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EPA turns tannery site back to Wolverine, MDEQ

July 5, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA One year after beginning an investigation into the potential leak of contaminants on the Wolverine Worldwide (WWW) former tannery site and surrounding areas, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has returned authority to local agencies while reserving the ability to resume control if necessary. The EPA was petitioned June 2011 by three Rockford residents, Lynn McIntosh, Grant Medich and Gail Mancewicz. In a June 27 letter to Wolverine attorney Michael Robinson, the EPA states that the federal Preliminary Assessment requested by citizens on June 21 has been completed. The letter states that under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) the EPA has one year to conduct a study unless it determines that such assessment is not appropriate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and EPA’s Superfund Removal Program participated in the assessment and found: “Elevated levels of several inorganic contaminants have been detected in the surface and subsurface soils in portions of the Site. Chromium, arsenic and mercury have been detected in sediment samples. Arsenic and chromium have also been detected in groundwater. It is likely that contaminated groundwater discharges to the Rogue River. However, the EPA has concluded that a CERCLA removal response action is not warranted at this time, since the concentration and quantity of known contaminants does not present an immediate and substantial threat of release.” The letter continues, noting that the site scored above 28.50 in the EPA’s Hazardous Ranking System and merits further investigation. On June 14 a letter from the MDEQ recommends further investigation under “Other Cleanup Authority.” “The EPA has concluded that such a referral is appropriate for the Site. MDEQ has based its request for referral upon receiving your [Wolverine’s] letter (date June 11, 2012) in which Wolverine Worldwide Inc. commits to working with the MEDQ.” With this decision in hand, WWW will develop an assessment plan to continue the evaluation of the property. The plan will be reviewed and approved by the MDEQ, and WWW will decide what further steps need to be taken, if any, based on the plan. In a letter dated June 14 from the EPA’s Nuria Muniz to the MDEQ, Muniz states that the property in question was operated as a tannery from 1908 to […]

Wolverine Worldwide employees help build new trail at nature center

November 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

Birds, chipmunks, deer and most Michiganders have been spending the last warm days of fall preparing for winter. Volunteers at the Howard Christensen Nature Center have been busy too! On October 21, they completed a new trail to benefit cross-country skiers. This extension of the Ranger Trail will allow skiers to avoid the sometimes treacherously icy interpretive center parking lot to reach the Arrowhead Trail. The nature center thanks the employees from the “Outdoor Group” at Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, and Patrick Wilk who is a student intern from Lake Superior State University, for making the trail possible. Wilk designed and cleared the new trail, which also passes a vernal pond that is a popular destination for students hunting frogs in the spring. Then, seven employees from Wolverine Worldwide spent the day spreading woodchips to finish the trail. Kathy Young, who initiated the volunteer effort, said, “Wolverine Worldwide encourages employees to get outside and help the community. We all have children and wanted to help the nature center. It’s such a great place… so close to home!” The Wolverine Worldwide volunteers also helped staff prepare for the first annual Red Pine 5K Run, which was held on October 23 with 83 runners and walkers. Howard Christensen Nature Center is an independent nonprofit organization operated by Lily’s Fog Pad Inc. Board member Kathy Reed said, “We really appreciate and depend on the hard work of dedicated volunteers like these to continue the wonderful programs that we offer.” In the winter, one popular program at the nature center is snowshoe rental when there is at least six inches of snow. Visit the nature center’s website at for directions, a trail map, details about programs and events, and more, or call the nature center at (616) 675-3158.

Holiday season begins with lighting ceremony, open houses

November 12, 2010 // 0 Comments

Start the holiday season with old-fashioned ceremony in downtown Rockford November 17 and two evenings of special offers and warm wishes November 17 and 18 as Rockford rings in the holiday season. On Wednesday, November 17 the lighting of the trees ceremony will be held at Peppler Park listen to music from the Rockford choirs and brass ensembles, words of peace from city and state officials. The event is a Norman Rockwell-like evening with hundreds who join in music and then wait in darkness as the countdown begins and the holiday lights for downtown Rockford are turned on for the first time this season. After the lighting ceremony and the following day, many Heart of Rockford businesses will stay open until 9 p.m. and offer treats and specials as they participate in the annual Holiday Open House event. Bring your friends and get some local Christmas shopping done in beautiful downtown Rockford. Among the special offerings (see pages 10 and 11 for more details) consignment specials are at Gumballs & Overalls, a free gift at Great Northern Trading Company. Great Northern Trading Company has beautiful necklace and earring sets starting at $15 up to $29.99, which are great prices for stylish jewelry. Enjoy in-store specials at Sassy Pants, free samples at Grand Cakes, drink specials at Red’s on the River, ten percent off at Open Mind, 20 percent off at Kimberly’s Boutique, 10 percent off in-stock fish tanks at Advanced Aquarium. There will be giveaways and more at Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, double your savings at Double Take, customized gift boxes at Old World Olive Press, free gifts and door prizes at Sage & Roses and 20 percent off one item and refreshments at Jade, 20. The Candle Shop of Rockford is offering 20 percent off one regularly-priced item, receive a free gift with $30 purchase at Dars Gems and Jewelry, a free ornaments from Paperdoll Boutique, samples at Twisted Vine, 15 percent off all frames with purchase of lens and 50 percent off a second pair at In Focus Eyecare & Eyewear (open until 8 p.m. and discounts, food tasting and special gifts at Basket in the Belfry. Baskets in the Belfrey is holding their 33rd Anniversary celebration and shoppers will receive 20% off […]

Planning Commission praises new shoe store plan

July 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

A public hearing for plans to build a new shoe and apparel store on the south section of the current Wolverine World Wide (WWW) property on the Rogue River was held Thursday, June 24. The plan met a warm reception for the most part, despite several comments—both from the public and Rockford Planning Commissioners—concerning contamination on the property. WWW was before the commission, asking they recommend rezoning 3.7 acres of the property from industrial to commercial (C2).   Rockford City Manager Michael Young explained to members of the audience and commissioners that rezoning would facilitate restructuring of the shoe and apparel store. The C2 zoning is more restrictive than a simple commercial designation. “In traditional commercial, anything could go there. It could be fast food, a bank, anything,” said Young. By WWW’s stipulation, the C2 would only allow the store. The store would go in where the pig procurement building is currently located. Five representatives from WWW as well as one from Rockford Construction were on hand to answer questions. A resident with a home facing the site asked if a hazardous waste study had been conducted and if the results were public. Another asked about the zoning of the parking lots on the east side of Main Street. “There is one lone house there. She’s surrounded by parking lots,” the speaker described. “As a commercial structure, there have to be hazardous materials studies,” described Young. “There are a lot of agencies looking at this from a safety point of view, from Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Act [MIOSHA] to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment [DNRE].” Kenneth Grady, general council and secretary for WWW said the property has been constantly monitored for safety as until recently it was a working operation with employees. “We have been working with all appropriate government materials and an abundance of regulatory materials. From this point what we know is it is an old brick building that is coming down.” Planning Commissioner Phil Davis questioned the angle of the building, which neither faces Main nor Courtland streets. He speculated that when WWW reveals its ultimate plan for the entire property, the reason for the unusual placement would become clear. Grady disputed the assumption. He said the angle of […]

‘Waterdance’ installed — let the celebration begin

June 17, 2010 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL As dawn broke on Tuesday morning of this week Anderson’s Metal Sculpture installed and attached a much-anticipated work of art to the face of Rockford’s iconic Rogue River Dam. Titled Waterdance, the sculpture is composed of three stainless steel fish leaping for joy amidst swirls of water.  The grander than life-size fish, synonymous with the Rogue River, are a rainbow trout, a steelhead, and a brown trout. Utilizing a specially constructed boom, powered by 11 muscular and eager helpers, each fish was lowered from the top of the dam to be anchored to the dam’s foundation by Steven Anderson below.  From start to finish the 1 ¾ hour well- choreographed installation went off without a hitch, much to the great pleasure of all involved.  The finished piece was then draped from view for what was to follow later in the evening. And so, just prior to this year’s first Tuesday evening performance of the ever popular Huntington Rogue River Blues series, all in attendance were invited by Rockford City Manager Michael Young to gather at the Rockford Dam Overlook for an unveiling and dedication ceremony of “something really special for the town by a very, very talented man, Sculptor Steve Anderson.”  Young went on to say, “Waterdance will be the centerpiece of the City’s summer long celebration of Rockford’s 75th anniversary of being incorporated as a city in June of 1935.” Young further noted that the DDA, The Rockford Area Arts Commission, and the City of Rockford underwrote the material costs of the sculpture.  For his part, Anderson tells us his creative costs of design and layout along with construction labor and installation were Anderson’s Metal Sculpture’s gift to the Rockford community. Anderson, a CedarRock resident, expressed his gratitude to all who played a hand in the creation and installation of Anderson’s Metal Sculpture’s most prodigious undertaking to date.  He asked that special recognition be given to his sons, Chad and Troy, for being co-creators of Waterdance. He also recognized Randy Everett of Rahm Industrial Services, Inc. and his 2-man crew, Dave and Nester, for prior preliminary concrete repair and hardware installation at the dam site.  And finally to his pre-dawn installation crew consisting of: (in no particular order) Chad and […]

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