High school students donate time, training Early last December, 15 local youths took time out of their busy holiday schedule to complete training to become certified swimming coaches for a new Rockford Special Olympics swim program. The students also followed that training with an intensive Water Safety Instructor course. The students’ efforts were all for a very special cause: the Special Olympics Aquatics of Rockford (SOAR). Rockford residents Renee Kipke, Suelyn Ritsma and Terry Eudy have been working for months recruiting coaches, swimmers, scheduling and planning with the Special Olympics organization, all with the goal of making SOAR a reality. Rockford Recreation Coordinator Vic Villarreal has advocated the program and has secured pool time, as well as ensured there are lifeguards comfortable with the special requirements. For those who do not know, Special Olympics is the sports program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Like all sports programs, Special Olympics develops fitness as well as confidence and social skills for athletes. Many individuals—with or without intellectual disabilities—will cite sports as a component to future success. The SOAR program will focus on winter and spring training in order to develop swimmers for the June Regional Games at Calvin College. SOAR is fortunate to be able to take advantage of the existing talent found in the community. Most of the coaches for SOAR are Rockford High School students who participate in the Riptide Swim Club. These competitive athletes have experience coaching in the Junior Riptide program and volunteered to offer their time and skills for the benefit of the SOAR participants. Their prior experience will be a key factor in the program’s success—their comfort in providing instruction will allow them to focus on developing techniques for working with athletes who may learn differently. “This is such a great opportunity for students to get involved in a program that can really change and strengthen the community,” said Coach Courtney Uselton. The SOAR athletes and their parents are very excited about the new program. “All the swimmers are excited to get in the water and it is cool to see the student coaches volunteering their time—they really seem to work well with the kids,” said one parent. “We are lucky to live in such a great community.”
January 5 2012
Bill Modders saw the expensive-looking fishing rod leaning against a light pole near the Towers at S. Squire Street in Rockford and knew a fisherman had probably accidentally left it. When, after three nights, the pole was still there, he brought it home and made a call to the local newspaper to run a lost-and-found ad. “Found—nine-foot fishing rod by Rogue Towers, call to identify,” his ad read. Fisherman Jeffrey Kelly happened to read the ad and gave Modders a call. It was his pole and he was beyond grateful to stop by and pick it up. How nice it can be to live in a small town where people are basically honest, for the most part, and a neighbor will go out of the way to make sure lost property finds its way home. Kelly added another twist to the tale. “When I saw Bill, I told him he looked familiar,” said Kelly. It turns out that Modders, before retiring, worked for years in his own business repairing TVs and VCRs. Kelly had been a regular customer of Modders’, whose business, Phillips and Rowe, was located on Fulton Street. “It’s really a testament to the people of Rockford,” said Modders of the lost-and-found pole story. “That rod sat there for three days and three nights and no one took it. The people of Rockford didn’t touch it because it wasn’t theirs.” Thanks to Modders and Kelly for sharing the story, and for a follow-up, Kelly provided the accompanying pictures of fish he caught since the return of his “lucky fishing pole.”
Local Cedar Springs author, T. K. Francisco is launching her new Christian fiction series, which was recently nominated for 2012 Book of the Year by the Christian Small Publishers Association. The young adult/adult series is a crossover family friendly action-packed adventure for all ages. It’s a combination of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Left Behind. “Seven Wings and the Bleeding Twin Flowers” is the first in the series. If you like fantasy, action adventure, futuristic, sci-fi fiction, and/or a family epic adventure, you’ll love this series. It engages readers of all ages, genres and religions. The story is about a family team of seven who travel 100 years into the future to find a cure for bleeding disorders which have plagued their family for generations. The dual storyline takes place in Cedar Springs, Mich. on the family estate in the year 2027 where the apocalypse has begun. But thanks to eccentric Grandpa Kirk the family has a chance of surviving in his underground bunker. Through Jaden’s prophetic dreams and the family’s heart-felt desire to find the cure, five family members travel into the sea of glass to the year 2127 and meet up with two future family members who join them on their quest to find what they believe to be the cure: the bleeding twin flowers. The team of seven travel from Cedar Springs to St. Helena Island, their final destination. Along the way God gives them clues to seven different locations where evil mutated creatures await their arrival. But God sends each team member an angelic animal just in time to defeat the evil in the world. You can purchase your 99 cent eBook on the Nook or Kindle. For a paperback version of Francisco’s book, visit her website at www.tkfrancisco.com to find a store near you. There is also a chance to win a FREE signed copy of the paperback version! Write a review on Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook, and your name will be put into a drawing. A winner will be announced on February 1, 2012. When asked why she is offering her eBooks for 99 cents, Francisco said, “Because readers will take a chance on a new author for that price. And once […]
Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation Monday, Dec. 19, to restore the long-term solvency of the state’s unemployment trust fund, reduce fraud and prevent punitive federal fees and interest from being imposed on Michigan employers, said key sponsor Sen. Mark C. Jansen. “Ten years of recession exhausted Michigan’s unemployment fund and forced the state to borrow from the federal government to pay more than $3 billion in jobless benefits,” said Jansen, R-Gaines Township. “Michigan job providers were facing a 50 percent federal unemployment tax increase to recover that debt. The pro-jobs reforms signed today by the governor will repay the trust fund’s debt and stop that devastating federal tax hike on Michigan employers.” Public Acts 267 and 268 will pay back the $3.2 billion that Michigan’s unemployment fund owes the Federal Unemployment Insurance system through a 10-year, tax-exempt bond. “I sponsored these reforms because allowing a tax increase on employers in our state just as our economy is rebounding would have been disastrous,” Jansen said. “I also ensured the bills were part of a package to stop fraud, waste and abuse in the unemployment system. These new laws create a more efficient system, free of debt. This encourages job growth and investment because it lifts burdens off of job creators.” Public Act 269 includes reforms that will deter fraud, prevent overpayments and encourage workers to seek employment before exhausting benefits. “It’s important to point out that restoring the state’s unemployment insurance system, which is entirely funded by employers, will also ensure honest workers who lose their jobs will still receive the same amount of benefits,” said Jansen.