by BETH ALTENA With changes guaranteed to come to downtown with the closing of the Wolverine tannery, one Rockford merchant has a vision he believes would benefit Rockford. Herman’s Boy’s Floyd Havemeier is an idea guy, and he believes now may be the right timing for consideration of an arts and convention center for Rockford. “People have a yearning for nostalgia and history and we have such a rich history here,” Havemeier said. He believes a center with room for art shows, musical performances and historic and art displays would draw crowds. He also believes such a facility could be self-supporting. Havemeier is also willing to put some money where his mouth is and said he is in a position to purchase a 100-year-old carousel he would donate. At a recent Rotary meeting, members of the Rockford Historical Society were invited to hear from Dale Robertson, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Museum. He told the audience that museums offer much to communities and can be a boon to business and residents. He said, although museums rarely pay for themselves, they are an attractant. In 2007 museums brought in $2.2 billion in revenue to Kent County. Rockford already has a beautiful small museum located by the dam in a historic building (without water or plumbing). It is staffed by volunteers from the Rockford Historical Society. At one time an expansion was planned at a cost of $700,000, but funding was unavailable. Havemeier hopes for a center that could house the Historic Society, but much more. “A town that sells its history sells itself,” Havemeier stated. He said Rockford should and could promote the town’s lumber heritage, Indian heritage, shoe and tanning history as well as the arts. He pointed out the town is home to a world-class duck carver, nationally-known artists, and could do better promoting fishing and outdoor activities. He believes the proximity of Rockford to Grand Rapids would make it an ideal day trip to any number of organizations. Visits could be educational or for entertainment, as in concerts. “Tie it all up with a day shopping on the town,” he suggested. City Manger Michael Young said the concept is nice, but would be expensive. “We looked into this for the […]
July 9 2009
Some Kent County residents may receive an unsolicited letter from a company urging them to obtain an “official” or certified copy of the deed to their home, according to Kent County Clerk/Register of Deeds Mary Hollinrake. The letter from National Deed Service Inc. wants to make county residents $59.50 poorer by ordering a copy of their deed through them, rather than the official keeper of real property records for only $3 or less. County residents who want copies of their deeds need to know that they can obtain them directly from the Register of Deeds office. This can be done by either visiting the office at 300 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, or by going online to www.accesskent.com.
Phase II honored as Public Works Project of the Year It has been 20 years in the works, but has been worth the wait. The Rogue River Trail Phase II project has been named a Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA). “It is a great project, and it’s beautiful. It’s nice to know how we stack up nationally,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. The nature trail and boardwalk that residents have been enjoying since June 2008 at the northwest side of the Rockford dam is the second phase of three planned. The first part of the project was to the south of Ten Mile Road with a boardwalk and viewing and fishing platform. The third phase will be a continuation of the boardwalk up the Rogue River for another one-third mile. Ideally, Young would love to see a walking bridge over the Rogue River connecting the trail to the White Pine Trail. “That’s what our surveys show residents want, but it would depend on funding,” Young said. He also said a bridge over the river would have to be approved by the state. The City of Rockford, along with primary contractor Katerberg VerHage and primary consultant Paradigm Design Inc., will be presented with the award for the trail during APWA’s International Public Works Congress & Exposition held in September in Columbus, Ohio. APWA Project of the Year awards are presented annually to promote management and administration excellence of public works projects by recognizing alliances between managing agencies, contractors, consultants and their cooperative achievements. This year APWA selected 19 projects in five categories: Disaster or Emergency Construction/Repair, Environment, Historical Restoration/Preservation, Structures, and Transportation. The Rogue River Trail Phase II project received the award in the Structures category, less than $5 million range. The Rogue River Trail Phase II is the second phase of three to create a scenic trail along the Rogue River, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) designated trout stream, from the south side to the north side of the City. The project involves the development of a natural area that is nestled between residential properties and the Rogue River with the intent of preserving natural features and wildlife. More than 1,500 feet of trail […]
by CLIFF and NANCY HILL Last summer The Rockford Squire published a series of articles highlighting a cross-section of vendors at the Rockford Farm Market. There were no plans to continue the series this year, but a young couple has recently been awarded a coveted weekly slot at the farm market and theirs is a compelling story. Rachelle and Andrew Bostwick, owners of Earthkeeper Farm, no longer have to rise at 3:00 a.m. Saturday mornings to secure one of four to five stalls set aside for those not holding season-long reservations. Regular status makes life much easier as regulars need only to arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. to set up their stalls. The Bostwicks had the good fortune of replacing a vendor of dog treats who opted not to return this year. (Fear not, dog bones are still available at the Great Harvest Bread Co. stall.) Prior to purchasing their 20-acre farm, the Bostwicks had spent many a growing season working as apprentice farmers in places such as New York and as far away as Mexico and Spain. They did so working under an umbrella organization known as the Cooperative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT). In 2007, it was time to put their training and education into practice on their own newly purchased farm. Most young couples, when purchasing property, look for such things as the square footage of the home, number of bedrooms and baths, and a litany of amenities. Not so, this couple. Rachelle said, “Our number one criteria was the quality and fertility of the soil. So after looking at somewhere between 20 and 30 properties, we found what we were looking for on Fruit Ridge Avenue in Kent City, and embarked on a dream of becoming sustainable organic farmers.” Four of the 12 tillable acres of Earthkeeper Farm are currently in production. The remaining acreage consists of pastures and woodlots. During the growing season, they employ students and, as Rachelle laughingly says, “conscripted in-laws.” The Bostwicks strictly adhere to the principles of sustainable agriculture with a goal of, hopefully, starting the process of being certified as an organic farm in 2010. “Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, without causing severe or irreversible […]
by CLIFF & NANCY HILL and CHRIS CARLSON, RHS class of ’84 In covering the time capsule story in the Tuesday, June30, 2009 edition of The Rockford Squire, we communicated with Rockford High School (RHS) centennial class of 1984 members from all over the country and the world. One such ’84 graduate was Chris Carlson. Chris is the grandson of Ted Carlson, after whom the RHS football stadium was named the Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium (“The Ted”). At the RHS graduation ceremony in 1984 his proud father, Dave Carlson, who at the time was a Rockford School Board Member, presented Chris his diploma. Chris, now 43, works and resides in Tokyo, Japan. Chris knows a thing or two about the newspaper business. He is employed as the news bureau chief of the Far Eastern Division of the Stars and Stripes Armed Services Newspaper. We contacted Chris to see if he would share any memories of his RHS years and what, if anything, he might have placed in the centennial class of ’84 time capsule. Chris recollects what he placed in the time capsule and has a great story to go along with it. We loved the story and believe you will too, especially guys. This is superior storytelling, the likes of which you would seldom read in a “local” newspaper (except for the Squire, that is!). So here in an endearing and self-deprecating style is Chris’ story in his own words: In the time capsule there should be a poster of former Central Michigan University (CMU) basketball star Melvin “Sugar” McGlaughin. I doubt if anyone from my class will remember the story behind the poster, although there may be a couple of guys. Anyway, Melvin was guard out of Creston High who could shoot from downtown. When I was in high school, I remember watching him pour in 40-plus points during a couple of games at CMU. This was before Dan Marjerle put CMU’s basketball program back on the map. Although Melvin’s teams didn’t do much in the league standings, he always put on a show and he was my idol. As for me, during my freshman and sophomore years at Rockford I played basketball. Well, to say I “played” is overstating it. You see, […]