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Tag Archive | "North Country Trail"

Successful grant promises public restroom for Velzy

Velzy Park, in Solon Township, is slated to build a restroom in the spring or summer of 2019 thanks to the successful completion of a $50,000 matching grant. The Park Committee worked diligently to acquire the funds needed by the October 31st deadline. The goal was obtained with only minutes to spare before the close of business that day.

The grant came from an anonymous donor. The park committee raised $25,000 and it was matched by the donor.

“The credit really goes to area citizens and businesses who generously stepped forward with donations and fundraisers to help bring this project to fruition,” stated Hal Babcock, park committee member and co-coordinator of the matching grant. “The completion of the restroom and playground (also slated for 2019) will complete Phase One of the park’s Master Plan and become an important element to the North Country Trail.”

The North Country Trail is a public walking and hiking trail stretching approximately 4,600 miles from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. Future plans include running the trail from Cedar Springs through Velzy Park and the State Game area.

Additional plans for the park, located at 15185 Algoma Ave. behind Solon Township Hall, include a soccer field, baseball diamond and pavilion. The park has primarily been funded through donations and fundraising efforts. The next fundraising event will be the annual Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction taking place on February 9, 2019. Free concerts are scheduled for the summer as well. As the park progresses, there will be many opportunities for volunteers to contribute time and labor to maintain a clean and attractive environment.

For more information or to volunteer please contact Mary Lou at 616-696-1718 or Hal at 616-696-4227. Check out the facebook page, Solon Township’s Velzy Park for events.

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Building of North Country Trail begins

Workers began establishing a new portion of the 4,600 mile North Country Trail through our area late last month.

by Carolee Cole

On Saturday, April 21, 30-plus people gathered at the North Country Trail (NCT) trailhead on Red Pine Ave. near the Howard Christensen Nature Center. The weather was ideal for building new trail from the east side of Red Pine Dr. West to Division Ave, within the Rogue River State Game Area. The peepers in the nearby wetland areas were thrilled that spring had finally put in an appearance and sang loudly enough to drown out just common conversation. 

Jim Bradley, Vice President of the Western Michigan Chapter for the North Country Trail Association, headed up the effort. Within the Chapter’s tool trailer, an assortment of unfamiliar tools were brought for volunteers to use. A hoe/axe (pulaksi) style tool did a great job of removing small roots from young brush and trees. A large sort of rake/hoe (McLeod) was used to scrape the ground and break up the top growth. Roughing up and scraping away the top layer of duff protects the trail from regrowth of small plants and roots that would hide the trail while it is being established by walkers. Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus provided a great lunch for everyone at noon and we all rested our weary bones. I even saw one of the smarter workers taking a nap! And then it was back to work. The walk out to the work site was a lot longer in the afternoon than it had been in the morning as we had made good progress earlier in the day. We might have been less productive due to the vigorous workout in the morning, but there was a goal and these volunteers were die-hard trail builders!  

You might wonder what would attract 30-plus people to use the larger part of the first beautiful Saturday in Spring volunteering to work so hard and accrue over 20,000 steps per person. The North Country National Scenic Trail is a 4,600 mile linear National Park and local Michiganders are proud to have it cross through our State. Trail hiking or walking is becoming an increasingly “cool” way to exercise, meditate, build positive internal energy, get outside and experience nature, and it’s a great activity for friends and families to enjoy together. Most housing developments include trails and green space to serve their people. Connecting with a trail that offers an opportunity to get in a real workout, or an enjoyable family picnic outing, without the noise and danger of motorized vehicles, is a huge benefit. 

Cedar Springs is extra proud that we are home to both the NCT and the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail State Park. Both trails cross right behind the Cedar Springs Brewing Company providing our people double the opportunity and the advantage of two very different types of trails all in our own hometown! 

  Over the next few months and years the NCT will continue to be developed in our area. We are looking for citizens living in Solon Township between Cedar Springs and the State Game Area who might be willing to explore opportunities on your property for trail walkers to have access to off road trail. 

There will also be another trail building day on Saturday, May 12. If you have an interest in building trail, providing access, planning a trail activity, or just working with a great group of people, please contact Jim Bradley, jimbradley1033@gmail.com or Kenny Wawsczyk, kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org with the North Country Trail Association or Danette Bailey, danetteb@standalelumber.com Chairperson for the North Country Trail effort in Cedar Springs.

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Solon Market closes for the 2017 season


N-Solon-MarketLooks to the future with a dedicated shelter

Solon Market is taking hiatus for the 2017 season as the Market Committee determines how best to serve its customers and Market family.

The Market has been a staple at the Solon Township Hall for the past seven years catering to the community. It has provided a free venue for farmers, artisans, and flea market vendors, as well as activities and entertainment to area residents.

The Committee will continue to meet to determine the future of the market as the township works toward its planned park with a dedicated shelter. They will be assisting the Park Committee in fund-raising as the Township continues Phase One of Velzy Park.

Plans for a community garage sale/picnic are in the works for June 10, as well as a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the recently completed new trail. For a minimal fee, crafters can set up inside the Community room for this event. Plans also include a 50/50 raffle.

The park will also serve as an important pit stop for the North Country Trail as it connects to the Cedar Springs line. For more information or to donate to the Park, please check out Solon’s website at solontwp.org or call the Township Office at 616-696-1718.

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Community cleans up on Earth Day

 Community members helped clean up around the Heart of Cedar Springs and other roadsides within the city limits on Earth Day last Saturday. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

Community members helped clean up around the Heart of Cedar Springs and other roadsides within the city limits on Earth Day last Saturday. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

In honor of National Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, the City of Cedar Springs and the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) volunteers took to cleaning up the newly acquired city property running north along Cedar Creek and intersecting with the White Pine and North Country Trails, just west of Main Street in downtown Cedar Springs. Approximately 28 community members came together to cut down brush and dead trees, haul away the lumber, clean out creek waters, and pick up debris in the area.

Earth Day cleanup. Photo by Perry Hopkins.

Earth Day cleanup. Photo by Perry Hopkins.

Perry Hopkins, City Councilor and CBDT Board Member, along with Tom Mabie, CBDT member, and other community members were careful to protect and keep flowers, bushes, plants, and trees that are environmentally important to maintaining proper creek temperatures for the trout, as well as providing an enjoyable year-round variety of natural blooming and therapeutic vegetation. The Hopkins and Mabie duo are teaming up with the Cedar Springs Garden Club and Trout Unlimited in creating natural rain gardens and learning stations along the creek beds. Other city councilors participating in the Earth Day cleanup included Rose Powell and Gerry Hall.

John Ensley, CBDT, organized the Earth Day cleanup and has secured the donated marble stone from Doreen and Dan Welch, Welch Tile and Stone, which will be eventually installed along the walking path.

Community members helped clean up on Earth Day. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

Community members helped clean up on Earth Day. Photo by Kathy Ensley.

“The goal is to open up the new downtown park areas known as the Heart of Cedar Springs. We got a lot accomplished today thanks to the many dedicated volunteers. We still have some work ahead of us but it’s coming along nicely,” explained Ensley.

Julie Wheeler, CBDT Board Member, organized various other community organizations who also began their Cedar Springs Earth Day cleanup along the primary roadsides within the city limits and other sections of the White Pine Trail as part of the Earth Day efforts.  The groups have until May 1 to complete their section of the roads.

“This is another example of folks coming together for our community. We had volunteers out there on a sunny Saturday willing to do some hard physical labor,“ shared Kurt Mabie, CBDT President. “We hope to continue the cleanup this summer along with constructing a new amphitheatre, walking path, and veteran’s memorial by fall as needed funds become available.”

Garett Tunison, Ground Control Aerial LLC, did a second drone fly-over to show the area progress since his first video done prior to the construction of the library. The video will be added to the CBDT website.

The CBDT meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in their new regular meeting location of the Community Library gathering room. All are invited. More information is available on the website of CSCommunityCenter.org, the Facebook page of Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team or by calling Sue Wolfe at 696-2246.

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CBDT Grand Gala a huge success

Photo by Heather Ross

Photo by Heather Ross

Saturday, April 15, marked the date of the second Community Building Development Team (CBDT) Grand Gala. The event, which packed the American Legion to capacity, was titled “Celebrating a Great Beginning.” Kurt Mabie and Nick Andres, CBDT board members, served as host speakers for the evening, presenting their personal and factual summary of the community’s new facilities and enhancements over the last couple years. The new Cedar Springs Community Library, scheduled to open its doors on Monday, May 8, with a Grand Opening Saturday, May 13, was at the top of the celebratory moments. A new library has been on the hearts of many for over 25 years.

Mabie read a note from Karen Andersen-Meier outlining how she may not live here now but her heart will always be in Cedar Springs. She also added she believed her parents in Heaven, Neils and Edna Andersen, both avid readers and users of the library, would be smiling from ear to ear. Mabie cited not only the Andersens, but many folks such as Mike and Alice Holton and Ronny Merlington, who aren’t here today but had faithfully worked for this new library.

“They and many others helped pave the way to bring about this library. Now it is our generation’s turn to keep things going for future generations to enjoy,” explained Mabie. “The library, additional park properties along Cedar Creek, a metal sculpture, walking bridge, and clock tower are just the beginning of some of the enhancements planned for the area now called The Heart of Cedar Springs.”

Andres pointed out $118,000 had been donated directly to the library by a long list of individuals, organizations, and businesses in just the past 18 months. This, in addition to over $650,000 previously raised by the library and the $1.14 million raised by the CBDT, allowed for the paid-in-full completion of the library. “This is a significant amount of money from a small community given for the purpose of enhanced public facilities,” explained Andres.

Mabie pointed out the significance of gaining a partnership with the North Country Trail (NCT) officials who agreed to reroute the trail through Cedar Springs and connect with Algoma Township. The North Country trail is the longest walking path in America. Cedar Springs will be working toward “Trail Town” status in the near future.

“The CBDT’s purpose has always been to support existing organizations and governmental entities in achieving their goals. It brings us all great joy to see folks working together within our community and helping each other make Cedar Springs an even better place to live, work, and play,” explained Mabie.

Many groups have become reenergized and are moving forward. The Downtown Development Authority is reviewing ways to enhance the downtown area, the Fire and Rescue Department has blueprints for a new facility, and the American Legion is working on a Veteran’s Memorial around the clock tower and/or at the existing Veteran’s Memorial area west of Main Street to mention only a few.

The CBDT’s Phase I still includes an amphitheatre, board walk, Veteran’s Memorial, additional walking bridge over the creek, and rain gardens/learning stations. Depending on funds that come available, it is hoped these projects can be completed by this fall. Phase II would focus on a Community Center with opportunities for community gatherings and celebrations for up to 500 people. Phase III includes a Community Recreation center and rustic campsite along the White Pine Trail. A three-year pledge card was distributed to gala attendees for those wishing to support the CBDT’s future projects. To date, almost $35,000 has been pledged.

The CBDT meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the new Community Library gathering room. More information is available on the CBDT website of CSCommunityCenter.org, Facebook page of Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team or contact Sue Wolfe 696.2246.

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Coming soon — a new library

This rendering shows the new Cedar Springs Library building.

This rendering shows the new Cedar Springs Library building.

The building contractor will be chosen on Monday, June 27, which means building should begin sometime in July. The project is estimated to take 6-8 months, and cost just under $2 million.

The Library Board, Community Building Development Team (CBDT), and the City of Cedar Springs collaborated to make this lifelong dream come true. The vision of the Library Board, the drive of the CBDT, the support of City Council, and thousands of hours given by many people from our community, have made this extraordinary effort a reality.

One of the final approvals needed was from the DEQ. That approval came through this month. This had been a major hurdle because the Cedar Creek and attendant wet lands run through the ten-acre project site, now being referred to as the Heart of Cedar Springs, where the library building will be constructed.

Between Maple and Pine Streets, on the northwest side of town, ten acres is being developed, which will include the new library building, an amphitheater, a boardwalk along the Creek, with rain gardens and sculptures, a community building and a recreation/fitness center. Complementary to this Town Square development, the White Pine Trail and the North Country Trail will intersect right here in Cedar Springs.


In The Post last fall, the Library Board announced a fundraising opportunity for people local to Cedar Springs. While several folks have already participated, there are still bricks—available in two sizes—4”x8” for a donation of $50 and 8”x8” for a donation of $100. Bricks will be engraved with the name or message of your choice and will be used to pave the walkways into and around the Library.

In addition, there are a very limited number of retaining wall blocks available for a donation of $1,000 each as well as capstones for a donation of $2,000 each.  Retaining wall blocks and capstones, about 36 inches high, will have an inset engraved metal plaque to recognize donors, as individuals, organizations, or businesses. The donation may also be in honor or in memory of someone.

Over $3,000,000 has already been raised towards the whole ten-acre project—the Heart of Cedar Springs. A good portion of those funds have been designated to the new library building, and unless otherwise designated, all donations will be directed to the Cedar Springs Community Library until it is completely and totally funded. At that time donations will be directed towards other parts of the Town Square project.

“We want to take this opportunity to thank all donors and volunteers for their dedication to make this dream come true for Cedar Springs,” said Community Building Development Team chair Kurt Mabie. “It has taken years of planning by the Library Board, the City of Cedar Springs, the Community Building Development Team and various sub-committees to get to this point. We are now hoping that others in our Community will step up to the challenge and help make all of this possible.”

All gifts are tax deductible.  Both the CBDT and the Library are non-profit organizations.  The CBDT is a 501 (c) 3 and the Library is a 170 (c) 1. Checks should be made out to the Community Building Development Team and sent to the treasurer of the CBDT, Sue Mabie, at 15022 Ritchie Ave, Cedar Springs, Michigan, 49319

To obtain the forms for donating towards a brick or a block, you may call Donna Clark, Director of the Library, at 696-1910 or email her at ceddc@llcoop.org.  Checks for these fundraisers should be made out to the Cedar Springs Community Library. General contributions will be recognized inside the Library.

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North Country Trail to run through area

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

Kurt Mabie (right), Chair of the Community Building Development Team, signs the document for the National Country Trail to come through our area. Christopher Loudenslager from the National Park Service is on the left.

By Judy Reed

It’s no longer a question of “if” the North Country Trail will run through Cedar Springs—it’s only a question of exactly where.

Representatives of the Community Building Development Team, the City of Cedar Springs, Solon Township, National Park Service, North Country Trail Association and Michigan DNR met last Thursday for the signing of the document solidifying the North Country Trail route through Cedar Springs.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

All of these representatives had to sign the documents for the intention of the White Pine Trail to come through the Cedar Springs area. From left to right: Christopher Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner; Bob Ellick, Supervisor of Solon Township; Jerry Hall, Mayor of the City of Cedar Springs; Scott Slavin, of the Michigan DNR; and Kurt Mabie, Chairman of the CBDT.

“Cedar Springs is now home to a State Trail (White Pine Trail) and a Federal Trail (North Country Trail) crossing each other in our town, and we have a National Park that runs through town and through Solon Township out to the Rogue River State Game Area! It feels so good to have achieved this milestone!” said CBDT secretary Carolee Cole.

The North Country Trail is one of 11 National Scenic Trails, and stretches 4,600 miles, across seven states, from the New York/Vermont state line, to North Dakota. It is the longest of the 11 trails.

An optimal location review was done to connect the National Country Trail from the Russell Road and White Pine Trail intersection, to existing trail off Red Pine Drive in the Rogue River State Game area. The review noted that points of interest along the trail route include Long Lake County Park, Howard Christensen Nature Center, Duke Creek, Cedar Creek, Solon Township Hall and the park they are planning, and the City of Cedar Springs, with the planned boardwalk along Cedar Creek and other attractions. Several alternative routes were mapped.

The new part of the trail will be approximately seven miles long. But the exact route is not yet established since easements have to be obtained before the trail is officially certified.

However, certain sections of the trail may not be certified. “At this time the trail will not be able to be certified on the White Pine Trail, as the trail can only be certified in locations that are free of motorized vehicles,” explained Cole. “The Michigan DNR is in the process of approving the possibility for a parallel walking trail that could then allow the trail to be certified. It’s not unusual to have parts of the trail all along the route remain uncertified because a section must share with a motorized trail.”

So what’s next? “Well, a lot more work!” said Cole. “We have to secure easements (talk to people), then build the trail (clear a narrow, hiking only trail to certain specifications) and then maintain it (be willing to go out after a wind or ice storm and clear debris). So we need more people to get on board. A lot more people to get on board!”

If you would like to contribute to this piece of history in Cedar Springs, please contact Amy Anderson at a2andy@yahoo.com and let her know you would like to help with the creation of the North Country Trail.

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North Country Trail holds public forum 


Approximately 25 area residents attended a Public Forum presented by North Country Trail (NCT) and hosted by the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) at Hilltop Administration building on Tuesday, July 21. Representatives from North Country Trail included Chuck Vannette, West Michigan NCT President; Mark Weaver NPS, NCNST Superintendent; Chris Coudenslager, NPS/NCT Planner; and Luke Jordan, NCT Planner.

The NCT presenters are considering bringing the northern route of the longest walking trail in America through Cedar Springs, and also naming the City of Cedar Springs as a North Country Trail Town. These two distinctions could prove to be an important community asset according to Luke Jordan, a NCT Planner.

Two possible and tentative trail routes were presented connecting the White Pine Trail Russell Road Trail Head and Red Pine Trail Head/Rogue River State Game Area. Both trail options would be approximately 15 miles and would most likely be considered a 2-day hike. An important part of the final decision rests on community and property owner’s consent as well as the DNR’s permission to use some sections of the White Pine Trail.

Jordan explained the team’s objectives include characteristics of the trail being scenic, natural, cultural, and historic. A certified trail must be permanent and legal, and would be attached to any land deeds to protect the investment of the trail. Officials look for services and facilities, as well as accessibility. Partnership development and safety are also key in the final decision of a trail route.

Presenter Mark Weaver, NPS Superintendent, asked those in attendance to provide them with a “cool route plan through the city highlighting 10 activities, special events, points of interest, and all other information that would allow both hikers and those perhaps driving to Cedar Springs a pleasant hike experience through downtown.”

The NCT representatives were pleased with the community input and hope to have a final decision with a few months.

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Residents celebrate National Trails Day 

Each year the American Hiking Society hosts events all over the nation to highlight the importance of the national trails system. The North Country Trail hosts the event in West Michigan. This year, because of the new relationship between Cedar Springs and the North Country Trail, the event was held last Saturday at nearby Long Lake Park.

It was a rainy day, sometimes in a nice way, and sometimes in a ferocious way. But that didn’t stop over 100 people from showing up, eating a hot dog, a piece of homemade sheet cake or pie, and joining in the fun!

Tom Noreen presented an informative and enjoyable demonstration of how logging was done in the past. Tom Mabie took several people on a fun, educational hike around the park and explained the medicinal properties of various plants. They came back drenched, but a lot smarter!!

Double K Farms and Animal Junction 4H Club brought a petting zoo with chickens, Shetland Sheep, Pygora Goats, Boar Goats, an Angora Rabbit, mini rabbits and pigs. The 4H kids had a wonderful time showing their projects to everyone.

The Cedar Springs Library did face painting, made pinecone bird feeders and other crafts with the kids. Howard Christensen Nature Center brought many different animal skins for people to learn about and touch. There was a Ham Radio demonstration as well as informational booths for the North Country Trail and the Community Building Development Team.

As part of the Optimal Location Review, National Park Service representatives held conversations with local people to identify scenic, historical, or cool characteristics of our area as part of the process of getting the North Country Trail route certified through our area.

Local folk singer Bruce Matthews provided a perfect concert to cap the day.

Local businesses donated several items, including door prizes, pop, water, gift certificates and popcorn.

As the trail route is determined and certified, watch the Post to keep you informed and include you in other events to celebrate this exciting National Park called the North Country Trail being routed through our area.

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Celebrate National Trails Day 


May 30, Long Lake Park

Welcome the North Country Trail to Cedar Springs by celebrating the American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day at Long Lake Park (in the pavilion), 13747 Krauskopf NE, (south off 17 Mile), from noon to 4 p.m.

The event, hosted by the Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team and North Country Trail, will be fun for the whole family. They will offer hot dogs, ice cream, a petting zoon, games, music, popcorn, face painting, a ham radio demonstration, a guided hike on the North Country Trail at 3 p.m., a chance to identify medicinal plants, and a history of logging in northern Kent County. Residents will also get to offer ideas on what cool sites hikers in the area should see.

You won’t want to miss it!

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