July 19 2012

Promotions a ‘milestone step in merger’

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

New leadership role defined for Rockford Safety Department by BETH ALTENA A “milestone development” in a new structure designed to save the City of Rockford and its residents over $200,000 annually took place Monday, July 9 during the regular Rockford City Council meeting. Three employees were promoted to the position of lieutenant and placed as leaders in their respective divisions of the Department of Public Safety. Rockford recently implemented a merger of staff trained to respond to emergencies—cross training former Departments of Public Works (DPW), Police and Fire to respond to fire calls and other emergencies. The merger is an unusual response to a decrease in funding that all municipalities are currently facing and which will sharply fall again if the Personal Property Tax is eliminated, according to City Manager Michael Young. Young said the idea to cross train staff was thoroughly considered prior to the gradual implementation of the new structure. Former Police Chief Dave Jones, now head of the combined Department of Public Safety, said, “I feel like a proud dad tonight.” Former fire captain Dan Vincent, Officer Dave Robinson, former DPW director Jamie Davies and officer Mike Miller all accepted promotions to lieutenant and leadership of their respective divisions within the new Department of Public Safety. Vincent will lead the paid on-call firefighters for the City of Rockford; Davies will continue his leadership of the Department of Public Works staff, who are now trained firefighters; and Lt. Robinson and Miller will together lead the combined police and firefighting staff, who also are or will be cross trained as police and firefighters. The merger is unique to Rockford, where staff developed the model to make best use of men and women who are already working for the City. All DPW workers were first trained as firefighters. This saves the City money because staff already out maintaining the City, hanging the banners, working on parks, and doing the other jobs required in town, are now trained to respond to emergencies. The restructuring, described as a merger of three formerly distinct divisions of police, fire and DPW, has been working flawlessly for several months. Currently full-time firefighter Robert Berkstressor is attending a police academy, after which he will be both a trained firefighter and police […]

Rockford unanimously approves NKSA agreement

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

City joins Cannon Township in agreement that is expected to save money, improve services by BETH ALTENA “This does not sound like an exciting item, but it is very exciting,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. Young was describing a proposal before the board for cost-sharing different elements of the North Kent Sewer Authority (NKSA), including maintenance of components such as pipes and lift stations and routine or emergency repairs. “A lot of people think we founded the NKSA in order to build the treatment plant. [Building the plant] was an exciting opportunity along the way and we took it, but that wasn’t why we formed the Authority,” he said Monday, July 9, during the regular monthly city council meeting. Young told the board the reason the NKSA was formed a decade ago was in response to what members considered less-than-adequate care of sewer infrastructure done by the County. “This is a big deal for us. It’s been a long time coming,” Young told council. “I am a firm believer in you can do a better job if you do it yourself. I highly recommend we approve this contract.” The board unanimously approved the 10-year agreement with a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Brien Dews and a second by Councilwoman Mary Eadie, who has served on the council for 35 years. Members of the NKSA include the City of Rockford and the townships of Alpine, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. Together the member communities formed the alliance in 1997 and together built a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant on Coit Avenue in Plainfield Township, which began operations in 2008. Included in the agreement are provisions for jointly held elements of the NKSA infrastructure, including pipelines used by all members, and individually owned parts, such as pipelines and lifts which are within township boundaries and used by each township. Staff at the PARCCside Wastewater Treatment plant have been working closely with Kent County Department of Public Works to seamlessly transfer operations from the County to NKSA. NKSA staff of four has increased by one former County worker familiar with the job and will increase by two more after hiring Gary Seger, utility services superintendent, and one additional staff member to perform the new duties.

Bluebirds of happiness at home in Rockford

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Once nearly eliminated from Michigan due to a lack of nest cavities, bluebirds have made a remarkable comeback with the aid of bird enthusiasts who have put up thousands of bluebird nest boxes. In these nesting boxes the female builds a nest and raises two broods a year. For the second year in a row, we were fortunate enough to have a nesting pair of bluebirds in one of our two birdhouses. The second birdhouse had earlier successfully hosted a pair of nesting tree swallows. Sadly our pair of bluebirds lost their first hatch of incubating eggs to a marauding blackbird but, on the second time around, they succeeded in raising a brood of four juveniles. Bluebirds eat insects and fruit and because of this year’s severe drought our pair seemed to be having difficulty finding enough forage to keep the fledglings bellies full. Not to worry. As we did last year we purchased one of their favorite foods, mealworms, at a local pet supply store. We fed them every day, morning and evening, for nearly two weeks. Easily tamed, bluebirds will come to a shallow dish containing mealworms. Seated at the picnic table on our deck, we took the accompanying photos a scant 5 feet away from the bluebird feeding blissfully on the deck’s rail. In our experience, the male is the only one who comes to this dish. Sometimes he eats one or two himself, but most often he loads up his beak with as many mealworms as he can hold and then heads home to feed Mommy and the kids. Our family of bluebirds has flown the coop having brought us hours of bird-watching delight. If you are lucky enough to still have some nesting bluebirds on your property, inexpensive mealworms can be purchased locally at Chow Hound Pet Supply on Northland Dr. in Plainfield Township (next door to Family Foods).

Piece of Rockford history moves to new location

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

The building believed to have been the original home of Reverend David Johnson Gilbert was moved in May 2011 from its original location to a lot on the corner of 13 Mile Road and Ramsdell in Courtland Township. Constructed in 1842 on 12 Mile Road in Section 19, it is considered to have been the oldest home in Oakfield Township. Reverend Gilbert was a pioneer farmer and Methodist minister serving the area of Laphamville (later renamed Rockford) and brother-in-law to Smith Lapham, founding father of the city. The home was purchased with a large tract of land by Rockford resident and farmer Ron Porter in 1970. He later married and lived in the home with his wife Beverly for over 30 years. The Porters made a decision to build a new home in 2011 and hired Rockford custom home builder Tom Bruyn of Bruyn Builders Inc. for the job. Because of its proximity to the farm’s barns and outbuildings, the Porters wanted their new house positioned exactly where the old home stood. This led to a dilemma, especially for Mrs. Porter, who continues to have an emotional attachment to one of the oldest dwellings in the area. Fortunately, Bruyn also has an appreciation for historical buildings. After making a thorough inspection of the house and determining that it was in excellent condition, he purchased the building. Bruyn then began to separate the house into pieces. He walled off a rear addition and removed it from the main house. Then he removed the wraparound porch in two pieces. And then he hired a moving company. They loaded the main body of the house, the separated addition, the porch and a detached garage on trailers. Escorted by local police and Consumers Energy, the trailers made a slow procession down temporarily closed roads a mile and a half to where the home currently sits on a new daylight basement overlooking a small pond. Bruyn set an extraordinary pace finishing the Porter’s new house in record time in order to start work on putting Rev. Gilbert’s historical home back together. According to Tom Bruyn, the home (parts of which date back 170 years) was suspended on steel I-bars over the newly excavated basement area while the foundation was finished, […]

Rockford Brewing slated to open soon

July 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

Slow and steady wins the race. Rockford Brewing Co. partners are still aiming for a late summer opening of their signature microbrewery in the heart of downtown Rockford. The three tortoises Jeff Sheehan, Seth Rivard, and Brien Dews are crossing every ‘T’ and dotting every ‘i’ in order to achieve an authentic Northwoods Bavarian lodge look. Pictured is Rivard sanding newly erected timbers in what will be the “Public House”. The surface is being sanded in preparation for the installation of the bar’s countertop. The partners encourage everyone, whenever in town, to window-gawk their progress or, if the door is open, come inside and see for themselves. Rivard is probably wishing he had a stein in his hand and was proposing a toast the likes of, “This one’s for you – West Michigan!”

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