by BETH ALTENA One year after beginning an investigation into the potential leak of contaminants on the Wolverine Worldwide (WWW) former tannery site and surrounding areas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has returned authority to local agencies while reserving the ability to resume control if necessary. The EPA was petitioned June 2011 by three Rockford residents, Lynn McIntosh, Grant Medich and Gail Mancewicz. In a June 27 letter to Wolverine attorney Michael Robinson, the EPA states that the federal Preliminary Assessment requested by citizens on June 21 has been completed. The letter states that under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) the EPA has one year to conduct a study unless it determines that such assessment is not appropriate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and EPA’s Superfund Removal Program participated in the assessment and found: “Elevated levels of several inorganic contaminants have been detected in the surface and subsurface soils in portions of the Site. Chromium, arsenic and mercury have been detected in sediment samples. Arsenic and chromium have also been detected in groundwater. It is likely that contaminated groundwater discharges to the Rogue River. However, the EPA has concluded that a CERCLA removal response action is not warranted at this time, since the concentration and quantity of known contaminants does not present an immediate and substantial threat of release.” The letter continues, noting that the site scored above 28.50 in the EPA’s Hazardous Ranking System and merits further investigation. On June 14 a letter from the MDEQ recommends further investigation under “Other Cleanup Authority.” “The EPA has concluded that such a referral is appropriate for the Site. MDEQ has based its request for referral upon receiving your [Wolverine’s] letter (date June 11, 2012) in which Wolverine Worldwide Inc. commits to working with the MEDQ.” With this decision in hand, WWW will develop an assessment plan to continue the evaluation of the property. The plan will be reviewed and approved by the MDEQ, and WWW will decide what further steps need to be taken, if any, based on the plan. In a letter dated June 14 from the EPA’s Nuria Muniz to the MDEQ, Muniz states that the property in question was operated as a tannery from 1908 to […]
Half of bracelet sale goes to school by BETH ALTENA Brighton is a company that does things the old-fashioned way and is always finding creative ways to give back to communities where their items are sold. This July, half of the sale amount of a beautiful red-white-and-blue bracelet with “I heart America” etched on the back will go toward the Rockford High School marching band. Brighton is pitching in $12 of the total purchase price of $48 and Kimberly’s Boutique is donating another $12. “We have 36 bracelets to sell, so the band could potentially receive a check for $864,” said Jane George of Kimberly’s. Staff at the store are excited about the one-month promotion, but owner Kimberly Smith isn’t surprised. She said Brighton is a company with which she is very familiar and such an act of generosity is not out of line. Kimberly’s has carried the Brighton line for over a decade and said the jewelry and handbags are always top of the line in quality and all carry a guarantee. She said the business, based in California, is family owned by Jerry Kohl and his wife, who were high school sweethearts. All items begin with a designer and a detailed sketch, and many are created in wood prior to actual production to make sure all specs are perfect. “The company actually started out over 30 years ago as a hand-tooled men’s belt company and just exploded out into purses, bags and jewelry,” said Smith. “Brighton charms are now becoming one of their biggest categories, with over 400 charms in stock.” She said Kimberly’s is the largest Brighton department in the area, so she is very familiar with the many products. Smith is so well known to Brighton as well that she was among vendors flown out for a personal tour of the facility and enjoyed a dinner out with the couple and some of their staff as well as enjoying a dinner at their own home during the all-expenses-paid visit. “They did that so I could appreciate the quality of their work,” she said. Each piece of Brighton jewelry undergoes a 12-step process from the zinc-based core. The base undergoes a ceramic core tumbling, two copper platings, a nickel plating, two silver […]
‘We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue’ by BETH ALTENA Fourteen fire or police departments have funding for life-saving equipment they needed thanks to the generosity of those who supported the West Michigan Healing Fields (WMHF) memorial to 9/1/1 held last September. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) met last month to give away the money raised by the sponsorships of the 3,200 flags—each representing one of the people who died 10 years ago in terrorist attacks that changed the U.S. in one horrific day. According to Rockford City Manager Michael Young, the project was brought to RACE by Susan Bodenner, who heard about the program. It allows communities to honor those lost while raising funds for grants to first responders, many of whom were among those killed. She brought the idea to the RACE board, where it was enthusiastically embraced. “We said from the beginning it all goes back to rescue,” said Young. “The franchise was $50,000, so RACE could either lose $50,000, break even or make money.” In addition to covering the initial franchise fee for the WMHF, the project raised nearly $60,000 more given away at the RACE annual meeting held at Rockford City Hall on Tuesday, May 18. Not all of the 20 grant applications or all of the grant request amounts were approved, but an amazing $57,840 in grants were given for worthy needs of local rescue. The grants included $5,000 each to Cannon and Courtland township fire departments, the City of Rockford Police and Fire, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Division, which is located in Rockford in Plainfield Townshhip. Plainfield Fire Department received $4,900 to purchase thermal imaging unit equipment; Algoma Fire Department received $4,882 for needed equipment; Sparta Fire Department received $4,785; Grand Rapids Police Department received their entire grant request of $4,473; Wyoming Police and Grandville Police departments were given $3,500 of their grant request; Grattan Fire Department received $2,400 of their requested grant; and Grandville Fire Department received a check for $2,200 of their requested grant. Polly VonEschen, who is an at-large member of the RACE board, said the grants represented the most the board has given since her tenure on the board. The endowment was formed in the early […]
by BETH ALTENA When a carriage company began doing business in downtown Rockford, the City realized they had no regulation in place regarding such operations. Traditional carriage and hayrides included in City celebrations have always fallen under the permitting process of special events applications. On Monday, May 14 during the regular City Council meeting, regulation for carriage services, hayrides and other horse-drawn services was approved unanimously. City Councilman Jerry Coon questioned whether the new regulations would have any effect on services offered during Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s Start of Summer Celebration and was assured the new regulation—along with a $200 season application fee—would not apply to or affect the Chamber or any other festival organization that goes through the City permit process for special events. The regulations cover how hard horses can be worked, where they have to be during rest periods (on private, not public property) and other specifics regarding safety, sanitary concerns and hours of operation. The regulations also established violation policy. “This allows the public to enjoy these types of services without violating public space,” said City Manager Michael Young.
by BETH ALTENA Among other votes, the Rockford City Council unanimously passed an extension on electronic billboards Monday, May 14 at the regular meeting. According to City Manager Michael Young, the nine-month extension of an original nine-month moratorium on the roadside digital advertising is, in part, waiting for the results of a federal study on whether digital billboards are a distraction to drivers. “The result is three years late. Given the federal government, we aren’t surprised,” said Young. The extension has nothing to do with a current lawsuit against the City by CBS Outdoor Signs, an electronic billboard company that wanted to put one within City limits near Shaw Creek Estates on Northland Drive. The City is in the midst of the suit brought against them by a refusal to allow the billboard by CBS. The company is suing Rockford, and other communities who have refused to allow the billboards, on the grounds that the refusal is hampering the right to free speech. According to Young, Rockford felt it was in the best position to take on the suit as the City’s ordinances specifically forbid the digital signage. Young also noted that the suit includes mandatory mediation, and joked that, given the electronic billboards are prohibited by City ordinance, the City has very little room to mediate. Young said that if the federal study comes back with a ruling that the billboards are not a distraction to drivers, the City will still refuse to allow them. “We will fight it all the way and I have no doubt we will win,” said Young.