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Archive | April, 2021

Post founder Alice Allen dies at 90

Alice Allen in her lane at the pool at MVP, waving to everyone. It was her last time in the pool doing what she loved; she suffered a stroke later that evening. Photo by Teresa Schlump.

by Lois Allen

Alice Allen, a Cedar Springs resident for the past 50 years and founder of The Cedar Springs Post, died at her home in the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 21.

Alice believed in a paper for Cedar Springs. For years her and I built The Post together, side by side. If not for her fierce commitment, her selfless and intensive work ethic, working well into the early morning hours week after week without taking a single paycheck, there would be no newspaper about and for the people of Cedar Springs.

If she were here today, you would find her in her swimsuit, no matter what the weather, walking in the water, doing her 90 or more laps (about a mile) at the MVP gym in Rockford. Suffering from congestive heart failure, it was her way to stay alive as long as possible. For the past decade, that was where she felt her best—weightless and walking. She never missed a day. Her commitment and determination grew to inspire those who knew her there. And everyone knew her. They treated her like a celebrity, giving her food, cards, gifts, and the benefit of their friendship.

She didn’t own a television, didn’t have a computer or the internet. She loved listening to classical music, reading books, and her cat Bob. The walls of her home were literally covered with books. Hard cover, soft cover, books on tape and on DVD.  Mostly she loved mystery crime novels. And she was a regular patron of the Cedar Springs Library. She loved to read, write letters, and send cards to her family and friends. She always remembered everyone’s birthday and special occasions, and if you were in her life, you could be sure to expect a card from Alice.

She always thought of others. When I was a little girl, about 8 or 9 years old, we lived in Grand Rapids and had gone to John Ball Park to have a picnic. When we were leaving, she told me to pick up the trash we left and throw it away. I did. When I returned to the car, she told me to go back and pick up the rest of the trash. 

“But that’s not our trash,” I bemoaned. 

“I don’t care,” she told me. “If everyone left the park nicer than when they came, it would always be nice.”  And, of course, she was right. That’s the kind of person she was. Her kindness extended to all animals. She could never turn away a stray or see an animal go hungry. She was devoted to feeding the colorful variety of birds (and hungry squirrels) that came to her house for seed in the winter and summer too.

A friend of Alice’s took this photo at Frederick Meijer Gardens last year.

The friends she made were friends for life. As a little girl in school, the students in her class had pen pals in other countries. My mother’s pen pal lived in the U.K. They continued writing to each other long after, up until her death, nearly 80 years later.

Even more remarkable is the hundreds of cards she received and treasured from many of the people whose lives she touched. She cherished all of them and never threw any away. There are boxes and boxes of them, each holding notes of encouragement, good wishes and happy thoughts. Her last birthday was her most special when she received over a hundred birthday cards from Cedar Springs residents, friends, and even from people she had never met. And you can bet that she read each and every one.

Cedar Springs is a warm and generous community… but just a little less without Alice.

See her obituary here.

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Suspects in chase identified

Last week we ran a story about a nearly 40-mile road chase that began in Mecosta County on April 19 and ended with the two suspects, who were wanted in a spree of thefts and breaking and enterings, being arrested in Sand Lake.

The driver, identified as Jordan DeWitt, a 36-year-old man from Evart, and his passenger, Christina Taylor, a 40-year-old female, also from Evart, were both arrested and lodged in the Mecosta County Jail, According to police, the two are being held on multiple charges through the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office for a long list of thefts that have occurred locally in the past month. 

These include three different counts of Unlawfully Driving Away of an Automobile; a count of Breaking and Entering a building with Intent; a count of Larceny in a Building; 2 counts of Larceny of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000; a count of Home Invasion; and a count of Larceny of Firearms from five separate Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office investigations. They are being held on cash/surety bonds ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

The two also are suspected of numerous other thefts over the course of the last two months involving breaking and entering’s and the theft of ORV’s, RV’s, trailers, vehicles and firearms.  

“The arrests were the result of communication and teamwork from each of the agencies involved,” said a spokesperson from the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office.

The Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office, Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police(Mt. Pleasant, Grand Rapids, Lakeview, Niles Posts) continue to work with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, , Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and Big Rapids Department of Public Safety in identifying criminal activity and recovered/stolen property associated with Dewitt and Taylor.

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Nine-year-old injured in ORV crash

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post responded to a one-vehicle ORV crash on Monday, April 26, that resulted in serious injuries to a 9-year-old male driver from Pierson, MI. 

Troopers were dispatched to the scene at approximately 8:23 pm on Stanton Rd. near N. Long Rd. in Montcalm County, Pierson Township.  

Preliminary investigation revealed the ORV was being operated by a 9-year-old male driver on Stanton Rd. near Long Rd. when the male was thrown from the ORV. The male driver was not wearing a helmet and suffered serious injuries and was flown by AeroMed to Spectrum Health Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

The Michigan State Police continues to investigate this crash. Troopers were assisted by AeroMed, Montcalm County EMS, Sand Lake Fire Department and Montcalm Central Dispatch.

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City investigates PFAS at lagoon and discharge sites

By Judy Reed

The City of Cedar Springs and EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy), are investigating why PFAS would be found at both the old lagoon site at the end of West Street, and the current wastewater discharge site south of Indian Lakes in Algoma Township.

According to Mike Womack, the Cedar Springs City Manager, the City of Cedar Springs undertook PFAS testing on its municipal water supply in 2017 and 2018 and testing found that the City’s water supply was “non-detect” for both PFOA and PFOS. “This testing helps City residents be sure that the City water that comes out of the tap in their homes has no PFOA or PFOS in the water,” he said. 

Subsequent to testing of the City’s municipal water supply, Womack said the City began working with EGLE (formerly known as MDEQ) to test the City’s current and former wastewater treatment locations for PFAS chemicals. Initial testing found that there were PFOA detections of between non-detection and 43 parts per trillion at those testing locations. At the time of that testing, all of those findings were below the 70 parts per trillion limitations imposed by both the Federal EPA and also the State MDEQ/EGLE. 

In August of 2020, the State of Michigan changed the permitted PFOA levels down to 8 parts per trillion, causing some of the City’s current and former wastewater treatment locations to potentially be in violation of the newly lowered limitations. Subsequent testing at some of those locations found their PFOA numbers to be reduced, including some reduced below the lowered State of Michigan limitations. 

The Lagoon site is the former location of the clean-water discharge from the City’s wastewater system. The Lagoon site was constructed in 1965 and was used to help clean and infiltrate wastewater before being released back into nature as clean water. The Lagoon system was removed from service in 1999 after all wastewater treatment was taken over by the City’s wastewater treatment plant. Womack said that the construction and operation of the Lagoon site, the monitoring and testing of the Lagoon site during operations, the closure of the Lagoon site and the monitoring and testing of the Lagoon site after closure has all been done in accordance with MDEQ/EGLE rules.

The “discharge site” is the current location that water from the City’s wastewater treatment plant is released back into nature after that water is cleaned, it is located approximately 1 mile south of the City. Womack said that the construction and opening of the wastewater treatment plant, the operations and testing of the wastewater treatment plant and the operations and testing of the wastewater plant’s discharge location have all been done in accordance with MDEQ/EGLE rules.

So why would PFAS chemicals be detected at these sites? “Both the Lagoon site and the discharge site have been used by dozens of businesses and hundreds of residential homes since 1965,” explained Womack. “Since these locations are the end location for the City’s wastewater/sewer system, the presence of any PFAS chemicals at these sites are potentially the result of one or more of the City’s sewer system’s users depositing PFAS chemicals into the sewer system at some point since 1965. It is also possible that PFAS chemicals were present at either or both of these locations prior to 1965 or that the PFAS chemicals have been transported to these sites from unknown off-site locations. Since testing is ongoing and the potential timeframe for contamination is so long, nobody is currently aware of the origination of the PFAS chemicals at these two locations.”

PFAS is widely found in things we use every day—personal care items, food wrappers, non-stick cookware, even in our blood. It can also be found in the biosolids that farmers use on their fields.

As the City of Cedar Springs and EGLE work to determine the nature, cause and potential extent of PFAS chemicals in and around these two locations, Womack said it is important to recognize that City water users are not in danger of any type of PFAS exposure from their water supply at this time. 

“There might be groundwater well users in or around the southwest part of the City that have the potential of being exposed to PFAS chemicals from their groundwater supply. The most recent testing available indicates that the discharge site location in Algoma Township is below current PFAS limitations. Property owners in both of those locations are encouraged to test their own ground water supply for PFAS chemicals on their own or if they receive a letter from the City of Cedar Springs, to participate in the City’s water testing program,” explained Womack.

He also explained that city residents may be responsible for current, future or ongoing cleanup and/or monitoring activities related to contamination found at those locations, because it is city property, even if they didn’t cause it. 

“Those potential cleanups and/or monitoring activities which EGLE may mandate, have the potential to be prohibitively expensive and might also require significant new ongoing costs indefinitely into the future,” said Womack. “There is no funding that the City is aware of to help pay for these mandates from EGLE or the State of Michigan. The lack of funding for these new EGLE and State of Michigan mandates means that the full cost of any cleanup or monitoring is likely to fall onto the shoulders of City of Cedar Springs citizens and property owners through increased utility rates or taxes.”

Womack noted that the City of Cedar Springs is concerned with the health and well-being of all citizens, both inside and outside of the City of Cedar Springs, and will continually work to protect the health and well-being of all citizens.

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Owl sculpture donated to library

Otis the owl and his creator, Duane Harriman. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

A Solon Township man has created and donated a beautiful owl to the Cedar Springs Public Library.

Duane Harriman, who loves to work with wood, created this special piece of art, which he named Otis, using a method of art called intarsia. 

The owl, which measures 28 inches across and 19 inches high, is made of various species of wood: blue pine, aspen, alder, wenge, and yellow heart. In all, he is 510 pieces and took about 100 hours to complete. 

Harriman said in write up about the owl that each piece was cut using a scroll saw. Each feather was shaped with a drum sander, then glued together. After all the pieces were shaped and glued, they were attached to a backer board and finished with a clear gel. The colors are all natural. 

Stop by the library, at the corner of Main Street and W. Maple Street, to see Otis, during the library’s open hours Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.

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Northland Drive closed for road work

This road closed sign is on Northland Drive at Ritchie. Post photo by J. Reed.

Northland Dr between Ritchie Ave and Sand Lake St and has been closed for crosstile replacement, according to the Kent County Road Commission website. The detour is Ritchie Avenue, which runs between Northland Drive and 22 Mile Rd in Sand Lake.

We asked how long this work might take but have not yet received a response from the KCRC.

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Sparta bridge work on 13 Mile Rd

Sparta 13 Mile Rd bridge over the Rogue River, just west of old Alpine. Photo from the Kent County Road Commission Facebook page.

If you travel to Sparta on 13 Mile Rd, you will see that construction on the bridge just west of old Alpine has closed the road to all traffic.

According to the Kent County Road Commission, crews have removed pavement and replaced select box beams. Currently, they are placing concrete patching material to repair the bridge support substructure. This $230,000 project includes spot concrete box beam replacement, deck waterproofing, concrete abutment repair and new HMA surface. It is expected to be completed in early May.

KCRC said the project will be done in conjunction with the 13 Mile paving project slated to begin in early May. After bridge work is completed, and the paving contractor for the 13 Mile project has mobilized, base paving operations will take place at the bridge and adjacent areas.

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Sand Lake reports they are fiscally healthy

Votes to become part of Nelson Twp Planning Commission

By Judy Reed

The Village of Sand Lake held a special meeting at the VFW Hall on Friday, April 23, where they reported on their fiscal health, voted to join the Nelson Township Planning Commission, and appointed a new council member, among other business.

The council had several letters of interest for the position of council member, and chose resident Maggie Merritt, who has also been busy restoring the Sand Lake Museum. Former trustee Glen Baker, who was defeated in the fall election, also applied. The vote to appoint Merritt was 5-1, with trustee Rachel Gokey the lone no vote. She said she had nothing against Maggie personally, that it was because of Merritt’s ties with the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce, which Gokey felt was supposed to be subservient to the Village Council. “And we already have some of that,” she said, referring to trustee Stacy Rudicil, who sits on the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Village President Mollie Doerr opened the meeting by giving a President’s report on the state of the Village and its financial health. “We have heard from people who have heard rumors that the Village is broke,” she said. “These people want to understand if that is true.”

She said that the presentation would help people understand the Village is in good financial condition, generates sufficient revenue to continue, has some long-term debt but not too much, and has a healthy bank account.

There were some comments from the auditors, Vredeveld Haefner, about the March 31, 2020 audit, which audited the 2020-2021 year. They noted an instance where a Village staff member was being paid in excess of the approved wage rate. They also noted there was not always clear documentation of the approved wage rate for village staff. They suggested maintaining documentation of approved wage rates for all Village staff would enhance the Village payroll process.

The auditor also suggested the Village revew and update policies and procedures for operations, including policies for credit card usage, etc, as well as personnel policies. They also noted that there was a corrective action plan submitted to the State of Michigan the by former Village President on Sept. 28, 2020 for overspending, which was a Village budget violation.

Doerr also noted that there were some things they were investigating, including why $6,000 of CARES Act funds were returned to the State after being paid to the fire department in the fall of 2020; documentation for a payment from Kent County of $4,094 from the CARES Act in October 2020; and whether the water tower lease was sold. The Village recorded $359,697 in the general fund other revenue account from Title Vest Agency, LLC, on July 30, 2020, but haven’t yet found documentation for the transaction. She also said they have found indications that the contract for maintenance and painting of the water tower may have been canceled. “Maintenance of the water tower is important for the Village’s compliance with State statutes and for providing safe drinking water to public water customers,” said Doerr. She said they are working to find documentation regarding that contract.

They are also looking into some accounting services that were performed from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, for which the village paid $17,600. It was not for the audit.

The reason for legal fees tied to Paradise Cove is another thing they are looking at. Records show over $92,600 was spent on that of that $151,263 in legal fees spent in 18 months.

In a step forward that should take some burden off the Village Council, they voted to have a joint Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals with Nelson Township (which Nelson must still approve). The Village of Sand Lake will now have members on both boards. Any businesses that want to come into Sand Lake will still have to abide by Sand Lake ordinances (not Nelson Township).

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Man arrested in cocaine bust

An Ensley Township man was arrested Sunday after police found drugs in his home.

On Sunday April 25, the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office conducted a Narcotics search warrant on 128th Street in Ensley Twp. Police said that after an investigation and search of the residence, a large amount of cocaine was located, which was prepackaged for sale. In addition to the drugs, cash and other items for delivery were located.  

The homeowner, a 49 year-old male, was arrested and lodge in the Newaygo County Jail for possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.  He was expected to be arraigned on Monday.

At press time, Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office had not yet released his name.

The Central Michigan Enforcement Team and the Newaygo County Emergency Response Team assisted with the investigation.

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Elaborate licensing scam costs couple their life savings

LANSING—Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Orlene Hawks has today alerted professionals licensed by the State of Michigan to beware of an elaborate, sophisticated scam that ultimately costed one physical therapist and her family their entire savings.

The scheme reported to Nessel’s consumer protection team took place over the course of several days and involved three different men who posed as an investigator from LARA, a chief investigator from LARA, and an FBI agent, respectively. The men convinced the physical therapist that her license to practice was in danger of immediate temporary suspension and directed her to the nearest UPS store to receive notification in writing. According to the woman, the document the men provided her appeared to be on official LARA letterhead and even included her license number.

The man posing as the chief investigator told the physical therapist that he was investigating a drug trafficking case involving her license and that her name and license were associated with 15 different bank accounts laundering 2.4 million dollars. At one point, all three men got on the call with her, giving her the option of obtaining a lawyer and being stuck in jail without bail for at least six months, or cooperating with their investigation by signing a federal bond agreement with the Department of Justice.

Convinced that the scam was legitimate, the woman followed their instructions, told no one—including her husband—and made a wire transfer for her so-called bond. She was then provided with an application to allegedly reinstate her license. Once her husband discovered the wire transfer, the police were called and confirmed the scam. The couple was unable to recoup any of their financial losses.

“This kind of scheme shows the depth and breadth bad actors will go to while robbing well-intentioned people who are fearful of the results should they not comply,” said Nessel. “Do NOT fall for anyone who calls and threatens you unless you provide them with some form of cash—in this case, a hefty wire transfer. Be alert, be skeptical, and hang up, no matter how often they reach out to you. And by all means, immediately stop any payments and alert local law enforcement to report them. You may also wish to report this conduct to our office as it helps us understand what scams are circulating so that we can warn the public about them.”

“No one from our office in LARA will ever reach out to you and threaten to suspend your license,” said Hawks. “Our investigators have teamed up with Michigan State Police to put a stop to as many scams as possible but we need our licensees to be alert to the possibility that the next text, email, or phone call they get about their license may be someone trying to scam them.”

Last fall, several State of Michigan licensees encountered spam emails or spam websites impersonating LARA. Hawks emphasized the following while urging licensees to take caution:

Licensees should be cautious of unsolicited requests for any of their personal information. LARA will not contact you directly asking for personal information.

Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or links to websites. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in emails or text messages about validating your personal data.

If there are any hyperlinks, check the url before clicking. LARA websites will have michigan.gov in the url.

If you suspect fraud, report it immediately to your licensing bureau.

“Don’t be fooled by a scam, no matter how real it seems,” said Nessel. “Do your homework and report anything that is even remotely suspicious to the proper authorities. It is much easier to protect yourself from a scam than to recover from one.”

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