February 19 2009

Rescue Practice Trains for Worst-Case Scenarios

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

Donation of home allows firefighters to prepare by BETH ALTENA The loss of a Main Street home is the gain of a valuable resource in practice that local firefighters hope they will never need to use. Rockford City Council voted in January to accept a quit-claim deed for the unoccupied home at 138 North Main Street owned by Pederson Funeral Home. The home is currently deeded to the city and is being used by the Rockford Fire Department, other fire departments and local law enforcement agencies for valuable training. The temporary change of ownership is for liability reasons and the structure will be deeded back to the owner when demolition is scheduled. According to Rockford Fire Chief Mike Reus, the use of the property allows the department an opportunity for priceless training that could save a life. “The fire department is running in when everyone else is running out,” he stated. Firefighters, although trained in a vast variety of practices and skills, are traditionally the ones offering, rather than receiving assistance. “When one of us runs into trouble, it’s hard to ask for help,” Reus said. The first practice in the home took place on Wednesday, January 28 with a “Mayday” scenario to build skills in what to do when things go wrong. The firemen faced a variety of scenarios in the unheated, unlighted home. Working from three stations one at a time, they practiced procedure for collapse of a ceiling, becoming trapped in a room and becoming tangled in debris. In each case firefighters had to gauge how long to try to free themselves before calling for help. According to Reus, this is a vital distinction and one of the harder concepts to realize in a dangerous situation, Firefighters carry in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with 30 minutes of air. If a rescue worker becomes panicked and starts to breath heavily, the air is used much more quickly. “The clock starts ticking at the door before they go in,” Reus notes. If a disaster happens after 15 minutes in a structure, a rescue needs to start quickly in order to get the trapped or injured firefighter out before the last 15 minutes worth of air is gone. According to Reus, the techniques and […]

Crowds Pitch In for MC Dousing

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

Gene Parker takes plunge for $1,035 No good deed goes unpunished and for annual Splash announcer and radio personality Gene Parker, the saying was certainly true Saturday. Parker, who kindly donates his time and talent to many Rockford events, was cheerfully doing a great job Saturday during the 14th annual Sweetheart Splash at the Rockford dam when Rotarian Rick Ehinger decided to ratchet up the crowd’s incentive to donate. He said he’d pitch in $200 to see Parker take the plunge into the Rogue. Parker waffled, saying he wasn’t prepared for a dip in the drink and John Decker and Sandy Waite both upped the ante by another hundred each. With $400 on the line in the fundraiser for the North Kent Service Center, local businesses, Splash jumpers and members of the crowd began throwing in the dough to total an impressive $1,035 guaranteeing Parker’s plunge (and probably the end of donating his time for Splash). With 30 jumpers and an air temperature of 30 degrees, the event went smoothly and was well attended. Rockford Quick Lube team again stole the show with their group jump. Without the Jaycees, who disbanded this year on what would have been the group’s 50th anniversary, competition was low. The Quick Lubies made it up to the crowd with a great limbo routine and challenging other local businesses to up the ante next year with more team groups. Connie Taylor of the Rockford Community Federal Credit Union called the jump very successful with over $2,000 raised for NKSC. Past good hauls included the year Herman’s Boy’s Floyd Havemeier went in at age 65, raising $5,000 from the many people who paid to see him go under.

Tannery Closure/Rate Implications Addressed

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

by MICHAEL YOUNG, Rockford City Manager Since Wolverine World Wide’s (WWW) recent announcement that it is closing its downtown tannery facility, the City of Rockford has been working to identify all of the issues related to this decision and its ultimate impact on our residents and ratepayers. As you can imagine, the issues are numerous and complex and include analyzing financial implications on the sewer fund, an analysis of lost tax revenue, engineering issues related to the decommissioning of the treatment plant, and planning and zoning issues related to the eventual redevelopment of the tannery property. We have stayed in very close communication with WWW and are working to identify a time frame to address all of these issues. As I have interacted with residents and ratepayers, I have been comforted but not surprised by the community’s response to this announcement. Rockford has always been an example of a community that pulls together during tough times to work toward a positive solution. Thank you to those who have taken the time to provide your support and input. I have also received a handful of questions regarding the impact of the tannery’s closing on sewer rates and the new PARCC Side Wastewater Treatment Plant and since others may have similar questions, I would like to answer them publicly. The short answer to this question is simple. The City’s share of financing and operting the new treatment plant today is $90,000 less per year than the cost of signing the new City of Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant contract. In addition, the City has saved $2.4 million over the last ten (10) years by not signing the proposed new Grand Rapids contract when it was presented in the winter of 1998. This savings over the last ten (10) years has allowed us to keep our sewer rates stable. That said, as I wrote in an earlier article, the tannery closing will impact rates likely resulting in an increase of approximately $10 per month for the average residential customer. While we understand that this is a difficult time for a rate increase, the tannery closing would have increased rates even higher if Rockford had signed the Grand Rapids contract ten (10) years ago and not built the PARCC […]

Score Restaurant Breaking and Entering Suspect Sought

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

The Kent County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a breaking and entering that occurred on November 27, 2008 at the Score Restaurant and Sports Bar located at 5301 Northland Drive N.E. in Plainfield Township. The suspect entered a storage garage on the property and removed eight kegs of beer and two ladders. The suspect left then returned a short time later to steal returnable cans and a power washer. Detectives have no leads except for surveillance video. They released photographs from the surveillance video to the media hoping that the public can help identify the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Ben Cammenga at (616) 632-6125 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.

Rogue River Watershed Protecting Your Environment

February 19, 2009 // 0 Comments

By KIM SAPKOWSKI Secretary of the Rogue River Watershed Council The current economic environment is, to say the least, unpredictable. One thing is constant, however – nature. The changing seasons, day and night, and flowing rivers are unwavering. Knowing this keeps us grounded in an ever changing economic environment. The Rogue River provides its communities many economic benefits. Data provided by West Michigan Trout Unlimited and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality shows that in 2004, 17,239 angling trips were made to the river and fisherman spent an average of $35 per fishing trip to the Rogue River Watershed. That’s a yearly total of $603,365. What would we do if an area business failed and left the local economy with a $603,365 void? The Rogue River has been a source of food, water, and transportation for humans and animals for thousands of years. The river and its surrounding watershed were formed by glaciers around 12,000 years ago. Today the Rogue River has the distinction of being one of Michigan’s southern-most trout streams. It is known throughout the state and mid-west for being a clean trout stream located within 15 minutes of an urban center. Here it is quite possible to toss fishing gear into the car, dash out of work at 5:00 and have a line in the water by 5:30. When we protect and preserve the Rogue River, we generate income for our local economy by providing a clean and healthy river. Bait shops, canoe liveries, gas stations, and restaurants, just to name a few, benefit from people using the Rogue River. The social benefits are harder to measure yet just as valuable, and intermingle with the economic benefits. A stroll on the boardwalk along the river in Rockford, spying deer at the Rogue’s banks while canoeing in the quiet of early morning, kids splashing and catching minnows in the river on a bright summer day or steam rising from the ice-crusted river on a zero degree morning; these are only a few of the social benefits the Rogue River provides. Protecting and preserving the river doesn’t necessarily mean pumping money into initiatives. Rather it can mean doing something as obvious as not littering. Or, if you own property along the river, choosing to […]

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