January 7 2010

Family Fare developers won’t appeal court decision

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

The legal battle over an intensive development off Northland Drive in Plainfield Township is over. According to Trustee Vic Mathews, the developers, BDR Inc., agreed not to appeal a decision against their proposed development if the township agreed not to pursue damages incurred from the lawsuit. Matthews said the township might have had a good chance to recoup about $17,000 it spent in excess of the $100,000 in lawsuit insurance coverage the case cost. However, much of that money would have likely gone back to the insurance company and pursuing the damages would require more legal proceedings and expense. The issue has been going on for years, after BDR proposed a development on 35 acres on the north east corner of Northland Drive and Seven Mile Road. Their plan included a Family Fare grocery store, a gas station open until midnight, restaurants, office space and medical offices. The township Planning Commission recommended not approving the Planned Unit Development (PUD), in part because it was not in accordance with the township’s master plan for the property. Family Fare representatives claimed the new location for the store was desperately needed and the existing store had no room to expand, or enough parking at its Northland Drive location just south of the Grand River. They claimed they were not consulted when new buildings, including a mattress store and coffee shop, were constructed in former parking lot space. They said nearby property owners were informed of the plans prior to construction, but as tenants, Family Fare had no notice until the buildings were under construction. Because of loss of parking and lack of room to expand the store at the current location, this new site was needed to serve Family Fare customers. They claimed demographics showed that only a store north of the Grand River would allow them to compete in the township for customers. The PUD was very nearly approved by the board of trustees in a 4-3 vote despite the Planning Commission recommendation against it. Trustee Rebecca Borek asked that the board and planning commission meet to hear the commission’s reasoning, and a subsequent vote by the Board of Trustees went against the plan 4-3. An active coalition of neighbors against the development packed township meetings during […]

Chips to fly at downtown’s first Ice Festival Saturday

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

Derek Maxfield of Ice Sculptures Inc. carves during ArtPrize last summer. Demonstrations, activities all free Another world-class event will be held in downtown Rockford this Saturday, Jan. 9, as the public is invited to enjoy a wintery day of family activities and the chance to see professional ice sculpture in action. The first ever Ice Festival is this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in downtown Rockford. Grand Rapids-based Ice Sculptures, LTD will have several professionals on hand with chainsaws, torches, irons and other implements of their profession turning ice into art during live ice-carving demonstrations from noon to 4 p.m. The company has been featured on Ripley’s Believe It or Not, has done work for the Discovery Channel, the Superbowl and the World Series. Those willing to venture out on a winter day in Michigan can see them at work live and free of charge. The live ice carving demonstration will take place on the deck by Reds on the River, but there will be other activities available for the day. “Kids are really fascinated by this,” said Randy Finch, co-founder of the company, who began in the unusual occupation during his work as chef at Cygnus. He said the art is an off-shoot of the culinary field, and he began to concentrate full-time on the sculpting in 1989. Since then he has found plenty of work. “If you have seen an ice sculpture around here, chances are it was ours,” he said. In addition to the live demonstrations of ice carving, the day’s activities include mini golf at Garden Club Park and the chance to view a horse and carriage sculpture in front of the Welcome Center (by Great Northern Trading Company). The 12-foot, 2,000-plus-pound creation is so large it has to be cut into pieces to transport and reassemble on site. Also at Garden Club Park, Great Northern Trading Company and Baskets in the Belfry are sponsoring a snowman photo booth where you can snap a unique shot through the ice snowman. Other contests will be to estimate the demise of the ice sculptures, and guess how many objects are frozen into one of the blocks of ice. Winners will receive prizes, when warmer weather puts an end to the ice […]

Girl makes rodeo All Star, magazine cover

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

Jessalyn Gingrich is no stranger to leaping off a running horse, tying goats or even competing nationally in rodeo. However, she isn’t quite as used to being featured on the cover of her sport’s international publication. Gingrich of Courtland Township is a repeat selection to the National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) All Star team. This highly prestigious accomplishment requires being in the top four in all of the rodeo categories in which she competes. She was also surprised that the association chose her picture for the front cover of the magazine, which is distributed in every state in the United States and also in several other countries. Born in November and riding by the following spring, Gingrich is a life-long horse lover and also a practiced rodeo competitor. On her horse Jax, and more recently Booker—the seventh-ranked rodeo horse in the state of Michigan—the Grand Rapids Christian School sophomore is pretty excited about this season’s accomplishments. “I wondered how he had a picture of me at nationals,” Gingrich said of the rodeo friend who first told her she was on the cover. Gingrich’s mother, Julie, said she is very proud of her daughter’s achievement. Rodeo is not only very competitive and requires year-round practice, it is also known for values of sportsmanship and teamwork. “This is one of the few sports where they actually help their competitors,” Julie stated. Her daughter, for example, borrows a roping horse and gear from another competitor for her roping events. The practice is common in the sport, and Jessalyn in turn loans out her horses during national competition. The NHSRA said Jessalyn was selected to the All Star team “based on leadership qualities, academic eligibility and athletic achievements.” Two years ago Jessalyn also earned All Star team status. “I didn’t make the All Star team last year:I had a rough go,” she said of her national competition scores. The next nearby event held by the NHSRA is an expo in March at Michigan State University. It is one of the largest Michigan events. “We invited Canada to come rodeo with us,” Jessalyn said. To find out more, visit the association’s website at www.mihsra.com.

Squire vacations in Mayan Riviera

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

SUNNY HOLIDAY—As beautiful as downtown Rockford was for the holidays, the Altena and Shipaila families still welcomed a ten-day trip to Mexico, their Christmas gift from the family matriarch, Sharon. Staying in the Mayan Riviera in the hotel Barccelo, they snorkled, seeing sea turtles, sting-rays and reef fish. They also enjoyed the unlimited food and drinks, shows and 80-degree weather. Pictured are Squire Managing Editor Beth Altena, Charles Shipaila, Will Altena, Melissa Shipaila, Hailey Shipaila, Mike Altena, Nathan Shipaila, Sharon Altena, Ethan Altena and Bill Altena.

Master storyteller one of Rockford’s treasures

January 7, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The sun had not yet risen last Saturday morning when long-time Rockford resident, Tom Rademacher, found himself ensconced comfortably at a table in front of the Coffee Ranch counter at Herman’s Boy. A regular at Herman’s Boy, Rademacher had been invited by his close friend, the store’s owner Floyd Havemeier, to hold a book-signing for the recently released “Splitting Wood” authored by Rademacher himself. After retiring last year from a 31-year career at the Grand Rapids Press, the last 21 years as a columnist, Rademacher chose and compiled his 100 favorite columns from the over 3,100 he had written into a first book. “Tom is one of Rockford’s treasures,” said Havemeier. “People were lined up outside the front door even before we opened this morning at 7:30 a.m.” Responding to the book-signing event that had been announced earlier in the week in both The Rockford Squire and the Grand Rapids Press, everyone wanted a copy of the book personally signed by the singularly popular award-winning columnist. The book is a compelling and uplifting easy read. They are the stories, for the most part, of everyday people authored by an everyday kind of guy. In a time when it seems that all one hears and reads in the media is economic gloom and doom, governmental dysfunction, and sky-is-falling weather forecasts, the columns featured in “Splitting Wood” are a breath of fresh air. The book is composed of 10 chapters in which the columns are categorized into 10 one-word titles, interestingly enough, all beginning with the letter L, opening with Life and moving on to Lilt, Legacies, Lore, Loss, Labels, Leagues, Losers, Lessons and ending, of course, with Love. There is something for every reader and leaves us, at the book’s conclusion, hoping that in the future other books may follow. There were a limited number of books left as the signing ended, and Rademacher personally signed each of those. They are available for sale at the front counter of West Michigan’s popular and eclectic Herman’s Boy, located at 220 Old Northland Drive in Rockford. A portion of the sale of each book goes to the Santa Claus Girls.

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