February 26 2009

Sick of Gloom and Doom? Rockford Reports Positive News

February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA We need to get over our pride and ego and get on with our lives, Frenz Coffehouse owner Rich Zeck believes. He is one of many local businesess people who haven’t bought into the news that we are going through the worst of times. “I can speak for myself because I have lost my job,” he said of a former high-paying career. Zeck opened his own shop after the job loss and also works another part-time job. Zeck said he believes Americans have allowed their financial fear to dominate their lives and this has made things worse. “What if there were no newspapers and no televisions? The economy ”d go about our business and have a life.” He believes the stockmarket slumps follow each dire news report as people hunker down, afraid to spend money and get on with things. Zeck, who is also a college professor, said he understands the economy is a hot topic and his students want to discuss it at length. “It’s such an emotional issue,” he said. Zeck believes there is plenty of good to be learned and practiced in tough times. He said friends, neighbors and families helped each other out to make it through the Depression. We should take a page from that chapter of history. “I knew we were in big trouble when people came in worried about the cost of a barrel of oil and gold,” he said. “That makes no difference to most people.” Putting hope in corporations and companies rather than in people is part of the error behind economic troubles. “Two hundred years ago you were a seamstress and I was a farmer,” he said. “We helped each other out and did business together.” Doing this today is what we should be doing, Zech believes. As a coffee shop owner, he has sent customers to the other coffee shops in town. “Too often it’s ‘Me, me, me.’ It’s not me, it’s just us.” He is a firm believer in paying it forward. “If we all took the time to help someone else out, what would that do?” he asked. Zeck gave the example of people who have lost their jobs. “Get out and volunteer,” he said. “People lose their jobs, […]

Women Helped by Retail Sales Outreach in WAR International

February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CHRISTINE BIGNEY You can walk into many of the stores in downtown Rockford, and there is a good chance that the business is owned by a woman. In the United States and in West Michigan, women – and people in general – enjoy many opportunities to benefit from their own efforts, improve their lives and ‘live the American dream.’ In the media, today’s news is all of the sky is falling variety, forgetting or failing to note that our quality of life in the U.S., and in West Michigan, is not really so bad. In fact, we are in a position to help others who truly are in economic and personal disaster. Jessica Gordon, a local business woman, runs WAR Chest Boutique located at 119 Courtland Street in downtown Rockford. She believes people will be willing to help improve the lives of others if they are given an opportunity. Gordon tells how her organization helps women in Asia in regions that have become the newest source for traffickers of young destitute girls and women, some as young as nine years old. They are transported across borders and sold into sexual slavery throughout Asia. Gordon tells of an African business woman who was tricked into selling her business and moved to Thailand where she expected to start a new business. Instead she was forced into prostitution. Other horror stories include a newborn Thai baby sold for $200 to traffickers. But there is hope for these women through a Christian organization called Women At Risk (WAR) International. Partnering with several different programs in other countries like Thailand, Uganda, Nepal, India, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan and the Philippines, Gordon’s boutique showcases jewelry these girls and women produce in safe houses which are sponsored by WAR. The jewelry are made from pearls and semi-precious stones. “The jewelry is sent on consignment, with the safe houses setting the prices. The proceeds go to these women to help them get their GED, get them proper medical care, preventative medical care,” Gordon explained. Gordon found herself running the Rockford store after some mutual friends asked her if she was interested. A grant from a private foundation made it possible. “It was kind of an experiment, “Gordon related, “to see if […]

Reds on the River Wins 2008 Top Dining Award

February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

Every industry has its “Super Bowl” of sorts. For those involved in the culinary arts in West Michigan, the ultimate stage is the annual Grand Rapids Magazine Dining Awards, held this year on Wednesday, February 18, at the Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. This event honors the top restaurants in West Michigan, as well as acknowledges the accomplishments of the American Culinary Federation and the Greater Grand Rapids Chefs Association. Grand Rapids Magazine, underwriter of the event, presented awards in the following categories: Fine Dining; Casual Dining; Ethnic Dining: European; Ethnic Dining: Mexican; Central/South American; Ethnic Dining: Asian; and Restaurant of the Year. Reds on the River in Rockford, a relative newcomer, won its third award in three years. Honored as best new restaurant in 2006 and a 2007 Fine Dining Award winner, Reds again received honors with the fine dining award. Reds’ Executive Chef and General Manager Glenn Forgie accepted the award for his talented staff, noting he was “extremely honored to represent Reds.” Forgie credited the strength of his staff. “Our team takes a lot of pride in what they do, working hard every day to prepare and serve their best to Reds’ guests.” He also thanked Grand Rapids Magazine for hosting the event and recognizing the industry and all the efforts of the nominees. “We are proud to be nominated in the fine dining category, and to win our third award.” The fine dining category is defined by Grand Magazine as: “top quality ingredients, well presented, somewhat innovative – a complexity of flavors, using the highest quality product. Excellent service and knowledgeable staff.” The 1913 Room won top restaurant of the year. Forgie noted his congratulations to the 1913 staff, as well as the other award winners and nominees. “There is an incredible group of talent represented at this event, and it is an honor to be acknowledged along with them.”

Annual Mother, Son Dance this Saturday, February 28

February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford Community Services is sponsoring their sixth annual Mother, Son Dance, Saturday, February 28 at East Rockford Middle School from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Extreme DJS will be playing age-appropriate music for dancing. Beginning at 6:00 pm, Douglas Photography will be available for a keepsake photo at an additional charge. To register go to www.rpssignmeup.com or call Rockford Community Services at (616) 863-6322. Tickets are $8 per person.

Powers Outdoors Floats Their Boats on Devos Place ‘Huge Lagoon’

February 26, 2009 // 0 Comments

By Cliff and Nancy Hill Whatever floats your boat! Last Friday evening, seeking to affirm that spring is indeed on the way, your reporters attended the annual Grand Rapids Boat Show at Devos Place. Along with the recent Camper, Travel & RV Show and the Golf Show winter-weary West Michiganders welcomed these harbingers of Spring. At the show, we found ourselves sitting in the stands adjacent to what was billed as the “Huge Lagoon”- the largest indoor body of water at any boat show in the nation. This new addition to the show is a 100,000-gallon behemoth of an indoor lake. It was capable of floating special boats on display along with providing a venue for scuba, kayaking, and wakeboard demonstrations. (It was huge!) As in past years, Rockford’s Powers Outdoors played a prominent role in the staging of the five-day show. At variously scheduled times throughout the show’s run Powers Outdoors presented Kayaking and Paddleboard Clinics & Demos to the delight of those in the stands. Co-owner Jake Slominski of Powers Outdoors, who represented the Rockford location, hosted the demos. On the water, Doug Powers demonstrated the use of stand-up paddleboards and sit-in or sit-on styles of kayaks. The audience was particularly interested in the stand-up paddleboard demonstration. This newest craze in flat-water fun involves the use of a handmade oversized fiberglass surfboard that is very buoyant and stable and allows the user to stand and propel the board with a long-handled paddle. You can also paddle while on your knees or on your belly with your hands. Slominski told the audience that the technique could be mastered in about 5 minutes and was great for exercise or just play. Also demonstrated was a sit-on kayak that allowed easier on and off rather than the in and out of a traditional kayak. This particular kayak is fisherman friendly and is very stable and maneuverable. Doug finished up the session by demonstrating the “Ultimate” Kayak. This model allows the user to either paddle, peddle, or the use of an electrical propulsion system. The peddle and electrical systems are built into the craft. It is super stable with comfortable seating and is the fastest kayak on the water. A user controlled stern-mounted tiller adds to maneuverability. […]

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