June 23 2011

Rockford Rams state baseball champs

June 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

The Rams did what they have done all year. They used quality pitching, solid defense and clutch hitting to grind out a win against the Temperance Bedford Kicking Mules in the state title game in Battle Creek on June 18. Four of the seven playoff games from districts to the state title game were one-run ballgames, and the Rams came out on top in all of them. They seem to have a “never say die” attitude and someone always steps up to do whatever it takes to get the job done. It was no different Saturday afternoon for the program’s first state title in baseball. Rockford was out-hit by Temperance Bedford (TB) 6-8, but not outplayed. The Rams faced one of the toughest left-handed pitchers in the state in Trent Szkutnik, but took advantage of walks, a hit batter and timely hits to beat him. The game began with TB getting on the board first by scoring a run in the first inning with two base hits. In the bottom of the first, Szkutnik walked the first three Ram batters to load the bases but then got two shallow fly balls and a strikeout to end the threat. Senior left-hander, Joe Kropiewnicki held TB scoreless in the second with a 1-2-3 inning. In the bottom of the second for the Rams, Ian Stankus was hit by a pitch and moved over to second base by an Andrew Rademacher ground ball. Drew Farmer came through with a base hit to score Stankus, putting the Rams on the board. Kropiewnicki threw another scoreless inning in the third, highlighted by Rademacher tracking down a deeply hit fly ball by Mules hitter Jackson Lamb at the warning track. In the Ram half of the inning, shortstop Shain Showers deposited a letter high fastball from Szkutnik far over the left field fence for a solo homerun to put the Rams ahead 2-1. In the fourth inning, the Mules scored one more with two outs in the inning when they had a triple, a walk and a single. That tied the game at 2-2. In the bottom half, the Rams threatened with two outs as well, when Farmer walked and Brandon Nostrant was hit by a pitch, but Szkutnik escaped any […]

Sponsors stepping up to Healing Fields memorial

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA United Bank’s CEO and president Art Johnson, honorary chair of the West Michigan Healing Fields, has stepped up to present his bank as Field Sponsor for the memorial tribute to those killed on 9/11. The bank gave the project a $10,000 check Tuesday, May 24. According to Nancy Martin, manager of the Rockford branch of United Bank, the area tribute to those lost in the terrorist attack is likely to result in national media coverage. Martin said the tribute will take place on the 10th anniversary of the attack—a milestone memorial—and this Healing Fields event will be one of the biggest in the country. “It’s very expensive to put on, but we felt we had to go full bore with it.” The parent organization of the West Michigan Healing Fields is the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), which put up the $50,000 required to stage the event. The public, organizations and businesses are invited to buy one of the three-by-five-foot flags at just $75, which are limited to 3,200—the number of people who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Martin said she is excited her company CEO wasted no time deciding to be a major sponsor and is already joined by such familiar names as Meijer, Grand Rapids Press, Ingraberg Farms and others. Flag sales are currently underway as well. “This is going to be so huge,” she noted. Johnson spoke during a press conference held at Cannonsburg Ski Area, where the display and associated memorial events will take place. He talked about the affect the attacks had on the country and the world and how all Americans’ lives have changed as a result. For United Bank, there was a personal connection to the tragedy. The legal team employed by the institution was located in the Trade Towers and every one of them lost their lives that day. Johnson himself, the former chairman of the American Banking Association, had been scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C. that day and had a late morning, so he postponed his flight. The flags will fly on eight-foot poles, a “living display of heroism,” which will be a temporary tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. Flags may be dedicated in honor of an […]

Tax assessors hang up ‘Gone Fishing’ sign

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Friday afternoon found the Kent County Assessors Association (KCAA) in Rockford holding their annual summer picnic. They hung up their taxman hats to enjoy an afternoon of food catered by Dam Dogs and Arnie’s Bakery Café (desserts) along with an expert fly-fishing demonstration.   Jeannie Kolenda, an appraiser in the Tax Equalization Department in Kent County, said, “We assessors regularly meet to provide one another with useful information related to assessment practices and to promote justice and equity in the distribution of the tax burden.” The picnic itself was held in the cozy confines of the Rockford Rotary Pavilion, after which the members moved to the banks of the beautiful Rogue River to receive, first hand, a basic tutorial in fly-fishing techniques from fisherman and outdoorsman extraordinaire, Rockford’s Glenn Blackwood. The 30+ members of the KCAA, representing various communities throughout Kent County, put current tax matters on the back burner while thoroughly enjoying themselves and Rockford.  

Ten Mile expansion to be delayed until 2012

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Members of the Rockford City Council were surprised to learn during their monthly meeting on Monday, June 13 that the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) has pushed back the timeline on expanding Ten Mile Road from three lanes to five. Because of restrictions on bidding portions of the project mandated by federal regulations, the project will not be started until Labor Day this year, much later than the original projected start date of June this year. City Manager Michael Young said he had talked to the KCRC Director of Engineering Wayne Harroll earlier in the day and was told portions of the project, such as the shoulder work, grading and setting signals, may be done this year with the bulk of the actual road work beginning in April 2012. The project originally was slated to begin in June and be completed by September this year.  

Council dedicates property for dog park

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

Organizers have one year to come up with funding by BETH ALTENA After passing last month on contributing city funds to development and maintenance of a public dog park on a former ball field at Richardson-Sowerby Park, Rockford City Council voted this month to dedicate the land for that use for one year. Organizers are confident they can raise the money needed to develop the 180-by-160-foot property into a dog park. In their May 9 meeting, City Council had considered helping to fund the park’s estimated $20,000 cost, perhaps splitting the difference with volunteers who have been hoping to forward the project. Bringing water to the property was $5,000 of the estimate, with the remaining $15,000 representing the cost of purchasing and installing fencing. City Manager Michael Young said it was possible to use Rockford Department of Public Services staff to do the work, which might have lowered the expense to $12,000. According to Young, volunteers had a commitment from Rockford Ambulance to raise $3,000 toward the project, and they had been working with pet supply companies in hopes of receiving more funds. Councilman Brien Dews last month questioned the speed at which the project seemed to be moving forward, considering other proposals, such as a skate park, were making no progress. Members of the audience also commented—one asking if the City couldn’t locate a dog or skate park on the property where Burch Body Works had been located. Another asked about liability and safety issues of a dog park. Young pointed out that the City does not own the Burch Body Works property and is not likely to budget the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be required to purchase that land. “The idea before you is: Do you want to pledge money for development of a dog park,” Young reminded council. “There isn’t a skate park group asking for money.” Councilwoman Mary Eadie said she was firmly against seeing a dollar of tax money going to a dog park and that she would vote against any City money going to the project. Dews also pointed out that City staff had been asked this year to freeze wages, including negotiated raises, and they had made that sacrifice. “I think maybe in these economic […]

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