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Tag Archive | "solon township"

Fire departments to look at cooperative services


 

By Judy Reed 

 

Both Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs will vote next week on whether to commit to funding a feasibility study on ways to improve services of both fire departments, including a possible consolidation of services.

Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake applied for and received a partial grant to fund the study. He said the study, to be done by an independent consulting service, would evaluate all aspects of the fire service delivery model in Solon Township and the City of Cedar Springs fire district proper. “This study will include alarms, training, fire prevention, fire inspection, code enforcement, building needs, apparatus and equipment inventory/needs, recruiting, duplication of equipment and services, etc. The end result will include recommendations to improve response, ability, and efficiency for our customers jointly in a cooperative manner,” explained Drake.

Cedar Springs Fire Chief Marty Fraser agrees that the study is a good idea. “I think it would be a good thing to do. We all need to make improvements,” he said, noting that some of the boundaries don’t really make sense. He used the example of Solon needing to respond to a call at 16 Mile and Northland, because it’s in Solon Township, even though the Cedar Springs Fire Department is closer.

Drake made a similar observation. “I believe this study will highlight some deficiencies that exist with our service delivery that are based on tradition and political boundary lines that quite frankly have just been chosen to be ignored in the past. I think as good stewards of the authority designated to our position, we owe it to the taxpayers to examine our delivery model and be prepared to correct any deficiencies and/or disservice to the customers.”

Both departments do automatically respond to fires in each other’s jurisdiction, but not medical calls or accidents unless aid is requested. And assistance is often needed during daytime hours, when on call firefighters are hard to come by. Drake said that’s one problem that could be addressed in the study.

“The fire service across the nation (not just locally) struggles to put enough certified firefighters on the emergency scene during weekday hours (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.),” he explained. “This study will provide recommendations for improving this fundamental function. I would anticipate this study would suggest the possibility of sharing personnel at a minimum in a cooperative manner, or even consolidation of resources. Either way the local municipality makes those decisions.”

The grant, which came from the State of Michigan, Department of Treasury, Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, was approved for $11,750, 25 percent of the estimated feasibility study cost of $47,000. Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick said that he hopes that the Cedar Springs City Council will participate in helping to financially fund the study at some level. “I think it could be eye opening for the community,” said Ellick. “I think it will suggest some things that could help us give better service.”

“I find it interesting that an analysis of the Law Enforcement delivery model in the City (of Cedar Springs) was just performed and the decision was made to make a change in the interest of cost and customer service,” noted Drake. “I think this study will follow right on the coat tails of this movement.”

Drake said that the grant has language that the feasibility study will be reimbursed at 100 percent if the local unit can demonstrate that, within one year of the completion of the feasibility study, steps have been taken to consolidate services.

Drake said he has no pre-disposed desire of any particular outcome. He just thinks they owe it to taxpayers to examine what can be done better. “Why not complete an in depth analysis by a certified professional organization and examine their findings with unbiased anticipation? Answering this question is the ultimate goal of this cooperation study that these two municipalities are considering. I commend both local units for the courage to consider such a challenge,” he said.

Both boards need to submit resolutions committing to the study by December 29, 2014.

 

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It’s Only a Barn


The old Stout horse barn, behind Solon Township Hall. Should it be torn down or the roof repaired?

The old Stout horse barn, behind Solon Township Hall. Should it be torn down or the roof repaired?

By Vicky Babcock

There is a controversy brewing—a decision to be made, studies to be done, directions to be given. At the heart is the Stout horse barn. Its fate is in your hands.

Tucked away behind the new Solon Township offices, at 15185 Algoma Avenue, the barn is easily forgotten, hacked away by the needs of progress—neglected for lack of funds.  Yet, this barn has a story to tell.

Is it a historic presence? If time is a factor in writing history, one could argue that it is not. In the scope of time it is a young relic, dating back only some 30-40 years. But if love, ambition, memories, events and dedication play a part, it is pure gold.

It was somewhere around 1971, when Leon and Billie Stout purchased the old Mactavish farm, the land where the stable now stands. They had raised horses before, but traded country life for the city when daughter, Katherine, was conceived. That all changed when Katherine caught the (horse) fever. At age 9, she began taking riding lessons through 4-H and, through her enthusiasm, the bug spread to the rest of the family. Before long, a 23,000 sq. ft. breeding and conditioning facility, Katherine’s design, was constructed; the Stout Barn was the culmination of a dream.

Built by Standard Lumber, the facility became one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the area, spawning champions such as Smooth Speed, Smooth Splendor, Comet’s Chip and Liberty Jet Line. The stable became a hub of activity in its heyday, for both horses and horse lovers. It hosted pig roasts and music, 4-H and Mountie training and one memorable auction. There were cattle as well, though these were likely not housed in the stable. And there were visitors from around the world.

Leon did not come late to horses; he grew up with them. He owned his first horse at age nine and he bought and sold horses as a boy. At one time, he even built and owned his own race track, through the combined efforts of a group of friends and a bottle of whiskey, the price for grading the track.  The site was the host for the Red Flannel Derby in the late 50’s.

The farm had peacocks at one time, escape artists who wandered to the western edge of the property on a regular basis. The tail of the peacock is another story—ask the barn—it knows. It was there when the prize bull went through two fences to visit the ladies.

That bull, a favorite, was one of the Galloways that the Stouts raised, beginning with 30 head of registered cattle purchased from a neighbor. At auction, that number totaled around 500. The quarter horses, numbering around 65 at one count, were sold off privately for the most part. It was a sad day for the Stout family.

For the barn itself, it was the beginning of an end. No longer in the Stout hands, its new stewards fell behind on its upkeep. Hard times and the economic downturn have taken their toll. For a brief time, it earned its keep as a rental, housing other people’s horses.  But it was not enough. With no funds to put back into its upkeep, the Stout Barn, once young and proud, was losing its battle against the elements. Time and apathy became insurmountable barriers—its fate seemed inevitable.

When the property—less than half of what it once was—came up for back taxes, Solon Township picked it up with a new township office in mind. Under the township’s stewardship, the stable and arena has heard the laughter of children once again. Horses—Ford and Chevy, enjoyed respite from the sun’s relentless rays in its vast shadowed interior. Solon Market had its birth there, and continues to use the stable for events today. It has seen a wedding, and it has sheltered a camper and a wagonload of hay. It is available for storage now. And still its roof continues to decay. Without some necessary repair, this chapter of history will end.

Only a barn? Some say so. But listen with your heart and you’ll hear a child’s laugh, the call of a new foal, the gentle wicker of its dam, the challenge of its sire. You may see the vibrancy of a young girl with determination and spunk as she graciously speaks of her passion—and of her champion horse, Big Boy—and of her crown. There is joy here and pain, life and laughter, smiles and tears and memories of a lifetime. There is pride and potential and hope. So much hope.

Vicky Babcock is a resident of Solon Township.

 

The Stout Horse Barn awaits the Township’s decision to either repair the roof (which the insurance company has agreed to pay for) or to tear it down. The Township needs your direction. Tear it down? Repair the roof and look into viable uses for it? It’s your call. Please come to the next Township meeting on Tuesday, October 14, at 7:30 p.m. and voice your opinion.

 

 

 

 

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What kind of bird is this?


Jennifer August of Solon Township has been seeing some bright blue birds around her home, and this week she brought in some photos she had taken over the weekend.

“At first I had just one bird, and then by the end of the weekend, there were three,” she told us. She said at first she thought they were indigo buntings, but then after looking at her bird book, wondered if they might be blue grosbeaks.

We sent the photos on to our resident expert, Ranger Steve Mueller. Here is his response:

“The two look similar. Blue Grosbeaks have been recorded in Michigan but the pictures are of an Indigo Bunting. The grosbeak would have brown wingbars. One of the pictures shows the bill and it is slimmer than a Blue Grosbeak’s bill. Those two feathers give reason to call it a Indigo Bunting.”

N-Indigo-bunting-vs-blue-grosbeak-BirdfeederBook

This National Audubon Bird Feeding book shows what a blue grosbeak would look like. Notice the notation about the wingbars.

We asked Steve for clarification on the wing bars. “The brown wing bars are quite distinct groups of small feathers that make small elongated patches about an inch long and 1/4 inch wide on the Blue Grosbeak. The Indigo Bunting may have some scattered brown feathers but they do not make a distinct patch,” explained Steve.

He said that the bunting is smaller than the grosbeak and the Blue Grosbeak is smaller than other grosbeaks. “The bill shape is very helpful. The bunting bill is conical and the grosbeak bill is larger and more rounded.”

Thanks, Jennifer, for your photos!

Please send us your bird and other wildlife photos news@cedarspringspost with some information and a contact number. We will print them as space allows.

 

 

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Spring cleanups start soon


By Judy Reed

 

SPR-Spring-clean-upsAs the weather warms up and residents begin to spring clean, some municipalities are offering drop off sites to help get rid of the clutter. Check out the list below to see when it’s offered in your area.

Algoma Township: Spring cleanup days are Wednesday, April 23, through Saturday, April 26. Dumpsters will be available at the township hall at 10531 Algoma Ave. Hours will be Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m to 3 p.m. No shovel offs or loose trash allowed. No liquids, no hazardous waste (no paint, oil, fuel, gasoline etc.) No brush or yard waste, no cement.

All tires must be cut in half, propane and fuel oil tanks must be cut in half. Fencing must be folded or rolled up. Barrels must have one end open or be full of holes. Will also collect E-Waste at the same location (cell phones, computers, TVs, stereos, speakers, etc.). Call the township for more info 866-1583.

City of Cedar Springs: The city will collect E-waste on Saturday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., during the Earth Day cleanup. A dumpster will be located behind City Hall and manned by Rotarians. Bring all your electronic waste for disposal such as computers, monitors, keyboards, cell phones, radios, stereos, laptops, VCRs, TVs, modems, power cords, etc. Almost any electronic item, working or non-working, with a cord or battery, will be accepted. Computer hard drives will be wiped and destroyed.

The annual brush pickup will be Monday, April 28. Please have brush out by 6:00 a.m. and neatly stacked as close to the curb as possible. No brush larger than six inches, tree removals or stumps will be picked up. They will make one pass through town.

There is no longer a spring trash cleanup date. Check with your waste hauler for pickup.

Also note that the city will be flushing City hydrants on April 25. To avoid staining laundry, allow water to run until clear before washing white or light colored clothing.

Courtland Township: No spring cleanup, they have a fall cleanup in September.

Nelson Township/Sand Lake: Spring cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, June 14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 5th and Cherry Streets, near the water tower in Sand Lake. We accept appliances, sheet metal, auto parts and engines (liquid drained), aluminum and copper wire, fencing (flattened and folded), mattresses, furniture, carpeting, clothing, glass, etc. No garbage please. No hazardous or toxic waste. No yard clippings or brush. No shovel offs of shingles and drywall. Will also collect E-Waste and metal at the same location. Please call the township for more info at 636-5332.

Sand Lake: Sand Lake will have a brush only pickup April 17-25. Pile brush along side of the road. See Nelson Township (above) for regular spring cleanup.

Solon Township: Spring cleanup dates have been set for two consecutive Saturdays, May 3 and May 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 15185 Algoma. One 5×8 trailer with 48-inch sides or one pickup box per household. All items should be boxed or bagged, 45 pounds maximum. Tires must be cut in four pieces, car or light truck only, limit four. Appliances such as washers, dryers, etc. will be accepted, but not appliances that used Freon  or other toxic chemicals. Call township for more info at 696-1718.

Spencer Township: Call township for info at 984-0035.

 

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Quick response saves group home


Post photo by J. Reed.

Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Solon Township Fire Chief Jeff Drake credits a new mutual automatic aid system with neighboring fire departments for keeping an adult foster care home from being consumed by fire last week.

Fire broke out at the home at 2690 Wiersma, in Solon Township, about 6:14 p.m., on Thursday, February 6. Drake said that they when they arrived on scene at 6:21, there was heavy fire and smoke at the front of the home. Fortunately, due to the MABAS agreement (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System), Cedar Springs, Kent City, and Algoma Fire Departments were automatically dispatched at the same time, giving Solon plenty of manpower to get the fire under control quickly.

Post photo by M. Ford.

Post photo by M. Ford.

Drake said that the fire had spread into the attic and got to the trusses. “There was minimal damage inside, but 50 percent of the roof will need to be replaced,” he explained.

He said the fire started on the front porch. A resident who had been smoking in the designated area disposed of the cigarette butt properly in a “butt hut,” but it was packed full and started on fire, melting the plastic. “They had failed to clean or maintain it,” explained Drake.

He estimated the loss at $50,000 property, and $5,000 in contents. The owner, Spectrum Health, is insured.

“It was an awesome save. An incredible save, really, considering the weather. We just recently set up the MABAS agreement, and it’s already paid its dividends,” he remarked.

Drake said he would especially like to thank the three departments for their cooperation and responding quickly to the scene. “If we didn’t have that agreement, and had waited 10 more minutes before calling them, it might’ve been a different story,” he said.

He said 22 of 28 Fire departments in Kent County are now participating in MABAS. Those who have agreements with neighboring fire departments respond automatically to all structure fires.

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Fire ravages mobile home


N-Fire1

N-Fire2A Solon Township family is homeless for the holidays after a fire destroyed their mobile home Wednesday morning.

According to Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake, he received a call at the fire station at 9:39 a.m. from a neighbor reporting the fire at 2280 18 Mile Rd, which is west of Algoma. Drake was on scene within minutes but the mobile home was already gone.

According to Kent County Sheriff Deputy Ryan Guernsey, the neighbor said she heard what she thought was several gunshots and didn’t think much of it, but then she looked out the window and saw the mobile home in flames.

The Cedar Springs Fire Department supplied their engine and manpower at the scene to put out the fire.

A couple and two children lived in the home, along with several pets. Drake said that the family had left at 6:30 a.m. and so was not at home at the time of the fire. The cats were believed to be outside, but it is unknown whether the dog was in the home at the time.

Drake said the cause of the fire could not be determined. The family, who was renting the home, was uninsured. The home was a total loss. It is estimated the family lost $5,000 in contents. The assessed value of the home by the Township was $27,000.

Drake said the family is staying with other family members.

For those who would like to help the family financially, we’ve been told that an account has been set up for them at Choice One Bank in Cedar Springs. If you have donations of clothing or other items, contact Vonda Hendges at (616) 293-8282. The girls are 5 and 8 years old, and wear sizes 5 and 8. Also needed are women’s 6/7 in pants and medium in tops; and men’s 32-32 pants and medium shirts.

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Darlene Joy Ferguson


Mrs. Darlene Joy Ferguson of Solon Township passed away on September 24, 2013, age 70. The four winds blew, my wolves came from the north gave me gifts, welcomed our family to the third heaven, as war cries sounded you became the angel of mourning, and Grey Otter cried inside, a storm is coming, and I, Chief of all Nations, will address our family legacy, Mother Earth is here. Mrs. Ferguson’s family is planning a private service at a later date.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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Two injured in Solon crash


Kent County Sheriff DeptAn accident in Solon Township Sunday night sent two people to the hospital, one with possible life threatening injuries.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Chad Wehler, 22, of Howard City, was driving a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix eastbound on 18 Mile about 10 p.m., when he pulled out in front of another car traveling southbound on Algoma.  The other car, a 2001 GMC Yukon, driven by Kylie Burns, 24, of Howard City, struck Wehler’s vehicle in the driver’s side door. Wehler had to be extricated from the vehicle and was transported to Butterworth Hospital by AeroMed with possible life threatening injuries. Burns was transported to the hospital by Rockford Ambulance.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts. Police believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.

 

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Solon Township shows off town hall


N-Solon-open-house

By Judy Reed

 

Solon Township held an open house last Saturday, July 27 to show off the new township hall to residents. Throngs of visitors were treated to a hotdog lunch and other free refreshments, as well as a tour of the facility. The Solon Township Fire Department also had an engine there for kids to tour.

The township approved the building of the 6,000 square-foot hall with community room in the fall of 2011. The building has 4,000 square feet of offices, a 2,000 square-foot community room, in floor boiler heat, 2×6 exterior sidewalls, about four inches of spray foam insulation, a brick exterior, steel roof, LED lighting which operates automatically, some heated sidewalks, plenty of handicap parking, and a security system with cameras that can be viewed remotely.

Supervisor Bob Ellick told the Post in June that the total cost of the building would be between $860,000 and $880,000 when completed.

 

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Solon moves into new township hall


N-Solon-Township-hallBy Judy Reed

 

It’s been a long time coming, but Solon Township finally has their new township hall at 15185 Algoma, between 18 and 19 Mile.

They moved from their old hall on 19 Mile at the end of May.

“It’s not completely finished but we’re getting there,” said Solon Supervisor Bob Ellick.

The township approved the building of the 6,000 square-foot hall with community room in the fall of 2011. The building has 4,000 square feet of offices, a 2,000 square-foot community room, in floor boiler heat, 2×6 exterior sidewalls, about four inches of spray foam insulation, a brick exterior, steel roof, LED lighting which operates automatically, some heated sidewalks, plenty of handicap parking, and a security system with cameras that can be viewed remotely.

They will be renting out the community room to residents, but not until after their open house, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 27 from 1-4 p.m. Refreshments will be provided.

Ellick estimates the total of the building will be between $860,000 and $880,000.

 

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