Aruba or Antarctica? For an adventurous Rockford woman, the answer was Antarctica. Deb Smitter was considering a jaunt to Aruba with her sister when the plan fell through. Facing a vacation alone, she decided to sign up for a trip that she likely would never find a friend or family member willing to join along. “They tell you if you fall overboard, you will die,” Smitter said. She was also advised to come prepared with drugs to help cope with a perilous crossing, provided with Wellingtons to wade through animal feces and warned to stay clear of whale seals which can rip a human’s leg off. Her family was convinced she wouldn’t need a ride home from the airport. Smitter signed up for a three-week trip which would take her to what is considered ‘the end of the world.’ She traveled on an old Russian research vessel called the Lubrov Orlov, which translates to “lucky to be alive.” It is a trip few people care to undertake to a place where no one lives—except penguins, seals and other arctic wildlife. “I was miserable for a lot of it,” Smitter said. The trip was so rough she broke a toe. Another person broke a hip. Five people had to be evacuated for medical emergencies. “It was like being a little rubber duck in the big seas,” Smitter described. She said food slid off plates, the boat tilted to 38 degrees and those with minor injuries, like hers and broken ribs, stayed on. Among the highlights of the trip were 15 landings on ten-foot Zodiac boats (pictured below). Each was a “wet” landing, which means you get wet. Twice, catapultic winds required an emergency evacuation—requiring 20 people to pile into the ten-person dingy to get back to the ship. Smitter, who has traveled to 70 countries in her life, said it is an excursion she would never repeat or wish on another person, but she isn’t sorry she went. She walked among penguin colonies, went “way too close” to dangerous whale seals and saw breathtaking views few people will ever experience first hand. “I became really aware of nature,” Smitter said. “It is the most remote, coldest, windiest, driest place.” She said the voyagers were treated to […]
April 15 2010
Dogs—on leash—are welcome back to the Rockford Farm Market after a Rockford City Council decision on Monday, April 12. An ordinance allowing domestic fowl was defeated during the same meeting. Council members were in disagreement over both issues, and voted three to two on each topic. Brien Dews, newest council member, introduced the Farm Market application, which was filled out by the City without asking for dogs to be banned this year. “It was submitted allowing dogs and I support it,” said Dews.Steve Jazwiec, mayor pro-tem, said he also approved the application as-is. He said the application has a line asking if dogs are prohibited and the word “no” is filled in. A survey of vendors was conducted by City Community Development Director Jody Greco, at Dews’ request. Of 21 vendors, six responded, three in favor of allowing dogs, two against and one neutral. “This tells me that of 21 vendors, only six thought this was enough of an issue to respond,” said Dews. He also pointed out that Rockford markets itself as a town for strolling and walking. “Most people out on the trail are there with their dogs,” he said. Voting against allowing dogs was Mayor Chi Chi Rogers and Mary Eadie. “I wouldn’t want to take the chance of a child being bitten,” said Rogers. Dews responded, saying that there are dogs all over Rockford and at different events and there has never been a biting. Jazwiec pointed out that the dog ban began in response to just one incident in which a dog defecated at the market and the owner refused to clean up after it. “It passes, much to my dismay,” Rogers said after the vote. In the fowl ordinance, which has been under consideration for months, a split vote also ended the topic. Voting against allowing a limit of four hens for families living in the City of Rockford were Mary Eadie, Chi Chi Rogers and Rich Moll. Voting for were Steve Jazwiec and Brien Dews. Also at the meeting the council was addressed by Ron Riebschleger, landlord of a Bridge Street property with six tenants. He accused the City of harassing him and his tenants. He said all of his tenants have been accused of City code violations.
Salon robbery mystifies, devastates stylists and owner When Kim Jamison opened the doors to The Edge salon on Tuesday, April 13, she knew immediately something was wrong. There was glass on the floor, the 42-inch flat screen television was gone and stylists’ stations were robbed of equipment. “It is devastating. This is our livelihood. We can’t even conduct business because they stole our clippers and scissors,” Jamison said. The thief or thieves entered the building at 49 Bridge street sometime after the shop closed at 8 p.m. Monday and Jamison entered on Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. In addition to cash—a deposit, including payroll—the cash register, clippers, scissors and blades, a select amount of salon product was stolen. “They went shopping,” said owner Kamala McCune. She just opened her doors for business in October and is stunned by the loss, none of which is covered by insurance. Rockford Police responded to the scene and had fingerprints taken, and found what they believed to be a tennis shoe print outside. They are hoping security cameras downtown may have captured images. McCune hopes someone might come forward, and is offering a reward for information which leads to the arrest of the responsible person or people. The stylists at the shop are also devastated and wonder how someone knew which pieces of equipment were valuable. One pair of scissors stolen was worth $400 alone, and along with clippers and blades, each lost as much as $1,800 in personal property. Also stolen was Crew brand products, among the salon’s priciest inventory. The cash register was taken and if recovered may yield fingerprints. Thieves even stole the shop’s vacuum cleaner. “We are wracking our brains,” said McCune. “It makes us even more determined to stay in Rockford, though. We aren’t going anywhere.” Anyone with information may call the Rockford Police Department at (616) 866-9557 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.
The annual Bear Creek Waterfest will be Saturday, April 24, from 8 a.m. until noon at Townsend Park, corner of Cannonsburg Road and Ramsdell Drive in Cannon Township. The public is invited to take part in a morning of food, educational fun and activities. Now in its seventeenth year, the Bear Creek Waterfest is a place where everyone can learn about watersheds, why they are important, and much more. Families will especially find the festival a great place to visit because of the free children’s activities. Approximately ten area organizations will set up activity tables. The musical group Hawks & Owls will be back this year to entertain with old time acoustic music. Children will begin their visit with a Bear Creek Passport. As children visit each table, they will do an activity, have their passport stamped and will get a prize. Some highlights: Creeky Critters: creek creature identification, Microscope Magic: look at a drop of water under a microscope and see organisms the human eye cannot detect alone. Bee Keeper: see how bees make honey. Attract Birds To Your Backyard: make a bird feeder or plant a seed for a flower. Container Gardening: New this year! Learn how to garden in containers. Seminars at 9 and 11 a.m. Rain Gardens: learn how special gardens collect rain water and filter it for the earth. Plant a Native Flower Seed: learn why native plants are an important part of Michigan’s ecosystem. Rain Stick: learn how different cultures use rain sticks and make your own. Find Where You Live in the Watershed: pinpoint where you live on the watershed map. Clean Air Action Display: what makes a Clean Air Action Day? The Grand Valley Metro Council will show you. Scavenger Hunt/Self-Guided Tour: collect nature objects and tour Bear Creek. Rubber Ducky Races: on your mark, get set, go! A popular Waterfest favorite. The Cannonsburg Christmas Lights Committee will offer a pancake breakfast. Cost is $5 adults, $3 kids 12 and under. The Cannon Historical Society will feature a bake sale in the cabin. The Bear Creek Waterfest is sponsored by Cannon Township.
Rockford competed in the regional Odyssey competition, sending 18 competitive teams and seven primary teams. The primary team members are in grades kindergarten through second. The teams work to problem solve creatively, take part in spontaneous competition and do a presentation of their problem solution. Rockford entered teams from Crestwood Elementary, coached by Diane Jones; two teams at Roguewood Elementary, coached by Kurt Hazelwood and Michael Merren; Parkside Elementary, coached by Jeff Geshel and Dan Travis, and two teams at Valley View Elementary, coached by Eldon Palmer and Kris Bialias. All the team members receive special recognition, but the greatest reward is knowing they DID it. Congratulations to all our primary team members and coaches. The competitive teams are in grades three through 12. Rockford had four of the 18 teams receive honorable mention in fourth through sixth place at the competition. They were Belmont Elementary School in fourth place, coached by Rich Kotarba and Barb Schuck; Lakes Elementary School in sixth place coached by Sherry Brown and Cheri Karafa; Crestwood Elementary School in fifth place coached by Heather DiCosola, Jeanne Burnes, Kiersten Walstad and Parkside Elementary School in fourth place, coached by Sue Hagedorn, Jamie Lausin and Gail Lass. Rockford now has 12 teams advancing to state finals. The teams that tackled a vehicle problem and advancing are: Roguewood Elementary in first place coached by Julie Merchun and Katy Scheffler; Parkside Elementary in second place, coached by Kristy Dorman, Winnie Bolam and Sue Bristol and North Rockford Middle School in first place, coached by Judy Nauta and Joan Lawton. Teams that “Discovered Treasures” in the classic problem and will be moving on are Valley View Elementary Team A in third placecoached by Lori Jarrett, and Julie Wendtland and Valley View Elementary Team B first place coached by Shari Waldvogel and Michelle Ferguson. Teams who performed in “Food Court” and are moving on to state are Roguewood Elementary in third place coached by Wendy Goushaw and Jen Masternak; Valley View Elementary Team C in second place coached by Joan Lawton and Angela Clum; Cannonsburg Elementary first place coached by Karen Dufendach and Angie Uhall; North Rockford Middle School in second place coached by Kris Haines and Rebekah Chino; North Rockford Middle School B in first […]