September 24 2009

Encampment enchants visitors

September 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

Youngsters learned what it was like to prepare to charge into battle (above), and what sort of items a Native American was likely to have for daily use. The 23rd annual Grand Rogue Living History Encampment was Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20. Reenactor Mike DeJonge said participants are very dedicated, and rules about period dress and behavior are very strict. To the public, it is like walking back in time from the French and Indian War on up to WWII, showing both military and civilian living. To learn more visit

Meijer donates $100,000 to WWW Family YMCA

September 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

                            The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids is very pleased to announce that Meijer has made a very generous donation to the residents of northern Kent County by contributing $100,000 to the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA located in Belmont. The six figure amount is allocated to the 2007 expansion of 14,000 square feet which was needed just two years after the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA opened in 2005. “Meijer understands the value that a strong YMCA brings to the community it serves by providing a solid foundation based on positive activities and programs. Meijer also appreciates the fact that a strong, healthy and vibrant community benefits all area residents and the YMCA’s mission is a critical part of a positive community equation,” said Stacie Behler, vice president, corporate communications and public affairs at Meijer. Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA serves 7,700 members and provides the northern Kent County residents with more than 200 wide-ranging programs. Originally built in 2005, it became quickly apparent that an additional 14,000 square foot expansion was needed to fill the high demand for a health, wellness and fitness facility that would meet the need of the growing northern Kent County corridor. “We are thrilled to receive such a generous gift from a West Michigan original retailer like Meijer. The money will help in many ways now the expansion is complete. This gift will enable thousands of kids and families to reach their potential in spirit, mind and body in our newly expanded Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA,” said Bev Thiel, Executive Director of the facility.

Rockford’s Heckman returns with billboards for ArtPrize

September 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

Cancer-stricken artist vows ‘If it’s the last thing I do’ Rockford artist Mark Heckman refuses to be down in the mouth about his health when winning ArtPrize could give him another shot at realizing his dream of creating a lasting monument to Grand Rapids. Heckman, who is battling stage III non-Hodgkins lymphoma, is unveiling a series of artistic billboards to draw attention to his renewed effort to erect a giant tooth sculpture to honor the city as the first in the nation to fluoridate its water. “I don’t want sympathy – I want votes,” said Heckman, who has adopted the persona of The Tooth Fairy for his artistic campaign. “I’m going to keep fighting tooth and nail for this project—if it’s the last thing I do.” His ArtPrize entry centers around a number of CBS outdoor billboards in downtown Grand Rapids, including the tongue-in-cheek “First In Fluoride” which depicts George Washington and the Tooth Fairy crossing the city’s Grand River with a mammoth molar. “It’s a fact that the father of our country had terrible dentures,” Heckman said, noting that Washington had lost all but one of his teeth by the time of his inauguration. “He probably should have spent more time brushing and less time cutting down cherry trees.” Heckman, who has garnered worldwide attention with his billboards about AIDS, racism and various environmental issues, has also painted a pair of side-by-side billboards that promote Grand Rapids Tap Water with the advertising slogan, “Tastes Great. Less Fillings.” “I feel the art world has a giant cavity that is waiting to be filled with my project,” he said. “There is no question that a giant tooth would draw attention to Grand Rapids’ place in dental history.” ArtPrize, which has drawn artists from around the world to the biggest competition of its kind, will be decided by a public vote between Sept. 23 and Oct. 7.

Some Rockford history didn’t make the grade

September 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

Author discusses images left out of Images of America Rockford Bobbi Schirado had difficult decisions to make when she was choosing images for the recently published historic book featuring Rockford’s past. The native Rockfordite gathered her images of Rockford from museums, libraries, the public and old family albums for the book, Images of America Rockford. With hundreds and hundreds of pictures of varying quality, she needed to narrow down her choices to enough pictures to fill the 120-page book that now may be purchased from the Rockford Historical Museum and other locations in the area. Schirado told her story and presented the book at the September meeting of the Rockford Historical Society on Thursday, September 3. She said she chose Rockford for the history book in part because of the historical society and museum. “You have already done a lot of the work,” she said. Schirado said she is a firm believer that you don’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been. She believes in the value of history and what we can learn about our own town’s roots through the images and stories of the past. “When I was growing up, you knew the history of your town because people remembered it,” Schirado said of her reason for publishing the book. “Now lots of people come from elsewhere and don’t know the history.” She said that while she was signing books at the recent first Rotary Reading Rocks in Rockford festival, a family came up to her, excited about the book. “They said this history was so cool. It turns out they are the family that just bought Clarence Blakeslee’s house,” Shirado stated. When researching for the book, Schirado had help from many individuals. “I didn’t know how much I didn’t know,” she said to the group. Her research helped her learn plenty about Rockford’s past, but also left unanswered questions. The cover image of the book is a good example. “I really liked this picture of a band. There has always been music in Rockford,” she said. Picturing a band with the name on a drum: Decker’s Rockford Band, the cover art raises the unanswered question of who the Decker was that sponsored the musicians. “We found a family […]

Engagements – September 24, 2009

September 24, 2009 // 0 Comments

Rickson-Haas Sara Rickson of Rockford and Brian Haas of Allegan are proud to announce their engagement. The bride-to-be is the daughter of Rick and Sue Rickson of Rockford. She is a graduate of Rockford High School, the University of Michigan, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The groom-to-be is the son of Don and Debbie Haas of Allegan. He is a graduate of Allegan High School and Grand Valley State University. The couple has set a wedding date for October 24, 2009, in Grand Rapids.   Parrish-Carrick The marriage of Diana Parrish and Brad Carrick will be celebrated on October 10, 2009. The future bride of Wyoming is a graduate of Cedar Springs High School, Grand Valley State University with a degree in marketing, and is currently attending Cornerstone University for her MBA. She is employed by H.T. Hackney.Her parents are David and Julie Parrish of Rockford and Joann Parrish of Cedar Springs. The future groom of Wyoming is a graduate of Forest Hills Central and Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He is employed by Brinks. His parents are Steven and Marcia Carrick of Byron Center, and Susan Carrick of Grand Rapids. Matron of honor will be Amy VanderLann with bridesmaids Jennifer VanderLaan, Victoria Andres and Sandra Temple. Best man will be David VanderLann and groomsmen Matthew Brozowski, Jim Lane and John Lane. Flower girls will be Samantha VanderLaan and Dakota Harmon. Ring bearers will be Mitchell VanderLaan and Isaac Parrish. The wedding ceremony will be at Holmdene Gardens at Aquinas College, and the couple will honeymoon on a cruise in the Caribbean.

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