Soldier of War of 1812 honored with gravestone

October 20, 2010 // 0 Comments

Settler cemetery visible from road   One of Rockford’s—then Laphamville—earliest settlers, Joshua Briggs, rested in an unmarked grave for over 100 years before research determined that his grave must lie in the family plot on the grounds of Myrtle Park Crematorium at 9619 Northland Drive. Briggs was recognized in a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16, surrounded by the aging tombstones of three of his children and their spouses as well as grandchildren. No longer buried in an unmarked grave, the life and death of Briggs is engraved on a new granite marker, which was unveiled during the Saturday ceremony. Briggs was recognized by members of the Rockford Area Historical Society and members of the Daughters of the War of 1812 for his service as a soldier in the two-year war declared June 18, 1812. Without the fame of the Revolutionary War, the historic fight was also between the Americans and the British for our freedom as a country. Battles took place across the United States, off the Atlantic coast and as far away as the Indian Ocean and the coasts of Chili and Africa. Much of the fighting was right here in Michigan, in the Great Lakes and forts of Detroit and Mackinac/Michilimackinac. “Many people don’t know about the War of 1812,” said historian Claudette Darling, who discovered the location of Briggs’ remains through research. Darling said she and other members of the Daughters of the War of 1812 found Briggs and many other veterans buried in Michigan, whose graves were unknown or unmarked. She said a book published in the 1960s on soldiers buried in Michigan had many errors or omissions. In honor of the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the war, the Michigan chapter of the organization hopes to prepare and publish a more complete volume on Michigan’s veterans of the war. Over 3,500 soldiers just from Michigan alone fought in the war. Jim Kornoelji purchased property, which was part of the original Briggs homestead about 15 years ago. At that time the family burial plot was overgrown, although the stones could be glimpsed through the grass by drivers on Northland Drive. Darling said Kornoelji told her he had an archeologist examine the property to make sure the building foundation and parking […]

Rockford Police earn highest honor from state organization

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

On Tuesday, October 12, the entire Rockford Police Department was recognized by the Michigan Crime Prevention Association (MCPA) as the number one department in Michigan for community policing. It is an honor usually reserved for a department’s community policing officers, and in Rockford, that includes every officer on the force. “It may seem like an odd request, nominating an entire Police Department for a unit award, but the entire police department consists of 13 officers… every officer practices the skills of a community policing officer every day.” Jones stated in the application letter. The two-page application includes a list of the many community policing programs in which the Rockford Police participate. “I am really proud of the effort this department puts in,” said Jones. The policy of pro-active interaction with the community on many levels was introduced about seven years ago when Jones came on board as Rockford’s chief. Jones said seven years ago, if you had asked a police officer here about community policing, “You probably would have gotten a blank stare.” “We went from novice to excellence in a relatively short time and that is really something to be proud of.” Community policing programs in Rockford include D.A.R.E., Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, Child Identification and Safety, Shop with a Cop, Crime Prevention Site Assessment, and an amazing 20 more programs. Rockford competed for the recognition of top in the state for community policing with other law enforcement members of the organization, including some very large departments such as the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Detroit Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff Department. Jones pointed out that the officers perform all of these extra duties on top of their day-to-day requirements. “This year was a good one to receive this award because the City celebrates its 75th anniversary as a City this year,” Jones said. He noted that the MCPA annual conference, held this year in Traverse City, includes a week of training. This year’s topic is child safety and Jones said many of Rockford’s programs focus on preventative measures to keep kids safe. He is teaching the seminar on Rockford’s child safety program which offers free fingerprinting and a safety video. Rockford officers are working 12 hour shifts this week so as […]

Grand Rapids ArtPrize revisited

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL  Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What one person may love, another person may thoroughly dislike. Add 1,713 artists from around the world displaying individual works of art into the mix and the result is the amazing Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition. Building upon last year’s initial launch of the world’s largest art competition, this year’s version was even more amazing and spectacular. ArtPrize dominated the greater Grand Rapids area news for most of September and on into early October in addition to causing a lot of buzz in the national and worldwide news media. Chosen by 38,501 active voters casting a total of 465,538 votes in two rounds over 15 days, the rankings of the top ten pieces of the 2010 ArtPrize competition were announced last Thursday evening. Picking up where we left off last year, your reporters spent the prior week seeking out the artists at their respective venues to attempt to get an inside perspective of their individual works of art. Focusing on the top three winners, here’s what we gleaned. We found the third-place ($50,000) winner Beili Liu, creator of “Lure/Wave,” street-side just as dark was falling one evening outside her ground floor venue in the new still-under-construction UICA on Fulton Street. ArtPrize attendees were separated from Liu’s creation and could only view the ethereal work through the street-side windows because of ongoing construction to the building. Even though the installation was meant to be walked through, it visually struck a cord in enough voters to place third in the prestigious competition. Liu’s spellbinding work was beautiful. “It is meant to depict the ancient Chinese legend that tells when children are born, invisible red threads connect them to the ones whom they [we] are fated to be with. Over the years of their lives, they come closer and eventually they find each other, overcoming the distance between, and cultural and social divides,” explained Liu. Ten to twelve miles of red thread were required to create three to four thousand hand-spiraled coils of red thread discs, each connected one to another by a single thread. Every coil disc is pierced in the center by a sewing needle, which enables the suspension of the discs […]

Rockford swims to another top spot

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Rockford women continued their winning streak Thursday night, Oct. 7, out-swimming Grand Haven 182-124 in the Grand Haven pool. The Lady Rams had little competition from the Buccaneers, taking eight out of 12 events with ease.   The 200 medley relay team of Casey Wolfer, Kennedy Cutler, Lexy Caster and Jamie Van Portfliet took first place, and the B relay team of Morgan Longberg, Morgan Lipe, Madison Trimble and Lauren Girard took second to start the meet on a strong note. Sarah Smith and Adrianna Craft continued taking first and second in the 200 free. Freshman Stephanie Mull took first in the 200 individual medley, and Van Portfliet, Wolfer and Girard took first, second and third in the 50 free. Rockford’s divers, Katie DeHaan, Macie Degraaf, Erica Finlayson and Maggie Setterington, were especially strong, finishing one, two, three and four. S. Smith, Trimble and Taylor Downs continued strong, finishing in the first three positions in the 100 butterfly. Not until the seventh event, the 100 free, did Grand Haven get the top spot, which Rockford answered by taking the top four places in the next event, the 500 free, with Craft, Kayla Kidder, Kelly Baker and Elliana Raymond. Grand Haven then eked out another first in the 300 free relay, and Rockford answered with the top three places in the backstroke by Wolfer, Longberg and Downs.   Grand Haven finished off the night with firsts in the 100 breaststroke and the 400 free relay. Rockford travels to West Ottawa for another conference meet on October 14.  

Algoma Twp. trustee Pickerd finds calling in getting involved, giving back

October 14, 2010 // 0 Comments

by MATT  MARN Gordon Pickerd wears many hats in his community, from Algoma Township trustee to Rockford Sportsman’s Club treasurer to woodcarver. No matter the method, he is always ready to help. For example, when Algoma Township grew from needing five trustees to needing seven, a friend suggested Pickerd run, and he answered the call to serve. “I never thought I’d run for political office,” Pickerd said. “I hope when people look at what we’ve done, they see we’re doing the job the township wants.” Pickerd said final decisions before the board lie with the trustees. “Someone has to accept responsibility,” he said. “If people don’t like our decisions, they come after us. Hard choices need to be made, not because I like it or because I agree; following the law is not always an easy course.” Algoma Township Supervisor Dennis Hoemke said Pickerd is an excellent addition to the township board. “He’s done a great job,” Hoemke said. “He brings a good knowledge base to us because of his past experience. He’s not afraid to do what he needs to do after he looks into the issue.” Pickerd, also the treasurer of the Rockford Sportsman’s Club for the last 15 years, said the treasurer must keep the books in order and, since the club is a charitable organization, log where all the donations go. “I was at a board of directors’ budget meeting, and the treasurer at the time wasn’t prepared for all of my questions. After the meeting, a friend asked me when I was going to run for the treasurer position, and I told him next year. The person with the money has to be responsible for the club to run.” A pattern model maker by trade, Pickerd’s career path later took other directions into sales. But when Pickerd retired six years ago, he was reunited with his first love: woodcarving. “I’ve done a number of turnings,” Pickerd said. “I sold some, but I gave most to charities over the last five years.” Pickerd said he has done woodcarving pieces to aid in fundraising efforts for the hunt for a cure for cystic fibrosis, as well as the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding in Rockford. He also does volunteer work for organizations […]

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