Former Rockford High School intern for The Rockford Squire, Matt Marn, who wrote many wonderful articles for the newspaper as a student and then later as a full-fledged reporter, has left his home turf to find his way in the world. Relocated to Glendale, Ariz., due to job opportunities, Marn took a Squire with him so we could see he is fine in his new, warmer home. The Squire thanks Matt for all the work and good stories he provided to us and our readers over the years. Luckily, because of long-distance telephones and the ease of e-mail, Marn will continue to contribute to the paper from his new location.
by MATT MARN Only a decade ago, Brent Bookwalter was a local cycling enthusiast when he began competing in local amateur events. Years later, he met Cadel Evans, a professional cyclist, and asked for his autograph. In 2011, Bookwalter helped his professional cycling team bring home the win at the most prestigious cycling race in the world. Bookwalter is one of the competitors on the BMC racing team who recently traveled to France to compete in the 98th Tour de France, a cycling race spanning 21 stages in over 23 days, measuring over 3,400 kilometers in length, also stretching part of the route into Italy. The competition ended on July 24, 2011 with Evans crossing the finish line and taking home the win for BMC. And he couldn’t have done it without the help of a long list of support teammates, including Bookwalter. Bookwalter grew up ripping around Rockford on his bike, where he often saw signs for local mountain bike competitions over at Cannonsburg and Pando ski areas. When he was 12 or 13, a friend took him to a competition, and he has never looked back. Connie Zinger, Bookwalter’s mother, remembered that since then he rose through the local mountain biking ranks by entering those same competitions he went to watch, and moving on to state and even national championships. “He started out like any kid, riding a bike and loving it,” Zinger said. “I don’t come from an especially athletic family,” Bookwalter said. “When I was younger I played a lot of sports, but began doing more and more cycling. I was always ‘ok’ at every sport, not the best… here I am out there alone, and control my own success.” Bookwalter also pointed out, however, at that time he had no idea cycling was such a team sport. “It wasn’t even in my scope at all,” he said. “It’s a sole pursuit, but it’s also very social… You have control, but it’s a team sport. It’s the best of both worlds.” He stuck through his education through college, where he got a degree in biology from Lee McCrae, where he also made more of a name for himself behind the handlebars, winning numerous championships at the collegiate level. After riding for […]
by MATT MARN From German WWII trucks to working British Revolutionary War cannons, the Grand Rogue Living History Encampment helped history come alive. From excited young children to individuals who lived through some of these time periods, everyone who walked through the encampment stepped through to another time. What’s more, they all learned something about what shaped our country and the people in it into what they are today. The encampment was held Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, at the Grand Rogue Campground and Paddle Sports, 6400 West River Dr., Comstock Park. “The encampment was an example of many held around the country,” said Dave Schmid, a 34-year reenactment veteran at the professional level, working before classes and crowds on a regular basis. “Most have a hard time understanding how life was like back then,” Schmid said, who joined the ranks of reenactment participants right out of high school. “As you watch their faces… then they get it, like a light was switched on. They start to ask questions, and they go home and learn about their own past, and they learn from that. There’s the reward.” The encampment portrayed a wide array of time periods, from a World War II German camp to colonial times and Revolutionary War soldiers from both sides of the field to French and Indian War time period with authentic Native American camps and tents. Schmid, dressed completely in traditional frontier explorer attire in the Native American camp area, said he was portraying and studying Champlain, the founder of Quebec. “In dealing with both royalty and the colonials, and keeping everyone happy… His story was amazing,” Schmid said of Champlain. “So many heroes of the past, they turned out to be ordinary, nondescript people who just stepped up.” Encampment visitors Robert and Cammi Adams and their children know this better than most. Their family travels to all kinds of reenactments, and appreciate this one is locally based, and covers more than one time period. One of the kids went to the encampment as a class trip Friday, so the family decided to make the trip out the following day. Exploring the German World War II campsite in the encampment, Cammi said she has been all over the world, including a […]
by Matt Marn Rockford resident Keith Eadie was born blind. But blindness did not stop him from picking up a guitar and learning how to play. And it did not stop him from taking the stage, playing to proud family and excited fans. “Sometimes I am walking around a store and I am stopped by people who heard me play,” Eadie said. “I get stopped in downtown Rockford or on the White Pine Trail. It feels pretty good.” Eadie usually has a full schedule, full of performances for bands he regularly plays in, as well as one of the four bands where he fills in for an absent member. He plays in a variety of locations, from restaurants to churches and nursing homes to a local Rockford fire station and the Rockford Ambulance office, often performing four or five times a week. “Last month, I played 20 days in a row,” Eadie said. “I love doing it, it’s awesome. In bigger places, you still get butterflies.” As a kid, Eadie found secondhand “flea market guitars,” but when high school rolled around, he wanted to learn to play newer, more complex songs. He got his chance to sharpen his skills when a neighbor asked Joe Kelly, a local teacher, to get him started. “He taught me scales and fundamentals, and showed me how to put it all together,” Eadie said. As for Kelly, he is proud of Eadie and his growth on the strings. “It wasn’t real hard to work with him,” Kelly said. “It was obvious he had the ear and the ambition. Once he got his chops down, he fit right in almost everywhere.” Kelly said they had to try something different, as Eadie couldn’t visually learn the fret placement or sheet music, but Eadie had good coordination, a good ear for music, and a good sense of humor to match. “He had more of a desire to learn,” Kelly said. “It meant more to Keith than other students. And he’s not down in the dumps, he works through things. His personality helps him deal, helps him fit in anywhere.” When Eadie’s family heard that he had an ear for music and could hold his own, they were thrilled. Eadie began to play in […]
by MATT MARN Gordon Pickerd wears many hats in his community, from Algoma Township trustee to Rockford Sportsman’s Club treasurer to woodcarver. No matter the method, he is always ready to help. For example, when Algoma Township grew from needing five trustees to needing seven, a friend suggested Pickerd run, and he answered the call to serve. “I never thought I’d run for political office,” Pickerd said. “I hope when people look at what we’ve done, they see we’re doing the job the township wants.” Pickerd said final decisions before the board lie with the trustees. “Someone has to accept responsibility,” he said. “If people don’t like our decisions, they come after us. Hard choices need to be made, not because I like it or because I agree; following the law is not always an easy course.” Algoma Township Supervisor Dennis Hoemke said Pickerd is an excellent addition to the township board. “He’s done a great job,” Hoemke said. “He brings a good knowledge base to us because of his past experience. He’s not afraid to do what he needs to do after he looks into the issue.” Pickerd, also the treasurer of the Rockford Sportsman’s Club for the last 15 years, said the treasurer must keep the books in order and, since the club is a charitable organization, log where all the donations go. “I was at a board of directors’ budget meeting, and the treasurer at the time wasn’t prepared for all of my questions. After the meeting, a friend asked me when I was going to run for the treasurer position, and I told him next year. The person with the money has to be responsible for the club to run.” A pattern model maker by trade, Pickerd’s career path later took other directions into sales. But when Pickerd retired six years ago, he was reunited with his first love: woodcarving. “I’ve done a number of turnings,” Pickerd said. “I sold some, but I gave most to charities over the last five years.” Pickerd said he has done woodcarving pieces to aid in fundraising efforts for the hunt for a cure for cystic fibrosis, as well as the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding in Rockford. He also does volunteer work for organizations […]