Roguewood Elementary’s Skylar Berlin: an Example in Excellence

Skylar Berlin

Skylar Berlin

Respectful, responsible student sensitive toward others

Skylar Berlin is known at Roguewood Elementary as a confident and resilient student who has a wonderful sense of humor. She is the daughter of Kathy and Joe Berlin.

Her teachers describe Skylar as a respectful, responsible and caring student who is honest and sensitive to the feelings of others. She is very competitive, yet demonstrates good sportsmanship when she doesn’t win. She is extremely focused and on task when it comes to just about anything-athletics, hobbies, studies and her desire to do her best.

Skylar has an iron will and a calm determination to accomplish goals. She is also caring and concerned about all creatures, from her pets-a cat and dog-to the smallest bugs. She has been known to rescue insects, worms and other creatures by moving them from harm’s way.

A personal confidence and strong desire to do the right thing, Skylar is focused, organized and completes any project she starts. She is mature beyond her years and many skills come to her very naturally. Her determination is a strength that leads her to prepare well for competitive events such as Jump Rope for Heart, which she won two years in a row by diligent practice. She won the hustle award at basketball camp in summer of 2008 and first place in gymnastics with the best cartwheel and round-off.

Skylar excels in all she attempts and she is very active, participating in basketball, softball, dance and running in the Roguewood mileage club. She began water-skiing and was a natural. Other hobbies include rollerblading, bocce ball, four-square and swimming.

Skylar’s determination toward success, plus a caring sensitivity to others and natural tender heart make her an Example in Excellence at Roguewood Elementary.

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Classifieds – April 1, 2009


Looking for team players. Will train. Flexible hours. Write your own paycheck. Call Lew Boersma, Coldwell Banker AJS-Schmidt/Rockford office. (616) 866-4434.      b15


Immediate hire. No experience necessary. Spring help. $10-$12 to start. Company take-over has created openings for dependable, energetic people. Several positions available. Delivery, set-up, general help, customer service. No experience, company training provided. We have very flexible hours. Bonuses, and paid vacations are all part of this attractive package. For interview call (616) 243-1250.      p14


Part-time help wanted. Weekends and evenings a must. Duties include answering phones, customer service to start. Stop by Fireside Pizzeria at 8460 Algoma Rd. No phone calls please.      b14


College-age student for part-time summer job. Tuesdays and Thursdays in my home, caring for three children ages 3, 6 and 9. Call (616) 866-2444.      p14cp



Seven days, six nights Disney area stay. Two adult Disney tickets. Paid $750, sell $249. Good for one year. (616) 305-0082.      p14



Low miles 28,000. Ultimate Edition. White exterior, gray leather interior. Great gas mileage. Call Curt (616) 874-7583.      f14



Moving sale-April 2 through April 3. Located at 176 Glen Eagle, downtown Rockford. Chairs, kitchen table, tools, garden tools. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.      f14



Rockford downsizing sale-4529 Kroes, across from Rockford Freshman Center, Monday and Tuesday, April 6-7, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (follow pink signs). Sterling, silver plate, Everett organ, oil paintings, small tables, youth rockers, Tell City, St. Johns, cedar closet, assorted chairs, lamps, crystal, milk glass, punch bowls, 1954 “Domino” pattern china, Spode and more. Vintage clothing, bookshelves with storage, collectibles, books, fax machine, and much more. All in walkout level. Sale by Joan & Associates of Rockford.        b14



5 bedrooms, 3 full baths, finished with kitchenette walkout basement, 2-stall garage on 2 acres, $169,000. Phone (616) 863-9102.      f14



“Always the Best!” Once you go, then you’ll know! Six 1-hour golf lessons-$69. Starting week of April 13. Master teaching professional, Norm Davidson. Golf Emporium, 14 Mile, Rockford. (616) 754-2280.      b21

Guitar Lessons-Learn guitar the RIGHT way and enjoy it for a lifetime. Lessons also on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dobro, etc. Call Joe (616) 874-8582.     btfn



If you or your loved one can’t be home alone, call Friends & Helpers about our new day companion program. Reasonable rates. (616) 862-3020.      p14cp

Weekly/bi-weekly/monthly house cleaning. References available. Call Jackie (616) 780-5338.      p17

If you are paying more than 5.5% interest on your 30-year fixed rate mortgage, call me now. Refer to this ad and get $500 off your closing costs. Jim McDonald, Top Flite Financial Mortgage (Rockford office), (616) 813-7079.      p16

LAWN MOWING-trimming, edging. Rates starting at $25 per cut. Full-season contracts only. SCOTT’S OUTDOOR SERVICES. Since 1999. Call (616) 866-3900.      p15

Grady’s Clean-Cut Lawn Care-all your lawn-care needs starting at $20. Mow and trim, edging, fertilization, spring clean-up. Ask about our EARLY BIRD SPECIAL. Mulching available too. Call or e-mail (616) 292-4338 or      p17

Advocare Assisted Living-I have one opening for an independent senior. Country setting in Rockford area. Private room with cable, meals provided, laundry and activities. Call for more information (616) 862-6712.     btfn

I’ll design your flier, brochure, business card for a low rate! Other graphic design also available. Over 17 years experience. Professional design guaranteed. Flier design starting at $30. References available. Call Melanie Ragsdale at (616) 889-9082 or view design samples online at      ftfn



The Rockford Squire’s “Free Pets” and “Lost & Found” classified ads are free of charge. Call (616) 866-4465 by noon on Monday to place your ad in next Thursday’s issue.

FOUND-all-black male cat. Long hair. Found near 11 Mile and US-131. (616) 866-9831.      ftfn

LOST-male gray cat. Riverwoods area. Last seen on Sat., March 14. (616) 866-0686.      ftfn

FOUND-Jostens silver class bracelet with initials “D.A.M.” in gold lettering. Found at Sparta Chevrolet. Please call Anna at (616) 887-1791 to identify.      ftfn

LOST-11-year-old black-and-white male cat. Declawed, right ear misshapen. Last seen on Hessler Dr. in Rockford on Friday, Feb. 20. Call (616) 874-1702, leave a message.      ftfn.

LOST-golden retriever. 14 years old. Last seen on Sunday, February 8 on Young Ave., between 9 and 10 Mile roads. Call (616) 874-9066.      ftfn

LOST-female beagle with pink collar, last seen around the Childsdale/White Pine Trail area on Saturday, February 14. (616) 696-0367.      ftfn

FOUND-gift certificate and a large book found on corner of River Chase and Greystone on New Year’s Eve. Call (616) 450-4939 and identify.      ftfn

FOUND-Chevrolet keys with keyless remote. Found in parking lot at 355 Northland Dr., next to MI State Police station. Call (616) 866-7050.      ftfn

LOST-cockatiel, gray, one year old. Talks, whistles, friendly. Lost on September 8 from 18 Mile and Algoma area. Please call (616) 696-0839.     ftfn

FOUND-Chrysler key found in the Courtland and 11 Mile Road area. Please call The Rockford Squire at (616) 866-4465.     ftfn

LOST-small Siamese female cat, seal point, spayed. Lost west of river in Rockford near Jericho and Cahill. $50 reward! Call (616) 866-1021.     ftfn



The Rockford Squire’s “Free Pets” and “Lost & Found” classified ads are free of charge. Call (616) 866-4465 by noon on Monday to place your ad in next Thursday’s issue.

These puppies go fast! AKC Siberian Husky puppies. One black male, one gray female. Ready April 20. $450. Taking deposits of half down to hold your pup. (231) 937-9681.      b14cp

Free-one calico cat, two to three years old, indoor/outdoor, plays well with kids. (616) 696-9225.      ftfn

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Family takes next step in independence for those with disabilities


THE NEXT STEP-Kailey Sturr, center, is pictured with two of her caregivers, Anissa Olinger and Jennifer Wrobleski, on the couch in "Kailey's House."

THE NEXT STEP-Kailey Sturr, center, is pictured with two of her caregivers, Anissa Olinger and Jennifer Wrobleski, on the couch in "Kailey's House."

When Beth Sturr contacted the Squire for a story about her daughter, she said she had been planning the article for 18 years.

Kailey Sturr, who will be 18 in May, has Angelman Syndrome. The smiling, active girl can do many things-help with laundry, chose her own meals, give hugs. She is also non-verbal, is mentally at the level of a toddler and traditionally would either live at home her entire life or be placed in a group home.

Her parents have a different vision for her.

Before the Sturr family settled in Rockford, they knew they wanted their daughter to eventually live in her own home and achieve a level of independence formerly unheard of for a person with Kailey’s disability.

Planning to settle in West Michigan, they called schools and visited towns. When they talked to Rockford Public Schools and the person in charge of the programs for students with disabilities, they felt what they called “such a warm welcome.”

When they saw the downtown, that was the end of the search. Kailey started in the district in the pre-primary impaired program at Meadowridge Elementary and has moved all the way up through to Rockford High School, where she enjoys eating lunch with other students. “Kailey has risen to her potential in Rockford Schools,” said Beth.

Now, at 18, it is time for Kailey to transition to the next phase of her life. Years ago, her parents purchased the home next to theirs on Courtland just north of Monroe. They are ready for Kailey to live in her own home.

“It’s a block from Rocky’s, a block from the bike path, close to all the festivals. It’s the perfect situation for a disabled adult to be a part of,” said Sturr.

Fifty years ago people with severe disabilities were routinely packed off to institutions. Parents of children with disorders such as Downs Syndrome weren’t given much in the way of options. Now group homes or living at home are common. The idea of setting up a disabled person in their own home is brand-new and cutting edge.

“We have had to get creative,” said Sturr. “Getting the house was probably the easiest part.”

The next piece in the puzzle  of the vision for Kailey is to find a roommate or roommates for her. Ideally the Sturrs would like to match Kailey with another disabled girl. Kailey qualifies for 77 hours a week of care but requires 24-hour care. The Sturrs hope the perfect match will be another girl who qualifies for care. Hopefully there will be a way to pool their resources to enjoy this unique living situation.

Another idea is for a caregiver who can exchange duties for live-in privileges. According to Sturr, there are several scenarios that might work.

The home itself is sunny and charming-and childproof. It has a large, fenced back yard, a playroom and three bedrooms, but is not handicap accessible. Kailey’s current caregivers come from MOKA, an organization that helps disabled people from the counties of Montcalm, Ottawa, Kent and Allegan.

According to caregiver Anissa Olinger, Kailey’s future living conditions are unique. Part of the preparation for Kailey living “alone” is to introduce her to her fellow community members.

“Her neighbors know her, the library knows her, business people are getting to know her. She was happy before, but she is even happier now that she is getting to know the community,” Olinger said. She said part of Kailey’s independence is to be very active in her town.

Beth Sturr has been working on having Kailey be a visible and known individual in Rockford. She has been giving to Locks for Love for years, grows flowers to give to neighbors and business owners, is a restaurant familiar and gives out bottled water on the White Pine Trail.

Another person with a disability would likely find the same satisfaction in this new living arrangement.

“Beth and Tom are breaking new ground with this,” Olinger stated.

Taking this next step of finding a roommate for Kailey and moving her next door into her own home is one Beth has envisioned for a long time. “It’s natural for a child to move out at this age. With Kailey it has just taken some creativity. With Kailey the process is life-long,” she said.

Beth and Tom Sturr would like to talk to people who have a family member who may be a match for a new life in “Kailey’s House.” They can be reached at (616) 866-8837.

The family bought two bricks at Peppler Park to express their idea of Rockford. The words read, “Within the heart of each community everyone belongs.”

“It’s not the movie-style ending a parent pictures, but since she was a toddler this was our vision-to be in her own home, with staffing that meets her needs and the security of living in her own home in her own community.”

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Community EXPO a success with more visitors than ever

They couldn’t give the money away fast enough

THESE KIDS AREN’T SCARED—of this fireman in full gear. Others had a varied reaction to several mascots who worked the EXPO.

THESE KIDS AREN’T SCARED—of this fireman in full gear. Others had a varied reaction to several mascots who worked the EXPO.

The lesson for next year: stay longer. As the Rockford Community EXPO 2009 wound down, local celebrity Juliet Dragos couldn’t give the $500 door prizes away fast enough. “Must be present to win” was the key phrase as name after name was called with no takers.

At quarter to closing time, the call “come to the stage, you are the winner” was starting to sound a little comical. Two prizes remained unclaimed, a cool grand for two different people… still there.

It wasn’t for lack of visitors. According to Brenda Davis, Rockford Chamber executive director, the turnout was even higher than last year’s 11,000. Except for the cash prizes, no one was having any trouble giving things away. Several food vendors ran out early, with the Corner Bar going the distance with samples of white chicken chili.

Corner Bar owner Andy Tidey said, “There is only so much chili two people can scoop into cups in six hours.” He said the restaurant gave out 45 gallons of chili, or the equivalent of 1,700 servings.

“It’s great exposure for us. There are a lot of people who don’t know we have that every day,” he stated.

Firefighters at Rockford EXPO

Firefighters at Rockford EXPO

“We are always busy the entire six hours with a line going around the corner, so it didn’t make any difference for us. We could have been the only food or one of 12 vendors.”

Dr. Michael Shibler, Superintendent of Rockford Schools, said the event was again a tremendous success and a win-win for the community.

“It’s held here in a building built with our tax dollars. The entertainment is by students from all ages of our district, who are also products of this community,” he said. “For many people who come here, this is the first time they’ve been in this building. They can see first-hand how their tax
dollars are spent.”

See you at next year’s EXPO-and don’t leave early.

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Second-generation financial company helps residents start over

YOUR FINANCIAL TEAM-Megan Leach, David Muilenberg, Deborah Dalman, Heather Biggs and Jon Pettigrew of Discovery Financial.

YOUR FINANCIAL TEAM-Megan Leach, David Muilenberg, Deborah Dalman, Heather Biggs and Jon Pettigrew of Discovery Financial.

With the economy offering challenges to many in West Michigan, Discovery Financial, a second-generation family business, helps residents starting over with new careers and business ventures.

Begun by Marvin Muilenberg in 1951, the company is now in the hands of his son, David. Since beginning with the company, David brought in a partner, Jon Pettigrew and continued the growth of the company. In addition to David Muilenberg, ChFC, CLU and Jon Pettigrew, CRP®, ChFC, staff at Discovery also includes Megan Leach, Deborah Dalman, RHU®, and Heather Biggs.

David Muilenberg believes the company’s values have been integral to the growth of the company, along with the experience offered by the staff. Collectively they offer over 50 years in financial services.

“Our business is relationship-driven,” said Muilenberg. “We believe in providing solid, simple-to-understand advice on money management, retirement and insurance planning. Our customers become family. When they succeed we feel their successes along with them.

Discovery Financial offers retirement income planning, life insurance audits, long-term care insurance, disability income, college education planning, wealth accumulation planning, group insurance and more.

“We are not commission-based but fee-based, so we succeed when our clients succeed,” Muilenberg stated.

Muilenberg, Pettigrew and Dalman all left a large insurance company to join Discovery Financial. They wanted to be independent with no restrictions to using  proprietary products. They wanted the ability to provide solutions to their clients, not just offer a product.

Discovery Financial staff are among the most highly qualified and educated in the community, with two chartered financial consultants with advanced certification-CHFL, CLU, CFP and RHU.

The friendly, relaxed atmosphere in the office puts clients at ease as they explore their financial options.

It is important to each member of the Discovery team that the company holds high moral standards. “What makes us unique in the industry is that we believe the situation or the need an individual has determines what product we offer-not the commission paid,” Pettrigrew said.

“It is our desire to build long-term relationships with our clients and their families.

For the last six years Discovery Financial has been located at 971 Spaulding Street, Suite A in Ada, Michigan. They can also be reached by telephone at (616) 957-9999 or visit online at

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