by KRIS DEYOUNG Loud music, famous bands, world-renowned speakers, thousands of fans and, most importantly, elephant ears are all part of this year’s Big Ticket Festival, which took place at Allegan County Fairgrounds June 14-16. The Big Ticket Festival is one of the largest Christian music festivals in the state of Michigan. It is a ministry run by the nonprofit Free Spirit Ministries and sponsored by many different entities including Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids. Each year upwards of 8,000 people come out each day for this family event, which truly has something for everyone. Each year some of the biggest names in Christian music hit one of three stages, impressing the crowds with their high energy and faith-filled performances. This year over 90 different artists performed, including hit artists such as Newsboys, Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath, Sidewalk Prophets, Shane and Shane, and many more. While taking in all the shows, families are also drawn to the multitude of other events and opportunities. Whether it is watching the Strongman team bend metal bars around their necks and rip phonebooks in half, or checking out the motocross dirt bikes defy gravity as they float back flips high above the crowd, it is three days of nonstop entertainment. There is even a special place for the younger kids (and the occasional adult) in the Kid Zone, which has every inflatable game you can imagine. At the heart of the festival are the ministries that seek to serve others, help those in need, and share the message of their faith. From toddlers to senior citizens, and everyone in between, the grounds are sprinkled with people who want to make a difference. The ministry of Operation Christmas Child, for example, allows festival fans to help stuff boxes filled with gifts and basic necessities to benefit kids in need around Christmas time. Many walk through the various tents like this one to see how they can play a part in helping someone in some way. It is love in action—truly a festival of fun, family, and a higher calling. “I learned that there is way more to a person than what meets the eye,” commented Beyond The Rock student producer Lynsey Bettig. This year Rockford High School (RHS) students, like […]
July 5 2012
by CINDY M. CRANMER Celebrating the accomplishment of a family friend typically does not involve a trip across the country and the opportunity to be part of the audience during the live season finale of “The Biggest Loser.” That is exactly what a Rockford family got to experience by celebrating the victory of Jeremy Britt on “The Biggest Loser.” Mike and Linda TenBrink, along with their son Graham and his fiancée Katie Couturier, traveled to California to watch Britt become the winner of season 13 of “The Biggest Loser.” Britt’s sister, Conda, took third place in the live finale that was broadcast to millions of television viewers in early May. Jeremy, 23, lost 199 pounds during the season, dropping his body weight to 190 pounds. Conda, 24, lost 115 pounds for her third-place finish. “This year’s Biggest Loser season was an amazing journey for Jeremy, Conda and their family and friends,” said Mike TenBrink. “We feel very blessed of having been afforded the opportunity to be in the audience for the finale in order to support Jeremy and Conda, and view it as one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.” Mike said Jeremy demonstrated many qualities during the season and the show’s finale, but the one word he always thought best described Jeremy is “loyal.” “Jeremy has always been loyal to his friends and his family,” Mike said. Linda said their family got to know Jeremy as Graham and Jeremy graduated together from Rockford in 2007. “We have known him for about 10 years,” she said. The TenBrinks said they got to know Conda and Jeremy’s family through the season and better through the trip. “Jeremy was always so funny. He always had a story to tell,” Linda said. “About six years ago, I was watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ on TV and Jeremy was at the house. I told him to check out the show, as they lost weight and had the opportunity to win money, cars, etc. Jeremy was a baseball player when he was young and had athletic abilities. I told him that he should try out for the show because he could win.” Linda said trying out for the show was a long process and both he and Conda didn’t want to get their […]
by BETH ALTENA One year after beginning an investigation into the potential leak of contaminants on the Wolverine Worldwide (WWW) former tannery site and surrounding areas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has returned authority to local agencies while reserving the ability to resume control if necessary. The EPA was petitioned June 2011 by three Rockford residents, Lynn McIntosh, Grant Medich and Gail Mancewicz. In a June 27 letter to Wolverine attorney Michael Robinson, the EPA states that the federal Preliminary Assessment requested by citizens on June 21 has been completed. The letter states that under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) the EPA has one year to conduct a study unless it determines that such assessment is not appropriate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and EPA’s Superfund Removal Program participated in the assessment and found: “Elevated levels of several inorganic contaminants have been detected in the surface and subsurface soils in portions of the Site. Chromium, arsenic and mercury have been detected in sediment samples. Arsenic and chromium have also been detected in groundwater. It is likely that contaminated groundwater discharges to the Rogue River. However, the EPA has concluded that a CERCLA removal response action is not warranted at this time, since the concentration and quantity of known contaminants does not present an immediate and substantial threat of release.” The letter continues, noting that the site scored above 28.50 in the EPA’s Hazardous Ranking System and merits further investigation. On June 14 a letter from the MDEQ recommends further investigation under “Other Cleanup Authority.” “The EPA has concluded that such a referral is appropriate for the Site. MDEQ has based its request for referral upon receiving your [Wolverine’s] letter (date June 11, 2012) in which Wolverine Worldwide Inc. commits to working with the MEDQ.” With this decision in hand, WWW will develop an assessment plan to continue the evaluation of the property. The plan will be reviewed and approved by the MDEQ, and WWW will decide what further steps need to be taken, if any, based on the plan. In a letter dated June 14 from the EPA’s Nuria Muniz to the MDEQ, Muniz states that the property in question was operated as a tannery from 1908 to […]
The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated by request from the Michigan State Police to investigate a fire at Nelson’s Speed Shop, 4566 South Greenville Road, in Greenville. A fire was reported to the Montcalm Township Fire Department Friday, June 22, at approximately 1:30 a.m. Montcalm Fire reported heavy flames through the roof of the structure upon arrival. The Greenville Daily News reported that 11 fire departments and about 75 firefighters fought the blaze and cleared the scene 10-12 hours later. The fire reportedly started in the back of the business, where fuel and oil was stored. The structure and contents are a total loss. The structure occupies approximately 50,000 square feet and the total estimated loss exceeds $5,000,000. “ATF will utilize all resources available and necessary to help determine the cause of this fire,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Arron Graves. “Our activation of the NRT speaks to the seriousness of which we hold this fire. ATF along with our partners will work tirelessly to determine the cause of this fire.” This is the 10th activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2012 and number 731 since the inception of the team in 1978. The NRT includes 20 team members and arrived on scene on Monday, June 25. ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the Michigan State Police, the Greenville Department of Public Safety, the Montcalm Township Fire Department and the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Department. In addition to ATF NRT members, ATF is utilizing special agent investigators from the ATF Grand Rapids office as well as special agents from the Detroit Field Division. Nelson’s was also destroyed in a fire in 2001. Two men were convicted of arson in that fire, and a third with having knowledge of it and failing to report it.
Half of bracelet sale goes to school by BETH ALTENA Brighton is a company that does things the old-fashioned way and is always finding creative ways to give back to communities where their items are sold. This July, half of the sale amount of a beautiful red-white-and-blue bracelet with “I heart America” etched on the back will go toward the Rockford High School marching band. Brighton is pitching in $12 of the total purchase price of $48 and Kimberly’s Boutique is donating another $12. “We have 36 bracelets to sell, so the band could potentially receive a check for $864,” said Jane George of Kimberly’s. Staff at the store are excited about the one-month promotion, but owner Kimberly Smith isn’t surprised. She said Brighton is a company with which she is very familiar and such an act of generosity is not out of line. Kimberly’s has carried the Brighton line for over a decade and said the jewelry and handbags are always top of the line in quality and all carry a guarantee. She said the business, based in California, is family owned by Jerry Kohl and his wife, who were high school sweethearts. All items begin with a designer and a detailed sketch, and many are created in wood prior to actual production to make sure all specs are perfect. “The company actually started out over 30 years ago as a hand-tooled men’s belt company and just exploded out into purses, bags and jewelry,” said Smith. “Brighton charms are now becoming one of their biggest categories, with over 400 charms in stock.” She said Kimberly’s is the largest Brighton department in the area, so she is very familiar with the many products. Smith is so well known to Brighton as well that she was among vendors flown out for a personal tour of the facility and enjoyed a dinner out with the couple and some of their staff as well as enjoying a dinner at their own home during the all-expenses-paid visit. “They did that so I could appreciate the quality of their work,” she said. Each piece of Brighton jewelry undergoes a 12-step process from the zinc-based core. The base undergoes a ceramic core tumbling, two copper platings, a nickel plating, two silver […]