Rockford’s Danielle Thompson just made her dream come true. The 12-year-old dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 30th Annual AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Thompson took on over 20,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,386 qualifying positions. “The Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn’s is the event every motocross racer in the country wants to compete in,” said Event Director Tim Cotter. “A win at the Amateur Nationals gives a rider instant national notoriety and can serve as a springboard to a lucrative professional motocross career.” Most of America’s top professional motocrossers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath, have won AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s. The race is so prestigious that last year, teenage stars Dean Wilson of California and Eli Tomac of Colorado were awarded premier professional contracts for the 2010 season. Thompson, who attends North Rockford Middle School, has been riding since she was four years old. With the help of sponsors such as MichiganMotoX, Ashlee Sokalski Braap Fund and The Jant Group, who help pay her way to the races, Thompson has had the opportunity to pursue her dreams. She has won numerous races in the last eight years and competes nearly every weekend at tracks all across Michigan. She is currently ranked first in the state in the Great Lakes Motocross series, Women’s Junior class. Thompson is just one of the over 20,000 who spent the last four months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in area and regional qualifiers earn a birth into the national championship race at Loretta Lynn’s. Racers may enter a wide variety of classes, from minicycle classes for children as young as four, all the way up to a senior division for riders over 50. There are also classes for women and classes for both stock and modified bikes. The track is built on a section of Loretta Lynn’s Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. The course contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers. Thompson will make the long journey to Tennessee along with her parents and friends, which runs […]
June 30 2011
Market open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 7 p.m. Fans of Rockford’s fabulous farm market can visit more local vendors mid-week now that Plainfield Township Farmer’s Market is up and running. The market is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. and offers plenty of opportunity for fresh, locally grown goods and produce, and more. The trend for locally grown produce has many towns opening farm markets and is not only an affordable way to purchase the freshest fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies and jerkies, but also a chance to learn about the people who are providing the products. A visit on Thursday, June 16 found the market busy and merchants having a good time talking with shoppers. Mike Kibler was on hand offering samples of jerky made from his wife’s family business, 20th Century Market. The business, in the third generation of owners, has been in the same location at 610 Bridge Street in downtown Grand Rapids since 1906. A picture shows the shop in the days of horse-drawn buggies and cable cars. Kibler said his wife makes the jerky and his father-in-law makes “everything else.” He said the market is one of few that make their products in-house, and specialties include Polish kielbasa, German wieners, and Kiscka, a product originally made with blood, not with synthetic blood. He said it is very difficult to find anywhere else. Among local merchants Rockford shoppers may already know was Christina Purvis of Old World Olive Press, who is normally found in her shop at 65 E. Bridge Street in downtown Rockford. Purvis said business was going well at the market, although the day was a little chilly. Purvis partners with other local businesses, such as Reds on the River, to provide classes on the many uses of the olive oils, vinegars and spices available at her shop. The versatile ingredients can be combined in amazing and unexpected ways, such as vinegar and ice cream for a truly unique and delicious dessert. Merill Post from Post Farms was offering lovely and aromatic peonies and delicious jams. Red raspberry, blueberry and honey were among the flavors offered. Post said the family farm originally numbered in the hundreds of acres and was first settled after sale of the […]
by BETH ALTENA Courtland Township Fire Chief Micky Davis used a training practice as a chance to remind the public that cars are not a mobile shield of armor and to always be vigilant about safety while driving. On Thursday, May 26, Courtland and Montcalm firefighters used a car donated to the department to practice techniques to release people trapped in cars. The practice took place in the parking lot of Courtland Township Hall, 7450 14 Mile Road (M-57). Davis described to the other firefighters the importance of disconnecting the car’s battery during a rescue. He said making sure the airbags don’t deploy during the extraction is important. He advised putting a blanket over victims before breaking glass or if they are in a position to be injured by the rescue process. Davis was especially happy to work with a new cutting tool with the flexibility to turn in tight places. That piece of equipment normally costs $4,000 new, but the department was able to obtain a demo for considerably less. Another new piece of equipment for the department is a new electronic light system that can be activated either from the fire station or the Rockford Ambulance substation located next door. When a call for service comes in, firefighters or paramedics are able to activate a sign board on the road, warning drivers that rescue vehicles are entering the roadway. According to Davis, it is another safety factor for the first responders and was purchased and installed by the Kent County Road Commission. After the demolition, which included opening all four doors, breaking all the windows and taking the roof off the car, Davis had it displayed in front of the township’s sign with the message “Your Safety First.” Davis said he also plans to have a message warning drivers not to text while behind the wheel. He said texting while driving has become a major problem in recent years.
Alex Quinn, a 2011 graduate of Rockford High School, was recently awarded a $2,000 scholarship by the Rosa Parks Foundation. Quinn was honored at a luncheon June 16 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation is dedicated to awarding scholarships to Michigan high school seniors who hold close to Parks’ ideals while demonstrating academic skills and community involvement. The foundation’s vision is to be the leading force in empowering and inspiring youth to reach their highest potential and advance the legacy of Rosa Parks. “Rosa Parks devoted her life to creating access and opportunities for everyone, and the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation’s goal is a reflection of that,” said Delora Hall-Tyler, president of the foundation. Quinn submitted an essay outlining his vision of a society, which is inclusive of those with special needs. He sees the lonely life that many of these individuals lead when they are left out of the daily life of the general population. While society has become much more accepting of those with special needs, peers rarely initiate social interactions outside of face-to-face encounters. Segregated programs provide many services and opportunities for skill growth, but they do not foster inclusion and often perpetuate the isolation from peers and reduce the potential for a future independent life. These special individuals have so much to offer those who take time to know them, and they long to do many of the same things that others may take for granted: be invited to a movie, sleepover, sports event, dance or just hang out. The only real barrier is, typically, a lack of awareness or understanding by the general population, because those with special needs are, often, effectively out of sight and out of mind most of the time.