March 10 2011

Restoring wetlands can equal cash—free seminar

March 11, 2011 // 0 Comments

Did you know that restoring wetlands on your property can put “cash” in your pocket? Do you own property that was historically wet but the natural drainage has been altered by the installation of ditches or agricultural drain tiles? Do you own marginal agricultural land that is often difficult to plant in the spring or harvest in the fall because of wetness? Are you interested in receiving technical assistance and cost-share money to improve wildlife habitat on your property by restoring wetlands? You could be eligible to receive between $2,000 and $5,000 per acre for land that is restored to a wetland and protected with a conservation easement! The Rogue River Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited Inc., in partnership with Timberland RC&D, the Kent Conservation District, the Izaak Walton League, and the Department of Environmental Quality, will be hosting a free wetland workshop for landowners at the Rockford Sportsman’s Club, 1115 Northland Drive, on Monday, March 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The workshop will highlight programs that assist private landowners to restore historic wetlands on their properties. Landowners that meet federal requirements may be eligible for wetland restoration payments that pay between $2,000 and $5,000 per acre in Kent, Newaygo and Ottawa counties. Hear from leading wetland experts including representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. If you have an interest in restoring wetland habitat on your property, this is the free workshop for you. Please RSVP by March 21 to Nichol De Mol at or (231) 557-6362.

Artist’s passion for environment lives on in book

March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Peter Wege finances educational efforts by BETH ALTENA Whether Rockford artist Mark Heckman’s billboards made people laugh or shocked them, they were always noticed. Now, after Heckman’s death in May 2010 at age 49, following a two-year battle against non-Hodgekins lymphoma, the passion that inspired him lives on in a book tour aimed at raising environmental awareness. With the financial backing of philanthropist Peter Wege, Heckman’s book “Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender,” illustrated by Heckman and written by best friend and author Mark Newman (check), is making its rounds throughout the country, spreading the message that every individual can make a difference in protecting our environment. “It’s something they both wanted to do for a long time,” said Heckman’s widow, Diane. Diane said she and Newman visit schools across the Midwest, presenting “Sooper Yooper” and providing teachers with lesson plans, worksheets and a copy of the book. They have presented their interactive road show in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, including right here in Rockford. “Sooper Yooper” features hero Billy Cooper, who purposefully is a hero lacking in super powers. This point is to emphasize that anyone, not those with special powers, can protect our natural resources. Billy chases down zebra mussels, sea lamprey and other threats to the environment. “Sooper Facts” offer some sobering statistics regarding the dangers of ballast water from interoceanic freighters that regularly visit the Great Lakes and the resultant 180-plus invasive aquatic species already entrenched in our waters. Diane said the presentation, often with the Heckman family dog, Tank—included in the book as Mighty Mac—has been given to over 7,000 children and will visit schools as requested at least through the year. The program is supplemented by an art contest offering scholarships to students. The illustrations are “typical Heckman,” Diane said. The artist worked on the book during his illness and refused to let his health darken his unconventional view of the world—a view he was always eager to share. Heckman was a nationally recognized artist whose work was featured on the pages of Times and Newsweek before the age of 27. He was commissioned to create the portrait of President Gerald Ford that hangs in the state capital. Much of his work had a touch of “shock value,” […]

Childsdale paper mill in the process of rezoning for new use

March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

Church considers rehabilitation of riverfront structure by BETH ALTENA On Monday, March 7, Plainfield Township trustees described the progress of a potential rehabilitation of a historic 17.58 acre property and former paper mill at 7700 Childsdale Avenue. BridgeWay Pastor Ron Aulbach said current owners, Rockford Paperboard Company, have offered to donate the waterfront property to the church, which currently meets at East Rockford Middle School. The ten year old church is considering using part of the existing structure and demolishing 60-percent of the building. BridgeWay has asked the township to rezone the property from light industrial to a Planned Unit Development. A public hearing on the proposed change will take place in April. The land last changed hands in December of 1998 when it was sold by Central Leasing to Rockford Paperboard Company for $432,000. Assessors have the value of the building today at $309,500 with a taxable value of $292,861. The structure is actually listed on tax rolls as five different buildings, an office building with 2,271 square feet, three additional buildings of 15,580 square feet, 10,000 square feet and 12,000 square feet and a warehouse of 65,800 square feet. According to Township Manager Bob Homan, the structure is an eyesore and a cobbled together monster that dates, in part, back to the original building of 140 years ago. “It is a terrible, horrible building,” he said. “It was probably a terrible and unsafe place to work. There are probably places better than that in Pakistan and and India.” Homan said the building has not been used in over a decade and then the owners were operating at the barest of margins. He also said it was added to over the years with no regard to code and “is like a ruin.” Aulbach said the donation depends on the results of environmental testing and the company the church is using is in the process of Phase I and Phase II evaluation. Phase I is an eyeball overview of the facility and Phase II will consist of water and soil sampling. He said the church estimates it will cost a million dollars to demolish much of the existing building and rehabilitate the remaining 40 percent on the easternmost side of the structure. “It’s kind of […]

Rockford woman takes on Ironman for orphans

March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

What does an ironman triathlon—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run—have to do with orphans? Just ask Rebecca Cruttenden, a Rockford resident and mother of three adopted children. “They have everything to do with each other! Orphans are the reason why I race!” Cruttenden said. Last year Cruttenden raced a half ironman and raised $10,000 to help pay for the adoption of a group of five siblings from the Philippines. They are coming home to a West Michigan family this spring. On May 21, 2011, Cruttenden will be competing in Ironman Texas to raise another $10,000 for another sibling group. Cruttenden represents an organization called Brittany’s Hope Foundation, located in Pennsylvania. Brittany’s Hope raises money and places grants on special needs children in orphanages around the world to help encourage their adoption. In the last 10 years, the foundation has helped 350 children find forever families. Brittany’s Hope works with Bethany Christian Services (BCS) in Grand Rapids. BCS finds the adoptive families for the waiting children, while Brittany’s Hope raises money for the grant. Cruttenden’s passion for orphans started when she was 12 years old. After babysitting children in her church who were adopted, she was changed forever. “I lay in bed that night and couldn’t sleep. I felt God’s calling—this is what you’re supposed to do,” said Cruttenden . Since that night over 20 years ago, Cruttenden has always had a special place in her heart for orphans and adoption. She and her husband, Tom, have three children adopted from Russia in 2003: Sasha, 13, Andre, 11, and Rosa, 10. In the past eight years, Cruttenden has helped several other families fundraise for adoptions by organizing garage sales, bake sales, and jewelry shows. But starting last spring, the fundraisers got a lot more physically demanding. Instead of sitting at a garage sale table, she’s out swimming, biking and running all day. “I started doing triathlons four years ago, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I realized I could combine my love for the sport and my heart for orphans,” said Cruttenden. “God brought the two together in a big way.” Cruttenden is on a mission. She has $10,000 to raise before Ironman Texas on May 21, 2011. She currently has 11 […]

Rockford man earns national honor

March 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

VantagePointe Financial Group, a member of John Hancock Financial Network, is pleased to announce Dale Anderson, MBA, investment advisor representative, for 2010 earned Top 5 “Best in Class” throughout the country by John Hancock Financial Network. Anderson, a resident of Rockford, received his bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing from University of Michigan, and his master’s degree in finance, investments and banking from University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has 17 years of experience developing and implementing successful business strategies in a variety of industries. Anderson joined VantagePointe Financial Group in November 2008. “We are excited to have such a talented professional as part of VantagePointe Financial Group. We pride ourselves on the high caliber of our associates and congratulate Dale on his achievements in outstanding client service,” said David Pasciak, president of VantagePointe Financial Group.

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