City of Rockford

EPA tannery investigation—‘There is no emergency here’

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Contaminants found in multiple test sites on Wolverine property by BETH ALTENA  About a hundred residents, including city officials and Wolverine Worldwide representatives, attended a public meeting held jointly by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Tuesday, April 24 at the Rockford Freshman Center. A presentation by a team of four representatives of the environmental agencies detailed the background of their investigation, where the testing stands to date, what possible future outcomes of the process may be, and answered questions well after the 9 p.m. expected close of the meeting. Comments from the public regarding the situation were about evenly mixed among those supporting Wolverine in their actions in removing the former tannery and those who appeared skeptical of the company’s actions or worried about contamination. Dave Novak, community involvement coordinator of the Superfund Division of the EPA, began the evening’s presentation, introducing the other representatives. “We are looking for conclusions based on good science, not speculation,” he stated. “We have a great deal of information in a relatively short period of time. We are letting good science lead us on our journey.” He then gave the floor to Naria Nunez of the EPA. Nunez said the EPA was contacted by a citizens’ petition June 21, 2011 describing concerns over releases during the demolition of the former tannery at 123 N. Main Street, Rockford. She said the petition indicated the demolition was of community concern and included photographs of discolored water running off the property and questions about the past use of chromium at the property. The EPA decided to investigate the site, and began testing in October of last year. Nunez said preliminary testing results found some contamination with potential of offsite contact. The investigation is still underway and is in the preliminary stages. At any time the EPA could decide no further response is necessary; could call for removal of contaminates or could refer the investigation to another government program. The EPA could also continue to investigate and at the end of the process could rank the site based on a system called a Hazardous Ranking System. This is an evaluation of the property based on evaluations of groundwater, surface water, air, ground, or […]

Smooth sailing ahead for Rockford’s 10-Mile Road

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL  In the mid-70’s the City of Rockford requested that the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) take over ownership of Rockford’s Division Street segment of 10-Mile Road. The KCRC accepted the offer under the conditions that the City would first bring the road up to County standards and enter into a 50/50 cost share agreement for future major reconstruction. Since the inception of the agreement the KCRC has provided little, other than remedial repairs, to the 3-lane stretch of roadway between Main Street and Wolverine Blvd. (think between the Independent Bank and North Rockford Middle School). Today 10-Mile Rd. is one of the most heavily trafficked east/west roads in northern Kent County. Daily the roadway carries, on average, some 20,000+ vehicles through the very heart of Rockford. Not only is it busy, at times it is one of the bumpiest, bone-jarring, teeth-rattling, shock-absorber busting stretches of road one might ever care (NOT) to traverse! The thumping of tires into potholes, especially at night, has caused many a sleepless night for the residents of the homes that line both sides. All that is soon to change. The KCRC is currently seeking bids, with a May 31st deadline, to mill and resurface the old roadway with a smooth new asphalt topcoat. Work is anticipated to begin in June after the close of school and will be short-lived, requiring 4 to 10 days. It is as yet to be determined whether the work will be done during daylight hours or at night. As there are no viable or practical detours around the construction zone it would be more advantageous and quicker if the work required were to be done during evening hours when traffic is at a low ebb. The $300,000 dollar cost of the project will be shared equally between KCRC and the City of Rockford. The County will allow the City to make two $75,000 payments over two years rather than require a lump sum payment of $150,000 upon completion. Additionally, Rockford plans to take advantage of the construction by decommissioning an old 4” water main that runs under the roadway surface between Main St. and Fremont St. Doing so will require the City to open the surface at the intersections of […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society  Sometimes when I ask trivia questions, I get a few answers and occasionally none at all. My last question was an exciting one, because I not only got a lot of correct replies, but with almost every one I learned how important Zell Gill was in the lives of many people. Yes, Zell Gill was the caring lady who served so well at the Rockford Library from 1960 to 1980. Here are some statements made by people who contacted me to answer the question: “She inspired my children to read;” “She met my daughter as we entered the library and told about a special book available just for her;” “She was a special lady who helped me with research when I attended Rockford High School;” “She knew her business and it seemed like she never forgot a person’s name;” “Mrs. Gill greeted you with a smile and encouraged you to read;” “Zell Gill instilled a love of reading in my son and daughter and now that I am older with more free time, I have the same passion;” “ Mrs. Gill was the Rockford Library as far as I was concerned.” Did Zell Gill make a difference in the lives of many Rockford people? You bet she did! The above remarks prove it. Now let me tell you something else. I know for a fact that she still makes a difference in the lives of people. She still cares and takes action to help others. I received correct responses from: Bill Boyd, Dave Hutchings, Versa Stoner, Ellen Byram Rothwell, Bruce Turner, Bob Winegar, Helen Hessler, Dianne Skiver, LeAnn Merrills, Barb Driscoll, Jan Konkle, Marcia Erickson, Brock Konkle and Carole Christensen. Thanks to all for responding and sharing your remarks. On Sunday, April 29, 2012, the Rogue River Community Theatre Group performed the “Ragweed Blues.” The show, which lasted just short of two hours, was filled with hilarious action and well received by a nice audience. Patricia Rose, who wrote the play and also had a major acting role in it, was a main force in the fact that there was a special matinee performance. She and all of the other members of the cast gave up their […]

Rockford models new money-saving safety structure

April 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

All full-time DPW, police now qualified firefighters, medical responders by BETH ALTENA The writing was on the wall when Rockford was forced to lay off one of the city’s full-time firefighters two years ago. When police Lieutenant Scott Mazur retired a year ago, his position was not filled. With revenues to the city in a continual decline in recent years due to reduced state revenue sharing, declining property values and a flat new construction economy, and other financial concerns, unusual measures were called for. “This is a significant change—a different service model to provide more efficient services and savings,” said former Rockford Chief of Police Dave Jones, who now has a new enhanced role and title as Chief of the Department of Public Safety, overseeing both law enforcement and firefighters. Jones said Rockford City Manager Michael Young and he came up with a bold new plan to maintain services to the citizens of Rockford in a more efficient way. It called for months of training of all Rockford police officers and also all Department of Public Services employees to become certified medical responders and firefighters. No one else in the state of Michigan has a model like this. “It is a whole new structure,” said Jones. Since April 7, all medical calls for assistance have been answered by law enforcement officers, who have undergone the months of training needed to qualify for their new role. Their patrol vehicles have all been outfitted to also serve as first responder medical units. At the conclusion of this plan, Chief Reus will be the fire marshal, one firefighter will be crossed trained as a police officer and assigned to the enforcement division, and one position will be eliminated sometime next year. This will restructure the fire service division to have only paid on-call firefighters with no full-time city employees assigned to just the fire service. With the new plan, all enforcement division and public services division employees will be considered full-time firefighters. Savings to the city come from on-duty law enforcement responding to medical and fire calls during the night rather than paid on-call firefighters. In addition, training can take place during the workday rather than in overtime hours in the evening. The model includes a complete restructuring […]

Sights seen along the Rogue River Nature Trail

April 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

Those pesky “Bucky Beavers” have been busy this past winter and spring above the dam and along both sides of the Rogue River. No tree, regardless of size, appears to be safe from “Bucky”! This huge tree, some 4 ft. in diameter (species undetermined) stands between the Rogue River Nature Trail boardwalk and the river about 70 ft. north of the Gazebo on the west side of the dam. The City has placed chicken wire screening around the tree over the gnawed area and this fix seems to be working. It’s a good thing because, if felled, this monster tree could make a splash that might create a Tsunami and knock the Rockford Historical Society Museum right off its foundation! The Squire would love to know what variety of tree this is and perhaps the “tree huggers” of Rockford might want to take a stroll over to Bucky’s work site and let the paper know.

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