Advanced Aquariums Celebrates Anniversary with Expansion


aquariumOn February 15, 2007, John and Heather Richardson moved Advanced Aquarium Services from their Rockford home to a storefront location in Rockford at the corner of Northland Drive and East Main. Little did they know that the country was about to begin a downward economic spiral.

aquarium2Sunday, February 15, Advanced Aquariums celebrated their second anniversary. Customer response to the opening of a high-end aquarium store specializing in an ever-changing selection of vibrant saltwater fish, coral, and invertebrate has been nothing short of phenomenal. The Richardson’s story is one of success and they are thrilled that their business has not only survived these times, but has thrived.

The store offers a nice selection of supplies and equipment to support aquarium needs. In addition, the Richardsons can professionally install and maintain a tropical fish aquarium in your home, restaurant, office, or waiting room.

“Aquarium locations are limited only by one’s imagination. In a home setting an aquarium provides, relaxation, education, and entertainment. In a business, a well-kept aquarium enhances company image and makes wait time more enjoyable for clients,” said John. John points to Ed’s Restaurant in Howard City and locally, in Rockford, the dental office of Steven Dater, DDS as two of many business clients.

Watching fish has been clinically proven to reduce stress, stimulate brain activity, and lower blood pressure. Receptionist and Office Manager Bonnie Davidson, at the Dater Dental Office, said, “Patients, especially the kids, love our beautiful 60-gallon tank located in our waiting area. For many, especially children, a visit to a dental office is quite stressful. The display of tropical fish and live coral seems to have a calming effect on everyone.” She also added, “John often sends prospective business clients over to view our installation in a business setting. We love the attention it brings to our office.”

Because of Advanced Aquariums success in spite of the economic storm battering the country the Richardsons have decided to add, for the first time, a new line of freshwater tropical fish and related supplies. “We are doing this as a stepping stone for folks who have always wanted to get involved in the hobby but don’t have the means to go the saltwater route,” Heather noted. To accommodate these freshwater ‘critters’ John has almost doubled the size of the sales area of the store by opening showroom space in the basement.

The Richardsons have been busy these past few months thoroughly cleaning, painting, and decorating the unused lower level of the store. Lighting, shelving, additional aquarium tanks, along with new water supply and drain lines were added.

Part of the newly added space is used to quarantine newly arrived fish to make sure they are healthy. Each new arrival is placed in its own individual aquarium and observed for a two week period to assure it is healthy and disease free. Only then is it introduced into an aquarium with other fish. By doing this, the Richardson’s can guarantee the health of their livestock when sold. “Our business has been successful because, as owners, we have set high standards which we continually strive to meet and keep,” said John.

Through constant education and research, John and Heather have taken what was once for them a hobby and grown their dream of owning and operating their own successful small business into a reality. As an example of their proficiency they are able to propagate their own coral in the store. Fifty percent of the many varieties of coral they stock and sell have been grown in house.

“Customers from all over Michigan say they are thrilled with our selection of saltwater livestock. They tell us it is, by far, the largest they have ever seen on display,” adds Heather.

Now a family of four can pay $34 to take in Under the Sea 3-D currently playing on the IMAX screen at Celebration Cinema and see many of the same tropical fish, coral, and invertebrates stocked by Advanced Aquariums. Or absolutely free, you can take the family, come in out of the cold, and be welcomed by the Richardsons into what they call ‘Key West.’ Along with regular customers, they encourage first time visitors to browse and view, in real life 3-D, the store’s 79 aquariums without any sales pressure. The Richardsons are founts of information and encourage any and all questions.

While visiting the store make sure you see the ‘Dream Room’ aquarium that houses a variety of tropical fish and coral supporting the star of the tank, a 6-inch long Porcupine Puffer Fish. Displaying beautiful blue eyes and a constant smile that’s contagious, she glides around the tank looking for something to get ‘puffy’ about. In her travels, a Three-stripe Damsel Fish often escorts her.

Readers wanting to escape our never-ending winter may want to attend the upcoming Home and Garden Show at DeVos Place, March 5 to 8. As in past years, John and Heather will be there sporting their trademark tropical shirts while representing Advanced Aquarium Services. They welcome you to stop by booth #67, say “hello,” and ask them about their newest line, Marineland’s Deep Dimension Aquariums.

In Rockford, Advanced Aquarium Services is located at 346 East Main on the SW corner of East Main and Northland Drive (right next to Peppino’s Pizza and one half block north of the Rockford State Police Post). Store hours: Monday through Friday, 3 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, 11 to 4 p.m. The phone number is (616) 813-1159.

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Grattan Township under Investigation for Violation of Open Meetings Act

On January 16, a complaint was received by the Kent County Sheriff Department alleging that a violation of the Open Meetings Act had occurred at Grattan Township. Kent County investigators have been actively working the case.

On February 17, a search warrant was executed at the Grattan Township Hall where computers were seized by detectives. Interviews have been conducted as it relates to an October 27, 2008, meeting held by the township board, and whether board members violated the law. Kent County officials have been working with the Kent County Prosecutor’s office, and when complete, the investigation will be turned over to the Kent County Prosecutor for review.

According to Lt. Kevin Kelly of the Kent County Sheriff Department, there have been no arrests or warrants yet in the case. The complaint was that there was no public posting 18 hours prior to the meeting, as required. The Grattan Township clerk and supervisor did not return calls asking for more information.

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Veterinary Office Goes Beyond the Traditional

roguevalleyvetAt Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital (RVVH) and K-9 Sports Med-Hab, pets can enjoy more than the typical treatment options veterinarians offer. The business outgrew its former location on Algoma Avenue and has opened its doors for business at 4210 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford. Established in November, 1999, the hospital moved to its new location December 12, 2008. Now in the Cedar Rock area, RVVH chose this location based on the commitment to stay in the Rockford area, better exposure, and the easy access from US 131.

With a state-of-the-art facility for canine rehabilitation, RVVH sees regular referrals from throughout the state of Michigan as well as the midwest and southern states.

The owner of the practice is Dr. Doreen Comrie, DVM, CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner). Dr. Comrie has over 20 years experience in small animal medicine and surgery. She is a specialist in canine physical rehabilitation and sports medicine. She is the only CCRP in the Grand Rapids area and also the only University of Pennsylvania-certified Penn Hip provider in West Michigan‹a certification in evaluation and treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Following their rehabilitation at RVVH, many of her patients have been able to resume agility, obedience and field trial competitions, prolonging their careers and good health.

Joining Dr. Comrie are Drs. Melinda Smith DVM and Meghan Swayman, DVM. Dr. Smith is an MSU, College of Veterinary Medicine graduate. She joined the hospital after gaining experience in small animal medicine and surgery at a private practice in Newaygo. Her special interest is in pain management for acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Swayman is a recent graduate of MSU, CVM and recently relocated to the Grand Rapids area.

Staff includes Jeanette Groner, head trainer and canine social evaluator. She is a graduate of the College for Veterinary Technician in the Netherlands and is a certified dog behavior and obedience instructor through the Dutch ASPCA and a list of other certifications and in dog obedience and training. She has 17 years experience in the field and has over 20 years experience training dogs. She has trained dogs to work in agility, therapy, search and rescue and with law enforcement for body recovery, air scenting and tracking.

Also on staff are Heather Woodard, registered veterinary technician and certified professional trainer in obedience, and Joanie Pierson, licensed veterinary technician with extensive experience in large and small animal medicine. These dedicated professionals‹members of an all-woman staff‹bring a wide variety of experience, talents and specialization to West Michigan.

Dr. Comrie moved the office because the hospital outgrew its former location and she did not want to leave the Rockford area. “I feel very fortunate to have my business in a wonderful community,” she said. “We have a very caring clientele who allow us to use our skills in treating our patients.”

Going beyond the typical veterinary office options, RVVH is a full-service medical hospital for dogs and cats. They offer vaccinations, preventative wellness care, surgery and dentistry, radiology, laboratory work, ultrasound and an on-line pharmacy. Canine behavioral problems are a hospital specialty and doggie daycare socialization, play, groups and obedience training are offered as well as training classes, a dog gym and general exercise available for active dogs. Dogs with weight problems can find help for a healthier and longer life in addition to treatment for geriatric and arthritic patients.

The hospital offers physical rehabilitation for orthopedic and neurologic treatment, as well as for post-surgical care in bringing animals back to normal function. There is an underwater treadmill, dry treadmill, extracorporal shock wave, neuromuscular stimulation, therapeutic ultrasound active excercises, and massage. Dogs who need extensive rehab stay in long-term suites and boarding is offered on a limited basis.

“We seek to find underlying problems and thereby treat the “whole” pet, not just the superficial symptoms,” Dr. Comrie said. “As a result we are known for being thorough, caring and with our staff’s unique and advanced training, we are able to treat behavior issues and medical concerns at a deeper level than the typical veterinary office.”

Drs. and staff hope to continue to provide an extremely high level of animal care and wellness to the Rockford area, West Michigan and beyond. “We build close relationships with our clients‹especially since we have been here long enough to have known our patients from kittenhood and puppyhood to senior age said Dr. Comrie.

To find out more about Rogue Valley Veterinary Hospital and K-9 Sports Med-Hab, call (616) 863-9390 visit on-line at or stop in. The hospital is open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., (surgery drop-off or day-care drop-off is 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.), Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 and Sunday the hospital is closed to public visits.

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Ram Wrestlers Head to Kellogg Arena for State Championships

sp-wrestling1On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Rockford High School hosted the High School Regional Wrestling Team Tournament. Rams first faced Grand Haven in a dual meet with the winner advancing to take on the winner of the Jenison and Portage Central dual meets.

With a starting weight of 152 pounds, CJ Scholl of Rockford went to the mat facing Evan Ingalls. With neither wrestler gaining an advantage in the first period, the two grapplers took a 0-0 tie into the second. Early in the second period, Scholl used a stand-up to escape from Ingalls and begin scoring on a regular basis.

Scholl took his opponent to the mat, building a three-point lead before Ingalls was able to score on a reversal. Scholl quickly reversed Ingalls, giving the Ram a 5-2 lead. Ingalls escaped from Scholl, putting both wrestlers back on their feet. The Ram wrestler continued to show his dominance by taking the Buccaneer back to the mat and turning him for a two-point near fall as time expired.

sp-wrestling2With a 9-3 lead at the start of the third, Scholl continued to build his advantage by taking a stalling point. Scholl used two more takedowns to build a 14-5 advantage and the win, giving the Rams a 4-0 team score.

At 160 pounds, Jake Johnson used two takedowns in the first period against Taylor Collard, giving him a 4-1 advantage after two minutes. In the second, Johnson reversed Collard for two points before giving up a second point to Collard for stalling. In the third, Johnson took Collard to the mat three times, releasing him each time, giving Johnson a 12-5 victory. The team score stood 7-0 for Rams.

Jake Dorulla (171) placed his number-one ranking on the line against Grand Haven’s number-three-ranked Chris Lucas. In the first period, Dorulla showed why he’s held the number-one spot in the state all season. Using a single leg at the whistle to score a two-point takedown, Dorulla quickly turned Lucas for a three-point near fall. Lucas was able to scramble away from a pinning situation only to have Dorulla turn him again for a two-point near fall as time ran out.

sp-wrestling3In the second, Dorulla started on the bottom, escaping from Lucas and building an 8-0 lead. Dorulla took Lucas to the mat and released him twice more during this period, increasing his advantage to 12-2. The third period found the Buccaneer wrestler in the down position where Dorulla released him only to take him back to the mat. Dorulla, leading 12-3, took the Grand Haven wrestler down and released him for the final scores of the match in a 14-4 major decision.

With the Rams leading 11-0, Zach Banazak (189), filling in for injured Jarod Dubay, again showed the depth of the Rockford wrestling program. Using a slow and methodical pace, Banazak took away a 7-0 decision from Josh Nelson of Grand Haven, using two take downs, one near fall and an escape. Banazak has been a consistent point-scorer for the Rams when he has been called upon from his normal B team spot.

sp-wrestling4In the 215-pound match, Joe Stefanski again showed why he is a force to be reckoned with. Using just 1:34 to dispose of the Buccaneer’s Tyler Rose with a fall, Stefanski continued the Ram dominance and built the team score to 20-0.

In like fashion, Jesse Somsel (285) took Dan Nevins to the mat three times, releasing him twice and then pinning him in 1:05 to bring the team score 26-0, Rams.

At 103 pounds, Tyler VanRooyen faced Josh Juchartz. Early in the first period, the Buccaneer wrestler accomplished something that none of his teammates have been able to: he took a Ram wrestler down for a two-point lead. VanRooyen recovered quickly and reversed Juchartz to even the score at 2-2.

The second period started with VanRooyen in the referee’s position. Using a sit-out switch, VanRooyen gained the reversal and turned Juchartz’s shoulders to the mat for a two-point near fall. The Grand Haven wrestler squirmed back to his stomach and escaped from VanRooyen for one point. VanRooyen took Juchartz off his feet for two points and again turned him for a three-point near fall and an 11-3 lead going into the third.

sp-wrestling5Juchartz chose the down position and reversed VanRooyen, cutting into the Ram lead 11-5. VanRooyen was unfazed and reversed his opponent, again turning Juchartz to the mat for a two-point near fall and a 15-5 final match score.

At 112 pounds, Charlie Hall received a void, giving the Rams a 36-0 team score advantage.

Top-ranked Kyle Waldo (119) was up next for the Rams, facing Grand Haven’s Rob Williamson. Waldo stayed on track for his fourth state title by pinning Williamson in 1:30.

At 125 pounds, Jake Byers used one second less (1:29) to pin CJ Stock. Team score at this point was 48-0.

Grand Haven finally got on the board with a 1:41 fall in the 130-pound match. Jake Montgomery of Grand Haven pinned Austin Scogg. Scogg struck first, taking Montgomery down to the mat, but his attempted pin was reversed and Montgomery took the victory. Grand Haven trailed 48-6.

Grand Haven’s Colin Bertucci took an 11-4 victory over Rockford’s Robbie Gorton (135), giving Rockford a 48-9 advantage in the team score.

At 140 pounds, it was all Rockford. Topped-ranked Zach Johnson scored a 16-0 technical fall over Pete Cortez. The Rams continued with their insurmountable 53-9 lead with the 145-pound match remaining.

As 11 of the 13 wrestlers before him, Bruce Carlstrom dominated his Buccaneer opponent. Grand Haven’s Jack Dempsey went the full six minutes with Carlstrom, but Carlstrom took away an 11-2 major decision, giving the Rams a final team score of 57-9.

In the second dual meet of the evening, Rockford faced Jenison, who advanced by beating Portage Central 50-19.

Wrestling against the Wildcats began with the 160-pound match between J. Johnson and Trevor Dunten. Johnson showed Jenison why Rockford dominated their first-round opponent. Johnson took his Wildcat down five times in the six-minute match. Johnson took a 10-5 win and a three-point Rockford lead.

Dorulla wasted little time in the 171-pound match, pinning Jenison’s Barry Koistra in 1:23.

Phil Andrus of Jenison moved up one weight class to wrestle Banazak at 189 pounds. Andrus scored the first points of this match with a takedown. Banazak reversed Andrus, however, to tie the score at the end of the first period.

In the second, Banzak received one penalty point and then escaped from Andrus for a 4-2 lead after four minutes. The third period found Andrus scoring four points and a victory for the Wildcats, giving Andrus a score of 5-4 and cutting into the Ram lead 9-3.

Stefanski used 1:56 to pin Jenison’s Jake Zamarripa.

Heavyweight Somsel fought to a 6-2 decision over the Wildcats’ Tommy Basset. Pushing and shoving between two large athletes made for slow action, as is typical of heavyweight wrestlers.

At 103 pounds, Trenton Samuals of Jenison used his six minutes to cut into the 18-3 Rockford lead by defeating VanRooyen 8-4. The Wildcat win narrowed the scoring to 18-6.

Hall (112) wrestled 3:57 before pinning Jenison’s Dylan Wyngarden, upping the Ram total to 24-6.

Waldo (119) won his match in just 0:42, pinning Austin Stine in a short and sweet match.

A struggle followed in the 125-pound match, as Byers wrestled Austin Wyngarden in a battle that saw each wrestler called numerous times for stalling. Byers emerged with a 5-4 decision after six minutes.

In the 130-pound match between Scogg and David Bobeldyk, a Wildcat win emerged after six minutes, as Bobeldyk turned Scogg for a near fall in the only points of the match. At this point Rockford had secured the win, as Jenison needed to pin all Ram wrestlers in order to make up the deficit.

Doug Furness of Jenison continued to cut into the Rockford lead by taking away a 12-4 major decision over Rockford’s Gorton (135). The team score stood at 33-13.

Two familiar foes took to the mat in the 145-pound match. Z. Johnson put an end to Nate Falbe’s high school wrestling career with a pin in 3:45. Falbe was the number-three-ranked wrestler going into individual districts the week before, but failed to advance further. Falbe had only lost four times during the entire season.

In the 145-pound match, Carlstrom faced Jordan Alvarez in a brutal contest. Alvarez took Carlstrom to the mat early and often, building to a 13-5 major decision going into the last match of the evening.

At 152 pounds, Scholl and his fireman’s carry finished Aaron Strelecki. Scholl carried a 4-2 into the third after escaping Strelecki. With time running out, Scholl hit his signature move and a 6-2 victory. The final team score was 42-17.

On Saturday, Feb. 28, 11 proud Ram wrestlers invaded the Magic Johnson gymnasium at Everet High School for the regional championships and a chance at going to the Palace of Auburn Hills for the state finals. Eight of the 11 boys wrestled for regional championship with only three, VanRooyen, Carlstrom and Hall, coming up just short.

Winning regional championships was Waldo (119) with his fourth; Byers (125), who defeated Cameron Olson of Kentwood for the sixth time this season – Olson has only 12 losses for the season, six to Byers; Z. Johnson (140), who avenged a previous loss to Amir Al-Gharib of Kalamazoo Central, for his second regional championship; J. Johnson, who won his first regional championship at 160 pounds with an 8-5 decision over Josh Shaw of Holt; Dorulla, who defeated Chris Lucas for the fourth time this season with an 8-4 major decision at 171 pounds; and Stefanski, who won a 3-2 decision over James Mireles of Holt for his first regional championship.

Runners up were Scholl (152), losing 10-3 to Koort Leyrer of Holt, and Somsel (heavyweight), who lost for the fourth time to Mike McClure of West Ottawa, 5-0.

Next up is a date with destiny March 6 – 7. Rams will take on the next best in the state at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena for the state team championships. Starting at 3:15 p.m., the Rams will wrestle Roseville. If they win, they will advance to the semifinals at 9:45 a.m. Saturday morning. While the Rams wrestle as a team this week, the individuals will wrestle in Auburn Hills starting on Thursday, March 12.

Fans and families are reminded of the celebration of Coach Rinehart’s career on Friday, March 20 at the Corner Bar, downtown Rockford. All fans, friends and wrestling family members are welcome.

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Rams Wrap up Regular Hockey Season in Style


The Rockford varsity hockey team went on a pre-playoff rampage last week, defeating Muskegon Catholic Central by a score of 5-2 and Grand Rapids Catholic Central by a score of 6-1. With victories in these last two games of the regular season, the Rams are riding a six-game winning streak into this week’s playoffs.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Rams faced off against the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders, who entered the game on a nine-game winning streak. Rockford took command of the game early thanks to two first-period goals by co-captain Mason McGillicuddy. Travis Guest assisted on both goals and Tyler Carlson provided an assist on McGillicuddy’s second tally.

In the second period, the Rams found the back of the Crusader’s net three more times on goals by Cody Cantu, Mike Bieke (assisted by Phil Piiralla) and Andy Shira (assisted by co-captain Adam Hoard, and Guest – his third of the game). The Crusaders scored once in each of the second and third periods to post the final score at 5-2. Forrest Andrus split goal-tending duties with Christian VanPortfliet, and was credited with the victory, his 11th of the season.

On Saturday night, Feb. 28, the Rams finished off their league play for the year against the Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars. Cantu opened the scoring for the Rams when he fired in a rebound from linemate Bieke’s initial shot. Co-captain Dan Cruickshank notched Rockford’s second goal when he fired in a slap shot from the defensive point. The Cougars took advantage of a Ram penalty to score a power play goal to cut the lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

In the second period, the Rams fine-tuned their precision passing game, resulting in goals by McGillicuddy (assisted by Hoard and Guest) and Hoard (assisted by McGillicuddy and Guest). Then Cantu scored his second goal of the game, assisted by Cruickshank. The goal was one for the highlight reel, as Cruickshank attempted to stuff the puck into the left side of the net, regained his rebound, and cut behind the net while being tripped by a Cougar defender. As he was falling, he scooped the puck in front of the net where the charging Cantu slammed it home, raising the score to 5-1 at the end of two periods.

However, the production line of McGillicuddy, Guest and Hoard wasn’t finished yet as Hoard notched his second goal of the game, assisted by Guest and Carlson to close the scoring. Guest’s assist was his third of the night and marked the second consecutive game that he earned three assists. Andrus earned his 12th win of the campaign as the Rams raised their overall record to 19-4-2-1 (W-L-T-OTL). The Rams’ final league record was 7-3-1-1, which earned them a second-place tie with East Kentwood, behind the league champion Mona Shores Sailors. The disappointment of a second-place tie is lessened by the Rams’ knowledge that they defeated the Sailors in both of their meetings this season.

The Rams pursue the regional championship on Monday, March 2, as they take on Grand Ledge, with the winner taking on the winner of the Lowell/Caledonia-DeWitt game on Wednesday night, March 4. Both the Monday and Wednesday games will be held at Patterson Ice Center. The regional championship game will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 at the Kensington Valley Ice Center, located near Brighton.

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