November 25 2009

Season of festivities underway in Rockford

November 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford’s mayor and mayor pro-tem and State Representative Tom Pearce all spoke before a crowd of hundreds Wednesday, November 18, kicking off the holiday season with the fourth annual lighting ceremony in downtown Rockford. Enjoy carriage rides Thursdays and Fridays December 10 and 11 and 17 and 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.Rockford’s mayor and mayor pro-tem and State Representative Tom Pearce all spoke before a crowd of hundreds Wednesday, November 18, kicking off the holiday season with the fourth annual lighting ceremony in downtown Rockford. Enjoy carriage rides Thursdays and Fridays December 10 and 11 and 17 and 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The 66th annual Santa Parade will be Saturday, December 5 at 11 a.m. with Santa at the Rotary Pavilion after, plus much more. See ad on page 12 for more information.

Schools ban field trips until township sets sex offender policy

November 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford Superintendent angry over proximity of offender, school by BETH ALTENA Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler had harsh words to say about Plainfield Township officials’ failure to notify him that a convicted sex offender was working practically within arm’s reach of elementary students. Forty-year-old Jeffrey Hawkins was fired from his job as firefighter and deputy clerk for the township after a Friday, November 6, incident when the convicted sex offender was accused of soliciting a teenage boy on the Internet for immoral purposes. Hawkins allegedly used Facebook to contact the youngster. Hawkins had been convicted in 1997 of criminal sexual conduct with a 12-year-old family member. In a letter to the media released November 10, Plainfield Fire Chief Dave Peterson stated, “At the time of his prior conviction, steps were taken to limit or eliminate the possibility of him being alone with a minor child. At the time of his prior conviction, considerations for continued employment were taken concerning the employment record and attitude of Mr. Hawkins, the family members who were involved, and the recommendation of his mental health professional. Based on that information I felt that with proper safeguards his continued employment with the fire department did not constitute a threat to the public.” Chief Peterson said the latest investigation was the result of activities outside his position as a firefighter but nonetheless reason for termination. He also said the township personnel are deeply concerned for the victims and family members involved in this unfortunate incident. He fired Hawkins effective November 10. In 2000, Hawkins was appointed as deputy clerk for the township. Shibler sent a letter to the township, backed by similar sentiments from Northview and Comstock Park schools. Shibler’s letter informed Supervisor George Meek that no field trips will be allowed to the Plainfield Charter Township until a sex offender policy is implemented. “As I am sure you can appreciate, one of the most important duties I have as superintendent of schools, is to ensure the safety and security of the children entrusted to our district,” he stated in the letter. Shibler also questioned whether the township broke the law by allowing Hawkins to work within 1,000 feet of a school. “The law is very clear that a sex […]

Four-senior play wins state championship

November 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

SENIORS END HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO CAREER WITH WINNING PLAY—Senior captains Derik Bothma, Connor Thelen, Kyle Peterson and Tyler Manikowski lift the state championship trophy. Photo by GORDON PETERSON Let’s start at the end. State championship game—end of third period—and Rockford water polo senior captain Tyler Manikowski has been struggling. At the side of the pool during the quarter break, he climbed out and said to Coach Dave McWatters, “Coach, put Eric in. He’s playing better than me”—Eric Chisholm the sophomore, Manikowski the senior. The senior captain gave way to a kid two years younger, a kid truly playing great water polo, saying, “Go, Eric. Go play. Go win this game.” With their tremendous shooters, Kentwood soon pulled ahead by two, but Rockford fought back with junior Jeff Schmitt’s three great goals, and then Kentwood scored a penalty shot to tie. Now under a minute, McWatters called time. Back at the side of the pool, he’s decided on the lineup to finish regulation time—six starters plus either Chisholm or Manikowski. The coach turned to Manikowski, who had been on the bench now for most of the fourth quarter, and said “Tyler, you’re the senior. It’s your call. Can you do it?” “Put me in, coach,” Manikowski replied. Peterson, to Bothma, to Thelen to Manikowksi is how the passing went. Manikowski had the greatest step-out to the ball he’s ever had, turned, saw the back of the net, and blew the ball past Kentwood’s great goalie, who had just moved to counter Bothma’s—and then Thelen’s—fakes. Manikowski’s two-meter defender hardly reacted. The defender was too tired. He had played every single second of the game. Coach McWatters commented, “Tyler’s unselfishness is a powerful example of what won us a state championship. Tyler calling himself out, making way for the young kid who was playing the best polo of his life, rested Tyler enough for that last minute, so he had the energy to make the greatest play of his life. Tyler’s unselfishness helped win us a state championship.” Many things go into winning a state championship. Peterson, to Bothma, to Thelen to Manikowski—that was the last play. Peterson, as he always does, set up his teammates for success. Bothma—the great shooter now because he’s also become a great passer—rose up […]

Alcohol suspected in head-on that killed teacher

November 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rockford Michigan State Police Post Commander Chris McIntire said alcohol may have been a factor in a crash that killed a 30-year-old first grade teacher on his way to work early Monday, November 23. McIntire said the driver who caused the crash was headed the wrong way on the East Beltline and hit the car of Aaron Haynes, of Grand Rapids. Haynes was northbound and the truck driven by the other man, unidentified at press time, was headed southbound in the northbound lane. The accident happened near the Five Mile intersection at 7:15 a.m. in Plainfield Township. McIntire said the unidentified driver had a Washington state identification card. “We can’t tell if he had a Michigan driver’s license,” he said. He is a 38-year-old Latino male who was in stable condition Monday afternoon. Detectives found liquor bottles and cans in the vehicle, and he may have been driving without headlights. Police hope witnesses will come forward with more information. McIntire said there was no evidence either vehicle braked prior to the collision. The area is not lighted by streetlights. McIntire declined to identify the school or district where Haynes worked and said the children there were in crisis intervention because of the tragedy. Anyone with information is asked to call Trooper Joe Young of the Michigan State Police at (616) 866-4411.

Grattan Irish Pub offers free Thanksgiving dinner

November 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

Denise Flikkema knows how bad things are for some of her neighbors and customers, and she plans to do something about it. The manager of the Grattan Irish Pub at 11817 Old Belding Rd., Belding, is offering free Thanksgiving meals with purchase of a beverage from noon until the food runs out on Thanksgiving day. Flikkema inherited management of the quaint Irish establishment from her parents, George and Maureen Phillips. The building was built in 1937 in a community founded by Irishman Henry Grattan, who, along with fellow immigrants, moved here and established their own little town. According to Flikkema, the Irish farmers used to sit outdoors and drink just about where the pub is now located. “I guess they wanted a bar to drink in, so they just built it,” she explained. Twenty years ago, the Phillips bought the establishment, but now Flikkema and her husband Jeff run it. Flikkema said people don’t have to be struggling financially to take advantage of the free meal. “It’s for everyone. It’s because I’m grateful to have customers.” Flikkema said the pub is preparing about 200 meals for the day, and hopes that will be a good guess for the number of people who might show up. “I know it is bad around here for some people,” she said of the economy, hoping if anyone is struggling this year they will stop by for the meal. “I want to give back to the community and thank my customers. I have very loyal customers.”

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