by Becky Erste-Holmberg On Tuesday evening, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., the Rockford varsity volleyball team took on the Hudsonville Eagles in the first round of regional competition. The warm-ups featured cross court action with the coaches spiking for the players to dig the ball. The National Anthem began the evening, sung by the Rams’ own Ali Prus, and then the players were announced. There are six seniors on the Rockford team, however the night’s win was a collaborative one. The Rams won three out of five games to win the match, and all three were tough, tight games. The first game ended in a 25-23 Ram win. It featured good blocks by Andrea Kacsits (#10), Jenna Lysne (#14), Kylie Basarabski (#7), and Kim Weaver (#6). Excellent serving was made by Heather Gates (#5) and Ali Prus (#8). Finally, the first game featured excellent hits by Jessica Majerle (#15). Points are made by rally scoring, meaning one doesn’t have to be serving to score a point. Also, the ball can hit the net on a serve as long as it goes over the net and stays in bounds on the opposing side. In the second game, the teams switched sides and the Rams started out slowly. Rockford was down 0-4, but came back and the teams were neck-and-neck before the Rams took over the game to win 25-15. This game featured some long volleys and spikes by Calie Johnson (#1), great serving by Halle Peterson (#12) and the all-around good play by Kacsits. In the third game of the match for the evening, the Ram mascots came out and, along with the crowd, looked on as the Rams defeated the Eagles in another 25-23 win. This game wasn’t pretty, however, as the Rams just snuck it out from being down 16-20. Rockford tied it at 23 and got the last 2 points to pull out the game with some good jump serves by Sidney Rodriguez (#9). This win qualified Rockford for the regional championship game at Rockford High School on Thursday, Nov. 12 against Grand Haven. Rockford won their first regional championship for the school in volleyball history against Grand Haven. Coach Delacher said he was “super proud” of the girls, as they worked really […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Friday evening we had just settled down for a quiet evening of reading. Around 8:30 the phone rang and a guy named Larry tipped us off to a loud and boisterous party going on in a residence in Rockford. Thinking there might be a story here, we headed out to check it out. Pulling into the driveway of the address given, we found ourselves at Grandma’s House, the bed and breakfast owned and operated by Rockford Mayor Janice “Chi Chi” Rogers and her husband Larry. (Yes, he was the caller!) We could hear loud laughter coming through the walls. Thinking it might not be politically correct for us to be there, we were just about to leave when the front door flew open and Chi Chi beckoned us in. We quickly found out Chi Chi was hosting a pajama party, of all things, for four of her closest friends. Now here’s the best part: they weren’t just any women—they were the mayors or mayors pro-tem of Cedar Springs, Rockford, Walker and Wyoming. The lady mayors had met earlier for dinner at Rockford’s Reds on the River, where, we were told by the others, Chi Chi had “worked the room” like the consummate politician she is. After dinner, the get-together moved to Grandma’s House for a first-ever sleepover. These twice-annual get-togethers had usually been dinner out and good conversation. This year was different, because Mayor Carol Sheets of Wyoming and Mayor Linda Hunt of Cedar Springs were both retiring from political office after many years of distinguished public service. So the idea of a pj party in celebration was hatched. Other than the two retirees, and along with Chi Chi, mayors pro-tem Pat Capek of Cedar Springs and Barbara Holt of Walker were part of this tight group. Obviously this is a close group of friends who over the years have developed a strong personal and professional relationship as a result of a common shared interest in city governance. They are dedicated and talented women and extremely proud of their combined 89 years of public service. With a self-deprecating sense of humor, the ladies described themselves as “old broads.” They were seated around the dining room table in the evening’s […]
Judge to rule on zoning for grocery store and complex A judge will decide if he thinks a developer was unconstitutionally denied use of property in Plainfield Township. Final arguments were heard it the downtown Grand Rapids courtroom of Dennis Leiber. Developer BDR proposed a grocery store, gas station, medical facility, office and restaurant plan at property at Northland Drive and Seven Mile Road. The 30-acre parcel is labeled residential in the township’s Master Plan. On Monday, November 9, attorneys for the township and developers made their final summation in the case. Jennifer Decker, for BDR, ask the court to issue an injunction against the township for preventing her clients from developing the property as they see fit. She argued that there was no other reasonable use for the land and her clients were being denied their constitutional right. She stated that the property was unsuited to residential development because of its proximity to a gravel mining operation, Northland Drive, power lines, a Consumers Energy substation and an M-Dot parking lot. She also stated the cost of development for residential would be exorbitant. She also said there is no market for other uses allowed under the zoning, such as schools, nursing homes or churches. In addition to the complaint against the township for allowing the development, she asked the judge to award her client over $2.3 million for the money lost while trying to get the property rezoned. The township’s attorney, Jim Nelson, said, “The bottom line is the plaintiff’s complaint that this property is only worth $430,000.” He said to most people, a 30-acre property valued at $430,000 would be considered pretty good. “BDR comes into this with the attitude that ‘I can convert a Volkswagon into a Cadillac,’” he said. He defended the township against claims that the zoning was arbitrary and capricious. He stated the zoning was not decided by “a couple of people in a back room,” but is long-standing and has been given much thought. He said the “fatal flaw” in the developer’s case was to have purchased the property knowing it is residential. After hearing the one-hour presentations by both attorney, Judge Leiber thanked them and said he would take the issue under his consideration.
The West Michigan Sports Commission will have two years to come up with the cash to purchase 90 acres for a proposed ball field complex if the Kent County Board of Commission (KCBC) approves the deal. The KCBC will vote on the plan, which a finance committee proposed, at their next meeting. The Sports Commission would pay the county’s Department of Public Works $1 for a two year option to purchase the land for $400,000. According to Mike Gusweiller, director of the Sports Commission, it will cost another $5 million to develop the property into a 12-ball field facility. Gusweiller said this would be an unusual situation for the Sports Commission. Never before has the organization been the purchasing agent in such a deal. “It’s not typical. Usually we find a municipality that is interested. The complexes don’t necessarily make a profit. The true dollars are in the economic impact of visitors coming into the area,” Gusweiller said. The Sports Commission estimate that in the first ten years, having the facility would generate $50 million in hotel revenue alone. Gusweiller said in this instance no municipality stepped forward interested in purchasing the land. The property is adjacent to the former land fill south of Ten Mile Road and east of US-131. Potential donors to the project are invited to call Gusweiller at (616) 233-3561.
On Monday, November 9, an arrest warrant was issued for 40-year-old Jeffrey Shawn Hawkins, of Plainfield Township. Hawkins was arrested and lodged at the Kent County Correctional Facility. He was charged with two counts of Accosting Children for Immoral Purposes—each count is a four-year felony; two counts of Using Computers to Commit a Crime – each count is a seven-year felony. Hawkins was also charged as a Habitual Offender/Second Offense Notice. The Kent County Sheriff Department began investigating a complaint of Soliciting a Child for Immoral Purposes. The solicitation occurred online while the individuals conversed via Facebook. Investigators do not believe the suspect ever had any physical contact with these 15-year-old children. The suspect is a 40-year-old male that currently lives in Plainfield Township and he is required by law to register as a Sex Offender. He is a paid on-call firefighter for Plainfield Township as well as a Plainfield Township employee. He has been with the fire department since 1993. As part of his firefighter duties, he did attend the Fall Festival at the East Oakview Elementary School on October 23, 2009 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with other Plainfield firefighters. School officials have been notified of the investigation. At this time he has been suspended from the fire department. The Sheriff Department had utilized a search warrant at the suspect’s residence to seize his computer. In addition, Plainfield Township and the Plainfield Township Fire Department have been cooperative with the investigation. They have turned over computers to the Sheriff Department to ensure no illegal activities occurred while using their property. Bob Homan, Plainfield Township Manager, said Hawkins has been suspended until further notice without pay. “At this time I believe it is best to let the legal process take place,” he commented Monday. He said Hawkins has been a paid-on-call firefighter for the township since 1993. He was appointed by then clerk Sue Morrow as Assistant Clerk in 2001. Hawkins was convicted of criminal sexual conduct fourth degree with a victim between the ages of 13 to 16 on June 3, 1997 in 17th Circuit Court. According to Homan, the township currently has no policy regarding individuals on the Sex Offender Registry in regards to employment with the township.