May 17 2012

Area first responders train on simulated school bus crash

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We prepare for the worst and hope for the best’ by BETH ALTENA Within the last month, Courtland Township firefighters, Cannon Township firefighters and Cedar Springs firefighters all responded to what could be a devastating event: accidents involving school buses. Luckily there were no students on two Rockford school bus accidents this year, but with 870,000 students riding buses daily in the United States, it makes sense for firefighters to be as prepared as possible for the eventual call. “Everyone’s got school buses in their area,” said instructor Kevin Sehlmeyer, of Rescue Resources LLC of Rockford, who provided the training along with two other instructors. Twenty firefighters attended the daylong class at Courtland Fire Station, 7480 14 Mile Road, Rockford. They came from departments across West Michigan, including the cities of Reed City, Sturgis, Cedar Springs, Big Rapids, and the townships of Grattan, Oakfield, Courtland and Plainfield. “You don’t often get a chance to do this kind of training,” said Courtland Fire Chief Micky Davis. A former church school bus, donated by Louis Padnos Iron & Metal, was the simulated school bus on which firefighters practiced. Training was as much what not to do as what to do. Hands-on, Sehlmeyer demonstrated techniques and then allowed each of the firefighters to have their own turn. From breaking and removing the glass in the windows to finding the best lines to cut through the body of the bus, training concentrated on getting first responders into the vehicle as fast and safely as possible. “If we were doing this on the street the idea is to get us in and the kids out as soon as possible,” said Sehlmeyer. He pointed out some things not to do: leave hanging chunks of metal around the edges of the access holes, what he called “head dingers.” “Even if we have our helmets on, a lot of rescue and EMS personnel don’t have helmets.” The same is true for the tools not being used for a moment. Sehlmeyer advised his class to set them down behind the wheels or under the bus where they aren’t a tripping hazard for rescuers or patients. Ripping open a school bus is a different animal than a family vehicle. Sehlmeyer noted there is more layers […]

Couple turns challenge to charm in downtown home

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We did run screaming at first, but we came back’ by BETH ALTENA When Bill Jr. and Sandy Jobse wanted to relocate closer to their work places, they knew they wanted to be in downtown Rockford. “We always came down here during the festivals and festivities. It’s like a perfect little bubble town, always decorated and beautiful,” Sandy said. They were looking for a home, and had previously owned two other houses that had needed a little work. This time it was going to be different. When asked why they didn’t run screaming when they first walked through the house at 20 Fremont, Sandy said they did. “We did run screaming. But then we came back.” The home had been that of an elderly man who had apparently become unable to keep the house up. On top of neglect and age, the home had been sitting empty for two years on the market. The other people who had made offers had stated that they planned to tear the building down and build new. There were holes in the walls inside and out, and stains in the ancient carpet. The garage was unusable because beams had been propped in to keep the roof from coming down. The ceiling stucco was peeling down in big strips. There was a cistern for water in the basement, an ancient water-holding structure from before indoor plumbing. The upstairs was completely closed off and apparently hadn’t been used in years. On the porch the rails were rotted out and the floor was caving in. There was no landscaping, just dirt and rocks. They first saw the home after they’d come to town for dinner. After the initial walk-through, they wanted nothing to do with the house. But for both of them, something about the house connected. “I like old things and appreciate the history of old houses,” Bill stated. He said they returned to the home and looked it over with a new attitude. The son of the owner of White Creek Lumber, who inherited his dad’s interest in woodworking and craftsmanship, Bill is more able than many to do the repairs the home needed. Sandy noted both of their previous two homes had needed some repairs. “They were nothing like […]

Rockford schools rally around Relay—Part I

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER This article is a summary of what each school in Rockford Public Schools has come up with to contribute to the Rockford Relay for Life. Encouraging each school to organize their own fundraiser has been a goal of Relay organizers from year one. This Friday through Saturday, May 18-19, from 3 p.m. to 3 p.m. is the town’s 10th Relay for Life event. Rockford plans to celebrate a decade of having a Relay for Life event to raise money to fight cancer this weekend, and a key segment involved is the Rockford school district. According to Shannon Ouellette—who served as committee chair for the first nine years and currently is on the committee as well as the City of Rockford and Rockford Public Schools (RPS) liaison—the school district raises between $60,000 and $80,000 of the total raised yearly. The goal of the Relay for Life this year is to again raise between $340,000 and $360,000. “Our financial goal in these economic times is to stay consistent with monies raised the past few years,” Ouellette said. “Most relays will peak at year five or so and then show a decline. We have been able to maintain consistently in the mid threes, so we are happy with that.” “In the past nine years we have raised nearly 2.9 million so we will top the three million mark this year,” she added. Ouellette was on the committee for a few years for the Ada Park Relay for Life before helping to start the Relay for Life in Rockford in 2002. “Participation from schools range from administration, bus garage, sports teams, clubs and every year almost every school is represented with a team from elementary through high school,” Ouellette said. “Our school teams are key to our success for sure.” Besides being involved while in school, many Rockford graduates then go on to participate at Relay for Life events on their college campuses. Bringing in new members to the Relay for Life is important to the future, Ouellette said. “The youth have been such a strong and positive aspect of our event. They volunteer at the event, such as help with parking and entertainment, as well as be a part of teams.” Ouellette said RPS […]

State names Belmont man ‘Rails-to-Trails’ champion

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last week Thursday evening, the highlight of the monthly Friends of the White Pine Trail meeting at the Rockford Community Cabin was to be a flat bicycle tire repair presentation by Dave Heyboer, Chairman of the 500 member Trail advocacy group. Unbeknownst to Heyboer, he was about to be upstaged and honored with the presentation of a Tribute from the State of Michigan that had been sponsored by 73rd District State Representative Peter MacGregor. Humbled and almost speechless, (a rarity for Heyboer) the honoree listened while MacGregor read, in part, from the tribute as follows: With the exception of Fred Meijer, no one has been more responsible in making the White Pine Trail, Michigan’s longest linear State Park, what it is today. Mr. Heyboer is a true, “rails to trails” champion, capably handling the demanding and vital responsibilities of establishing a vision, gaining donors and executing plans. We are pleased to join our voice to those of the communities stretching from Grand Rapids, MI to Cadillac, MI, in thanking him for his dedication and honoring his selfless service to our State. This recognition is certainly well deserved. Although the “rails” were established long ago, the paving, convenience and safety improvements, and continued maintenance of, are critical to the transformation of the “rails” to “trails”. The hard work, commitment, and innovation of Mr. Heyboer and the “Friends” are major factors in the overall success and continued improvements of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail. The work that Mr. Heyboer has accomplished has made the reputation of the trail possible and provides a model for others to follow. Under the official seal of the Great State of Michigan, Michigan’s Rep. Peter MacGregor, Senator Mark Jansen, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed the framed tribute with sincere thanks and wishes for continued success in all of Heyboer’s endeavors. To his good credit Rep. MacGregor has, since being elected to office some 16 months ago, actively sought to recognize constituents who have made a difference in all of our lives. No one is more deserving of this distinctly high honor than Dave Heyboer. Congratulations Dave from the Rockford Squire and members of the Friends of the White Pine Trail along with linear trail users from […]

Basic Communications to host Business After Hours event

May 17, 2012 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) is proud to present the May installment of its popular Business After Hours event. The event is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 21 at Basic Communications, 2745 Ten Mile Road, Suite B, Rockford. Stephanie Chesley and her staff will be sharing their beautiful facility for this networking event. The evening is a relaxed, open event and free to the public. Business After Hours allows participants to network with other key people in the business community. Florentines Ristorante & Sports Bar has committed to catering the event and will be providing beverages and appetizers during this exciting opportunity to meet potential new clients. “Our Business After Hours offers a great opportunity for members to forge new business relationships,” said Jeannie Gregory, executive director of the RCC. “It is also a great way for the host business to showcase what their company offers in the way of merchandise and services. It really is a win-win event for the host and those who participate.” Networkers will also be able to walk around the store and check out all the telecommunication devices and services that Basic Communications offers for high-speed Internet, cellular services and satellite television. Everyone loves to save money, and visitors can also check into the corporate and employee discounts that Basic Communications offers for Verizon clients. Participants should be geared up to meet amazing business leaders. The RCC and Basic Communications are looking forward to seeing everyone on May 21. There is no charge to attend Business After Hours. However, in order for Chesley to properly plan for this event, they ask that you RSVP by May 18 at the RCC office. Please call (616) 866-2000 or e-mail to

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