March 18 2010

Lady Rams basketball makes school history

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Team secures first ever regional championship victory Coach Jessica Yonkers and the Lady Rams have taken Rockford High School athletics to new heights this week. For the first time in the history of Rockford High School, the girls basketball team has advanced into and won a state regional final game. Only eight schools remain standing in Class A, on their way to one winning the state championship. Rockford has advanced into the state quarterfinals Tuesday, March 16. The regional final game found the Lady Rams playing Marquette (21-2), who had averaged 65 points per game. Marquette had scored over 90 points while limiting opponents to well under 40 several times this season. In fact, the Redettes from the Upper Peninsula, had been winning games by a margin of 25 points all season long, were on a 17-game winning streak, and not lost a game since December 29, 2009. The Region II championship game started with a furious pace, Marquette defending with full court pressure. Marquette drew first blood on a steal and a drive to the basket for a quick two points. Rockford, steadying themselves and employing their smothering defense, went to work. Marquette’s center, Daina Grazulis at 6’ 4”, should have been an offensive weapon, but she was unable to post up low against the tough inside Ram defense. Unable to go low, the Redettes were forced to rely on outside scoring. The first quarter ended with Marquette on top 13-12. The Rams’ offense opened up throughout the second quarter with Kimberly Weston hitting two three-pointers, Rachel Henry scoring two big buckets from inside, Megan Kelly hitting two buckets from mid range, Caitlyn Patterson pounding points in from close range, Allison Huyser scoring inside with her usual strong game, and Halle Peterson hitting a 15-footer from the base line. Rockford’s defense held Marquette to only four second-quarter points. By halftime, Rockford had regained the lead 24-17. If offense was on display in the first half, the second half featured a defensive battle by both teams. Midway through the third stanza, foul trouble became an issue for the Rams. Coach Yonkers then went to her bench, substituting players at the right times during the last part of the third quarter and all of the fourth. […]

Rockford bank bilked of nearly $1 million

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Teller took cash from vault over five years Altering documents, including audits, allowed a teller and then customer service manager to steal nearly $1 million from a Rockford Fifth Third bank over five years. Amanda Renee Burns started taking cash from the vault at the bank when she was a teller. She admitted in federal court Friday, March 12, that from May 2005 to May 2009 she took $950,000. The most she took at one time was $10,000. Burns still faces sentencing in the case, which could be a maximum of 30 years in prison, in addition to restitution of $885,171 after she returned $65,000 to authorities. According to Burns’ confession, she altered documents to cover up the thefts, including audit figures over the years she stole money. Later promoted from teller to customer service manager, she began taking money she supposedly put in ATM machines. When the bank officials became aware of discrepancies, they asked Burns to look into the problem, but she said she couldn’t find anything wrong. Her lawyer Frank Stanley told reporters the mother was trying to create a better life for her children than she had growing up. She also claimed to have been abused while in day care, so needed the cash on very safe daycare for her children. A representative from Fifth Third Bank had not returned calls from the Squire as of press time.

Armed mental escapee causes district’s first Code Red lockdown

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

It is a parent’s worst nightmare. Your child is at recess at their elementary school when an armed mental patient escapes authorities within walking distance of the playground. This scenario played out at Belmont Elementary on Wednesday, March 10. For the first time in district history, a Code Red emergency procedure was called, and Rockford proved prepared for the emergency. At approximately 2 p.m. the Kent County Sheriff’s office received a mental pick up order for a 22-year-old Grand Rapids resident. Deputies received a tip that the individual was at a friend’s house in the Belmont area, a residence to the north of Belmont Elementary. When Deputies arrived at the residence, he fled out a back window. The individual was reportedly armed with a knife. According to Rockford Public Schools head of security, Charlie Brown, within two minutes of the incident he was notified. Half of Belmont’s students were outdoors on recess on the playground. Within one minute more, said Belmont Principal Bill Armitage, the students and staff were in full lockdown in classrooms and offices. This was a Code Red procedure that Rockford designed and implemented half a dozen years ago after one of the first nationally-publicized school shootings. The then-director of security for RPS, Bob Goethal, a former police officer, developed a response procedure in cases where students and staff may be threatened. “We developed this before Columbine,” said Rockford’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Shibler. He said at that time Rockford had one security officer at the high school. “I felt we could do a better job ensuring a safe environment for our students and staff,” he said. He said Goethal was a captain with the Grand Rapids Police Department who was retiring. Shibler approached him and asked if he was interested in developing a procedure to respond to a Columbine-type situation. Goethal came up with the Code Red process and during Wednesday’s emergency it worked perfectly. “Practice makes perfect,” said Brown, who has been head of security at RPS since Goethal retired. He said all schools in the district practice Code Red twice yearly, in addition to by-law drills for fires and tornados. Rockford’s Code Red calls for all students and staff to be in locked rooms with shades drawn and […]

Journalism is a service industry and the service we provide is awareness.

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Tent/tarp drive to help during rainy season A trip to Haiti following January’s earthquake may be over for Rockford Police officer Derek “Duke” Haan, but his changed perspective will stay with him for a lifetime. So will his determination to help Haitians, which he shares with Rockford in a tarp and tent drive he hopes residents will use to offer their help to people of the struggling country. Before joining the Rockford Police Department 18 years ago, Haan was a Rockford Ambulance paramedic. He is cousins with Tim Ryan, who founded Haitineedsyou years ago, a Haitian relief organization. With regular trips to Haiti to improve the conditions of natives of that impoverished country, Ryan had a team in place bound to leave when the earthquake hit that devastated the nation. “He did a complete turnaround and switched out the people who were scheduled to go with medical trauma people,” Haan reported. Knowing Haan’s background in the medical field, Ryan asked if he would be interested in joining the crew. Haan had never been on a mission trip and was nervous about the prospect. “I didn’t know if I was the right person to go. As a paramedic, we take people to the doctor and to the care they need. We don’t provide that level of medical care that doctors do,” he said. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he should go and do what he could. “Who else is there? Who else is going to do it?” He talked to his wife about going, knowing that the country is still far from safe. The prison system is in total collapse and the Haitian police have a shoot-on-sight policy for suspected prisoners. Stories of looting, rampant illness and other unsafe conditions are still very much a reality. “If she was afraid for my safety, I don’t know if she would admit it,” Haan said of his wife. She said he should go and offer whatever aid was possible. If it weren’t for university exams she was finishing up, she would have gone too. Like Haan, she also has a background as paramedic and is in fact just finishing her nursing degree. Next Haan approached his bosses at Rockford City Hall and […]

Opinions — March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010 // 0 Comments

Readers respond to Squire opinion column Journalism is a service industry and the service we provide is awareness. Armed with that awareness many Squire readers responded to an opinion piece that appeared in the January 21 edition of the Squire. Titled “Michigan a dysfunction State of being,” the column focused readers attention on the hardship being imposed on a new Rockford restaurant by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). At the time the column appeared in the paper the new Mexican eatery, Cinco de Mayo, had been waiting almost eight months for the MLCC to issue a liquor license. The coveted license was the missing link to the restaurants future success. Squire readers responded to the lengthy injustice described in the column by sending letters of concern to the Governors’ office and to the offices of state senator Mark Jensen and state representative Tom Pearce. It appears that in short order the message got to the MLCC which shortly thereafter issued the long sought license on February 18, 2010. Sharon Martin, acting director of the MLCC was quoted last week in another local paper saying,” our goal is to issue a license within 90 days of receiving the application.” No one would disagree that goals are good. But goals are meaningless and just become more rhetoric unless they can be achieved. Martin is further quoted as saying the license application was filed in August of 2009. We find that interesting because the MLCC official website clearly states that the initial application was received by MLCC on June 3, 2009. You do the math. From June 3, 2009 to February 18, 2010 is an appalling nine-and-a-half months from application receipt to license issuance. So much for 90 days! At long last, all’s well that ends well, a new Rockford dining establishment can now serve a delicious ice-cold margarita or other libation with their fine Mexican cuisine. The would like to thank their many readers who responded with letters of concern sent to elected government officials. Taking the time to write a letter and address an envelope speaks volumes to our elected leaders. You should all be very proud of yourselves.

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