by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL This past Tuesday, October 6, found Rockford officials in Lansing in a Michigan Court of Appeals courtroom. Rockford was there to appeal a Circuit Court decision that allowed the current two courts of the 63rd District to be combined into one courthouse in Grand Rapids Township. Your reporters were witness to the morning’s proceedings. Readers should take note of the fact that we don’t pretend to be courtroom reporters. What follows are our interpretations and observations of what occurred that morning. At promptly 10 a.m. the three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals entered the courtroom. The presiding judge, Michael J. Talbot, said, “Good morning.” Hearing no response he said, “We are in for a long day.” In our opinion, that response set the tone for the rest of the proceeding. Judge Kurtis T. Wilder and Judge Michael J. Kelly comprised the rest of the panel. Talbot began by saying that Circuit Courts of Appeal are courts where oral arguments are heard both pro and con. The justices are already well informed on the substance of the cases that come before them. For the most part they are looking for any new information that may assist them in their decision process. Questions may or may not be asked of the attorneys representing each side. There are no witnesses called and, hence, no cross-examinations in an Appeals courtroom. First up was Steven Stapleton, an attorney representing the City of Rockford. Stapleton had barely gotten his first words out when Talbot admonished him to, “Speak up and look up.” Stapleton was somewhat taken aback but quickly recovered and advanced a plea to disqualify Talbot from ruling on whether Rockford should keep a full-time court. Last year, Talbot was one of nine members of the Judicial Tenure Commission that decided that Rockford Judge Steven Servaas should be removed from office. The Commission was of the opinion that Servaas had vacated his bench by residing outside his electoral district and that he also had engaged in inappropriate doodling and improper humor with female staff. The final arbiter in the matter, the State Supreme Court, was later to find in favor of Servaas, allowing him to stay on the bench. Stapleton, in advancing the motion […]
October 8 2009
by RICK ZECK Have you heard the expression: “We need to stop and smell the roses,” which refers to our crazy fast-paced lifestyle and how we sometimes miss the small things in life? Monday, September 21, without any fanfare, a very curious couple walked through Rockford. They not only smell the roses, but look for the small things. Husband and wife Mike Metras and Petra Wolf are walking from California to Jerusalem and Rockford, Michigan was on their way east. You did not read it wrong—they are walking nearly 8,000 miles over a two-year period on a pilgrimage. Many of us have dreams, but the reality is, life happens, and most of us never get a chance for those dreams to materialize. Mike and Petra are living their dream and walking with awareness of each and every day. Sounds bizarre? After sitting down and talking with this fascinating couple, it made me think maybe what we do is bizarre. These modern-day pilgrims are on a journey to meet and talk to people and to be ambassadors of dreams. They are touching lives and getting people to think about their own dreams. Strangers can get a chance to see first-hand someone who is living their dream one day at a time. The couple does this because there are no guarantees for tomorrow and they did not want to waste another day. “So why walk to Jerusalem?” I asked these wandering travelers. “Jerusalem may be the goal, but the journey is the destination,” said Mike. The journey is the destination—now that is a deep thought. Aren’t we all on a journey, or are we just too busy to see where we are today on our life’s journey? Mike further stated some words of walking wisdom, “Each of our lives is unique. Live each and every day leaving yesterday as just a memory.” How much does this couple love to walk? Before Petra met Mike she walked alone from her home in Germany to Camino de Santiago, Spain (the Way of St. James, a Christian pilgrimage), covering 1,400 miles. Together, they have since walked Camino twice, Germany to Rome (775 miles), and now California to Jerusalem. You can follow all their incredible journeys from their website at www.walkingeast.com […]
State proposal to cut per-pupil funding would be ‘catastrophic’ Two issues relating to school funding are coming up. One is the renewal of the 18 mills non-homestead property millage renewal on the November 3 general election ballot. The second is a state proposal, currently voted down by legislators, to cut $218 per student funding to school districts across the state. For Rockford, failure to approve the millage renewal would cost the district seven percent of their operating budget—five million dollars per year. If the state funding per pupil were cut, that loss would represent two million annually from the district’s budget. Rockford Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler commented on both issues this week. School districts are required by the state to turn in their completed budgets each June. The state does not have to pass a budget until September. Unlike the federal government, Michigan is required to operate with a balanced budget. “Right up until the middle of August we were told there would be a freeze in school funding,” Shibler said. He said in mid-August the Senate passed a bill to cut per-student funding by $110 per child. Shibler said the house took no action on the bill. “Now it’s September, teachers are in the classrooms, staff has been hired. We have no solid foundation [on what to expect in funding],” Shibler said. “Now, literally last week the state Senate and House passed a joint committee which recommended a $218 per-student cut.” Shibler said it would have been “nearly impossible” to assimilate such a cut in the district. He credits grass roots efforts, such as the organization he has chaired here in Kent County since 2001, with letting legislatures know this proposed cut is unacceptable. “Now they have passed a resolution extending the current budget and that’s where we are now,” he stated. “That kind of cut would be catastrophic, not only for us but across the state.” For the general election on November 3, Shibler said it is too bad there is nothing but the millage renewal on the ballot. “We need people to get out and vote.” The millage is a renewal of the non-homestead property tax passed in 1994. It does not affect any residential taxes, only businesses and secondary homes, such […]
The four-year-old preschool class at Our Lady of Consolation School in Rockford is visited by the seventh-grade students to share information regarding Constitution Day. The seventh-graders taught the preschoolers that Michigan is one of the 50 states in the United States. They discussed rules they need to follow and authority. The event concluded with the Pledge of Allegiance and the coloring of the United States’ flag.