Community Services

Community invited to downtown Rockford to celebrate safety

July 25, 2013 // 0 Comments

All residents welcome to enjoy games, food, more Community Safety Officer Aaron Sawyer said the annual National Night Out celebration in downtown Rockford has become an event that residents look forward to. The celebration of safety is across the United States each year, but it is the personal nature of sharing time with friends, neighbors, law enforcement officers and having a good time that characterizes the evening. This year’s National Night Out is Tuesday, August 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the old Northland Pontiac parking lot at the intersection of Maple and Main Streets. There, adults and children can find many things to do and explore. The City of Rockford Fire Department will have trucks on display and allow the curious to see how the vehicles operate. Each year youngsters have a blast in the fire truck mister, which puts down a gentle spray, fun to play under in clothes or in a swim suit. Public safety fire fighters will be minding the grill, cooking up dogs available for a donation, along with chips and beverages. There will be a National Night Out birthday cake in cupcakes, a sweet treat to round off the busy two hours. Rockford will also have police vehicles, the remote control police car, which mystifies children who usually don’t realize it is operated by a hidden officer, responding to their questions via a walkie talkie. Among favorite activities is taking a free turn at the dunk tank, trying to hit the target and dump a Rockford officer into the water tank with a direct hit. There will also be a snow cone machine working overtime, if the weather is as hot as it has been in the past. The Michigan State Police will be on hand, as always, with local troopers, including the K-9 trooper, motorcycle patrol units, the Bomb Squad mobile truck, and the Bomb Squad robot. The robot is operated remotely when suspicious packages need to be handled. An incident some years ago at the Rockford Post Office put the robot in action on Courtland Street, handling a package from afar after the downtown shops and restaurants were evacuated due to the scare. In the worst case scenarios, actual incendiary devices can be loaded by the […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

July 18, 2013 // 0 Comments

Terry Konkle – President The last “Nugget of Rockford History” question brought many responses and lots of information. I asked for the name of the man who had a bakery on Courtland Street in the area where Ward’s Barber Shop is today. Several readers called with a correct answer of Johnny Green. Then, it started to get interesting! Paul Blakeslee called to tell me that a family with the last name of Caster had a bakery in that location before Mr. Green and his wife owned it. Paul said “ My dad (Wayne Blakeslee) used to own the property and sold it to the Casters.” Shortly after, I received a nice letter from Eleanor Porter Grifhorst . She graduated from Rockford High School 1940 (Eleanor DeBoer) and was a classmate of Arlene Caster the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Caster. Mrs. Grifhorst confirmed that the Caster husband and wife team ran a bakery there in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Many Rockford residents will remember Eleanor as the wife of Darcy Porter (RHS 1935). Their four children (Phyllis, Ron, Charles and Darcia) were also all Rockford High School graduates. Darcy and Eleanor were docents at our museum on Saturdays and donated several things, including her 1922 baby book and his campaign button collection, to the museum archives. Eleanor wrote “I was born in Rockford, so it is special to me.” My thanks to Mrs. Grifhorst for her letter and support. So, there were two correct answers to the question (Green and Caster). Those who called with the Johnny Green answer had only positive comments about the Greens and their bakery. After talking with readers, I wished that I could have sampled some of the baked goods. Here are a few responses concerning their products: Edna Norman “They had the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted” ; Ruth Graves “Their donuts were great but you had to get there early because they only made one batch”; Bob Winegar “They made the best cookies. They were large and they only cost five cents”; Sharon Berry “I often bought a glazed donut on my way to school. They were good but I might have been a little messy when I got to class”. Bob Boyer, a Rockford teacher, […]

Link considered between Luton Park with White Pine Trail

July 18, 2013 // 0 Comments

By BETH ALTENA Mountain bikers welcome—Rockford’s reputation as a prime community for biking may soon become even more envious. The townships of Courtland and Cannon have proposed a three-community collaboration to create a bicycle trail between Luton Park in Cannon Township through parts of Courtland Township and meet the White Pine Trail in downtown Rockford. Rockford City Manager Michael Young met in June with Courtland Township’s board to hear more about the proposed project. Luton Park is a large county park located at Ten Mile and Kies Street. According to Young, the trail is recognized nationally as an outstanding mountain biking experience. Cannon and Courtland townships hope the City of Rockford is interested in joining with them to create the connector. The first step is an improved parking area in Cannon Township at the Luton Park entrance off Ten Mile Road east of downtown Rockford. According to Cannon Township Supervisor Steve Grimm, Cannon has committed, along with Courtland Township, to share the funding for an extensive parking lot project. The parking lot improvements to the public access will be funded half by Kent County and the other half split between Cannon and Courtland townships. Both Cannon and Courtland have committed to $25,000 each, each year for three years for a total financial commitment of $75,000 per township for the parking project. “We get a lot of complaints about the parking on Kies,” Grimm stated. The Michigan Mountain Biking Association developed the park’s mountain biking trails, which have become so popular that the new parking lot at Kies is often full. Grimm said the complaints are that the bikers park at the old parking area, the site of a large barn, and along side the road. “I think they park anywhere. The main parking needs to be at Ten Mile and that’s a better location for that.” The existing parking will remain, allowing bikers to access the trails either from the north or south end of the property. The connector to the White Pine Trail has been a goal of Cannon Township, which had a Parks and Recreation millage approved after completing a significant trail from the Township Hall on Belding Road to Townsend Park on the corner of Cannonsburg and Ramsdell Road. That trail may […]

Rockford rider turns passion into compassionate undertaking

July 12, 2013 // 0 Comments

Bikers ride length of state to help others By BETH ALTENA Most people drive their car to work, to the store, to run errands, and take the easy availability of transportation for granted. Rockford resident Todd Stelma has made it his mission to help those who, for whatever reason, do not have the convenience of a car for transportation in their lives. He and a group of friends have just completed a Freedom In Motion biking marathon across the state of Michigan to promote the local non-profit organization which provides free bicycles to those in need. “Mostly they seem to find us,” Todd said of the adults and children who are the recipients of free bicycles, which Todd and his friends acquire and repair before giving out to people who don’t have a way to get around. Todd and three biking friends left for an across-the-state bike ride beginning in Rockford and ending in Mackinac City. The three-day, long distance ride was a way to enjoy their hobby together, but also get the word out about what they are doing. Formed as a non-profit in February of 2012, the organization began with a bike drive through Bella Vista Church that put about 80 functional and non-functional bikes in their hands. “We spent the winter fixing them up,” described Todd. An avid cyclist, Todd has learned over the years how to tinker with the mechanisms of bicycles to put the machines in good repair. Enjoying bicycling for over 16 years, he appreciates where bikes can take their riders, from the beauty of mountain biking terrain to the more mundane work of taking someone from point A to point B without a long, slow walk. “Usually if people don’t have a car, it is because of a predicament,” Todd stated. “We don’t get into that, we are not here to judge, we are just Christians who love finding a way to help.” Todd, along with his cousin Derek Rust, friend Ben Hyink, both of Grand Haven, and Doug Chrysler, of Rockford, left June 20 from the parking lot of the Rockford Squire Newspaper with a 300 mile goal to pedal through. The day was clear, hot and sunny and during it the four put 100 miles under […]

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