July 30 2009

Have a blast fighting crime with National Night Out

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

  Party is Tuesday, August 4 Join several hundred of your closest neighbors Tuesday, August 4, as the City of Rockford celebrates National Night Out from 6 to 8 p.m. Chief Dave Jones said with the Night Out party and Blues on the River, there will be a lot to see and do in downtown Rockford. The celebration is part of a national event in its 26th year. It was designed as a campaign to take back the streets from crime. “Stop in and see what we are doing in crime prevention,” Jones invited the public. Rockford Police, Kent County Sheriff deputies and Michigan State Police troopers will be on hand while the public enjoys free hot dogs and refreshments, snow cones, activities and a huge homemade cake baked by a Rockford officer’s mom. Jones said a brave officer will be in the dunk tank waiting to get dumped in by youngsters (or adults), with good aim. Last year visitors were able to see confiscated drug vehicles now used by police. This year, again, there will be child fingerprinting and bicycle helmets, booths from the seven Rockford Neighborhood Watch associations, and lots of activities.   Jones said Rockford’s party is unusual. Here all watch associations come together for one big party. “It’s nice because they can meet and talk with each other and find out what they are doing for crime prevention,” he said.   Jones said the City Neighborhood Watch is always looking for block captains for the organizations. Designed to promote safety through communication within neighborhoods, the program requires little in time commitment, but pays off big in safety. “In Rockford we aren’t taking our streets back from crime, we are fighting to keep our streets the way  they are,” Jones said. The first Rockford National Night Out was in 2005 and held at City Hall. This year the event will be behind Rockford’s courthouse on Main Street (the old Northland Pontiac new car lot). “It just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Jones said. If the day is a hot one, kids will enjoy running through water provided by Rockford Fire Department trucks. “Firefighters like to spray things with water, so if it’s hot I’m sure they will do that again.”

New contract approved for Rockford staff, police

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

Two city employee contracts were approved Monday, July 20, by the Rockford City Council, covering employees of the police department and public works. Both groups will receive two percent raises for each of the first two years of the contract. The police department union will also receive a two percent raise for the third and final year of the contract. Although their contract is also for three years, public works employees opted to revisit and renegotiate the wage issue after two years. Rockford currently has seven full-time police officers who earn between $42,000 and $51,100 annually, depending on their length of service. Most have been with the city three years or more, putting them in the top wages category. Officers’ annual earnings will rise to between $42,500 and $53,200 by the end of the three-year contract. The police department also employs four reserve police officers working less than full time. Reserve officers currently earn between $14.50 and $16.80 per hour. Under the new contract, those hourly wages will rise to between $15.15 and $17.47 per hour by the third year. Reserve officers hit the top of the pay scale after they’ve been with the city for two years. Salaries for Police Chief Dave Jones, Lieutenant Scott Mazur and Sergeant Mike Miller are not covered under the union contract. Water plant and other City laborers currently earn $30,300 annually to start and up to $39,800 for those with at least four years of service. Under the new contract, annual earnings will rise to between $30,970 and $40,600 at the end of two years, at which time wages will be renegotiated. Salaries for Department of Public Works Director Mike Bouwkamp, Supervisor Jamie Davies, and Foreman Phil Vincent are not covered under the union contract. The new contracts also addressed health insurance. Currently, full-time officers and public works employees contribute five percent to health insurance premiums. Under the new contract, that percentage will rise to six percent in 2010, seven percent in 2011, and eight percent in 2012. City Manager Michael Young acted on behalf of the city in the union negotiations, which began early in 2009.

Birds that ‘kill for a living’ star in show

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

  Wildlife researcher Joe Rogers has a lot to say about birds, and kept even the youngest attendees fascinated. Of course, talking while showing off a live raptor keeps things exciting. Rogers visited Wild Birds Unlimited on Northland Drive on Saturday, July 25. He brought live, rescued birds of prey to demonstrate during his educational talk. Included were owls, hawks and a turkey vulture. Rogers shared many reasons our birds are on the decline in Michigan, and told how every resident can do simple things to help our feathered friends thrive. He also told stories along the way. Among his key points is the great importance of providing nesting boxes for birds. Dead wood is often removed in our forests, but they are key habitat for bird families. Rogers said he and volunteers once put up 80 nesting boxes on a property. In the first year, over 60 were occupied. The birds Rogers uses for demonstrations are all rescued birds who cannot be released back into the wild. While showing off a turkey vulture—a very clean bird—he warned onlookers of the birds’ defense. When turkey vultures eat too much they may be unable to fly. If an animal approaches, such as a coyote, the vulture vomits on them. This startles the attacker and makes the bird light enough to fly away.

Rockford Montessori Preschool joins RPS childcare program

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford Public Schools (RPS) is extremely excited to welcome Rockford Montessori to Rockford Childcare Services this fall. Rockford Montessori, formerly known as White Pine Montessori, will join the team of preschool programs available through Rockford Childcare Services this year. Jane Downs, owner and teacher of the former White Pine Montessori, will continue to serve as the lead teacher for Rockford Montessori. Downs has 25 years of experience, and RPS looks forward to her continuing dedication to teaching young children. The Montessori program introduces children to a variety of areas of learning, including practical living skills, sensory education, language, math, science and cultural activities, art, music and movement. Hands-on activities are designed to help young children develop a sense of order, concentration, coordination and independence in a joyful, child-centered community. The program is designed for 3- to 6-year-olds and will resume classes in September. There are still openings in both the morning (8:30-11:30) and afternoon (12:00-3:00) sessions. If you are interested in learning more about the Montessori program, the classroom will be open to visitors on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 1-2, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Rockford Public Schools Community Services building, 350 N. Main St. Please call the Childcare Services office at (616) 863-6560 for more information.       Other preschool options available through Rockford Childcare Services include Rockford Community Education Preschool, Child Development Lab Preschool, and Hola Amigos Spanish Immersion Preschool.

Birthdays – August 1-7

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

1st            Katharine Laage, Jackie Phillips, Millie Post  2nd            Gail Butterfield, Jackie Cook, Mary Eadie, Andrew Gauss, Vera Paepke  3rd            Sally Waite  4th            Jeff Eckert, Norma Zimmer  5th            Jason Berris, Patricia Frye, Calum Spoelma,Jonathan Stotz, Michell Tidey 6th            Geneva L. Amato  7th            Tiny Caswell, Julie Gulliver, Betty Linemeyer,Dee Maksim, Norine Osburn

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