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Tag Archive | "Courtland Fire Department"

Iconic Rockford eatery destroyed by gas fire


The Corner Bar burned for hours Monday

by Beth Altena and Kellie Lamphere, Rockford Squire

UP IN SMOKE: What started as a dumpster fire progressed into a gas meter explosion and fire fed by gas from the fuel line which consumed The Corner Bar on Monday.

It wouldn’t be the first time all of downtown Rockford went up in flames, but thanks to the persistent efforts of five fire departments, the fire damage was contained to just one building, Rockford’s most iconic structure and business, The Corner Bar. The building was one of few in downtown that survived the fire of 1898, but did not survive the fire of 2017.

Dave Jones, Chief of Rockford Public Safety said his department received a call at about 5 a.m. about a fire in the dumpster behind the building at 31 N Main Street on the west side next to Kimberly’s Boutique. Firefighters put that fire out within five or ten minutes.

Firefighters had just left the building where they had been in the basement evaluating any damage when an explosion occurred that lifted the roof off the building.

“That was the angel on our shoulders,” Jones said. “Four or five firefighters had just walked away from that area.” The heat and pressure from the dumpster fire had damaged the gas meter outside the building and caused the huge explosion. Fed by gas from the fuel line, fire raged for the next four hours as firefighters fought to control the flames.

Firefighters from Rockford were joined by crews from the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. “We are lucky Rockford is in the center of those four townships,” Jones noted. Unlike the fire of 1898, the firefighters were able to limit the fire damage to just the one structure, although neighboring businesses, closed for the duration.

Jones said first responders put millions of gallons on the structure as DTE Energy tried to locate a shutoff for the gas. “It was like a blow torch,” Jones said of the blaze. Firefighters were unable to shut off gas to the building through the meter, which was the epicenter of the fire, and crews from the energy company were unable to locate a remote shutoff that ran to the building. Eventually, after three hours of gas fed fire, a fuel line under Courtland Street was located and DTE was able to crimp the line and shut down the gas.

“For three hours gas fed that fire, it was like a big blow torch up in all that timber. We were fortunate no one was hurt.” Jones also described to reporters how close together all the downtown buildings are, with some connected to each other.  He said the efforts of the departments contained the fire.

Owner of The Corner Bar business, Jeff Wolfe, said the building will be rebuilt and Jones repeated that at City Council that evening. He called the loss of the building devastating and the business the heart of Rockford.

Owner of the building Andy Tidey, who currently resides in Colorado, was flying in Tuesday to see the damage himself and collaborate with Wolfe on a game plan moving forward. He said the building was insured, but he is surprised by the extent of the damage.

“I never imagined it could all go,” he said. “It’s only a half block from the fire department.” He said he has good insurance on the structure and it is his intent to rebuild and reopen The Corner Bar, which reports say dates back to the 1930s. The business is best known for its chili dogs and its chili dog eating contest, with the record of 43 dogs in four hours.

The restaurant featured Hotdog Hall of Fame names engraved with customers who were successful in eating twelve chili dogs in four hours. According to Mark Bivins of Creative Concepts, who engraves the names, there are records of the people on the plaques and how many dogs they ate.

Tidey said it was his expectation that he and Jeff will put their heads together and plan how to rebuild. “There are a lot of questions and a lot of numbers. I hope that is something we are going to work out.” He said part of what made the restaurant the icon it is the ambiance, the names on the wall and the wooded interior. “That’s what we want to recreate.”

Tidey said he received a phone call from his mother in the early hours of Monday morning and she told him the building was on fire. He was afraid to google it and instead sent a text to Jeff, who told him the whole building was in danger. “He said ‘It’s burning up and they can’t stop it, they can’t stop the gas.’” Tidey said it is shocking to think how different things would have turned out if the meter had not blown.

“It would have been just a little fire, it would have been easy to repair.”

Rockford firefighters said the same thing. Ken Phillips Jr. said first responders were thrilled when they put the smaller fire out. “We’re going to look like heroes because we saved the Corner Bar,” he said. Then the explosion happened. “It was just like in the movies, the windows all blew out.”

He said his fellow fire fighters were on the scene for over 20 hours and were grateful for the assistance of the other departments, who worked well with each other and were very professional.

Phillips said the outpouring from the community was overwhelming. Throughout the day over 5,000 people went to the scene and many thanked the firefighters for their efforts. He reported that restaurants brought them food and water throughout the day and night as the structure continued to smoke and smolder.

“That’s Rockford, that’s why people come back or stay in the first place.”

That sentiment was repeated at City Council with members of the public thanking Chief Jones for the hard work of his team and Jamie Davies’ crew, along with the other departments.

The building was purchased from Donald Berg by Corner Bar LLC on March 16, 2001 for $435,000. In 2017 its taxable value was $295,700 for an estimated total value of $591,400, according to the Rockford assessors office.

Phillips said he heard there was speculation about preserving the front façade of the structure and that restoration companies can number the bricks of historic buildings and recreate them.

Tidey said it was too early to even estimate a timeline for rebuilding the structure, “I’m still reeling like everybody else he said the day of the fire.” He did seem confident the business and building would survive even this. “You know it would be great to come back even bigger and more successful.”

On Tuesday evening Jones said that it would be five to seven days before streets surrounding the burned out Corner Bar can safely reopen.

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Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.


Explore MCC’s Kenneth J. Lehman Nature Trails

Montcalm Community College’s Kenneth J. Lehman Nature Trails are open to the public from dawn until dusk, 365 days a year. There is no charge to visit these beautiful trails winding through forests, grasslands and wetlands. More than four miles of trails are marked with numbered trail posts and maps are available at most major trail heads. For more information, please email naturetrails@montcalm.edu or call MCC Biology Instructor Heather Wesp (989) 328-1270. #11

Rockford Reformed Church Garage Sale

Mar. 18: The annual Church Garage Sale will be held on Saturday, March 18th from 9 am to 3 pm at Rockford Reformed Church located at 4890 – 11 Mile Rd., Rockford. Proceeds will go towards the youth ministries summer trips. For more information, call Deb Coon 616-866-4829. #11p

Dinner at the Legion

Mar. 20: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a Roast Beef and Onions dinner on Monday, March 20th, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy, veggies, salad, roll, drink and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160.  #11

Blood Drive

Mar. 21:This has been a busy week to remember to do certain things: turn our clocks back and wear green Friday. But next week your top priority is to remember to donate blood. The need is great; the cost is free; time commitment is less than an hour and the reward is gratifying. Michigan Blood Drive is on March 21st. at the Cedar Springs Methodist Church from 12:30 pm until 7:00 pm. Help to save lives. The Blood Center thanks all the people that attempt to donate. #11

Anatomy – The Human Body at KDL

Mar. 23: Learn how the human body works through STEAM based activities. Create models to learn how your circulatory system, skeleton and lungs function. Discover what the inside of your body looks like using a human torso model and make your own brain hat to take home. For ages 6 and older. Thursday, March 23rd at 6:30 pm, Spencer Township KDL Branch, 14960 Meddler Ave. Gowen.

Players perform at the Kent “Zombies, Werewolves and Aliens, oh my!”

Mar. 24-26: The Cedar Springs Community Players will be presenting three Sci-Fi Fantasy comedy one-act plays on March 24, 25, and 26 at the Kent Theatre. “Zombies, Werewolves and Aliens, oh my!” kicks off the 2017 fantasy-themed season. The three short comedies are set in the Old West, modern-day suburbia, and outer space in the future and feature hilarious encounters with an assortment of monsters and aliens. March 24th & 25th at 7:30 p.m. – March 26th at 2:00 p.m. Advance tickets $10 at the Cedar Springs Library. At the Kent Theatre – $12 at the door, $8 under 18. #11,12p

Courtland Fire Department Pancake Breakfast

Mar. 25: Courtland Fire Department’s Annual Pancake Breakfast will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 8 to 11 am at 7480 – 14 Mile Rd., Rockford. All you can eat pancakes, eggs, sausage and hash browns. Coffee, juice and milk. Adults – $7, kids ages 4-12 – $4, ages 3 and under free. #11

Posted in Hometown HappeningsComments (0)

Hometown Happenings


Hometown Happenings articles are a community service for non-profit agencies only. Due to popular demand for placement in this section, we can no longer run all articles. Deadline for articles is Monday at 5 p.m. This is not guaranteed space. Articles will run as space allows. Guaranteed placement is $10, certain restrictions may apply. You now can email your Hometown Happenings to happenings@cedarspringspost.com please include name and phone number for any questions we may have.

Blood Drive for Lizzie August

Mar. 10: Donate blood in honor of Elizabeth August. Lizzie was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 4 in 2009 and during her treatments she has received 13 red blood and 29 platelet transfusions along with 2 bone marrow transplants. She is now 11 and in remission. There are so many more who need our help. Come donate blood to honor her journey and the journeys of all the young children fighting their own battles. Creative Technologies Academy, 350 Pine St., Cedar Springs on Thursday, March 10th from 1 to 6:45 pm. To schedule an call Jennifer August at 616-799-0559. Come donate blood and register with Delete Blood Cancer to be part of the bone marrow donor registry. American Red Cross, 800-733-2767, redcrossblood.org. #10

Praise the Lord at Cowboy Church

Mar. 13: 2nd Chance will be having Cowboy Church on Sunday, March 13th at 6 pm. It will be at 2nd Chance School at 810 – 17 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs (corner of 17 Mile and Olin Lakes Rd). The message will be shared by Pinky Hosford who has an amazing testimony to share, Music will be shared by Gospel Singers, Larry, Deb, George and Ray, traditional country and gospel singers. Invite your family and friends. Cowboy Church will be every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Each service will have different people sharing God’s word and music. If you have questions, call 616-293-2150. See you there! #10

Job Seekers Workshop

Mar. 14, 28, Apr. 11, 25: Kent District Library and Michigan Works! Present free Workshops for Job Seekers. Workshops are on Mondays from 1 0 3 pm at the Nelson Township/Sand Lake KDL Branch.  March 14th: Resume Development Workshop, March 28th: Interviewing Workshop, April 11th: Brand: You!, April 25th: Communications Skills. For more information, please visit www.kdl.org/events or call KDL at 616-784-2007 or 877-243-2466 (toll free). #9,10p

Dinner at the Legion

Mar. 14: American Legion, 80 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, is hosting a roast beef and onion dinner on Monday, March 14th, from 5 – 7 pm. Included will be mashed potatoes, veggies, roll, drink and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults, children (15 and younger) $4.00. Come and enjoy home cooking. Take out is available. 616-696-9160.  #10p

Michigan Blood Drive

Mar. 15: The Cedar Springs United Methodist Church will host a blood drive on Tuesday, March 15th from 12:30 pm until 7 pm. Is your blood really red or is it green enough to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as Irish? Find out. Attempt to donate and you could also potentially help three people in need. The Blood Center thanks all the people that attempt to donate. #10

Dinner at East Nelson UMC

Mar. 16: East Nelson United Methodist Church, 9024 – 18 Mile Rd., is hosting a Ham Dinner on Wednesday, March 16th from 5 to7 pm. The menu will include: ham, cabbage, red potatoes, carrots, relish tray, rolls, homemade desserts. Everyone is invited. Donations accepted. #10

Fish Fry

Mar. 18: Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, 10295 Myers Lake Ave., is hosting a Fish Fry on Friday, March 18th from 4:30 to 7 pm. Battered fried fish, baked potato or fresh-cut French fries, cole slaw, coffee and punch, dessert. 3 pieces – $9, 2 pieces – $7, 1 piece – $5. Eat in or carry out. 616-866-4298. #10,11p

Annual En Gedi Auction

Mar. 18: Come Be Refreshed! Friday, March 18th with the High School cafeteria doors opening at 6 pm. This year’s event has many great items for you to choose from to include furniture, MSU football and basketball tickets, private golf session by MSU Coach Casey Lubahn, hotel stays, fine dining certificates, tools, hand-made dolls, private wild turkey and pheasant hunts, clothing, wood pellets, puzzles, and much more!!!! With a $10 entry donation you can enjoy delicious appetizers while you browse the items on the silent and live auction table. All funds earned on this event will be matched by CS Manufacturing. En Gedi is a Christ-centered non-profit organization providing a FREE after school youth center, special high school and community events with a focus on building family. Donations of services or products (all are appreciated are greatly needed. Contact Sue Wolfe at 696-2246 or SueQ@hughes.net for tickets or for donation pick-ups. #10,11p

Pancake Breakfast 

Mar. 19: The Courtland Fire Department, 7480 – 14 Mile Rd., will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast on Saturday, March 19th from 8 – 11 am. The fire department will be serving pancakes, eggs, hash browns, sausage, juice, milk, coffee and tea. Adults – $7.00, Children 4-12 – $4.00, 3 and under are free. #10

Quilt Show Library Friends Fundraiser

Mar. 19: Saturday, March 19th from 10 am to 4 pm. Show your quilt! Last Call! Do you have a quilt that you want to show in the 4th Annual Friends of the Library Quilt Show? Call Barb at 616-236-9500 or Louise at 616-696-1376 to still get your quilt in the show. Quilts may be delivered to the Cedar Springs Middle School on Friday, March 18th between 4 and 6 pm or Saturday, March 18th between 7:30 and 9 am. Attendees will vote for their favorite quilts in each of the two categories, general and antique ( at least 50 years old). Admission is $2 per person and in addition to the quilt show there will be trunk shows for Red Button Quilt Co. and Blueberry Backroads, a silent auction, a quilting garage sale and a raffle quilt. Raffle tickets are available at the Cedar Springs Public Library, Luv2Quilt on 14 Mile and at the show. See you there. #10

Mom2Mom Sale

Mar. 19: The Resurrection Lutheran Church, 180 S. Third St., Sand Lake is hosting a Mom2Mom sale on Saturday, March 19th from 9 am to 1 pm. For questions regarding the sale, please contact Nichole at 616-263-9662. #10,11p

Roast Beef Dinner

Mar. 20: The Rockford American Legion Post 102 on the corner of Northland Dr. and Rockford Park Dr. (330 Rockford Park Dr.), will be hosting a roast beef dinner on Sunday March 20th and every 3rd Sunday of each month. Open to the public. We will be serving roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, coleslaw, rolls, dessert, coffee and punch. Reasonably priced at $9 for adults, kids age 4 to 12 for $7 and under 4 years are free. Serving from 11am to 3 pm. See ya there and bring the family! #10,11p

Good Friday Walk and Remember

Mar. 25: Walk to each of the Sand Lake Village Churches and listen to the thoughts of characters that experienced the crucifixion first hand. Friday, March 25th from noon to 1:30 pm. Our walk begins at Resurrection Lutheran Church (just south of town on Northland Dr.), with stops at the Full Gospel Church, Downtown Pavilion, Mary Queen of Apostles, and the United Methodist Church. Transportation will be provided back to the Lutheran Church. Children and families are encouraged to join us. #10-12p

HCNC Easter Egg Hunt w/Brunch

Mar. 26: Howard Christensen Nature Center will hold it’s 6th Annual Easter Egg Hunt with Brunch on Saturday, March 26th. Brunch will be served from noon to 2 pm. The Easter Egg Hunt begins promptly for all ages at 2 pm. Brunch is $5 per person or $20 per family of 4 or more and includes the Easter Egg Hunt. Easter Egg Hunting only $1 per egg hunter. Members are free. 16160 Red Pine Dr., Kent City, 616-675-3158. www.howardchristiansen.org. #10

CS Community Players Mystery Trivia

Mar. 30: The Cedar Springs Community Players are pleased to announce “Murder at the Kent”, a collection of three one act plays which will be performed at the Kent Theatre on March 30th, 31st, and April 1st.  The plays are Sorry, Wrong Number, Heat Lightning, and The Man who Died Twice.  These short, thrilling plays will delight the mystery lovers and send shivers down the spines of the audience.  And since every good mystery story requires some anticipation, the Players have devised a series of mystery themed trivia to build up the suspense before opening night.  These questions will appear in The Cedar Springs Post each week in the month before the production, starting on March 3rd.  Solve the riddles and bring your answers to one of the performances at the Kent Theatre to be entered to win prizes that night. #10p

Community Night

Apr. 21: Cedar Springs Community Night is April 21st and registration is underway. The deadline for registration is March 25th. Forms are online at www.csaparksandrec.com or you can call 616-696-7320. #10b

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