by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The Rockford Squire goes to great lengths (oftentimes foolhardy) to bring interesting stories along with great pictures to its readers. This article is yet but another one. Last week your reporters traveled to “The Flower Garden”, the 10-acre beautiful slice of nature owned and farmed by flower grower and floral designer, Casey Lemieux. Located, on a dreaded gravel road, at the very northern edge of Ottawa County and due west of Rockford is what Lemieux describes as, “Heaven on earth”. Lemieux is one of the original vendors at America’s Favorite Farmers Market in Rockford and had oftentimes invited us to visit her farm when her floral offerings were in bloom. Such was the case last week. Spotting an aging and unused silo next to the barn the foolhardy photographer, Cliff, received permission to climb to the very top to get long shots of the vivid flower fields. Standing at the base of the silo all reporter Nancy could hear as Cliff climbed a rusty ladder attached to the exterior of the silo was, “The things we do for a story” – along with other expletives deleted! Never the less it was all worth it as you can tell from the accompanying photographs. Lemieux, now 29, has had a love affair with flowers since childhood. Today she is a much sought after floral designer and arranger for weddings or any occasion for that matter. She also has a love affair with Rockford’s Farm Market and every Saturday morning, spring through fall, she can be found creating bouquets on the spot for legions of market goers. This year’s growing season has been an extreme hardship for all farmers and Lemieux, a farmer of flowers, is no exception. Through frosts, high heat, and extreme drought, she has lovingly tended her flower fields and is “doing just fine thank-you”, says Casey. If you’re not already a regular Flower Garden customer, now is the time to stop by her booth, see and smell the flowers, and ask her to arrange a bouquet to your specifications. Hear that guys, you could sneak over there and watch Casey’s flying fingers create a surprise bouquet for your sweetie!
Cliff & Nancy Hill
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Scofflaws removing barricades from either end of a roadway known as Rum Creek Crossings could expose themselves and others, along with their vehicles, to a world of hurt. Rum Creek Crossings, entered off Courtland Dr. NE, gains access to the rear of the MVP Sports Club business complex. However, the street/driveway is not a City of Rockford street but rather a roadway surface wholly owned by Hillview Townhouses (operated under the auspices of Hope Network). Last week a large sinkhole appeared in the center of the road’s surface. Upon close inspection, it appears the sinkhole runs diagonally underneath the asphalt surface from shoulder to shoulder for a distance of approximately 25 feet. At the time, barricades were placed at both ends of the street to block through traffic. Additionally, an orange traffic cone was placed in the sinkhole and was highlighted by yellow warning tape straddling the dangerous area. Apparently some people have a better idea. Repeatedly they have been removing the barricades and cutting the tape to exit or gain access to the business complex. This is foolish and dangerous business as the complex has a divided 2-way main entrance off of 10 Mile Road. Those that remove the barricades could find their vehicle the one that finally breaks through the remaining road surface resulting in possible vehicle damage and physical injury. Worse yet, they expose other innocent and unknowing motor vehicle operators and their passengers to the same fate. Repairs have been scheduled. In the meantime honor the barricades, they have been placed there for the protection of all.
Squire ‘rides the rails’ on historic railway by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL All little boys love trains and some never lose that fascination. One such is Rockford resident Andrew Kersting. Squire readers will recall that Kersting founded the Rogue River Project. Since 2005 Kersting has joined forces with Trout Unlimited and local citizens for annual litter clean-up days of the Rogue River. This year Kersting was gratified and more than pleased that the annual event was not necessary because the river was amazingly clean. It seems river users had “gotten religion” and are now policing and cleaning the river themselves. Kersting, 23, is an amazing young man. Not only does he have a love of the environment, he is a volunteer Conductor and a Brakeman with the Coopersville & Marne Railway (C&M). Recently Kersting contacted the Squire and asked if we would like, one day, to take the short 30-minute drive to Coopersville to “ride the rails” on an authentic old-fashioned passenger trail. One of your reporters still has a hand-carved toy train from his childhood and for him the question was a no-brainer…”Lets GO!” Last Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. found us at the C&M engine house, in the heart of downtown Coopersville, to meet the train’s crew as they were about to prep the locomotive for the day’s two runs. The railway’s locomotive is a 125-ton General Motors SW9 switcher, #7014. Built in 1952, the engine is lovingly maintained by the all-volunteer staff of C&M. The 1,200 horse power diesel engine of the locomotive turns a generator which in turn feeds 600 volts of electricity to the traction motors that are geared to the locomotive’s 8 drive wheels. Along with Kersting acting as Brakeman, the train’s scheduled crew of the day included another Rockford resident Conductor Al Kolpack, along with Engineer Bruce Quinn and Brakeman Trainee Mike Smith, both from Grand Rapids. Kolpack and Quinn are both certified by C&M as Brakeman and Conductors and both hold federal Engineer licenses. The two of them have been volunteers with C&M for a combined 19 years. “Although the Engineer is responsible for the operation of the locomotive,” said Kolpack, “the conductor is the boss on all trains. The train doesn’t move until the Conductor says […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL In a proactive move to increase City revenue with accurate water meter readings, the City of Rockford plans to change out all residential and business water meters within the City along with those in areas served by Rockford outside the City limits. Over time the reading mechanisms of all water meters degrade and slow down and do not accurately record water usage. The result is lost revenue necessary for on-going improvements to, and maintenance of, the City of Rockford’s water distribution system. Over a 5-year period new state-of-the-art water meters capable of remote reading will replace all current water meters. In doing so, meters can be read from a passing Rockford Public Works vehicle rather than on foot resulting in ongoing cost savings. The City also proposes a nominal 2-percent water/sewer rate increase, its first in four years and 3 years, respectively.
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 […]