City of Rockford

Huge trees taken down on Main, Elizabeth streets

July 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Original plantings were to keep roads in place by BETH ALTENA  The face of Rockford changed somewhat as two old trees were removed at the corner of East Main and Elizabeth streets Monday, July 9. The pair of maples, as big as 60 to 70 feet high, were suffering from some dead wood, and according to Melissa Imhoff of Imhoff Tree Service, the homeowners were concerned because in storms and high winds branches were falling from the elderly pair. She also noted that dead wood was visible in a split in one of the two trees. “Parts of the trees are healthy, but as a whole tree, they were not healthy trees,” said Imhoff. The company spent the entire day chipping branches, cutting limbs and removing in their entirety the two trees, and Imhoff said their service includes complete removal of the trees and the tree debris, including grinding the stump. She said a job such as this one costs about $2,000. Imhoff said she wasn’t sure how old the trees were, but many of the large ancient maples that line the streets of Rockford date back to the 1850s when Rockford was still known as Laphamville. According to the late Homer Burch’s definitive book on the town’s history, “From Sawmill to City,” the long years passing, by 1855 Laphamville was rapidly expanding eastward from Smith Lapham’s 40 acres on the Rogue River. “New homes and buildings were being built haphazardly wherever convenient, with little thought to future growth as a village,” wrote Burch. He went on to describe the efforts of surveyor and engineer William Thorton as he drew up the very first ever map of the Village of Laphamville. He laid out and named all the streets of the new village from Main Street to Courtland, south to Division (Ten Mile). “Then, through his efforts, many of the new streets were lined with shade trees set out in orderly rows outside the sidewalk lines. Most of those trees were soft maples, but they also included some hard maples, poplars and elms.” The purpose of the tree planting was to ensure the streets stayed where Thorton had drawn them, rather than to deviate in other directions. Hopefully both East Main Street and Elizabeth Street […]

Rockford firefighters hose down students

June 28, 2012 // 0 Comments

For some relief of a very hot day, the Rockford Fire Department brought a pumper and hoses to the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) administration building to cool kids off. Much to the delight of the students in the preschool through fifth-grade summer care program, firefighters sprayed water for the kids to run through. Many thanks from RPS and students to the Rockford firefighters for their kindness!

Rockford, are you ready for another contest?

June 21, 2012 // 0 Comments

The RAM needs your votes by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On the wings of last summer’s improbable win in the nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest, the Rockford community is being asked by the Rockford Historical Society to rally around their entry in the “Building Our Community Contest”. For 50 years Erhardt Construction has been proud to build some of the most recognizable buildings in our respective communities. They are even more proud to be a part of West Michigan which, as we all know in our hearts, as a great place to live, work and do business. In recognition of their 50th Anniversary, Erhardt Construction and its project partners wish to recognize and support the work of people and organizations that are serving others in Kent and Ottawa counties. Together with their project partners, Erhardt is giving away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to area non-profit organizations through their “Building Our Community” contest. Instead of celebrating their achievements, Erhardt invites everyone to join them in honoring the organizations doing truly great work in the greater Grand Rapids community. Erhardt’s hope is to reach non-profit organizations that have a vision for a project or facility improvement that will help them accomplish their mission. Talk about a timely contest. As we all know, the Rockford Historical Society has been engaged in a yearlong campaign to raise funds to move the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its current inadequate facility. To date the fund-raising campaign has been successful enough to prompt the Rockford City Council to enter into a lease agreement with the RAM that would allow them to relocate the museum into the vacant 63rd District Court building adjacent to City Hall. The move would allow the RAM to, in large measure, keep the storied history of the Rockford community alive for future generations. Costs for such a project are substantial and a $45,000 first prize in winning the “Building Our Community” contest would be a Godsend. This is Rockford, we can do this, here’s how: The contest, to be conducted in two rounds, is similar to last year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Votes may be cast by registering and following the simple instructions online at You may vote for the Rockford […]

‘Very special couple’ inducted into Recognition Plaza

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Individuals made Rockford what it is today by BETH ALTENA “Service is the rent we pay for out little spot on this Earth.” This attitude was exemplified in the life led by the late Lynn Gill, who along with his wife LaZelle (Zell) were the lone addition to the Rockford Area Community Endowment (R.A.C.E.) Recognition Plaza. A ceremony took place Tuesday, May 28, beginning with the R.A.C.E. annual meeting at City Hall and ending at the plaza, located on the west side of the Rogue River by the dam. Zell Gill, before a large crowd of well-wishers at the Plaza, spoke with dignity and said the chance to help Rockford become what it is today has been a great honor for herself and her late husband. A plaque with her and Lynn’s name will serve as a permanent tribute to the contributions the couple have made to Rockford. Rockford City Manager Michael Young and the Rockford Area Historical Society nominated the couple and both Young and Historical Society President Terry Konkle spoke during the ceremony. Young talked of his experience of the couple. “In 1995 when I came here, whether it was God’s will, he put me right next to the Gills,” he said. Young described how fortunate his family felt getting to know the Gills and of their kindness and generosity. He noted that when his daughters ran away from home, as kids usually do during their childhood, his girls, ages 3 and 4, ran away to the Gills’ home next door. The Gills were very active in Rockford and are people that were well known as well as universally admired. According to a biography compiled by the Historical Society, the Gills moved to Rockford in 1940. Lynn Gill passed away in March 2009, and Zell still lives in the house they built on Dayton Street. The couple lived their lives with service as a major factor in their activities. Lynn was from Big Rapids, where he graduated in 1935 as salutatorian of Big Rapids High School. He and his brother were well known as semi-pro baseball players. Lynn was inducted into the Mecosta County Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Zell was from Reed City and also had a love of sports. Both […]

Young has full city council support after excellent review

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Michael Young, Rockford’s city manager for 17 years, had his employment contract extended one year after his recent annual city council evaluation. Young’s contract is a three-year agreement. He asked for and was given a two percent salary increase. Once again this year, the increase is in line with the City of Rockford employee groups with whom he had negotiated contracts. The council rated Young’s overall performance as “excellent.” A city manager wears many hats, including managing the city’s diverse staff and work flow; controlling the city’s budget and financial position; interacting and serving the public; and communicating with the city council. Young is able to juggle all of the hats. The council fully supports Young for his ability to successfully work with the several and diverse community groups, governmental agencies, and local businesses located in Rockford. As the council looks around the city to contemplate changes that have happened during Young’s 17-year tenure, they deem it impressive. Mayor Steve J. Jazwiec stated, “I couldn’t think of a better person to represent us. He is an extremely valuable asset to our community. Michael’s influence and impact on the community are very noticeable.” All Michigan cities, townships, villages and counties are encountering difficult financial situations. Rockford, under Young’s leadership, has been able to do two things that are exemplary. First, it has been able to maintain a healthy fund balance while keeping the tax rate at 10.9 mills, the third lowest millage rate in the county for municipalities without a city income tax. The 2012-2013 budget as presented by Young and approved by council will ensure that continued excellent financial condition through June 2013. Second, Rockford has been able to continue to provide excellent service to the public despite a declining revenue environment and staff reductions that have totaled 25 percent over the past three years. For example, residents have continued to see improvements to the various parks throughout the city. Many of these improvements, such as the recently completed Rogue River Trail Phase Three, are due to grants written by Young. Infrastructure improvements, as proposed within the budget, have continued to occur such as this summer’s repaving of Division St. from the Bridge east to Wolverine Ave. In addition, the combining of the police, fire, […]

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