May 3 2012

EPA tannery investigation—‘There is no emergency here’

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Contaminants found in multiple test sites on Wolverine property by BETH ALTENA  About a hundred residents, including city officials and Wolverine Worldwide representatives, attended a public meeting held jointly by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Tuesday, April 24 at the Rockford Freshman Center. A presentation by a team of four representatives of the environmental agencies detailed the background of their investigation, where the testing stands to date, what possible future outcomes of the process may be, and answered questions well after the 9 p.m. expected close of the meeting. Comments from the public regarding the situation were about evenly mixed among those supporting Wolverine in their actions in removing the former tannery and those who appeared skeptical of the company’s actions or worried about contamination. Dave Novak, community involvement coordinator of the Superfund Division of the EPA, began the evening’s presentation, introducing the other representatives. “We are looking for conclusions based on good science, not speculation,” he stated. “We have a great deal of information in a relatively short period of time. We are letting good science lead us on our journey.” He then gave the floor to Naria Nunez of the EPA. Nunez said the EPA was contacted by a citizens’ petition June 21, 2011 describing concerns over releases during the demolition of the former tannery at 123 N. Main Street, Rockford. She said the petition indicated the demolition was of community concern and included photographs of discolored water running off the property and questions about the past use of chromium at the property. The EPA decided to investigate the site, and began testing in October of last year. Nunez said preliminary testing results found some contamination with potential of offsite contact. The investigation is still underway and is in the preliminary stages. At any time the EPA could decide no further response is necessary; could call for removal of contaminates or could refer the investigation to another government program. The EPA could also continue to investigate and at the end of the process could rank the site based on a system called a Hazardous Ranking System. This is an evaluation of the property based on evaluations of groundwater, surface water, air, ground, or […]

Community college bond up for vote Tuesday, May 8

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Renovations to buildings, classroom technology at stake One in three college-bound students in Kent County first attend Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), and the average savings per student is $22,000 in two years. Lisa Freiberger, vice president of GRCC, spoke before Rockford City Council on Monday, April 9, explaining the extreme need to approve a bond proposal which will be before Kent County voters Tuesday, May 8. Freiberger said her presentation was very specific to Rockford, where she and her family all reside. She pointed out, however, that GRCC is an open access college and accepts students from all over Kent County but also from other counties. She pointed out that the proposal is not for operating costs but is for badly needed renovations and classroom technology upgrades. “We want to preserve what we have for the next 100 years,” she stated. The millage will fund three main projects for the college. Freiberger said the main building for the school was built in 1922 as the Davis Technical High School. She described it as a very old, very tired building. It will cost $30 million to bring the school up to today’s standards. The music building is also old and in need of renovation. That structure was built as a middle school gymnasium and still has the gymnasium wood floor. It isn’t acoustically sound and was built in 1930. Renovation to that building will cost an estimated $6 million. The college’s preschool program has operated for 20 years out of the basement of a nearby church. Freiberger referred to it as “a phenomenal program in a not ideal space.” She said the college is also in need of renovations or improvements to other of its buildings and said there is a very specific list of projects available to voters who want to look it over. Another important need in the ability to offer high quality education is an update of classroom technology at a cost of $22 million. “We are certainly not looking for brand-new state-of-the-art, but we do need to be up to speed,” she stated. The total bond millage is $98.6 million, which would cost a homeowner of a $150,000 residence $26.25 yearly or just over $2 per month. “We […]

Courtland Township home destroyed in afternoon blaze

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Fire chief believes garage refrigerator source by BETH ALTENA A fire that may have started with a garage refrigerator destroyed a home and killed the family dog, according to Courtland Township Fire Chief Mickey Davis. A 911 call at 4:32 p.m. Friday, April 27 brought firefighters to a home at 9110 Whitall Avenue. “The garage was pretty much down and the fire had gone to the attic of the home,” said Davis. He said there were several teenage boys in the home at the time the fire started and one had attempted to put the blaze out with a water hose. “He was pretty scratched up and was treated by Rockford Ambulance at the scene.” The fire in the garage was fueled by the fact that the garage door was slightly open, creating a wind tunnel effect that increased the ferocity of the flames. “The house is still standing but it’s probably a total loss,” Davis said. “As far as content, some of the downstairs maybe salvageable but if it was upstairs it was toasted.” Davis said he doesn’t know what might have caused the refrigerator to catch fire, speculating that it could have been a problem with the plug or a mouse could have  chewed on a wire. “If people have older refrigerators or freezers, they probably shouldn’t, because they use so much juice,” said Davis, “but I’ve never seen one cause a fire before. This is a first for me.”

Spring taste of Ric’s Saturday, May 5

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

‘We almost have too many vendors who want to be involved’ by BETH ALTENA Expect over 50 vendors offering free delicious samples this Saturday at the Spring Taste of Ric’s at Ric’s Food Center, 6969 Belding Road from noon to 4 p.m. One lucky visitor will receive dozens of delightful samples of deli, meat, grocery and more—a Treger Grill, valued at over $700, will be given away during a free drawing, which will take place after the end of the Spring Taste of Ric’s event. “We almost have too many vendors who want to be involved in this,” said Dave Brickner, store manager. Brickner said he looks forward to each of the store’s departments to line up four or five vendors to offer free samples, but more like seven or eight manage to get an invite. This enthusiasm is wonderful for shoppers who turn out for the twice-a-year Taste of Ric’s, but become a little problematic logistically. “It’s probably hardest in the meat department where they have such a narrow corridor to set up in,” explained Brickner. Brickner said the event compliments the anniversary of the store opening four years ago, but is a customer appreciation day as well as a chance to show people how much the store has to offer. “We are so grateful and happy for the support the community has shown us,” Brickner said. “Our customer base is growing all the time. We couldn’t be happier. We had such high hopes when we opened four years ago and then the economy took a dive. It’s probably in part a matter of time, people have learned that we aren’t ordinary. Our customer base is growing every year, but also further out as word gets out we are a pretty special store.” Brickner said it is the special events his staff plans for—one day weekly specials, the taste events, holidays such as the upcoming Mother’s Day—that add to the store’s appeal. “Mother’s Day is a really big holiday here,” he noted. “The special dinners people prepare and have a big family gathering, for us it is almost as big as Easter.” Weekly wine and beer-tastings are another example. Each Saturday (with the exception of May 5 because of the Taste of Ric’s) from […]

MAIN STREET — by Roger Allen, publisher

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

Too many? Although Western societies and China have cut back the average number of children per couple, other parts of the world overflow with babies. The growth of world population is astounding. In 10,000 B.C. there were about one million of us. By 1900 we were up to one-and-a-half billion. Then, at year 2000, our number was at six billion. The United States Census Bureau estimates that world population exceeded SEVEN BILLION on March 12, 2012. According to a separate estimate by the United Nations Population Fund, it reached that milestone on October 31, 2011. Human beings are using up the world at a tremendous rate. Much of the world is hungry. Global pollution isn’t under control. We are running out of clean water. Disease, starvation and war create misery but not a net decrease in population. The news is full of wars, protests, killings and revolutions. If it is part of the human condition that we can’t get along with each other, then this adds to an obvious truth: We humans have used Mother Nature’s gift of reproduction to excess. Arithmetic joke Tom was being questioned by the teacher during an arithmetic lesson. “If you had ten dollars,” said the teacher, “and I ask you for a loan of eight dollars, how much would you have left?” “Ten,” said Tom. “Ten?” the teacher said. “How do you make it ten?” “Well,” replied Tom, “you may ask for a loan of eight dollars, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get it.” This week’s lawyer A dog ran into a butcher shop and grabbed a roast off the counter. Fortunately, the butcher recognized the dog as belonging to his neighbor. The neighbor happened to be a lawyer. So the butcher called him and said, “Hey, if your dog stole a roast from my butcher shop, would you be liable for the cost of the meat?” The lawyer replied, “Of course, how much was the roast?” “$7.98.” A few days later the butcher received a check in the mail for $7.98. Attached to it was an invoice that read: Legal Consultation Service: $150. This week’s doctor Three doctors are in a duck blind and a bird flies overhead. The general practitioner looks up and says, “Looks like a […]

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