‘We prepare for the worst and hope for the best’ by BETH ALTENA Within the last month, Courtland Township firefighters, Cannon Township firefighters and Cedar Springs firefighters all responded to what could be a devastating event: accidents involving school buses. Luckily there were no students on two Rockford school bus accidents this year, but with 870,000 students riding buses daily in the United States, it makes sense for firefighters to be as prepared as possible for the eventual call. “Everyone’s got school buses in their area,” said instructor Kevin Sehlmeyer, of Rescue Resources LLC of Rockford, who provided the training along with two other instructors. Twenty firefighters attended the daylong class at Courtland Fire Station, 7480 14 Mile Road, Rockford. They came from departments across West Michigan, including the cities of Reed City, Sturgis, Cedar Springs, Big Rapids, and the townships of Grattan, Oakfield, Courtland and Plainfield. “You don’t often get a chance to do this kind of training,” said Courtland Fire Chief Micky Davis. A former church school bus, donated by Louis Padnos Iron & Metal, was the simulated school bus on which firefighters practiced. Training was as much what not to do as what to do. Hands-on, Sehlmeyer demonstrated techniques and then allowed each of the firefighters to have their own turn. From breaking and removing the glass in the windows to finding the best lines to cut through the body of the bus, training concentrated on getting first responders into the vehicle as fast and safely as possible. “If we were doing this on the street the idea is to get us in and the kids out as soon as possible,” said Sehlmeyer. He pointed out some things not to do: leave hanging chunks of metal around the edges of the access holes, what he called “head dingers.” “Even if we have our helmets on, a lot of rescue and EMS personnel don’t have helmets.” The same is true for the tools not being used for a moment. Sehlmeyer advised his class to set them down behind the wheels or under the bus where they aren’t a tripping hazard for rescuers or patients. Ripping open a school bus is a different animal than a family vehicle. Sehlmeyer noted there is more layers […]
Fire chief believes garage refrigerator source by BETH ALTENA A fire that may have started with a garage refrigerator destroyed a home and killed the family dog, according to Courtland Township Fire Chief Mickey Davis. A 911 call at 4:32 p.m. Friday, April 27 brought firefighters to a home at 9110 Whitall Avenue. “The garage was pretty much down and the fire had gone to the attic of the home,” said Davis. He said there were several teenage boys in the home at the time the fire started and one had attempted to put the blaze out with a water hose. “He was pretty scratched up and was treated by Rockford Ambulance at the scene.” The fire in the garage was fueled by the fact that the garage door was slightly open, creating a wind tunnel effect that increased the ferocity of the flames. “The house is still standing but it’s probably a total loss,” Davis said. “As far as content, some of the downstairs maybe salvageable but if it was upstairs it was toasted.” Davis said he doesn’t know what might have caused the refrigerator to catch fire, speculating that it could have been a problem with the plug or a mouse could have chewed on a wire. “If people have older refrigerators or freezers, they probably shouldn’t, because they use so much juice,” said Davis, “but I’ve never seen one cause a fire before. This is a first for me.”
‘Besides the kids and grandkids, nothing was more important to them than the township’ by BETH ALTENA Jim McIntyre served Courtland Township first as a trustee from 1998 to 1992 and then as supervisor until his unexpected death in 2010. On Friday, Sept. 16, family members, firefighters and township and county officials joined in remembering the service of Jim and wife Kletis. The township dedicated Fire Station II in their honor with a ribbon-cutting unveiling a new sign, memorial and plaque. “Besides the kids and grandkids, nothing was more important to them than the township,” said son Doug. MaryAnn Anderson said she, current supervisor Chuck Porter and Jim all ran for office the same year in 1998. The dedication Jim and Kletis showed for their community was profound and made many improvements to the township possible. Porter said Jim had the qualities that make a supervisor successful, which are character traits that also make farmers successful. “He knew there is a time for planting and for harvesting,” said Porter. “He had honesty, humility, a strong work ethic, and was conservative financially. He had the principals to take chances and to take risks.” Porter used the example of the North Kent Sewer Authority as one risk McIntyre believed in, and also building the second fire station. “Because of his personality, things ran smoothly for the township,” Porter noted. He joked that there have been very few residents during the meetings under McIntyre’s reign, a sign of good leadership. Kletis was supportive of all the efforts of the township and always provided refreshments at events and decorated the township offices for holidays. She was the driving force behind a celebration of the township’s 150th birthday. Daughter-in-law Phylis McIntyre was touched deeply by the township’s desire to create a permanent memorial for Jim and Kletis. She called the celebration bittersweet. “We’d rather still have dad, but this is wonderful for the township to do,” said Phylis.
Consider Recognition Plaza tribute for holiday giving by BETH ALTENA Indisputably, the shops and service providers in downtown Rockford are among the best local sources when shopping for the perfect holiday gift. Shoppers can arrange that family photo that really needs to be taken while the kids are still young, pick out new carpeting before the family flies in for the holidays, and certainly find the perfect unique present for loved ones. There is another option in shopping available downtown that is sure to impress and also leaves a legacy for the future. Recognition Plaza, west of the Rogue River, is paved with bricks engraved with names—family names, business names, the names of individuals. Each brick represents an investment in the Rockford area. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) provides financial support for worthy projects in the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield and for Rockford Public Schools. One of the organization’s first undertakings was the beautiful Recognition Plaza at the dam, a popular spot for wedding photos and enjoying the beauty of the Rogue River. The public can become part of Rockford’s history with the purchase of a brick for $100 and have a name engraved as a permanent tribute to a person, company or organization. The bricks are installed throughout recognition plaza and the purchase price goes to RACE’s fund for community projects. Those with names on the bricks are in good company. Part of the Recognition Plaza is an annual celebration adding names to the pillars in the park of people who have been nominated and chosen for having a significant positive impact on the member communities. Past inductees include the late WWII hero and philanthropist Clarence Blakeslee as well as Edna Haner, daughter of a civil war veteran and the towns first librarian, and Wendell and Donna Briggs. This year’s ceremony took place in April and included historian Homer Burch and community leader Paul Robe. And as you look toward celebrating the holiday season, consider helping RACE provide grants and gifts for charitable programs and organizations to encourage scientific, literary, recreational, educational and safety projects that add to the positive experience of living in the communities that RACE serves. Lifetime membership in RACE is also available […]
by JUDY REED A two-car accident in Courtland Township last week left one man with critical injuries and several others with minor scrapes and lacerations. The accident happened about 4 p.m. June 7, at 15 Mile Road and Shaner Avenue. According to police, a witness told them that a red Chevrolet Malibu was at the stop sign in the eastbound lane of 15 Mile at Shaner, when it pulled out in front of a white Dodge Durango traveling north on Shaner. There is no stop sign on Shaner, and the two vehicles crashed in the intersection. The Durango left the roadway and overturned in a yard north of the crash. A teen male sitting in the rear of the Durango was ejected and landed underneath the tire of the SUV in a yard just north of the intersection. The victim, Matthew John Slabbekoorn, 17, of Algoma Township was airlifted from the scene by AeroMed with a head injury. There were seven passengers in the Durango. The driver, Benjamin Creed Sullivan, 19, of Courtland Township was treated for minor injuries at the scene. Brooklynn Jenette Hommerson, 17, of Sparta was transported to Butterworth by Rockford Ambulance with minor injuries. The other passengers were treated for minor injuries at the scene and declined to be transported to the hospital. There were four passengers in the Malibu. The driver, Terese Clement, 42, of Courtland Township and three children, Jack Clement, 6, John Clement, 1, and Greg Clement, 1, suffered minor injuries and were all transported to the hospital by ambulance. Assisting at the scene was the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Cedar Springs Police, Sand Lake Police, Courtland Township Fire, Cedar Springs Fire and Rescue, Rockford Ambulance, and AeroMed.