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Downtown turns off electric lights

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

As part of an expansive effort to use alternative energy sources (see related story above), the City of Rockford stopped using electric lights on Wednesday, April 1. Department of Public Works Director Mike Bouwcamp turned the switch off during an unlighting ceremony and a large crowd watched as the downtown was reilluminated using gaslight. “Electricity is really one of the first things you can cut to save money,” Bouwcamp said. “Gaslight is also very pleasing to the eye and fits our image.”

Move over Tiffany, there’s a new kid on the block

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Rockford resident, Lyle English, has come a long way from the day almost five years ago when first he strolled into the Eric Brown Stained Glass Studio on Squire Street.  Lyle had peered through the windows many times and marveled at the beautiful stained glass creations on display inside and he wanted a closer look. In subsequent days Lyle returned to the store many times and was befriended by the store’s owner, stained glass artisan, Eric Brown.  Brown offered Lyle a job helping out around the shop and the rest, as they say, is history. Lyle began to sit in on the stained glass classes that were offered weeknights throughout the year.  He began to think that maybe he too, could acquire the skills necessary to create stained glass pieces. Prodded by Brown, Lyle began to take classes.  Lyle (now 51) says, “I was all thumbs at first but with Eric’s help and encouragement I stuck with it and got better.” Starting with simple sun-catchers, Lyle’s skills steadily increased to the point where he has just completed a large Tiffany-style stained glass lamp shade replicating the original Tiffany “Trumpet Vine” pattern. Composed of 985 pieces of cut glass and requiring nine and a half pounds of solder to piece together, Lyle tells us, “It was by far the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”  The lampshade required 222 hours (five plus work weeks) to complete and sits atop a Tiffany replica (leaf and arc) table lamp base. The shade is beautiful to behold, with its richly colored blossoms and the detailed texture of the vine’s trunk as it winds around the piece. The shade and base combined weight is a whopping 55 pounds. Lyle has become a popular character around the shop, both to customers and class students. He continually cracks people up by fracturing the English language with malapropisms in the style of Yankee legend, Yogi Berra. Keeping up a constant patter that humors all around him, Lyle creates stained glass pieces to be placed on sale at the store or freely given away to friends and family.  Most recipients have no idea of the love he puts into each piece and its actual value were it […]

HUGE broadcast at Corner Bar for Tigers opening day

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

On Friday, April 10, the Corner Bar will swing into spring with a daylong event featuring the HUGE show’s Bill Simonson and a WBBL live radio broadcast. On Friday, April 10, a day-long event at the Corner Bar will celebrate the opening baseball game and air live on local station WBBL and on eleven affiliates, broadcasting across the state of Michigan. Simonson is a very popular radio celebrity known for his HUGE show. “The Corner Bar is a sports bar landmark in West Michigan,” said Simonson. “It is an honor to celebrate the Tigers home opener with the people of Rockford and northern Kent County.” Corner Bar owners Andy Tidey and Jeff Wolfe plan to offer trivia contests and prize give-aways througout the day. The Corner Bar will also feature special menu items designed to give patrons an “at the ballpark” experience. Since the Corner Bar is noted for its Hotdog Hall of Fame, diners and Tiger fans can also expect the delicious dogs. Drinks will be offered in special opening day commemorative cups.

Tannery to close May 15

April 1, 2009 // 0 Comments

‘We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to our employees.’ by BETH ALTENA Wolverine World Wide notified tannery workers on Friday, March 20 of the closing of the Rockford tannery on May 15, 2009. In a letter titled WARN Notification to Union dated March 16, the letter stated that the purpose of the letter was pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1998 (“WARN”). The contents of the letter are as follows: Wolverine World Wide will be permanently closing its Tannery facility located at 181 North Main Street, Rockford, MI 49341. We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to our employees. According to the best information available, the expected date of the permanent closing of the facility will be May 15, 2009. A list of the affected bargaining unit position, the number of affected bargaining unit employees in those positions, and the names of bargaining unit employees in affected positions is attached. This notice is given pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1998 ( (“WARN”) which requires employers to give official notice to affected unions of a pending facility closing to the representative of affected employees. In the attachment, duties and names of over 60 tannery workers affected are listed. The list is as follows: Two chief boiler operators, one crib attendant, four disposal pit operators, four dry operators, one electrician, five finish operators, one head sorter, three hi-lo operators, one key operator, one lab technician, five millwrights, one each oiler, paint technician, plush mills, pre-cut operator, s/s mechanic, shipping clerk, split/shave labor, four split/shave operators, three SR finish operators, five SR split/shave operators, seven technicians, one each toggler and utility operator and six wet blue dryer operators. An angry long-term employee with the company, who opted out of requirement several years ago, said he will have the last laugh on Wolverine. “I’ll be there when they close the doors,” he said. City Manager Michael Young said he had received a copy of the letter. “The flow has already started to reduce,” he said. “It doesn’t diminish what’s happening [to know the closing date].” “Wolverine is deciding who is going to be on their team to work with us. We’re […]

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