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OPINION: Michigan, Our Great State

OPINION: Michigan, Our Great State

Michigan, our great state. Whether we realize it or not, we really do have a great state.

Granted, we had an unusual winter this past year but then again, have you ever seen the grass and trees so green before? Even people returning from Florida this year have commented about everything being so green!

Despite all of the good things, I still hear people complain about it either being too cool, too cloudy, too hot, etc. To those people I say, maybe it’s time for you to move to a perfect climate, wherever that may be.

I love Michigan and all it has to offer. We have the Great Lakes, a treasure on their own. I used to have an older friend, Bill Hickey, who had apple orchards.

He told me, “You will never, ever find an apple as snappy when you bite into it as a Michigan apple in the fall, because of the Great Lakes.” 

My Town: Farmers who lost 2012 crop during freeze now eligible for funding

My Town: Farmers who lost 2012 crop during freeze now eligible for funding

SPARTA, Mich.—Fruit farmers whose crops were devastated because of the unusual spring weather in 2012 are now eligible for federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin taking applications Tuesday for Michigan farmers who lost their fruit crops due to the freeze.  The funding is available through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program,  which was authorized in this year’s Farm Bill.

 “After the 2014 Farm Bill was enacted into law, USDA expedited the restart of disaster assistance programs as a top priority,” said FSA Administrator Juan Garcia. “Fruit producers experienced significant financial losses from weather-related damage in 2012. NAP provides them with long-awaited disaster relief.”

My Town Rockford: Pothole repairs back up traffic on thoroughfare

My Town Rockford: Pothole repairs back up traffic on thoroughfare

ROCKFORD, Mich.--  The traffic headaches on 10 Mile Road and Northland Drive should be over for now.

Jerry Byrne with the Kent County Road Commission says the pavement replacement  work on 10 Mile Tuesday was a one-day project.  The road commission deemed the project necessary since the road had deteriorated significantly due to the harsh winter; pothole patching would not be sufficient.

The eight-hour project led to backups on the thoroughfare, as drivers were forced to make indirect left turns.  However, Byrne says the repairs should last five to seven years.

Byrne says one of the next major projects for the road commission will be replacing approximately three miles of pavement on Byron Center Avenue, between 76th and 84th streets.  That work is expected to begin next week and last two to three days.  Drivers can expect one-lane closures in both directions during the project.

My Town: Rockford cleans up after winds topple trees, knock out power

My Town: Rockford cleans up after winds topple trees, knock out power

ROCKFORD, Mich.-- Rockford residents were still cleaning up Sunday after a line of violent storms moved through the city about 5:15 p m. Saturday, downing trees and leaving hundreds of residents without power.

City police and fire crews responded to numerous reports of downed trees and power lines, which made several roads impassable. Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church held Palm Sunday masses without power and patrons of MVP Sports were notified by email that the health club was closed due to the power outage. MVP opened its doors Sunday afternoon when power was restored.

Outages were especially prevalent along and east of Myers Lake Avenue NE.

My Town Plainfield Township: Board expected to fund dam clean up

My Town Plainfield Township: Board expected to fund dam clean up

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich.— The Plainfield Township Board is poised to financially back an environmental group's plan to clean up the remnants of an old dam.

In September 1986, storms dumped up to 13 inches of rain on West Michigan, leading to rising floodwaters that destroyed three dams, including the Childsdale dam.  The dam south of Rockford gave way at 2:15 a.m. on Sept. 12, sending flood waters and chunks of concrete down the Rogue River toward the village of Belmont. The dam was never rebuilt, but some of the debris remains in the river.

Now, nearly 28 years later, the Schrems West Michigan chapter of Trout Unlimited wants to clean up remaining dam debris in the Rogue River and improve the habitat for fish and wildlife.  Josh Zuiderveen of Streamworks, LLC presented the proposed project to the Board last month, as part of a county coldwater habitat project.

My Town: Emergency funding to bring pothole relief to drivers

My Town: Emergency funding to bring pothole relief to drivers

KENT COUNTY, Mich.— State lawmakers are coming to the rescue of drivers trying to dodge a plethora of potholes this year.

The legislature Wednesday approved $215 million in emergency road funding,  including $115 million for priority projects and $100 million to assist with maintainence needed due to the harsh winter.    

“The additional funding is much needed to combat the brutal winter we experienced this year and to start to reverse the toll it took on Michigan’s roadways,” said Rep. Rob VerHeulen, R-Walker.  “The investment in local roads will help to limit the expenses associated with car repairs due to poor road conditions.”

The emergency funding includes nearly $1.9 million to maintain and fix Kent County’s roads.  That includes more than $235,000 for the following communities:

My Town Cannon Township: Pando looks to expand its slopes

My Town Cannon Township: Pando looks to expand its slopes

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich.--  A winter attraction in Cannon Township is looking to expand.

Pando Ski Area is asking the Cannon Township Planning Commission to approve changes to its site plan.  The venue wants to add a second slope for visitors, as well as a community facility and larger maintenance building.

Pando, which has been in business for more than 50 years, is already celebrating a successful season because of all the snow.

The Planning Commission will review the proposed site plan amendments during its regular meeting March 11, which will begin at 6 p.m.