New leadership role defined for Rockford Safety Department by BETH ALTENA A “milestone development” in a new structure designed to save the City of Rockford and its residents over $200,000 annually took place Monday, July 9 during the regular Rockford City Council meeting. Three employees were promoted to the position of lieutenant and placed as leaders in their respective divisions of the Department of Public Safety. Rockford recently implemented a merger of staff trained to respond to emergencies—cross training former Departments of Public Works (DPW), Police and Fire to respond to fire calls and other emergencies. The merger is an unusual response to a decrease in funding that all municipalities are currently facing and which will sharply fall again if the Personal Property Tax is eliminated, according to City Manager Michael Young. Young said the idea to cross train staff was thoroughly considered prior to the gradual implementation of the new structure. Former Police Chief Dave Jones, now head of the combined Department of Public Safety, said, “I feel like a proud dad tonight.” Former fire captain Dan Vincent, Officer Dave Robinson, former DPW director Jamie Davies and officer Mike Miller all accepted promotions to lieutenant and leadership of their respective divisions within the new Department of Public Safety. Vincent will lead the paid on-call firefighters for the City of Rockford; Davies will continue his leadership of the Department of Public Works staff, who are now trained firefighters; and Lt. Robinson and Miller will together lead the combined police and firefighting staff, who also are or will be cross trained as police and firefighters. The merger is unique to Rockford, where staff developed the model to make best use of men and women who are already working for the City. All DPW workers were first trained as firefighters. This saves the City money because staff already out maintaining the City, hanging the banners, working on parks, and doing the other jobs required in town, are now trained to respond to emergencies. The restructuring, described as a merger of three formerly distinct divisions of police, fire and DPW, has been working flawlessly for several months. Currently full-time firefighter Robert Berkstressor is attending a police academy, after which he will be both a trained firefighter and police […]
Rockford Department of Public Works
The following is biographical information of the four new lieutenants promoted during the Monday, July 9 Rockford City Council meeting (see related story, page 1). The promotions are the latest step in a long process of merging the departments of Public Works, Police and Fire for the City of Rockford. The structure is designed to save money and improve services in response to reduced funding for the City. Lieutenant Jamie Davies began his career working with the City of Rockford in 1991 as a seasonal employee for the Department of Public Works. He worked his way up in the department and was promoted to director of Public Works in May 2011. He has also been a City of Rockford firefighter and medical first responder for over 12 years. Davies lives in the Rockford area with his wife Dawn and their two German shepherd dogs, Bella and Cesar. Lt. Davies attended Rockford High School, graduated from Grand Rapids Community College with an associate degree in applied arts and sciences, law enforcement. He has received thousands of hours of in-service training on a wide variety of public works, public water safety, environmental control and fire safety-related topics. Davies is a licensed builder and loves remodeling houses. He built his own home in 2000 and enjoys working on home projects in his free time. He loves the outdoors and travels throughout the United States to go mountain climbing, hiking and kayaking with his wife. Lieutenant Mike Miller began his law enforcement career with the Ft. Morgan Police Department in Ft. Morgan, Colorado before coming to the Rockford Police Department in 1990. He was promoted to sergeant in 1999. Miller and his wife Kim have two children. Miller graduated from Grand Rapids Community College with an associate degree in arts. During that time he attended and graduated from the police academy. Miller completed his studies at Grand Valley State University, earning a bachelors degree in criminal justice. He has attended hundreds of hours of other schools on a variety of law enforcement topics. Miller oversees all criminal and traffic investigations for the City of Rockford, as well as the investigation of fatal and serious accidents. He is a defensive tactics instructor and field training coordinator. He enjoys outdoor activities […]
The City of Rockford is pleased to announce the promotion of Mr. Andy Bilski and Mr. Dave Ducat to fulltime positions with the Department of Public Services. Dave and andy will fill the position of two longtime Public Services workers, Chris Dempsey and Bill Lafollette, who have recently announced their retirement. We wish Chris and Bill the best in their future endeavors and thank them for their dedicated service to the City, which left an indelible mark on our great community. Andy and Dave began their fulltime employment with the City on October 1, 2011, with Andy’s emphasis being the Water Department and Dave working a variety of functions within the Department. We congratulate Dave and Andy on their promotion and please take a moment to welcome them to our Rockford team when you see them on the street. For additional information regaring these promotions, please cotact City Manager Michael Young at 866-1537.
Organizers have one year to come up with funding by BETH ALTENA After passing last month on contributing city funds to development and maintenance of a public dog park on a former ball field at Richardson-Sowerby Park, Rockford City Council voted this month to dedicate the land for that use for one year. Organizers are confident they can raise the money needed to develop the 180-by-160-foot property into a dog park. In their May 9 meeting, City Council had considered helping to fund the park’s estimated $20,000 cost, perhaps splitting the difference with volunteers who have been hoping to forward the project. Bringing water to the property was $5,000 of the estimate, with the remaining $15,000 representing the cost of purchasing and installing fencing. City Manager Michael Young said it was possible to use Rockford Department of Public Services staff to do the work, which might have lowered the expense to $12,000. According to Young, volunteers had a commitment from Rockford Ambulance to raise $3,000 toward the project, and they had been working with pet supply companies in hopes of receiving more funds. Councilman Brien Dews last month questioned the speed at which the project seemed to be moving forward, considering other proposals, such as a skate park, were making no progress. Members of the audience also commented—one asking if the City couldn’t locate a dog or skate park on the property where Burch Body Works had been located. Another asked about liability and safety issues of a dog park. Young pointed out that the City does not own the Burch Body Works property and is not likely to budget the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be required to purchase that land. “The idea before you is: Do you want to pledge money for development of a dog park,” Young reminded council. “There isn’t a skate park group asking for money.” Councilwoman Mary Eadie said she was firmly against seeing a dollar of tax money going to a dog park and that she would vote against any City money going to the project. Dews also pointed out that City staff had been asked this year to freeze wages, including negotiated raises, and they had made that sacrifice. “I think maybe in these economic […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The five- to seven-inch deluge of rain that occurred this past Memorial Day not only caused three major washouts and the closing of a two-mile section of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (WPT), but also threatened the 24-inch Rockford sewer line that runs parallel to the trail itself within the right-of-way. On average, the sewer pipe daily carries a whopping 700,000 gallons of raw sewage on its way from Rockford to the North Kent Sewer Authority Sewage Water Treatment Plant (PARCC Side) on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids’ northeast side. Regularly ensuing heavy rains since Memorial Day have further eroded the damaged sections of the WPT. At the same time, the underlying and adjacent soil was being further destabilized, placing additional pressure on the sewer line. With the pristine Rogue River flowing just below, one can only imagine the environmental havoc that would result from a rupture of the huge sewer pipe. Rockford City Manager Michael Young has been on top of this situation from day one. He has tasked the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) to daily monitor the situation along with opening clogged drains and placing straw bales to inhibit further erosion. “I felt the City should not sit on its hands, but rather, be proactive from the very beginning. We could not afford to sit idly by and do nothing. It turns out we absolutely took the right actions. Without our remedial work, the heavy rains that have since followed may well have ruptured the pipeline,” said Young. All the work thus far is only temporary. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has accepted the seriousness of the situation, but at the same time is “wringing its hands” to find a source of funding for a $60,000 engineering study and an estimated $250,000 for permanent repair. Monday, this week, we learned from Dave Heyboer, chairman of the Friends of the White Pine Trail, that a “white knight has ridden to the rescue.” The Kent County Road Commission will provide the engineering, labor and material needed to temporarily stabilize the affected area of the trail. The City of Rockford, Plainfield Township, and the Friends will reimburse the county for expenses incured. The […]