Five-year estimate is $20 million in economic growth by BETH ALTENA A new era for Rockford has arrived as the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) announced a state-of-the-art youth and amateur sports facility with 12 ball fields, concessions, boulevard landscaping, parking for nearly 1,000 cars, play areas and picnic structures will be built on a 79-acre property off Ten Mile Road in Rockford. On 110 acres adjacent to the baseball and softball fields will be an Olympic-style indoor/outdoor archery complex, mountain bike courses, soccer fields and 25K cross-country course. The economic benefit to Rockford in having such facilities here is profound. Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, said the estimated economic impact to the area in the first five years could be $20 million. Guswiler and other spokespersons for the project announced during a luncheon November 16 that the complex would be built and that $4.3 million of the funding for the first phase was secured. Another $1.7 is being sought. “We needed to demonstrate strong support for this facility among lead donors, and they stepped up in a big way,” said retired president of Grand Valley State University Arend Lubbers. The WMSC has announced their funding campaign for the $1.7 “Everyone Wins” is underway. “This project is first and foremost an economic engine for our community,” said Richard DeVos, one of the project’s major donors. “Youth and amateur sports tourism generates about $6 billion in direct spending each year—youth baseball and softball are among the top five travel sports contributing to that figure. We want to capture a piece of that market. But this is also about the love of sports and enhancing the quality of life here in West Michigan.” The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation are the championship field sponsors with a one million dollar donation. Other major donors of $300,000 or more are Wolverine Worldwide, Meijer, Peter and Joan Secchia and family, Dan and Pamela DeVos Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and John and Nancy Kennedy. Donors of $30,000 or more are the Steve and Cindy VanAndel Foundation, the Dave and Carol VanAndel Foundation, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation, Fifth-Third Bank, Gordon Food, and Steelcase. Businesses, organizations and individuals are asked […]
November 24 2011
The 2011 Rockford High School varsity volleyball team was on a mission. This talented group of athletes set out to accomplish what no other Rockford team had done before: bring home a Class A volleyball state title. On Saturday, Nov. 19, the dream became reality. The Lady Rams dominated the 2011 MHSAA state tournament on their way to the championship award. With the support of the Ram Nation throughout the journey, Rockford turned away all challengers and brought home a title. The Rams rolled to straight set victories in the semifinals against the Temperance Bedford Kicking Mules on Thursday, Nov. 17. Then, in convincing fashion, Rockford slayed the Lake Orion Dragons in the final match 25-21, 25-23, 25-10. The Rams, with an experienced group of seven seniors—six playing as three-year starters—would not be denied. Rockford had not lost a single match since September 24, going 33-0 since and finishing the season with an overall record of 60-8. Throughout the year, this team represents what is important in high school sports, more important than winning: how to accomplish success as one. Each person dedicated themselves to the success of the team. Every person on this history-making Rockford team accepted a role—a role that would be an important part in winning the state title. On Saturday in the championship match, before the last points fell and while the players were still on the court, the Rams knew they had the title in hand. The genuine happiness for one another and the emotion of achieving a goal together flowed. When the winning point fell, the players all poured out onto the floor and together celebrated as one. Many years down the road, when people look back at this championship team, the thing most remembered will be what can be achieved when a group of talented individuals dedicate themselves to the greater good of the team and the overall success of teammates. That’s when a team becomes one. That’s when anything becomes possible.
by BETH ALTENA An abandoned 100-year-old barn in Rockford—now renovated and rebuilt to house eight horses, equipment and feed—is just the first phase of the Kent County Sheriff’s Mounted Division complex. On Thursday, Nov. 17, a crowd of city and county officials and the public heard what to expect within the next year for a compound that will include a public observation area, classrooms, an indoor arena, a stable for over a dozen horses, a training obstacle course and wooded riding trails. Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma spoke before onlookers in the chilly air of the structure, describing the funding of the training center and home of the mounted unit as an example of public and private partnership. The house, barn and 30-plus-acre property at 4687 Kroes Street (east of Rockford High School) were donated to Kent County in the 1990s. Stelma, who initiated the creation of the county’s mounted law enforcement unit in 2005, called the creation of the division another example of multi-jurisdiction cooperation. “It was very evident no one agency could fund a mounted division,” Stelma explained. Housed at the Kent County Honor Camp, the division became homeless in January of this year. “When Camp O’Mally closed, that closed the mounted division,” Stelma explained. Sixth months ago Roger Sabine, director of the Kent County Parks and Recreation Department, invited members of the sheriff’s department to walk through the property as a possible new home for the equine law enforcement unit. “When we walked around the property, we were sort of breathless,” Stelma said of his officers’ reaction to the proposal. Today the division proudly calls Rockford home and has a bright, exciting vision for the future of the unit. “This goes way beyond law enforcement,” said Chad Wieber, project advisor. Wieber was put in charge of development of the mounted unit in September two years ago when it became clear that the duties were too much to incorporate into those of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department (KCSD) Traffic Division. “Our outreach will be outstanding and go beyond search and rescue,” said Wieber, adding that the training center will “certainly be an important facility,” with an indoor arena that will be available for high school equestrian teams. He said the classrooms, stables and […]
Theme of “four” in special pricing, sales Kristine Gault started her Rockford salon, A Charmed Life, December 1, 2007 with a staff of just two—including Gault. The salon, which first opened in a smaller location than her current roomy address at 17 S. Squires Street, featured three pedicure stations and two manicure stations. Gault, who is nothing if not enthusiastic and passionate about her business, included in her business plan a strong effort to be community-oriented and interactive. She became involved in local school, church and charity programs, offering service and gift card donations. A special apprenticeship program was implemented at A Charmed Life to help encourage others in the field. There, students can work on skills toward a career in the industry, which goes toward their manicurist license with the state of Michigan. This allows the students to receive free training and avoid the high costs of cosmetology school programs. “It has been a great way for women in this economy to be able to get into the industry that they are passionate about without adding on a burden of student loans,” Gault said. “Katie Phillips has just completed her apprenticeship program and successfully passed the state exam. Katie was a licensed manicurist in the state of Illinois for many years, unfortunately let her license lapse there and then moved to Rockford a few years ago. The state of Michigan would not let her just take the exam. We even contacted Tom Pearce to help us try to navigate the state’s system, but there wasn’t a way to get her licensed without going to school or doing the apprenticeship program. The program allowed her to get her license without the high cost of a cosmetology school.” A Charmed Life increasingly built on the products and services available, including specialty pedicures that change with the seasons. This fall they are offering the Apple Cinnamon Pedicure, which includes an apple cinnamon scrub, whipped body butter and a paraffin dip. Gault also began working with other business owners and in her shop hosts specialty parties for groups of eight and more. “It has been a great way for us to work together downtown and keeping everything local! We do about half adult parties and half children’s […]
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