July 7 2011

‘Playing in the mud’

November 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford DPS quick to fix broken pipes The news comes right to the front door at The Rockford Squire newspaper. Bright and early Tuesday, July 5, a wet front parking lot dampened any lingering holiday cheer. Water coming up from under the sidewalk area was addressed by crews from the Rockford Department of Public Services (DPS). The DPS team cut through the road surface and used a backhoe to pry up chunks of the surface. They then dug down in search of the service main suspected of the leak. One DPS staffer said they suspected a service main break instead of a main pipe break, because of the lower volume of water coming from the problem area. He said main breaks often shoot water into the air. One main break in front of Parkside Elementary School years back caused jets of water to lift the entire surface of the road into the air, he reported. In mid-afternoon, Advanced Hydrovac brought in a truck and sucker hose to vacuum out the water and mud from the sizeable hole DPS had created. The truck and hose system, called a “mud dog,” allowed the workers to reach the valve cutting off the flow of water to the break. By the time the newspaper was put together for the night and sent off to the printer, the break had been repaired. According to DPS crews, they stay on the job until repairs are complete. “We like to play in the mud, or we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing,” one crew member said.  

Rockford Farm Market currently in first place in Michigan

July 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

So far, so good in nationwide Farmers Markets Contest by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Kim McKay, Rockford City Treasurer who also serves as Rockford’s Farm Market Administrator, could not contain her glee when she informed the Squire, “I can’t believe it! The Rockford Farm Market currently leads all other markets in the state of Michigan and is in third place in the entire nation in our small market category of the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets Contest.” McKay had just gotten off the phone with the good news as conveyed to her by Gretchen Hoffman of the American Farmland Trust, sponsor of the annual nationwide contest. “This call has really stoked my competitive nature,” said McKay. “We can’t rest on our laurels. There’s still nine weeks left before the August 31 contest deadline. We need to reach out to each and everyone to keep the ball rolling in order to turn out the voters.” McKay was preaching to the choir, as we, in representing The Rockford Squire, have been staunch advocates of the iconic Rockford Farm Market since the day it opened some 10 years ago. The Rockford Farm Market is the essence of “Pure Michigan.” All goods sold at the Saturday morning markets are either Michigan grown or Michigan produced, all locally from West Michigan. It is a destination market with people traveling from all over, not just locally, to purchase freshly picked and healthy farm produce produced by local farmers. People appreciate that the Rockford Farm Market does not have a carnie or flea market atmosphere by not allowing food vendor trucks or craft stalls. They love it just the way it is and for what it is, “…a friendly Saturday morning tradition where not just residents but people from afar gather to participate in what has become a social phenomenon along with the opportunity to purchase the very best of what Michigan farmers and producers have to offer,” said McKay. What’s not to like? The beautiful downtown Rockford Farm Market venue sits astride the White Pine Trail and the Rogue River in a garden-like setting unlike some other market venues that are plunked in the middle of a huge barren parking lot or a trampled farm field. ‘Nuf said. Rockford is all about […]

Park plans expand to bring Rockford a dog festival

July 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Happy Hounds in downtown may become an annual dog-centered festival if dog park planners are able to pull it off. Organizer Tom VanderSloot described his vision during an evening planning session held at the Rockford Public Schools Administration Building Thursday, June 30. VanderSloot would like to see a Relay for Life-type event at the track field of North Rockford Middle School—except centered on canines instead of cancer prevention and education. He described a fun, festival atmosphere with booths from vendors and sponsors, music, entertainment, contests—such as a dog costume competition—dog demonstrations and featuring a walk around the track, down a short route through downtown Rockford and back to the track. VanderSloot came up with the idea after hearing about a similar event on the west coast. He’s had the idea for years after noticing what a “doggy” town Rockford is. In the Harvard Hounds festival in Washington, the funds raised are split between an animal benefit organization, such as the Humane Society, and one that benefits humans. VanderSloot suggested first raising funds for the dog park and North Kent Community Services. The Harvard Hounds event raises $50,000 each year. VanderSloot didn’t think the event here, especially in its first year, would raise anywhere near that much but may significantly contribute to the total of $12,000 that dog park organizers have been tasked with raising. Funds from the festival could come from sponsorships from Top Dog on down financially through categories such as Show Dog, Working Dog, Companion Dog, etcetera for the amount of money pledged, from businesses buying booths and from registration fees to participate in the parade and day’s events. In February, dog-walking friends Marlene Clark, Nancy Seeley and Emily Weinmann began collecting signatures of residents who are in favor of dedicating currently unused park land in Rockford to a dog park. A former ball diamond south of Picket Park off the Rogue River would allow a fenced park about 160 by 180 feet. It would be divided into two sections, one for large and one for small dogs. The dog park organizers had asked the Rockford City Council if there was interest by the City in creating the park and had an estimated budget of $20,000 for the project. Council […]

Scouts tour fire station to earn safety badge

July 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

Rockford has a fire department that is unlike many others, Boy Scouts from Troop 264 learned during a tour of the station on Thursday, June 21. Firefighter Robert Berkstressor welcomed the youngsters and told them he is a believer in the value of Scouting and earned the organization’s highest honor of Eagle Scout in 1976. He said the lessons he learned as a Scout helped him in his career in the United States Air Force, and in his nine years as a Kent County Sheriff deputy before being hired full time in the Rockford Fire Department 17 years ago. Rockford’s fire department is what is called a “combination” department, a mix of full- and part-time and paid on-call firefighters. He said being a firefighter is a career for men and women, and Rockford has three women on its force. Berkstressor said Rockford used to have staff on for 24-hour shifts, but has changed its structure. Now fire personnel work 12-hour shifts and after hours wear a beeper in case a call comes in. Paid on-call firefighters respond to incidents such as fires, car crashes, illness, collapsed buildings (called confined space rescue) and more. Having a home escape plan in case of emergency is something every family can do to be more safe, Berkstressor noted. He showed kids and their parents the safety exits in the fire station should there be an emergency during the tour. Having a fire/smoke detector installed in the home in the recommended places is one of the most important safety steps everyone should take, he advised. He gave a half-dozen examples of fatal fires in which children and adults were killed, pointing out that in each there was no working smoke detector in the home. “A ten or fifteen dollar smoke detector could have made the difference in each of these examples,” Berkstressor said. In addition to having a smoke detector on each floor of a home, it is also important to have one in every room where people sleep. Berkstressor said smoke detectors used to require new batteries once a year, but now batteries last the lifetime of the device—about 10 years. “If you have one older than that, replace it,” he said. Other tips for fire safety include not […]

International exchange students coming to Michigan this fall

July 7, 2011 // 0 Comments

A local nonprofit exchange program is inviting local Rockford families to host international exchange students for the 2011-2012 school year. The teenage students come from over 30 countries and will attend local high schools. The students have their own spending money and insurance. Host families are responsible for meals, a place to sleep and a nurturing environment. STS Foundation has an experienced local coordinator that will supervise the student and support the family throughout the school year. Here are some of the incoming students who are requesting families: Justus comes from a town called Wessel near the river Rhine in Germany. He lives with his parents, his 18-year-old brother Constantin and their dog Hera. His dad is a geologist and his mom is a banker. Justus rides his bike to school where he enjoys science subjects, math and sports. After school he likes to go mountain biking, rowing or playing his cello. He loves biking and rowing, but is open to other sports in the USA. He has played the cello for 10 years. Justus also enjoys going hunting with his dad. His mother says that Justus is a peaceful, agreeable and considerate young man. His teachers describe him as being polite and respectful toward everyone at school. Bernice comes from Reunion Island, which is a French territorial island in the Pacific Ocean. She lives with her parents and twin sister Anais. She has a 23-year-old sister who is at college in Bordeaux. Bernice’s dad is a gynecologist and her mom is a midwife. Her favorite hobbies are running, pistol shooting, swimming, cooking and drawing. She also loves music and plays the piano most evenings after school. Her dad describes her as being smart, brave and athletic. Her teacher says that she is a motivated, hardworking student who will be a great ambassador for her country. For questions about these and other students, call or e-mail Julia Colingsworth at (616) 796-0553 or info@stsfoundation.org. STS Foundation is a nonprofit student exchange program that is dedicated to opening hearts and homes to exchange students around the world. For more information, visit www.stsfoundation.org.  

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