Since July of this year, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office has seen a dramatic increase in the number of business break-ins in the Plainfield, Alpine and Grand Rapids Township areas. Investigators estimated that approximately 50 of those break-ins could be related based on method of operation, time of day, property targeted, and type of business. On October 21, the Grandville Police Department responded to an alarm drop at Belle Tire on 28th Street SW. Grandville officers arrested a 32-year-old Plainfield Township man for breaking into the business. During the early morning hours of October 21, Kent County Sheriff’s investigators interviewed the suspect and he confessed to approximately 35 of the Kent County break-ins. It is believed he is responsible for several more burglaries, which could total more than 50 businesses in the Grand Rapids, Grandville, Walker and Kent County jurisdictions. It is also believed that suspect was supporting a drug habit by committing the break-ins. The suspect was arraigned in the 63 District Court on Friday, Oct. 22.
‘It is difficult to validate their accusations’ —Supervisor Meek Two different investigations of claims of threats and harassment are concluded in Plainfield Township. An MDOT investigation regarding the Kent County Road Commission’s (KCRC) actions in securing agreements to grade Belmont Road property frontage found there were no threats to residents in order to receive permission for grading. An extensive investigation initiated and paid for by Supervisor George Meek and trustees Charles Weldon and Vic Matthews—threatened with recall—also found no basis for the claims of threats made by residents. A small group of verbal and accusing residents have been condemning the board members, as well as the KCRC staff, of disregarding the will of voters, breaking the law, and complaining of threats to health and home. Several of those claiming wrongdoing by KCRC and the board refused to talk to Gene Debbaudt, a former FBI investigator who was hired to look into the accusations. “While we respect their right not to talk to our investigators, without the information they claim to possess, it is difficult to validate their accusations,” said Supervisor George Meek following the board’s Monday, September 20 meeting. “We are satisfied that the issue of threats and intimidation has been meticulously and extensively investigated, not only by Mr. Debbaudt and his associates, but also by MDOT. We now consider this matter closed,” said Meek.
Would-be township firefighter files petition Trustees Charles Weldon and Victor Matthews and Supervisor George Meek are hotly contending allegations made in a recall petition filed by Nick Prill. Prill, who was once in the township’s fire academy and dismissed, filed the document June 17 and wording on the document was approved by Kent County July 9. The three are accused of repeatedly violating the Open Meetings Act, increasing water and sewer rates rather than making cuts to the budget and hiring a convicted sex offender. “There is no investigation of allegations in approving a recall petition,” said Matthews of the approval. “The county only has to approve that the wording is clear.” Matthews stated that the recall effort is one more step in a long campaign by a small, vocal special interest group to intimidate board members to adopt their agenda to the detriment of all the people of Plainfield Township. The group was successful in changing the minds of four board members earlier this year to approve and pitch in a portion of payment for a more than one million dollar upgrade to Belmont Avenue. In addition to the cancellation of the project, the township was informed by the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) that the township must reimburse for work done on the project following the original unanimous vote by the full board to approve funds for the work. That cost has yet to be totalled but the KCRC said it may be as much as $100,000. The three board members who refused to waiver in support of the project are the three listed in the petition. All three released a joint statement addressing each accusation. In regards to the accusation of violation of Open Meetings, all state that the board has relied upon the advise of legal council prior to having any closed meetings. They state there has been no water increase and an increase in sewer rates—an average of $2.71 per average household—was necessary in response to a significant decline in residential development and as part of the township’s contract with the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA). The new NKSA plant has saved residents about $5.5 in sewer rates, the statement by the three under recall states. In addition, they point […]
Townships, City learn financial opportunities of Rockford sports complex By Matt Marn The Plainfield Township board welcomed the township boards and planning commissions of Algoma Township and the City of Rockford the evening of Tuesday, May 25, for a special combined meeting. The informational meeting discussed the project of creating a sports center, complete with a number of baseball diamonds, in an area near the current North Kent Transfer Station off 10 Mile Road, owned by the Kent County Department of Public Works. George Meek, Plainfield Township supervisor, said it was time to share the idea that has been discussed for a number of years. Meek said for now, it was simply an informational meeting, and that if further steps were taken to make this plan a reality, all three township boards and planning commissions would be involved. “If this takes place, it will have a very strong impact on the communities around us,” said Meek. Plainfield Township welcomed its speaker, Mike Guswiler, Executive Director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, the group responsible for bringing this idea to the table. Guswiler explained the commission was formed in 2007 to promote West Michigan as a premiere venue for youth and amateur sports. He went on to say another goal of the commission is to improve the quality of life for people in the area, including bringing in customers to benefit local businesses such as restaurants, stores and hotels. Guswiler said so far the commission has planned 136 events, and has already brought in $140 million in revenue for local businesses through youth and amateur sports events. “In 2007 we conducted a plan… we wanted to become the go-to organization for youth and amateur sports organizations,” he said. “Much of that effort is bringing awareness and volunteers to the sports, as well as sponsorship and venue assistance.” Guswiler said the West Michigan Sports Commission has another objective – to further develop the infrastructure of facilities in the area, from high schools to universities. He said after forming a research task force, the commission found the sports that would most benefit from such an area was baseball and softball. “In the seasonal period, you can have a tournament each and every weekend,” Guswiler said. “We wanted to […]
Allegations of harassment by his staff that Kent County Road Commissioner (KCRC) John Rice said “are totally bogus” but have been filed with the state are part of the reason a Belmont Avenue project has been dropped. Plainfield Township will be receiving a bill for the cost of work incurred so far on the project—as much as $90,000. Rice said a $900,000 federal grant has a mid-August deadline. With citizen complaints and a vote by the Plainfield Board to withhold their $200,000 input, he feels the varied issues cannot be resolved in time to move forward with the work. Planned was a $1.3 million repaving, curb, sidewalk and a third lane on Belmont Avenue between Post Road and Jupiter Avenue. It was to be paid for by the grant, the KCRC and the $200,00 from Plainfield. The project was unopposed at both a public hearing and an informational meeting attended by very few people. Residents began an impassioned battle against the township over the project this spring. At the regular Plainfield Township Board Monday, May 3, the board voted four to three to withhold the $200,000 they had approved for adding sidewalks to the project. On Tuesday, May 11, the KCRC voted to cancel the project completely. Rice said the federal aid will be used on road work in Solon Township or Grattan and Vergennes townships. The KCRC will continue to maintain the road, but has no plans for any repaving in the near future and no other grant money identified for any future work on the road. On Monday, May 17 the board was attacked for their actions on both sides of the issue, by those who were angry at the loss of the grant and those who called for the recall of the three board members who voted against withholding the $200,000. Several asked the board to fire Township Manager Robert Homan. “I think it’s important to see this as a lose-lose for everyone,” Rice said. “It’s unfortunate the township was convinced to change their mind on the project.” Board member Vic Matthews, one of those who was against changing course in the project called the cancellation “a disaster and a huge loss to the residents of Plainfield Township.”