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Archive | July, 2019

Police seek armed robber

The Michigan State Police are searching for the suspect who robbed the Trufant Gas and Party Store Wednesday morning, July 31.

According to the MSP Lakeview Post, Montcalm County Central Dispatch advised Troopers about 9:20 a.m. that an armed robbery had occurred at the store on 1101 S. Kohler Rd, Trufant.

A witness described the suspect as a heavy-set white male wearing gray sweatpants, a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, and wearing a bandana as a mask. The man presented a black bolt-action hunting rifle with a scope and a green sling while demanding cash. He carried a light blue bag, which he used to take an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect was seen driving a black 2008-2012 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 full-size pickup truck, with extended cab, no topper, “4×4” written on the side, chrome front bumper, plastic missing from the top of the tailgate, and damage to the front right bumper.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Montcalm Central Dispatch at (989) 831- 5253 or the MSP Lakeview Post at (989) 352-8444.

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Recreation program hires new director

by Judy Reed

The North Kent Community Enrichment Board of Trustees (formerly Cedar Springs Parks and Recreation) voted unanimously Tuesday evening, July 30, to hire Jaime Gunderson as their part-time new director.

Jaime Gunderson is the new director for North Kent Community Enrichment.

Gunderson, of Solon Township, will replace long-time director Amanda Gerhardt, who recently resigned due to a career change. According to a statement from the board, Gunderson was selected from a strong pool of talented applicants.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” she remarked.

Gunderson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation and a Master’s degree in Sports administration and events. She worked in Parks and Recreation for 1-1/2 years with the City of Walker and spent 10 years as Sports Director for Special Olympics. She is also an instructor at Grand Rapids Community College in the Exercise Science Department. She teaches recreation classes, camping and canoeing, CPR/First aid, swimming, and has also taught basketball and soccer.
Some students will recognize her as a teacher of early middle college at Cedar Springs High School. She teaches the class “Intro to college” during both first and second hour to sophomores.
The Post asked her why she wanted to get involved as the Director of NKCE. “The biggest reason was hearing that they were in financial trouble and the possibility that they might shut down,” she explained. “It’s my community and the last thing I’d want to see is the program shut down. With my background, I thought maybe I could step in with some fresh ideas. I have the time, resources, and knowledge to do it.”
Gunderson will work up to 25 hours at an hourly rate of $25 per hour. She said that she would start in the position mid-August.

Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation, and a Masters in Sports administration and events. She worked in Parks and Recreation for 1-1/2 years with the City of Walker, and spent 10 years as Sports Director for Special Olympics. She is also an instructor in at Grand Rapids Community College in the Exercise Science Department. She teaches recreation classes, camping and canoeing, CPR/First aid, swimming, and has also taught basketball and soccer.

Some students will recognize her as a teacher of early middle college at Cedar Springs High School. She teaches the class “Intro to college” during first and second hours to sophomores.

The Post asked her why she wanted to get involved as the Director of NKCE. “The biggest reason was hearing that they were in financial trouble and the possibility that they might shut down,” she explained. “It’s my community and the last thing I’d want to see is the program shut down. With my background, I thought maybe I could step in with some fresh ideas. I have the time, the resources, and the knowledge.”

Gunderson will work up to 25 hours at an hourly rate of $25 per hour. She said that she would start in the position mid-August.

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Man arrested in homicide

A 30-year-old Howard City man has been arrested for the death of a Coral man over the weekend.

Ryan Griffee

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, they responded to a home in the 16000 block of McBride Road, in Maple Valley Township, on Saturday, July 27, at 11:02 p.m., where they found the victim unresponsive. Troopers performed CPR on the victim until relieved by EMS. After all attempts at resuscitation were exhausted, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim, a 57-year-old man from Coral, identified as Ricky West, had been severely beaten and died from his injuries.

On Sunday, July 28, police arrested Ryan Keith Griffee, 30, of Howard City, without incident, at his parents’ residence in Howard City. He was arraigned Monday, July 29m in the 64B District Court on a charge of Open Murder and was given a $500,000 cash bond.  He is being held in the Montcalm County Jail.

The MSP was assisted at the scene by Montcalm EMS and Montcalm County Central Dispatch.

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Weekend storms classified as derechos

By Judy Reed

The early Saturday morning storms that caused residents to lose power for as many as four days, have officially been classified as derechos by NOAA and Storm Prediction Center, according to Fox 17 meteorologist Kevin Craig. 

A derecho is a long-lived windstorm with winds of 58 mph minimum, and usually more.  The one we just have swept across five states. Wind gusts of 60-70 mph were measured as the line went through Muskegon, Ottawa, and Kent counties. The hardest hit area was near Jenison, MI where an NWS Damage Survey determined peak wind gusts broached 80 mph in a microburst. 

The most recent derecho before this was on May 31, 1998 when straight line winds swept across the area, taking down trees everywhere.

The storms on July 19-20 occurred on the hottest days of the summer, when the heat index was in the 100s, and left more than 220,000 people without power, according to Consumers Energy. The hardest hit areas were in Kent County, where over 50,000 lost power. There were also 2,800 downed wires. CE called for help from out of state to get the power back up and running. 

They also went to various areas in Kent County to provide free ice, bottled water, and free ice cream bars. They were in Cedar Springs, at the American Legion, on Monday, July 22 from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. By about 3 p.m., hundreds of people had already stopped in to pick up the free water, ice, and ice cream. 

“I am beyond grateful that they did this. We are now on day 4 with no real power just a generator to run our fridge and fan,” Shauna Smith-Grindle posted on our Facebook page. “Continuing to be as patient as we can knowing they are working around the clock. Thank you to the amazing team they had out yesterday packing vehicles with ice and water and ice cream. God bless you all.”

Saturday morning, July 20, showed trees and limbs down all across the area. A woman who lives in the four-plex at Second and Beech Street said she heard the storm come up and walked out on to her porch. She watched as a huge tree in the yard came tumbling down. We also received photos of trees down at Pine Lake and on Oak Street in Sand Lake. The sign at the corner of First and Oak Street for The Springs Church in Cedar Springs was blown over. There was also a report of the scoreboard at Skinner Field being damaged, but we haven’t confirmed that. 

The City is providing a special storm brush drop off at Morley Park this weekend where residents can bring their brush. Must show residency. See ad on page 13.

Many of the businesses on Main Street had generators after last winter’s ice storm, and power came back relatively quickly to that area. However, certain parts of the area, including the west side of town and areas out in Solon Township, did not receive their power back until Tuesday.

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Fire burns mobile home

A firefighter works to put out the fire in this mobile home Monday. Post photo by J. Reed.

by Judy Reed

An early afternoon fire destroyed the back end of a mobile home and took the lives of two pets living there Monday.

According to Solon Township’s Deputy Fire Chief Chris Paige, they were dispatched to the fire on Hemlock Avenue in White Creek Country Estates at 1:36 p.m. Monday, July 22. Surrounding fire departments that supplied mutual aid included Algoma, Cedar Springs, and Sand Lake. Rockford Ambulance was there on standby.

Four fire departments responded to the blaze at White Creek Country Estates Monday afternoon. Post photo by J. Reed.

Paige said that when they arrived, they found heavy fire coming from the rear of the residence. There was no one home at the time. Neighbors told the Post that the woman who owned the home was at work. Her two cats unfortunately did not make it out of the home.

Paige said it appeared that the fire started in the rear of the mobile home, but the cause is still under investigation.

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Customer hurt when car crashes into restaurant

An elderly driver who hit the gas instead of the brake drove his truck through the wall at Kelly’s restaurant Monday evening.
Post photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

Creative Technologies Academy Superintendent Dan George was sitting at a table with his wife Debi and her parents waiting for food in Kelly’s Restaurant at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, when a pickup truck came crashing through the wall behind him. He took a direct hit to the back.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, an elderly couple from Grand Rapids was in the truck when the male driver, in his 80s, accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and ran his truck into the building. 

According to Fire Chief Marty Fraser, one of the people at the table went to the hospital via ambulance (Dan George) and the others refused medical at the scene.

In a Facebook post, George wrote that, “the pain will go away at some point, but I had a sharp reminder of the fragility of life last night. A difference of a few inches could have yielded vastly different results.” 

George noted that he miraculously had no broken bones, but did have severely bruised ribs from the crash. “But they will heal. God is good,” he wrote.

According to Chief Fraser, the point of impact is the same exact spot that another vehicle went through the wall at Kelly’s back in February.

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The Post travels to Montana

The Post recently traveled to Missoula, Montana with Tom Robinson of Sand Lake, where he was running his 40th marathon. It is his 36th different state to run a marathon in. “I am a member of the 50 state marathon club,” he explained. 

The photo was taken in Montana at Glacier National Park, Swiftcurrent Pass Trail.

Thank you, Tom, for taking us with you to Montana!

Are you going on vacation? Be sure to take along a printed edition of the Post and get someone to snap a photo of you or your family with it. Send it to us along with some info about your trip (where you went, who went along, what you saw) and send the photo and info to news@cedarspringspost.com. We will print as space allows. If you forget the Post, please do not photoshop it into the photo. Just take it with you next time!

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Sleepy driver causes crash

Facebook photo by Shaun Allen.

A driver fell asleep Monday morning and ran a stop sign.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, a driver was southbound on Shaner Avenue about 6:10 a.m. on Monday, July 22, when he fell asleep and ran the stop sign at 17 Mile Rd in Nelson Township, and hit another vehicle. Both vehicles were pickup trucks. 

The driver who fell asleep suffered a small cut above his eye, and other driver did not receive any injuries.

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Crash in Spencer Township injures one

A 24-year-old woman from Grand Rapids swerved to miss a deer in Spencer Township Monday and ended up with serious injuries.

According to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred on Sunday, July 21, about 6:30 p.m. on 20 Mile Rd, near Meddler. She swerved to miss a deer and ran her car into the ditch, where both she and her 26-year-old male passenger were ejected.

The woman was airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries, and the male passenger suffered minor injuries but refused medical treatment. 

The woman is suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) and the crash is still under investigation.

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Headstone installed on unmarked grave

By Judy Reed

The family of Ross Boyd Reyburn, in front of their farmhouse in Algoma Township about 1913. Back row (L to R): Clay, Vernie, Leo, Noal. 
Middle row (L to R): Shelby, John, and Harlow.
Front row (L to R): Adelia, Ross Boyd, Glowen, Clifford, and Ottie.

An Algoma Township man who died 85 years ago finally has a headstone on his grave in Myers Lake Cemetery, in Sparta.

According to Gordon Reyburn, he has always felt that his Uncle Ross Boyd Reyburn should have a headstone. Ross was his father Glowen’s brother, and he died at the young age of 22, on July 22, 1934. “He died of tuberculosis and meningitis according to the death certificate,” said Gordon. 

Ross was born on Aug. 6, 1911, and raised on the family farm on Indian Lakes Road, a half mile west of Algoma Avenue, and attended Foxville School. 

When he died, in the midst of the Great Depression, he left behind a young wife, and two young daughters. One later died and was buried in the family plot with her father. The wife and surviving daughter later moved away.

A year after Ross’s death, the bank took the family farm. It is still there today, but was reduced to five acres after the rest was sold off.

New headstone for Ross Reyburn.

For whatever reason, family never bought Gordon’s Uncle Ross a headstone. So Gordon contacted a cousin, Dale, and together they approached Hessel-Cheslek Funeral Home about it, and they supplied the headstone at no charge.

“Hessel-Cheslek did the original burial all those years ago,” explained Gordon, “in a cardboard box, that was put in a crate. You can see a depression on the top of the grave due to decay.”

The headstone was placed on the grave last week, and Gordon is happy about it. “I feel I’ve done him a good thing because all this time he’s not had one,” he said.

Click here to see Ross Reyburn’s memorial.

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Solon Township ordinance on ballot

By Judy Reed

The voters in Solon Township are being asked to vote August 6 on whether they approve of an ordinance that was passed earlier this year by the Solon Township board.

Ordinance 19-2-Z was adopted by the Solon Township Board on March 12, 2019, on the recommendation of the Solon Township Planning Commission. The ordinance provides that if property is to be divided into new lots less than one acre in size then those small lots must be served by public or community water and sewer supply systems.

Ordinarily, an ordinance does not need to be voted on by the public. Instead, the residents trust their elected board to make those decisions. In this instance, a local developer opposed the ordinance, and so petitioned it to be put on the ballot to let the voters decide. John Bitely, with Sable Development, and Solon resident Gary Johnson have a proposed condominium development called Ashton Meadows, which calls for the smaller lot sizes, and would then require a community water supply and septic system. They want people to vote no.

According to Solon Township Supervisor Bob Ellick, this ordinance, if passed would not require any individuals with existing wells and septic to connect to any adjacent community water/septic system. “This only affects new development,” he said. 

He also said it would not increase township property taxes. “The people living in one of those communities would pay for their water and sewer, most likely through association dues or special assessments. The township would not be billing them. Vista View, on Algoma, south of 17 Mile, is an example of that,” he said. 

In summary, this ordinance requires any new development with less than one acre lot sizes to have a community water and sewer system. It does not apply to any existing homes or developments. Lots with one acre-plus can have their own private well and septic system. 

The township had passed an ordinance last year with a two-acre minimum, which was also put on the ballot, and subsequently voted down. The one-acre minimum ordinance is seen as a compromise that would still keep the rural feel of the township.

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Sand Lake DPW director quits; clerk resigns

EGLE (DEQ) supervisor says they had no concerns about Dines’ qualifications

By Judy Reed

The Sand Lake DPW director has quit after the Village council reduced his salary because they couldn’t find reasons for his raises in the council minutes from the last eight years.

Jerry Dines, an almost 10 year employee of the Village, resigned on July 8, after the Village Council cut his pay by $8,400 a year during their June meeting. The minutes show that trustee Rachel Gokey said she reviewed all the minutes from 2011 until now to establish a timeline on DPW pay, and said that DPW wages increased over the years “with no explanation.” The minutes stated that according to Gokey, the evidence suggested the stated gross income on the W-2 from the previous year became the salary for the next year. The gross income included additional pay for vacation, etc. and this was a clerical error, according to Gokey.

It was then recommended his salary be dropped to “what it was supposed to be” at $39,000—a drop of $12,500, according to Dines. The council ultimately decided to give him a $1.50 raise an hour because he obtained his S4 license in 2017, which upped him to $43, 056. The decision would then be reviewed in three months after further investigation. 

And to add insult to injury, there were questions on whether he had the proper licenses to do what he did. 

Dines was floored. “I have worked almost 10 yrs for the village. I have missed a lot of holidays and family events for village emergencies, putting it before my own family to keep the town running smooth, working 300 to 400 hours over my salary hours and never getting pay for it, and to let everyone know I am a certified water and sewer operator, I do have my water and sewer licences,” he wrote in a Facebook post announcing his resignation. “The last straw was them cutting my pay because they couldn’t find in the minutes about my raises, so they took my pay back to 2008, then they have the nerve to say in the meeting since we cut Jerry’s pay we can buy new blinds for the offices. I have never been so disrespected in my life.”

President Tracy Quinlan then stated in a Facebook post for the Village of Sand Lake that Dines had resigned and alluded to the DEQ having concerns about his qualifications. “Ever since the DEQ first contacted the village in regard to its concerns about the qualifications of Jerry Dines, we have been working on an alternative. The alternate plan was put into action this morning (Tuesday, July 9). The DEQ is in agreement with the plan. The water and sewer is taken care of! Please do not get all up in arms. Your water and sewer are being tested and treated, as they have always been,” she wrote.

The Post contacted the DEQ (now EGLE) and spoke with Luke Dehtiar, District Supervisor for the Community Drinking Water Program, in the Grand Rapids office. He said that the short answer was no, they didn’t have any concerns about Dines’ qualifications, and had not expressed any to the Village. “Whether he held a certain certification is what has been lost in translation. He was certified to do what he did. His role was to do the daily check-ins, operation and maintenance, and another operator through another firm made sure the checks were done properly. Physically and mentally he was capable of serving in the capacity he did.”

Dehtiar was referring to Infrastructure Alternatives, the firm that worked with Dines. “I have my S4, L1, and L2 licenses, but not my D4, I operated under their D license. I did the work and they did the paperwork,” Dines explained. He was due to take his D licensing exam this fall.

“In all the years I worked there, I never had an issue or a violation of any kind,” noted Dines.

He said that over the years the board would pay him for the weeks of vacation he didn’t take. And even though he said he presented the paperwork from the previous board saying he would be paid for vacation time he didn’t take, he said Quinlan wouldn’t honor it. “They owe me three weeks,” he said.

The Post reached out to Quinlan for her side of the story. We specifically asked who she spoke with at the DEQ that had concerns. She sent us this statement:

Jerry Dines recently resigned as the Director of the Village of Sand Lake’s Department of Public Works.

Normally, the Village does not comment on routine matters involving its human resources, seeking to keep some decorum of privacy associated with the personal lives and career decisions of its employees. The Village does not want to embarrass anyone; especially those who have worked for the Village for years and have simply decided, for whatever reasons, to move on.

But if Mr. Dines is determined to make his decision public, our Village residents have right to know that the reason cited by Mr. Dines with respect to the calculation of his salary are incorrect and the Village stands by its actions and records in that respect.

In addition, as a condition of Mr. Dines’ original employment (eight years ago), Mr. Dines was required to acquire the licenses necessary to operate the Village’s water and wastewater within two years of full-time employment. Mr. Dines was given numerous opportunities to test for and obtain said licenses, which are important to providing Village residents’ quality services.

Despite having tested for the licenses on several occasions, Mr. Dines was never conferred those licenses. By contrast, the contract the Village now has with Howard City provides Village residents the benefit of its employees holding the relevant licenses to assure a safe and high quality supply of water.

Tracy J. Quinlan, President Village of Sand Lake

The Post does not normally do stories on employee relations. But since it was done in such a public way, with his pay being reduced in a public meeting, and then comments made on the Village Facebook page that DEQ had concerns about Dines’ qualifications, we felt that was indeed worth checking into, though President Quinlan did not feel it was a story. 

Also, Jerry Dines is not the only employee to leave. His part time employee left the same day Dines did. And clerk Nyha French, who once served on the Village Council, also resigned. Her last day was Thursday, July 25. French said that another job opportunity had presented itself that was too good to pass up. “I grew up here and have been a resident my entire life. I love Sand Lake. I want to encourage residents to go to the meetings and get involved. It’s really important to let your voice be heard and find out where your tax dollars are going.”

Dines agrees that residents need to get involved. He noted that Quinlan has lived in Sand Lake less than a year, and has only been on the board since January. She was appointed to the position, not elected, and then appointed to be president in April. Several of the other council members are also appointees and will need to run for election in 2020.

The Village Council has had their share of other PR nightmares over the last nine months, including calling in a CPA to audit a previous clerk’s files; the firing of former Police Chief James Reamsma after an accident left him unable to work for a time; and the suspension and dissolution of the local police department. The Village just recently settled a lawsuit Reamsma brought against them for $27,500.

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