When Rockford’s court opens for business, it will be just one day a month and only handle small claims cases, according to Rockford City Manager Michael Young. Young said the court administrator, Donna Gilson, informed Rockford’s police chief of this latest news in the five-year saga of court consolidation. Rockford and Kent County are in a lawsuit over the issue of whether the former Rockford court can be consolidated to one location. Rockford believes a ruling that said a court must be located here, Kent County believes the presence of a court can be less than a full-service court with a judge. The case has gone through appeals and Rockford has asked the state supreme court to hear the matter. “It’s time to move on,” said Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio. “Two out of three decisions said what the county is doing is legal and appropriate.” The remodeling of the former court building here in Rockford is nearly, if not already, complete, and Young said he has not heard when it will be open for business. He said he has not been informed by the county what hours it plans to operate since a letter last July. At that time the county proposed a magistrate in the court building all day Monday, and half days Wednesday and Friday. It could handle small claims, informal traffic hearings, payments on criminal cases, traffic tickets and/or payment of small claims filing fees. “We already weren’t happy about that,” Young said. He said the county spent at least $55,000 remodeling the building, which it sold to the City for $20. In the transfer agreement the county retained use of a portion of the building for a court presence. “Why even do it?” Young said of offering a one-day-a-month court. “It defies logic.” He said this action proves the need for the supreme court to spell out exactly the terms of a court requirement according to the state constitution. “The court does say you have to have a court presence here,” said Young. “Apparently the county is going to have the absolute minimal presence possible.” Delabbio said Judge Smolenski is within her rights as chief judge to decide how much court presence Rockford will have. “It’s really up to the […]
Calling all volunteers … Habitat for Humanity of Kent County has kicked off a build in North Kent County on Tuesday, March 31, and volunteers are needed. Absolutely no experience is required. Habitat has plenty of jobs at all skill levels, including framing, siding, painting, land scaping, work site assistance and clean up, meal prep, and more. To work on site, you must be 16 years or older. Construction will continue through June 20. Sign up as a group, or come out and meet new friends. Habitat guarantees you will find this to be a most rewarding experience. Shifts are two, four or eight hours long – construction runs during the week and from 8 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Weekday volunteers are in high demand. For more information and a construction schedule, contact: Colleen Mahon-VanDoren at 774.2431, ext. 224, or check out www.habitatkent.org. In 2008, HFHKC celebrated its 25th anniversary by building its 250th home. Habitat Kent builds all LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) homes, making them one of our nation’s leaders in the construction of affordable environmentally sound homes. In 2006, Habitat Kent built the nation’s first affordable LEED home, as recognized by the United States Green Building Council. Habitat homes are not “given away;” homebuyers invest 300 to 500 hours of “sweat equity” with Habitat prior to assuming responsibility for 25-year-mortgage. To qualify, homebuyers must earn between 25-60 percent of the area median income.
Dear Editor, Regarding the proposal to move Michigan’s wetland permitting and enforcement from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to the federal government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Corps of Engineers (COE): Representative Tom Pearce in the March 5, 2009 Rockford Squire stated, “This is an issue that needs to be decided on facts, not emotion.” I agree with that comment, however the “facts” do not support this move. In February, I provided Governor Granholm, Representative Pearce and Senators Jansen and Hardiman and several other key representatives comments on the proposal and referred them to two federal documents published in late 2008. Those documents are titled Stagnant Waters: The Legacy of the Bush Administration on the Clean Water Act and Decline of Clean Water Act Enforcement Program. Both of these reports conclude the EPA/COE are not doing an adequate job of protecting our nation’s wetlands in their permitting and enforcement process and have insufficient resources to pursue Clean Water Act investigations and enforcement actions. Most permits are issued by DEQ in less than 90 days. The average permit is issued in 60 days. It is my understanding permits issued by the EPA/COE takes 600 to 700 days with many exceeding that. And, federal law does not protect 930,000 acres of small wetlands presently protected by state law and local ordinances. I also referenced them to a paper from Grand Valley State University titled Integrated Valuation of Ecosystems Services Tool. The report details the economics of some land uses in a seven-county west Michigan area including Kent County. The report examines the value generated on a per acre basis for the benefits derived from wetlands including recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, nutrient recycling, waste assimilation, erosion control and water supply. The total value for the 58,579 acres of wetlands in the seven-county study area is estimated to be $81,483,097. All of Michiganís wetlands are obviously worth hundreds of millions when all of Michigan’s 83 counties are included. Following his comments to the Squire on March 5, Representative Pearce on March 10, 2009 introduced HB 4542 for the purpose of turning administration and enforcement of Michigan’s wetland laws back to the federal government. It would appear he already had all the facts of his choosing for […]