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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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Business Bits


Kin of Hope Natural Health

 

Perry Hopkins, owner of Kin of Hope Natural Health, in Cedar Springs, knows there is more to health than just what you put in your body. Fitness is also a major component, and he’s now expanded his business to include the dance studio space above their current location at 90 N. Main, at the corner of Main and Maple Street in Cedar Springs.

Hopkins said that his business is unique because they are a natural health-based business, which is partnered with a wheat-free/dairy-free herbal tea shop. They offer a variety of health services, including therapeutic massage, natural health consultations, fitness classes, yoga, tai chi, dance classes, aromatherapy, ear candling, natural spa parties, self-help classes, etc.

“We keep our prices competitive and are located in the only building in town where you can have a hot cup of tea, get a massage, do yoga and fitness classes and get your picture taken (next door) all in the same building,” he said.

Kin of Hope is open Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday class dates and times vary.

 

Home Acres Ceramics

 

Do you like ceramics? Are you looking for craft supplies? Then you will want to check out Home Acres Ceramics, the new pottery studio at 60 N. Main Street, in Cedar Springs.

They offer ceramic and pottery painting, craft supplies, craft classes, a crafting studio, pottery painting studio, and crafty kids classes. “We are a studio with prices within your budget,” said a spokesperson for the Fitzgerald family, who owns the studio. “Our focus is to service the community with an outstanding craft studio.”

They will be expanding in the future and adding new product daily.

Visit them Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 12-8, and Saturday 10-2 and by appointment. Call 616-439-3009 for more info.

 

Robinet Physical Therapy

 

If you are looking for individualized, one-on-one, hands-on care with an experienced physical therapist, who creates treatment specific to your lifestyle and not just your diagnosis, check out Robinet Physical Therapy.

The business was opened in June at 11561 Edgerton Avenue, Rockford, by the husband and wife team of Barbara and Jason Robinet, both physical therapists. The couple met in physical therapy school at Grand Valley. In 2009, they helped create the Institute of Neuromuscular Medicine and Rehabilitation in downtown Rockford, and this year they decided to open their own physical therapy clinic. Barb’s sister, Karen Dastick, is the office administrator.

Jason is a manual orthopedic specialist for all ages, with emphasis on spine/back/neck disorders and sports rehab. Barbara is a women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction specialist with a manual orthopedic background. “With both owners as physical therapists, we understand the process of healing and health care and its importance for your family,” they explained. “We work to help each person their own individual goals whether it is walking out to get the mail or running for our college track team.”

They treat neck, upper and lower back pain, elbow and wrist/hand pain, hip, knee, ankle/foot pain, headaches, rehab from surgery, sports injuries, chronic problems, pelvic floor pain, incontinence, and bladder/bowel control.

They are open by appointment from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (616) 866-2729 for more information.

 

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Primary election for Cedar Springs City Council


Tuesday, August 6

The City of Cedar Springs will hold a primary election next Tuesday, August 6, for City Council. The city must hold a primary when the number of candidates running is twice the number of open seats. This year five candidates are running to fill two four-year terms. One seat is being vacated by Mayor Pro-Tem Charlie Watson, who decided not to run again, and trustee Pamela Medford-Conley’s seat is also up for reelection. The election will be held at the Cedar Springs City Hall, and a runoff will be held in November.

N-Candidates-Perry-HopkinsPerry Hopkins

About him: “I am 24 years old and have been for the last 14 years (I’m really 38.) I currently reside in Cedar Springs and am originally from the Palo/Fenwick area. I’ve been working in the area since 2006 and moved here in 2010. I own Kin of Hope Natural Health and Perry’s Place LLC for herbs, teas, and more. I also work part time at Meijer in Cedar Springs.”

Primary reason running for office: “I believe that if you don’t get involved, then you have no right to complain about how things are. If I can make the community I live and work in a better place, then I should do my best to do so.”

Other experience: Perry is currently a board member on the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, the DDA, the Planning Commission, and Community Action Network (CAN). He also is an active member of subcommittees for the CSACOC on all community events, including the Founders Day event, Halloween Spooktacular, Mingle with Kris Kringle, and is currently working with the library, museum, and Kent Theatre on possible upcoming fundraisers.

Main strength he brings to the position: “I am community involved and have interest in what’s good for the community. I am dedicated in what I do. I am open-minded, and look forward to improving our town.”

The major challenge he sees facing the district and what would he do about it: “The biggest challenges I see our community has is that many members of the community have a bad taste in their mouth over our town’s image. Many have given up and have the opinion nothing can get changed or done because no one will help. I will address these challenges by listening to the citizens, business owners, and other community members and make a voice for them. I will pass my vote for what I think will encourage them that yes, we can improve our community’s image, and yes we can grow, and yes, we can do it!

N-Candidates-Pam-ConleyPamela Medford-Conley – Incumbent

About her: Pamela Medford-Conley is 43 years old, and has lived in Cedar Springs for 14 years. She holds degrees and certifications from Montcalm Community College, CMU, and GVSU in child development, speech pathology, theater, dance, history, secondary education, communication, and argumentation. She teaches policy debate, communication, and academic tools for Forest Hills Central High School. She is married to Clint Conley who is a teacher for KCTC. She has two children–a daughter, Abbi Conley, will be a senior at Cedar Springs High School this fall and her son, Caelun Conley, will be entering first grade at Cedar Trails.

Primary reason running for office: If re-elected this would be her second term on City Council. “I am looking forward to continuing to represent my fellow citizens and be what I hope they feel is a true representative of their concerns,” she said. “One of the biggest issues the city will face in up-coming years will be our aging water system and continued funding cuts brought by Michigan’s state government.”

Other experience: Past experience includes serving 6 years on the Board Of Education for Cedar Springs Public Schools, where she held the positions of Treasurer and Legislative Representative and made multiple trips to Washington DC and Lansing to advocate for kids in Cedar Springs; 5 years on the Library Board including part of that time as Vice President; one year on the PTO Board of Directors; one year on the Red Flannel Festival Board of Directors; 10 years  in the  Garden Club with 6 years as President; and 13 years as co-discussion leader of the Cedar Springs  Book Club.

Main strength she brings to the position: “I believe what I bring to the office is experience, the desire to always seek information before making any decision, and an open mind to listen to all positions and represent all citizens.”

The major challenge she sees facing the district and what would she do about it: “The major challenges I see on the horizon are dealing with our aging water system, and resolving the issue with the Red Flannel Festival regarding the use of logos and doing this with dwindling resources as Michigan’s State Government – both the legislative and executive branches continue to add mandates and restrict funding.”

Gerald Hall (No photo available)

About him: He was raised here and has lived in Cedar Springs for 64 years. He is retired from the City of Cedar Springs, where he was formerly the Superintendent of Public Works.

Primary reason running for office: Gerald believes his experience will help the future of the city.

Other experience: His experience includes serving on the City Planning Commission and six years on the Cedar Springs Board of Education.

Main strength he brings to the position: Gerald said the main strength he will bring to the position is his knowledge of the city.

The major challenge he sees facing the district and what would he do about it: He said the major challenge facing the city is a shrinking budget.

N-Candidates-Mark-LawsMark Laws

About him: “I moved to Cedar Springs from Muskegon last June 2012. I am an operations management professional who most recently worked for Huntington Bank and before that the Federal Reserve Bank. I am now an entrepreneur.”

Primary reason running for office: “I found myself complaining about some of the outcomes in the council meetings. My momma taught me to get involved and do something to improve the situation and get off the bench and into the game. Complaining about something never makes it any better and according to my momma it actually contributes to making it worse. We have so much potential here in Cedar Springs.”

Other experience and main strength he will bring to the board: “Twenty plus years of operating businesses and business units up to 7 billion dollars, making tough budget decisions, negotiating contracts, sales and marketing, continuous improvement implementations, innovative and outside the box vision, and a can do attitude are just the tip of the iceberg of previous experience that will be beneficial to the City Council position.”

The major challenge he sees facing the district and what would he do about it: “Residents and businesses need to know that City Hall is here to assist them to get ‘er done. Whatever that may be. I would have the attitude of if it is a good idea that will benefit the community I would find a way to accomplish that thing and do all in my power and ability to do just that. Can’t is not in my vocabulary.”

Other: “Contracts for services needed by the City should go to residents of Cedar Springs if at all possible. Keeping the money local is a good thing, even if the local quote is  $37 more than the out of town quote. It would also be nice to have Cedar Springs be the Red Flannel Town that the Clipper Girls gave us and we have enjoyed for 70 plus years. And just how much has been spent on attorney fees for this situation? And we don’t have any money is the line that is put out there. But the cost of the attorney fees says something different. Just sayin!”

N-Candidates-ClarkDaniel Clark

About him: “All in all I have lived in the City of Cedar Springs for 20 years. I met Donna at what later became known as Jordan College on Pine Street in 1972. I graduated from Jordan College that same year with a B.A. and then from Andrews University in Berrien Springs in 1975 with my Masters.  I received my teaching certification from Aquinas College in 2007. We lived in Oklahoma, Donna’s home state, and then in Israel from 1988 to 2000. In 2000, I was hired by Creative Technologies Academy, where I am currently employed as the Director of Operations and Maintenance.”

Primary reason running for office: “I would like the opportunity to work for the good of my community; to make a practical, positive difference; to offer workable solutions as challenges and issues arise. I want to be involved.”

Other experience: “While living in Oklahoma I served as a volunteer fireman for eight years in a department with three full-time firefighters and twenty volunteers. I served three of those years as a captain of a five-man team. I completed training as a second level EMT. Mustang’s population at that time was 10,000. Through the last 12 years since we relocated to Cedar Springs I have volunteered on many occasions at Creative Technologies Academy beyond my regular work duties and have helped Donna with many details to do with library programs and fundraising, such as helping to load and unload tables and books for Friends book sales, etc.”

Main strength he will bring to the board: “I was raised on a farm and have a strong work ethic. I keep up on the news both locally and around the world and feel that my various experiences will help me identify with the citizens of the community and hopefully make choices balanced between necessary regulation/expenditures and those offering greater personal/business opportunities to Cedar Springs citizens.

The major challenge he sees facing the district and what would he do about it:  He said the major challenge is rebuilding community good will, especially regarding the Red Flannel Celebration. Also he would work to provide activities and opportunities for our youth to discourage drug and alcohol dependency.

 

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