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Archive | July, 2016

Schuette charges six more in Flint water crisis

State attorney general sealIn the third legal action of his Flint Water Investigation, Schuette files 18 criminal charges against six current and former state officials from MDEQ and MDHHS

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on Friday, July 29, the third legal action of his Flint Water Investigation, filing 18 criminal charges against four current and two former employees from two state departments. The charges are a result of actions taken by officials at the Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and Health and Human Services that Schuette says contributed to the Flint water-poisoning crisis by withholding vital information from the public about ongoing lead poisoning and allowing the continued distribution of corrosive water from the Flint Water Treatment Plant.

“Some may wish or worry that the story of Flint will be slowly absorbed by other world events or lost in the noise and clatter of the 24-hour news cycle and short attention span of posts and tweets,” remarked Schuette. “Not on our watch.”

Schuette was joined at the announcement by Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, Flint Water Investigation Special Prosecutor Todd Flood, and Chief Investigator Andy Arena.

A total of nine defendants so far

As of today, Schuette has filed criminal charges against nine current and former state and local officials since the start of the investigation, which has included interviews with nearly 180 witnesses.

In the third legal action of the investigation, today a total of 18 criminal charges (12 felonies and 6 misdemeanors) were filed in Genesee County’s 67th District Court in Flint against six individuals, three from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and three from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“The families of Flint will not be forgotten. We will provide the justice they deserve. And in Michigan, the justice system is not rigged,” noted Schuette. “There is one system of justice. The laws apply to everyone, equally, no matter who you are. Period. Providing justice to families of Flint means accountability. Those who committed crimes will be held accountable.”

MDEQ Employee Charges:

The new charges include high-ranking officials at the MDEQ who failed in their duties to ensure the provision of safe drinking water and worked to make sure the Flint Water Treatment Plant stayed up and running regardless of the outcome or warning signs its operation was resulting in water poisoned with lead.

Liane Shekter-Smith: Charges allege that former high-ranking MDEQ official Liane Shekter-Smith, then-Chief of the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, held key responsibilities for ensuring the provision of clean, safe drinking water for the citizens of Flint. Despite receiving notice of citizen complaints about water quality and knowledge of a Legionnaires outbreak and issues with lead levels, Shekter-Smith, in her high-ranking position that included supervision of key MDEQ employees, not only allegedly failed to take corrective action or notify public health officials but, in fact took steps to mislead and conceal evidence from health officials in phone calls revealed by the investigation.

Liane Shekter-Smith, former Chief of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance: 1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

Adam Rosenthal: Charges allege that current MDEQ employee Adam Rosenthal, who worked in Shekter-Smith’s section, was warned by Flint Water Treatment Plant officials that they were not ready for operations and was later warned by the EPA that high levels of lead is usually due to particulate lead, signaling a corrosion problem. Charges allege that in 2015, Rosenthal willfully participated in the manipulation of lead testing results and falsely reported that the 90th percentile of the results for lead water testing was below the federal action level.  Eventually, a July 28, 2015 report was altered to exclude some high lead tests and Rosenthal forwarded the altered report on. Previously charged MDEQ employees Busch and Prsyby were also allegedly involved.

Adam Rosenthal, Water Quality Analyst
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

1 count, Tampering with Evidence (Felony: 4 years and/or $5,000)

1 count, Conspiracy—Tampering with Evidence (Felony: 4 years and/or $10,000)

Patrick Cook: Charges allege that Cook, who is the current MDEQ official responsible for compliance with lead and copper monitoring, signed a permit in 2014 that was the last approval necessary for the use of the Flint Water Treatment Plant. Cook subsequently was aware of problems with the water in Flint but allegedly took no corrective action in his duty to ensure the provision of clean, safe drinking water in Flint. Cook allegedly mislead the EPA regarding the necessity of using corrosion control in Flint after the switch when he allegedly forwarded information he knew to be false to the EPA in response to its inquire.

Patrick Cook, Specialist for Community Drinking Water Unit

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor: 1 year and/or $1,000)

1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

MDHHS Employee Charges:

New charges allege that these MDHHS defendants discovered that Flint children were being poisoned by lead but suppressed that information, keeping it from reaching doctors and health officials who sought to protect the welfare of the children and citizens of Flint.

Nancy Peeler, Robert Scott and Corinne Miller: In July of 2015, Nancy Peeler, Director of the MDHHS Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, requested an internal report on blood lead level data in Flint children.  That report, created on July 28, 2015 using sound scientific principles, showed a significant spike— higher than usual— in blood lead tests for Flint children for the summer of 2014.  However, the charges allege that that report was buried, never forwarded by Peeler or others to appropriate health officials.

Peeler then joined with a different MDHHS employee, Robert Scott, the Data Manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention program, and created a second report, issued two days after the initial report.  The second report falsely indicated no statistically significant rise in blood lead levels of children in the summer of 2014.

Meanwhile, Corinne Miller, the then-Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist, received the first report but instructed others not to take action, rebuffing other employees who asked about next steps of action. The charges allege that Miller later instructed another MDHHS employee to delete emails concerning the original blood lead data report from July 28, 2015.

The investigation also revealed that on day the first blood lead level report was created, July 28, 2015, there was communication between MDEQ Defendant Liane Shekter-Smith and MDHHS.  This was the same time that MDEQ defendants allegedly were manipulating lead water results to conceal unsafe lead levels.  Despite knowledge to the contrary, the investigation showed that Shekter-Smith allegedly told MDHHS that there were no lead issues with Flint’s drinking water.

Nancy Peeler, Director, Program for Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000)

Robert Scott, Data Manager for the Healthy Homes and Lead Prevention program
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000)

Corinne Miller, Former Director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and State Epidemiologist
1 count, Misconduct in Office (Felony: 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Conspiracy, (Felony, 5 years and/or $10,000)

1 count, Willful Neglect of Duty (Misdemeanor, 1 year and/or $1,000

The DEQ and MDHHS released a joint statement saying that based upon the filing of the charges, their departments would each be suspending two current employees (Rosenthal and Cook from the DEQ and Peeler and Scott from MDHHS) without pay until further review of the charges can be conducted. “The other two state employees charged are no longer with DEQ or MDHHS,” they said. “DEQ and MDHHS will continue to monitor the legal proceedings and evaluate next steps as appropriate.”

The first round of criminal charges from Schuette’s Flint Water Investigation were filed on April 20, 2016 against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees and one City of Flint employee.   Schuette’s second legal action took place on June 22, 2016, when he filed a civil suit against water infrastructure firms Veolia and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam for their roles in the Flint water poisoning crisis. Schuette’s investigation remains ongoing and the charges filed today do not preclude additional charges at a later date.

“The victims are real people, families who have been lied to by government officials and been treated as expendable. But when our investigation is completed and our prosecutions are successful—and we believe they will be—then accountability and justice will be delivered to families of Flint and families of Michigan,” said Schuette.

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Super fit reading program parties in the park


Kids had a splashin’ good time on the water slide at the summer reading celebration party. Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

It was a super celebration Wednesday, July 27, when the Cedar Springs Public Library celebrated the end of their summer reading program at Morley Park.

At least 500 people (and possibly more) attended the finale to this summer’s reading program. “It was an awesome turn out,” said Library Director Donna Clark.

The heat didn’t keep people away. Clark said that 400 bottles of water were gone within the first hour of the two hour program.

The theme for this year’s reading program was Super Fun and Fitness. They had 1,031 people sign up—734 kids and 297 adults—the most ever, and held 25 different programs over a six-week period.

In keeping with the fitness theme, the grand finale celebration was a field day program set up with lots of activities for kids to do. Kids had a riot playing games, jumping in the bounce houses, slippin’ and slidin’ on the water slide, getting their face painted, munching on popcorn, and cooling off with ice cream and ice water.

The Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit was a big hit with kids of all ages at the summer reading celebration. Photo by J. Reed.

The Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit was a big hit with kids of all ages at the summer reading celebration. Photo by J. Reed.

Also on hand was the Kent County Sheriff Department’s Mounted Unit, a Kent County Sheriff Deputy from the Cedar Springs Unit, a petting zoo, and the Cedar Springs Fire Department to hose kids down.

The kids who won prizes also picked them up at the event.

The event was staffed and sponsored by dozens of people and businesses in the community. “I love my community partners—the businesses, service organizations, and individuals—they make this all possible,” remarked Clark.

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Family seeks answers in dog shooting

Gage, a six-year-old friendly German Shepherd, was shot in the face and killed last week in Nelson Township.

Gage, a six-year-old friendly German Shepherd, was shot in the face and killed last week in Nelson Township.

By Judy Reed

A Nelson Township family is grieving after their beloved German Shepherd was shot in the face last week and later died.

Tammy Boughton can’t believe that someone could do this to one of the friendliest, loving dogs she’s ever known. “He never showed any aggression, and was very friendly—maybe too friendly. He was always wanting to lick everyone,” she said.

It was early in the morning last Friday, July 22, when Boughton let Gage, her 6-year-old German Shepherd, and Bella, their Brittany Spaniel, out into the backyard to go to the bathroom, as was her custom while getting ready for work. The family has seven acres in the area of 16 Mile and Stout. Boughton said she tries to keep the dogs on their property and they rarely run off.

On that Friday morning, she heard a gunshot at 6:08 a.m. Then she heard another gunshot. “I immediately looked to see where the dogs were out back. They don’t like gunshots, or fireworks, or anything like that,” said Boughton. But she didn’t see the dogs.

She called for the dogs, and then heard one running toward the house. It was Bella, the Brittany Spaniel, and her side was bloody. Gage was not with her. Boughton jumped in her car and began to search for him. When she returned home a second time, Gage was there by the porch.

“His tongue was hanging out his mouth, all bloody. It looked like a butchered piece of meat,” she recalled, trying to choke back the tears.

N-Dog-shooting-Gage2Boughton took him to the Emergency Animal Hospital. He had severe injuries to his tongue, and they suspected broken jaws. They told her they could amputate his tongue, but it would need to be done further back than they normally did and that dogs that had only half their tongue amputated had a better chance of adjusting. The other option was too put him to sleep.

“I called a friend and we talked it over and decided to give him a chance,” said Boughton. “So they amputated his tongue.” She added that during surgery, they found a one-millimeter entry wound, broken teeth, and his lower left jaw was broken. X-rays showed shrapnel in his mouth.

“When he came out of surgery, the vet said he was doing fine,” shared Tammy. “But about an hour later, his heart rate went down, and they couldn’t save him.”

In the meantime, Tammy had called the Kent County Sheriff Department, and they turned it over to Kent County Animal Control. “When I told the Animal Control Officer that my dog had passed, he didn’t seem to have any sympathy. He basically told me that a property owner has a right to shoot a dog for two reasons: if they are attacking livestock, or if they are attacking them.”

Boughton said she has reason to believe that it was one of her neighbors. Another neighbor had told her of threats a neighbor had made about shooting other dogs if they came on his property.

The Post checked with a spokesperson for Animal Control to find out what was being done about the shooting, and what the law said regarding it.

“Our officer did make contact with a neighbor who the dog owner had identified as a possible person of interest,” said Steve Kelso, with the Kent County Health Department. “This person denied that he had shot the dog and declined to provide further information. That individual did tell us that he had chickens but they are confined and that he has never had any trouble with any animal bothering them.”

He said that no citations have been issued in the incident.

Animal control regulations state, in section 701, page 7, under Dogs running stray, that: A person who owns or has custody or control of a dog shall prevent the dog from running at largeA person who owns or has custody or control   of a dog shall, at any time the dog is off that person’s property, restrain the dog with a lead or leash no greater than six (6) feet in length.

“This regulation is in effect county wide,” noted Kelso. “Basically anytime your dog is off of your property without you it is running at large. In this case our officer did not issue a citation even though the dog’s owner told our officer that she had let them roam.”

As the Animal Control officer told Tammy, Michigan Law, under the Dog Act of 1919, states that a person may kill a dog if it is attacking livestock or people. If it is not, it is unlawful to injure or kill a dog which bears a license tag for the current year.

If you have any information about the killing of this family’s pet, please call Animal Control at 616-632-7304.

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Sand Lake woman elected president of 8 et 40

Christine Merlington, second from the left, is the new president of 8 and 40 in Michigan.

Christine Merlington, second from the left, is the new president of 8 and 40 in Michigan.

Christine Merlington, of Sand Lake, has been elected as the 2016-2017 State Chapeau (President) of the 8 et 40 Departemental de Michigan.

The Eight and Forty is a fun organization whose members are eligible to join under an eligible military veteran, and have been given the task of assisting in the prevention and control of all respiratory diseases in children; providing scholarships for nurses continuing their education in this field; supporting National Jewish Health’s pediatric needs; and the Morgridge Academy for Chronically Ill Children.

The organization sponsors volunteer programs on the nationale, departemental, and local levels, focusing on children and the community, and to offer aid and support with the prevention and control of lung disease(s) in children.

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Post travels to Atlanta, Michigan

N-Post-travels-Atlanta-MI-COUMC--youth-groupFor the second year, the Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church youth group, God Squad, joined their leaders for five days at Canada Creek Ranch, a private hunting and recreational club just north of Atlanta, Michigan. And this year they took The Post along!

The God Squad youth group is made up of (R-L): Sarah Galloway, Nicole Dionne, Tressa Hall, Allison Dionne, Cade Hall, Derek Wedge and Kevin Galloway. This year COUMC Pastor Robert Eckert also joined the group for a day. The God Squad youth group leaders are Carol and Don Bailey.

They spent this time planning out the 2016 and 2017 monthly meeting activities; meeting with the pastor about membership confirmations; and observing wildlife such as elk, deer, turkey, eagles and fox. There was also some time for swimming, baseball, volleyball and tennis. Along with good food and fellowship around nightly campfires, they spent some time in discussions with other Canada Creek Ranch visiting youth from throughout Michigan.

Thanks so much for taking us with you to Canada Creek Ranch!

Are you going on vacation? Take the Post with you and snap some photos. Then send them to us with some info to news@cedarspringspost.com or mail them to Post travels, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319. We will be looking for yours!

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Lightning blamed for fire at Lake Side Camp Park

This photo shows an electrical panel that was struck by lightning at Lake Side Camp Park on July 11, just prior to a fire there. Photos courtesy of Solon Fire Department.

This photo shows an electrical panel that was struck by lightning at Lake Side Camp Park on July 11, just prior to a fire there. Photos courtesy of Solon Fire Department.

By Judy Reed

A structure fire at Lake Side Camp Park that destroyed a pole barn, burned an RV, damaged a utility truck and melted siding on a home was started by lightning, according to fire investigators.

The fire occurred on July 11 shortly after 1 p.m. at the campground on White Creek Avenue, south of 17 Mile, in Solon Township. Cedar Springs Fire, Algoma Fire, and Kent City Fire provided mutual aid to Solon Fire at the scene.

According to Solon Fire Chief Jeff Drake, Solon Fire worked with the Lake Side Camp Park property insurance carrier licensed investigator Timothy Raha, of Nederveld, and Algoma Fire Chief Troy Guerra to search for a cause and origin of the fire.

“This work involved interviewing the owners, workers, and some guests of the facility,” explained Drake. “The work also involved digging through the burned remains of the building and contents, and investigating the utility connections.”

Drake said that during this process, evidence of a lightning strike was found in an electrical panel near the barn. “The Solon Fire Department will list the cause of this fire as ‘heat-generated from a lightning strike’, which is also the official cause listed by the insurance provider’s investigation,” he stated.

Drake had told the Post two weeks ago that they knew that an electrical storm had moved through the area just prior to the fire, but they weren’t ruling anything out.

The barn, which belonged to park owner Rich Lupico, was used as a maintenance shop.

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Man injured in ATV crash

N-ATV-crash-MontcalmA Greenville man suffered serious internal injuries last weekend after losing control and crashing his ATV.

According to the Montcalm County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred on Sunday, July 24, about 7:30 a.m., on Evergreen Road, west of Johnson Road, in Montcalm Township.

Police said that a 23-year-old Greenville man was driving his 2004 Honda four wheeler west bound through the curves on Evergreen Road and was going too fast, which caused him run off the left side of the road, strike a log on the road, and overturn. Montcalm County Emergency Medical Services transported the man to United Memorial Hospital for his injuries. He was later transferred to Spectrum for treatment of serious internal injuries.

Police also said that section of Evergreen Road is a narrow gravel road and it was raining at the time of the crash. The driver was wearing a helmet. In addition to the speed, alcohol may have been a factor and the crash remains under investigation.

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Candidates for August primary


Election time is here, and there are a lot of candidates running for both local and state government. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, August 2 to make their selections. Because there are so many candidates to cover, and we couldn’t possibly fit bios in of them all, the Post chose to send questions only to those running for Kent County Sheriff and contested Supervisor positions in area townships.

Kent County Sheriff 

Five people are running for Kent County Sheriff—four Republicans and one Democrat. They are running for a four-year term.

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Sheriff Larry Stelma

Lawrence A. Stelma (R) – Larry Stelma is the current Sheriff in Kent County, and has held that position since 2000. He was born and raised in Kent County. “In the early 60’s, my father purchased land and a business in Cedar Springs and it is the same land on which we live today, located in Solon Township,” said Stelma. He graduated from Creston High School, the bible college now known as Cornerstone University, and has been married to his wife, Iris for 44 years. They have two adult daughters and one grandchild. “I remain active with all things outdoors and on our farm, raising horses and Christmas trees,” he said.

Stelma joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1972 as a corrections officer and worked his way up through the chain of command, serving in every capacity and division within the Sheriff’s office. This included training and graduation from the FBI National Academy, the National Sheriff’s Institute and the U.S. Secret Service Dignitary Protection Academy. In 1999 he was appointed Undersheriff, and then was elected Sheriff in 2000, and reelected in 2004, 2008, and 2012, by overwhelming margins.

Stelma wants to run for office because he said that his father instilled in him a service attitude at an early age, and service is in his DNA. “My life’s calling has been serving our community as an officer with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office. I am running for office again simply because it’s my passion and calling,” he explained. He said that over the years as Sheriff, he has initiated over 40 new initiatives and programs that help to keep schools a safe place for learning (such as township patrols and the school resource officer program), provided the mechanism for more efficient law enforcement (such as township patrols, the Cedar Springs Police Department consolidation project, and dispatch consolidations), reduced jail populations, and maintained a crime rate half the national average. He’d like the chance to continue these initiatives and complete those in progress.

Stelma says the major challenge facing law enforcement is the ever increasing demand for more and more services brought on by a growing population with ever increasing expectations. “These expectations are driven by society’s obsession with technology, drugs, and violence, and law enforcement needs to stay current on how crime is facilitated by these influences and how these influences can help solve crime. All of this is constrained by tighter budgets,” he explained, noting that expectations increase while resources decrease. He said the only way to deal with these complex issues is to have the ability to develop and maintain strong strategic relationships with community leaders, education, mental health and medical providers, and faith-based community. “These relationships have served this community well, and enable me to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Stacy Browe

Stacey Browe

Stacey M. Browe (R) – Stacey Browe is a certified police officer with 9 years of prior law enforcement experience. Her experience in Michigan includes 7 years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Wayland. “During this time, I was responsible for handling every aspect of assigned calls including reports, follow-up, and subsequent investigation. Following my time with Wayland, I worked for two years as a Certified Police Officer for the City of Swansboro, North Carolina,” she said.  After missing her family, she decided to move back to Michigan and currently lives in Kentwood.

I am running for the Office of Sheriff because the people of Kent County deserve a leader as their Sheriff. I will be a Sheriff who is visible and accessible in the county every day of my term. Under my leadership, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office will become a model for law enforcement agencies throughout the state,” she said.

Browe said she will bring the experience acquired through 9 years of certified law enforcement, including investigations, field training, crisis intervention, drug interdiction, and numerous other specialized areas of policing to this Sheriff’s Office. “I will use my experience to devastate the heroin industry in Kent County. I will protect Kent County from terrorism and related crimes and I will protect the constitutional rights of my constituents. I will also work to eliminate dispatching fees, which are fees unethically assessed to local units of government for dispatching services, in addition to the taxes already paid for the same services. I will support all townships, villages, and cities including those that wish to operate their own police departments as well as those preferring a contractual agreement.”

Browe said the biggest challenge facing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office is multifaceted. “There are numerous county residents upset by the violence and terrorism nationwide. Residents look to the Sheriff’s Office for protection and leadership in times like these. Sadly, other candidates including the current Sheriff have been mostly silent on these issues and have not articulated any plan for protecting the people they wish to serve. My plan is to actively monitor terror alerts and keep my staff abreast of relevant information on a daily – not monthly basis. I will also begin requiring all law enforcement personnel to complete counter-terrorism as well as active shooter training and I will be in daily communication with our county’s emergency management coordinator. I will work with and be in regular communication with the Michigan State Police as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make sure all residents of Kent County are safe and secure in their homes, places of businesses, and public venues. That being said, The Sheriff’s Office, State Police, and local law enforcement will be conducting all enforcement activity that does occur in Kent County except activity that involves violations of federal law.”

John Stedman

John Stedman

John G. Stedman (R) – John Stedman was born and raised in the Heart of Grand Rapids, Mich. His family later moved to Wyoming, where he still lives today. “I have been in my current home for over 25 years in the Wyoming panhandle. I have managed and owned businesses since I was 17 years old. In the late 70s I followed in my father’s footsteps, opening my own insurance company, which has operated for over 40 years. In 2004 I purchased the building at 508 28th Street SW and US 131 where I had been a tenant since 1986. I am a dedicated family man with two wonderful children, Jon and Kari and celebrated 40 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart Susan in June,” he said.

Why is he running for Sheriff? “Times are changing in Kent County and we must change with it. There are several diverse communities that make up our great county and we need someone who has experience working with many of them. This is to ensure that we are increasing equality in a time when the divide between the community and police is growing. In addition, the Sheriff’s department makes up a large portion of the county’s general fund. We cannot arrest our way out of certain issues and our attempts to do so are currently unsustainable and costing taxpayers too much. We must use a business mindset in order to identify inefficiencies and adjust where needed,” explained Stedman.

He noted that he is proud of his role in developing  a ministry that seeks to help those who are returning from prison so they may lead productive lives and not contribute to the counties 80 percent recidivism rate.

Stedman sees his main strength has having a business background that has molded him into someone with keen financial sense who can identify budgetary issues and implement proper remedies. “I have managed a diverse staff of employees over the decades and understand organizational development. The staff of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department deserve to have the best opportunities in their careers. Reactionary cost cutting that decreases law enforcement jobs will not be tolerated under my term as Sheriff.”

Stedman said that the main challenge facing Kent County is a heroin epidemic. “The lack of recovery resources in the county, coupled with a financially wasteful ‘War on Drugs’ mentality is doing nothing but fueling the fire. We must look at individuals such as Chief Leonard Campanello, of Gloucester, Mass. and other proactive law enforcement leaders around the country and implement solutions that will decrease use and save lives especially the county’s youth,” he said.

Timothy Lewis (R) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Michael B. Scruggs (D) – Did not return any info on his candidacy.

Township Supervisor Candidates

Algoma Township has two people vying for the seat of township supervisor—both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary

Nancy Clary – Nancy Clary is the current supervisor in Algoma Township. “I have lived in Algoma for the past 29 years and have provided public service to the community since my arrival. I was born and raised in Montcalm County where I served as Montcalm County Administrator for 17 years. My husband, Jack R. Clary Esq. and I have 4 grown married children and 7 grandchildren.

Clary said she is running again because she’d like to continue the collaborative work on projects with other units of Government and the State that are now ongoing in the Township. “It has been my good fortune to work over the years with many of the excellent people who are in leadership roles in the area and we have mutually respectful relationships. Those working relationships are very helpful when problems need to be solved that require services and cooperation with adjoining communities. The Archery Center on 10 Mile Road is an example of what can be accomplished with collaboration. River’s Edge Park is now being expanded and Rockford Public Schools will be partnering with the Township to provide an outdoor learning experience for students,” she said.

Her past experience includes: Algoma Township Planning Commission member for 11 years, Trustee for 7 years, Deputy Supervisor and Currently Supervisor.  “I am a founding Board Member of a Private Children’s Charity as well as Past President of the following:  Michigan Association of County Administrative Officers, Michigan Association of County Personnel Officers, Michigan Association of Governmental Computer Users and United Way of Michigan, Public Services Sector.”

Clary said her main strength is the strong regional relationships she has maintained to create greater collaboration with the West Michigan Community. “I have developed and monitored multi-year, multi-million dollar municipal budgets that ensure long-term financial security for Algoma’s assets and services.  I have the endorsements of the following leaders and individuals:  State Senator Peter MacGregor, State Representative Rob VerHeulen, State Representative Ken Yonker, State Representative Jon Bumstead, Kent County Sheriff Lawrence Stelma, County Commissioner Tom Antor, County Commissioner Diane Jones, County Commissioner Harold Voorhees, Former Supervisor Dennis Hoemke, and Kent County 63rd District Judge, Retired Steven R. Servaas.”

“The major challenge facing our district is continuing to maintain the rural character of the Township while accommodating development where desired and assuring that the rights of all property owners are considered and protected,” she noted.

Kevin Green

Kevin Green

Kevin Green (R) – Kevin Green is a former State Representative running to be Algoma’s next Supervisor. “I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, have lived in Kent County for 20 years and am now living in Algoma Township for almost 5 years,” he said. “I own a small business helping property owners with zoning, planning issues and outdoor advertising. I have two beautiful young children, Elliot, 7, and Meadow, 6, that attend a Rockford elementary school.”

Green said he is running for supervisor because he wants to give a fresh perspective to the community while using his education and professional experience as a leader. “As a State Representative I worked hard for our residents for 6 years. I also bring experience as a business manager and a former City Councilman. As the House Whip, I used years of proven negotiating skills to bring people together and get things done in a timely manner. Helping our Algoma residents is my number one concern,” he explained.

Green said he has been a leader in many non-profit organizations including the Lions Club, Chambers of Commerce, Sons of American Legion and more. “I recently joined Moose Club and Rockford Sportsman Club. I started my career in Cedar Springs over 20 years ago, as an intern for former City Manager Frank Walsh,” he recalled.

Green believes that treating people with kindness and compassion is his main strength. As the former House Whip, it was my job to bring people of many backgrounds together to get things done for our State. People deserve to be treated with respect and I bring the sense of true public service to our residents,” he said. “I am highly skilled business manager, negotiator and mediator.”

Green sees over taxation as a major challenge facing Algoma Township. “Over taxation on residential property is a huge concern of Algoma’s residents and must be addressed by utilizing fair assessments. Protecting private property owner rights and our residents’ freedom of decision-making must not be eroded any further than it already has been. We must be diligent in preserving the character of our community by maintaining a quaint rural atmosphere and welcoming small town values,” he said.

Nelson Township

You will see two names on the ballot for Nelson Township Supervisor, both Republican. However, we found out that one of the candidates—current Supervisor Tom Noreen—has decided to withdraw from the election. “I just don’t  have the time,” said Noreen. The other candidate is:

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton

Robyn Britton (R) – Robyn Britton said she lives 27 minutes from the house she grew up in. “I’ve spent my whole life (48 years) living in either Solon Township or Nelson Township,” said Britton. “I graduated from Cedar Springs in 1986. I’ve been married to my best friend Scott Britton for 27 years and we have 3 amazing children, Hannah, Jesse and Jake. Both Hannah and Jesse are in college and Jake is a junior at Tri County High School. Both my husband and I have owned and operate Britton Builder’s Inc. for the last 25 years. I just recently left my position to start my own endeavor—a renovation company purchasing old homes and putting love back into them. And let’s not forgot my love for farming. We own and operate a 30-head Scottish Highland Farm. You want to talk about up and downs. All my friends that own what they call the ‘Real Cows’ get a chuckle at me because I love my Grass fed, big horn babies.”

Britton said the main reason she is running for office is for her children. “I’ve tried to teach my children if you don’t like something do your best to fix it. Well, if I’m going to ‘Talk the Talk’ I better ‘Walk the Walk.’ I had the fortune to work with some amazing people during my time working for Cedar Springs Police Department; it gave me a real insight on our community and the people servicing our community. It’s a tough job. The biggest thing I learned is if one person tries then others will follow or at least pay attention. I’m not a politician. I just feel that it’s my responsibility to be the best person I can be and try to make the community I raised my children in a place they may want to raise their children in.”

What does she feel she can bring to the position of Supervisor? “Own and operated a building company for nearly 25 years, negotiated buy sell agreement hundreds of thousands dollars, and worked in the corporate world for 15 years. My background has lead me to work with architects, engineers, subcontractors, financial institution, state and local government officials etc. I love people and I make no bones about it – I love to talk and meet people listen to their views and ideas, but more importantly I want them to know they matter regards of who they are,” she said.

Britton feels the that the major challenges facing Nelson Township are communication, accountability, and just plain common sense. “Fixing the problems start with the people. Five boards can’t fix everything that’s going on in this community.  If you want this community to prosper it has to be a joint effort.” She feels that the Supervisor and community will have to do it together, and she urges the public to attend their meetings the second Tuesday of every month.

Oakfield Township 

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Oakfield Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

William Greg Dean

William Greg Dean

William G. Dean (R)– Greg Dean is the current Supervisor in Oakfield Township and has been for the last 24 years. He was born in Oakfield Township 62 years ago and has lived there his entire life. Besides serving as Township Supervisor, he also drives truck for a living. He is married and has five children.

Dean said that his main reason for running for office is to ensure the township remains on sound footing, as they are now.

Dean believes that his main strength is that he practices excellent fiscal management of township funds and budgets and will continue to do so. “The township has no debt, and we borrow no money,” he explained. “We pay cash for everything and will continue to do so as long as I remain Supervisor.”

He said the main challenge facing Oakfield is the paving of more roads and funding Fire Department operations. “This is done by strong fiscal management,” he said.

Paul H. Decess (R) – He provided no info on his candidacy.

Solon Township

There are two candidates running for Supervisor in Solon Township, both Republicans. They are running for a four-year term.

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick

Robert Ellick (R) – Bob Ellick is the current Supervisor in Solon Township and has been for 12 years. He is 63 years old and has owned a home and lived in Solon Twp. for 44 years. He and his wife have raised three sons in Solon. Ellick is a self-employed builder, semi retired, in addition to being supervisor. Prior to that he was a trustee for four years, trustee. He has also been a state certified building inspector for 10 years.

Ellick said his main reason for running for office is “to help make Solon Township a better place to grow families and businesses, while impacting the rural character of the Township as little as possible, and also to make certain that the residents get the best service possible at the most economical rate possible.”

Ellick has also served on the Cedar Springs Public Library board for the last four or five years, the last two years as Chair. He has also served on the Solon Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Commission, and the market committee member and chair for a couple of years.

Ellick said the main strength he brings to the position is “a good understanding of the job and all its constitutional and fiscal responsibilities, and to keep the Township running in the green with a good fund balance for our future. We do not take our lead from the federal government,” he said.

He said one of the biggest challenges in government is money and patience. “It seems that there is never enough of either to go around. But zoning, public water and sewer, traffic/roads are big issues in the Township, particularly with the 17 Mile and White creek interchange.”

Jerrod Roberts (R) – He provided no information about his candidacy.

For a complete list of candidates running for office in your area, and a list of proposals, download the pdf below:


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Hymn Sing and Ice Cream Social


Cedar Springs United Methodist Church Sesquicentennial

by Sue Harrison

In the classic play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, the choir director tells his singers, “Remember music came into the world to give pleasure… Now look here, get it out of your head that music’s only good when it’s loud.  You leave loudness to the Methodists.  You couldn’t beat ‘em even if you wanted to.”

From the beginning of the Methodist movement in America and elsewhere, Methodists were known for their “hearty singing”, “great harmony in their singing,” and some of the most “melodious tunes ever composed for church use”—John Scott, Fine Picture of Enthusiasm (1744).  John Wesley was very particular about the texts his people were to sing, and how they were to sing them. Some of his instructions in his comments in the preface to “Sacred Melody” (1761) were to “Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength….Above all sing spiritually.”

In addition to “hearty” singing from the congregation, the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church’s choirs have been an integral part of the worship services since its beginning. Over the years the membership,the organists, and the pianists have changed, but providing harmony and teaching of the Word through music has been the focus of every choir through the years. In all forms, hymn singing became a trademark of Methodist worship.

As part of the celebration for the 150 year anniversary of the Methodist Church in  Cedar Springs, the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church is inviting everyone to an Old Fashioned Hymn Sing and Ice Cream Social on July 31, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.  at the church located on Main and Church Streets. Come join the fellowship and fun of this community event to help celebrate the church’s Sesquicentennial.  Everyone is welcome.

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What is this?

Pastor Craig Carter

North Kent Community Church

Sparta, MI 49345


Has anyone ever given you something and the first thing out of your mouth was, “What is this?” This happed to the children of Israel. The Israelites had just been brought out of Egypt, from a time of slavery, which was a very difficult season in their life. They found themselves in the middle of the wilderness in need of food. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this white substance appears. Exodus 16:31 says, “The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.” They called the bread “Manna.” The Hebrew word used here for “manna” was a compound word established from two words. The first was the word “man” meaning “what.” In fact, it is known as an imperative what, implying a question. The second was the word “huw” which is used for the word “this.” So, when you combine the two words together, it is literally translated “what is this?” The reason they said this was because they had never seen it before. This was the first time they had seen this white stuff.

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Notice it says that God fed them with manna, which they, nor their fathers had ever known. So, what was this stuff called “Manna?” It was the provision of God! It was God meeting their need. It was God’s answer to their problem. Yet, their reply was, “What is this?” Why? Could it be it was because it came in a way and form unfamiliar to them? Could it be they just did not see it for what it was? I remain intrigued by the fact that the Israelites called it manna, not God. They named it, “what is it?” God didn’t. How many times do we name something for God? Have you ever rejected something from God because it did not come the way you envisioned? The Israelites did just that. In fact, after a while, what God provided was no longer good enough. So, they complained and asked for something different. Does this sound familiar?

You may ask, what is so important about this? It is important because this lesson remains true for us today. God’s provision and direction often comes in ways and forms you may not understand. You may have never seen or experienced them before. The question is, will you receive it, as from the Lord? You may have lost a job, been struggling with your health, your marriage. You may be depressed and wondering if anyone cares. Is there a God and does He even care? The answer is, Yes He does! He sees your need in your “wilderness” experience, just like He did the Israelites and He will provide. Just realize He will probably do it in a way you do not understand. In fact, your current situation, as difficult as it may seem, may just be what is needed for you to trust Him and not yourself. Notice the end of verse 3 in Deuteronomy.  God did this to “teach you that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” He did this so that they would learn to trust God, not just for their daily needs, but for every area of their lives. Will you do that today? Will you give him every area of your life? Will you trust Him with your money, your marriage, your children, your problems? The test is to trust Him with everything we are and everything we possess. As I close, I leave you with a few other verses that encourage and challenge us to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-10: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Posted in From the PulpitComments Off on What is this?

Julie Ann Balcom


Julie Ann (Williams) Balcom (50) passed away on June 12, 2016 from heart failure.  She was born September 23, 1965 at Navy Hosp. Paris Island, South Carolina. Preceding her in death was her father Staff Sgt. Roscoe J. Williams USMC, cousin Jonathan C. Landrum, and uncle Calvin Landrum.  Julie is survived by husband L. Charles Balcom; daughter Mary Ann (Eric) Martinez; mother Janet Roemer; sisters Mary (James) Prentice, Minette Merritt, Amy (Michael) Mulcreevy; nephews Roscoe Merritt,  Liam Dykhouse, Clyde Dykhouse, and niece Cliona Mulcreevy. Julie was forever happy and helpful, sometimes teasing her sisters, drawing or playing with her horse (Jack) as a teen.  She rode Jack in many parades where she could make him rear and whistle, which made other horses nervous.  Julie always loved a joke and provoking laughter.  For an art class project Julie and others were each assigned a 6 foot long wall section to create a mural in the elementary school.  Julie chose a Smurf Village with homes, businesses, and people doing all sorts of activities.  In 10th grade she was a Brownie Scout Leader. In her senior year she had a one person art show at a local college and was accepted at Julliard School of the Arts. In order to be closer to home Julie attended Ferris University majoring in commercial art for one year. She then worked at several manufacturing jobs.  As early onset arthritis advanced she moved to California for better weather.  For several years she worked at Woods & Waters Campground as a maintenance person where she enjoyed her talent for fixing things.  Julie injured her back and began working as security guard and care person for the elderly.  Julie enjoyed this job the most, saying, it was the best job she’d ever had. Julie will be greatly missed by her family and dear friends.   A celebration of life was held in the church where Julie loved to sing, with Pastor Mike Murphy and friends at the Aguanga Christian Fellowship Church on June 25, 2016.  A grave side memorial will be held at the family plot, on Aug. 13th at 2 p.m., led by Pastor Jim Barnhart, from Wesley Chapel, Midland, Michigan.   Julie will rest with her grandparents, uncle, and cousin in Middlebranch Township Cemetery, 7 miles West of U.S.10 on East 14 Mile Rd., off of M-66.

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C-Obit-BranhamLoretta Branham, age 83, of Gowen passed away unexpectedly at her home on Monday, July 25, 2016. She was born the daughter of Wick & Arlene (Cornett) Sizemore on December 28, 1932 in Kentucky. They along with her husband, Rass Branham and many sisters and brothers have preceded her in death. Loretta is survived by her three daughters, Brenda Craigmyle of Cedar Springs, Tina (Todd) Hansen of Cedar Springs, Teresa Branham of Sevierville, Tennessee; four sons, Marty Jackson of Cedar Springs, Verne (Barb) Branham of Cedar Springs, Tom (Christina) Branham of Grand Haven, Robert Branham of Grand Rapids; brother, Herman (Lee) Sizemore of Florida; twenty one grandchildren; twenty eight great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Loretta was a hard working lady who worked and retired from Dollywood in Tennessee after 10 years. She also retired from C-Tec in Grand Rapids after many years of service. In her spare time she loved crocheting and especially enjoyed working on bed dolls and afghans. She collected cabbage patch dolls and loved to go fishing. Loretta loved her coffee and always insisted everyone stay for at least one cup with her. She was a huge Detroit Tigers fan and loved spending time with her grandchildren and her dog “Dani.” She will be missed dearly by everyone who knew her. Memorial services for Loretta will be held at a later date. Special thanks to Brenda Jackson-Black for supporting the family and all Loretta’s caregivers.

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