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Tag Archive | "solon township"

North Country Trail to run through area


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

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

By Judy Reed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special meeting Thursday night: City of CS and Solon Township


Cedar Springs and Solon Township fighting a fire together in Solon Township in February, 2014.

Cedar Springs and Solon Township fighting a fire together in Solon Township in February, 2014.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs City Council and the Solon Township board will hold a special public meeting on Thursday, December 17, at 7 p.m., at the Solon Township Hall, 15185 Algoma Avenue.

The officials from the two adjoining municipalities are meeting to discuss the findings of the consulting service that did an operational evaluation and shared services study for their two fire departments.

Municipal Consulting Services LLC did the evaluation. They are the same consulting firm that evaluated the Cedar Springs Fire Department in 2009.

The consulting service evaluated each fire department to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can improve. They also evaluated opportunities for the two departments to share resources, including possibly consolidating.

They said that with both communities growing, and already sharing a number of services, such as County dispatch, Rockford ambulance, MABAS automatic aid, the school system, CS Area Parks and Rec, etc., that the fire services should not be segregated between the two communities. They said it could mean full consolidation or something less, such as Solon contracting Cedar Springs to respond to certain areas in Solon Township that lie just outside the Cedar Springs limits.

Other recommendations for shared services include joint master planning by the two fire chiefs (CS Chief Marty Fraser and Solon Chief Jeff Drake); combining some training; joint reviews by command staff of standard operating procedures; grant writing, etc.

The consulting service did not feel that service consolidation would yield a dramatic cost savings, due to the departments being understaffed. But they did say consolidation was feasible, and gave some ideas on what that might look like and what the cost would be.

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More fall colors


N-Fuller-photo

Aren’t these colors dazzling? Mary Lou Fuller, of Solon Township, sent us this photo of the beautiful trees in her yard. If only they could hold on a little longer!

Thanks so much, Mary Lou!

If you have photos of the fall colors, please email them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Solon seeks public input on proposed park plan


 

Solon Township will conduct a public input session for the Township’s 5-year Parks and Recreation Plan on Tuesday, June 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Solon Township Hall.

The purpose of this meeting is to gather input from the township residents concerning current and future opportunities for parks, recreation, and trails in the community. The comments and ideas received from this meeting will be used to develop the 2015 Parks and Recreation Plan Update.

Watch for information on future sessions on the Solon Township website and facebook page.

The final public presentation of the Solon Township Parks Master Plan will be held on Wednesday, July 1 at 11:00 am at the Solon Township Hall. This presentation will be attended by the Township Board and is open to the public for viewing and comment.

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Solon barn sold at auction


The old Stout barn will soon be torn down. Photo by Len Allington.

The old Stout barn will soon be torn down. Photo by Len Allington.

By Judy Reed

The long-running campaign to save a Solon barn came to an end last week, when the barn was sold at auction for $300.

The barn, known as the Stout barn, is located on property that Solon Township bought in a foreclosure sale several years ago. It is located behind the Township hall, at 15185 Algoma Ave. It is one of several barns on the property.

The barn has been a bone of contention since the Township bought the property. They originally investigated putting money into it for the new township hall, but decided to build after finding out what needed to be done.

The barn has been used for the flea market portion of the Solon farmer and flea market in the past, and this past winter was used for storage of RVs.

In March, the Solon Township board voted to remove the barn, and have Supervisor Bob Ellick facilitate the removal as economically as possible.

Ellick said that the demolition could start as early as next week, and should only take a few days, according to the buyer, a Mr. Bonthuis, of Ravenna. Under the agreement, he has 120 days to complete the job, and gets everything, even the concrete.

The buyer has to show proof of liability and comprehensive insurance, and the payment has been put into escrow. “If they do something wrong, then we keep the money,” Ellick explained.

According to current drawings for the park to be built on the Solon property, it shows a barn in the spot where the old one is. Ellick said the idea is to relocate the other three barns on the property, although he didn’t know where they were going to be put. He also said it’s also possible they could build a new one, but the plans have not yet been completed.

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Solon staffs full-time firefighter


Lt. Chris Paige. Photo by J. Reed

Lt. Chris Paige. Photo by J. Reed

By Judy Reed

 

There have been times in the past when it was hard to find a volunteer firefighter curing the daytime in Solon Township that was available to answer an emergency call. That is no longer the case, since the residents in Solon Township approved a half mill (.50) last August to fund the salary of a full-time firefighter to man the station 50 hours a week. Lt. Chris Paige, took on full-time duties after the first of year.

“It’s been a good thing,” said Paige, “to have someone here that can answer those calls. It’s not just that way here; it’s everywhere. Most people work during the day. A lot of departments wish they could have someone full time,” he added.

Paige, a graduate of Cedar Springs High School, started his career in the fire service in 1993. He worked at both Courtland Fire and Spencer Fire before hiring on at Solon nine years ago. In 2010, he was promoted to Lieutenant. In March of 2014, he was hired to man the station part time, on a trial basis.

Paige now mans the station Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. He answers emergency calls, maintains equipment, does paperwork, and maintains the facilities.

Chief Jeff Drake was pleased that the residents approved the millage to fund the position. “We hope to fill a void of alarms not being answered,” explained Drake, who is starting to see some of his plans come to fruition. Drake also applied for and got a partial grant to have a feasibility study done on ways to improve the department, including a possible consolidation with the Cedar Springs Fire Department. Both Solon and Cedar Springs approved the grant award in December.

 

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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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