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Tag Archive | "Pamela Conley"

Don’t forget to vote on November 6


 

Midterm elections are here, and this week the Post will be highlighting local candidates for school board and the City of Cedar Springs. Next week watch for an article on candidates in the Village of Sand Lake, those running for county/state offices, and a summary of proposals.

Cedar Springs Board of Education

There are four seats open for the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Three people will show up on the ballot for three of the seats: Mistie Bowser, Jeff Rivard, and Traci Slager. The other seat will not show names, but there are three people running for it as qualified write ins: Trent Gilmore, Paul Stark, and Rachel VanHorn.

Two four year terms:

Mistie Bowser

Mistie Bowser is running for a four-year term. She has lived in Courtland Township for 18 years. “I built a house in the CSPS school district after deciding this is where I wanted to raise my family,” she said. Four have already graduated from Cedar Springs, and one is still in school. “They’ve all been strong athletes and students in Cedar Springs and we are a very involved family within our schools and community.” She is a graduate of Rockford High School and Grand Valley State University, where she earned a Bachelors degree in PR/Advertising, and minored in communications.

“My primary reason in running for the CSPS board of education is my desire to be even more involved in my children’s education and have a direct impact in the different curriculums that will set a great foundation in learning for them,” she said.

She served on Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kent County (2000-2009) as treasurer, VP and president and on the public policy committee. She also served on the American Lung Association as a co chairwoman for RLC, a 2016 lung force hero and a spokesperson. 

“My main strength that I’m bringing to the board is my communication skills. I’ve learned these skills from embracing my faith, studying verbal/nonverbal communication at GVSU, my experience on other boards, in leadership roles, professional roles and being an involved parent with 4 children.

“The major challenge our district is facing is that our board is mostly a new board with new people. I look at this as a new beginning to take what worked from our boards in the past and build off of that with new ideas and continue to put students, staff and community first. I will listen with an open mind to all ideas and concerns and work with my fellow board members to come to a solution.”

Jeff Rivard

Jeff Rivard is running for the other four-year term. He currently serves as an appointee on the board. He and his wife Jennifer have two daughters, and have lived in the district for 11 years. He is a plant manager at a manufacturing company in Grand Rapids.

Jeff’s primary reason to run for office: “With my personal and professional experience, I can help our district improve,” he said. 

Besides the few months he’s been on the board, other experience includes serving on the CSHS parental advisory panel and the AYSO board of directors.

Main strength he brings to the board: “I have leadership skills that I have gained over years of leading people and assuring processes are implemented and followed. I have the ability to ask the right people the right questions to get the response that will affect the outcome.”

“Our largest challenge in Cedar Springs is now to focus on assuring that our students are receiving the best education that our district can give them.  The best way to properly address this challenge is to listen, learn and be willing to make tough decisions.”

Partial term ending in 2020 one seat:

no names are on the ballot, so you will need to write-in one of the candidates below: Trent Gilmore, Paul Stark, or Rachel VanHorn.

Trent Gilmore

Trent Gilmore is currently an appointee to the board. He grew up in Clare, Michigan. He and his wife and three children live in Algoma Township, and his wife grew up on a farm about two miles away. Trent works for Consumers Energy in a leadership role, and he and his family moved to Cedar Springs in 2014 when he had the opportunity to manage statewide. His education includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Management as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and a career working with people and making difficult decisions to best serve the community. 

Primary reason he is running for office: “I am running for the write-in term ending 2020 because I am personally vested in the success of the Cedar Springs School district as I have two children currently attending. I would like to serve our school district, students, and community with my skill set and help ensure that we continue to provide a quality educational environment for my kids and others who attend school at Cedar Springs Public School.” 

Besides currently serving on the board, other leadership experience includes serving on the parks and recreation committee in the City of Clare; and serving on a joint union and management committee at Consumers Energy to develop training for their workforce. “I have also led the Apprenticeship Committees for Electric Lines, Substation Construction, Substation Maintenance and Electric Meter Operations to ensure quality training and OJT,” he said.

The main strength he would bring to the board: “I have seen public education from several perspectives, first as a child of educators, as a student myself and now as a parent of students. I understand the need to support our schools and teachers to allow them to deliver a quality educational opportunity for our kids. I am familiar and experienced in labor relations having managed in a union environment for approximately 18 years in various roles in leadership and maintain a positive and healthy relationship with the union. I have experience making decisions related to customer service, finance and operations to deliver the best and serve others.”

The major challenge facing our district is the same challenge that faces every district: How do we give our kids the best education possible? The answer is we put them first and support our teachers, staff, and community to do all we can to invest in their future.

Paul Stark

Paul Stark is also running for the partial term ending in 2020. He has lived in Cedar Springs for 61 years—since he was 5 years old. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School, and taught fourth or fifth grade in the district for 37 years. His wife, Judy, is also a retired educator from Cedar Springs. They have one daughter who also graduated from Cedar Springs.

His primary reason to run for office: “I care that our district will continue to be a place where students are challenged, where staff is respected and empowered, and parents and community are included in the direction of the district.”

Other leadership experience: “I am currently a member of the Cedar Springs Community Library board, and while teaching I was on several committees. I also have been on the leadership board of The Springs Church.”

Main strength he would bring to the board: “I have been on the collaborative team while teaching. I have experienced outstanding partnerships with staff, administration, the school board and community.”

The major challenge facing the district: “There will be funding issues at any public school but it is imperative that the board choose wisely where the funds go. It is necessary to continue to support staff and administrators.”

Rachel Van Horn

Rachel Van Horn is also running for the partial term ending in 2020. She was born and raised in the Flint area and went to MSU for college. “I graduated in 2002 with a BS in Zoology. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Grand Rapids and started work as a Public Health Educator at the Kent County Health Department.” During her 13 years there she taught a substance abuse prevention program to elementary and middle school students; developed and taught a dog bite prevention/responsible pet ownership program in classrooms throughout the county; developed informational programs on substance abuse, communicable diseases, and West Nile Virus; and more. She decided to become a stay at home mom in 2015. She and her husband Aaron and two children have lived in the district for six years.

Her primary reason to run for office: “To ensure that ALL of children are represented and advocated for, regardless of ANY “difference” and to advocate for our teachers—that they may have everything they need to provide a safe and effective learning environment for our children.”

Other leadership experience: I am currently serving on the PTO board at Cedar Trails as the volunteer coordinator. I served on various committees during my time as a health educator including the Kent County Health Connect and Kent County Prevention Coalition.

Main strength she would bring to the board: I have the ability to look at the big picture…I don’t narrowly focus on solutions without considering the steps necessary to get to the solutions. I don’t favor band-aids that hide the true problems. My focus is, and will always be, on our children and how we can give them the best opportunities in life no matter what their circumstances may be. 

Major challenge facing our district: “The biggest challenge our district has right now is finding understanding and common ground between the Board, the superintendent, the district staff and the community. We need to listen to each other. We need to have the best interest of all of our children as a priority and work together to serve our community. We must regain the trust of our community. Each of these groups must be willing to listen, be open-minded, collaborate, and make tough decisions.” 

Partial term ending in 2022:

Traci Slager

Traci Slager is running to finish out a term ending in 2022. She currently is serving as an appointee in that position. She and her husband have lived here since 2007, and have three boys in Cedar Springs schools. She spent her early years in NE Grand Rapids and Rockford. She graduated from Taylor University (B.A. in Social Work) and the Indiana University School of Social Work (MSW). “I have worked as a youth director, ministry leader, substance abuse and theft intervention therapist, mentor, and advocate,” she said.

Traci’s primary reason to run for office: “I want to do my part ensuring that Cedar Springs Public Schools are a positive transformative force in the lives of young people. Working with youth has always been my passion and joy. I care deeply about seeing students have every opportunity possible to use their gifts and abilities to flourish and reach their fullest potential,” she said.

Besides serving on the board, her other experience includes being a founding member of two nonprofit organizations and serving on a handful of nonprofit boards and committees; serving as an adjunct professor at two universities; and she is currently on staff in Student Ministries at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, MI and teaches as an online Instructor for Taylor University. 

She said the main strength she brings to the board is building collaborative and healthy relationships within the district and broader community.

The major challenge she sees in the district is the support of teachers. “While there are many exciting opportunities for growth and further development within the district, I am most passionate about the challenge to make sure our teachers and staff have the support and resources necessary to handle the mounting pressures of being in the trenches. Without teachers and staff reaching their maximum potential, our students will not be able to reach theirs either.”

Cedar Springs City Council

There are two seats open on the Cedar Springs City Council this fall, and three people running for them. Both seats are four-year terms.

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley is running for her third term on the City Council. She and her family have lived in Cedar Springs since 1999. She is a high school teacher for Forest Hills Central High School teaching support classes, communications, and policy debate. She coaches competitive policy debate and forensic speaking. She and her husband Clint have two children, a daughter who is a student at Grand Valley State University, and a son, who is a 6th grader at Red Hawk Elementary. 

Primary reason running for office: The goal of my last term was completion of the library and upgrades to the water system. We have accomplished those. We are now working to build a new fire station to meet the needs of the growing community, work with the Community Building Development Team to further develop The Heart Of Cedar Springs with an amphitheater and a connection to the North Country Trail. My next focus is to fix our roads, repair and add to our sidewalks, and with the continued revelations of PFAS in the water of our neighboring communities, I want to continue to test…and be prepared to filter for this in the event it becomes evident in our water system.” 

Other leadership experience: “I have been the Communications Representative and the Mayor Pro-tem for the City Council for the past 3 years. In these roles I have served on a variety of committees including the library construction and funding committees and the Red Flannel Festival contract committee. In addition to the 2 previous terms on City Council, I was elected to 2 terms on the Cedars Springs Board of Education, where I served as the Legislative Representative. I made multiple trips to both Washington DC and Lansing to advocate for funding and policy needs for Cedar Springs Public Schools.” She also served six years on the CS Library board, and was a founding member of the Garden Club.

Main strength she brings to the board: “I have experience and a long history of leadership and policy making for the Cedar Springs Community.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: “Our roads are in terrible shape and we have limited funds. We need to seek grants and work strategically to repair and replace roads as we also continue to repair and replace water infrastructure. This needs to be addressed strategically to get the best use of our limited funds.”  

Shandell Napieralski is also seeking one of the seats. She was born in Illinois, and her family moved to Cedar Springs when she began high school. She graduated in 1991, attended Grand Rapids Community College and then later Northwood University. “I have always lived in the area and returned specifically to settle my family here in Cedar Springs. I have lived here most recently for three years, but collectively 10 years. I work for Materials Testing Consultants, Inc., a Civil Engineering firm as a Constructions Material Testing Technician and Sample Runner. I am once divorced, once widowed, and recently have become engaged. I have four biological children, but also have stepchildren, exchange students, and other lost kids welcomed in our home.”

Primary reason running for office: “I care about my neighbors and community. I want to do more than hear their concerns and challenges. Through action, I aspire to participate in decision-making that will impact us as a whole.”

Other leadership experience: She has served as a Cedar Springs Election Commission Member and as the Board of Review Alternate.

Main strength she would bring to the board: “Problem solving is my key strength. I seek practical information and use critical thinking combined.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: As with most councils and boards, (the major challenge is) projects and resources. By becoming a part of the decision making, I would become more involved in the direction of our community growth and learn more of the how, when, what, why, and how much.”

Renee Race

Renee Race is also looking to fill one of the seats. “My husband and I have lived in Cedar Springs for over 12 years and live within walking distance to the heart of Cedar Springs. We have a daughter who attends CSPS and of course, I can’t forget our dog Clark. I work full time for a local company and enjoy volunteering for one of the local Girl Scout Troops. I joined the Cedar Springs Planning Commission in 2017 working alongside my fellow Commissioners, taking on the task of updating the city ordinances to make it easier for businesses to settle their roots here in Cedar Springs.”

Primary reason for running for office: “To educate the community about the challenges we face living in a small community and speak for the community on the topics that are most concerning to them.”

Other leadership experience:  “I am presently on the Cedar Springs Planning Commission, a volunteer leader for one of the local Girl Scout troops and I volunteer my time working on different United Way projects.”

Main strength she brings to the position: “I’m personally and emotionally connected to our community. I always strive to understand other viewpoints. I treat everyone as equals knowing different viewpoints are important in making decisions that will affect our community.”

Major challenge facing the City of Cedar Springs: “Community engagement and feedback. I enjoy connecting with neighbors and friends in our city. I am all about finding effective communication channels to get a wide range of community feedback on issues that concern our citizens. I want everyone to be comfortable with providing input to keep our small town feel, as we continue to improve our city and community.”

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Prosecutor renders opinion on incompatible offices


By Judy Reed

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker issued his opinion this week on whether Courtland Township trustee Matt McConnon can also serve on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. In his opinion, the offices do not conflict with each other.

McConnon was appointed by the Cedar Springs Board of Education to fill a vacant seat in January. The Post alerted both Board President Heidi Reed and then Supt. Laura VanDuyn to the possibility of an incompatible office, since there was a similar occurrence in 2010. The Post waited until mid-February for an answer, then went to the Sheriff Department and asked them to have the current prosecutor review the case.

McConnon is glad the waiting is over. “I’m just happy it’s been decided,” he told the Post. “I didn’t want it hanging out there.”

In the 2009-2010 case, Pamela Conley, who was on the BOE, was elected to the Cedar Springs City Council. Lawyers on both sides felt it was a conflict, and asked then Prosecutor William Forsyth to offer an opinion. He came back with the opinion that the offices were incompatible.

Forsyth said at the time, that the two entities had contracts and agreements, such as the city collecting the school taxes and then being reimbursed for them. He also noted that under the Revised School Code that the Superintendent could negotiate a reasonable expense for city services and that the board must then also vote to approve any agreement between the school and city.

The other thing Forsyth had cited was the case of school board elections. He said it was his understanding that the city conducted those elections. The school district was required at the time to reimburse city/townships for the cost of running those elections. (That’s because they were held in April and not during a regular election.)

In a nutshell, he felt those things—the collection of school taxes, needing to vote on it (he said not voting on it was a breach of duty) and the holding of elections for the school and reimbursement for it made the offices incompatible.

Becker saw it differently. He said that he saw no contracts between the school and Courtland Township. He said the only possible contractual relationship found was the Cedar Springs Schools Parks and Recreation. Both entities are members of the governing body, but they are partners and do not oppose each other.

Becker did not feel the collection of taxes and being reimbursed for them was incompatible because he could find no direct contract between the township and the school system. There is, however, a form and resolution that the school sends to the districts.

According to Dennis Bain, Director of Fiscal Services at Kent Intermediate School District, the school districts send a L4029 form to the townships and city, along with a board resolution, that tells the township how much they should levy in taxes on behalf of the school district. The township then collects the taxes, and directly pays the school district those taxes. However, when it comes to the township being paid for collecting the taxes, the KISD acts as an intermediary. The township bills KISD for their services of collecting the taxes, and the school pays KISD what is owed.

Baine did not know if it was done the same way in 2010 but he couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t. He also said he didn’t know of any other district in the state that did it differently.

What the Post was unable to find out was whether Courtland Township trustees vote on whether to collect or disburse the taxes. We did not receive a call or email back from them by press time.

Becker also did not feel that school elections were a problem. He said it was different than the Conley case, because in that case, Forsyth said that Cedar Springs ran the school elections, and in this case, Kent County does. “The Courtland Township clerk runs them, but the ultimate supervisor of those elections is Lisa Lyons, the Kent County Clerk. She is the school districts election coordinator under the law,” he told the Post in an email. “A trustee does not have any control or supervisory capacity over her. That is what would lead to a possible conflict.”

The Post looked back at the school elections in 2007 through 2010, and found that people were told to vote at their own township or city polling place, just as they are now, and Kent County listed all the candidates, so they may very well have been done exactly as they are now. The only difference is that since they are now held in November during a regular election, the school doesn’t have to reimburse individual townships or the city for them.

See Prosecutor Chris Becker’s opinion here: McConnon opinion. 

See Prosecutor William Forsyth’s opinion on the Conley case here: Conley letter.

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School board selects new trustee


 

Matt McConnon was appointed on Tuesday, January 23, to fill a vacant seat on the Cedar Springs Board of Education. Courtesy photo.

But question arises on whether he can serve

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Board of Education held a special meeting Tuesday evening, January 23, to fill the board seat vacated by Patricia Eary last week when she resigned. The board interviewed six candidates, and voted 6-0 to appoint Matt McConnon, of Courtland Township, to fill the seat until January. He was sworn in at the end of the meeting by School Resource Officer Deputy McCutcheon.

Several of the board members felt McConnon’s 10 years of experience in policy making and budgeting on the Courtland Township board would be beneficial to the school board. It remains to be seen, however, whether they will get to use his expertise.

“After we appointed Matt McConnon to the BOE, it came to light that there could be an outside concern with the incompatible office law as Matt is a trustee on the Courtland Township Board,” said Board President Heidi Reed.

“With the first look, the two positions (Township Trustee and BOE) appeared to only have a ‘potential of incompatibility,’ which meant the law did not apply. Matt’s longstanding board service to Courtland Township is to be admired. We have been in contact with Matt and we will amicably resolve this situation after we have gathered the facts,” she said. 

The concern arose because at the end of the meeting, the Post found, after speaking with Mr. McConnon, that he was still serving on the Courtland Township board. He explained that Superintendent Dr. Laura VanDuyn had checked into it, and told him that there should be no conflict of interest since Courtland Township doesn’t do much voting on school issues.

However, the Post remembered that there was a similar case eight years ago, involving our own school board and the Cedar Springs City Council, and that the Kent County Prosecutor had deemed the two offices incompatible.

In that case, Pamela Conley, who was a Board of Education trustee, ran for Cedar Springs City Council in 2009 and won a seat. Both lawyers for the city and the school eventually agreed that the offices would be in conflict, and decided to send it to then Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth for a final opinion. He sent back his decision, explaining why the offices were incompatible. He also told Conley she needed to resign one of the offices by a certain date or he would file charges in Circuit Court. She decided to resign her BOE seat and still serves on the Cedar Springs City Council.

According to the opinion issued by Forsyth in January 2010, in which he cited the Public Offices Act, State Attorney General opinions and Supreme Court opinions, he noted that a person could serve on both boards if they do not negotiate or enter into contracts with one another, which the city and school do. “Of equal significance, an individual cannot avoid the incompatibility by abstaining from voting on resolutions…because abstention under such circumstances ‘is itself a breach of duty.’” He specifically mentioned the city collecting the taxes for the school, and the city conducting school board elections, and the school reimbursing the city for them.

Courtland Township does the same.

The Post emailed Board of Education President Heidi Reed and Superintendent Van Duyn to inform them of the prior case. Reed told the Post they would check into it. She then later issued her statement cited earlier in this article.

The Post will update this story when we know more.

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City swears in winners of election


Lisa Atchison and Gerald Hall were sworn in at last Thursday’s City Council meeting. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

There is a new face on the Cedar Springs City Council after last week’s election.

Lisa Atchison was sworn in Thursday evening, November 9, along with Gerald Hall, who was reelected to his seat on the Council.

Hall and Atchison were the only two running in last week’s election. Atchison ran for the seat being vacated by Dan Clark, who decided not to run again.

Hall received 98 votes, and Atchison, who has also served on the City planning commission, received 79 votes. There were two write in votes, but they were counted as invalid since no one was officially running as a write-in candidate.

The City Council also nominated and voted on who would be their Mayor and Mayor Pro-tem for the 2017-18 year. The vote was unanimous to reappoint Gerald Hall as Mayor, and Pamela Conley as Mayor Pro-tem.

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2017 Renaissance Faire 


photo by Perry Hopkins

photo by Perry Hopkins

Last weekend, May 20-21, there were strange goings on at Morley Park, as hobbits, orcs, elves, and other unusual people could be seen strolling throughout the Park, and all manner of entertainment graced the grounds, from sword play, to belly dancing, to musical minstrels. That’s because last weekend was “Fellowship of the Springs,” the 2017 Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire, put on by the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Without having a gate entrance we do not have an accurate number of attendees, but it is estimated over 400 attended between the two days,” said Chamber President Perry Hopkins. “Rain doesn’t stop a Renaissance Faire. It may have chased away a few patrons, but the faire still went on.”

E-Leesa Gypsy Enchantress and Steel Lotus Dance Troupe entertained everyone on the Gypsy Stage; Darkmore Colony of Larpcraft shared their battle skills on the hill by the north entrance to the park with their Larpcraft swords shields, and talent; Kingdom of Shiabruck took the flat ground and entertained with metal swords and their fenced in arena for patrons to dual with foam swords. The Wind Rose Minstrel, Bell Brook and Cantro, Joe Kid and Sheila Burke performed their musical talents in multiple areas of the park giving patrons entertainment as the shopped at vendor booths such as Belly Dance Costumes USA, Paracord Fashions, The Knotted Cloak, and Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more… Mother Earth Mehndi was set up doing Henna Art for passer byers.

A Royal Dinner (catered by The Grilling Company) with live entertainment was held on Saturday evening for those who wish to attend. Cast Co-Director Scott Schroeder emceed the Royal Dinner with a special toast from Cedar Springs Mayor Pro-tem Pamela Conley. Queen Victoria (Mandy Stephenson) and other cast walked the grounds mingling and entertaining people all weekend.

“We (the event committee) were happy to see more local people at this year’s Cedar Springs Renaissance Faire and more of them came in costume,” said Hopkins. “There was much positive feedback about us switching the date to May verses having the fair in June like previous years.”

He also said that because they didn’t have a parade this year, the vendors were able to do some shopping at local businesses before the festivities began. Many of them are eager to return.

“You know your fair went well when some of the new attendees comment about what they want to do for next year,” said Hopkins.

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Four new members voted on to City Council


Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

 

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon

 

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

By Judy Reed

 

Voters in the City of Cedar Springs cleaned house Tuesday and voted in four new faces to the City Council.

Perry Hopkins, Pamela Conley, Molly Nixon and Rose Powell all won seats. Leaving the council will be Mayor Mark Fankhauser, Mayor Pro-tem Patricia Troost, and Ashley Bremmer. Ken Benham decided not to run again. Both Troost and Bremmer were up for recall.

Conley (382 votes) and Hopkins (325) beat out Fankhauser (311) for two seats. Nixon (310) ran against Bremmer (295), and Powell (346) ran against Troost (270) under the new recall law.

The candidates ran in two groups. Signs around town urged people to vote for either Conley, Nixon and Powell, or Fankhauser, Troost, Bremmer and Hopkins.

A little over 33 percent of registered voters voted in the election.

Winners of this election will join Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale as members of the City Council at the November 13 meeting.

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Candidates for Cedar Springs City Council


 

There are seven people running for four seats on the Cedar Springs City Council. This year’s ballot will look a little different, however. It is the first election under the new law dealing with recalls. There will be three people vying for two seats, and then the two candidates facing recall, Patricia Troost and Ashley Bremmer, are each running against another opponent. The voter simply votes for one or the other.

Running for two seats:

Mark Fankhauser

Mark Fankhauser

Mark Fankhauser was appointed to finish out another councilor’s term in 2012, and is now up for election. He has served as mayor for the last year, and is seeking reelection to continue serving the people of Cedar Springs. Fankhauser has lived in the district 33 years, and is a Captain-EMS Coordinator for the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

The Post asked, what previous experience/skills do you have that you could use in this office? He said he has attended multiple Michigan Municipal League Conferences, which are designed to educate public officials. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Rockford Community Credit Union for the last 14 years. He has also been active with the Labor movement, holding several officer positions within the organizations he has worked for.

Fankhauser feels the most important issue facing the City of Cedar Springs is proactive improvement of the infrastructure, which protects the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Cedar Springs.

The accomplishments he is most proud of in his term on the Council are: First, seeing a dynamic re-purpose of the property at 95 N. Main Street, now the future home of the Cedar Springs Brewing Company. This was once a vacated building/lot in need; now a unique business that will complement the other businesses within Cedar Springs. Second, would be the recent transition to the Kent County Sheriff Department providing police service. Albeit unique changes, yes; these changes were based on facts, not opinions or emotions.

Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins

Perry Hopkins has lived in Cedar Springs since 2010. He is a naturopath, therapeutic body work practitioner, Dr of Metaphysics, and owner/operator of Kin of Hope Natural Health & Perry’s Place llc for herbs, teas, and more…!

The Post asked what previous experience or skills could he use in office? He is involved with multiple boards/ committees in the Cedar Springs community, including a trustee on the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, a trustee on the Kent Theatre Board, the Community Action Network Board, Cedar Springs Planning Commission, and Chairman of the Cedar Springs DDA. He also serves on various event committees in Cedar Springs. He said he is most proud of being a part of the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and bringing more events and happenings to the Cedar Spring Community.

Hopkins said he was prompted to run for office when he noticed there was a shortage of nonbiased citizens running for city council.

Hopkins feels the most important issue facing our district is being divided. “As a community we need to work together and help the community as one entity grow and become strongly united. The only way to make this happen is to work with every person, business, committee, board, group, or organization that has the community’s best interest in mind,” he said.

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley

Pamela Conley has lived in Cedar Springs 15 years. She is a teacher and coach at  Forest Hills Central High School. The previous skills and experience she brings include one term on the City Council, as well as terms on the Cedar Springs Board of Education, Cedar Springs Library board, PTO Board of directors, and the Cedar Springs Garden Club.

Conley said she is running for office again because she feels a strong responsibility that citizens need to participate in local government, and she was asked by a large number of neighbors and fellow citizens to seek another seat.

What does she think is the most important issue facing the community? “We have the perception that the local citizens are not being including in the decision-making process in our community. Decisions about the image of the community as well as the control of and management of Skinner Field have been made with little or no opportunity for input from the citizens.”

What was she most proud of accomplishing while on council previously? “During my term on the council we established Veteran’s Memorial Park and made substantive improvements to the water/sewer system,” she said.

Running for one seat:

Ashley Bremmer

Ashley Bremmer

Ashley Bremmer, one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She has lived in Cedar Springs 9-1/2 years. Previous experience/skills include serving on the Council since 2011, and serving on the planning commission prior to that.

Bremmer said she initially decided to serve on council because a member resigned and there was a seat that needed to be filled for the remainder of that term. “I decided to apply and I was the only applicant. That November I ran, unopposed, for the election. I decided to be on city council because I wanted to see the direction of where the city was going, be a part of the positive changes for the city, and make sure that the city was a good and safe place to raise my family. I had no, and still have no hidden agenda to be on city council. I take each issue as it comes, and try to make the best decision at the time, for the city.”

Bremmer says there are many important issues facing the city. “We have a tight budget, the streets and sidewalks need work, we have a new contract with Kent County Sheriffs Department that are all important. I think the really important issues that are facing the city are being sidetracked by personal agendas, hidden motives, hurt feelings, and people that are making a mockery of our council and city.”

There are several things Bremmer is proud of accomplishing while serving, including the bathrooms at the staging area, the Cedar Springs Brewery coming to town, and the sidewalks that did get replaced. What she is personally proud of is “representing my city and the council in a respectful and dignified manner. I have not lashed out when lies were spread, the council became divided and even took part in recalling me. I have been present for council meetings when there were tough decisions to be made. And most importantly, I respected the diversity of our council, without trying to influence them or use outside sources to get my way.”

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon

Molly Nixon is running against Ashley Bremmer. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 2001, and moved back to Cedar Springs in 2008. She is living in a home her family built in the 1800s, and that she grew up in. She is a Central Station Dispatcher at EPS Security, and a nursing student at Grand Rapids Community College. She says that her interactions with the general public through her employers for the last 15 years have given her skills she can use on the council. “I have learned to keep my professionalism and hear what is being said in the face of anger, fear, and character attacks. I bring a civility that the council has lacked at times. In the event that I do not persuade other council members to see things my way we are still neighbors, and we will leave the meeting respecting each other. I believe that facts, not people, are up for discussion.”

What prompted Nixon to run for Council? “I have been in support of coming to an arrangement with the Red Flannel Festival since it was first an issue. In the time that I have been engaged with the political process, I have noticed that the council operated on pride and secrecy. Calling closed meetings in situations that are questionable at best. They also rely too heavily on attorney client privilege. In sorting through the council documents I found property bought by the city for no reason other than it was a good deal, decisions against the express wishes of residents, placing restrictions on parking vehicles on private property, and property that was bought with the purpose of building a new library left vacant for reasons that I still do not fully understand. Some of these issues have been resolved, but that is only because the public has been voting in council members who are accountable.”

Nixon thinks the most pressing problem is that City Hall is “a place of secret meetings and make it up as you go rules.” But she sees another problem as well. “I also seek to reclaim Cedar Springs as my home. It always was, and always will be Red Flannel Town, USA. I want to put that back on every street corner of this town. The personal pride of a few people alone erased that. Feelings were hurt and the discussion was ended prematurely to suit the personal comfort of the city officials involved.”

Running for one seat:

Patricia Troost

Patricia Troost

Patricia Troost one of the council members named in the recall, is running for her seat. She is currently serving as Mayor Pro-Tem. She has lived in Cedar Springs for five years, and is a Paralegal, at Reisinger Law Firm, PLLC . She said that skills and experience she brings to council include, “Research knowledge and being able to look at both sides of an issue and not holding a grudge if I don’t agree or if there are different of opinions.”

What prompted her to run for office? “The code ordinance officer came to my home and told me I couldn’t park in my driveway- front of my garage as my drive-way was gravel at the time with weeds/grass growing and according to the ordinance that was considered my lawn. I asked who made up this stupid rule and was told the planning commission and then City Council made the final ruling and I stated that I needed to run for city council then.”

What does she believe is the most important issue facing the community? “A lot of our residents are still trying to recover from the recession and meeting basic needs.  I believe that we as a community can come together and help each other where we can and not just me it’s an US. There are resources that residents may not know about and we as leaders can assist in getting them.” She is working with The City of Cedar Springs Area Chamber and North Kent Community Services with their Seats and Feet’s Campaign (and personal items). They are collecting underwear, pajamas, socks and items you cannot get with a food stamps card with drop offs of donated items at various businesses. “The Chamber and business owners care about Cedar Springs and are here 365 days a year and I think it is great how they have agreed wholeheartedly to help me promote this campaign, as well as with North Kent Community Services…they are a great resource.”

Troost said she is most proud of when a young Eagle Scout came to City Council with a plan and idea for a new pavilion at Morley Park and asked if the City would partner with him. “It was amazing to see this young man wanting to give back to his community at such a young age and I believe that my fellow council members and I encouraged young Kevin to look outwards at others and see a need and that if we all work together we can make a difference and that he carries that with him as he grows up and continues it as well and passes it on.”

Rose Powell

Rose Powell

Rose Powell is running against Patricia Troost. Powell has lived in the City of Cedar Springs since November 1970, and has been a registered voter since 1971. She is recently retired. She graduated from Cedar Springs High School, as did her husband Chris, and their children, Gina, Brynadette, and Christopher. Powell said that previous experience includes serving on the Cedar Springs board of elections, DDA, planning commission, Chamber of commerce, and being a Rotarian. She was also a downtown business owner, and also employed as an office manager/sales person for 2 other Cedar Springs businesses.

Powell is running for council because: “I decided to get involved again, when I realized our City council voted to take down our Cedar Springs City flag and destroy it. I trusted our councilors to do what was right for the citizens, tax payers, and voters of Cedar Springs and surrounding community. The destruction of $4000.00+ of our people’s property, paying a law firm $11,000 to defend those actions, while telling us it was for the good of our city was appalling. After spending many…many hours studying CS. city Budget, I came to one conclusion. There’s something rotten in Red Flannel Town.”

Powell says her goal is, with the help of fellow citizens, to “guide our CS City policies, finances, and reputation in a positive direction. There will always be problems to solve. Together our community can do it, and do it well.”

 

 

 

 

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Voters choose two new city councilors


N-Election

When the Cedar Springs City Council convenes on Thursday, November 14, two new faces will be sitting behind the council desk.

Two seats were up for grabs in the Tuesday, November 5 election. Daniel Clark, Director of Operations and Maintenance at Creative Technologies Academy, received 139 votes, while Jerry Hall, former DPW Superintendent for the City of Cedar Springs, received 131 votes to win the seats.

They were followed by incumbent Pamela Conley with 111 votes, and Mark Laws with 65. The other open seat belonged to Mayor Pro-tem Charlie Watson, who decided not to run for another term.

According to Cedar Springs City Clerk Linda Branyan, 235 people voted—just under 11 percent of registered voters.

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