July 23 2009

Bragging bandit busted after blowing cash

July 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

Suspect bought drugs, gambled cash, fought off robbers with skateboard by BETH ALTENA After Gerard Michael Coulombe allegedly robbed the Lake Michigan Credit Union on Ten Mile Road, he showed off piles of cash to his friends, bragged about the robbery, and even showed online pictures from the security camera as proof he did it. In a federal complaint from the United States District Court in the case of Coulombe vs. the United States of America, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent outlines Coulombe’s actions before and after the Monday, July 13 robbery. On July 16, Kent County Sheriff officer Brad Mercer, a member of the FBI’s Grand Rapids Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force received a call from Detective Bryan Muir of the Kent County Sheriff Department. He had interviewed an inmate of the Kent County Jail who claimed to know the robber in the crime. Jerome Joseph Matthews said he was at Coulombe’s house the day of the robbery and he saw three large stacks of cash totalling $5,000 to $6,000. Coulombe was bragging about the robbery and pulled up online news showing surveillance shots as proof. Coulombe’s roommate was also present during the discussion. That roommate, Nicholas Lynn Pyle, told officers he drove Coulombe from their Grand Rapids home to a location near the credit union in his white Dodge minivan with Coulombe’s motorcycle in the back. He dropped  Coulombe off, who returned after about five minutes. According to Pyle’s testimony, Coulombe had large amounts of cash he hadn’t had when he left. The credit union reported it was robbed of $5,879 the day of the theft. A man entered, immediately started yelling at tellers to do as he said so no one would be hurt. He gestured with his right hand to draw attention to a gun in the waistband of his pants. He took money from the two tellers and left. Matthews said his friend had had an airsoft pistol and a BB gun at his home and had painted over the orange muzzles to make the guns look realistic. Pyle told officers that after Coulombe put his motorbike back into Pyle’s van he admitted to robbing the credit union. According to Pyle, the pair then drove to Car Lovers Car Wash […]

Fire closes Rocky’s for two days

July 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

    Rockford firefighters responded to a call late the afternoon of Friday, July 17, when an ice cream machine at Rocky’s, 110 N. Main Street, downtown Rockford, caught fire. It was just before 5 p.m. when workers noticed smoke and called in the emergency. Rocky’s owners showed up quickly and watched with evacuated employees as firefighters went inside to contain any possible burning and to fan out the smoky interior.   “We’ve been here 20 years and nothing like this has ever happened,” said owner Sally Gardener. The shop itself has been a mainstay in Rockford in the summer for about 35 years. “We’re just glad no one was hurt and the building didn’t burn down,” Gardener said. She said she was very grateful the fire started during business hours or the whole building could have caught fire.             Rocky’s had to close for the next day to clean the entire interior of the shop because of smoke damage. All opened food had to be thrown out and a new soft-serve machine ordered. The business reopened on Sunday, July 19.

Disposal rollover trashes truck

July 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

No one was injured but this truck was trashed in a one-vehicle rollover on Ten Mile Road Tuesday, July 21, just east of the intersection of Wolven Street. Witnesses said the waste hauler, heading eastbound, drifted to the edge of the road and then jerked before rolling. The driver was up and walking after the accident.

Wild Birds Unlimited offers free live bird program

July 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

“Looking an American eagle or great horned owl in the eye is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Laurie Tieman, who manages Wild Birds Unlimited, 5426 Northland Drive. The store will offer a free live bird show on Saturday, July 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. Famed wild bird rescuer Joe Rogers will bring approximately ten live rescued birds. “It’s really almost selfish on my part because I love the look on kids’ faces when they see these birds,” Tieman said. Rogers founded the Wildlife Recovery Association in 1975 and has been rescuing birds since. On his 200-acre farm in Shepherd, Michigan, he helps birds become ready for re-release in the wild. Those who will never be able to survive wild have a home there for life. It is some of these birds Rogers will bring. Rogers passion is wildlife research, radio tracking wolves bears and moose. He said that for 20 years his office has been remote campgrounds in the UP miles and miles from the nearest road. He loves to educate. “You can’t really bring a bear or a moose in for a show,” he joked. The birds are a show-stealer on their own, however. Tieman said children and adults are amazed to see the live creatures so close and there are plenty of photo opportunities, so bring a camera. Rogers said when his Wildlife Recovery was in its heyday they rehabilitated 800 to 900 birds a year. Now volunteers and funds are harder to come by and he has had to limit the number of birds he can save. Education is key in limiting the number of birds that need to be saved, he said. The birds he sees have been bumped by cars, but many are the victims of intentional injury. “Sadly, it seems to me that the first response children have when finding an animal in the wild is to kill it,” he said. He wonders if the violent electronic games kids play make them less compassionate. He also believes youngsters don’t get out in nature like they used to. He hopes seeing and hearing about wildlife will create interest or at least empathy. Nature is good for us, too, Rogers believes. “It’s not controlled, or directed. Being out in nature is […]

Rockford artist competing for world’s largest art prize

July 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

  Local artist among hundreds vying for $250,000 Linda Bassford of Rockford has entered her art in ArtPrize. She’ll compete with artists from all over the world for nearly one-half million dollars in prize money, including $250,000 to the artist who receives the most public votes. ArtPrize will run from Sept. 23 through Oct. 10 in Grand Rapids. ArtPrize will have no formal jury, curator or judge. The visiting public will register to vote and decide who wins the prizes, using mobile devices and the Internet. Bassford plans to enter a wall mural of a Michigan landmark, the lighthouse at Grand Haven. She says the mural for Degage Ministries in Grand Rapids was created to inspire patrons of the ministry who often take trips to Grand Haven during the summer. ArtPrize art works and performances, professional and amateur, will be exhibited at hundreds of venues, all within a three-square-mile area in Grand Rapids’ downtown riverfront district. The city has offered up parks and bridges for outdoor venue displays. Scores of businesses will convert lobbies and public space for displays. The Midwest city of nearly 200,000, and a larger metro area population of more than one million, will become an art gallery. Grand Rapids is the home of the internationally recognized Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, which showcases one of the world’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary sculptures, including pieces from well-known artists such as Moore, Oldenberg, Goldsworthy, Plensa and many more. In 2006, the city hosted a large-scale exhibit by Tom Otterness, considered one of the premier public artists, which attracted more than 750,000 visitors. The city recently built and opened the world’s first LEED gold certified art museum.             For more information about ArtPrize, go to artprize.org.

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