September 30 2010

‘Balls of fire over Rockford’ mystery solved

October 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA We know there are plenty of mysteries in the night skies of Rockford because we heard all about them last week from callers. The “balls of fire” in the sky over Rockford the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 15 no longer remain one of those mysteries, however. The calls started coming in quickly after the Squire went to press last week. One of the first callers, Verna, was walking near Krause Memorial Library and said she saw the lights in the sky. “They looked just like the running lights of an airplane, but they couldn’t be because there was no sound,” Verna stated. From her perspective, the lights appeared tiny, no bigger than the end of her finger, and they were white. Verna said she was “flabbergasted” by the sight. The first group of six or eight floated over the library toward the credit union on the corner of Bridge and Monroe streets. She said there were way too many to be hot air balloons and they were also too close together. Rockford Volunteer Police Unit member Larry has seen what looked like balls of fire over Lake Bella Vista. In the dark the balls appeared to be filled with fire, but with binoculars Larry saw the glowing orb was in fact a hot air balloon, complete with a Michigan State S on the side. Brian advised that the balls could be ball lightening, an effect he saw online by Googling “balls of fire.” Crystal of Rockford saw a similar phenomenon a year ago when driving north on US-131. She approached the Rockford overpass and saw hovering balls of fire in the sky over the road, all in a line. As she continued north, she saw two more just after the 14 Mile Road exit. Those two were moving southward, as though to join the others. She called the Rockford Police, who said no one else had reported the sighting. They connected her to the National Weather Service, who said there was nothing in the skies in that area. “It was the weirdest thing I ever saw,” she stated, saying the light in the balls didn’t flicker like flame, or shine down onto the ground. She said if you search “orange orbs” on […]

Hunting families find coin in traffic jam

October 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

Every year the Abplanalp family, husband and wife and their kids and sons-in-law, and now granddaughter Zoe, have looked for the Cannon Coin together. This year they found it, and on their first day searching. Leslie, Matt and Luke Ledoux were looking at the clues while driving on Belding Road. Traffic was bad and they were backed up near the Welcome sign just east of Courtland Drive. They noticed one word from each of the first three clues was included on the sign. “We just thought we’d pull over and look,” said Leslie. Sure enough, the coin was buried, top side showing, in the base of one sign post. Adding up all the hours the family has looked together, and then dividing by the number of people sharing the prize, the family guesses they are at just under minimum wage with the $1,000 prize. Two years ago they believe they actually stepped on the hidden coin, but didn’t see it. “I’ve never seen anyone so into the hunt,” said Carl Stites, one of the organizers. The family has kept a scrapbook of every article and clue since day one. Like many families, they have enjoyed hunting as a group. The Abplanalp advice to next year’s hunters: “Don’t bother looking, we’re going to find it.”

Citizens to be inducted into new RPS Hall of Fame

October 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

Dinner Saturday, tickets at the door “Our two districts can help each other, even if we want to kill each other on the football field,” said Jill Ericksen, Rockford Education Foundation (REF) board member and organizer of the new Rockford Public Schools Hall of Fame. REF members from the Grandville School District helped organizing Rockford’s new RPS Hall of Fame. A monument which bears the names of the first inductees was installed Tuesday, September 28 at Rockford High School. Patten Monument built the column, a nearly four-ton India jet black granite work which arrived to Long Beach, California via ocean freighter. The raw stone was held up in customs, nearly causing a delay. The new recognition program is 14 months in the making and recognizes Rockford graduates or citizens in four categories. A ribbon cutting for the monument takes place this Friday at 4 p.m. at the high school. The dinner honoring the inductees will be Saturday at the school and will be a “roaming dinner party” with a variety of food from Bostwick Lake Inn, Jonny B’z, Grill One Eleven and the Grist Mill/Honey Creek Inn. Local celebrities will MC the event. “It won’t be like a sit-down dinner. You can roam around and sample all the restaurants,” Ericksen stated. Inductees are ten people, all with incredible stories of accomplishments in different fields. “We have people coming from all over the country,” Ericksen said. One Rockford graduate negotiates world peace between countries, another has invented flexible cement. All are worthy of the recognition. The dinner is open to the public and tickets are available at the door or at (click events page), $50 adults, $20 students. Appetizers will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. Inductees will be added every other year, and a form for candidates will be provided at the dinner.

Rotary chicken BBQ fills bellies for good cause

October 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Rotary Club’s annual chicken dinner sale on the first week of Harvest Fest held this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday had plenty of takers at the drive-up service, which continues to be popular. Plenty of folks also sit down to enjoy the meal in the Rotary Pavilion or nearby on City picnic tables on the banks of the Rogue River. The dinner is a staple of Harvest Fest on the first weekend, but there are plenty of other things to enjoy during the second weekend, October 2 and 3, and the last weekend, October 9 and 10.

Ten Mile bridge receives some TLC

October 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

Drivers over Ten Mile Road shared the bridge at the Rogue River with Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) crews Thursday, Sept. 16 to Thursday, Sept. 23 as the bridge received an evaluation and some patching. An unusual piece of equipment may have caught the eye of passersby as KCRC staff were lowered under the bridge for a closer look and to apply the patching material. Wayne Harroll, of the KCRC, said the vehicle on the bridge for those days is known in the industry as a “snooper truck” but is actually a Truck Mounted Bridge Inspection Unit that Kent County leases as need requires. The vehicle came to Rockford after the KCRC used it to do some repairs at the Knapp Street and Jupiter Avenue bridges over the Grand River. “Our bridges are in decent shape, although all of them need maintenance,” said Harroll. As news reports decry the terrible state of roads and bridges across Michigan and much of the United States, Kent County’s are an exception. According to Harroll, aggressive campaigns in the county in the 1970s and ‘80s resulted in the replacement of dilapidated bridge components. “A lot of our old steel truss bridges were replaced,” Harroll said. He noted that the only remaining bridge that is not up to legal weight is the Fallasburg covered bridge in Lowell. Instead of the normal eight- or nine-ton capacity, the Fallasburg bridge has a posted limit of three tons. The 1800s-era Fallasburg bridge was left because of its historic nature, one of only three covered bridges in Michigan, and because a newer bridge is located just up the river. “If it was a safety issue, we’d replace it,” Harroll said. “The Historic Society would not like us to replace that bridge.”

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