by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Labor Day morning found the Hills in Mackinaw City to again participate in this year’s 55th annual Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk. This is a tradition we began many years ago and plan on continuing for as long as we’re able to walk or can find somebody willing to push us across in a wheelchair (as many do). As usual, we were on one of the first school buses transporting walkers across from Mackinaw City to the walk’s origin in St. Ignace in the U.P. “eh”. We stepped off promptly at 7 a.m. right behind Gov. Snyder and his entourage in the vanguard of what would be some 45,000 participants to follow. It was a “bluebird” morning with a hazy sun rising on the eastern horizon. With cool temperatures and no wind it was, in our opinion, one of the best 5-mile “strolls across the Straits” we’ve ever taken. We finished the walk in Mackinaw City in a very respectable one hour and three minutes. This being a Presidential election year, we were schmoozed by what seemed like hundreds of politicians at the finish line. Enough of politics already, we headed off to our favorite breakfast spot, Darrow’s Family Restaurant just blocks away and were seated just before a waiting line of famished bridge walkers snaked out the front door and down the block. The place is just that good, and we certainly didn’t forget a piece of their famous homemade pie for breakfast dessert. However, what follows is about an idea we have been toying with for the past few years, so here’s the rest of the story. For the last three years we have been lodging a short drive of 20 miles southeast of Mackinaw City in Cheboygan, MI. We love Cheboygan; it is a special can-do City full of friendly and caring people, much like Rockford. Best of all, we are afforded reasonable room rates and no one is taken advantage of by the exorbitant holiday lodging rates in Mackinaw City. Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, Cheboygan lays claim to being the homeport of the USCG Cutter Mackinaw. Cheboygan is a small city and with a population of 5,250. It reminds us of our own […]
‘I wasn’t there for the lunch’ by BETH ALTENA When Rockford resident Sandra Cox includes in her preference of job openings the word “dental” because she formerly worked as a dental hygienist, employment programs include in her list of choices jobs that offer dental benefits. This is just one observation Cox was able to share with Governor Rick Snyder during a luncheon discussion of ways to help unemployed or underemployed Michiganders find work. “I wasn’t there for the lunch,” Cox shared with the Squire after her July 25 visit in Lansing. As a single parent, a woman and a person over the age of 50 in a challenging employment atmosphere in our state, Cox thought her experience very valid. “I felt I was representative of a lot of people in this economy,” she said. In late 2011, Cox entered a contest offered by Michigan Talent, the state’s online resource for those seeking jobs in the state. With over a million resumes online, her chances to win one of three spots for potential employees may have seemed very low, but Cox felt she had a good chance to win and wanted very much the contest’s main prize—a sit-down with the Governor. Cox may well represent many Michigan residents and their difficulties finding appropriate employment. She now works in manufacturing at less than 10 dollars an hour. Others who work there, like her, are qualified to offer much more to society. Cox grew up in a third-generation General Motors family and graduated summa cum laude from her high school, 16th in her class of 444. She continued her education at Ferris State University, where she was on a waiting list for dental hygienist school. Two years and still waiting, Cox attended Grand Rapids Community College and there earned an associate’s of applied arts and science in dental hygiene. While in college Cox worked two jobs, including one as a cashier at the Plainfield Meijer, eventually moving on to the corporate offices in Walker, where she worked as the corporate receptionist. At that time, Meijer had a 75 percent reimbursement rate for tuition, so she took the opportunity to return to college for a degree in business administration-marketing/sales, graduating from Grand Valley State University in 1993. In January […]
Rockford photographer Jon Hartman, a 1995 Rockford High School graduate, has been accepted in ArtPrize 2012. His entry is a series of Michigan landscape photographs entitled “Pure Michigan” which will be on display at the Ledyard Building, which is located directly across Monroe Center from the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). “I have always been intrigued by photography. It wasn’t until birth of my first daughter that I actually picked up a camera to document her entrance into the world, and I haven’t put it down since,” said Hartman. “Whether it be a be a Michigan beach, engaged couple, or an old decaying door, I love taking pictures that tell a story. Frequently traveling with my camera in tow, I look for the unseen details in ordinary things. I have especially enjoyed capturing images of downtown Grand Rapids, highlighting the growth and draw of our ‘big-small’ city, and of our naturally beautiful state of Michigan. I am a member of the Grand Rapids Flickr Group and photographed the 2011 Grand Rapids Marathon. My work was also featured in the Amplify Grand Rapids event, part of the G-Rap Initiative.”
by Cliff and Nancy Hill Michigan is the second most diverse agriculture state in the nation, and nowhere is that diversity and abundance more apparent than every Saturday morning at downtown Rockford’s Farm Market. “People really appreciate knowing where their food is coming from,” said Rockford City Manager Michael Young. “Rockford was really ahead of the curve when we brought a farm market downtown in 2000. People will flock downtown knowing there is something to flock to.” Ahead of the curve would be an understatement at best. Nowadays cities, villages, townships, DDAs, and chambers of commerce are leaping on board by sponsoring farm markets in their respective communities across the nation. They see no threat to their local business districts and fully realize that farm markets enhance quality of life for their citizens and bring new visitors to town who oftentimes return to frequent newly discovered shops and restaurants. This Saturday marks the last Farm Market day of Rockford’s 2010 season, where shoppers can enjoy fresh locally grown produce and partake in the wonderfully unique fall traditions Michigan has to offer. Think pumpkins, apples, cider, root vegetables, mums, all varieties of squash along with locally produced artisan breads, honey, cheese and jerky. Everything about being at the Rockford Farm Market is about community: fresh locally grown food, people talking, and having fun. Indeed, the Rockford Farm Market has become a social phenomenon. People love the spirit of their hometown market. Most of the vendors that made up the nucleus of the original Rockford Farm Market became regulars and are still with us today. Most practice sustainable farming methods and some are strictly organic. They epitomize the phrase “Know your farmer, know your food.” They have come to know us (Rockford customers) and we them, on a first name basis. We all have our favorite vendors for different varieties of produce, and it’s a joy to watch shoppers move from stall to stall filling their market baskets. The Rockford Farm Market is a “pure” farm market, meaning that only Michigan-grown produce and locally produced foodstuffs are allowed. “From the start the City did not allow craft vendors, because they might be a threat to local businesses, and we did not want a flea market atmosphere,” said […]
Crossing the back roads, beaches, and many of Michigan’s best kept secrets, Rockford resident and photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki snapped pictures. Lots of pictures, pictures of nature and peaceful places, pictures designed in her words to offer a “relaxing respite from a busy day.” As Niedzwiecki’s gallery grew, so did her following. She began selling her works throughout Michigan, and through one local suppler, she was introduced to a cancer survivor who thought the images would be very emotionally and mentally calming for others during their treatment. Niedzwiecki was then introduced to the art committee at Spectrum Health’s Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion and commissioned to supply 62 images for hanging throughout the Pavilion. Fast forward toward two years, and now the tranquil, reflective, healing nature of Niedzwiecki’s work has been extended beyond the walls of the Cancer Pavilion. In March 2010, the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion and Niedzwiecki co-published Healing Images, featuring all 62 of her photos from the Pavilion. There are incredible color images of gardens, beaches, light houses, bridges, farms, foliage…many from throughout West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Lowell, Cannon and Spencer Townships, East Grand Rapids, Ada, Grand Haven, and Holland. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinaw and points in between are also featured.Niedzwiecki notes: “You won’t find images with people in them. This allows the viewer to place themselves into the photo without identifying with someone else. It allows the art to be more personal.” On Thursday, April 22, Niedzwiecki will be at Reds on the River in Rockford from 6:30 to 8 p.m. to meet guests and sign copies of Healing Images and Pure Michigan – Spring, a second recently-released book featuring many of her photographs. Reds is located on the banks of the Rogue River in picturesque Rockford—and has been the subject of her lens on more than one occasion. For additional information on the artist and both book, check out www.StacyN.com. Healing Images is also available at Spectrum Health’s Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion Specialty Shop in Grand Rapids.