Two city employee contracts were approved Monday, July 20, by the Rockford City Council, covering employees of the police department and public works. Both groups will receive two percent raises for each of the first two years of the contract. The police department union will also receive a two percent raise for the third and final year of the contract. Although their contract is also for three years, public works employees opted to revisit and renegotiate the wage issue after two years. Rockford currently has seven full-time police officers who earn between $42,000 and $51,100 annually, depending on their length of service. Most have been with the city three years or more, putting them in the top wages category. Officers’ annual earnings will rise to between $42,500 and $53,200 by the end of the three-year contract. The police department also employs four reserve police officers working less than full time. Reserve officers currently earn between $14.50 and $16.80 per hour. Under the new contract, those hourly wages will rise to between $15.15 and $17.47 per hour by the third year. Reserve officers hit the top of the pay scale after they’ve been with the city for two years. Salaries for Police Chief Dave Jones, Lieutenant Scott Mazur and Sergeant Mike Miller are not covered under the union contract. Water plant and other City laborers currently earn $30,300 annually to start and up to $39,800 for those with at least four years of service. Under the new contract, annual earnings will rise to between $30,970 and $40,600 at the end of two years, at which time wages will be renegotiated. Salaries for Department of Public Works Director Mike Bouwkamp, Supervisor Jamie Davies, and Foreman Phil Vincent are not covered under the union contract. The new contracts also addressed health insurance. Currently, full-time officers and public works employees contribute five percent to health insurance premiums. Under the new contract, that percentage will rise to six percent in 2010, seven percent in 2011, and eight percent in 2012. City Manager Michael Young acted on behalf of the city in the union negotiations, which began early in 2009.
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This spring, The Rockford Squire reported that five historic people in the Rockford area were honored at Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park. The event is a newer tradition in its second year and organized by the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE). Each year, RACE will honor people from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. In addition to the gift of grants, recognizing the people who have contributed significantly to the history of the area is among the Endowment’s goals. When visiting the beautiful Peppler Park Recognition Plaza (on the west side of the dam), take the time to read the names on the bricks under your feet and in plaques on the columns in the park. The following is one more of the stories of this year’s honorees, with others to follow in future issues of the Squire. Clarence Blakeslee Not long ago, renowned newsman Tom Brokaw wrote a book entitled “The Greatest Generation.” That book recognized the generation of Americans who were born in the early 1900s, survived two world wars and the most crippling economic depression in American history. Clarence Blakeslee exemplifies that generation and all that it stands for, as well as any American. The Rockford area was truly blessed by many of that greatest generation, and the history of this community will always be much more richly colored because of the lives of those people, not the least of which is our own Clarence Blakeslee, or as he has come to be known, Mr. Rockford. Clarence was born in Grand Rapids in 1914. By 1918, his parents had divorced and he moved to Courtland Township for his first Rockford experience. He moved several times after that, including back to Grand Rapids and to Ionia, but in 1926 his mother—with a horse and wagon load of kids, furniture and a new husband—moved back to the Rockford area. It was a move that brought a lifetime of mutual love and respect between Clarence and his new home and neighbors of Rockford. Clarence graduated from Rockford Senior High School in 1932 after a distinguished high school career that included varsity letters in track, football and basketball. The classroom was a success also and it was recognized by […]
They can be as big as military ammunition canisters hidden in hollow trees or as tiny as a nitroglycerine tube stashed behind a fake screw head. Geocaches in the Rockford area are increasing all the time, including the latest installed at The Rockford Squire office at 331 Northland Drive. This geocache is called “Free Since 1871.” Geocaching is a fun sport that can be winter-friendly. It can be done as a solitary sport, as a creative family outing, and even as a competition event for groups—church youth groups, this may be for you. With a hand-held global positioning unit (GPS), find the coordinates of local caches at geocaching.com. The caches are usually on park or public land, but on private property only with permission. Find the hidden cache, sign in and log your finds, if you want to. Our friend Bob at The Cedar Springs Post newspaper—“raffitz” to his geocaching friends—put this in for us last week. We’ve had the fun of watching people look for it during work hours, but have missed some of the after-hours friends. On our logbook are geocaching diehards “RedHeadMary” and “Nanncyan.” Also visiting “Free Since 1871” was “golfdiva,” “Dirty Gordy,” “Dafodil Mom” and more. Our cache is a simple one-stop, one-stage. In multi-caches, the first coordinate gives you the second coordinates and so on. Caches can be as long and complex as desired. In Maine, the Acadia National Park staff created a multi-cache that covers many miles and is an educational series. One stop leads you to a board explaining how a fjord is created. Others explain the natural phenomenon causing particular rock formations or the history of a geographic oddity. Here at “Free Since 1871,” some of our visitors have posted their thoughts online. “RonORock” was embarrassed because he “missed the obvious” and said he was glad we weren’t at work to see him make a fool of himself searching for the cache. “NinePatchNancy” came with her family on a perfect day. “Amajo” said she and her spouse don’t really like caches on private property and argued about who would go out to search for it. “Me and Mr. Amajo both went out so we could look like fools together,” she wrote. “Grizz Rider” also found the hidden […]
by BETH ALTENA “It isn’t against any law to go into a bank with a helmet on, but it certainly should be a red flag for tellers,” said Kent County Sheriff Lt. Kevin Kelley. The Sheriff’s Department, assisted by task force members from the Grand Rapids office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are seeking the identity of a gunman who robbed the Lake Michigan Credit Union on Ten Mile Road at 9:05 a.m. Monday, July 13. In charge of the investigation is Kent County officer Brad Mercer, who reported the individual was a white man with a handgun jammed into his pants as he entered the credit union in Algoma Township. Without taking out the gun, the robber collected money from the tellers in the office and left in about one minute. He fled on a bright green motor bike with “knobby tires.” “He went west on Ten Mile Road and that’s the last anyone saw of him,” Mercer stated. Without knowing the individuals criminal background, Mercer said it was impossible to guess what sentence he will face when caught. “I’d say a minimum of five years if it was a first offense. Bank robbery carries a severe punishment.” Mercer said the department has just recently arrested a serial ring of bank robbers, six individuals whose crimes go back to 2003. He said those were violent ones where several armed thieves entered the banks. Carrying a weapon into a bank robbery increases the possible sentence. Because tellers are routinely told to hand over the money with or without a weapon, there isn’t much reason to carry a gun or other weapon. According to Kelley, about half of bank robbers do carry a weapon. He said it makes no difference to the case that the office is a credit union rather than a bank. Still images from the credit union security cameras were released and anyone with any information is asked to call the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100 or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345. “Most of the time we do find out who is responsible,” said Kelley. He said investigation often turns up the suspect but others convicted of crimes trying to improve their own circumstances turn in the names of […]
This spring, The Rockford Squire reported that five historic people in the Rockford area were honored at Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park. The event is a newer tradition in its second year and organized by the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE). Each year, RACE will honor people from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. In addition to the gift of grants, recognizing the people who have contributed significantly to the history of the area is among the Endowment’s goals. When visiting the beautiful Peppler Park Recognition Plaza (on the west side of the dam), take the time to read the names on the bricks under your feet and in plaques on the columns in the park. The following is one more of the stories of this year’s honorees, with others to follow in future issues of the Squire. William H. Myers Sr. William H. Myers, an early settler in Kent County and the man for whom Myers Lake was named, filled his 92 years of life with adventure, accomplishment and community leadership. Myers, born in Ireland in 1818, was brought to America as an infant. In 1830, the family moved to Michigan Territory. At 15, Myers secured parental consent to leave home and seek his fortune. He first spent three years as cabin boy on a Lake Michigan sailing ship, then a number of years serving on ocean vessels and traveling to South America, Venezuela, and the Falkland Islands. From there, he shipped on a whaling boat for three years as first mate in the Upper Pacific. He returned home in 1840 and married Elizabeth Dancer, producing a family of nine children. In 1847, the Myerses came to Courtland Township and purchased 160 acres of uncleared land for $1.25 per acre. In the 1840s, there was an increasing stream of settlers in the townships of Plainfield, Cannon, Oakfield and Courtland, but towns were few. Courtland Center (at what is now 13 Mile Road and Myers Lake Avenue) was a stagecoach stop. Laphamville (now Rockford) was a small village on the Rogue River. Over the years, Myers improved his farm until it was one of the best in the region. This active farm is still in the Myers family, […]