Lt. Marc Burns, the driver of the Saturn was Sara Butler, 34, of Grand Rapids. She was also transported to the hospital, with non-life-threatening injuries.

Allen’s small dog was also in the vehicle, but escaped without injury.

Assisting at the scene was the Cedar Springs Fire Department and Rockford Ambulance.

The Post would like to thank everyone at the scene for their help.

Lois hopes to be back up and around soon!

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First Turtle-selfie


This photo, taken by publisher Lois Allen, is the very first known turtle-selfie taken by a person. This turtle was spotted crossing the road on Ritchie Avenue in Nelson Township just last week. It probably didn’t need any help, but Allen wanted to get the “scoop” on everyone else. Unfortunately, she does not have a “smart phone” and cannot work her phone/camera… so she improvised by using a regular camera!

Join our Turtle Rescue Club! Send your turtle rescue photos to news@cedarspringspost.com with your name and address, and info of when and where you rescued a turtle. Turtle Rescue Club members will receive a certificate and keychain.

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Spring takes area by storm


The Cedar Springs Post took a direct hit when winds blown in by a fierce spring-turned-winter storm ripped through our area last Saturday.

Owner and Publisher Lois Allen received several calls at her home about it. “The Post is under attack!” said one caller. And indeed, the Post was in the path of destruction as the high winds lifted the roof of Len Allington’s brick building on the corner of Main and Maple Streets and sent it airborne across the alley between the buildings. It landed on top of the Post, wrapped around a utility pole and entangled in electrical wires.

Consumer’s Energy cut the wires on Sunday and left the scene, leaving three businesses and several apartments without power until Tuesday afternoon.

“The more you depend on technology, the more helpless you become when it fails,” said Allen. “You can quote me on that.”

What many people thought was a tornado turned out to be straight line winds. The first storm rolled into our area at about 4:30 p.m. and was followed by several others throughout the night.  The National Weather Service said damage across West Michigan was consistent with winds gusting 75 to 85 mph, and lasted 3-5 minutes. The winds were equivalent to an EF-0 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

The winds blew in, and hail rained down, damaging cars, mobile homes, and other outside objects. The size ranged from a dime to a quarter. Some mobile homes were pelted with hundreds of holes. It covered the ground to a depth that looked like snow.

Trees were ripped out of the ground or broken all across the area—Sand Lake, Cedar Springs, Sparta, Kent City, and surrounding townships. The wind even blew the roof off of the gymnasium at Kent City.

In the aftermath of the storm, rivers and creeks were swollen and many areas are still under a flood watch.

Thanks to the many readers who sent us your storm photos!

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