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Tag Archive | "Thad Taylor"

Police transition nears month mark


Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

By Judy Reed

 

It’s been almost one month since the Kent County Sheriff Department took over law enforcement in Cedar Springs. Overseeing that change is Sgt. Jason Kelley, supervisor of the Cedar Springs unit of the Kent County Sheriff Department.

“The transition is going great,” said Kelley. “Things are running pretty smoothly. I like the challenge. Everyone here has been helpful. I’m enjoying it.”

What people may not be aware of, is that Kelley is no stranger to Cedar Springs. In fact, he said he lives close by, and knows the community well. He already knew the officers here because he has worked them on various cases, and is also familiar with the area because of patrolling out of the north substation.

Kelley grew up in Benzie County and graduated from Benzie Central High School. After graduation he joined the Navy and served on active duty for six years, and earned his degree in Criminal Justice. After leaving the Navy, he attended the Police Academy in Traverse City, and then served with the Benzie County Sheriff Department for two years, from 2000-2002. He was with Rogers City Police Department from 2002-2003, and was hired by the Kent County Sheriff Department in January of 2003.

While at the KCSD, he has worked road patrol out of the Central, North and South substations, had several assignments with the detective bureau including the burglary and theft unit, and served on the major case team. He has most recently been a road patrol day shift supervisor, and road patrol night shift supervisor for the Central/North sector.

The four full time Cedar Springs officers that are now working for the Kent County Sheriff Department are in field training with other KCSD officers. Kelley said that Deputy Ed Good decided that he wanted something other than road patrol and is now in court security. “The other three officers (Chad Potts, Mike Stahl, and Chad Tucker) are doing an excellent job, and were moved up a phase early. They were accelerated into phase 2 of the training,” noted Kelley.

During the training, the officers are doing the police work, and the other officer is a passenger—a trainer that can coach the officer on how they do certain things at KCSD, what paperwork to fill out, etc. The officers train both here and at other spots in the county, depending on what’s being taught. For instance, Deputy Mike Stahl was doing a death investigation in another part of the county. “They are getting the different types of training that will benefit them—experience and knowledge they can bring back here,” explained Kelley.

Cedar Springs City Manager Thad Taylor also likes what he sees. “I think it’s going famously,” he said. “It’s going as smooth as it can be, given they’ve never done this before.”

Both Kelley and Taylor said that people have remarked that there seems to be more police officers in town—and they are right. Cedar Springs is in a central part of the north sector, and some of the deputies on patrol will stop in at Cedar Springs to fill out reports, instead of pulling off the road or traveling to the north substation near Kent City. “The community is getting more than they bargained for,” remarked Taylor. “There have been no negatives.”

Kelley said he has received positive feedback from people in the community. “People in the community have said they are impressed with what they’ve seen,” he explained.

The city still has constant coverage, with deputies patrolling in 12-hour shifts. Residents may see an unfamiliar face on patrol when deputies fill in for officers training elsewhere. Kelley hopes residents will be patient with them as they learn the city’s ordinances. “We have the best interests of the community and the city moving forward,” he said.

 

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Opportunity for new pavilion at Morley Park


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This pavilion is an example of what the one in Morley Park would look like.

Kevin Galloway would like to build a covered pavilion in Morley Park.

Kevin Galloway would like to build a covered pavilion in Morley Park.

By Judy Reed

‘Tis the season for giving, and an area teenager is modeling that with his plan to give back to the community while earning his Eagle Scout rank. And he’s hoping other residents and business owners will come alongside him and help him do it.

Kevin Galloway, 16, a sophomore at Cedar Springs High School, spoke with City Manager Thad Taylor last year about repairing the gazebo in Morley Park in order to earn his Eagle Scout rank. When it was deemed structurally unsafe and torn down, he came up with another idea. “My goal is to build a 20 x 36 pavilion,” explained Galloway. “This pavilion will be maintenance free and fit 8-10 picnic tables. The pavilion will be placed behind the Cedar Springs Museum, off of the parking lot for easy handicap access.”

The Cedar Springs City Council approved the project, and Galloway is now trying to raise funds for the project. His budget estimate is $17, 325. He has currently raised $9,000. Gust Construction will be the general contractor overseeing the project, to make sure things are done correctly, explained Galloway. He hopes to build the pavilion in the springs of 2015, but the project cannot be started until all the funds are raised. He is looking for both funding and people willing to help work on the project.

The Cedar Springs Rotary is the Boy Scout Charter, and they have a tax-deductible account for all of the money that is raised. Donation checks can be made payable to the Cedar Springs Rotary Club Foundation. The address is: PO Box 73, Cedar Springs MI 49341. Make a note in the memo section that the money is for Eagle Scout Project.

Galloway said he would be happy to meet with area businesses or community members to explain the project in more detail. He said the best way to contact him is through email at tnbgallo@aol.com.

 

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City gets second warning siren 


 

By Judy Reed

 

When the new siren was installed in North Park in 2011, the City of Cedar Springs  knew that although it could be heard as far as White Creek to the west, and Ritchie to the east, to the south it only reached to just north of Dio Drive. Former City Manager Christine Burns said at the time that the city hoped to one day qualify for another grant for a siren on the south end of the city.

That day has arrived.

The Cedar Springs City Council approved a second emergency warning siren for the community at its regular meeting last Thursday evening. According to current City Manager Thad Taylor, the siren would be placed directly behind the city’s lift station, near Cedar Springs Middle School, on Northland Drive, just north of 16 Mile Road. He said that West Shore Services, the siren provider, used computer modeling to determine that this site, in conjunction with the siren at North Park, would provide nearly 100 percent coverage for our community.

The total cost for the siren is $20,600, but the City will only need to pay for half of that. The Kent County Local Planning Team awarded the city a grant for $10,300 to assist in the purchasing and installation of the siren. The City had budgeted $10,000 for the project, and will move $300 from its Repair and Maintenance Supply Expense fund to its Capital Expense fund to complete the amount needed for purchase.

West Shore Services is Kent County’s preferred siren provider, and they also put in the siren in North Park in 2011.

While the siren in North Park goes off at noon per the city’s tradition, the new one on the south end of town will not. However, Kent County does test the sirens on the first Friday of every month at noon, so it will go off at that time.

According to Taylor, the siren has already been installed, but is not yet operational.

 

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City approves contract with Sheriff Dept


N-pull-quoteBy Judy Reed

 

This time next month, officers in the Cedar Springs Police Department will be wearing Kent County Sheriff Department uniforms.

The Cedar Springs City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening, October 9, to approve a contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department for police services. Council member Jerry Hall was absent, and Council member Ashley Bremmer asked to abstain, since she is employed by the Sheriff Department.

Undersheriff Jon Hess and Chief Deputy Michele Young were on hand to explain the contract and answer questions from the council. Sheriff Larry Stelma was also there, as was Sgt. Kelley, who will be the transition sergeant and most likely the supervising sergeant once the transition takes place.

Young said she expects the savings to the City to be about $119,000 for 2015. She explained that by using the township pool, their costs would be lower, since there will be 34 officers in the pool. Our five would make up about 15 percent of that. “They are joining us at a mid-range (on the pay scale),” explained Young. “That’s a minor raise for them. But with the pool you won’t see those high spikes.”

Kent County Sheriff DeptThe five full-time officers were given welcome packets, which also contained an application. The Sheriff Dept. hopes to give them an offer of employment by the end of this week. The target starting date is November 7. Those officers will stay in the Cedar Springs unit unless they decide they want to move elsewhere. Many residents did not want to lose their officers, and with the offer for the full time officers to stay here, residents will still see familiar faces. 

While the part time officers don’t get that same offer, Undersheriff Hess said they have a lot of part time positions open. “We have some openings we have purposely kept open in case they want to apply,” he explained. He also mentioned that there are opportunities for the reserves as well.

The Cedar Springs unit will use the current Cedar Springs Police offices at City Hall. Officers will begin and end their day there. The sergeant will be there daily, five days a week, and serve as the supervising officer for the patrol deputies. A sector lieutenant will also give oversight to the unit.

There will be on deputy on patrol each 12-hour shift. If Cedar Springs decides they need to add a deputy for a short time period, they can do that, but there would be a charge.

The officers will enforce all the city ordinances, like they do now, as well as all other laws. They will also respond to private property accidents, help unlock cars, and respond anytime an officer is requested, the same way they do now. Those were some things Cedar Springs specifically asked for.

All police equipment will be turned over to the KCSD and used for half of the allocation costs. The other half are being waived for the 5-year agreement.

The agreement can be rescinded anytime with 60 days notice.

The city and the Sheriff Department have worked on this agreement for several months. The City Council asked the City Manager to look into possibly contracting with the Sheriff Department after Police Chief Roger Parent announced his retirement earlier this year.

The City thanks our police officers for their years of dedication to the community, their patience and understanding during this difficult time and most importantly, wishes them well going forward,” said City Manager Thad Taylor.

This is the first time anything like this has been done in Kent County.

“The city manager and the city council took a bold, innovative and progressive step as they seek to collaborate with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services,” said Sheriff Larry Stelma, who also lives here in Cedar Springs. “I thank them for the trust and faith that they have placed with us and we look forward to serving the Cedar Springs community.”

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Railroading


The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to PostScripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

 

 

In the “good old days,” railroads and lumbering played a big part in the historical planting of small villages along streams in West Michigan. I am happy to see this theme highlighted by the visionaries of our Community Development Team. Everyone should get on board. It’s exciting.

We all know that railroad tracks are now history, but the article by the Post’s Editor, on September 11, seemed to bring the word railroading back to our minds.

Question: how can a City Council, with no input from the citizens of Cedar Springs, make an intelligent decision in 20 minutes, using a performance review form that I, as your Mayor, had fellow Council Members fill out over a year ago, regarding the performance of our City Manager, Thad Taylor, when he had only had about 6 months of track record?

Our newest Council Members, Dan Clark and Jerry Hall, never had an opportunity to fill out a performance review.

Some of us might have been born in the night, but it wasn’t last night. But with God’s help, railroading can become history. I made the following statement in council session. “I will not and I know many others will not be happy until we have an all new Cedar Springs, which can happen if everyone votes wisely in our November election.” Please, please, please send your message, and I promise you, we will listen.

 

Bob Truesdale, City Councilor

Cedar Springs

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City Council renews City Manager’s contract


 

By Judy Reed

 

The Cedar Springs City Council renewed the contract of City Manager Thad Taylor at a City Council meeting August 21. The vote was 4 to 3.

Under the terms of the agreement, Taylor was given a raise from $70,000 to $72,100 this year, and it would increase to $73, 540 next year, and up to $75,000 in 2016. Vacation days stayed the same at 30 per year.

Those who voted against the contract—Dan Clark, Jerry Hall, and Bob Truesdale—noted that they did not have time to digest it. And, in fact, did not know they were going to be voting on it that night. It was not on the agenda. Mayor Mark Fankhauser told the council during the workshop portion of the meeting that they needed to go into closed session because he had correspondence from the attorney, and it was added to the agenda that way.

No formal evaluation was released with the contract.

The Post read a letter to the council last Thursday evening expressing concern over the process they chose to get the contract approved. Read the letter here.

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City to study Sheriff proposal for policing


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By Judy Reed

 

With Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent retiring in September, the Cedar Springs City Council has a choice to make: either hire a new police chief, or contract with the Kent County Sheriff Department to provide law enforcement for the city of 3,500-plus residents.

Last month the City Council directed City Manager Thad Taylor to ask Sheriff Larry Stelma to provide a cost for the same level of service the current police provide. The Sheriff and his team presented Taylor and Chief Parent with a proposal last week that contained two options to consider.

“It’s not quite apples to apples but as close as they can get,” explained Taylor.

Currently, the Cedar Springs Police Department has six full-time officers (not including the Chief), four part-time officers, three unpaid reserves that work special events, one unpaid chaplain, and a part-time clerk. The police provide 30 hours a day of patrol. Three officers work 10 hours each, with two officers on duty during 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. There is then one day per week where they are all scheduled, although not all are usually working. “It’s a day where they can take vacation, or comp time,” explained Taylor. “It’s just the way the schedule falls so they get an 80-hour pay period.” That equals 10,140 hours of patrol per year.

The Chief works 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. That equals 1,980 hours yearly.

The clerk works 20 hours weekly, for 1,040 hours.

That is 13,160 hours of law enforcement accountable to the City. Last year’s police budget came in at $681,190. The 2014-2015 budget is projected at $685,511. (According to Chief Parent he gave back some of his budget to the city last year.)

Under the Sheriff Department proposal, option 1, they would provide one patrol officer on duty at all times—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition to the patrol officer, they would provide a Sergeant to work a 40-hour week. The Sergeant would provide supervision and command staff support, and work with the City leadership to establish the agenda and direction of the patrol officers. The Sergeant would also provide additional services, which could include neighborhood watch, business watch, presentations, communications to city officials, working with the schools, and some zoning enforcement.

Detective services, scientific support, record management (an $11,000 savings), management reports, IT and radio service support for mobile equipment, dispatch services ($35,537) would all be included.

Vehicle costs would be provided free of charge for the regular patrols, but the city would be responsible for the sergeant’s at $350 per month. They would provide a vehicle credit for the current police cruisers.

All uniforms, equipment, supervision, liability and training costs would be provided at no additional charge. Cars and uniforms could look the way that Cedar Springs wants them.

The patrol officer would provide 8,760 hours of straight patrol. The sergeant would provide the same amount of hours as the Chief—1,980.

While it appears to be less patrol hours, according to the Sheriff, they would actually provide 338 hours of more patrol time, because the detective bureau would compensate for approximately 16 percent of the city officer’s patrol time—the time they spend following up on investigations for felonies, warrant processing, and other follow up. Based on 2013 calls for service, that would equal 1,718 hours of service.

Clerical support would be provided at no charge and would include things like sex offender registration, gun permits, records checks, freedom of information reports, etc. Clerical support is available in Grand Rapids or at the north substation. The part time clerk that works two days a week could be at the north substation, or possibly relocated to Cedar Springs City Hall.

This entire option would cost $560,384, a potential savings over last year of $120,806.

Option 2, would be exactly the same, except instead of a sergeant to provide supervision, they would provide a community policing deputy. The deputy would provide the other services such as neighborhood watch, business watch, working with city officials, schools, etc. That option would be $548,306 per year.

While it looks like the Sheriff proposal would be a savings, there is also the human element to consider. All of the city’s full time officers—six of them, several with 10 to 14 years of service—would all have to reapply for their jobs.

“The Council has to decide what the current officers bring to the community,” said Taylor. “They give us a good level of coverage, similar to what the Sheriff proposed, but double coverage between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. These are officers that have made a commitment to the community—they work here because they want to be here. They know the community, and that’s very important in law enforcement. And people know them. How do you quantify that? They’ve made a commitment and are very dedicated. That’s not saying anything against any deputy; we just don’t have the certainty that they would be here any longer than a year or two. It’s difficult to imagine one being here for 14 years, like Officer Chad Potts has been.”

Taylor also noted that the current clerk is at City Hall 5 days a week to help people if an officer is not in. That might not be the case under the new options.

Another point to think about is if the Council decides to go with the Sheriff Department to save the money formerly spent on law enforcement, what will they use that money for? To lower taxes? Make road improvements? New sidewalks? Something else? “People will want to know how it’s going to impact them,” said Taylor.

He explained that the Sheriff department proposal would be a new way to provide law enforcement to the community, but he thinks the City Council needs to engage the public and find out what they want. “It’s a huge decision,” he remarked.

The Sheriff Department will have representatives at the June 12 City Council meeting at 7 p.m. to answer questions from Council. The Council is also expected to announce at that meeting a date for a special meeting just to hear comments and questions from the public on what they want.

In the meantime, you can contact City Manager Thad Taylor with comments at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org, or one of the City Council members. Just go to www.cityofcedarsprings.org, and click on council. Choose one of the names and click on it. It will give you a bio of the council member and an email address.

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Police Chief to retire


 

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent

By Judy Reed

 

Cedar Springs Police Chief Roger Parent announced last month that he would retire August 29, after almost 40 years in law enforcement.

He hired on as the Cedar Springs Police Chief April 15, 2008. Prior to that, he served 34 years with the Kent County Sheriff Department.

“What I’ve really enjoyed is being able to work with dedicated patrol officers who understand how important it is to provide service to the community along with police protection. Even through these tough economic times, the police officers have been given the proper equipment, training and technology to maintain a professional police department,” he noted.

He also highly commended the officers working under him.

“We have great officers. When you don’t have a lot of turnovers, and the officers like to work here, they have good relationships with the citizens—that’s really a plus. You don’t see that everywhere,” he explained.

Growing up just outside of Sparta, Parent was familiar with small towns, and said it was pretty much what he expected it would be like.  “Cedar Springs has a lot to be proud of,” he said. “I was never embarrassed to say that I was police chief in Cedar Springs,” he remarked. “My entire experience has been positive. There are a lot of nice people here. I’ve worked for two fine city managers here, and the city has good employees at city hall.”

Parent said he will be spending his free time with more recreational activities, including his twin 2-1/2-year-old grandsons.

“Roger has done a fabulous job,” said City Manager Thad Taylor. “I was and am continually impressed with his professionalism. And his customer service is outstanding. He has a keen sense of what it takes to succeed as a small town police chief and translates that to how our officers should perform. He sets a great example and will be sorely missed.”

The city is already searching for a new chief. They currently have an ad up on their website, and plan to post the ad on several professional websites as well. Taylor said they would consider both internal and external candidates. The deadline to answer the ad will be April 25, and interviews would be the week of May 12. “We hope to have a candidate identified with background check and physicals by the end of June, and extend an offer and have it accepted by the first part of July,” explained Taylor. He added that the candidate would then start in early August to have three to four weeks of working with Parent.

The Post asked Taylor if he had considered doing what the Village of Howard City recently did—merge with the county Sheriff Department to save money. Under their agreement, the officers became Sheriff deputies and administrative duties went to the county. Cedar Springs has checked into this before, but never acted on it.

“If council directed me to do it I would,” said Taylor. “There are pros and cons to going that route. I’ve not been asked by council as a whole to pursue that.”

 

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