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East GR man arrested for business burglaries

June 25, 2012 // 0 Comments

Die Sand Manufacturing, located at 500 Wolverine in Rockford, was broken into during the early morning hours of June 14, 2012. Scrap metals stored in the building were taken by the burglar and later recovered from Enterprise Metal and Iron Company, located in Grand Rapids. Officer Derek Haan and Sergeant Mike Miller began checking with local scrap yards upon learning of the break-in and were able to develop information that Nicholas James Dean, 26, of East Grand Rapids, had traded the metal for cash that same morning. Rockford officers with the assistance of East Grand Rapids DPS officers watched Dean’s house, located on Burchard SE, and, upon his return home, Dean was taken into custody. Dean was interviewed and he admitted to the burglary as well as other similar break-ins near Byron Center. Officers searched Dean’s home and automobile, where other evidence, including burglar tools, was collected by the investigators. Dean is a person of interest in several business break-ins that occurred in the Rockford Industrial Park at the beginning of June. Investigators are awaiting results of forensic analysis of evidence of those burglaries. Dean was charged with breaking and entering, and was lodged at the Kent County Jail on a $25,000 bond. A preliminary hearing will be held in the 63rd District Court next week.

Rockford Freshman Center to hold Meijer State Games archery competition

June 21, 2012 // 0 Comments

Local cyclist, shooter a featured athlete Over 5,000 athletes are expected to participate in Michigan’s third Olympic-style State Games, which will take place throughout West Michigan through June 22, including the Rockford Freshman Center, 4100 Kroes Street. A Rockford cyclist and rifle marksman is also one of the featured athletes at the biking and small bore rifle competition portions of the State Games. Jeff DeRegnaucourt, of Rockford Sportsman’s Club, is organizing the archery competition at the center, which will take place June 22-24. Last year’s Meijer State Games archers from the Rockford Sportsman’s Club led the parade of athletes into the opening ceremonies at Fifth Third Ball Park. According to DeRegnaucourt, there are 108 archers ranging in age from 5 to 78 competing this year up from 60 last year.. Twenty-three are members of the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) from across the state of Michigan. The kids shoot the bows they were trained on in school as a physical education class. “We are dedicating the entire afternoon from 4 p.m. on Saturday, for their tournament,” he explained. On Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. will be the first day of the Federal International Archery (FITA) competition. Most amazing for audiences to watch are the two long-distance competitions, the longest of which is 90 meters, the length of a football field. The long distances will be shot Saturday and the shorter distances will be shot Sunday 9 a.m to 3 p.m. As the event is a Star FITA competition, should someone shoot a new national or world record, it will be official. Larry Johnson, who is a certified judge from the United States Archery organization, will officiate. All archers in both the FITA and NASP will participate in opening ceremonies, which this year will be held Friday evening at East Kentwood High School stadium, where they will participate in the parade of athletes along with athletes in 30 other sports. “In total we estimate 5,000 athletes from across Michigan,” DeRegnaucourt stated. The American flag will be flown in by skydivers and the National Anthem will be played with the lighting of the Official Caldron, where the games will be officially opened. The mayor pro tem for the City of Rockford will officiate the […]

Rockford, are you ready for another contest?

June 21, 2012 // 0 Comments

The RAM needs your votes by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On the wings of last summer’s improbable win in the nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest, the Rockford community is being asked by the Rockford Historical Society to rally around their entry in the “Building Our Community Contest”. For 50 years Erhardt Construction has been proud to build some of the most recognizable buildings in our respective communities. They are even more proud to be a part of West Michigan which, as we all know in our hearts, as a great place to live, work and do business. In recognition of their 50th Anniversary, Erhardt Construction and its project partners wish to recognize and support the work of people and organizations that are serving others in Kent and Ottawa counties. Together with their project partners, Erhardt is giving away a construction project and prizes totaling $50,000 to area non-profit organizations through their “Building Our Community” contest. Instead of celebrating their achievements, Erhardt invites everyone to join them in honoring the organizations doing truly great work in the greater Grand Rapids community. Erhardt’s hope is to reach non-profit organizations that have a vision for a project or facility improvement that will help them accomplish their mission. Talk about a timely contest. As we all know, the Rockford Historical Society has been engaged in a yearlong campaign to raise funds to move the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its current inadequate facility. To date the fund-raising campaign has been successful enough to prompt the Rockford City Council to enter into a lease agreement with the RAM that would allow them to relocate the museum into the vacant 63rd District Court building adjacent to City Hall. The move would allow the RAM to, in large measure, keep the storied history of the Rockford community alive for future generations. Costs for such a project are substantial and a $45,000 first prize in winning the “Building Our Community” contest would be a Godsend. This is Rockford, we can do this, here’s how: The contest, to be conducted in two rounds, is similar to last year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Votes may be cast by registering and following the simple instructions online at You may vote for the Rockford […]

‘Very special couple’ inducted into Recognition Plaza

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Individuals made Rockford what it is today by BETH ALTENA “Service is the rent we pay for out little spot on this Earth.” This attitude was exemplified in the life led by the late Lynn Gill, who along with his wife LaZelle (Zell) were the lone addition to the Rockford Area Community Endowment (R.A.C.E.) Recognition Plaza. A ceremony took place Tuesday, May 28, beginning with the R.A.C.E. annual meeting at City Hall and ending at the plaza, located on the west side of the Rogue River by the dam. Zell Gill, before a large crowd of well-wishers at the Plaza, spoke with dignity and said the chance to help Rockford become what it is today has been a great honor for herself and her late husband. A plaque with her and Lynn’s name will serve as a permanent tribute to the contributions the couple have made to Rockford. Rockford City Manager Michael Young and the Rockford Area Historical Society nominated the couple and both Young and Historical Society President Terry Konkle spoke during the ceremony. Young talked of his experience of the couple. “In 1995 when I came here, whether it was God’s will, he put me right next to the Gills,” he said. Young described how fortunate his family felt getting to know the Gills and of their kindness and generosity. He noted that when his daughters ran away from home, as kids usually do during their childhood, his girls, ages 3 and 4, ran away to the Gills’ home next door. The Gills were very active in Rockford and are people that were well known as well as universally admired. According to a biography compiled by the Historical Society, the Gills moved to Rockford in 1940. Lynn Gill passed away in March 2009, and Zell still lives in the house they built on Dayton Street. The couple lived their lives with service as a major factor in their activities. Lynn was from Big Rapids, where he graduated in 1935 as salutatorian of Big Rapids High School. He and his brother were well known as semi-pro baseball players. Lynn was inducted into the Mecosta County Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Zell was from Reed City and also had a love of sports. Both […]

Young has full city council support after excellent review

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

Michael Young, Rockford’s city manager for 17 years, had his employment contract extended one year after his recent annual city council evaluation. Young’s contract is a three-year agreement. He asked for and was given a two percent salary increase. Once again this year, the increase is in line with the City of Rockford employee groups with whom he had negotiated contracts. The council rated Young’s overall performance as “excellent.” A city manager wears many hats, including managing the city’s diverse staff and work flow; controlling the city’s budget and financial position; interacting and serving the public; and communicating with the city council. Young is able to juggle all of the hats. The council fully supports Young for his ability to successfully work with the several and diverse community groups, governmental agencies, and local businesses located in Rockford. As the council looks around the city to contemplate changes that have happened during Young’s 17-year tenure, they deem it impressive. Mayor Steve J. Jazwiec stated, “I couldn’t think of a better person to represent us. He is an extremely valuable asset to our community. Michael’s influence and impact on the community are very noticeable.” All Michigan cities, townships, villages and counties are encountering difficult financial situations. Rockford, under Young’s leadership, has been able to do two things that are exemplary. First, it has been able to maintain a healthy fund balance while keeping the tax rate at 10.9 mills, the third lowest millage rate in the county for municipalities without a city income tax. The 2012-2013 budget as presented by Young and approved by council will ensure that continued excellent financial condition through June 2013. Second, Rockford has been able to continue to provide excellent service to the public despite a declining revenue environment and staff reductions that have totaled 25 percent over the past three years. For example, residents have continued to see improvements to the various parks throughout the city. Many of these improvements, such as the recently completed Rogue River Trail Phase Three, are due to grants written by Young. Infrastructure improvements, as proposed within the budget, have continued to occur such as this summer’s repaving of Division St. from the Bridge east to Wolverine Ave. In addition, the combining of the police, fire, […]

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