Sweetheart Splash an annual favorite at Rockford dam by BETH ALTENA Sweet 16 has never been as cold as ice before, but this year’s Sweetheart Splash at the dam in downtown Rockford is as sure to thrill as it is to chill. Individual, couple and group jumpers are invited to prove their love—or nerve—as they take the plunge into the Rogue River, often in costume and with skits and freebies for the audience. Participants must pre-register by 10 a.m. the day of the event, but the big show begins at 1 p.m. and lasts about 90 minutes. Last year’s 15th annual Splash had a record 70-plus jumpers, including the Rockford Fire Department, who stripped for the crowd before hitting the water. Celebrity judges decide the winners in each category. Returning from last year is Matt Kirkwood of Storm Team 8, who performed an “impromptu” plunge after raising $1,500. Organizer Lisa Boyd said she believes he might again be enticed to show some skin before going in. “Standing with Matt Kirkwood, egging him on to strip, was rough,” Boyd joked. “As soon as we announced he might go in, out came the $20 bills.” Boyd, a former Rockford Rotarian, and current Rotarian Connie Taylor have been co-chairing the event for a decade. They noted that the event is fun, but also for a good cause. The Splash was started as a fundraiser for North Kent Community Services (NKCS), which is experiencing record requests for aid in Kent County. Taylor, who is also on the NKCS board, asks the public to participate in a blanket-and-outerwear drive by donating new or gently used items. Splash donations last year, either from passing the bucket in the crowd, or by jumper donations, totaled over $7,500. “We do have a lot of fun, but we are also here for a reason,” Boyd stated. Over the years there have been a marriage proposal during Splash, well-organized skits by groups, fun costumes and plenty of music. John Decker and Tom Pearce went in as the Blues Brothers several years, and the entire Rockford Board of Education took the plunge in Ram-themed boxer shorts to raise money for a defibrillator. Boyd said every year the Algoma dive team is on hand to make sure […]
February 10 2011
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL When Rich and Michelle Zeck opened Frenz Coffee House in Rockford in July 2006, they had a dream of creating a place of community fellowship where everyone would feel welcome. They accomplished that goal and much more. But Friday evening, Feb. 4, more than 1,100 past customers on the coffee houses’ e-mail list received a message saying Frenz would cease to be in business as of 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, some two days later. In the message, the Zecks invited all to join with them in a bittersweet celebration of Frenz presence in Rockford during the past four-and-a-half years. How could this be? On the face of it, the business appeared to be quite successful, but appearances can be deceiving. So let us first dwell on all that was accomplished and achieved. From the very beginning the Zecks embraced the Rockford artistic community. Local artists and photographers were encouraged to display their creative works on the walls throughout the coffee house, providing a venue for exposure and a possible sale. Area groups soon found a welcoming place to hold regular gatherings. The Zecks even allowed and encouraged the groups to rearrange chairs and tables to their own liking. Eclectic groups, too numerous to mention, took advantage of the generous offer. We’ll name a few but not all: the Rockford Plein Air Artists, the after-class tai chi group, political and community town hall meetings, book clubs, and Bible study groups. Book-signings were also a regular occurrence. Of course, we can’t forget the Saturday morning gathering of coffee house “regulars” composed of many who had discovered Frenz soon after its opening. “Conversations were varied and lively and at oftentimes rowdy,” said longtime Rockford resident Ruthie Graves, 88. “At the beginning, we hardly knew one another but after all this time we’ve become the best of friends. Now, where will we go?” added Graves with a tear in her eye. Friday evenings, Frenz provided a place for musicians and singers just beginning the pursuit of their own dreams to perform, oftentimes, before full houses. “A lot of people who had their début at Frenz have gone on to great success and are now playing in downtown Grand Rapids clubs,” said […]
Jason Lamoreaux of Belding won the 2011 Michigan Auctioneer Championships held in Lansing at the 60th anniversary conference of the Michigan State Auctioneers Association. Competing for the coveted title were 16 contestants from Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. The five finalists were Romayne Graber of Charlotte, Mich., Lamoreaux of Belding, Frank E. Leist of Petoskey, Mich., Robert McAdams of Martinsville, Ind., and Donna Tuttle of Mio, Mich. For winning the title, Lamoreaux received a championship ring, trophy, and entry into the International Auctioneer Championship in Orlando, Fla. this July. With over 20 years of experience, Lamoreaux is a professional licensed auctioneer specializing in benefit, cattle and personal property auctions. He has traveled throughout the country serving auction clients and is the owner of Lamoreaux Auction and Appraisal LLC, headquartered in Belding, which includes the subsidiaries CanAm Sales Management, Bovinebid.com, Bidderworks.com, and Pinnacle Benefit Auctions. Launching Bovinebid.com in 2008, Lamoreaux pioneered the expansion of domestic dairy genetic auctions to include online bidding worldwide. Lamoreaux graduated from the Missouri Auction School and is a member of the National Auctioneers Association and the Michigan State Auctioneers Association. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from Aquinas College and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Western Michigan University. Lamoreaux applauded the MSAA for its continued support of Michigan auctioneers, “The MSAA strives to provide professionals with workshops, presentations and continuing-education opportunities that enhance our abilities as auctioneers. This annual event is a celebration of what we do, and I am honored to represent the auction community of Michigan in 2011 as the Michigan auctioneer champion.” With approximately 400 members, the Michigan State Auctioneers Association (MSAA) is one of the leaders in the industry, and is proving to continue in that direction in the future. The MSAA is the largest representation of auctioneers in Michigan. The MSAA represents the interests of the auctioneers, providing a forum for networking, sharing ideas and experiences. For more information about the MSAA and the auction industry in Michigan, visit www.FindMichiganAuctions.com.