April 23 2009

Home razed despite neighbors’ concerns

April 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

Main Street Rockford resident Sonja Glass believes the city should have given her more warning that the house next to hers was coming down. She also believes the demolition may not have been safe due to possible asbestos. Glass has been living in a historic home next to 138 Main, which was demolished on Friday, April 17. The home was purchased by Dave Pederson and had been under ownership of the City of Rockford prior to demolition so local law enforcement and fire fighters could practice in the structure. It was deeded back to Pederson the evening of Thursday, April 16. Demolition of home at 138 Main Street, Rockford.  Photo by Cliff Hill “Mine is the last house standing,” said Glass of her stretch of Main Street. She said to the north of her house Wolverine World Wide had taken out two residential homes to make way for the parking lot now there. Several years ago Pederson had demolished one home and moved another on the south of her, also for parking. Glass awoke at dawn on Friday to the sound of the demolition, and dust she is worried contained asbestos. She thinks the demolition permit was improperly filled out and “rushed through.” “The way this was done was so rotten,” she said. Another neighbor has been campaigning to save the home and believes it had historic value. Lynn McIntosh has been dismayed to see the three residential structures disappear over the years. The final home remaining, which Glass’ father owns, was once owned by Jackson Coon, a well-known former business person and important figure in Rockford history. Pederson said the house was in very bad shape structurally, even before the damage caused by fire rescue practice. He said it had a non-functioning heating system and was not worth moving. Pederson said he wasn’t certain of his plans for the property, which is currently zoned residential.

Shoetown no more? Tannery closes doors

April 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

Marsha Pollaski and her husband Jim worked at the tannery in downtown Rockford for 22 years. “I was the first one to break down and start bawling,” she said of the January announcement that the facility would close. ” I bawled all day.” Pollaski said that since January, Wolverine has been closing down different departments within the tannery and at the end only about 50 workers remained. “The last day was bad,” she said. “Everybody was crying.” She and other former employees are disapointed that Wolverine has yet to reach an agreement with the union over severance pay. “If the CEO were to leave today, he’d get over 30 million in severance pay,” she said. “It’s just corporate greed. The tannery made them over a million last year and the company made 96 million.” Pollaski said the salaries at the tannery were not excessive, and estimated the average pay was $14 to $16 an hour. Benefits were very good. Pollaski said she and her husband are looking to the future and plan to go back to school for their next career. They both liked their supervisors at Wolverine and feel they would have loved to give them a big send-off, but probably weren’t allowed. The company has long been a world leader in pigskin tanning, and Pollaski said it seems that aspect of the business is going away and the shoe work going overseas. “We are over the negativity of this, and I hope the others are as optimistic for their future as we are. It’s just sad for the United States because of American jobs going away,” she said. “Young people today won’t know about job security. We thought we were showing them job security, but I guess we weren’t.” “People say it’s the union this and the union that, but it’s not about the union. It’s about American jobs,” Pollaski said. “We had our jobs and we were very grateful. We tried everything to keep them, pay cuts, but they just weren’t intersted.” Pollaski added, “I know the tannery was smelly,  but that was the smell of American people working their jobs.”

Businesses work together for Relay fund raiser

April 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

It’s said two heads are better than one, and two businesses may be as well. Ric’s Food Center at first planned a nice open house and customer appreciation day, but  has now partnered with D.A.D.’S Tents for an event the two businessmen hope will result in a doozy of a donation for Relay for Life. What started out as a simple customer appreciation day on Saturday, May 2 from noon to 5 p.m. has turned into a Relay for Life fundraiser. Dave Brickner, store director of Ric’c Food Center, 6767 Belding Road, lined up many of his store vendors to offer samples and hoped to provide some food outdoors at the store. When he started talking to Dave Parish, of D.A.D.’s Tents and Party Supplies, the two cooked up more ideas. Ric’s, a company that believes in being involved and supportive of the towns their stores are in, realized quickly how big a deal Relay for Life is in Rockford. “In Mount Pleasant, the town is all about Special Olympics, and that’s what we do there,” he said of the store’s parent location. “Here in Rockford, it’s Relay. I’ve been approached by more than 20 Relay groups,” Brickner said. From the get-go, Ric’s has been supportive of local efforts, and donates all their post-dated bakery goods to Lean on Me, a local charity. Brickner said that after opening doors at the store, the store owners hoped he would get Ric’s involved in the Rockford community. Brickner learned about some of the biggies here, such as Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford, and supports as many as possible. Of course, he found out about Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society and is wildly successful in Rockford. Dave at D.A.D.’s Tents is just as passionate about Relay. From the beginning or Relay six years ago he has had his tents at the event. “The first year we had maybe eight tents. The next year we participated. It was a life-changing experience.” He is so dedicated to the cancer-fighting effort that he has ordered a $2,000 big, bright pink tent and will always donate the rental to Relay. The D.A.D.’S Dave and Ric’s Dave decided to work together to make the Ric’s event a Relay […]

Wildfire consumes Nelson Township home

April 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

by JUDY REED Nelson Township resident Brad Smith knew something wasn’t right when he saw a plume of smoke rising into the air as he drove west on 18 Mile near Shaner about 2 p.m. Thursday, April 16. “I’d seen fires around from people burning but this was different,” he said. Smith headed in the direction of the smoke, finally finding the source on Wildwood Court, a private drive east off Shaner, just south of Coan. “The roof was on fire, and there was a woman at home, so I helped her get her dog out,” said Smith. While the home of Nancy and Steve Hazen was destroyed, their sister-in-law, Jean St. Charles, and the dog, made it out safely. Firefighters were called to the scene about 2 p.m. with DNR aerial support reporting a 5-acre grass fire moving toward the house. Crews from seven fire departments, including Sand Lake, Cedar Springs, Algoma, Solon, Spencer, Howard City, and Courtland Fire Departments, battled both the house fire and the wildfire that ignited it for several hours Thursday afternoon. Four tankers of water were brought in to quell the blaze. Sand Lake Fire Chief Ed Holtzlander said it was definitely the wildfire that started the house on fire, and not the other way around. “It started in the northeast tract and moved up behind the house,” he explained. Wildfires were rampant last week because of dry, windy conditions, and officials originally theorized that someone burning brush might have sparked it. However, the state fire marshal inspected the scene Monday, and was not able to determine the exact cause of the fire. The DNR used their GPS tool to estimate that the fire scorched about 17-18 acres, including the home. Other homes were not damaged.  According to the National Fire Interagency Center, there were 412 wildfires in Michigan in 2008 that burned 2,675 acres. Nationally, over 80,000 wildfires burned over 5,254,000 acres last year.

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