William Thornton would be proud of Rockford today. In 1856 the civil engineer was given the job of platting the Village of Laphamville and Thornton made sure the village, which would one day become Rockford, had lots of trees. On Friday, April 30, Rockford took the final step in a process that will qualify the town as a National Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA. An Arbor Day celebration Friday featured the hard work of Valley View Elementary’s Green Team and 40 donated maple trees from the City of Rockford. During the day Rockford crews planted more trees throughout the city. Andrew Shear, who many residents may remember from his long stint at the Rockford Post Office—900 years, according to Shear—is one of the people behind the new designation. He and Lynn McIntosh approached the city council in 2008, asking council to consider pursuing the Tree City honor. They pointed out the history of our arbor roots. According to Homer Burch’s book From Samill to City, which chronicles the town’s early years, Thornton’s efforts toward a tree-filled town was appreciated. “A few years later the results of Thornton’s efforts were so evident that village officials adopted a policy of continuing his project until Rockford became widely noted for its treee shaded streets.” Burch’s book reads. Rockford council were reluctant to pursue the designation, fearing that becoming a Tree City would impose new restrictions or costs on residents. According to City Manager Michael Young, Rockford is already doing about everything required to be a Tree City USA, including caring for city trees and encouraging planting trees with a cost sharing program for residents. Having an annual Arbor Day celebration will now be something all residents can look forward to, including signs at city limits proclaiming Rockford a Tree City USA. For Shear and McIntosh, the new designation is exciting and brings endless possibilities. “I see interest in trees blooming for Rockford,” McIntosh said.
It is most common to think of movie stars, as people—individuals such as Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks or Will Smith. Did you ever think that a movie star could be a “what,” not a “who?” Remember the 2000 movie, “Gone in 60 Seconds”? The car, a modified 1967 Shelby GT—prettied up for the movie with high tech materials—named Eleanor was the main character. Eleanor couldn’t talk, walk or think on her own, but, without Eleanor, the movie would never have been a blockbuster hit with a cult-like following. Rockford resident, Tim Lenon, owner of Legend Restorations Inc. in Sparta, recently created an “Eleanor” of his own. In the recent movie “My One and Only,” starring Renee Zellweger and Kevin Bacon, Lenon provided the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado, which was for all purposes as important to the film’s plot as Zellweger’s character. In “My One and Only,” a comedy set in the 1950s, Zellweger’s character, Ann Devereaux, takes her two teenage sons, Robbie (Mark Rendall) and George (Logan Lerman), on a drive down the Eastern coastline in an impracticable search for a wealthy man to fund a new life for her and her sons—a life better than what they had with Ann’s cheating husband Dan (Kevin Bacon). The process of restoring a vintage (1930s to 1960s era) car is not a quick process, nor is it inexpensive. Many times it can take 18 months to two years to complete a simple restore, and often it takes longer. “You don’t get three chances to get it right,” said Lenon of the process. Restoring cars to their vintage quality is not a job for Lenon, it’s a passion. He eats it, sleeps it, and breathes it. Vintage cars are his life, so you can imagine his response when approached by a major Hollywood motion picture production company. This particular car, the 1953 Cadillac Eldorado, nicknamed Zelly, was as important to the movie as the movie stars who would ride in her. Lenon was in New Mexico for filming and maintaining the integrity of Zelly during the production process. It was there that he met Kevin Bacon, Renee Zellweger and the rest of the cast of the limited 2009 release. Lenon recalls eating a simple breakfast of oatmeal with […]
Heart of Rockford businesses kick off holidays Healthcare product drive to benefit North Kent Service Center clients Grand Rapids ranks as one of the nation’s more philanthropic communities, and Rockford is certainly well-known for its support of charity events, food drives, faith-based initiatives, and support of nonprofits near and far. This rings especially true at the holidays, when families and businesses dig deep to buy toys, fill food baskets, and “adopt” members of the community who need extra help. The Heart of Rockford Business Association is one such group that supports numerous charity events throughout the year, including Rockford’s Relay for Life/American Cancer Society, Think Pink/Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Community Unity, and silent auctions and walkathons for multiple causes. This holiday season, the group decided on a somewhat alternative way to lend their hand. Heart Steering Committee member and Baskets in the Belfry owner, Polly VonEschen, explained, “Families relying on federal assistance cannot use WIC dollars to purchase basic healthcare items like shampoo, soup and deodorant, and food pantries and community service centers typically don’t receive these types of donations. As a result, many of our Heart businesses have set up collection bins in their stores and are offering some sort of gift or reward to customers who donate for their generosity. All of our donations will be sent to the North Kent Service Center to help residents in our community.” Acceptable products include toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bath gel, soap, and any additional items for cleanliness. Gifts will be accepted through the holiday season. For further details, contact one of these Heart of Rockford Business Association members: A Charmed Life Nail Salon, Aunt Candy’s Toy Co., Baskets in the Belfry, Bow-Dacious Designs, The Candle Shop, The Corner Bar, Creative Concepts Plus, Custard by the Dam, Dam Dogs, Frame & Mat Shop, G. Williker’s, Great Northern Trading Co., Gremel Communications Inc., Imperial Computer Solutions, Independent Bank, J.T. Stitchery & Frame Shop, Jade, Kimberly’s Boutique, Paperdoll, Pegasus Sports, Poindexter’s Specialty Marketplace, Reading Books, Reds on the River, Right at Home, Right Up Your Alley, Rockford Flower Shop, Rockford Independent, The Rockford Squire, Rogue River Tavern, Rudy Kazoody’s, Sage & Roses, WAR Chest Boutique, Ward’s Hair Place, and Xscape Salon.
Wednesday, Nov. 11 Fred Meijer Book-Signing Event—7 p.m. at North Rockford Middle School auditorium, 397 E. Division (10 Mile Rd.), Rockford. Meet the authors of “Fred Meijer: Stories of His Life” and special guest Fred Meijer. There will be a short program, after which books may be purchased. Sponsored by Rockford Area Historical Society. Free and open to the public. Thur.–Sat., Nov. 12–14 “On Wings of Valor” 2-Act Drama—8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Kent Theatre, 8 N. Main St., Cedar Springs, presented by Rogue River Community Theatre about the life of Joan of Arc. Door prizes at each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults, $4 for students, $8 for senior citizens, $12 for premium seating, and are available at the door. For more information or tickets, call (616) 874-5264 or (616) 696-7469. Friday, November 13 Silent & Live Auction Fundraiser—6 p.m. at Grandville Baptist Church, 4325 40th St. SW, Grandville, held by Pine Ridge Bible Camp. This year’s theme is “Lights, Christmas, Auction!” Child care is available at no cost for children ages 2 to 12. No admission fee. For more information, call the camp at (616) 696-8675 or visit www.pineridgecamp.com. Saturday, Nov. 14 Rockford Bunco—7 to 11 p.m. at Rockford Ambulance, 8450 Shaner Ave., Rockford. Entrance fee of $10 benefits Rockford AfterGrad 2010. Coffee, pop and snacks will be furnished, prizes awarded, and a 50/50 raffle will be held. Space limited, so reserve early! Call Sally Schaberg at (616) 866-8173. Sunday, November 15 Roast Beef Dinner—11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rockford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 4195 Thirteen Mile Road, Rockford. Cost is $8 for adults, and $3.50 for children under age 12. Enjoy all-you-can-eat roast beef, potatoes, corn, beans, roll, dessert and beverage. Bring your papers for recycling! “Best dinner in town… Bring the whole family!” Visit www.rockfordvfwpost3946.org. Breakfast—9 to 11 a.m. at the Sparta/Grand Rapids Moose Lodge #50, 11510 N. Division, Sparta. Cost is $5 per person with coffee, juice and milk included. Presented by the Moose On Bikes (M.O.B.), Lodge #50. Monday, November 16 Free Food for Needy Families—5 p.m. in the Mobile Food Pantry at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 6070 Kuttshill Drive (corner of Northland Drive and Rogue River Rd.; entrance on Kuttshill), […]
Fry Mrs. Ruth Stow Fry, age 90, died peacefully on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at Porter Hills Retirement Community from complications of a stroke she suffered on October 6, 2009. For the past 12 years she resided there with her husband, Richard. Prior to moving to Porter Hills, Ruth and Dick lived in their home on the Rogue River in Rockford for 34 years. Ruth was born in Billings, Montana on May 23, 1919, the third child of Ralph Albert Stow of Caledonia, Mich., and Frances Morris Stow of Reading, Mich. Her older siblings were Dr. Robert Stow of East Lansing, Mich., and Dr. Richard Stow of Worthington, Ohio, both of whom preceded her in death. Ruth spent most of her childhood in East Lansing, where she graduated from East Lansing High School in 1937 and from Michigan State College (now University) with a degree in music education in 1942 and later, a masters degree in education. She also spent many summers assisting her parents in running a children’s summer camp on Crystal Lake near Frankfort, where many fond memories were formed. Ruth was an accomplished pianist and won many honors for her piano talents, including the Michigan State Federation of Music Clubs competition in 1937. She and Dick were married in East Lansing on June 16, 1945. Soon after their marriage, Ruth and Dick moved to Midland, Mich., where Dick became the owner of Brown Lumber Company, and Ruth focused on raising their three children. They left Midland in 1961 and, after a brief stay on the west coast, they settled in Rockford in 1962. She joined the teaching staff of the Rockford Public Schools in 1963, and taught elementary education at both Belmont and Parkside elementary schools until she retired from teaching in 1981. Ruth was delightfully adept at assisting and inspiring her students to fulfill their own potential, and was especially talented at encouraging her own children to aspire and achieve their own successful careers. For over 45 years, Ruth and Dick were active members of the First Congregational Church of Rockford. Ruth will be fondly remembered throughout the Rockford and Porter Hills communities for her ceaseless humor, her keen intellectual curiosity, her exceptional teaching talents and her lifelong dedication to music, […]