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Former Rockford rowing coach sentenced


Timothy Warren Vallier

Timothy Warren Vallier

A former Rockford rowing coach that admitted recording videos of female athletes changing their clothes will spend 22 years behind bars.

Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Byerly Birge announced Thursday, May 18, that Timothy Vallier, 31, of Plainfield Township, was sentenced on charges of attempted sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography. U.S. District Judge Gordon J. Quist imposed a sentence of 22 years. In addition to the prison term, Vallier was ordered to serve 5 years of supervised release, to pay restitution, and to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

On September 28, 2016, Vallier pled guilty to producing approximately 86 hidden camera videos of girls changing clothes at two high school facilities: the Rockford rowing team’s boathouse and the Rockford Freshman Center. He made these videos between January 2012 and April 2016 while he was the rowing coach at Rockford High School. The charges followed an investigation by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and Homeland Security Investigations.

Rockford Public School Superintendent Mike Shibler contacted the Kent County Sheriff Department on the morning of July 8, 2016, after receiving a call from one of the crew (rowing) parents informing him that a video camera had been found in a crew vehicle with inappropriate footage.

Two assistant coaches in the vehicle reportedly saw the camera, and when one of the girls got curious and looked at it, found footage of two female athletes changing their clothes inside the changing room area of the Rockford Crew House located at 5501 Jupiter Ave., in Plainfield Township. Vallier was then arrested on July 10.

State charges were later dismissed since he was being prosecuted on federal charges.

“While no amount of prison time can adequately punish a child predator, this sentencing will hopefully begin the healing process for those impacted by Mr. Vallier’s depraved acts,” said HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis. “This was an excellent collaboration between HSI and its partners at the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police to bring this predator to justice.”

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. Information concerning suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST. For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the suspect alerts page.

Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement. For more information about Project Safe Childhood in West Michigan, including resources for children and parents, visit: http://www.justice.gov/usao/miw/programs/psc.html.

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MSP Troopers recognized for outstanding patrol and investigative efforts


Troopers that win the Mapes award have the first opportunity to drive the new special edition black and gold patrol cars, painted to resemble the MSP’s iconic 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car.

Troopers that win the Mapes award have the first opportunity to drive the new special edition black and gold patrol cars, painted to resemble the MSP’s iconic 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car.

The Michigan State Police (MSP) is pleased to announce that several troopers from the Rockford, Lakeview, and Mount Pleasant MSP Posts are recipients of the Cpl. Samuel A. Mapes Criminal Patrol and Investigation Award. They were recognized at a ceremony in Lansing on Jan. 11, 2017.

Corporal Mapes, an early pioneer in criminal patrol and investigation, was killed in the line of duty during the prohibition era. The annual award honors the top five percent of troopers in each district for looking “past the traffic stop” to excel in proactive criminal patrol and criminal investigations closed by felony arrests.

The 2017 Col. Sam Mapes Award recipients are:

Trooper Cory Zimmerman

Trooper Cory Zimmerman

Trooper Jim Yeager

Trooper Jim Yeager

Trooper Ben Stadler

Trooper Ben Stadler

Lakeview Post:

Trooper Ben Stadler, with five years at Lakeview

Trooper Jim Yeager, with 23 years at Lakeview

Trooper Cory Zimmerman, with five years at Lakeview.

Mount Pleasant Post: (no photos available)

Trooper Dillard Hayes, at Mount Pleasant 1-1/2 years

Trooper Michael Zeilinger, at Mount Pleasant six years

Trooper Brent Haag, at Mount Pleasant two years

Rockford Post: (no photos available)

Tpr. Chris Boven

Tpr. Jordan Lohman

Tpr. James Luttrull

Tpr. Adam Keasler

Each award recipient receives a special service ribbon to wear on their uniform. It includes seven blue stars in honor of Corporal Mapes, who was the seventh MSP trooper to die in the line of duty.

In addition, top award recipients have the first opportunity to drive special edition black and gold patrol cars, which were recently added to the MSP patrol fleet in honor of the department’s 100th Anniversary. Fifty fully equipped 2016 Dodge Chargers are painted to resemble MSP’s iconic 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car.

For more information about the MSP’s 100th Anniversary, visit www.michigan.gov/MSP or follow the conversation on social media using #MSP100.

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Grant woman dies in crash


Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

Christina Perales, 35, died in two-vehicle crash last weekend. Photo from the gofundme page set up to provide food, clothing and Christmas for her boys.

A 35-year-old Grant woman died last weekend when the car she was driving collided with a pickup truck.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, the crash occurred about 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, December 17 in Alpine Township.

The investigation showed that a 2015 Ford F150 pickup truck was headed westbound on 6 Mile Rd NW, and a 2002 Chevy Malibu was headed south on Baumhoff when they crashed. Police said it was undetermined if the Grant woman, the driver of the Chevy Malibu, had rolled through the stop sign, or made a complete stop and then pulled out into the intersection. The pickup truck had the right of way.

The driver of the Malibu, Christina Lenora Perales, 35, of Grant, died at the scene. The front seat passenger, Brent Thomas Aishe, 39, of Grant was taken to Spectrum Butterworth with serious injuries, including a broken left hip, cranial bleed, and abrasions on his elbow. One of the back seat passengers, Melinda Marie Lynch, 20, of Fremont was taken to Butterworth laceration to her forehead. The other back seat passenger, Dylan Rogers, 17, of Grant, was taken to Butterworth with a cranial bleed.

There were three occupants in the pickup truck, all from Essexville, Mich. The driver, Brent Joseph Raap, 45, was not injured. Passenger Benjamin Matthew Raap, 15, sustained a minor injury and was taken to the hospital by private transport, where he was treated and released. The third passenger, Judith Louis Mcelhinny-Raap, 45, was not injured.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash.

Assisting at the scene was the Walker Police Department, Alpine Fire Department, Walker Fire Department, Aeromed, LIFE, Rockford, and AMR ambulance services.

The crash is still under investigation.

Christina was a single mom, and there is a gofundme page set up to help with food, clothes, and Christmas for her three boys. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-these-boys.

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Construction impacting White Pine Trail use


 

From Friends of the White Pine Trail

OUT-White-Pine-trail-construction

In the southern area of the tail, in Plainfield Township, there will be trail disruptions during this summer and fall.

In Comstock Park there will be equipment in and adjacent to the trail due to sewer line work for the next few weeks, and possibly into the fall. Please be very careful in this area and do not interfere with the construction activity. If you encounter someone directing you around construction, please follow their directions.

Between Belmont and Rockford there will be some equipment on the trail for the next month or longer.  There will be persons directing traffic whenever there is equipment on the trail – please cooperate with these folks that are doing their best to keep the trail open, you safe, and get the project done. The Trail Will Not Be Closed For Extended Periods in this area unless there are unforseen circumstances.

If you have questions regarding trail conditions please contact us. We will do our best to keep everyone informed.

Check our FaceBook page for up-to-date information.

If you see any problems that you feel needs attention please contact us as soon as possible—we need your help!

In Howard City Area, Montcalm County

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials announced that construction of the Rice and Tamarack Creek bridges on the White Pine Trail in Howard City will begin Monday Aug. 8.

The White Pine Trail is actively utilized by non-motorized users throughout the year and snowmobile users in the winter months. Bridge construction will include abutment replacement and pier removal, as well as the placement of a 60-foot-prefabricated bridge over Rice Creek and a 84-foot-prefabricated bridge over Tamarack Creek.

The White Pine Trail has been temporarily re-routed to Federal Road bypassing both bridges. The detour is posted. Construction is anticipated to be completed in November.

Questions about the trail closure may be directed to Scott Slavin, DNR unit supervisor of White Pine Trail State Park, at 231-775-7911 or slavins@michigan.gov

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Amazing race on snow


 

Largest winter adventure race in U.S. to take place in Rockford

ENT-Amazing-race-in-snow1The Michigan Adventure Race: Winter Edition will be held February 7, 2015, at Camp Roger in Rockford. Registration is now open. Last year’s race drew 300 participants, making it the largest winter adventure race in the U.S.

Two-person teams will set out at 9:30 a.m., running through the woods to hidden checkpoints pre-marked on a map, collecting as many points as they can within three hours. They’ll encounter Amazing Race-like challenges throughout the area along with short snowshoe and fatbike/snowbike sections. Snowshoes and fatbikes will be provided.

Newer racers find that the challenges and checkpoint hunting give them just enough of a break in between the running sections to catch their breath. Experienced adventure racers looking for a greater challenge will face several intermediate level orienteering checkpoints, requiring good map reading and basic compass skills (free clinic on January 31; details on the website).

ENT-Amazing-race-in-snow2“West Michigan has a culture for challenging outdoor sports like adventure racing and trail running that does not exist in many other areas in the nation. These races draw more people than Chicago, Indianapolis and other larger cities do to similar events,” says Mark VanTongeren, race director. “We always get a great turnout because of this. Racers are also looking forward to a new venue, Camp Roger, which gives us beautiful terrain and a warm place to hang, get a free massage and eat pizza after the race.

Friends, family and the general public are welcome to experience the race, although keeping up with the racers in the snow is an adventure in itself. Spectators can get copies of the race maps that will direct them to the challenges, many within easy walking distance.

The charity partner selected for this edition of the race is Camp Roger. Camp Roger offers a weekly overnight summer camp experience for young people and serves 10,000 participants in the fall, winter, and spring.

For more information about the race and to register, go to www.MiAdventureRace.com and visit www.facebook.com/MIAdventureRace to join a growing community of adventure racers.

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Rockford men injured in crash


 

Three young men were injured in an accident in Cannon Township last week. Photo from WOOD TV8.

Three young men were injured in an accident in Cannon Township last week. Photo from WOOD TV8.

Three young men from Rockford were seriously injured last Thursday when the car they were riding in crashed into a tree.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, deputies responded to a personal injury accident at 9 Mile and Young Avenue in Cannon Township about 6:02 a.m., December 4, involving a passenger car and three occupants. Police said that the driver, Jacob Taylor, 21, of Rockford, lost control of the vehicle and crossed the centerline and struck a tree.

Taylor suffered critical injuries and was transported by Aeromed to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. The front seat passenger, Bret Bailey, 21, of Rockford, also suffered critical injuries, and was transported by Rockford Ambulance to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. The back seat passenger, Mitchell Fabro, 22, of Rockford, suffered serious injuries, and was also transported to Spectrum Butterworth by Rockford Ambulance.

 

 

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Three northern Kent County residents hurt in Lowell crash


A Rockford man is in critical condition and a Cedar Springs couple is in stable condition after a traffic accident in Lowell Township Sunday morning, October 26.

According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, Joseph Kelly, 66, of Rockford, was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Prism southbound on Segwun Avenue, about 9:26 a.m., when he failed to stop at the stop sign at Cascade Road. He was hit by an eastbound 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by David Ladd, 65, of Cedar Springs.

Both vehicles drove off the roadway and into a field. Kelly was not responsive at the accident scene and was transported by Aeromed to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. He is in critical condition at this time. Lad,d and his wife, Vickie,63, were transported by ambulance to Spectrum. They are in stable condition.

The accident is still under investigation at this time. Neither Alcohol nor speed appear to be factors.

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Mitchell’s Run thru Rockford


Annual 5K race raises awareness, support for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Each year, Mitchell Peterson’s parents, Steve and Sandy Peterson, are amazed at the support they receive from the community. Over 100 volunteers help to make Mitchell’s Run thru Rockford go smoothly and to bring awareness and money to be donated to Parent Project MD, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1994 by parents of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Mitchell’s Run thru Rockford has more than doubled in size and scope since the Petersons established it in 1999. Since then, the event has raised over $600,000, all donated to PPMD in the name of their son Mitchell Peterson, age 15 of Rockford. This year will be the 13th annual run.

“After our son was diagnosed, my wife and I wanted to make a difference. We’re thrilled this race has helped to raise awareness and support, at least in our neck of the woods. More people now know about Duchenne MD, which is important because this disease can happen in any family and currently affects many boys and their families here in West Michigan,” explains Steve Peterson.

This year’s event takes place on Saturday August 20 at 8:30 a.m. in downtown Rockford. The race starts at the bridge and travels along the scenic White Pine Trail and Rogue River.

The Kids for Kids K starts at 9:30 am. This is a competitive race but also a family event featuring a silent auction during and awards ceremony following the race.  For more race details, visit: www.mitchellsrun.org.

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Rockford Springs or Cedar Rock?


by Bob Fitzgerald

As sales manager for The Post I sometimes find myself learning about things before they actually happen. One example is starting to pick up a full head of steam. Due to the economy, there have been record numbers of foreclosures in northern Kent County. It seems the amount of taxes coming in from homeowners has dropped significantly and that has really caused problems in two of the best known towns in the area—Rockford and Cedar Springs. The rumor has begun to circulate that the two cities are in talks to combine into one. Could it be?

From what we have been told it may happen—Rockford and Cedar Springs may soon become one. City officials in both municipalities confirmed there have been many meetings behind closed doors about the two cities merging. One source said that the Rockford and Cedar Springs police departments would combine into one department and be relocated in a new building to be built on 14 Mile Road next to the movie theater. That merger alone would save close to $1 million for the cities.

“The closing of the Rockford court house would not have happened if we had been one,” said a judge who asked not to be named.

Discussions are also underway to decide what the name of the city would be. Rockford Springs or Cedar Rock are two names that have been mentioned. We even saw preliminary drawings for a new mascot to represent the cities—a hush puppy wearing red flannels with the drop seat unsnapped.

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wear red flannels,” said a Rockford councilor.

We also found out that Sand Lake has also been a part of the discussions and may want to be included in the merger of Rockford and Cedar Springs. “Cedar Rock Lake has a nice, affluent ring to it,” said one Village official. “I can see that name alone bringing in big business and new development. Of course, we might have to create a lake with the same name so people aren’t always asking, ‘Where’s the lake?’” he noted.
He also added that if Sand Lake becomes part of the merger, they wouldn’t have to worry anymore about being de-villaged. “We’d get the respect we deserve,” he said.

The school officials we talked with said the school systems would remain unchanged except for the possibility of having the busing done by a private company. Or, they may just cancel busing all together. “We tried that once in the 1980s and it worked pretty good,” recalled one former school bus driver.

The municipalities are scheduled to discuss the merger at a joint meeting on Friday, April 1.

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Runner finishes in top 100 of Boston Marathon


Sixth fastest time among Michigan runners

By Alixan Spaulding

Everyone suffers from stress on a day-to-day basis, and everyone handles it in his or her own way. One local man chooses to relieve his stress through a passion he discovered at a young age—running. That passion came through last week, when Joshua L. Miller, 26, of Rockford, competed in the Boston Marathon and not only finished in the top 100, but was sixth fastest out of the runners from Michigan.

Miller has been running for many years. He ran track and cross country during his enrollment at Belding High School and later at Aquinas College. “It was a great group of people,” he said, in reference to the Aquinas team.

Joshua Miller  (pictured right) with his friend and running companion Robert Rinck.

Joshua Miller (pictured right) with his friend and running companion Robert Rinck.

Miller enjoys running so much that he has run in several marathons, including the La Salle Bank Chicago Marathon of 2006, where he finished in 125th place. On April 19 he joined over 25,000 men and women to run in the 118th annual Boston Marathon. Miller ran the 26.3-mile race in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 15 seconds. He placed 78th overall, 73rd among men, and 68th in his division. Among Michigan runners, he had the sixth fastest time. The top Michigan runner was Drew Polley of Rochester Hills, who finished 16th overall, with a time of 2:16:36.

Miller’s wife, Lisa, joined him at the finish line. Lisa was there for any encouragement her husband needed, and was tolerant of his training schedule. She also joined him occasionally in his training, which included running approximately 75 miles a week, biking, swimming, and other core exercises. His friends and family were also supportive. “They were all really excited, not so much when they found out I was participating, but when I finished,” said Miller. Miller’s friend, Robert T. Rinck, and his wife traveled with the Millers, and Rinck also ran in the marathon, placing 1755th with a time of 3:04:34.

When asked how it felt to cross the finish line, Miller replied with a laugh. “It hurt. After running a race like that all the muscles in your back and legs are tense. You want to cry, you are so happy you finished,” he explained.

Miller also ran in the 6th Annual Kent City Ridge Run on March 27, and placed first in the 15K run.  To anyone thinking of running in a marathon Miller says, “You have to start out small, then build up your mileage. You can’t overdo it!”  Advice from someone as determined and experienced as him is something to hang on to!

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