Catholic Schools Week kicks off in full force

This week marks the annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States which has been producing successful graduates for more than 200 years.

These graduates continue to live and share their faith with the world, excel educationally thanks to high standards that provide an opportunity for all students to reach their full potential and become active members and leaders in our communities.  Catholic schools in the Grand Rapids Diocese currently serve more than 6,000 students in six counties.

“Our students not only receive a top education, they are provided opportunities to learn about and practice their faith every day while participating in sports and social clubs,” said Greg Apkarian, principal at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Belmont.

“High School can be a trying time for many students as they struggle to find their place in the world. West Catholic’s Christ – centered focus offers teens the support they need in a warm yet demanding atmosphere.” Cynthia Kneibel, West Catholic Principal

Assumption marks the week by participating in a variety of activities – from a baby shower to raise items for HELP Pregnancy Crisis Aid to making Valentine’s for veterans.

“Catholic Schools Week is my favorite week of the year! We always have a lot of activities that help others while having fun with our class,” said Ava Soltysiak, 4th grader at Assumption.

Additionally as part of a new three-year effort to welcome more students into the Catholic schools, the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund, which previously provided $240,000 per year in tuition assistance, has been increased to $1 million in order to make our Catholic schools affordable to families.



Rockford mayor attends Gov. Snyders speech

Last week was a “political” week for yours truly. Representative Rob VerHeulen, our representative in the Michigan House’s 74th District, invited me to spend Tuesday night in Lansing at Gov. Snyder’s State of the State speech. I accepted that invitation in my official capacity as the City of Rockford’s Mayor. Most of us have visited the capitol building; usually in our school years. In my case, that was a few years ago so my memory of it was a little foggy. It’s more stately and exquisite than I remember. Throw in getting to look at it from inside and it was quite a spectacle. Thank you, Representative VerHeulen for the invitation. Allow me to highlight a few items I took from the Governor’s speech.


Regardless of whether or not you agree politically with Gov. Snyder, he defined a large part of the 2015 portion of his speech in terms of a “River of Opportunity”. People outside of the River have little chance to succeed in this world. We have to figure out a way to get them into that River of Opportunity where at least have they have a chance. It’s hard to argue with him when he says, “The system is failing folks. It’s not how you solve the problem of helping people have opportunities.” In an attempt to get people into the River of Opportunity, he was alluding to the fact that we have created ever more and bigger government programs. He made 5 points in that regard. 1. It’s about people, not programs. 2. It’s about root causes, not symptoms. 3. It’s about results, not spending money in government programs. 4. It’s about recognizing that it’s not just about government. This is about community. It’s about friends and neighbors. We need to engage the entire community. 5. Measure outcomes and results and define the measurement of success. Ultimately success is “. . how many people that were outside of that mainstream of opportunity have moved into the mainstream so they can have the potential to be successful.” To that end, he suggested several program changes that I am sure we will hear about in the near future. As expected, he also discussed the Transportation Funding Proposal that we will vote on this coming May. Our Governor is optimistic for a positive outcome on the vote and his suggested program changes. Relentless Positive Action is his motto. I like it.


I was involved in another political event last week. Congressman Justin Amash who represents Rockford as part of the Third District of Michigan held a town hall meeting at City Hall on Saturday morning. He took on all questions from the full house and provided answers. For example, he was asked about what the federal government could do to improve education. His answer was direct: education is a state issue. Period. Next question. If Dr. Shibler had been in attendance, I am sure he would have applauded. The Congressman was asked about last year’s federal government shutdown. His answer: he didn’t vote for the shutdown. Basically, Congressional Leadership wanted it to happen, so it happened. A way to work to cure the situation would be for the federal government to use a 3 year rolling budget that would use an average of the prior 3 year’s expenditures to budget for the coming year. Using an average would help to smooth out the ups and downs of business cycles. In fact, he suggested that Michigan could use such a budgeting tool to help them. Actually sounds like a good suggestion. Another question was asked about Social Security. Congressman Amash expanded that question to discuss Medicare, Medicaid, military spending, and the payment of interest in addition to social security. Taken together, those programs add up to approximately 85% of the total budget. All of the programs need reform but especially social security. The longer we wait, the tougher will be the medicine. Unfortunately, the current Congress doesn’t seem to have an appetite to fix any problems at this time. Our bad luck. One last question was answered very directly: in one of it’s classes, a school was studying the Bible as a historical book. What was his thought? I liked his answer. Since the Bible is a historical document, he agrees that it can be studied as a historical document. I enjoyed meeting the Congressman and wish him good luck in Washington. He will need it.


Of course, all of us on the City Council and me as the Mayor are specifically non-partisan. We make decisions based on what is good for Rockford and its residents. Our decisions are not partisan in any way, shape or form but only for the good of Rockford. We are political, however, and do have to function in the political world. We receive funding from Michigan. We receive grants from the federal government. All legislatures will from time to time make or attempt to make rules that don’t necessarily help us here in Rockford. It’s important to be able to to give feedback to our local representatives in Lansing such as Rob VerHeulen. He’s a good representative who, thankfully, does what he can to help us. This is Jerry Coon signing off.


Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent and a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Dr. in Rockford.

Contact Jerry at


State Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker (right), was joined by special guests Rockford Mayor Jerry Coon and Sandy LeBlanc (not pictured), Grandville/Jenison Chamber of Commerce executive director, for the 2015 State of the State address at the Capitol.

State Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker (right), was joined by special guests Rockford Mayor Jerry Coon and Sandy LeBlanc (not pictured), Grandville/Jenison Chamber of Commerce executive director, for the 2015 State of the State address at the Capitol.

Condominium development at Burch Body Works property approved by Planning Commission


By BETH ALTENA The Rockford Planning Commission voted 6 to 1 to recommend approval of a condominium development proposed for mostly vacant property that was formerly occupied by Burch Body Works. Commissioner Tammy Bergstrom was the lone nay vote on Thursday, January 22. Rockford City Manager Michael Young opened the evening meeting with a preliminary […]

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State Police warn against IRS scams

The Michigan State Police are warning the public of a telephone scam targeting taxpayers nationwide. Scammers are using fake names and IRS badge numbers to intimidate and influence victims into wiring money to pay off IRS debts. Threats of audit, arrest, suspension of a business license or even deportation are made by the caller if […]

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Letter to the Editor

For someone never at a loss for words, the complete surprise when an announcement was made at the Chamber Annual Meeting left me like a bubbling idiot.  Here’s what I wish I had said: I feel it is I who should be giving an award to the Chamber. They came to MY rescue allowing me to […]

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