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Archive | October, 2010

Pink Ribbon donations

Thank you to all the following businesses who participated in our breast cancer awareness promotion.

Alpha Omega Coffee & Games

Cedar Chest Antiques and Collectibles

Cedar Springs Rental

Gold Buyer

Macatawa Bank

Penni Designs

Rockford Quick Lube

Spectrum Health United Hospital

Take Two Videos

The above named businesses advertised in The Post in the month of October and a portion of their ad cost is being donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure.

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Girls cross country wins conference championship

girls cross country teamThe Cedar Springs Red Hawks girls cross country team are OK Blue champions for the second year in a row! And congratulations also to sophomore Katie Weiler, who won the meet overall, with a time of 18:53. To read more about their accomplishment, click here to visit our sports page.

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Charges filed in falling rock death

Audra Brownell

Audra Brownell

Charges were filed Tuesday, October 26, in Colorado, in the death of Audra Brownell, 17, a Cedar Springs High School student.

Audra, the daughter of Scott and Diane Brownell of Algoma Township, was on a backpacking trip with the Rockford Reformed church youth group on June 17, when she was struck by a falling rock in the town of Estes Park, Colorado. The incident took place in the Knoll-Willows open space area just off the town hall parking lot, where she and others were resting. The area is reportedly a “green space” with a creek running through it. A cliff rises above the area.

Emergency responders were on the scene immediately and Brownell was pronounced dead from her injuries. The Estes Park Police Department conducted a death investigation and interviewed numerous witnesses to the incident. The area was closed to the public immediately afterward but later reopened.

According to authorities from Estes Park, a male juvenile has been charged with manslaughter in the incident, a class four felony in Colorado. Because he is a juvenile, the District Attorney’s office would not release any other information regarding the suspect or what charges he might face.

A falling rock struck and killed Audra Brownell as she rested in this green space.

Audra’s father, Scott, confirmed that he knew the allegations were coming, and said he does not know who the suspect is, but it was someone that Audra did not know. He noted that the suspect was there that day with his youth group from another state.

The Denver Post reported it was a 15-year-old from Texas, and the GR Press reported that the Larimer County District Attorney did not think the act was intentional and hoped to work out a plea bargain for the boy.

A court date has been set for November 5, 2010.

Audra had just finished her junior year at Cedar Springs High School when the accident occurred. Principal Ron Behrenwald said she was in the top ten in her class, and would have been section leader for the flutes in marching band this fall.

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Former teacher agrees to plea deal

Michael BrockUpdated Nov. 3:

Former Cedar Springs Public Schools teacher Michael Brock pled guilty to a domestic violence charge in Ludington’s 79th District Court Tuesday, and in return, the prosecutor dropped the charges of assault with intent to murder and aggravated assault. Brock was charged late last month after allegedly trying to strangle  his girlfriend while in a  hot tub at the Ramada Inn in Ludington. He had allegedly been drinking.

The domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor, and Judge Peter J. Wadel sentenced Brock to 93 days discretionary jail time (over a period of a year) with credit for 18 days served. He was ordered not to consume alcohol or drugs, and will have random PBTs (preliminary breath tests), and a substance abuse evaluation. He was also ordered to have no contact with the victim. Brock  was then released from custody.

Updated October 27:

Charges may be reduced if plea deal goes through

A former Cedar Springs Public Schools teacher was charged last week with attempted murder after allegedly trying to drown his girlfriend in a hot tub.

According to Mason County Undersheriff Tom Trenner, Michael Brock, 47, of Grand Rapids, was arrested Saturday, October 16, after they were called to the Ramada Inn in Ludington following the assault.

“It was a domestic dispute,” explained Trenner. “We think alcohol was probably involved.” The victim suffered injuries to her face and throat.

Brock was arraigned on Sunday, October 17, in 79th District court, on one count of assault with attempt to murder, and one count of aggravated domestic assault. Bond was set at $50,000 cash/surety. Brock was still in custody as of Wednesday morning, October 27.

According to Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniolo, a pretrial conference was held earlier this week, which may result in the charges being reduced. “We did hold negotiations between myself and the defendant, in consultation with the victim,” said Spaniolo. But as of Wednesday, he said he had seen nothing in writing, and until he does, the original charges still stand.

Brock was a teacher at Cedar Springs Public Schools from August 26, 1991 until the board accepted his resignation on August 31, 2010. For many years he co-taught a multi-age classroom of 4th and 5th graders, and later taught 6th grade at Red Hawk Elementary. While some have said Brock was fired, Cedar Springs Schools Superintendent Ron McDermed said that any pending issues they might have had with Brock were dropped when he resigned. “That’s all I can say per the agreement,” he explained.

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Ghost at the Post?

The building in downtown Cedar Springs that houses the offices of The Cedar Springs Post, is also the site of rumors from years past of a single shadowy figure that sometimes roams the upper corridors of the little local newspaper. Those rumors have resurfaced in this week’s issue. Who is she? Or he?

The building located at 36 E. Maple was once known as The Francis Lee Red Flannel Factory. Over six decades ago, it was filled with the sounds of sewing machines, scissors hard at work and the voices of customers looking for a pair of the “must have” warm red woolens for their winter wardrobe when the October winds blew in cold and snow.

If you travel to the upper level of the Post, you can still see the large nails protruding from the walls with the mark of Medium, or Large above them.

When the October winds blow, and indeed they did this past week, not all the bumps and bangs are of earthly origin. In the evenings, you can literally hear the creaking of steps as if something or someone is approaching.

Is it Mae Oppenneer, the original founder of the Red Flannel Factory? Or even more troubling, could it possibly be one of the Clipper Girls, Grace or Nina coming back to visit the newspaper? Maybe it’s just a ghost that wants some free coverage?

The Post is encouraging children at large on Halloween evening to stop by for a piece of candy and to visit our resident ghost. And be sure to be wearing your “disguise” when you give a friendly wave and hello to The Cedar Springs Ghost!

Happy haunting!

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Cedar Springs grad wins Grand award

Grand Award winners

Rebekah Visser Hughes (far right) received a Grand Award earlier this month for her part in Anne of Green Gables. She is pictured here with fellow Cornerstone student Leah Hoffman (left) and director Jennifer Hunter (center) at the awards.

Rebekah (Becky) Visser Hughes, a graduate of Cedar Springs High School and 2010 graduate of Cornerstone University, was awarded the Grand Award for best supporting actress earlier this month for her role in Cornerstone’s production of Anne of Green Gables.

Becky’s fellow cast member, Leah Hoffman, also won a Grand Award, for outstanding leading actress for her role as Anne.

The Grand Awards ceremony, held at the Aquinas Performing Arts Center on Oct. 3, annually honors community and college theatre productions.

“We were so thrilled to see this production receive 6 of the 8 nominations for the Grand Awards this year,” said director Jennifer Hunter, who is also associate professor of theatre at Cornerstone. “It was the highest grossing play or musical ever produced in the history of Cornerstone theatre, so for it to be recognized in the greater Grand Rapids theatre community with numerous productions was very exciting.”

Hunter explained that Becky played Rachel Lynde, the neighborly busybody, and had the audience roaring with laughter at every turn.  She said Becky’s character, Rachel, would pop up during scenes and dispense advice or I told you so phrases.  “She was always a surprise and would steal the scene that she would pop into,” noted Hunter. “Becky is truly one of our ‘character’ actresses.  She’s great at finding and embodying the character. She truly researches and tries to find the quirks and nuances of all of the characters she portrays.”

So how does she feel about her win? “It feels really good to be honest and also very humbling,” she said in a recent interview. “There is a lot of talent in the Grand Rapids theatre community, so even just to be nominated is incredible.”

Becky was also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Midsummer’s Night Dream.

As a theatre major she has been active in the theatre program at Cornerstone. She also was in several productions at Cedar Springs High School, including The Wizard of Oz (as the wicked witch of the west), Peter Pan (as Tinkerbell) and Jungle Book (as Kaa), among others.

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Tips to keep kids safe on Halloween

halloween 2009From Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma

Halloween is only a week away and soon our streets will be filled with little ghosts, goblins and witches trick-or-treating.

To ensure this Halloween is safe for your children, Sheriff Stelma offers the following safety tips:

•    Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping. Masks should not be too restrictive with adequate holes for proper respiration and peripheral vision. Consider using cosmetics to create fun or scary faces instead of masks.

•    Watch costumed children around pets. The pet may not recognize the child and become frightened, especially if the child is using a prop such as a sword or dagger as part of their costume.

•    Avoid hard plastic or wooden props, opting instead for items made of foam rubber which is soft and flexible.

•    To help make the child more visible after dark, trick-or-treaters should carry a brightly colored bag and a flashlight or glowstick. Add reflective tape to the sides, front, and back of the child’s costume.

•    At all times, watch for traffic and avoid walking in the street whenever possible.

•    An adult should always accompany young children. A parent should stay within close range of young children at all times and children should never be allowed to go down a street alone. Walk with your children to each house and wait near the porch or front entrance of the home until they return.

•    Older children should travel in pairs or in groups at all times while trick-or- treating and never venture down a dark, empty street.

•    Parents should know the route that their children are following. Children should always walk together to the front door of each house and only cross the street at crosswalks.

•    Dark, unlit homes should be avoided.

•    Children should save their candy until they get home so you can inspect it. Discard any unwrapped or suspicious looking goodies. If your child does get sick, call your family doctor or the hospital emergency room immediately and save all wrappers. It is also helpful to determine what he or she ate and which house it came from.

•    Keep flammable items, such as your jack-o-lantern, away from small children, pets, and flammable materials such as draperies, furniture, and paper decorations. Never leave a candle burning unattended.

“Halloween is a fun time in Kent County,” Sheriff Stelma concluded.  “Let’s make it a safe time as well.”

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School community service program receives mini-grant

The Cedar Springs High School Student Community Service program received a “Kids Care Week 2010” mini-grant in the amount of $250 to implement a service project to celebrate Kids Care Week, which was October 17-23.

The theme was “make your mark on the world: go the extra mile.” Organizations around the country learned about the 33 honorees represented by this national monument in Washington, DC, and developed their projects around the honorees’ social issues.  Inspired by The Extra Mile –Points of Light Volunteer Pathway Honoree, Wallace Campbell, Cedar Springs High School Student Volunteers will create care packages for senior citizens to be delivered with senior meals in time for the holidays, via North Kent Community Services. Students will be hosting a “packing party” in November to assemble the gifts.

“The packing party is a great way to expose students to the world of volunteering, meet new friends and offer them a way to help someone in need,” says Sheri Whipple, CSHS community service coordinator. “The grant will provide funds to purchase extra items that we may not receive through donations.”

Students are collecting donations of personal care items, such as shampoo, lotion, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, hard candy or other new, small gifts.  Items may be dropped off at any Cedar Springs Public School building through November 10.

Kids Care Week, a program of generationOn, in partnership with Hasbro Children’s Fund, awarded 200 mini-grants.

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Construction begins on staging area

staging areaConstruction has begun on the staging area for the White Pine Trail just off Maple and Second Streets in Cedar Springs. The land for the staging area was donated by the Gary Gust family, and the money for the project comes from a matching grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund. A gazebo will also be built there and dedicated to Clara Gust, Gary’s mother. Charlie Nelson, a Cedar Springs High School student, is taking on coordinating the construction of the gazebo as an Eagle Scout project. The city hopes to have a dedication as soon as the project is complete.

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Residents to cast votes next Tuesday

Residents across Michigan and the United States will head to the polls on Tuesday, November 2, not only elect a variety of new candidates to public office, but to also decide some ballot issues as well.


Every 16 years, Michigan voters are asked whether they want to rewrite the Michigan constitution, and that proposal will be on the ballot again this year as proposal 1. The last time it was redone was in 1963, and it is the fourth constitution in state history. Most candidates oppose calling a constitutional convention, because the cost has been estimated at $45 million.

Another proposal on the ballot would ban all felons from office if they have been convicted of certain felonies in the previous 20 years.

Cedar Springs

Here in Cedar Springs, there is an uncontested race for City Council, with incumbent Ken Benham and newcomer Neil Gomez running for the positions.

Nelson Township

In Nelson Township, there are two people vying for the position of treasurer—current treasurer Katy Austin, and current deputy clerk Lisa Heydenburg.

Incumbent Katy Austin has lived in the township for most of her life. She grew up on Pine Lake, attended Cedar Springs Public Schools, and currently lives on Becker St. She is the proud mother of Olivia (age 7) and Alaina (age 4) and haa been married to Shawn for 11 years.

“I am running for Treasurer because I truly enjoy being a public servant and working with people as a problem solver,” she told the Post. “I am the best candidate for the job because I have the most experience.”

Austin said she has been the Township Treasurer for the past year and has taken every educational opportunity in an effort to provide the residents with the best service possible. “I also have an extensive background in accounting,” she added.

Austin she thinks the most pressing issue that Nelson Township is facing is how to grow as a community, and how they can encourage people to move there. “I am so excited for the opportunity to be elected by the residents!” she said.

Lisa Heydenburg, the current Nelson Township deputy clerk, is also running for the treasurer position.  She has lived in Nelson Township for 17 years, and has been married to her husband, Al, for 22 years. They have 3 daughters. Twins Erin and Sarah, 17, are seniors at Algoma Christian, and Emily is almost 11 and a sixth     grader at Algoma Christian.

Heydenburg said she wants to run for office because “It is the next logical step for me. It’s not just a job for me; I like working in and for my community.  Being elected as Treasurer would mean I can be even more involved in the future of the township.”

She says she is a good candidate for the job because she has worked at the township as Deputy Clerk for 5 years and has been the Secretary for the Planning Commission for over 3 years, and has attended many board meetings during this time. “I have knowledge of how the township office works and I am able to assist residents in most areas, from voter registration to building permits. I have also worked at every election for the past 16 years,” she added.

What does she think is the most pressing issue facing the township?  “Right now I think whether or not the Village of Sand Lake disincorporates because it will affect the whole township,” she said.

State candidates

Residents will also be voting for many state offices including Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, our US House 3rd District representative, our 73rd District State Representative, 28th District state senator.

To compare the candidates check out a voter’s guide at one of the following websites:





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New laws to fight deceptive debt relief

Good news for those struggling to pay their bills: all of the new Federal Trade Commission regulations to help protect financially-desperate families from deceptive offers for debt relief will go into effect on October 27, 2010.  While the new rule will have a significant impact on reducing predatory debt relief, the Better Business Bureau advises consumers that they still need to use caution when enlisting the help of a third party to get out of debt.

Since the start of the recession in December of 2007, the Better Business Bureau has received more than 6,000 complaints from consumers about debt relief or debt settlement companies. Typically, complainants say they were charged large up-front fees in exchange for the empty promise that the company would significantly reduce or eliminate their debt.

“The debt relief industry has flourished in the current economy and you can bet that many unscrupulous companies are feverishly trying to figure out ways to get around the new laws, such as relying less on telephones to solicit new customers,” said Ken Vander Meeden, President of the BBB Serving Western Michigan.  “While these new rules provide effective new protections, consumers still need to be on the lookout for deceptive debt relief services.”

Under the new rule, any company that solicits debt relief services over the phone—including taking incoming calls from new customers—will not be able to charge upfront fees until:

• the debt relief service successfully renegotiates, settles, reduces, or otherwise changes the terms of at least one of the consumer’s debts;

• there is a written settlement agreement, debt management plan, or other agreement between the consumer and the creditor, and the consumer has agreed to it; and

• the consumer has made at least one payment to the creditor as a result of the agreement negotiated by the debt relief provider.

Additionally, debt relief providers cannot require that consumers set aside payments in a “dedicated account” unless:

• the dedicated account is maintained at an insured financial institution;

• the consumer owns the funds (including any interest accrued);

• the consumer can withdraw the funds at any time without penalty;

• the provider does not own or control or have any affiliation with the company administering the account; and

• the provider does not exchange any referral fees with the company administering the account.

Finally, before the consumer signs up for any debt relief service, providers must disclose fundamental aspects of their services, including how long it will take for consumers to see results, how much it will cost, the negative consequences that could result from using debt relief services, and key information about dedicated accounts if they choose to require them.

Businesses can learn more about how to follow this new rule on the FTC’s Business Center web site: http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus72-debt-relief-services-telemarketing-sales-rule-guide-business

For more information on managing credit and getting out of debt, check out the BBB’s free online advice at:  http://www.bbb.org/credit-management/

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New drunk driving law to take effect Sunday

from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning

Starting Sunday, Michigan’s new high blood alcohol content (BAC) drunk driving law takes effect, with enhanced penalties for first-time drivers convicted of operating with a BAC of .17 or higher.  Because the new law’s effective date is Oct. 31, it also coincides with additional federally funded drunk driving patrols in 35 counties, that started Monday and runs through Halloween.

Public Act 462 of 2008 creates a new high BAC category of “operating while intoxicated.” BAC refers to the alcohol content in a person’s blood, breath or urine.  This new operating while intoxicated offense provides for enhanced criminal and driver’s license sanctions.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) and Rep. Bob Constan (D-Dearborn Heights).  Sen. Patricia Birkholz (R-Saugatuck Township) and Rep. Marc Corriveau (D-Northville) sponsored related legislation that will establish a DWI/sobriety court ignition interlock pilot project in 2011.

Among the enhanced penalties, convicted drivers could face:

*Up to 180 days in jail (increased from 93 days).

*Fine of $200 but not more than $700 (increased from $100 but not more than $500).

*One year license suspension with restrictions permitted after 45 days. (increased from six-month license suspension with restrictions permitted after 30 days).

*Up to 360 hours community service (same).

*Cost of prosecution (same).

*Immobilization not exceeding 180 days allowed (same).

*6 points on the driving record (same).

*Mandatory alcohol treatment program or self-help program for a period of not less than one year.

Motorists who wish to have limited driving privileges following a  45-day license suspension may do so only after a breath alcohol ignition interlock device is installed on their vehicle. Installation and monthly fees are the responsibility of the driver.
An ignition interlock requires a driver to blow into the device and prevents a vehicle from starting if it measures a BAC of .025 or above. In addition, the device requires periodic retests when driving longer periods.  The device records the date and time of each test and any violation is reported to the Department of State.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s review of research, ignition interlocks reduce recidivism among first-time and repeat DWI offenders, with reductions in subsequent DWI arrests ranging from 50 to 90 percent while the interlock is installed on the vehicle.

A related law will take effect in 2011 that establishes restricted driver’s license requirements for individuals participating in the “sobriety court interlock project” pilot program. The program will allow repeat alcohol offenders to obtain a restricted license and drive a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device. Participants will be limited to driving to and from work, school or a treatment program.

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