Community Services

Second ‘Green Team’ Works to Improve Rogue River

August 6, 2015 // 0 Comments

This summer, Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project employed a “Green Team” of 8 high school students from all over the watershed to install and maintain green infrastructure practices such as rain gardens, bioswales, and vegetated buffers. These practices use vegetation, soils, and natural processes to control stormwater runoff, the leading source of water pollution in West Michigan, to create healthier urban environments. The “Green Team”, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is a replication of a successful program of the Plaster Creek Stewards, a part of Calvin College. The addition of the Rogue River Green Team, working in an upstream community in a much higher quality watershed than Plaster Creek, exposed the students to matters of environmental injustice and the importance of the upstream-downstream relationship. Bridget Flanery from Sparta, Cassidy Freeman and MaKayla Plekes from Rockford, and Troy Wilde from Kent City made up the July team, led by local artist, landscaper and native plant specialist Georgia Donovan. Over the course of four weeks, the students implemented new projects with Trout Unlimited and helped local businesses and schools maintain their existing projects. The “Green Team” planted a stream buffer on Rum Creek for a Rockford homeowner, expanded a rain garden at CS Tool Engineering in Cedar Springs, and helped Sparta teacher Sue Blackall plant a native flower garden at the entrance of Sparta High School. They even visited Grand Rapids for a day to tour Catalyst Partner’s LEED Certified facilities and worked on their native gardens. A major advantage of the partnership with Calvin College is the opportunity to expose the high school students to a college campus and demystify the experience, making them more likely to attend college when they graduate. The students took college courses with biology professor Dave Warners and they helped Calvin students carry out their summer research projects. The combination of classroom teaching with hands-on field work has provided the “Green Team” participants with unique job training and exposure to many different careers in the environmental field. But more than that, the students got a once in a life time experience to expand their knowledge and make a difference in their community. Bridget, a student at Wellspring Preparatory, said about her summer, “Being a part of […]

Community Gardens a source of healthy satisfaction

July 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Ted Williams called it a “great mental enema.” Susan McMaster went on facebook and asked for bunny poop. No matter what your take on gardening, there is no doubt it adds a source of satisfaction and accomplishment to anyone’s life. A stroll through the Rockford Community Garden, in its ? year, shows a little bit of over commitment—some plots are in need of an hour or two of weeding—but a lot of hands-on care. The result is a bounty that can last clear through a long winter in some cases. Ted and his friend Fred talked about taking a plot in the gardens a couple of years back. Now they grow eight here in downtown Rockford and more at the East Rockford Community Garden plots, which Ted says are underutilized, unlike the Rockford gardens. McMaster, who talked about the gardens at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, July 3, had been at work weeding and tending since 8 a.m. And, it isn’t even her plot, she is helping out a friend. She said she loves looking over the progress of the many plots and see who is doing what to help their garden thrive. Her secret recipe is bunny poop, which she said gives the plants in her plot an extra zing. In early July, she said the cool-weather plants are wrapping up. People have been enjoying harvests of lettuce, beet greens, bib lettuce and kale all spring and early summer. The spinach is about done for the season, but can be planted again in November and harvested in October. She offered a bag of fresh greens and suggested treating the kale salad to the following care. Rub with olive oil, wiping the white finish from the undersides of the leaves. This removes the bitter taste the plant sometimes has. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice and drizzle with maple syrup. This dressing will endear kale and other veggies to even the most particular eater and they will beg for more. Be sure you rub every leaf with love or the success won’t be so evident. Bitter greens are not necessarily bad, either however, McMaster explained. She said a healthy and varied diet includes bitter, sweet, salty and pungent ingredients. Growing your own garden […]

Happy Anniversary! KCRC’s Adopt-A-Road Program Turns 25

July 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

Since 1990, the Kent County Road Commission’s Adopt-a-Road program has invited community volunteers to keep their favorite corridors litter-free. Celebrating its 25th anniversary on July 24, 2015, the program has grown to encompass over 200 stretches of roadway cleaned by a wide range of groups including families, community organizations, and businesses. Supporters adopt specific roads for myriad reasons: as a simple philanthropic gesture, to support the area in which they live, to serve the community where they own a business, or to honor the memory of a loved one. Regardless of the reason, the work conducted exemplifies the positive collaborative spirit shared between KCRC and the community it serves. This past May, the Richmond family of Lowell, Michigan, demonstrated how “fun” roadside clean-up can be by inviting extended family members to volunteer for this effort in front of the family farm. In loving memory of the family’s patriarch and matriarch, Jerrold and Diane Richmond, the impressive clean-up crew, totaling 22 children and 10 adults, spent the day clearing debris, sharing laughs and recounting fond memories. “We adopted the road we grew up on in honor of Mom and Dad,” explained Andrea Richmond Wirgau. “I’m very proud and pleased to see their names every time I turn towards home. They both deeply respected the land, and we are able to carry on their legacy by caring for it today and in the future – something so simple, yet powerful.” Groups of 7 or more interested in adopting a road may apply by submitting an Adopt-A-Road Permit application, available at or by contacting KCRC’s Permit Department at 616-242-6920.

Algoma and Cortland Fire Departments conduct training burn

July 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

There were 4 separate repetitions where fire attack crews entered the structure and had to put the fire out. After the training we let the structure fully develop and stud by until the structure was completely consumed. The owners hope to build on the lot at a later date. If you have any further questions feel from to contact me. Thanks A training burn was conducted on Summit Ave just north of 13 Mile. This was a cooperative Training between Courtland and Algoma Fire Departments.

Experts Encourage Grand Rapids Area Families to Bring Back the Sunday Dinner

July 16, 2015 // 0 Comments

Dave Rice from the Grand Rapids area is on a mission to see more families share sit-down Sunday dinners with their senior loved ones. The reason? New research shows that 50 percent of surveyed families living near senior relatives feel they do not share enough meals with older loved ones, losing an important family connection.* “For seniors, it’s not what’s on their plate that matters most at mealtime – it’s who is at the table with them,” said Rice, owner of the local Home Instead Senior Care® office. “When seniors share meals with a companion, they have a better mealtime experience – both nutritionally and emotionally.” Almost 75 percent of the people surveyed said they only sit down for a family meal with senior loved ones for special occasions, events or holidays. They say a big part of the problem is time – both not having enough of it and conflicting schedules. To encourage families to make time for these meals, the Home Instead Senior Care Foundation® will donate $1 to Meals on Wheels America (up to $20,000 total through July 31, 2015) for each person that commits to regularly scheduling family dinners at Pledging to have a sit-down dinner with loved ones will help to ensure other seniors will have a quality meal through the Meals on Wheels program. “We hope families will make the pledge to either revive or begin new mealtime traditions with their senior loved ones,” Rice said. “This small commitment can have a big impact on a senior’s well-being.” To help families across the country host their own Sunday dinner, Home Instead Senior Care has partnered with celebrity chef and mother of four Melissa d’Arabian to develop easy, nutritious recipes. Additional resources include tips for how to involve seniors in meal planning and preparation, pre- and post-dinner activities and meal plans for healthy, inexpensive meals that all generations can enjoy. For these free resources and more information on how you can bring back the Sunday dinner and reconnect with your senior loved ones, visit or call Home Instead Senior Care at 616-988-5155.

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