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Archive | May, 2021

We remember your sacrifice

By Judy Reed

Over the years, we’ve done stories on a few different men from our area that were killed in action. This Memorial Day, we highlight four more men, of whom little is known, but who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.

David Warren Wheeler WWI

The tombstone of David Warren Wheeler, who died in World War I (1918) while enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

There was one sentence in the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJong, that said an early casualty of WWI was a DW Wheeler, son of D. and Zoe Wheeler. No other info was listed. So we did some digging and turned up various birth, death, and military records.

DW Wheeler was a David Warren Wheeler, born in Nelson Township to Ephriam Wales and Zoe Pearl (Carpenter) Wheeler, who were married Feb. 4, 1897. David was born March 21, 1899. In the 1900 census, the three of them still lived in Nelson Township. Sometime in the next few years, they moved to Bangor in VanBuren County. Another child was born in 1902 (Marion, a daughter) and another boy in 1906, Harry Fredric, who only lived two days. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, though in 1910, they were still residing in Bangor. At some point they returned to Cedar Springs, because a veteran record for David Warren Wheeler in 1918 showed he was from Cedar Springs, Kent County, Mich.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in Detroit, on July 22, 1918. He was shown as an apprentice seaman in the United States Naval Reserve Force. David served just under three months when he died at the Naval Hospital in Great Lakes, Illinois on October 2, 1918, at the age of 19. The cause is listed as influenza.

His parents, Ephriam (Ephraim in some records) and Zoe, show they were divorced four years later, in 1922. Ephriam died three years later at age 50 in 1925 and Zoe lived to age 85. She died in 1961. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery. David Warren’s gravestone appears to show he died in 1916 instead of 1918.

T/Sgt. John C. Stevens WWII

The tombstone of T/Sgt. John C. Stevens, who died during World War II.

According to information shared with us from the Cedar Springs Historical Museum, Sgt. John C. Stevens was a radio operator on B-17 bombers flying out of England with the Army Air Force. He was listed as MIA when his plane did not return from a mission over Merseburg, a critical German oil supply depot of the German forces on Aug. 24, 1944. His remains were returned to the U.S. five years later. He has a tombstone in Elmwood Cemetery. His tombstone shows he was born in 1923, making him 21 when he died.

Pfc. Thomas Kemp died in Vietnam.

Pfc. Thomas William Kemp Vietnam

Thomas William Kemp was born on November 18, 1948 to Donald and Dorothy Kemp of Rockford. He graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1967. He served as a rifleman in the first squadron, of the first platoon of Charley Company, 1st battalion, 26th Marine regiment. He was part of a CAP. CAPs (Combined Action Platoons) were units where Marines would, live, train, and patrol with local Vietnamese PF’s (Popular Forces) in their villages. A squad of Marines would be assigned to villages that had a high enemy presence, to instill the fighting spirit in the local PFs so they can protect their families and fellow citizens against their enemy.

On May 30, 1968, while on A patrol in Thua Thien Province, an AP (Anti-Personnel) mine was detonated and two Marines were killed. PFC Kemp was one of the casualties; he was killed in action by multiple fragmentation wounds from the hostile explosive device. He was age 19, and had been there only since late December. He is buried in Blythefield Memory Gardens.

Sp4. Terry Allen Frechette died in Vietnam.

SP/4 Terry Allen Frechette Vietnam

Terry Allen Frechette, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Willard Frechette, was 21 years old when he was killed in action in Vietnam on Friday, July 16, 1968, according to his obituary. A rifleman with Company D, 2nd battalion, 16th infantry regiment, 1st infantry division, he was in Vietnam for six months. He received the Silver Star for gallantry by saving his commanding officer from injury from a booby trap. He was also awarded the bronze star and a purple heart. He was survived by his parents, and nine sisters and brothers. He is buried in Plainfield Cemetery.

Many thanks to Sharon Jett and the Cedar Springs Historical Museum for their information and help with this story. Other sources of information included Findagrave.com, West Michigan Genealogical Society, and Ancestry.com.

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Dancing under the stars

Dancing under the stars became a reality at the prom for CSHS and CTA last Friday. Photo by J. Reed.

By Judy Reed

We’ve often heard the phrase “it takes a village…” And sometimes, it even takes a neighboring village. 

That saying was put to the test last Friday evening, May 21, when the Village of Sand Lake closed off Lake Street for several hours and hosted a prom outdoors for both Cedar Springs High School and Creative Technologies Academy.

“I was so glad to be able to do something for the kids,” said Mollie Doerr, President of the Village of Sand Lake. “I’d hate for them to have to go another year without one.”

And by all accounts, the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves. “I’m really glad they could pull it off,” said senior Sarah Chenowith.

“This is awesome,” said another student, when asked what they thought of the prom.

According to organizer Katy Austin, the Nelson Township treasurer and mother of a senior at Cedar Springs this year, she wanted to do something to help the students get a prom this year, since last year’s was canceled due to Covid-19. She said she reached out to school officials in February to find out if they would be able to have one. She said that at the time, the place the school had booked only had a capacity of 25 percent, so it looked like a no go. So she began to plan one herself, starting in March. She got the idea to have it outdoors, where the capacity could be greater. But she also wanted to bring business to the struggling restaurants. “I just thought we could pack these restaurants full,” she explained.

Austin said she talked to the City of Cedar Springs, but they couldn’t shut down Main Street, and if they held it in the Heart of Cedar Springs, it would need to be a public event. So she approached the Village of Sand Lake. Skinner Field officials also offered but ultimately, Austin opted for Dancing Under the Stars on Main Street in Sand Lake. “Both the Village and the Cedar Springs Chamber approached me and asked me to please consider Sand Lake,” she said. “They really wanted to do it.”

 So Austin and three others—Heidi Greenland, Tami Elliston, and Shannon Cooper—got to work. Donations came pouring in from both private citizens and businesses to make the event happen. Tickets were $10 each. For that $10, the teens got a $6 voucher for Rosie’s, and a booklet is being bought to give to the students with memories of the night. 

About 300 attended the event. 

Main Street was beautifully decorated with lights, a tent, balloons, and various spots to get photographs taken. There was a vintage truck from Dean’s Excavating; Phil Harrison donated a vintage car for kids to take pictures in; a flower wall; a starry night backdrop with 8 foot moon; and a balloon garland in the VFW hall. Kids were also able to get free pizza thanks to generous businesses. They also had a DJ to play music.

Austin said people came out in droves to help set up, including the Village employees and their families; the Sand Lake Chamber and their families; the Sand Lake Fire Department and families, and their own families as well.

Austin was overwhelmed at the generosity. “Thank you to everyone,” she said. “It truly takes a a village. I could not have done it without everyone’s help.”

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Lest we forget

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those that gave their lives while defending our country. It’s also a day to remember all those that have served and are now deceased. Inside this issue are the names of many of the veterans buried in area cemeteries (though not all), and we honor them with this issue of The Cedar Springs Post. If you know of a veteran’s name that is missing from the list, please let us know and we’ll add them for next year. (Download list here)

There are a few memorial activities and ceremonies taking place this weekend, though not as many as in prior years.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will NOT hold its annual Memorial Cemetery Walk this year. They hope to return next year.

The American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 in Cedar Springs will hold their annual Memorial Day program on Monday, May 31, but will only visit two locations. They will be at Elmwood Cemetery at 9 a.m., and Veterans Memorial Park, (corner of Main and Oak in Cedar Springs) at about 9:30 a.m. Returning this year is the Avenue of Flags, displayed in Elmwood Cemetery, with each flag representing a veteran who has served and passed away. 

Algoma Township: Take a Walk Through the Algoma Township Cemetery. They will be putting out flags on the veterans gravesites and also Civil War markers on those who fought in the Civil War. The Memorial Day service will not take place again this year because the groups that participate in the service still are not getting together yet. We hope that next year we can go back to our regular Memorial Day service. We encourage everyone to take a portion of your day to visit the cemetery and remember those who served and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Sand Lake: The Sand Lake VFW disbanded this year. We have no info on whether any other post will have services in any of the area cemeteries. 

Sparta will host its annual Memorial Day Ceremony on Monday, May 31 at 10:30 am in Lamoreaux Park (256 Park St., Sparta). Veteran Donald Bradford will be speaking and music will be provided by Sparta High School Band. This event is hosted by American Legion Post 107 and Sparta Township Historical Commission.

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Alpha Family Center showcased services at Capitol

Alpha Family Center Executive Director Teresa Hathaway with 74th District State Rep. Mark Huizenga. Courtesy photo.

Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs participated in the Empowering Women, Strengthening Communities event on Thursday, May 13 at the state Capitol. The event brought together over 30 organizations from throughout Michigan to meet with local lawmakers. Adoption agencies, maternity homes, and pregnancy care centers showcased the essential services they provide to pregnant women, new moms, and adoptive families in their communities.

Annually, pregnancy resource centers provide over $6 million in pregnancy-related products and services for free to Michigan families.  This includes counseling, baby formula, clothing, diapers, ultrasounds, medical referrals, and parenting education, all made possible largely through private donations. Maternity homes provide young women with a safe place to live and learn during pregnancy and after the child is born. Adoption agencies, through the “open adoption” process, provide women the opportunity to choose a family for their newborn and suitable levels of contact to also maintain relationships with the child and their adoptive family. All throughout the state these organizations are available to walk with women through pregnancy and beyond.

If you or someone you know is in need of pregnancy support, please contact Alpha Family Center of Cedar Springs at 616-696-HELP (4357).  They offer/provide free pregnancy self-testing, parenting education, childbirth classes, post-abortion, miscarriage and sexual healing support, and are in the process of becoming medical in order to offer ultrasounds.

In conjunction with the event, House Resolution 104, sponsored by Representative Jack O’Malley, was passed by the Michigan House, commending pregnancy care centers and establishing May 13, 2021, as Pregnancy Resource Center Awareness Day.  The legislature also annually declares November as Adoption Awareness Month. Empowering Women, Strengthening Communities was coordinated by Michigan Catholic Conference and Michigan Family Forum.

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Wastewater overflow at Cedarfield

By Judy Reed

An equipment malfunction caused a sewage overflow at the Cedarfield Community on 17 Mile Rd, just west of Meijer, last Friday, May 21.

According to Gerry Osborn, of Infrastructure Alternatives, the company that oversees the treatment of wastewater at the community, the decanter malfunctioned and the wastewater overflowed within the confines of the treatment area (within the fencing) so no homeowners were affected.

The overflow was discovered about 5 a.m. Friday morning. Osborn estimated the overflow at about 2,500 gallons. A crew was sent out immediately to repair the malfunction and they treated the area with hydrated lime. 

According to protocol, Osborn immediately reported the spill to EGLE (formerly DEQ); the Kent County Health Department; and The Post. “We are always going to do the right thing,” he said.

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Police seek info on man that crashed mailboxes

By Judy Reed

The Kent County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information on a hit and run property damage crash that occurred in the 100 block of E. Muskegon Street in Cedar Springs last Friday, May 21.

According to Sgt. Todd Probst, they received a call about 9 p.m. May 21 that a vehicle had hit several mailboxes and a telephone pole at 100 E. Muskegon Street and then just kept going.

“It’s a wonder he didn’t hit any other cars, or people, or even the house,” said homeowner Richard Capek. He said the driver knocked down three mailboxes and Consumers Energy had to repair the telephone pole. He also noted that several pieces of the car were left in his yard, along with shards of glass.

Sgt. Probst said that according to witnesses, the car turned off 17 Mile and then went north on N. Park Street, and west on Beech Street. The vehicle was eventually abandoned in front of a downtown business, and the suspect then fled on foot.

The police are asking any other witnesses or anyone who might have information to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at (616) 632-6100 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345. 

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Man shot by police after domestic assault

A man was shot and killed by police at this home in Newaygo County last Friday. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

A Newaygo County man died last Saturday after he refused a police request to go outside and talk, and instead armed himself with what police later found was a bb/pellet gun.

According to Michigan State Police Public Information Officer Spl/Lt. Michelle Robinson, two troopers from the Hart Post were dispatched to a domestic assault in Beaver Township, Newaygo County, on Saturday, May 22 about 8:50 a.m.

A 63-year-old man named Johnny Owen King had been living at the address near the intersection of West 10 Mile Road and Comstock Avenue in Beaver Township, between Hesperia and Bitely. According to a report by WOODTV-8, the man had been living on the property with his uncle and his uncle’s ex-wife, and the assault allegedly occurred between King and his uncle’s ex-wife.

The suspect armed himself with this .177 caliber pneumatic gun before being shot by troopers. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.

MSP said that the troopers were inside of a travel trailer on the property when they requested that King come outside to talk with them. King refused and armed himself with what appeared to be a rifle, at which time he was shot.

Despite life-saving efforts, the subject was declared deceased on scene. 

The weapon that the man had has been examined by the MSP Grand Rapids forensic laboratory and has been identified as a .177 caliber pneumatic gun.  

The troopers were not injured and have been placed on critical incident leave per Department policy pending investigation.

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Wrong-way driver causes fatal crash

A 59-year-old woman from Wyoming, MIch. was killed last Friday morning when a 21-year-old Rockford man drove the wrong way down US-131 and collided with her vehicle.

Troopers from the Michigan State Police Grand Rapids Post responded to the two-vehicle head-on crash at approx. 2:40 a.m. on Friday, May 21, on northbound US-131 near Ann St. 

Police said that a 1999 Toyota 4Runner (SUV) driven by a 21-year-old man from Rockford, MI was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of travel on US-131 and crashed head on with a 2020 Buick Encore that was traveling southbound and driven by a 59-year-old female from Wyoming, Mich.  The woman was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

The driver of the SUV was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. 

The crash remains under investigation by the MSP Grand Rapids Post.  Names had not yet been released press time. Alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash.  

Troopers were assisted on scene by the Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Rapids Fire Department AMR, and Kent County Road Commission.  

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Man killed in Montcalm crash

Troopers from the MSP Lakeview Post responded to a single-vehicle traffic crash in Fairplain Township, Montcalm County, on Saturday, May 22, that resulted in the death of a 68-year-old male from Sidney, MI. 

Troopers were dispatched to the scene at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday evening on M-66 near Dick Road in Montcalm County.  

Their preliminary investigation showed that a 2001 Ford Ranger was traveling northbound on M-66 when the vehicle crossed the centerline and left the roadway. After leaving the roadway, the vehicle struck a large tree. The 68-year-old male driver died at the scene. He was wearing a seatbelt, and police do not believe alcohol to be a factor in this crash.

Troopers were assisted by the Sheridan Fire Department, Montcalm County EMS, and Montcalm County Central Dispatch.

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Crash sends two to hospital

Two drivers were seriously injured in the early hours of last Sunday morning after one of them crossed into oncoming traffic and was struck by another vehicle.

According to Spl/Lt. Michelle Robinson, of the Michigan State Police, troopers from the Grand Rapids Post responded to the crash on 14 Mile Road east of Northland Drive in Courtland Township, Kent County, about 2:28 a.m. Sunday, May 23.

Their initial investigation showed that a 2003 Honda Accord, driven by a 21-year-old man from Wayland, was traveling westbound on 14 Mile Road when he ran off the shoulder to the right, overcorrected, and crossed back across the roadway into the path of an eastbound vehicle.  The eastbound 2019 Nissan Rouge, driven by a 24-year-old female from Rockford, struck the Honda in the passenger side.

The driver of the Honda had to be extricated from the vehicle and was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. The driver of the Nissan was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.  Alcohol is believed to be a factor in this crash.

Troopers were assisted on scene by Life EMS, Courtland Township Fire, Kent County Sheriff’s Department, and the MSP 6th District Accident Investigator.

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