Articles by Squire News

About Squire News
The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.

Squire family makes first visit west

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

Usually heading to Maine for a summer vacation, the Altena family, with their Squire newspaper, instead drove west for the first family vacation in that part of the country. Watch for a write-up with photos of elk, moose, mule deer, male and female big horned sheep. Here Beth (Squire Editor and owner) and Bill Altena are pictured at the top of a mountain with an elevation of over 9,000 feet. (FYI, we drove up.)

Tax Attic August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

There seems to be no question that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare is going to take effect. It is not going to be repealed and it is not going to be defunded either. I could be wrong but I believe Congress is slightly too dysfunctional to make any major moves let alone repealing or defunding Obamacare. The public opinion surveys consistently indicate that the majority of Americans don’t necessarily like Obamacare but they like much of what Obamacare does. I went over many of the good features of Obamacare last week. What Americans don’t seem to like is, regardless of the rhetoric from the Washington bureaucrats, the blunt fact is that the federal government will be running the entire health care system at some point in the future. Appointed administrative staff has issued thousands of pages of regulations and rulings that have the authority of law. This myriad of regulations and rulings to implement Obamacare just doesn’t set well with many Americans. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t imagine that an appointed person such as Kathryn Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, could be practically as well known and have as much power as the president, but such is the bureaucratic environment in which we all live right now. We may rue the day that Obamacare passed because of the regulatory environment it will build but we may celebrate the day that Obamacare passed because of the good things that it does. Only time will tell. For many, the best feature of Obamacare is entitled the “individual mandate”. Presently there are thirty to forty million individuals without health insurance. As of October 1, 2013 all taxpayers, including those thirty to forty million non-covered individuals, will be able to enroll in a plan that is typically offered in a state exchange. The coverage will begin January 1, 2014. Those individuals who choose to not participate and do not buy insurance may be subject to a penalty which would be payable as part of their tax return. The specific rules of when the penalty will apply and how it will be collected are a bit murky at this moment but I am sure they will be clarified in the not too distant future. […]

Michigan Department of Education’s Scorecard Changes in Measuring Accountabilit

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

  As part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) was created as a way to measure educational standards within public schools. In Michigan, AYP measured year-to-year student achievement on the MEAP for elementary and middle schools and the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) for high schools. Other indicators, such as participation, attendance rates, and graduation rates were also considered in this measure. Under the AYP system, the Michigan Department of Education issued school districts and individual schools “report cards,” assigning letter grades based on the established indicators. Rockford Public Schools has earned straight A’s for seven consecutive years through this method. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the Michigan Department of Education released Michigan School Scorecards as the indicator of school and district compliance, assessment participation, and assessment performance requirements. These scorecards will use a color coding system in place of the grading system used under AYP. Color designations in order of highest to lowest are: green, lime, yellow, orange, and red. The first scorecards have just been released, indicating that each of the Rockford Public Schools has earned a passing color of either yellow or orange, with the overall district earning red. How can a district that previously earned straight A’s suddenly be measured as average or below average? The simple answer is that the MDE is using subgroup population statistics and this is adversely impacting the results of over 95 percent of school districts in Michigan. Without using subgroup populations the overall indicator for RPS would be at the highest level. The method being used is clearly flawed and does not accurately represent what is happening in Michigan’s schools. The scorecard indicator is certainly not indicative of student performance at Rockford Public Schools. A recent article in the Detroit Free Press outlined the MDE’s criteria relative to the color coding system. Based on that report, Rockford Public Schools would receive the rating of lime green, with over 70 percent of the 120 areas of measurement attained. The MDE fails to mention in the article the other measures they have created that restrict districts from being accurately labeled. We are working to obtain clarification of all criteria. In summary, the Rockford Public School District will continue […]

New township superintendent inherits an evolving community

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

Balance of law enforcement/fire and new parks a complicated mix By BETH ALTENA “The best government is where things run so smoothly people don’t even notice,” said Cameron Van Wyngarden, the new Plainfield Township Superintendent who took the helm of the township May 6, after the retirement of Robert Homan. At just 36 years of age, he takes on management of a township of 32,000 residents, has within its boundaries at least three separate school systems (Rockford, Northview, Comstock Park), has two libraries, two fire stations, multiple parks, is the host to a sewer treatment plant that serves five different communities, a water treatment plant and many other amenities and responsibilities that many residents never give a thought to. Van Wyngarden was chosen from a tight field of qualified professionals this spring and unanimously approved by the members of Plainfield Township’s Board of Trustees. As the new leader of the township serving under the direction and at the pleasure of the board, Van Wyngarden faces opportunities and challenges that many bodies of government are struggling to balance—including our state and national government. The son of an Iowa hog farmer and grandson of Bastian Van Gilst, a 20 year Iowa state senator, Van Wyngarden was interested early on in politics and government. He came to West Michigan to attend Calvin College and earned a double major in political science and business communications. He continued his education at Western Michigan University, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration. Along the way he met his wife, Cheri, who is now a nurse at Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming. The couple has three children, a twelve year old son, a ten year old daughter, and a seven year old son. Van Wyngarden said the classes he took in preparation for his future job were reflective of the duties he now faces—communication, budgeting, economics, and human resource management. The field is a competitive one, but jobs are opening up in government positions across the nation as baby boomers reach retirement age. With his first taste of the workplace – the nitty gritty, smelly arena of the pig farm – Van Wyngarden said he was motivated to choose a different career path. His mother began as a stay at home mother and […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

Terry Konkle – President I am sure many readers have memories of moving their possessions from one location to another. Lots of things happen and the emotions involved with the moving process can be quite interesting. This has been the case with moving everything from our old museum location to our new museum home. Let’s start with the means that we have used. To save money it was decided that we would move whatever we could using a “moving crew” made up of members (mostly over seventy years of age). We would use pickup trucks to carry the items and would use boxes to pack the smaller artifacts. Anything too heavy to lift or move would have to be done with other help or by hiring it out. We also found that some things could be transported the two blocks by using red dolly carts. To date, five heavy objects have made the trip up Bridge Street and down Main to Maple. I need to add that our two museum consultants, who are younger gentlemen, and some high school student volunteers have helped us several times. As with most moves, we are sometimes surprised with what we are finding. For instance, we found a sleigh in the basement and so far, we do not know where it came from (can any readers help). We also opened a storage closet and found it full from floor to ceiling with many things. One box in the closet held the air motor to our player piano. What a find! It will save our restorer lots of work. We located trunks filled with clothes, military items and Boy Scout memorabilia. They were basically hidden in the old museum but can now be used. Sometimes, we wondered at the reason why some things were saved. Unsold quilt raffle tickets from the 1990’s were in one box while another held signage for museum events that happened years ago. Other things of this nature turned up quite often and made their way to the dumpster. Decisions have had to be made on what to do with broken and duplicate things. Some things were sold at the sidewalk sale and others, like yearbooks, have been purchased by people who learned of them in […]

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