July 2 2009. Top News Stories

Conservation club works behind the scenes to protect environment

May 20, 2010 // 0 Comments

Anyone who enjoys a walk in the woods, a breath of fresh air, or a day trip to the lakeshore can be part of the team that keeps these places protected so future generations can enjoy them as well. It is as easy as a walk in the park. Members of Rockford’s chapter of the Izaak Walton League of American learned about a program for protecting our outdoors that any resident can help with. It is easy to appreciate Michigan’s great outdoors when spring is in the air and blossoms dominate woods and fields, but Ikes members have the outdoors on their minds all year round. Early this year, when the predominate landscape color was white, members enjoyed a banquet and silent auction and learned about the Michigan State University Michigan Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN). Speaker Melanie Good, stewardship coordinator of the Michigan Land Conservancy and president of the Grand Rapids Audubon Club, offered information about MISIN and the latest philosophy of fighting invasive species. Spring is a time when many invasive species are most visible. Starlings crowd birdfeeders, purple loosestrife blooms across wetlands, and the white flowers of garlic mustard blanket many woodland settings. Species such as garlic mustard overcrowd native plants such as our woodland trillium, bloodroot, wild ginger and mayapple. “How many of you have only noticed invasives when they are out of control?” Good asked the crowd of about 100 people at the annual banquet. She said invasives, unlike other forms of biologic disaster, threaten long-term, even permanent damage. When disasters happen, such as oil spills, time eventually will restore the habitat to its native condition. Invasive species do not allow similar healing. Good said in some places, invasives such as garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed are so embedded it is likely hopeless to attempt to eradicate them. She advised instead a plan of early detection and rapid response protection. In Rockford a prime property to protect is the Maas Nature Preserve off Summitt Avenue, an oak barrens and habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. “We don’t live in the same world we used to live in,” Good said. Protecting land no longer means purchasing it and letting it alone. “We can no longer let nature take its course.” […]

Board lauds superintendent in annual review

February 25, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Board of Education issued the following summary of Superintendent Dr. Shibler’s performance evaluation, conducted on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010: Dr. Shibler is in the midst of his 21st year as Superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools. In the face of unprecedented financial constraints, he has again pursued and helped achieve his goal for the district of continuous improvement. The Education YES! grades for the district were all A’s for the fifth consecutive year. Student performance in academics and co-curricular activities continues to be exemplary. He maintains his role as an instructor for future educators and facilitates others on his staff to do so as well. The district has an unusually strong relationship with our surrounding community due to his skills as a liaison. Perhaps his most visible accomplishment, apart from his customary activities as superintendent, is his outstanding performance as chair of the KISD grassroots network. Legislation has been influenced and even initiated by him in Lansing. It is remarkable that he has accomplished all of this while spearheading a successful non-homestead renewal election. Dr. Shibler’s professional skills are second to none. Both generally and in a number of specialized educational fields, he is recognized as an expert on a local and statewide level. His philosophy of education can be summed up quite simply: Whatever is best for kids trumps all other factors. He is very professional and admired throughout the state. He is a phenomenal leader as evidenced by the number of individuals, both in his peer group and in the general community, who gravitate to his views on educational issues. Even if one conflicts with his position, he or she comes away with renewed respect for him. He is in almost constant demand as a spokesperson for education in West Michigan because he is extremely articulate, both orally and in his writing. Upon facing a new challenge, he is quick to perceive its parameters and pursue an effective approach to overcome it. He can be quite creative in his actions, with a voracious attention to detail. It should be noted that all of these attributes do not cloud his overall common sense that has served our district well. Dr. Shibler’s management style includes extensive and effective delegation of authority. As an […]

Put away bird feeders, garbage cans to keep yearling bears away

July 2, 2009 // 0 Comments

With mother bears leaving their yearling cubs in preparation for the breeding season, encounters with young bears attracted to backyard food sources are increasing across northern Michigan, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). As the young bears leave their mothers, they must look for food on their own for the first time. These young, inexperienced bears are often attracted to bird feeders, trash cans, pet food, grills and other items that smell like food as they learn to fend for themselves. To reduce the potential for attracting bears and habituating them to humans, DNR wildlife biologists recommend that any potential attractants be removed until the bear has moved on. “These young bears were recently driven away from their mothers and are looking for handouts. Yearling bears just don’t know any better than to come into a backyard with a bird feeder,” said DNR wildlife biologist Terry McFadden. “Anyone with a young bear in the backyard should demonstrate that their yard is a hostile environment by banging pots and pans together and even throwing rocks in the bear’s direction. It won’t take long to scare the bear off.” It is very rare for a bear to hang around without the lure of food sources, McFadden added, so be sure that all food sources, not just bird feeders, are subsequently removed from the area. With the cold start to summer, a late berry crop may also encourage bears of all ages to seek out food sources much closer to human populations than they would under normal conditions. “Trapping of bears will only be authorized by the DNR when there is significant damage to property, or a threat to human safety,” McFadden said. “A bear coming into a bird feeder, or even destroying a bird feeder, does not meet those requirements. We do not have the manpower to respond to every bear complaint, and we need everyone to do their part to reduce these interactions before the bears become truly habituated and are then considered a nuisance.” Anyone experiencing problems with backyard bears, and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of one to two weeks but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a […]