February 2 2012

Business leaders recognized at Chamber dinner

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

Keynote speaker describes huge growth opportunities in store for Rockford Photos by TOM SCOTT The cost of the “Taste of Rockford” buffet at the annual Rockford Chamber of Commerce ceremony was likely the best dining deal members’ have ever experienced. The evening’s entertainment, included election of board members, an awards ceremony recognizing Business of Distinction and Business of the Year, and a humorous Year in Review. The restaurants who provided food and beverages included D&W Fresh Market, the Corner Bar, Jody’s Restaurant, Herman’s Boy, Epic, Polly’s Passions, the Gristmill, Twisted Vine, and Grill One Eleven. Dad’s Tents provided the linens and centerpieces for the tables. Floral arrangements were provided by Polly VonEschen. Andy Tidey, of the Corner Bar and Chamber Board member, announced he is leaving Rockford and moving his family out west. Businesses and individuals received recognition in a variety of categories with Blaine Kellermeier of Kellermeier Plumbing, Inc. receiving the highest honor of Business of the Year. Other winners were Dan Biemer in the new category of Networker of the Year. Lynda Nance and Polly VonEschen tied in the category of Volunteer of the Year. Beth Altena, Managing Editor of the Rockford Squire newspaper was struck speechless at the announcement that the newspaper had earned the Business of Distinction Award in the Community Service category. Joel Koch of Bluegrass Promotional Marketing was recognized in the category of New Business. Keynote speaker Mike Guswiler, Executive Director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, touted the economic benefits of the sports complex which will be built in Plainfield Township off Ten Mile Road. He said there was “no better community than Rockford” for the sports venue. Hosting baseball, softball, cross country skiing, archery and more, the complex will be a boon in visitor spending and an economic engine for the greater Rockford area. Guswiler said a complex of similar size in a town comparable to Rockford made a huge difference in economic vitality. He said the sports complex there spurred the growth of three hotels to fifty hotels with an eighty-five percent occupancy rate. “It’s all about economic growth enhancing our quality of life.” The annual meeting, open to members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, was held at the American Legion banquet facility, 330 Rockford […]

Rockford businesses partner in anti-bullying campaign

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

Call it what you want—it comes down to being nice! During the month of February, Rockford local businesses will be partnering with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan (MHF) to spread the message of be nice. within the Rockford community. The be nice. campaign was initiated by the MHF in 2011 to create awareness surrounding the issues of bullying in schools, workplaces, and community-wide. Rockford community member, Kristen Bloem, became aware of the be nice. initiative when she attended an event for the Mental Health Foundation. Bloem states, “Just two simple words, I felt inspired to help and bring this Rockford.” With her help, Rockford businesses are jumping on the be nice. bandwagon by selling be nice. t-shirts, bumper stickers, and wristbands in their stores. First to jump on board are Kimberly’s Boutique and Aunt Candy’s Toy Company.  All proceeds from be nice. merchandise sold by Rockford local businesses will go toward bringing the be nice. Campaign as well as the Live Laugh Love Mental Health Education Program to Rockford schools. Christy Buck, Executive Director, of the MHF started the Live Laugh Love Mental Health Education Program six years ago to combat the overwhelming statistic of high school students becoming victims of suicide in West Michigan. Buck reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among high school students in Kent County. The Live Laugh Love curriculum is designed to educate adolescents about mental health illness, focusing on the themes of mental health stigma, the effects of bullying, recognizing signs of depression and anxiety, recognizing signs of suicide, and knowing how friends can help friends find help. Over the past six years the MHF has educated over 10,000 adolescents about mental health. In its newest endeavor, the MHF is bringing the community together to increase awareness of treating people with civility community-wide by partnering with Rockford, Grandville, Grand Rapids, and East Grand Rapids to proclaim February 24 as be nice. day. Be nice. is more than just saying “don’t bully,” it is a strengths-based perspective and a positive way to minimize bullying in our schools and communities. It is also a proactive way to encourage kindness among kids, parents, coworkers, and community members. By supporting the be nice. campaign, Rockford local businesses […]

We are all part of the history of Rockford

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL History is a living thing. It’s not only about the past, history is being made today and it will continue being made tomorrow and into the future. You may think history is boring and you may well have hated it in school but nevertheless, everyone plays a role in the making of history. This article may be rather long and redundant but bear with us and see if you don’t identify yourself at some point in our narrative. For many years the Rockford Historical Society has operated the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) in an overcrowded and inadequate antique of a building adjacent to the Rogue River Dam in downtown Rockford. The current RAM houses the past history of the greater Rockford community and because of its size and condition it is totally inadequate to the task. One cannot turn around in the RAM without bumping into one’s self. It is so full of the artifacts of the area’s history that exhibits overflow into one another and cannot be separated to be adequately appreciated. Many large and important artifacts are out of sight and stored elsewhere. The RAM building lacks the simple necessities of running water and restrooms. Lacking air-conditioning, it is stifling in the summer. It is poorly lit making it difficult to discover the many treasures hidden within. The RAM, in this location, lacks adequate parking for volunteer staff and visitors. We could go on and on but you get the idea. The rhetorical question should be, can’t the Rockford community do better? “Given what the volunteers of the Historical Society have had to work with these many years, they have done an absolutely wonderful job,” said Museum Consultant Gerard Adams, “but it’s time to take the RAM to the next level. What the RAM now has is an antique shop without prices. What the RAM needs is to provide visitors an ‘experience’ in history.” (Adams is a highly credentialed museum designer who at one point served as curator/collection manager at the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.) Always harboring a desire to move the RAM to larger quarters, the Historical Society and its many supporters were afforded a one-year window of opportunity to relocate the RAM to the vacant […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

February 2, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society My writing this week will be devoted mostly to sharing some information about the history of the Rockford area. I call this a “Did YouKnow” column. Did you know: • Smith Laphams’ daughter, Amy Ann, was Rockford’s first school teacher. • Fremont Street was named after John Fremont who was the Republican presidential candidate in 1856. His running mate as vice president was William Dayton, and Dayton Street is named for him. Fremont lost to James Buchanan. • In 1869, Rockford built a new three-story brick school building by bonding the district for $20,000. The school housed all grade levels most of the time for many years before being destroyed by fire in February 1922. • A new school, with all rooms on one floor andhousing all grades of Rocford students from 1923 to 1954, was built on North Main Street. • Parkside Elementary School was built to ease the overcrowding of the school on North Main by moving the lower grades out of the building to the new location on Lewis Street. • The coming of the railroad to our town caused a name change from Laphamville to Rockford, because railroad officials wanted a different name. • A major fire in April 1878 destroyed several Rockford downtown buildings. • Another fire in December 1883 demolished about 75 percent of the Rockford downtown businesses about 10 days before Christmas. • A third fire in April 1896 burned out businesses on the block between Bridge and Courtland streets on the east side of Main Street. • Many of the brick buildings that are now (2012) on the east side of Main Street between Bridge and Courtland were built after the fire of 1896. The Hessler Opera House is one of them. So is the building housing the Rogue River Tavern. Let’s conclude this section with a trivia question. If you know the correct answer, contact me at (616) 866-0530 or The Rockford Squire at (616) 866-4465. Each correct responder will receive a surprise gift that can be picked up at the Squire office. The trivia question is: “In 1910, what was the tallest building in Rockford?” Finally, please consider supporting our project of moving the museum. Donations can be sent to: Rockford […]

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