Rockford Register — March 18 2010

Fri.–Sat., March 19–27

Charlott’s Webb—7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday manitees at 2 p.m. Presented by at Master Arts Theatre, adapted by Joseph Robinette, based on. the book by E.B. White. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students. All seats reserved. Call (616) 455-1001 for reservations or visit for more information

Saturday, March 20

Wild Game Dinner—6 p.m. Algoma Baptist Church gym, 10515 Grange Ave. (south of 13 Mile, between Algoma Ave. and Pine Island Dr., Rockford. The speaker is Vern Oosterhouse a hunting and fishing guide in Alaska. Tickets are $5. Call the church office at (616) 866-1274 or pastor Dave (616) 866-4760 to purchase tickets. Please bring a wild game dish to pass.

Garage Sale—9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Rockford Reformed Church, 4890 11 Mile, Rockford. All proceeds benefit the youth ministry of the churh. Donations can be dropped off at the church Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m to 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 21

Roast Beef Dinner—11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at VFW Post 3946, located at 4195 Thirteen Mile Road, Rockford. Cost is $8 for adults; $3 for children.

Tuesday, March 23

Country Music—9:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Rockford Ambulance Community Center, corner of 10 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue in Rockford. Music by the Rogue River Band. Enjoy free coffee, tea and snacks.

Rockford Garden Club March Meeting—7 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, Community Room, 159 Maple, Rockfod. Meeting topic discussion is “knowing your sunlight for a successful garden.” Guest speaker is Kerry VerMeulen. For more information call (616) 874-0186 or visit

Thursday, March 25

Rockford Lions Club Meeting—6 p.m. social, 6:30 dinner and 7 p.m. meeting at the Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe St., Rockford. Meetings held every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Saturday, March 27

Blood Drive —9 am. to 1 p.m. at Hope Community Church, 7000 Myers Lake Avenue, Rockford.

Cannonsburg Elementary Family Fun Day —11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kids and adult games, silent auction, lunch, free babysitting for kids from 2 to 5 p.m. Free entrance, small cost for tickets. For more information call (616) 874-1293.

Pancake Breakfast —8 to 11 a.m. at Courtland Township Fire Department, 7480 14 Mile Rd. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits & gravy, coffee, orange juice or milk. $4 adults, $2 children 6 to 12, 5 and under free, $12 family special. Proceeds to benefit the Courtland Fire Department.

Tuesday, March 30

Country Music—9:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Rockford Ambulance Community Center, corner of 10 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue in Rockford. Music by the Rogue River Band. Enjoy free coffee, tea and snacks.

Saturday, April 3

Easter Egg Hunt—10. to 11:30 a.m. a Blythefield Christian Reformed Church, 6350 Kuttshill Dr. N.E., Rockford. Children ages 3-10 are invited to hunt for eggs, participate in games, make a craft and listen to the Easter story. Bring a basket and dress to go outside for the egg hunt! For more information call (616) 866-2962 or visit www.blythefieldcrc.

Sunday, April 4

Swiss Steak Dinner—noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Rockford Masonic Lodge. Cost is $8 for adults; $3 for children under age 10. Dinner includes Swiss steak, vegetable, mashed potatoes with gravy, salad, dinner roll, dessert and beverage.

Tuesday, April 6

Country Music—9:30 to 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Rockford Ambulance Community Center, corner of 10 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue in Rockford. Music by the Rogue River Band. Enjoy free coffee, tea and snacks.

Mended Hearts Meeting—7 p.m. at Spectrum Health Fred & Lena Meijer Heart Center, 100 Michigan St., Grand Rapids, room 8815 on eighth floor. This nonprofit support group—affiliated with American Heart Association—offers hope, information and encouragement to heart patients, families and caregivers through those who have experienced heart disease. For more information, contact Jim Oldfield at (616) 891-9395.

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A Message for You — March 18 2010

Throwing snow into spring

Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church

Robert Falcon Scott, a British explorer, made two expeditions to the South Pole in 1901-1904 and 1911-1912. On one occasion, the weather conditions were such that a white haze blended with the unbroken whiteness of the snow and no horizon was visible. Wherever they looked, there was simply one unbroken whiteness. There was no point on which they could direct their course as they drove their sledges forward. Before long, they were coming upon their own tracks. Thinking that they were going forward, they were in fact only going around in a great circle. To solve the problem, they began throwing snowballs ahead of them in the direction of true south so that they had something to fix their eyes on.

Without some vision of the future, how is it possible to direct one’s course in a rational way? In practice we do what Scott did; we have projects, literally things we throw forward, long- or short-term projects, and we measure our progress by the degree of success we have in reaching our self-set targets.

But where do these projects lead in the end? Scott had a compass to tell him in which direction to throw the snowballs. Without a compass, how do we know whether our success in reaching our targets is in fact progress or regress? (Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society).

In the northern hemisphere, Easter is celebrated in the spring, and in Michigan it is a time of unmistakable change from the snow of winter. The winter view is broken by sunshine, melting snow, puddles, mud, returning birds, new buds and a greening of the landscape. We are refreshed by the change of weather.

The struggle of Scott’s expedition was against an unchanging landscape, and loss of depth perception and direction. Thankfully God blesses us and the world with a sense of the future. Prophets are the ones called on to announce such a vision: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11).

As Christians, we are entering the final stage of Lent, a time of reflection on the direction of our lives and God’s call to return (repent) to God’s way of life in Jesus Christ.

I find Scott’s tactic of throwing snowballs and following them ingenious for the harsh circumstances they faced. While the external circumstances in our lives may appear to be an unbroken haze with no horizon, we may together follow “God’s gift from highest heaven,” Jesus Christ, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God,” (Hebrews 12:2).

May we be blessed this spring with a new or renewed sense of the future, and the gift of Jesus Christ going before us.

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Happy 30th birthday

Wow! Alissa Robrahn is 30 years old!

Love, Mom and Dad

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Valley View undefeated in book battle

Valley View Elementary School recently took first place in the Rockford Public Schools Battle of the Books tournament.

The students were required to read 27 books within two to three months. They first competed within in their school and the top eight students from each school were chosen for the district-wide battle. Those eight students were then quizzed by the librarians on the books. The students competed in rounds against different schools until all but two schools were eliminated. Valley View Elementary School was undefeated.

Valley View Elementary School students celebrate their Battle of the Books victory with librarian Sue Kaylee and Principal Bob Siegel.

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Words on Weather & Climate — March 18, 2010


by Craig James

What a great way to start out the month of March. It was certainly windy and gloomy this past weekend but prior to that, every day from the 2nd through the 8th had 93 percent or more of possible sunshine with three of those days receiving 100 percent of possible sunshine. Compare that to February when only one day had 100 percent of possible sunshine and on 17 days, we received no sunshine at all.

Since the snow cover was slow to melt, golf season didn’t start quite as early as last year when I golfed on March 6.

I did practically have to use a hammer to get the tee into the still partially frozen ground and there was ice in one of the cups, but hey, it beat sitting indoors and writing a newspaper article. I was able to golf all the way to December 2 for golf in 10 of the 12 months of 2009.

Last year, we hit the first 70 degrees of spring on March 17. Looking at the last 116 years of records, it turns out we have a 51 percent chance of reaching 70 in March, and a 74 percent chance of hitting 60 degrees. That means in one out of every four months of March, the temperature never gets as warm as 60. That’s depressing.

With all of the cold weather in the southern states this year, the tornado season has gotten off to a very slow start. In fact, it looked as if we were going to see the only month of February on record with no tornadoes reported in the entire country. However, according to the National Weather Service, a weak tornado that lasted all of three minutes was spotted, in of all places, California on the 27th to spoil the record. There have only been twelve tornadoes so far this month.

Since we are on daylight saving (not savings) time now, it is staying light until 8 p.m.. Astronomical spring arrives on the 20th this year, which is of course when there is equal day and equal night across the globe. However, if you look at sunrise and sunset tables you will see on that date we have 12 hours and nine minutes of sunlight. Why not exactly 12 hours?

According to, “The geometric center of the sun’s disk crosses the equator during the equinox, and this point is above the horizon for at least 12 hours on earth. However, the sun is not simply a geometric point. Sunrise is defined as the instant when the leading edge of the sun’s disk becomes visible on the horizon, whereas sunset is the instant when the trailing edge of the disk disappears below the horizon. These are the moments of first and last direct sunlight. The disk’s center is below the horizon during this time.”

In addition, “atmospheric refraction causes the sun’s disk to appear higher in the sky than it would if earth had no atmosphere. The disk’s upper edge is visible in the morning for several minutes before the disk’s geometric edge reaches the horizon. Similarly, the disk’s upper edge disappears in the evening several minutes after the geometric disk passes below the horizon.”

What this means is that day and night are each equal to 12 hours a few days before the spring equinox and again a few days after the autumnal equinox. If you really want your eyes to glaze over and put yourself to sleep, read this article on why the earliest sunset and latest sunrise do not occur on the winter solstice and vice versa in the summer. You will be amazed to learn that near the equator, the earliest sunset does not occur near the winter solstice, it occurs in November.

What we do know about March is that it usually snows in West Michigan. In fact, Grand Rapids averages about 10 inches of snow in March. We haven’t had any measurable snow yet but in almost all El Nino years, which this one has been, we get a period of false spring like we have had, which is followed by another week or so of cold with snow before spring arrives to stay. Sad to say, I think that will happen this year too.

Craig James has been retired since July1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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