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Rockford Chamber Names Business of the 2022 Year

2022 Business of the Year -  Congratulations to:   Belna Petroleum

Incorporated in August 6, 1991 - Belna Petroleum leadership includes Rob, his wife Nancy, and son Jordan.  
We recognize Belna Petroleum, not only as a successful business, but a true constant supporter of the local community.

Through numerous project and donations, Belna Petroleum's desire to see our community thrive has been seen by all.  Most recently, they helped make amusement rides possible during Rockford Community Days.

On behalf of The Rockford Chamber of Commerce and as the 2021 Business of the Year, Second Crossing Brew Co proudly presents The 2022 Business of the Year - Belna Petroleum.   Congratulations !

Photos - Luke Stephenson of Second Crossing presented the award to the Belna Family.   Rick Muhlenkamp from the Commissioners office presented a Proclamation.   Mayor Joseph - on behalf of the Rockford Village and Community Days Committee - Thanks for supporting our community.    The Belna Family.




Peel Family Builds Storage Unit in Rockford August 2020

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce would like to extend a congratulations to the Peel Family in their new business
venture -  Storage Units.    The units are located at 150 E Columbia St. Rockford, OH -
Need storage ?  Contact Barrys' Family Market at 103 Bridge St or call 419-363-2476 for rates.

Congratulations Peel Family and thank you for investing into our community.   You are appreciated.




Businesses Recognized by Rockford Chamber
By Lisa Kuhn

With the global pandemic negatively impacting small businesses everywhere and preventing large gatherings, The Rockford Ohio Chamber of Commerce executive board elected to not host a Chamber Banquet this year. During the banquet we celebrate and honor all new businesses and businesses celebrating a milestone in our community.

The Rockford Chamber would like to recognize and congratulate the following new businesses for Year 2020: The Marketing Junkie, Betseys Bouquets, JNY Design, Rockford Belle Community Church and Barrys Storage Units.

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is also proud and excited to celebrate the businesses that had milestone
anniversaries this year: Kidz Treehouse, owned by Jessica Shaffer celebrates 5 years in business and Shanes Crossing Historical Society led by Norm VanTilburg is celebrating 25 years!

If you, or your business, are looking for ways to support our thriving business community, please contact Lisa Kuhn at 419-363-3032 ex 1




Local doctor of Dentistry, John K. Granger Retires

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce along with the Rockford Community extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to Dr. John K. Granger D.M.D  for 45 years of taking care of dental needs - morning, noon and night.  

Congratulations, Dr. Granger, on your successful career!  

Enjoy your retirement!
Caption: Anna Reier, RDH, Pam Krugh - Office Manager, Susie Miller - Chairside Assistant and Dr. John Granger.  


Welcome to Rockford
Grand Lake Family Dentistry has taken over Dr. Granger's Rockford
practice.   Same location - same phone number – new dentist.
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce welcomes - Dr. Jennifer Harr.  She is accepting new and existing patients.  








Rockford Citizen of the Year Named for 2020
By Lisa Kuhn

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce along with the Rockford Community would like to extend a warm "Congratulations" to Twyla Hayes - The 2020 Citizen of the Year.

She is truly deserving !  Twyla's energy, her vision and her love of community have been an inspiration to all.   The Bicentennial logo, The New Year's Eve celebration, the Garden Walk and the historic mural were a result of her remarkable ability to foresee things most of us can't imagine and to implement things that most of us deem impossible!   Thank you, Twyla, for all you
have done.  The Citizen of the Year award could not have gone to a more deserving individual. Best wish to you and your family !  



Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2019 Named
Lisa Kuhn Celebrated on Monday, October 7, 2019

by Sheila Baltzell-Linn 10-7-2019

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Monday evening, October 7, 2019. A lovely dinner was prepared by the Rockford Carry-out Catering. Mike Bruns and Kent Krogman provided musical entertainment enjoyed by all.

Lisa Kuhn (center) holds her plaque as family members and chamber president Marie Miller look on.

Twyla Hayes, Chamber Emcee, took the podium, welcoming guests. She introduced the evening’s speaker, Bruce Boguski, a motivational speaker from Findlay, OH. Bruce took the podium and spoke first about his auto accident as a teen that left him partially paralyzed. In learning to walk again, Bruce learned to let go of himself and let God take over. He asked the crowd to consider what holds you back?

He explained that through his college classes he learned that the Reticular Activating System, of the brain (the little voice in the back of the mind) produces 50,000 thoughts a day. But Bruce says it lies about your abilities. So we must live in the now and affirm ourselves daily by repeating pep talks like:  “I am always calm and confident under pressure.” Affirmations come back to you!

Marie Miller, president, then gave a Chamber Report. She mentioned all of the new businesses: Curvy Closet; Flower Power Catering; Laura Putman Photography; Luginbill Construction; Mercer Metal; 2nd Crossing Brewery; S & B Photography and Stained Glass Paradise. 

She mentioned the Rockford Bicentennial Plans  are coming along great with a mural nearing compleion on the wall of the Fire Department. The 200th Birthday Celebration of Rockford coming in 2020 is keeping organizers busy as they plan many activities spread through out the year with the kick-off to be held on New Year’s Eve.

Twyla Hayes thanked Joel Henkle for completing the 2019 Leadership in Action Program through the Celina/Mercer Chamber.

“The experiences were great, and I learned so much”, said Joel.

Fremont Canning is Business of the Year
Then Twyla invited her husband Curtis Hayes to the podium and presented the Business of the Year Award to Fremont Canning Company

By Twyla Hayes

The Fremont Company History:

Rockford, Ohio Plant The Rockford Plant was established in 1924 by A.L. Sharp and was named Sharp Canning Company. Its main product was canned tomatoes, and ketchup was the by-product. In 1961 the Sharp family sold the company to The Fremont Company based in Fremont Ohio. The Fremont Company was established in 1905 as the Fremont Kraut Company by the Slessman family. Today, Chris Smith is the fourth generation owner and current president of the Company. Over the years, the plant focus changed to ketchup and BBQ sauce. The plant produces products for private labels and also Co-Packs for several National Labels. Today the plant exports product to 60 foreign countries. In 1999 an ice storm badly damaged the building. At that time the Company undertook the challenge of replacing all of the remaining older buildings while still maintaining production. This extensive project lasted three years and left the company with an efficient and modern production equipment and facility. In 2018 they started a major expansion project. The $27 million dollar project more than doubled the plant size and production capacity. The Rockford pant currently has 155 full time employees under Plant Manager, Ken Pond and Assistant Manager, Tyler Westgerdes. The Fremont Company is active in the community with donations from the employees and company. They have helped fund the Rockford Ministerial Association and the Parkway Schools lunch program for students in need. The Company also donates product to the Western Ohio Food Bank and other food banks in the area.

Citizen of the Year for 2019

Then the time came to name the winner of the Citizen of the Year for 2019, which went to Lisa Kuhn. Presenter was Steve Thompson, last year’s winner.

The presentation, carefully prepared by Stacie Ford was read and everyone stood to applaud and congratulate Lisa following an endearing look at her life.


Betsey’s Bouquets Opens in Rockford


The Village of Rockford has a strong spirit of entrepreneurialism, and the Rockford Ohio Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce the opening of Betsey’s Bouquets, located on Main Street of Rockford, OH.

Betsey’s Bouquets is located next store to the popular retail establishment, Betsey’s Boutique and is under the same ownership – Betsey and Trent Gamble who saw a need for a small town floral shop in Rockford, OH. Betsey’s Bouquets offers unique, live floral arrangements with local delivery to Van Wert, Celina, Willshire, Rockford, Decatur, Berne, and Coldwater. Contact Betsey’s for custom floral arrangements, boutonnieres/corsages, beautiful wedding décor and specialty needs. Be sure to make a visit inside the store, where you can find beautiful home décor, farmhouse-style signs, stoneware collections and more.


Second Crossing Brew Company Open in Rockford

The Rockford Ohio Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the official opening of Second Crossing Brew Co., located on Main Street in Rockford, OH. Second Crossing opens during the village’s bicentennial and honors our history, as Rockford was known as the Second Crossing of the St. Mary’s river along the Piqua-Fort Wayne Trail.

Thank you Luke Stephenson, Luke Clouse and Todd McKee for investing in our community and opening your establishment in our town.

Second Crossing Brew Co., is a microbrewery serving up specialty brews such as Bicentennial Blonde, Oklahoma, R.E.L.C., Buckongahelas IPA, Anthony’s Amber, Second Street Stout, Pina Coladapus and Stalkenberry. Apparel is also available for purchase. Stay in touch with the latest news and information by following them on Facebook at



Rockford Village Fiscal Agent Lisa Marie Kuhn Named Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year
by Stacie Ford 10-7-2019

Lisa Marie (Kloepper) Kuhn was born on March 23, 1967, to Sandra and David Kloepper. Lisa Kuhn was the eldest sibling to brother Darren and sister Karna.

As a girl she loved to read, play outdoors, and spend time with her family and friends.  She was kind hearted, responsible and well behaved, and took care of her siblings at a young age when her mother and father were at work.

She was baptized and confirmed at Peace Lutheran Church of Berne, Indiana and now is a faithful attendee at New Horizons Church in Rockford, Ohio.

Lisa attended South Adams High School where she marched with the Poms Flag Corps during the half-time shows and graduated in 1985. During her summers off from school, she worked cleaning houses and later was hired by Swiss Village. Later she worked at the Red Cross.

She went on to graduate from Ivy Tech, of Fort Wayne, Indiana and graduated with an Associates Degree in Secretarial Science which serves her well in her position as fiscal officer for the Village of Rockford.

Her diligence and studious nature paid off - she bought her first 2 bedroom home when she was 20 years old, just fresh out of college.

On July 12, 1996, she married her husband Michael, and they had three children: Cassie; Cody; and Kayla.

Currently, daughter Cassie is a fifth year Pharmacy student at the University of Findley, son Cody is a third year student at the University of Toledo majoring in Civil Engineering, and youngest daughter Kayla is a junior at Parkway High School.

While growing up, our recipient was blessed to have spent a lot of quality time with careful guidance by her grandparents - each taught her essential life lessons and skills, the importance of family, and how to pray. She would pass down these qualities to her own children.

Summers were spent at “the best darn lake in the world” -  the Kloepper’s Lake James Cottage, where many birthday celebrations have taken place and accompanied by July 4th fireworks displays in the middle of the lake; winter breaks were spent down in Florida with her grandparents - the Zimmermans. 

Lisa enjoys traveling and “going on an adventure” no matter if the time is spent outdoors cooking or sitting by the campfire, boating and hiking a trail, or indoors antiquing and visiting a museum; it is with this same vitality and outlook that our the winner of Rockford Chamber Citizen of the Year 2019 experiences and shares life.

Lisa was nominated due to her unrestrained commitment to the Parkway District. What a privilege it is to proclaim the name of our recipient during this very special time surrounding Rockford, Ohio’s Bicentennial year. It’s been noted that our recipient is more deserving of this honor than anyone in the community due to the support and friendship she shows others. Her involvement includes being the treasurer of several organizations- the Parkway Music Boosters, Shanes Crossing Historical Society, Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Community Days, Parkway Community Pastoral Board, and as the organizer of the Arts in the Park. It is because of her love of the Lord and caring heart that she has become an honorary member of the Sisters of Grace Bible Study group.  Always ready with a helping hand, humbly poised with a smile and words that command encouragement and support to others, she’s an indispensable fixture within the community and goes far beyond her job description as the Rockford Village Fiscal Officer, all for the betterment and promotion of Rockford and its people.

Congratulations Lisa Marie (Kloepper) Kuhn on becoming Citizen of the Year for 2019.


Click on the smaller thumbnail pictures below to enlarge them.

Baby Picture

Lisa with her family
as a young girl.

Lisa with her grandmother
at her confirmation.

Lisa's grandparents

Lisa's grandmother

The Poms Squad in HS

Family Reunion at Lake James

Lisa with her children at Lake James

Lisa's boating adventures
Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2018 Named
Steven McBride Thompson Celebrated on Monday, October 8, 2018

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Monday evening, October 8, 2018. A lovely dinner was prepared by the Rockford Carry-out. Mike Bruns and Kent Krogman provided musical entertainment enjoyed by all.

Mike Bruns and Kent Krogman entertain

Twyla Hayes emcees

Stacy Beougher - Guest Speaker
Click smaller thumbnail photos
here to enlarge.

Nancy Leighner & Leah Hayes
Leadership in Action

Steve Sark, Fremont Canning

Commissioner Muhlenakmp
Award from County

Commissioner Muhlenkamp
Award from County

Twyla Hayes, Chamber Emcee, took the podium, welcoming guests and introducing all speakers.  She mentioned the Rockford Bicentennial Plans  are coming along great with a mural soon to be painted on the wall of the Fire Department. The 200th Birthday Celebration of Rockford coming in 2020 is keeping organizers busy.  She also named many businesses with expansions and improvements to their buildings and decor creating a more beautiful village.

Stacy Beougher, current Celina/Mercer Chamber of Commerce Director, speaker for the evening, told of her start at the former Celina Racquet Club in Celina at age 15 when she got her first job in Customer Service. She loved it and has served her many years in that capacity. She believes service training and fundamentals of leadership are important in service industries, and the time taken in training employees is critical. At the Celina/Mercer Chamber, she sees her job as promoting all businesses and their events.

Chamber President Mary Beougher then came forward to mention that the last welcome sign on the north edge of Rockford is completed. Following her were Nancy Leighner and Rachel Hayes, two from Rockford who recently completed the 2018 Leadership in Action Program through the Celina/Mercer Chamber.

They both agreed that it was more than worthwhile as they engaged in many activities and had wonderful opportunities to see county businesses and government at work. “The experiences energized me”, said Rachel.


Mary Beougher then continued by presenting awards to new businesses: Rock Solid Performance (Andrew Peel); The Fix Functional Massage Therapy (Luke Stephenson); Homes at Ohio’s Edge Realty (Tammy Cheek); Duncan Oil and Rockford Shopperstop.

Business Anniversaries included: Gourmet Gifts by Kristi (20 years), Miss Mamy’s Playground (20 years) and First Financial Bank (155 years).




Then Tom Burtch took the podium and presented the Business of the Year Award to Brand It Marketing Communications, in business since 2004 and owned by Twyla and Pete Hayes. Combining their talents in graphic designing and agri-business, they created a niche in the growing world of marketing. Tom read a long list of accomplishments by the duo including growing from a 2 employee company to an 8 employee operation. Twyla and Pete are always involved in community projects, including the 2020 Bicentennial coming up, and are always willing to give of their time.

Then the time came to name the winner of the Citizen of the Year for 2018, which went to Steven McBride Thompson, presented by Barbara Pedroza, last year’s winner.

The video, carefully prepared by Stacie Ford, was played and everyone stood to applaud and congratulate Steve following an endearing look at his life.



Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2018 Named
Steven McBride Thompson Celebrated on Monday, October 8, 2018

Researched and Written by Stacie Ford

Born February 17, 1948 in Van Wert, Ohio to parents, Ernest and Gertrude, Steve was raised in Rockford and lived there most of his life with the exception of a year on a Navajo Mission in New Mexico.  He was the second of five children- with siblings the late Robert, Paul, Ann and Phil. His parents were teachers, and as a child, he learned to play music by ear. He also enjoyed building things like radios.


He graduated from Parkway High School The Class of 1966 and went on to attend Huntington College for three years while majoring in Education.  There was one notable person who made a lasting impression on him during high school - industrial arts teacher, Ted Hakes. This influence was the vehicle directing his career choice to become a self-employed construction contractor during his entire working career. Many buildings in Rockford have been remodeled by him.


He married the love of his life, Marcia, on September 7, 1974 at the Continental United Methodist Church. Two years later, the couple was baptized  in Dan Henkle’s pond and then became members of the Rockford United Methodist Church. This is the same church where he has served as Trustee and Maintenance worker for several years; Parishioners can witness him making a joyful noise by playing instruments such as the guitar, trumpet, fiddle, banjo, and harmonica in the band on Sunday Mornings. Over the years, several updates and new installations have been made at the Rockford United Methodist Church; one item, the beautiful  7 foot cross, created by Steve, graces the sanctuary.


Together, the couple have raised two children, Julie and Curtis - their pride and joy! The engaging father and grandfather enjoys attending music recitals and sporting events, and dotes on his beloved family by building them special handcrafted gifts made of wood. Grandchildren Alaina, Sloane, Madison, Paxton and Grayden are the proud beneficiaries of projects such as doll cradles, rocking chairs, a tool bench and a special handmade kite. Being a teacher at heart, our recipient involves family members in the making of such items.

His parents, aunts and uncles were important in his life, especially Uncle Nelson who ran the Navajo Mission in New Mexico. While there doing maintenance work, he lived with his brother Paul and learned many things about God, faith, and serving others. Many people who know him, know of his strong convictions and belief in the Bible, and his unwavering ability to speak out as a Christian believer.


Steve has many hobbies including repairing vintage radios and TVs, playing music, collecting license plates, bicycle riding and visiting friends, and fixing things around town. One of the oldest homes in Rockford is owned and remodeled by this truly gifted jack-of-all tradesman!


His active memberships include Shanes Crossing Historical Society, Rockford Lions Club, Parkway Booster Club, and The American Legion Post #508- where the stars and stripes hold a special place in his heart. He shows allegiance to his country and honors those that have fallen by marching in Memorial Day parades. The patriot flies a flag at his home and shows family support through the purchase of veteran bricks at Shanes Park. Steve recently installed a solar light on the flag pole there.


“I’m just doing what I love to do,” said Steve, of his countless hours of service, maintenance tasks and projects which have been donated to our community.  Steve has built benches at Shanes Park; repaired and painted the Log House in the park; donated and installed a stained glass window and chandeliers from the former Grace EUB Church in town hall; performed maintenance repairs at the American Legion; and, methodically painted the state-owned metal Rockford signs as you enter the corporation limits.  Oftentimes, a friend or two can be seen working together on such projects with him, including Reed Shaffer, Lowell Beougher and Mike Schumm.


It has been a blessing for Steve to live in the small village of Rockford, and he shows his devotion by donating many items from Rockford’s past to the museum. Rockford history aficionados can enjoy books, news articles, pictures, postcards and the replica model of the Rockford railroad station.

Rockford, Ohio is a better place to live due to Steve’s exceptional attention to detail, genuine caring touch and ambitious drive to get things accomplished. God, family and service are the predominant factors in this man’s life. Community members can take a lesson from his quiet, humble demeanor, whose lifelong contributions echo immeasurable lasting rewards to the senses at every turn throughout the village at Rockford!


Congratulations Steven McBride Thompson on becoming 2018 Citizen of the Year.   



Congratulations on another new business in Rockford. The Rockford Chamber is excited to officially welcome The FIX Functional Massage Therapy to our community. Way to go Luke Stephenson!



Congratulations to Homes at Ohio's Edge Realty! Tammy Cheek, Broker/Owner officially opened her real estate business this past Saturday, and introduced her agents, Tina Siefring and Cathy Sunderhaus. Welcome to the neighborhood!



Rockford Chamber of Commerce Holds ribbon cutting at Rock Solid Performance on Saturday - May 12th  

Rock Solid Performance is  a 24/7 Fitness facility that is passionate about the community and those within it! They believe that everything has to start somewhere, somehow. They feel that starting point must begin with a "Rock Solid" foundation in order to produce results and that is exactly what they are wanting to accomplish at the RSP Gym! If you are looking for a facility and a staff that is not concerned about the almighty $ and having the newest and shiniest equipment, then RSP is the place for you! The clientele and community will always come first here at RSP. Give us a shout to see what all we have to offer in accomplishing whatever fitness or health goals you may have. #NoBadDays

They are located at 193 S Main St. Rockford.  The contact number is (567) 789-4815.

Congratulations on Grand Opening ! 


Rockford Chamber of Commerce 44th Annual Banquet Honors Businesses Old and New; Names Business of the Year and Citizen of the Year
by Sheila Baltzell 10-23-2017

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Monday evening, October 23, 2017. A lovely dinner was prepared by Tom and Matt Burtch, owners of the Rockford Carry-out. Following the meal, Chamber President Mary Beougher highlighted the 6 businesses with special anniversaries: Baker Built Engraving 15 years; Leota Braun Foundation 15 years; TJ’s Food Mart and Gas Station 30 years; Mike Bruns Plumbing, Heating, Ventilating and AC 35 years; Hayco Broadcasting (WCSM) 40 years; and Parkway Schools 55 years.

Mary then introduced the two new businesses in Rockford: Tasty Blessings, owner Amy (Baltzell) Lyons; and Ole-Mil Creations, Bob Ransbottom. Each gave a short presentation.

Amy spoke of her love of cooking and baking and how she often had helped with meals for the sick and shut-ins through her church, New Horizons. She found herself reaching out in ministry to the recipients through food and prayer. She felt inspired to take it one step further and create a small catering business. She offers meals for one person, families or small groups which includes a full meal; side dishes  and/or just fun and delicious desserts. She handed out tasty samples after the program.

Bob displayed his unique wooden barrel pen creations and showed the various stages of building them with a drill press and lathe. His wood comes from all over the world even olive wood from the Holy Land and maple from right here in Ohio. All pens are customized in some way with names engraved, a rifle action pen, favorite sports teams and teacher pens with black AND red in in them. He had lots of samples with him.

Norm Van Tilburg, chairman of the 2019 Bicentennial Committee, gave an update on the plans for the year long celebration including a first night on December 31, 2018/January 1, 2019 complete with a ball and fireworks. Shirts and hats are now available; a lasagna dinner fund raiser is planned for November; and the plans for the mural to be painted on the side of the Rockford Fire Station is moving ahead. He then introduced Barbara Pedroza who is spearheading the Barn Quilt project fundraiser. She explained that there is a Barn Quilt network, and Rockford is going to join in on that. Lima and Berne are the closest towns with unique, painted barn quilts on barns (large size) or porches (small size). Click Here for history. Made of large squaes of wood, they are painted to look like the block of a bed quilt. She and Deb Schumm have learned the technique and are willing to help others make their own. Or, for a fee to benefit the Bicentennial , the ladies will do the quilt. They are looking for many members of the community to become part of the trail that will be link Lima to Berne with a printed map for traveling to the different quilt patterns.











Next came Business of the Year: Rockford Carry-Out, owned by Matt and Tom Burtch, son and father. This is a full catering operation with a daily restaurant, too. Their specialties include barbequed meats, shredded meats; full meals with homecooked sides; pizza, desserts, and daily specials. In true Christian fashion, their motto is “be kind to each other and have a great day”. They are currently expanding their building on Main Street in Rockford. Jon Wenning (2016 recipient) presented the plaque.

Mike Schumm (winner for 2016) then spoke as they played the special DVD to surprise the crowd (and the winner) on the announcement of Citizen of the Year for 2017. Barbara Jean (Pifer) Pedroza was selected. Her many accomplishments are listed in the story below. She briefly spoke of her love of the community since moving here in the 6th grade and how she works through projects to see it improve in every way.

Local Woman Opens Massage Therapy Studio

Karen Seibert of Rockford opened her massage therapy studio at 211 N. Oak Street in Rockford.
Trained and graduated in 2015 at the Institute of Therapeutic Massage in Lima, OH, Karen has now been a licensed massage therapist for 4 years.

Appointments at her beautiful new studio is by appointment only. Email her at or call her at 419-953-8782 


Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2017 Barbara (Pifer) Pedroza with Husband Michael and their family! Congratulations to Barbara!


Rockford Chamber of Commerce Names Citizen of the Year 2017
Barbara Pifer Pedroza - Her Story

by Stacie Ford 10-23-2017

Click to enlarge

Barbara was born at a United States Army Hospital, Ft. Eustis, Virginia on February 3, 1952.  She was one of three girls born to parents William and Dorothy. Her sister’s names are Gail and Cindy.

Her civic minded father was a military man who had fulfilled his promise of moving his family back to Rockford after serving a Tour of Duty and traveling throughout Europe.


Barbara graduated from Parkway High School in 1970
Her employment history includes Tuway, Thunderbird Boats, Cisco Realty, and to this day, she continues to work with Miesse’s Herbs in Celina.

Wedding vows were exchanged on October 15, 1994 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Celina with her husband Michael Pedroza.

Together, she and Michael raised five wonderful kids - Bryan, Josh, Travis, Angie, and Matt. 

One of her many favorite pastimes is working in the flower garden.  Her husband shares in the task of beautifying the landscape.

Click to enlarge

Family is very important to her! She prioritizes spending time with her six grandkids, who are her pride and joy, her new puppy - Bandit, and her sisters - Gail and Cindy. Cookouts and family gatherings are held nearly each month during the year.

Barbara has attended Rockford United Methodist Church nearly her entire life and is involved in many of the programs offered through the church including: the free Community Meal and Kid’s Club; Harvest Jubilee Talent Show and Video Ministries; teaching Junior Church; and leading a bible study group “Sisters of Grace”.

Her community involvement includes: Rockford EMS; Homemakers Club;  and a Shanes Park Splash Pad Committee member. As a volunteer for Lots for Soldiers, she played a major role in painting the inside of the house located in Rockford.


Barbara is a Board Member of Rockford Area Development Corporation and as a Bi-Centennial Committee member she has played a major role in organizing fundraisers. There have been dinners, concerts and raffles. Most recently, she spearheaded a fundraiser project on making wooden barn quilts to be auctioned for the Bi-Centennial. It was through her initiative that these Bi-Centennial signs were printed and hung to promote the upcoming event and are seen throughout Rockford.    

Congratulations Barbara Jean Pifer Pedroza on becoming 2017 Citizen of the Year.


Rockford Chamber of Commerce Names Citizen of the Year 2016
Michael “Mike” Schumm


The Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their annual banquet on Monday evening, September 26, 2016. A lovely dinner was prepared by Tom and Matt Burtch, new owners of the Rockford Carry-out who were also mentioned as a new business. 

Mary Beougher, Chamber President, took the stage and mentioned businesses who had met year milestones in the community including these: Wabash Telephone 105; Brenda Barker at His n’ Hers Salon 40 years; Al Brandt Construction 40 years; Deerfield Golf Course 20 years; and more.



Next she invited speaker Norm VanTilburg to the podium with Mike Schumm, president and vice president of the Shanes Crossing Historical Society to discuss plans for the 200th Birthday Celebration of Rockford. The Bicentennial Committee (of about 20 people so far) has big plans in the works for the 2020 Celebration including: a First Night Celebration on New Year’s Eve in 2019; murals painted on the sides of different buildings; quarterly dinners to raise money as well as a gun raffle; duck races; a bicentennial quilt; parade; family reunions; banners for businesses and houses; men’s beard contest; king and queen contest; ladies’ dress (from the 1820’s) contest; band and choir concerts;

Homecoming day; and many other activities.  Many famous people lived and passed through Rockford (Shanes Crossing) as early as 1700 when first maps show it as the ½ way cross over the St. Marys River. Half way was between Piqua and Fort Wayne. Crossing through were: General Mad Anthony Wayne, General Henry Harrison, General Mentor Johnson; Tecumseh, John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) and Anthony Shane , the founder of Shanes Crossing. They invited people to help o the committee and support fund raising efforts for the year long celebration which will culminate with the June 2020 Community Days.




WCSM’s Jon Williams, emcee turned the stage over to Brenda Barker who presented the Business of the Year Award to Subway Restaurant, in business since May 2003 and owned by Jeremy, Josh and John Wenning. She cited their community involvement and great food!


Then the time came to name the winner of the Citizen of the Year for 2016, which went to Mike Schumm, presented by Joyce Emans, last year’s winner.

The video, carefully prepared by Stacie Ford, Parkway Independent and Jim Crocker of WRKD Radio was played and everyone stood to applaud and congratulate Mike following an endearing look at his life.

Mike and Family following awards ceremony 



Mike Schumm’s Life and Memories
written by Stacie Ford 9-26-2016


Mike was born June 3, 1955 in Decatur, Indiana and raised in Willshire, Ohio by parents Frederick and Rosemary. He had 5 brothers and 2sisters.
In the Mike grew up listening to The New York Yankees on the radio and collecting Mickey Mantle Baseball Cards. Competitive pick up ballgames were on the daily agenda for him with an unlimited band of neighborhood kids, or his 5 brothers including Tom, Mark, Ronnie, Scott, and Ted. He played baseball, and  whenever a team needed an extra player, he filled in. In grade school he was quoted as saying of Willshire’s Organized Little League Ball Team, “If there would have been a World Series Little League Championship, we would have won it!”

He loved growing up in Willshire where they had the park to play, the river to fish, and he was related to nearly everyone. If they got into trouble, mom knew about it before he returned home.

Mike embraced life and was surrounded, guided, and influenced by loving  family, friends, teachers and coaches who would shape and mold him to become the person he is today. His influences had a major impact in forming his role as a leader. During his 4 years of high school, Mike was fortunate to have played baseball, basketball, and football under the direction of 4 Hall of Fame Coaches who made lifelong impressions:  Coaches Don Black (Baseball), Dave Hansbarger (Football), John Reed Football), and Ron Neikamp (Basketball).

His talent and positive leadership style would later earn him nominations into the Acme Baseball Hall of Fame (2009), Ohio High School Baseball Hall of Fame (2010), and Parkway High School Athletic Hall of Fame (2015).

As  President of the graduating  Class of 1973, Mike gave the Commencement speech based on the book- I am Third- by  Gale Sayers, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history; summed up, The Lord is first, my friends are second, and I am Third. Forty three years later, people still approach him to say they remember that speech!

Baseball scholarships opened doors for  Mike on the campuses of Marietta College and Ohio Northern where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Education followed by a Masters Degree earned at Mary Grove.

He married his high school sweetheart, Debra Sue Butcher on August 30, 1975 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. This is the same church where he served as Council President and Trustee for several years.     Together Mike and Deb raised Aaron, Amanda, and Galen,  who also embraced a mutual love for sports. Coaching became a part of his entire life, whether it was at home or at school he enjoyed teaching life lessons and the value of what it was like to be part of a team.                          

Spending time and making memories with family has always been a priority to Mike. Family is always there no matter what.

Mike secured employment as a history teacher at Fort Recovery Local Schools and Mendon-Union School , and in 2013 retired with a tenure of 28 years at Parkway Local Schools  as an educator, Head Basketball and Baseball Coach,  and Athletic Director..

Talented team members and cheering fans wearing black and gold will never forget when the Parkway Panthers won 2 Baseball State Championships in 1987 and 1991; Mike’s leadership was at the helm of these opportunities. 2016 marks
the 25th Year Anniversary celebrating the 1991 State Baseball Championship.

Fishing, playing golf, and collecting flea market finds of old ball gloves and baseball memorabilia are ways Mike spends time in retirement;   His love of local history research related to Willshire and Rockford  led him to the  discovery that an apple orchard was planted on his property by Johnny Appleseed!  In keeping with the tradition two more apple trees were planted 7 years ago; 2 apples were harvested this year!


Active memberships within the community include the Historical Society (Vice President) and Bicentennial Planning Committee (Co-Chairman).
He helps at the museum, has been in several Lions Club Variety Shows, and volunteers as the sports director for the Rockford Radio Station WRKD.

“Coach” would be the title given to this man who is a teacher on and off the field and, described as a family man who is a great role model, practices what he preaches, who is always positive, and a good listener. Our lives are enriched for knowing you, “Coach.”


- Michael Lynn Schumm !
written by Stacie Ford 9-26-2016

Click on smaller thumbnail pictures below to enlarge them. 

Greg Homan Proclamations by
Mercer County Commissioners

Johnny Appleseed

Influential Coaches

Mike and Deb's Family

Variety Show Fun



Mike's Siblings

College Mike Schumm

Caitlin Grier Joins Staff at His ‘n Hers Rockford
Nails are her Specialty


Caitlin Grier recently passed her State Board License as a Nail Technician, and has joined the staff at His ‘n Hers Rockford, working alongside Brenda Barker, owner.

Caitlin is the daughter of Bill and Cindy Grier of Mendon and graduated from Parkway in 2010. She holds an Associate Degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Marketing from University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima.

Following her graduation, she finished an Advanced Nail Technician Degree through Creative Images in Vandalia. Her ten week program included training on: natural nails; acrylics;  nail diseases; bacterial disorders; muscles and bones of the hands; massage of the hands and feet; and nail art.

She completed an additional 100 hours on advanced work on her own for managing her own nail business.






Her training in polishes and acrylics includes: regular; gels; and lacquers.

Products she uses are: OPI Polishes; CND Shellac and gel; and OPI gel; Morgan Taylor Polishes; and Tammy Taylor Acrylics.

Caitlin and Brenda both use the OPI Infinite shine Lacquer System on pedicures.

Caitlin works evenings beginning at 4 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, she works during the day.

Walk-ins are welcome or call her at 419-305-6243 for an appointment.










Gehle Transport Celebrates 40 years

The Rockford Chamber would like to congratulate Chamber member,
Gehle Transport, as they celebrate 40 years in the trucking business.   
They celebrated with an open house this past weekend. Pictured are Missy, Steve and Marge Gehle.



The Jazzy Chef – Catering Business Opens in Rockford
The Rockford Chamber would like to welcome The Jazzy Chef as a new
local catering business.  The Jazzy Chef is owned by Trish Dooley of Rockford.   

The Jazzy Chef is focused on providing high-quality service and customer satisfaction - we will do everything we can to meet your expectations.  We use raw and organic ingredients and prepare each dish with love and care, our black-tie bartender has 25 years experience and mixes with great expertise and flair...We hope you truly enjoy your EXPERIENCE!

The Jazzy Chef can be reached at (419)771-9434.    
Private Chef~ Black Tie Bartender~Gourmet Dessert Catering
Call now for reservations!




Rockford Chamber of Commerce Holds 42th Banquet
by Sheila Baltzell

The  Rockford Chamber of Commerce held their 42th banquet on Monday evening. Following a social time with music by Triad, a delicious meal was enjoyed. Jonathan Williams served as Master of Ceremonies. Marie Miller Chamber President gave a report on accomplishments by the Chamber this year and upcoming events. She read off the names of the new businesses KIDZ Tree House, Heart 'n Soul Massage Therapy, Shanes park Beautification Society; and Rockford Monuments under new ownership. She recognized Businesses of the Month who had been honored during the year and went on to acknowledge and congratulate business milestones: A & A Greenhouse 15 years; Community Health Professionals 40 years; Family Medicine Associates 35 years; John K. Granger - General Dentistry 40 years; Peoples Bank Company 110 years; Rockford EMS 40 years; S & B Coin Laundry 40 years; Shanes Crossing Enterprises 15 years; Shanes Crossing Historical Society 20 years and Time Bulletin 170 years.

She turned the program over to Norm VanTilburg and Mike Schumm, officers for the Shanes Crossing Historical Society. They entertained with a lovely program of old photos from Shanes Crossing including horses and buggies, the building of the L.E. Lloyd Buggy and Surrey Building which later became a car dealership, Lloyd Motor Sales and the laying of the brick streets on Main and Market. They talked about the rich history of the area and our village founder Anthony Shane and his wife, who as Shawnee Indians were well respected and sought after for their knowledge of the history of the area.  They encouraged everyone to get involved with the 2020 Rockford Bicentennial Celebration Plans and discussed a list of the activities on which the committee is working.

Then the time all had been waiting for ~ the announcement of Business of the Year and Citizen of the year. First Marcia Ripley, as last year's business recipient for Ketcham Ripley Funeral Home, spoke about how the winner has been in business nearly 40 years and was always willing to open her doors for the Christmas Walk, and help with all activities in town. As a progressive business owner, she focused on pampering her customers with hair, nail and tanning over the years. Brenda Barker was surprised and pleased when further discussion revealed her business His 'n Hers as the winning. She spoke briefly to thank everyone and express her pride in her hometown. After several presentations, Marie Miller started a special DVD leading the audience into suspense over who the winner would be. It was clear by the end of the power-point, that Joyce Ann Price Emans, a winner in 2013 of volunteer of the year, was the newest Chamber Citizen of the Year.  Ryan Sipe, recipient of the Chamber Citizen of the Year in 2014, spoke about the selection process and how he and Mike Bruns agreed whole-heartedly that Joyce, who grows, transplants and tends the flower gardens at Shanes Park,  was a natural choice. Ryan said he spends many an early morning at the park, checking buildings and ball diamonds and cleaning up sticks and trash. He always see Joyce there as well, working the flower beds in the early hours when it is coolest.  Joyce, surprised and smiling, thanked the Chamber and mentioned that she took great pride in her flowers and appreciated all the people who stepped up to help her when major projects needed completed. She was presented with several proclamations as well.

See the pictures below.





Congratulations Joyce Ann Price Emans on becoming Rockford Chamber of Commerce 2015 Citizen of the Year

By Stacie Ford


This statement exemplifies the recipient of the Citizen of the Year, Joyce Ann Price Emans: "The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by the depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others."

Joyce was born a coal miner’s daughter on April 11, 1939 and raised in Speedwell, Tennessee.

She was the oldest of seven children born to Milt and Leona Price, and attended Powell Valley, a small county school, until her freshman year when she was needed at home to help her family on the farm.

Later, family responsibilities in Rockford, Ohio dictated that our recipient relocate there when she was 21 years old.

Fours years later, she married and started a family with Larry.

Her children Denise, Donna, and Duane leave a legacy of 9 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

While raising her children, she grew, harvested, and put up a year round vegetable garden; she also took delight in tending to a flower garden.

The fruits of her labor were shared with family during Sunday meals. 

Her Rockford “Clean It All” commercial cleaning business launched once her children became more independent and responsible.

Love of holiday and seasonal decorating with flowers, lights, and arrangements extend to her work environment, home, and the world around her.


A few years ago, an idea to decorate Shanes Park for Christmas became a reality. Her budding vision of a musical lighting ceremony complete with 12 stations involving community came true with the help of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.


Over the last 10 years, vegetation has been transplanted from her home to Shanes Park so that visitors there might enjoy it, too.

She and a crew of enlisted volunteers help to maintain the park on a daily basis during the summer by pulling weeds, planting, watering, amending the soil, picking up sticks and raking leaves. 

Her efforts were recognized in 2013 as she was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Joyce recipient volunteers not to get credit for the work that is done, rather, it is so that others will see what 1 person can accomplish.  Therefore, if more individuals got involved each would see what many can accomplish.

In 2015 she began the Shanes Park Beautification Society.

Congratulations Joyce Ann Price Emans on becoming 2015 Citizen of the Year.




Congratulations to Brenda Barker owner of  His N Hers Salon and Spa on becoming Rockford Chamber of Commerce 2015 Business of the Year.

by Sheila Baltzell

His N Hers has been a Rockford business since 1976, when Brenda (graduate of Ohio State Beauty Academy) officially opened her doors. Relax and be pampered at His N Hers Salon and Spa where enhancing natural beauty is their specialty. With an extensive full line of services that include Hair Cut & Coloring, Nails, Permanent Eyelash Extensions, Massage, Waxing, and more. Brenda is dedicated to offering personalized services for each client. Located in downtown Rockford, the comfortable and easy environment at His N Hers allows an escape from the race and an opportunity to feel refreshed and renewed for nearly 40 years!


Brenda is the daughter of the late Woody and Ilene Davis. Ilene is also a cosmetologist who worked those years in the His n Hers Salon with Brenda. Brenda has two daughters, Leslie and Lindsay and five grandchildren.

Brenda receives Proclamation from Mercer County Commissioners

Congratulations Brenda on being Business of the Year 2015!

Pictures from the banquet and DVD:

Click on the smaller thumbnail pictures to enlarge them.


Joyce with her siblings.

Joyce started her own cleaning company
called Clean it All.

Joyce's beautiful lilacs
which she cuts and shares around the village.

With the help of the Chamber
Joyce's idea of a decorated Christmas in
Shanes Park came true.

Beautiful transplanted
flowers from Joyce's own gardens
to Shanes Park Gazebo.

A Coal Miner's daughter.

More flowers planted and
tended by Joyce.

2013 Volunteer of the Year - Rockford

Proclamation from Commissioners

Proclamation from Rep. Buchy

Proclamation from Keith Faber (absent)
presented by Jonathan Williams

Rockford Volunteer Fire Department Installs Digital Sign
Open House Celebrated - September 2015

The Rockford Volunteer Fire Department recently installed a new digital sign in front of the fire station on Main Street in Rockford. It came just in time for their annual Fall Open House complete with barbecue chicken dinners and a reverse raffle.

They bought the sign from Baldus Signs in Ft. Wayne, IN, and it features all kinds of colorful graphics and nifty lettering to run as many messages as it can hold. Time and temperature will be programmed into it very soon. Rob Belna, fire chief, said it can be updated remotely, and community events can be called in to Todd McKee at 419-363-3611to have an event added. There will be no charge for this community service.

Viewing the sign as a must-have item, the department bought the sign, after nine years of dealing with a metal and letter sign sitting in front of the station which could only feature one event at a time.  The community is quite excited about the location on Main Street and its visibility all the way up and down the street.  The firemen are asking for donations to help them recoup the cost for the sign, and interested parties can contact Jordan Belna at the above number as well.

The firemen held their Open House as a fund raiser for other projects. A nice display table at the event showed the gear that all firemen must wear when out on a run. Rob said the gear has a shelf-life of 10 years and replacement is then mandatory. For one fireman, it costs $10,000 for the fireproof coat, hat, goggles, respirator, air pack, gloves, boots and regular upkeep. The money they raised from selling 600 chicken dinners and running a reverse raffle, will go towards gear and replacing older vehicles including a 4000 gallon tanker, which is on their wish list. A tanker can cost anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000. The reverse raffle, emceed by Tom Robbins (auctioneer), distributed around $6,000 in prize money that evening. The sale of 250 tickets gave a return of money to the department as well and was entertaining to the crowd for the evening. Funding for the fire department also comes from fire protection fees that the local townships pay to the department and is subject to the current valuation of property.

The next opportunity to join in a Fire Department Fund-Raiser is in the Spring 2016 when they will host their very popular Pancake and Sausage breakfast featuring Kuhn Farms whole hog sausage.


Click on smaller thumbnail pictures below to enlarge.
Firemen cook barbeque chicken Families help distribute dinners Firemen demonstrate
Jaws of Life for peeling open
a wrecked car
Reverse Raffle
with Tom Robbins as Emcee


Congratulations to Jane Cozad of Baker Built Engraving for being chosen as the Rockford Chamber Business of the Month

Baker Built Engraving, LLC was established in 2002 as part of a family business in Ohio City.  Jane Cozad, now the current owner, has managed the business since the beginning.  The business is now located outside of Rockford.

Baker Built Engraving does most of their business online through their website, and specializes to the equestrian market.  Baker Built Engraving does offer local engraving service as well, by appointment, for signs, name plates, plaques and awards.  Some of their local work has included signs for Shanes Park in Rockford, Camp Clay, and the Children’s Garden at Smiley Park, as well as various plaques and awards for the villages of Rockford and Ohio City, and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, just to name a few.

For more information please check out the website at, or email Jane at, or call (419) 203-4727.

Thank you Baker Built Engraving for supporting YOUR Rockford Chamber of Commerce.



Grand Opening of Heart-n-Soul

The Grand Opening of Heart-n-Soul was held on September 12th. Heart-n-Soul is located at 121 S Main St. in the His n Hers Beauty  
Salon & Boutique in downtown Rockford.   Rockford’s newest business is owned by Karen Seibert and Lori Taylor,
licensed Massage Therapists.
Massage Therapy hours will be by appointment – daytime, evening and weekend  schedules. Contact Karen @ 419-953-8782 or Lori @ 
419-305-5496 to schedule your appointment.
Certified in:  Cancer Massage, Chair Massage, Clay or Paraffin Facial, Deep  Tissue Massage, Geriatric Massage, Hot/Cold Stone Facial, Hot Stone Massage,  Pediatric Massage, Pregnancy Massage, Relaxation Massage, Sinus  Massage.  Also, licensed to do pedicures.
“When mind, body, and spirit are in harmony, happiness is the natural result.”  Deepak Chopra
Pictured - Lori Taylor - Owner, Amy Joseph - Rockford Mayor, Mary Beougher - Chamber Member, Karen Seibert - Owner




Roberta LePage Donates Memorial Brick Information to Shanes Crossing Historical Society

By Lisa Kuhn, Treasurer

Roberta LePage began a quest to find out if her father, Herman Beeks had a memorial/military brick at the Shanes Park Log Cabin.  She found out that there was not any written information regarding the memorial bricks either at the Log Cabin or at the Shanes Crossing Historical Society.

Seeing a need, Roberta took on the project of gathering the information off the approximately 200 bricks located at Shanes Park and recorded it in an easy to read spreadsheet format.

Robert has donated the information to the Shanes Crossing Historical Socity so that others may find out if their family members have memorial bricks at the park.  The information is available to the public during business hours or by appointment on weekends.

If you are interested in purchasing a brick, there are 3 types of bricks – Commemorative, Memorial or In Honor and Veterans Bricks.   Each brick has 3 lines with 15 spaces per line.  The bricks cost $50 each with payment being made to Shanes Crossing Historical Society.  Forms are available at the Rockford Village Hall and Museum.

Thank you, Roberta, for your time in completing this valuable resource for the historical society.





Parkway Independent Online Newspaper Named Business of the Month

Congratulations to The Parkway Independent Online Newspaper (Web Works Services, LLC)  for being selected as the  Rockford Chamber - September Business of the month.  

The Parkway Independent Online Newspaper was established in 2004 by Sheila Baltzell.  Sheila said she created the newspaper to help the community record their events and news. Because of the online application, the paper has been read near and far over the past 11 years with readers as far away as overseas.

Hometown news is the specialty of The Parkway Independent.

Visit for all the news without all the paper!

Thank you, Parkway Independent Online Newspaper (Web Works Services, LLC) for supporting your local chamber.

Pictured is Sheila Baltzell, owner and editor. Stacie Ford is the advertising director. 









Chatt Insurance Center Selected as Rockford Chamber – November Business of the Month

Pictured Travis Pond with daughter Jenna

Chatt Insurance Center is located near the Ohio-Indiana border and has been serving communities in both Ohio and Indiana since 1959. We are committed to building a solid relationship with customers through practical solutions and excellent service. 

The most important thing about insurance is YOU. Make sure that you and your loved ones are financially protected against lawsuits, accidents or disasters so that your life's work is not wiped away and those you love will not suffer. Rather than price alone, think of the type of claims you would want paid or how much it could cost to rebuild your home, income-producing farm or business when you are shopping for protection.

The agents at Chatt Insurance Center are independent insurance agents. We don't work for any one insurance company; we sell coverage from several different companies. This allows us to focus on providing you with the right amount of insurance and the right type of coverage for your needs. 

Thank you Chatt Insurance for being selected as the Rockford Chamber – November Business of the Month.    We appreciate your continued support.


Heart-n-Soul Grand Opening on September 12 – 7:30 to noon
His ‘n Hers Hair Styling Salon Offering Brand New Services
Massage, Manicures, Pedicures
by Sheila Baltzell 9-4-2015


A new business within a business in Rockford will have a Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting on Saturday morning with the Rockford Chamber of Commerce assisting in the ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:30 AM. Heart-n-Soul Massage Therapy, is owned by Karen Siebert and Lori Taylor, who are both licensed massage therapists, educated at the Institute of Therapeutic Massage in Lima. Located at 121 S. Main Street, the ladies will be working at the His ‘n Hers Styling Salon and offer these certified massage services: Relaxation; Deep Tissue; Hot Stone; Cancer; Chair; Clay or Paraffin Facials; Geriatric; Hot and Cold Stone Facials; Pediatric; Pregnancy; and Sinus. Massages last for an hour, and they like the customor to arrive a little early for any necessary paperwork as well as providing the opportunity for the full hour of massage. The ladies are fully insured.
Search on Facebook for Heart-n-Soul, Karen Siebert, Lori Taylor or His 'n Hers.

For appointments, Karen Siebert can be reached at 419.953.8782 or email Lori Taylor can be reached at 419-305-5496 or email at or by calling Brenda Barker at His n Hers 419-363-3805 or 567-644-4255. Appointments are available daily during the week and evenings as well as some Saturdays and Sundays. Give them a call!


In addition to Heart-n-Soul Massage Therapy, Brenda Barker, licensed cosmetologist since 1974, of His 'n Hers has added a pedicure chair to her wide range of hair care services. A graduate of Ohio State Beauty Academy, she offers regular and deluxe pedicures, foot water massage, toe manicures, trim and buff of nails and waxing. She uses OPI products. She does color, tints, perms, cuts and sets. Her haircare line includes Joico, Kenra, and Fairy Tales. Call Brenda at 419-363-3805 or 567-644-4255 for an appointment.


Dayton School of Medical Massage in Lima is where Megan Kraner-Stechschulte completed her training as a licensed massage therapist. She offers these massage services: deep tissue, hot stone, relaxation, lymph drainage, sports, back pain, sciatica, sinus drainage and neck. Call her at 419-305-7337 for an appointment.

Carol Zizelman has been a licensed cosmetologist for 56 years. She does color, tints, perms, cuts and sets at His n' Hers, where she has worked since 1996. In addition to her manager's license, she also has a traveling license. Call her at 419-363-3664 for an appointment on Thursdays and some Wednesdays.

Raeh Harrod, licensed cosmetologist, also works at His 'n Hers doing acrylic nails & shellac manicures. She also does special colors and tints. Call Raeh for a Monday or Friday appointment 419-733-7640.

Brenda Barker, owner of His 'n Hers, has recently renovated the massage rooms for a quiet and peaceful expereience whether it is a massage or a pedicure. Brenda and her team invite you to come to the open house on Saturday, September 12, 2015 with the ribbon-cutting ceremony and enjoy some delicious refreshments.



The Fremont Company Named July Business of the Month

Congratulations to The Fremont Company for being selected as the Rockford Chamber - July Business of the month.  

Sharp Canning was established in 1924 by A.L. Sharp.  In 1961 the company was purchased by
The Fremont Company.  The primary products are ketchup and BBQ sauce.  We specialize in
private label ketchup and also co-pack branded product.  In addition to the domestic market, we
ship to over 50 foreign countries.  In 1997,  we installed a state of the art process line.  This year,
we are starting a 3 year program to increase our capacity to meet the growing needs of our

Thank you, Fremont Company for supporting your local chamber.

Pictured above are Jim Gibson - Fremont Plant Manager, Marie Miller - Rockford Chamber President, Ken Pond - Assistant Plant Manager






Rockford's Best Mix - 101.3 WRKD held an open house and ribbon cutting on February 28th.    

WRKD is a low power broadcasting station that is located on 101.3 on the fm dial. In August 2012 station manager Jim Crocker approached the Village of Rockford with an idea to start a community radio station with the Village being the license holder. The town council unanimously voted to approve the offer, Jim then applied for the license and was granted the construction permit in early 2014. The studios were then built with help from businesses and private individuals from the area.   WRKD has became a reality. In December of 2014 WRKD officially went live on the air. Broadcasting a variety of hits from the 70's to today along with live sporting events and public service announcements. WRKD is Rockford's best mix!!!

WRKD can be found ON THE AIR at 101.3 fm, on the WEB at,
on FACEBOOK 101.3WRKD, and on TUNEIN radio.  Take us with you everywhere you go! Download our FREE AP Available in the Google play store!

Check out our show line-up:

70's at 7 pm; 80's at 8 pm Monday thru Friday
Parkway Sports hosted by Mike Schumm
Greatest Hits USA - Sundays 6 - 9 pm
My Blues Show w/John Dooley - Sundays 9 pm – midnight


Photo: Amy Joseph - Rockford Mayor, John Dooley - Village Council, Jim Crocker - General Manager, Mark Wulfhorst - Sports, Bryan Stetler - Operation Manager, Mike Schumm - Sports and Austin Metz -Intern. Photo by Lisa Kuhn



Henkle Insurance Honored by Motorists Mutual for 50 Year Mark

Henkle Insurance Agency recently received a 50 year plaque from the  Motorists Mutual Representative Dan Sherran.  Dan Henkle started the agency back in November of 1964 marking this year as their 50th year with Motorists Mutual based out of Columbus, Ohio.
Henkle Insurance Agency has been serving the Rockford Communities Insurance needs for 50 years. The agency has now reached to three generations in the family when Joel and Jordan Henkle joined their father Todd and grandfather Dan in the office. Stop in their Rockford location to get a free quote today on your auto, home, farm, life, annuity, and commercial needs. 



Brand It Marketing Wins National BEST OF NAMA Award

Rockford, Ohio (May 4, 2015) –  Ohio marketing agency, Brand It Marketing Communications, has been awarded a BEST OF national award through the National Agri-Marketing Association for their work they produced for client Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) in the Audio Visual Presentations category for Dealers, Distributors & Sales Reps.

The video was developed for Van Wert, Ohio company, Advanced Biological Marketing, using a stop-motion technique following a soybean on its journey from seed through inoculation to full plant and harvest.  The award-winning video was the creative vision of Brand It Marketing Communications’ Twyla Hayes who entered the competition for the first time this year. Hayes collaborated with Dark Horse Productions in Delphos, Ohio to bring her creative vision and work to reality.

The Best of NAMA, National Ag Marketing Association, honors the best in agricultural marketing communications. Submissions are evaluated for marketing effectiveness and creativity as selected by a panel of 50 judges. The competitions were created in 1988 to honor outstanding work by NAMA members, educate members and to feature good advertising, and thus raise the quality of the industry’s communication efforts.

The regional awards process began in October of 2014. Companies and agencies entered their work to the regional competition. Entries were then judged in six different regions. Overall there were 1,355 entries in the six regions with almost 50 judges participating. These entries were evaluated over a two-day period in November in Kansas City.


About Brand It Marketing Communications

Brand It Marketing Communications specializes in result focused services to provide an inclusive branding for your growing business. Brand It Marketing’s team is comprised of creative designers, web site programmers and social media strategists ready to help your business grow. Brand It operates under guiding principles based upon integrity, professionalism and mutual respect. For more information visit

About Advanced Biological Marketing

ABM provides solutions for commercial agriculture using biological seed treatments that increase a crop’s potential and yield. Its product line include biological seed enhancements for corn, soybeans, wheat and many other production crops across the globe. ABM headquarters are in Van Wert, Ohio, USA. For more information, go to








Click on thumbnail pictures below to see production scene's from Twyla's video.



Otterbein St. Marys Hosts Dedication for New Healthcare Expansion

Otterbein St. Marys unveiled the community’s NEW Designated Therapy Wing to the public in a formal dedication held on Friday, March 20th, 2015. Residents, partners, board members, local community leaders and other guests gathered to celebrate the  newest offerings and expansions being offered at Otterbein St. Marys. One new offering is the 1900 square foot state of the art therapy gym. This new amenity offers the latest in therapy services and equipment to Otterbein residents and members from the local communities. The therapy gym is part of St. Marys NEW designated post-acute, short-term rehabilitation area. This new designated therapy wing will conjoin the therapy gym with 12 private suites designed for recovery and rehabilitation. The space will provide residents with all the comforts of home in private suites designed to meet the needs of individuals with a variety of conditions and care levels. St. Marys is also pleased to offer a new memory support area and newly renovated assisted living and skilled nursing areas. “We have truly created a space that is state of the art, an environment that is warm, focuses on the individual, and returns them to the best possible version of themselves,” said Stacy Klosterman, Healthcare Lifestyle Counselor. The community is encouraged to come see what we have done to enhance the lives of those we serve in aspects of rehabilitation and long term care.



Ivan Knapp Named Rockford Chamber June Business Person of the Month

The Rockford Chamber would like to congratulate Ivan Knapp of
Knapp's News for being the June Business of the Month.  Ivan also recently received the
Citizen of the Year Award at the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce Banquet.
Thank you for all that you have done for Mercer County!

Congratulations Ivan !  Thank you for supporting the Rockford











Kidz Treehouse Opens in Rockford 

A Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting took place at Kidz Treehouse on June 19th.
Kidz Treehouse is located at 142 N Main St. in Rockford.  
Rockford’s newest business is a children’s consignment shop and boutique
(sizes newborn to Jr. – clothes, shoes, and toys).

Summer Store hours will be Tuesday and Wednesday – Noon to 6 pn. 
Thursdays – 11 am – 8 pm.  Fridays 10 – 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am – 1 pm. 
Coming soon --- The Fan Room will be offering Parkway apparel and gifts.    

Pictured left to right:  Mayor Amy Joseph, Jessica Shaffer – owner, 
Marie Miller – Rockford Chamber President, Vicki Steffen, Apollo Thomas





Rockford Monuments Changes Hands

Martha Baltzell, longtime businesswoman in Rockford, has handed over the keys of the Rockford Monument business to her daughter Amy Baltzell Lyons of Rockford, OH (2014). Martha had been operating the business since her husband Frederick A. Baltzell’s passing in 1996. Fred bought the Tolan Memorials business from Fred Tolan in approximately 1978. Tolan’s family owned the business as far back as 1883 (Jay Tolan) in Rockford.

Fred Baltzell changed the name to Rockford Monuments and enhanced the business of stone monuments and engraving services by adding the service of replacement and preservation of deteriorating monuments and footers in local cemeteries.

Martha computerized the business and began offering special services like laser engraving which allowed for photographs to be placed on monuments. Computerized drawing gave customers many options for personalizing lettering and other graphics.

Amy has relocated the business to her home at 814 W. Market Street west of Rockford. She currently works with Delphos Granite Works, which offers an extensive line of quality stones with personalization her main objective. Amy can be reached at 419-363-9410 or 419-733-1878.


May Chamber Member of the Month Announced
The Rockford Chamber would like to congratulate the Rockford United Methodist Church as the May 2015 Member of the Month !


Rockford United Methodist Church is a merged church formed in 2000 when the former Grace United Methodist and First United Methodist churches came together as one church. The congregation welcomes everyone to the TRADITIONS worship experience at 8:30 and/or the ENGAGE worship experience at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. The church is located at the corner of Pearl and Franklin Streets in Rockford right behind the firehouse.

Thank you Rockford United Methodist Church for supporting your local chamber !

Pictured:  Nathan Rupp - Youth and Children's Ministries, Susan Sheppard - Office Manager, Pastor Chip Steffy, and Marie Miller - Chamber President.





SUBWAY Chosen as Rockford Chamber Business of the Month for April 2015

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that SUBWAY has
been chosen as the Rockford Chamber Business of the Month.

  Subway of Rockford was established in May of 2003, by Jeremy, Richard,
  Josh, & Jon Wenning. We offer a wide variety of subs along with
  flatbreads, and Pizza's. The store is currently Managed by Jamie Green.
  She and her staff would like you to stop by for a fresh meal with a
  smile.  Rockford Subway is located at 101 Main St. 
  Congratulations Subway !  Thank you for being a supporter of the Rockford


Picture: left to rt - Jamie Green - Rockford Subway Manager, Jeremy Wenning - Store Owner, &
Marie Miller - Rockford Chamber President.





Happy Daz Ribbon Cutting 

Happy Daz  opened at 10am on Monday, May 11, 2015  with a ribbon cutting ceremony.  The new restaurant is located at 911 East Wayne Street on the location of the  former roller rink in Celina.  Summer hours for Happy Daz are daily from 7am to 10pm. John Heaphy is the owner of Beer Barrel Pizza and Grill, Old City Prime and Happy Daz restaurants.  For a menu visit  Photo compliments of Jagged Edge Photography.

Happy Daz has joined the Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.  

Pictured is restaurant owner, John Heaphy cutting the ribbon at the grand
opening along with Mayor Jeff Hazel, Mercer County Commissioner Rick Muhlenkamp,  Chamber Director Pam Buschur, several Chamber Trustees and Ambassadors, and the day shift for Happy Daz.











Colonial Nursing Center Named Rockford Chamber – February 2015 Business of the Month

Congratulations to Colonial Nursing Center for being selected as the Rockford Chamber – February Business of the Month.  Zach Collins, Administrator states “We are honored to be the business of the Month in Rockford”.  Colonial Nursing Center was built in 2000.  Colonial is amongst some of the smallest nursing homes in Ohio, which makes their care more personal.  They have a 34 skilled beds, and 9 assisted living room.  They offer occupational, physical, speech as well as respiratory therapy.  They also have audiology, dentistry, optometry, and podiatry services that come to the building so that residents do not have to travel to see doctors.  In the past recent weeks, they have been holding a community bingo on Thursday’s in the dining room that is open to the public.  Other activities that Colonial participates in is donating food to the Parkway Ministerial Food Pantry, and they prepare lunches for kindergartners.  Colonial has plenty of space if your organization needs a place to meet, or maybe need a place to hold an event.  
Colonial Nursing Center is located at 201 Buckeye St .  Phone number is 419-363-2193.



Congratulations to the Rockford Carnegie Library for being selected
as the December - Rockford Chamber Business of the Month December 2014! 

A library association was formed in 1902 in Rockford.  The library didn't
have a permanent home though during those early years.  In 1910
correspondence was started with Andrew Carnegie to get money
for a building.  The new building was dedicated in May of 1913.

The library has changed drastically in the past few years because
of technology.  The card catalog became an on-line catalog, e-books
were added to the collection and computers have become essential for

The library is funded primarily with money from the state and a local

The Rockford Carnegie library is located at 162 S Main St.  The hours
are Monday - Thursday 10 am - 8 pm.  Fridays till 5:30 pm and Saturdays
till 2 pm.

Thank you Rockford Carnegie Library for supporting your Rockford


Pictured left to right: Becky Schaadt, Jane Cozad - Rockford Chamber President, Rozann Maurer, and Bob Maurer



The Rockford Chamber is pleased to announce the November Business of the Month is ....
The Peoples Bank Co,  located at 100 N Main St. in Rockford.

The Peoples Bank Co. has been part of the Rockford community long before they opened the branch on Main Street in 2001.  We are grateful to have such a strong customer base in Rockford and the surrounding area. The Peoples Bank Co. is a local independent community bank and our success is directly related to meeting the financial needs of the individuals, farmers, and small businesses in the communities we serve. The staff of the Rockford branch takes an active role in the community they so proudly serve. This active role empowers them to provide professional banking solutions to businesses and individuals. 

"We are honored the Rockford Chamber of Commerce has chosen The Peoples Bank Co., Rockford branch as Business of the Month for November."  Ryan Sipe, Assistant Vice President and Rockford Branch Manager stated this afternoon.  

Congratulations ! Thank you Peoples Bank for supporting your Rockford Chamber!

Pictured:  Deb Rollins, Kay Shaffer, Ryan Sipe - Assistant Vice President, Rockford Branch, Jane Cozad - Chamber President, LuAnn Sigler and Linda Standiford.




Rockford Chamber Business of the Month Announced
Congratulations to New Horizons Community Church


Marie Miller, Chamber Vice President,  Dave Souers . Lead Pastor @ New Horizons, and Jane Cozad - Chamber President are shown.
New Horizon Church has been chosen as the Rockford Chamber October Business of the Month.  New Horizons is located at 833 S Main St. in Rockford.  
Pastor Dave has been serving as the Lead Pastor at NHCC since February of 2014. New Horizons is a place where you will find a relaxed atmosphere, upbeat music, and messages from God’s word. We strive to make you feel a part of our family, and hope that you will join us at either service on Sundays at 8:30 am or 10:15 am.   New Horizons offers Kidzone, Pioneer Club and Wired Youth Ministries for children and young adults.  

Thank you New Horizons for supporting the Rockford Chamber  The chamber
website is and we can be found on Facebook "Rockford Ohio Chamber of Commerce".  



Bright Star Award Goes to Jane Cozad - October 2014

The Rockford Chamber's 'BRIGHT STAR" award sponsored by NOACC - (Northern Ohio Area Chamber of Commerce) - is Jane Cozad - President of the Rockford Chamber and owner of The Healing Hand - located at 142 N Main St., Rockford.

Jane has been the Rockford Chamber President for 3 years.   Jane is an asset in helping the Chamber be a vital part of the Rockford Community.  She is committed to supporting our local businesses.  

Jane will be honored on Wednesday - October 29th at Club Velvet at the Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park.


Congratulations Jane !









Henkle Insurance Donates to Rockford's New Radio Station 101.3 WRKD

The Henkle Insurance Agency of Rockford recently donated $700 towards the purchase of radio equipment to get WRKD 101.3 live and on the air. Currently the radio station is a web-based radio. A transmitter on a short tower at the station 
located in the Rockford Village Offices is sending the signal out for a test so far, as they are not on the air officially at Channel 101.3 on the FM Dial (for the Federal Communications Commission – FCC). However, they are streaming 24/7 at which is free and works great! They have a mix of music on the stream that you are sure to enjoy with over 900 hits available. Tune-In Radio has an app for your phone, too. 

Jim Crocker and Bryan Stetler invite you to stream the station on line.  Currently Bryan is working on securing their own tower that will be placed at the city building allowing them to broadcast live on the radio sometime before the first of the year. The station is raising money so they can add the on-air portion of their services in the near future. For more information on how to donate to the Leota Braun Fund making the donation tax deductible, please Contact Bryan Stetler at the station phone number 419-363-3032. Click here for the station’s website  
Pictured above is Bryan Stetler (right) accepting the Henkle Insurance donation from Todd Henkle (left) owner of Henkle Insurance Agency.



The Rockford Chamber is pleased to announce the September Business of the Month is ... Brand It Marketing Communications!

Brand It Marketing Communications is a full service design and marketing firm that specializes in branding, identity materials and packaging, as well as digital projects. They design and create:
• Logos
• Business essentials
• Video
• Publication ads
• Brochures and catalogs
• Web sites
• Promotional products
• Copywriting
• Corporate naming
• Exterior storefront design 

Brand It Marketing is located at 4510 State Route 117, Rockford.  They can be reached Monday - Friday at 

Thank you Twyla Hayes and Brand It Marketing Communications for your continued support of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. 

Pictured left to right: Michelle Hill - Office Administrator, Twyla Hayes - Owner of Brand It Marketing Communications, Lisa Kuhn - Chamber Treasure, Marie Miller - Social Media Strategist 



Henkle Insurance is Business of the Month

The Rockford Chamber is pleased to announce the August Business of the Month is  Henkle Insurance located at 149 S Main St., Rockford.

Henkle Insurance Agency has been serving the Rockford Communities Insurance needs for 50 years this upcoming November. The agency has now reached to three generations in the family when Joel and Jordan Henkle joined their father Todd and grandfather Dan in the office. Stop in their Rockford location to get a free quote today on your auto, home, farm, life, annuity, and commercial needs. 

Congratulations Henkle Insurance!  Thank you for supporting the Rockford Chamber.

Pictured - Joel Henkle, Dan Henkle, Jane Cozad - Rockford Chamber President, Todd Henkle and Jordan Henkle.





Carry Out Holds Grand Opening - 2014


The Rockford Carry Out & Dining held their Grand Opening this past weekend
  during our Rockford Community Days celebration. Todd and Renee Mathewson
  along with parents, Terry and Sandy Mathewson are the new owners.

  The exterior has been updated with new siding, parking area, landscape and
  signage. A dine-in section with new booths and food prep equipment
  enhancements has been added to the interior, allowing for a pizza buffet on
  Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as a Sunday Brunch buffet.
  The Carry Out has been moved to the back of the building to allow for food
  pick-ups and beer purchases.  The drive-thru will be open Sunday through
  Thursday - 11:00 am to 10:00 pm ; Friday and Saturday - 11:00 am to 11:00
  pm. The dining rooom will be open Sunday through Thursday - 11:00 am to
  8:00 pm ; Friday and Saturday - 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  A full menu can be found at or you can call them
  at 419-363-2855

Pictured left to right: Norm VanTilburg, Chamber President Jane Cozad,
Mayor Amy Joseph, Sandy Mathewson, Terry Mathewson, Dan Henkle, Mary Beougher and
Nancy Leighner.

Information submitted by Marie Miller - Rockford Chamber Vice President. 


Rockford Carry Out - New Owners Make Changes including home cooking

Renee uses the deep fryer. "Our sit-down family restaurant is a gathering place for the community."

The Rockford Carry-out has new owners: Renee and Todd Mathewson, and Terry and Sandy Mathewson, parents. The  Carry-Out side of the business is running as usual with the same great food ~ Pizza, subs, salads and chicken. A new drive through window has expedited service. but the expansion of  the dining area has really transformed the Carry-Out into a full service restaurant. They have added new booths and tables and chairs. They have also bought and paved the adjacent parking lot.  There is a Salad Bar and a Pizza Bar with Daily Lunch Specials. There is a buffet including the salad bar on Friday and Saturday. Sunday brunch is from 11-2 including a soup and salad bar. Staff has gone from 7 employees to 15 employees. Hours are: Sunday through Thursday, Restaurant 11-8 and Carry-out 11-10. On Friday and Saturday Restaurant 11-10 and Carryout 11-11. "Come try our home cooking and Rockford Carry-out Favorites!" invites the Mathewson Family.

New salad bar

New tables, booths and chairs.

Featured Business in Rockford for May ~ First Financial Bank of Rockford, Ohio
Rockford Chamber of Commerce proudly announces their featured business for
May.  Congratulations to First Financial Bank of Rockford, Ohio. First
Financial Bank has been helping clients take another step on the path to
success since 1863. Our community-driven, client-centered approach
provides a local and personal experience for all our clients. We're
focused on building long-term relationships and work to provide
individuals, families and businesses with the tools and resources they
need to achieve greater success. To learn more about First Financial Bank
visit their website  To learn more about the Rockford
Chamber of Commerce, or to become a member visit

Photo: Jan Heiser, Jane Cozad - Chamber President, Crystal Severt, Marie Miller - Chamber Vice-President, Tricia Baxter



Business of the Month Named in Rockford

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the first Business of the Month winner - His N Hers Salon and Spa located at 121 S Main St in Rockford,  OH.  Pictured from left to right: Jane Cozad - Chamber President, Brenda Barker - Owner of His N Hers, and Marie Miller - Chamber Vice President.  Congratulations to Brenda Barker and her staff.
His N Hers has been a proud Rockford business since 1976, when Brenda officially opened her doors. Relax and be pampered at His N Hers Salon and Spa where enhancing natural beauty is their specialty. With an extensive full line of services that include Hair Cut & Coloring, Nails, Permanent Eyelash Extensions, Massage, Waxing, Tanning and more, the staff at His N Hers is dedicated to offering personalized services for each client. Located in downtown Rockford, the comfortable and easy environment at His N Hers allows an escape from the race and an opportunity to feel refreshed and renewed. Contact His N Hers TODAY for an appointment 419-363-2209





Tastee Twirl in Rockford Changes Hands
New Owners Plan Opening for the Summer Season on Friday, April 18th, 2014
by Sheila Baltzell, editor

Steve and Crystal Sheets have purchased the Tastee Twirl on Main Street in Rockford from Aaron and Tina Strobel. An icon in Rockford since the 1950’s, it is a venture that the Sheets Family has looked at for many years. The timing was right to purchase, and they are excited about this opportunity. They have many new things to share with Tastee Twirl patrons.


Members of the Sheets Family will be helping run the business. Steve will be overseeing the day to day business, but only as a general manager, from the office building. He will spend most of his time in the office, overseeing operations, both personally, and by way of the multi-camera surveillance system that the Strobel's had installed prior to selling the business. This system allows us to view the operation of the business from virtually anywhere, by way of their smart phones, and computers.  Daughter Leann, a Physical Therapy Assistant major, will be running day-to-day operations. Crystal will be overseeing as well. Their daughter, Stephanie, will also be helping to manage the business from time to time.



The Sheets’ children have worked at the Tastee Twirl over the years. Four of their daughters worked there with Stephanie having worked there the longest, for about 8 years. In their  historical search of the Tastee, Steve  found that it was first opened in 1946. And as close as they could find, there were about 5-6 previous owners before. The names of the previous owners, in reverse order, are: Strobel, Schadt, Cook, Williams, Robbins


There have been updates to the building and equipment. They installed a new drive up window; an entirely new plumbing system, including a new water heater, bathroom fixtures, faucets; a new ceiling, and insulation up front; new floor tiling in back; new insulation, flooring, and wall coverings in the storage building; new wiring and conduit to service various new equipment; and a new sound system.  Upgraded electric has been added to the building to accommodate new equipment including new Point of Sale touch screen, computerized ordering system installed at each of the walk up windows, and another at the drive thru window. A separate touch screen monitor is for the kitchen area from where the cook will work. Completed orders are immediately transferred to the kitchen upon payment, eliminating the need for associates to hand deliver hand-written orders to the kitchen. They are excited about the three new digital video menu boards installed, two  50 inch menu boards facing the customers from the wall facing each walk up window, and one 39 inch screen at the drive up window. Customers will see what the Tastee Twirl has to offer and the cost.

A new Taylor dual flavor/twist ice cream machine with a Flavor Burst attachment is one of the highlights of the upgrades. The attachment gives them the ability to add up to any four additional flavors out of eight total flavors, on a single serving of ice cream. This system gives them the ability to choose 8 flavors (out of a total of 38 flavors available). Soft serve yogurt options are also included. A new, computerized grill controls the temp, the thickness of the finished product, and the cooking time for up to 90 different food items. It can grill two different items at the same time, or up to 12 - 6oz. burgers at a time. It is so sensitive, that it will cook eggs, over easy, without breaking the yolk. Steve said, “Virtually anything that you can cook on a grill, can be cooked on this new grill.”   Three new double-pot fryers with 6 individual fry baskets have been installed. The fryers are separated so  flavors do not become intermingled. There is a new refrigerated salad/sandwich prep table, so we could offer our customers a variety of salad fixings. Customers will also enjoy a fresh cup of coffee at the Tastee Twirl’s new commercial Kuerig single serve coffee machine for those who enjoy coffee, or tea with their meal, and we intend to offer 4 different varieties of coffee, and tea from which to choose.

A Pepsi machine will offer our customers 8 different choices of beverages, versus the six on the previous machine. They acquired a new hot dog roller, and a Nacho Cheese machine, too, and have made a few other improvements.


The Sheets’ Family plans to offer some of the same items as the Strobel Family.  Thick and juicy Certified Angus Beef hamburgers are planned. Steve said, “ We're looking at offering both an 8 oz., and a 6 oz. (weight before cooking) burger for those who like more meat, and not all bun, on their sandwiches. Plus we would also like to offer a 4oz. burger for kids. We are also going to have fresh, home baked fruit pies, both standard, and sugar free available, including apple, peach, and cherry. Salads and much more will be served. Their menu is still being developed at this time. 

Plans to Expand

The Sheets’  also purchased the adjoining property to the south of the Tastee Twirl. The house will be demolished to make room for an enlarged parking area to the rear of the property and eventually install a gazebo on the front 30% of the lot that will be able to hold 2-3 picnic tables Steve said, “We want to landscape around the gazebo, with trees, flowers, etc., in an effort to make it more appealing to our customers, and perhaps attract more people just passing through our town.”


Open for Business

Friday, April 18 is their intended day to open for the summer season. They will open at 10:30 am and be open until 9:30pm, 7 days per week, with the business determining when we will actually close each night.


Third Generation, Jordan Henkle, Makes Debut at Henkle Insurance
by Sheila Baltzell December 4, 2013

When Dan Henkle started his own insurance agency back in 1964, his grandchildren were just dreams for he and wife Jean. But nearly 50 years later (they will celebrate their golden anniversary as Henkle Insurance Agency in 2014), the company is all about family.

Congratulations to Henkle Insurance Agency as they recently welcomed yet another Henkle grandson Jordan Henkle, a third generation partner, into the business. Jordan is the son of Todd and Julie (Stover) Henkle of Rockford. He graduated on July 27, 2013 from Ball State University.  His major is in business, Risk Management and Insurance. He was licensed by the State of Ohio’s Department of Insurance after successfully sitting for and passing his state board test. Jordan will be taking 24 hours of continuing education over the next two years to keep his license.

Jordan (far left) is realizing a dream come true. After graduating from Parkway in 2010, following the footsteps of his father, Todd, a Parkway grad in 1981 (1985 Ohio Northern graduate), his brother Joel Parkway grad  in 2008 (2012 Ball State Graduate), and Grandpa Dan, a Rockford High school grad in 1957, Jordan knew he wanted a business degree in insurance – a life he had grown up with, and he wanted to return to live in his hometown of Rockford. His love of school sports spurred him on, and he came back to Parkway Schools where he helped coach volleyball this past season at Parkway. This winter, Jordan will also help develop volleyball players in the area by coaching at Grandlake Volleyball Club.  Being invited into the family business was the perfect fit.  He is a big fan of the Boston Redsox, Cleveland Browns, and OSU. In the winter, he enjoys snow skiing. His longtime girlfriend and recent fiancé is Amanda Roehm from Rockford. A graduate of Parkway High School, Amanda is studying at Northwest State  Community  College in Van Wert, OH to receive her LPN designation.

While at Ball State University, Jordan completed many courses that helped prepare him for his work at the insurance agency. Not only did Jordan take multiple insurance courses, but he also was educated in the business aspects of finance, economics, accounting, sales, and information systems that he feels will help to make him a well rounded business professional. During his time at Ball State University, Jordan was regularly on the Dean’s list for the university. 

For Jordan’s senior project, he visited a surveying company out of Indianapolis, Indiana to learn about risk management in the field. Jordan said that 50% of the insurance industry are large commercial accounts that are managed by risk managers.  He was able to work with a specialist in that area who is an expert in law and building codes, and works to assess real needs. He or she can find areas where there is potential exposure or where insurance is overlapping. They set up the company with an insurance broker who can save a large company money and cover new issues. The risk manager also handles all claims. Joel enjoyed this experience.

The foursome at Henkle Insurance  all agree that things have changed since Dan began the insurance business. The biggest thing is technology including the advent of the Internet. Computer use started in the late 1990’s with Internet access and Microsoft products like Word, Excel, Email, and the use of digital cameras. Use has blossomed into website content that is crucial for insurance agents in today’s world. Jordan says they do quoting for policies online as well as checking the status of claims and checking customer accounts. All of this leads to faster service in all areas.

Dan explained how he got started in insurance, after working in Polmar’s Clothing Store, Van Fleet’s Drugstore  and at the Huffy Bicycle Factory for a while. He purchased “Pat’s Patterson’s insurance accounts from his widow Yvonne in 1964. At the time, Dan worked at Huffy’s which was a 6 month job until after Christmas. He recalls a layoff slip and a turkey or a ham at the end of the holiday manufacturing season. At that point he was the manager at Polmar’s, Parkway School’s  as a bus driver, and clerking at Van Fleet Drugstore (which was owned by Gene and Myrna Arnold). Selling insurance became another parttime job, and Dan worked out of his home. Dolan Purdy, who was a competitor in Rockford, worked out of a building on Main Street, and in 1978 asked Dan if he was interested in purchasing his business so he could retire to the state of Washington near his son. Dan agreed, and Henkle-Purdy Insurance was born that year.  Later in 1986, Dan moved the business to a new location at the former Pontius Hardware building. Dan remembers the renovation process, and selling the old rope pull elevator out of the back. He sold it to Judge Ingraham in Celina for $50. In 1991, the name of the agency was officially changed to Henkle Insurance, Inc. Those who worked for Dan over the years include: Velma Schumm, who was an original employee for Dolan Purdy and  continued to work for Dan who appreciated her expertise until she retired. Then briefly she came back and helped Dan and his wife Jean in 1998 for a couple of years. Dan and Jean worked alongside each other with the help of Barb Sidenbender (retired) and Karen Fahncke (current) for all of these years.

Jordan explained that they are licensed to sell insurance for: Hastings (All), Motoroists (All),  Auto Owners (All), Farmers Mutual Hail Crop, CNA Surety, and Progressive (Auto). Jordan is currently  getting settled into the agency and soon will be working on his Life Insurance license. Todd and Joel currently handle the life insurance sales at this time. Together all four sell auto, home, life, annuities, and umbrella policies.

Three generations of Henkles are here to serve the community. Just give them a call at 419-363-3292 and stop in to meet Jordan.



Oh . . . The Challenges of Mother Nature in the Winter
Mercer County Snow Plowing Update 2014

By Sheila Baltzell, editor


Yesterday on February 2, 2014 at 7:25 AM, Ground Hog Day, Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in Punxsutawney, Pa. The appearance of Phil’s shadow means winter will extend well into March according to folklore. Had Phil not seen his shadow, it would have meant spring is around the corner.


Polar Vortex, Winter Advisories, School Delays and Cancellations, Snow, Rain, Ice ~ It is barely February, and we have seen it all in Mercer County. Whether Punxsutawney Phil has it right or not, we still have weeks to contend with the weather. A reminder of that is the sight of snowplows out nearly every day in January either clearing roads or pushing the snow further back in expectation of more snow. (See picture at left.)


Jim Weichart, County Engineer recently posted his statistics from last year:

"In fighting snow and ice, 1,295.25 tons of salt were used at a cost of $87,873.78 and 1,295.25 tons of grit were used at a cost of $10,038.24. 744.50 hours of overtime were worked in snow removal. In all, the costs of snow and ice control and removal to our operations in 2013 were $266,229.00."


Here are the snow removal facts so far in 2014, according to Brad Laffin, Mike Borns, Mark Linn and the entire road crew out working tirelessly to keep our roads safe and free of snow and ice.


The Mercer County Highway Department owns and services all trucks with plows. There are 12 drivers and 3 back-up drivers.  Drivers cover 12 routes around Mercer County, and each route averages 32 miles long with an average 4 hours to run.  (It can take anywhere from 3-1/2  hours to about  5 hours, depending on the conditions.) The trucks are equipped with standard straight plows (12 feet wide). They throw a mix of 1 to 1 salt and grit behind.  Mike Borns reports that so far material supplies have held up even with this extreme weather.

It costs approximately $10,000 for just one round (of all the drivers) to salt all the county roads.


On days when it snows continually or the wind keeps blowing, we just keep making rounds on our routes,” said driver Mark Linn.  “There have been lots of days like that this season.  Each of the 14 townships has their own roads to take care of, also.  I believe they average around 35 miles each, similar to one county route.” Drivers take breaks, listen to the radio, or listen to the howling wind. Said one driver, “The trucks are plenty warm and comfortable, just a little bouncy at times.”   


Safety Suggestions:

Snow plow drivers expressed the importance for people out on the roads to yield to the snowplows when they are working around intersections. Often they must back up and make several passes to completely clear an intersection. If automobile drivers pull up closely to the snowplows, then the drivers cannot maneuver.  For safety’s sake, snow plow drivers also ask people meeting a snowplow on the road to pull over and stop if they can or at least slow way down. 


Mailbox Replacement and Repair Policy:

Mercer County Engineer Jim Wiechart is announcing the policy covering replacement and repair of mailboxes damaged by county crews plowing snow. Mailboxes and posts damaged by snow and ice thrown from plow blades will not be repaired by the Engineer’s office.  Boxes and posts damaged by contact from a plow blade or truck will be replaced by the Engineer’s office, using light-weight standard steel mailboxes and 4-by-4-inch wooden posts.



Leota Braun Foundation Holds Twelfth Annual Harvest Banquet

Retired United States Air Force Colonel Joe Schmidt Talks of Life During the Military
Now a Defense Contractor, Unmanned Drones Are His Career

Joe Schmidt, Parkway Graduate of 1981 was the featured speaker at the Leota Braun Foundation’s Twelfth Annual Harvest Banquet on October 6, 2013 in Rockford. Respected and appreciated, Joe, a highly decorated officer,  found a welcoming crowd who listened intently to his adventures in the air force, as well as his Top Five list of what he has learned about life through family and military.

His family life in Rockford was the best. His parents, Clete and Irene Schmidt (at left) raised him with values and a clear spiritual upbringing in the St. Teresa Catholic Church. He even joked that early-on he felt a calling to “serve” and at one time considered the priesthood, but he soon realized he liked the girls too much. He loved the football team and felt his 1981 Senior year had the best team ever. He later struck an analogy to football as he described his role in the Air Force.

Joe graduated from Parkway in 1981 and was promptly tapped for the United States Air Force Academy graduating in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree, entering the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. Of his time at the academy, he remembered going right into boot camp, valuing his free education, and reinforcing his desire to serve. His military career turned into a full career commitment of 27 years.  He retired in 2012.

Joe explained his career title as that of Master Air Battle Manager with over 4000 flight hours in the E-3A/B/C (AWACS) and E-8C (Joint STARS). Above is his model of the E-3 (a Boeing 707) which he flew during the first half of his career.  During the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was stationed in Oklahoma and  Alaska flying missions during the Cold War when the Soviet Union was the main threat.  His job with the rest of the crew was to fly from Iceland to intercept Soviet bombers which approached Iceland and the United States.  Joe also flew from Alaska to Japan and over South Korea to defend against the North Korean threat. He also spent time detecting drug smuggling from South and Central America.  He explained their teamwork to that of the football team.

In 2005, during the second half of his career, Joe became the commander of the 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.  He became responsible for leading a squadron of more than 200 Air Force (Active Duty and Air National Guard) and Army personnel to employ the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft during peace and/or wartime operations. Joe flew missions over Afghanistan,  Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. It was his Joint STARS that traveled high above the earth to detect friendly and hostile ground forces, and passed that information on to the Army and Marines on the ground, while directing US and Allied air attacks on various ground targets.   See Joe's model of this plane at left.

Two years in, he met and married the former Ui Hwa Hwang of Seoul, Korea.  They have been married for 25 years and have three children, John, Robert, and Sarah. Joe retired in 2012 and came back to his beloved Ohio to Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he works as a Defense Contractor on unmanned drones.

Here are Joe’s Top Five in growing order of importance.

5 . THE VALUE OF EDUCATION.  He learned to value education as a lifelong pursuit. He is still training and advancing today to keep up with technology. He praised the Leota Braun Foundation for the presenting of Scholarships.

4.  MAINTAIN A BALANCE IN LIFE.  Maintaining a Balance in Life is important. Values and priorities go hand in hand. Stay balanced physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and you will be happy. Also stay balanced across the various roles in your life.  Neglect one or the other and you will suffer.

3. STAY OPTIMISTIC!  Seek a positive attitude even in the pessimistic  world we live today.  Stay connected to your local radio news and local newspapers online and print that bring you the great news of your community. Have faith in yourself and others. In football at Parkway, he learned to get back up after getting knocked down, which applies to our lives and country.

2. LIVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH YOUR MORAL CODE.  If you do not live in accordance with your moral code,  it is hard to live with yourself. We know right from wrong. Joe said his parents raised him to know this as did the Air Force. He quoted Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain: “ Watch your thoughts for they become words; watch your words for they become actions; watch your actions for they become habits; watch your habits for they become your character; watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”

1.  And Joe’s most important Top 5 is PEOPLE!  In the 9 to 10 moves that he and Ui Hwa have made all over the world, it always came down to the people they knew and associated with that were important. People, no matter where, all want the same things: happiness, to love and to be loved. He has learned that man is basically good, and even though, as a commander, he spent 80% of his time dealing with the problems of 20% of the airmen under him, he still knew this to be true. We are also social creatures.

He thanked the group for inviting him to speak, and challenged all to continue building the Leota Braun Foundation and volunteer.


The Leota Braun Charitable Foundation was established in 2001 by a bequeath of Mrs. Braun to the community of Rockford. Since then the organization has existed to provide financial support for projects and activities in the area. They now handle $133,000 charitable funds. Donors may contact the foundation through their website:

The McDonough Family
and Steve Samples, treasurer of Leota Braun

Mike and Vicki Bruns, Bob and Mildred Boll

and Gary Davis

Susan Sheppard organized the fund-raiser silent auction.





Rockford Dollar General Ribbon Cutting on Saturday, September 14, 2013
The Village of Rockford welcomed a new store recently. Dollar General is now open. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on September 14, 2013.

Left to Right: Jane Cozad - Owner of The Healing Hand & Gifts and Chamber President; Twyla Hayes - Owner of Brand It Marketing; Charity Behr - Dollar General District Manager; Rebecca Jacob - Dollar General Employee; Gene Steiner - Rockford Village Council; Peggy Blossom - Rockford Village Council; Amy Joseph - Rockford Mayor; Brenda Litteral-Baker - Rockford Dollar General Store Manager; Diana Rissner - Dollar General Employee. Rockford Dollar General Phone number is  419-363-2117. 

Congratulations Michael Gerard Bruns on becoming 2013 40th Rockford Chamber of Commerce  Citizen of the Year

The Rockford Chamber of Commerce members celebrated as they named Mike Bruns  the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year at the annual Banquet held on November 7, 2013. He was honored for many factors, the top one being community service.

Mike was nearly speechless, at first, thanking everyone as 2102 recipient Nancy Leighner named the reasons he was chosen: 1) devotes time and talent to the Rockford community; 2) sings for church services at The Laurels of Shane Hill every other Sunday; 3) donates time and material to the community; 4) runs a successful plumbing and electrical business in Rockford; 5) is a humanitarian in his business ~ going out to help in an emergency. He thanked everyone and mentioned that he is so proud to be a part of the community; loves the residents of The Laurels like family; thanks the Grace of God that he has lived here all his life. “I love Rockford!” he said with a grin, and then told a joke ~ that’s Mike!




Mike’s Life Story
By Stacie Ford

Mike was raised in Rockford, the third of eleven children born to Ralph and Alice Bruns. He was their first son, born on December 16, 1955 at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in Coldwater, Ohio. Siblings include Linda, Deb, Diane, Joe, Kenny, Ronald, Michelle, and Leigh Ann. They are a large and close-knit family, and even though their parents are now gone, they still get together and cook up a storm. 

First communion was just the beginning of his Christian beliefs in helping others less fortunate and spending time with homebound friends and family. He has been a lifelong member of St. Teresa Catholic Church where he has served as a Parish Council member, and presently serves as usher, choir member, and church maintenance man. 


During his high school years, one of his proudest moments was belonging to the Parkway Panther Football Team that went 10-0 in 1973. That same year, the Panthers placed 12 performers (including Mike as First Offense Position) on the All MAC Team.







 Blessed with a driven personality and with a positive outlook on life, Mike Bruns graduated from  Parkway in 1974, and went on to secure employment with  Huffy, Schroyer Trucking, Pontius Hardware, and later become self-employed.


Music was his first love, though,  and during his off hours from work there was a stint of trying to make it big in the music industry in Nashville, Tennessee. Eventually he came home and married the love of his life, Vickie Beckstedt from Celina, in 1982. To this union came their three beautiful children - Erica, Brian, and Nick.







In that same year he began his own plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning business. Thirty years later, the Rockford Chamber honored him with a plaque for his outstanding business, along with his employees - Clete Schmidt, Chad Bushur, and Chad Moeller in attendance.

Mike Bruns Plumbing, Heating, Ventilating and AC also was named the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year for 2013.




Locally nicknamed “The Singing Plumber,” he has earned recognition for recording and winning songwriting contests. And, his life continues to be enhanced with his musical talent.  Every other Sunday, Mike donates his time by performing for nursing home residents, along with other “Blind Date” or “Triad” band members, which are the bands in which he plays regularly. Group members entertain at churches, family gatherings and festivals. He donates time and talent around the community and has a humanitarian approach to business. He offers maintenance expertise to the Rockford Belle at the entertainment venue and during Concert in the Park events. His voice is the one behind the mic at Rockford Community Days Cruise-in for the last 19 years bringing in car buffs from near and far. Mike thoroughly enjoys entertaining in various singing parts for the annual Lions Club Variety Show.

His affiliation with the Rockford Sons of the American Legion serves as a catalyst in assisting with military rights for deceased veterans, marching in the local Memorial Day Parades, and allowing him the opportunity to help host Rockford Days poignant WWII Veterans exhibit in 1999. As an enthusiast of all things World War II, Mike has become a bit of an expert in artillery and munitions of the era.  Patriotism echoed when he sang Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” for the 9/11 Benefit for area Fire Departments.  

Mike’s plumbing business is a yearly sponsor of the Rockford Recreation Association’s ball teams, and his help has afforded young players seasonal fun, and some positive influence and direction. Mike has even been known to coach a few baseball teams over the years.

Running has enabled Mike to remain fit and in good health. In 2004, he inspired others by starting the Shanes Crossing 5K Run/Walk in Rockford - along with the help of numerous individuals, with proceeds benefitting a local cause. Now that the run is part of the Mercer Health 5K Run circuit, Mike continues to organize the event.

Mike is a jokester at heart, and brings a smile to many a face. Congratulations on these well-deserved accolades.

Rockford 2013 Volunteer of Year Announced

The Laurels of Shane Hill and Maplewood of Shane’s Village awarded Mike Bruns the 2013 Volunteer of the Year.  For many years, Mike has dedicated himself to volunteering every other Sunday morning for a special prayer and worship hour with the residents of Maplewood.  He sings and plays the guitar, usually accompanied by a pianist, whether a staff member or resident who is familiar with traditional church hymns.  Mike has also volunteered on numerous occasions to sing and play for the residents alongside Kent Krogman on the keyboard.  Both Mike and Kent are members of the group “Triad” along with Dan Schoen.  Mike is also a member of the cover band “Blind Date” which includes Kent Krogman, Dan Schoen, Rick Temple and Adam Andrews.  Both bands play locally at a variety of places including churches, family gatherings and festivals. The Laurels of Shane Hill and Maplewood of Shane’s Village recognized all of the 2012 volunteers during a special volunteer brunch at Java Nation in Celina on April 23rd.



Joyce does a wonderful job taking care of the plants and flowers at Shanes Park.  She has bought and cared for almost all the flowers that make Shanes Park a beautiful place. She spends 2 to 3 hours each day taking care of the flowers, weeding and watering.

Thank you Joyce !!



Grand Opening Held at Healing Hand, & Gifts

The Healing Hand, & Gifts, at 142 N. Main in Rockford, opened its doors on Saturday May 4th.  The Healing Hand, ‘a holistic approach for body, mind and soul’, carries such items as natural hair, face and body care products; various health foods; and inspirational gift items; with many of their items made in the USA, and some handmade right here in Ohio.  The store hours are currently Noon to 5:00 pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  The Healing Hand also offers Reiki treatments and Integrated Energy Therapy by appointment.  For more information call (419) 203-4727.
Pictured from left to right are: Lisa Kuhn, Rockford Chamber Treasurer; Deb Walters, Stitches Are Us; Jane Cozad, Owner & Rockford Chamber President; Nancy Leighner, Chamber Member; and Twyla Hayes, Brand It Marketing Communications.


Gehle Transport Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce

Steve Gehle, owner of Gehle Transport has joined the Celina Mercer County
Chamber of Commerce.  A family business for many years, Gehle Transport is
located at 4940 St. Rt. 707 in Rockford.
Pictured is Steve & Missy Gehle with Chamber Director, Pam Buschur.


Amishville USA Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce
Amishville USA has joined the Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce. Amishville is nestled among the rolling meadows that bank the Wabash River steeped in the rich heritage of Amish families and farmlands.  It is just
thirty minutes from Celina.   This campgrounds has full hook up sites, primitive tent sites, restaurant, swimming and fishing pond, gift shop, petting zoo and much more.  Visit for more details about weekend events and activities.  

Pictured from left to right: Jason Hines and Dennis Strawn of Amishville USA
Pam Buschur -Chamber Director

Rockford Chamber Celebrates Mike Bruns Pumbing, Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
On October 13, 2012 the Rockford Chamber presented Mike Bruns with a plaque recognizing the 30 years his business has been in operation. The presentation took place at Mike's Appreciation lunch and Celebration on that day at the Belle in Rockford. Over 150 people came to enjoy a delicious meal including Mike's chili. Congratulations Mike, Vicki and staff!

Shown Left to right are:
Lisa Kuhn - Chamber Treasurer, Jane Cozad - Chamber President, 
Mike Bruns - Owner, and employees Chad Moeller, Clete Schmidt,
and Chad Buschur.



Barrys’ Family Market to Celebrate 25th Anniversary (2013)

Barrys' Family Market is marking its 25th Anniversary in Rockford, Ohio. The store opened in January, 1988. In celebration of being in business for 25 years, Barrys' Family Market is planning a week full of door buster deals and fabulous savings throughout the store, beginning January 30th through February 4th.

Barrys' Family Market is owned and operated by Barry Sr. and Roberta Peel. They have three children, Barry Peel, Jr. (wife, Janice), Brett Peel (wife, Toby), all from Rockford, Ohio, and Kerry Peel (wife, Leslie) from Auburn, Indiana, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren also close by. Most of Barry and Robbie's grandchildren have also worked at the grocery, making it a “family owned and operated” business for three generations. Currently, their son, Brett manages the meat department and many other aspects of the store. Above: Brett Peel with his mom, Robbie.

Barrys' Family Market has employed nearly 300 people within the community over the past 25 years, with many still coming in to shop daily or weekly.

With many community wide economic ups and downs, Barrys' Family Market is still helping within the community. They have sponsored boys little league every year and have sponsored Parkway Local Schools activities, including the Variety Show,. Barrys' Family Market has continued to support the Rockford community by donating turkeys for the annual “Together at Christmas” event. During the power outage in June, 2012, Barrys' Family Market, (without power), continued to assist customers as best they could by hand writing orders and taking them to the doors for customers.

We would love to see past employees during this celebration. You can check out Barrys' Family Market online at, or keep up with us daily on facebook at “Barrys' Family Market”. Also, you can find our weekly ad in the Photo Star, a weekly publication,  that will highlight our door buster deals and fabulous savings. We encourage the residents of Rockford and other surrounding communities to stop and in and celebrate with us.

Refreshments will be on Saturday and Sunday. Chester the Cheetah will visit with kids on Saturday.

Rockford Chamber President Jane Cozad congratulates Barrys’ Family Market for 25 Years in Business.



Comfy Kids Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber

Chris Wibbenmeyer owner of Comfy Kids LLC has joined the Celina Mercer County

Chamber of Commerce.  At Comfy Kids, they buy, sell and consign children’s clothing from newborn to size 16.  They are a children's store with gently used toys that also specializes in quality children's clothing at the not-so-quality prices.   In addition, Comfy Kids is a rental agent for U-Haul. For more information on Comfy Kids visit  Comfy Kids is located at 1107 North Main Street in Celina (in Chief Supermarket plaza). Phone 567-890-kids (5437)


Pictured from left to right: Pam Buschur-Chamber Director; Chad Stolly-Chamber Trustee from Stolly Insurance; Chris Wibbenmeyer-owner of Comfy Kids; Rick Murlin-Chamber Trustee from Hecht Murlin Insurance

New Celina Mercer County Chamber Member Announced

Bruce Lockwood of Lockwood Performance has joined the Celina Mercer County
Chamber of Commerce.  

Lockwood Performance is the place to stop for your classic, racing, or
general performance automotive needs. They have a speed shop carrying common
engine and drivetrain parts for small and big block Chevy, Ford, and Mopar -
using most of the best known performance automotive brands around. They also
fully service and rebuild transmissions and differentials. Also, they are a
full machine stop - doing all work in-house.

Bruce has purchased the former Aqua Tech Building which is located on 7051
Havemann Road but can be seen off of State Route 29 East of Celina. He is in
the process of putting a showroom for these classic and racing cars.   For
more info, feel free to contact Bruce at 419 586-2331.
You may also visit the website

Pictured from left to right:  Bruce Lockwood and Pam Buschur, Chamber Director


Henkle Insurance Takes on Third Generation Insurance Agent
by Sheila Baltzell

Congratulations to Henkle Insurance Agency as they recently welcomed Joel  Henkle, a third generation partner, into the business started by his grandfather, Dan Henkle  back in 1964. Joel is the son of Todd and Julie (Stover) Henkle of Rockford. He graduated on May 4, 2012 from Ball State University.  His major is in business, Risk Management and Insurance with a minor in Finance. He was duly licensed by the States of Ohio and Indiana, Departments of Insurance after successfully sitting for and passing his state board test. Joel will be taking 24 hours of continuing education over the next two years to keep his license.

It is a goal come true for Joel. After graduating from Parkway in 2008, following the footsteps of his father, Todd, a Parkway grad in 1981 (1985 Ohio Northern graduate) and Grandpa Dan, a Rockford High school grad in 1957, Joel knew he wanted a business degree in insurance – a life he had grown up with, and he wanted to return to live in his hometown of Rockford. His love of school sports spurred him on, and he came back to Parkway Schools where he coached Pony League this summer and has volunteered to coach junior high football this fall. Being invited into the family business was the perfect fit.  He is a big fan of the Boston Redsox, Cleveland Browns,  OSU and OU. In the winter, he enjoys snow skiing. His longtime girlfriend and recent fiancé is Ali Harmon from Wren. A graduate of Crestview High and very soon - Ball State, Ali is completing her student teaching for early childhood education this fall. She is excited to be back in the area, as well, to make their home. (Picture above l to r: Joel, Todd, Jean and Dan Henkle)

While at Ball State University, Joel completed an internship at the Indiana Farm Bureau in Indianapolis. He worked solely in claims, so he was very prepared for the 80 plus claims that Henkle Insurance encountered as a result of the June 29, 2012 storm that swept through the Mercer County and surrounding areas. Joel said their worst claim was a tree falling on a van.

Joel was also chosen by his professor, to represent Ball State’s Risk Management Program, at the Risk Management Society’s annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in April 2012. Joel was one of only 29 students of Risk Management programs from colleges and universities across the United States, who were chosen for this honor. He learned a great deal about risk management professionals and was able to network.

For Joel’s senior project, he went to Stoops Automotive in Muncie, Indiana to learn about risk management in the field. Joel said that 50% of the insurance industry are large commercial accounts that are managed by risk managers.  He was able to work with a specialist in that area who is an expert in law and building codes, and works to assess real needs. He or she can find areas where there is potential exposure or where insurance is overlapping. They set up the company with an insurance broker who can save a large company money and cover new issues. The risk manager also handles all claims. Joel enjoyed this experience.

Dan, Todd and Joel all agreed that things have changed since Dan began the insurance business. The biggest thing is technology including the advent of the Internet. Computer use started in the late 1990’s with Internet access and Microsoft products like Word, Excel, Email, and the use of digital cameras. Use has blossomed into website content that is crucial for insurance agents in today’s world. Joel says they do quoting for policies online as well as checking the status of claims and checking customer accounts. All of this leads to faster service in all areas.

Dan explained how he got started in insurance, after working in Polmar’s Clothing Store, Van Fleet’s Drugstore  and at the Huffy Bicycle Factory for a while. He purchased “Pat”s Patterson’s insurance accounts from his widow Yvonne in 1964. At the time, Dan worked at Huffy’s which was a 6 month job until after Christmas. He recalls a layoff slip and a turkey or a ham at the end of the holiday manufacturing season. At that point he was the manager at Polmar’s, Parkway School’s  as a bus driver, and clerking at Van Fleet Drugstore (which was owned by Gene and Myrna Arnold). Selling insurance became another parttime job, and Dan worked out of his home. Dolan Purdy, who was a competitor in Rockford, worked out of a building on Main Street, and in 1978 asked Dan if he was interested in purchasing his business so he could retire to the state of Washington near his son. Dan agreed, and Henkle-Purdy Insurance was born that year.  Later in 1986, Dan moved the business to a new location at the former Pontius Hardware building. Dan remembers the renovation process, and selling the old rope pull elevator out of the back. He sold it to Judge Ingraham in Celina for $50. In 1991, the name of the agency was officially changed to Henkle Insurance, Inc. Those who worked for Dan over the years include: Velma Schumm, who was an original employee for Dolan Purdy and  continued to work for Dan who appreciated her expertise until she retired. Then briefly she came back and helped Dan and his wife Jean in 1998 for a couple of years. Dan and Jean worked alongside each other with the help of Barb Sidenbender (retired) and Karen Fahncke (current) for all of these years.

Joel explained that they are licensed to sell insurance for: Hastings (All), Motoroists (All),  Auto Owners (All), Farmers Mutual Hail Crop, CNA Surety, and Progressive (Auto). Joel is currently working on his Life Insurance license, and Todd, his father, does those sales for now. Together all three sell auto, home, life, annuities, and umbrella policies.

Three generations of Henkles are here to serve the community. Just give them a call at 419-363-3292 and stop you are invited to stop in and meet Joel anytime!



American Cancer Society Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce
The American Cancer Society has joined the Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce. Pictured from left to right are Pam Buschur, Chamber Director; Sarah Burke, Income Development Representative; Mary Beth Torsell, Health Initiatives Representative. The American Cancer Society has a resource center inside the Grand Lake Regional Cancer Center on Havemann Rd in Celina. Visit or call 1-888-227-6446.
Venetian Gardens Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce

Kathy Sovinski owner of Venetian Gardens has joined the Celina Mercer Co. Chamber of Commerce.  This floral and gift shop is located at 210 W. Market Street in Celina.  Visit them at 


Nancy Leighner Named Rockford Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year
Laurels of Shane Hill & Maplewood of Shane's Village Named Business of the Year

On Thursday, November 1, 2012, a long-time volunteer/community organizer and local business were recipients of awards at the 39th annual Rockford Chamber of Commerce banquet.

Nancy Lou (Hoke) Leighner became the newest Citizen of the Year while administrator Steve Schaaf and marketing director Leah Hays, of the Laurels of Shane Hill and Maplewood of Shane's Village, accepted the award for Business of the Year.  Nancy was also named Rockford Volunteer of the Year this summer by the Village Officials.

The naming of the Citizen of the Year is always a surprise to the winner as well as the crowd. A videotape of the life accomplishments and life history of the winner is shown and narrated by the previous winner, this year being Tom Rogers who presented the award with the help of Belle Organizer Stacie Ford.

Nancy is a native of Phillipsburg, near Dayton, where she grew-up on a farm on Sweet Potato Ridge Road, Daughter of Elmer and Sylvia Hoke. She and her two brothers, Oscar and Lloyd helped the family raise their prize winning Belgian Draft Horses. It was that horse pulling activity that brought her together with her still best friend forever, Delores. And, she even met her husband Roy at the horse pulls in Celina. Traveling to county fairs was a favorite activity back then, and she and her sister-in-law, “Aunt” Jo, still remember her mom’s fried chicken eaten from the back of a pick-up truck at the fair.

She was crowned May Day Queen her senior year and graduated from Phillipsburg High School as valedictorian of her class. After graduation she worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for a short time before marrying her late husband, Roy, and moving to Rockford on November 10, 1956; they were happily married for 49 ½ years. They operated a farm with livestock and created their own pork sausage recipe. She is still an exceptional cook with a special caramel corn recipe that the trick-or-treaters on her street love.

She and Roy have three children, Cynthia Thompson, Georgetown, Texas; Penny Moffett, Ypsilanti, Mich.; and Rodney Leighner, Dayton. There are also seven (7) grandchildren/step grandchildren (Elissa, Paige, Shalyn, Ross, Monique, Jeremy and Josh) and eight (8) great-grandchildren/step great-grandchildren.  MaKynna, Carter, Ayeana, Maddox, Jamar, Mia, Dymond and Joshua.  She is often affectionately referred to as Nanners by Cindy's family.

Her other careers have included: working as an executive secretary for a community health center in Van Wert, driving school bus for Parkway and working for Teleflex in Van Wert. She attended Wright State University

Nancy has served as historian of the Rockford United Methodist Church, coordinating material with Grace Church.  When the Rockford Swimming Pool had to be closed and demolished, she was a tireless proponent and fund-raiser for a new pool. When pool fund raising slowed down, she was pivotal in organizing the efforts of the committee to bringing the splash pad to Shanes Park over a year ago.

She regularly visits shut-ins, helps make welcome baskets for new homeowners and new comers to the community, attends every benefit and function that helps Rockford, works with the Kids Club after school, helps when the blood bank comes to town, attends all youth sporting events, reads to students at Parkway Local Schools, maintains statistical records for the Parkway High School volleyball and softball teams and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rockford Area Development Corp. and more.

Mercer County Commissioners John Bruns and Bob Nuding presented Leighner a proclamation. They lauded her efforts in Rockford, a village she truly loves.

To celebrate her 75th birthday this year, Leighner completed her first 5K, a personal achievement she proudly discusses. She is training for another one, too.

Last year's Business of the Year winner Ed Burtch of Burtch Seed presented Steve Schaaf and director of marketing Leah Hays with this year's business award after which Bruns and Nuding also presented them a proclamation.

The Laurels have been a part of the community since 1974. Their community spirit is shown through their own organized events as well as the time and money they donate to the many events, activities.

They organize a themed meal with entertainment every quarter called Prime Time Diner with proceeds going back into the community. They also sponsor a free Valentine's Day dance and meal with all donations going to the Leota Braun Foundation.

They host the local school's Head Start preschool program, allowing an opportunity for kids and seniors to interact.

They currently have 116 employees and 40 volunteers.

"We wanted to get more active in the community, be a part of the community, be visible and supportive of the community," Schaaf said. "We worked really hard, and we feel like this award validates those efforts. We really appreciate this."

Bruns and Nuding commended the Laurels for their community efforts.

Other speakers at the banquet were Jane Cozad, chamber president; Bryan Sutton, chamber vice president; Reverent Marvin Schwartz, New Horizons Community Church; Bob Maurer of the Leota Braun Foundation; Greg Puthoff, superintendent of Parkway Local Schools; and mayor Amy Joseph.


Chamber of Commerce
Armcorp, Inc. Joins Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce
Tim Rosengarten, President/CEO of Armcorp Construction, Inc. has joined the Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.  Armcorp Construction, Inc. is a service disabled veteran owned small business established as an Ohio
corporation. The company is backed with over 28 years of experience in the construction industry. To contact Armcorp Construction, Inc. call 419-778-7024 or visit their website at

Pictured from left to right:  
Pam Buschur-Chamber Director
Tim Rosengarten -President/CEO
Chad Stolly-Chamber Trustee from Stolly Insurance
Clark Station in Rockford Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Held

The Clark Station (formerly Bill's Pennzoil many, many years ago) held a Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting on August 18, 2012. Pictured is Pete Hayes, Lisa Kuhn, Twyla Hayes, Chamber President Jane Cozadd, Amber and Nick Rogova (owners), Nick’s mom, Mia Rogova, Rockford Mayor Amy Joseph and Gene Steiner, council member.
They offer Petroleum Services, a convenience store and more! The store phone number is 419-293-8044.  Stop by and introduce yourself !



Vanity Kept ~ New Boutique Shop and Spa Party Service in Rockford
Planning Open House on Friday & Saturday, November 11th and 12th, 2011
“Local woman offers specialty spa events and merchandise”
By Sheila Baltzell, Parkway Independent

Tara Bransteter, licensed cosmetologist and local owner of Vanity Kept in Rockford brings the fun of spa parties as well as fine, unique merchandise to this area of Ohio.

Vanity Kept is located in the Magic Mirror Styling Salon at 147 S. Main Street across from the Rockford Carnegie Library. A very special Open House is planned for Friday (3-7 PM) & Saturday (10 AM -2 PM, November 11th and 12th, 2011 with a beautiful merchandise selection and delicious refreshments.

Tara offers the ultimate in spa parties to prepare for any event or special group. From accommodating a wedding party to a child’s birthday, she offers wonderful services including: hair styling for the big event or just for fun; make-up application; and pedicures as well as all of the hair styling services that make a woman feel confident and re-vitalized with her new look under Tara’s expert care.  

Her packages are custom planned for personalized attention to every detail.

Tara also offers in her one-of-a-kind boutique gift line: handbags, wallets, scarves, jewelry, make-up, as well as adorable hair feathers and other hair adornments. These items are exclusive as well.

Merchandise is refreshed monthly, and Tara purchases only the best for the upcoming season. Tara stocks affordable yet unique items.

Accepting cash, checks and credit cards, she offers gift certificates and specialty packages including Holiday packages for the special person in your life. Free gift wrapping services with the purchase.

Tara invites you to her new venture’s Open House on November 11 & 12 where a purse full of Michael O’ Rourke hair care products (her newest line) will be given away in a free raffle drawing – need not be present to win.

Located at 147 S. Main Street in Rockford, the shop hours are by appointment. Phone 419-733-5089 and ask for Tara to learn all the details.


New Business Features Horses and Getting to Know Yourself Through Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)

Jane (Baker) Cozad of Rockford and a graduate of Ohio City Liberty High School, always loved horses as a girl and was fortunate to keep quarter horses and appaloosas later as a young adult. She at one time dreamed of going to college to study horses but took another road in life ~ one that led her straight back to horses, and she could not be happier. In fact her love of the horses has turned into a couple of business ventures.

Gentle Strength and Signs for Equines are new to the area and are horse centered. 

Gentle Strength offers an exciting new avenue in Learning and Growth ~ one that is assisted with horses. Jane uses her four horses and one pony to assist individuals with Learning Life Skills. They are: Cisco, an 11 year old Tennessee Walker; Rudy,  a 13 year old Rocky Mountain; Annie, a nine year old; Sadie, a Tennessee Walker and the 24 year old pony Dusty. 

The horses are all gaited, meaning they have a glide to their step which is relaxing and natural. And, Jane offers riding lessons, too, but in EAL there is no riding, only games and activities which help the individual or the team (usually businesses, but any groups can benefit especially families) get immediate feedback on their emotions and behavior. Horses will mirror the individual, and when the person learns to act differently with the horse and changes his or her behavior, the horse responds accordingly. Business teams benefit from sessions with Jane’s horses when leadership roles and office or family dynamics are examined. Jane explains that EAL is NOT therapy and is done without the involvement of a mental health professional.  

Jane explains that horses are great for this sort of work because they honestly mirror what a human body is telling them. Through the activities, an individual can learn to get the horse to respond the way they want them to by changing their own behavior.  Horses are large and powerful, and some individuals learn to master and overcome fear of horse and fear in their lives. When they master a challenging situation, they gain confidence. Horses have distinct personalities, and what works with one may not work with another.  Individuals learn to master dealing with more than one person, too. Horses are a lot of hard work, and caring for them builds character. They are also sensitive creatures and know if you mean what you say. A horse lives in the moment and gives immediate and insightful feedback. 

Jane explains that people don’t change unless they get out of their comfort zone. She believes that many people can benefit from her training in the OK Corral Series of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), founded by Greg Kirsten.  She has taken many training sessions from him.  

Skills to be considered in Jane’s sessions include: leadership, teamwork, self-esteem, parenting skills, assertiveness skills, improved relationships, increased integrity, and improved work ethic.  People to benefit from these courses include: youth, parents, adults, business people, leaders, managers, employees, sales professionals, teachers and anyone who would like to learn better life and leadership skills.   

Sessions are $30 and riders are covered for liability. Click Here for Gentle Strength  

Signs for Equines offers gifts, awards, horse equipment & accessories, apparel and home décor, custom engraving, embroidery and sand-carving. Click Here for Signs for Equines 

Hall Realty, Betty DuBry Owner/Broker, Moves to New Location
Hall Realty has moved to 103 S. Main Street in Celina. Located in the heart of downtown, a ribbon cutting was held to officially open the new office.  Visit, visit them on Facebook or call 419-586-7728.

Pictured from left to right: Steve Schmidt, Chamber Trustee, Brandi DuBry, Realtor, Mary Niekamp, Realtor, Chris Grimm, Realtor, Betty DuBry, Owner/Broker, Mary Ann Baker, Realtor
George Moore, Chamber Trustee, Pam Buschur, Chamber Director
Betsey's Boutique Opens in Rockford on Saturday, May 7, 2011

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held by members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and the Rockford Area Development Corporation, and officials of the Village of Rockford, for a new business in Rockford ~ Betsey's Boutique. Pictured above are Terra Henkle, Betsey Gamble, Eugene Steiner, Amy Joseph, Ron Searight, Barbara Hamilton, Lisa Kuhn, and Dr. Jerry Sell after touring the new shop during her Grand Opening.  Betsey offers a variety of designer clothes, gifts, baby clothes, jewelry and more. A full story is coming on this unique and tasteful shop!



Betsey’s Boutique Shop Brings Designer Brands to Rockford
“You won’t find these items anywhere else,” says Betsey.

By Sheila Baltzell, Parkway Independent 5-20-2011

Betsey Gamble, buyer and local owner of Betsey’s Boutique in Rockford brings the world of fine designer brands to this area of Ohio. When she says, “You won’t find these items anywhere else,” she truly gives her customers items that will not be available in Macy’s or even Von Mar including the chic name brands Mysteree, RYU, Luii, Darling, Whitewash, Steppin’ Out, Young @ Heart and Young Mom, Choo-choos and Catherine Barclay. With sizes ranging from 2-14, she buys for the woman mid 20’s to mid 50’s, as well as teens and tweens, and keeps a low number of items, so the customer is assured of exclusivity when purchasing these lovely and youthful “boutique” designer clothes.

Betsey also offers scarves, jewelry, watches, shoes, handbags as well as adorable children’s clothing and gifts. These items are exclusive as well.




Her children’s line is expected to grow.

Merchandise is refreshed weekly, and Betsey attends fashion buying shows four times a year in Michigan and Illinois where she chooses for the upcoming season. Ever mindful of her clientele, she stocks mostly mid range priced items and always chooses unique clothing and gift items not available in other stores.









Accepting credit and debit cards as well as cash and checks, she offers gift certificate sales and free gift wrapping services with the purchase.

She offers after-hours boutique parties for special groups.

Located at on 139 S. Main Street in Rockford, the shop hours are Monday-Friday 11-6, Saturday 9-4 and Sunday closed. Phone 419-363-9005.



His ‘n Hers Styling Salon in Rockford Offers Wide Range of Services

Remember Brenda Barker and her team at His ‘n Hers Styling Salon on Main Street in Rockford, for many services. Not only has Brenda been in the career of hair styling all of her adult life, so has her mother, Ilene Davis and longtime friend Carol Zizelman. All three do hair styling, cuts, colors, perms ~ and in addition, Raeh Gardner Harrod completes the team with the same hair styling skills as well as the offering of all nail services.  Meg Kraner Fitzsimmons, licensed massage therapist, has recently come on board at the shop. Add to that, full service tanning, an excellent line of products,  and His ‘n Hers is the place in Rockford to fill all of your needs.  Give them a call today at 419-3643-3805 or visit them on


Peoples Bank: Sipe Promoted

Ryan Sipe has been promoted to Branch Manager of  The Peoples Bank Co.’s Rockford office and will be replacing Robert Thompson.  Ryan’s new responsibilities will include overseeing all branch lending activities and the daily operations and management of that bank office. Ryan says he is looking forward to working more with the many customers and potential customers in his hometown and surrounding areas.  Ryan joined The Peoples Bank Co. in 2005 as a Business Development and Loan Officer and had previously worked out of the bank’s Wayne Street office in Celina, assisting in the business  and lending development of the bank’s personal and commercial customers. 

Ryan is a 1993 graduate of Parkway High School, has earned an Associates Degree in Business Computer Applications from Northwestern Business College in Lima and has attended  various bank related classes and seminars.  He is involved in many activities in the Rockford area including the Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, and the Rockford Recreation Association. 

Ryan currently lives in the Rockford area with his wife, Kelly, and his children Mackenzie and Ashtyn.






Rockford Belle Named ~ Bell Shined
The former Rockford Presbyterian Church was recently given a name according to co-owner Tom Rogers. The Rockford Belle has been named for the real bell in front of the former church, which at one time called members to church services. Tom reports that the bell is technically the property of the Shanes Crossing Historical Society, but will remain at the church location.  Tom and gospel-singer, Randy Long, both of Rockford, recently undertook the task of shining-up the old brass bell, covered with years of corrosion. Randy researched the proper cleaning and located the materials needed. They used a combination of acid and fine sandpaper to get it looking like new. But Randy says he want a more brilliant shine than they already have, so they are still working on it. An outside spotlight is shining on the bell. The inside spotlight is also repaired and illuminates the beautiful stained-glass window. If you go by at night, take a look.

In addition, Tom has been working inside to clean the structure from top to bottom including a fresh coat of paint in the former sanctuary.  A new sound system with microphones is ready to go with a capacity for seating 200 event-goers. The hall rental is priced at $125, and new tables and chairs have been ordered. Tom has even fixed up the nine former Sunday School classrooms as sleep rooms for entertainers staying for the weekend performances. One room is equipped with a couch and TV. It can be partitioned for a dressing room. Gospel groups will be some of the first acts to play in the Rockford Belle. Watch the Parkway Independent for a calendar of events. Contact Tom Rogers in Rockford for booking your event.  Click on smaller thumbnail pictures below to enlarge them


Tom Rogers puts some
elbow-grease into it

Randy Long researched the method
for cleaning the bell

What a shine!

The Rockford Belle

Local Canning Factory Products Distributed Worldwide
Rockford has more than one international business to its credit, and The Fremont Company is one of them. They produce high quality, safe, wholesome and nutritious tomato products for shipment in the USA and overseas. Ketchup is one of them, and USA ketchup is the gold-standard for the world. The plant manager, Jim Gibson, and his wife Deb (Behm) Gibson, both longtime employees and Parkway graduates of 1971 and 1972 respectively, gave an informative presentation at the April 9, 2009 Rockford Chamber of Commerce members at their monthly meeting.

Jim played a PowerPoint presentation prepared by Deb, which highlighted the history of Sharp Canning and the many changes made over the past 10 years.

Sharp was one of many canning factories that were a main stay in the villages in the agricultural areas of west central Ohio. It opened in 1924 by A.L. and Richard Sharp as a fresh tomato canning plant. They also had plants in Ohio City and Bluffton at one time. 

In 1962, they sold the plant in Rockford to The Fremont Company, who owns it yet today. The plant processed tomatoes grown in the area and hired many seasonal workers. Jim said he felt pretty positive in saying that most of the people in the Rockford area had worked at the canning factory at one time or another, or had someone in their family who did. A nod of heads in the room confirmed that was the case. He mentioned that German prisoners of war also worked at the plant during WWII.

Other highlights through the years were: 1975 - went to tomato paste for ketchup; 1984 - they moved from glass and cans to plastic bottles; 1992 – last of the fresh tomatoes; 1997 – began using fully recycled plastic products;1999 – completed the change to all metal buildings and increased warehousing from years 2001-2003.

Fast Facts on The Fremont Company
They have approximately 125 different labels, 10 container sizes, 54 employees, work year-round, run 3 shifts – 3rd cleans and sets bottle sizes, there is 110,000 sq. ft. under roof in Rockford, they have other warehouses around the United States; use 14 million lbs of tomato paste per year; use 18 million lbs of fructose per year; they were awarded an Ohio Export Sales Award in 2007 and  2008; it takes 4 weeks of lead time to keep the warehouse full and ready for buyers who often “expect” the product to be available quickly and do not order ahead; are members of Mid America Food Processors Association, and the GMA National organization, too; a rabbi from the Cleveland Rabbinical Society inspects the plant monthly for Kosher practices and is even present to supervise the Passover Products.

Fast Facts on the Tomato in Ohio
The tomato was once the state fruit, and tomato juice IS the state beverage.

In 2009 Jim explained that they will ship 3 million cases of ketchup made under private labels which are selling better than the national brands right now since they are usually cheaper. The Fremont Company in Rockford also makes barbeque sauce, under the Mississippi Brand as well as in private label.   

They purchase their tomato paste exclusively from California now. These are big operations with tomato fields that are 1 mile long by 1.5 miles wide. It comes in aseptic totes and is dumped into sealed tanks at the Fremont plant where one batch makes approximately 1000 gallons of product. Once cooked and seasoned to the recipe per the company for whom they are bottling, the mix goes into the cool tank. The mass of fresh bottles flow into a single line where the machines fill each one and then cap.

The bottles are boxed, and auto recorded with shipping labels for tracking. Semis carrying up to 40 foot long export containers line up daily for shipment to the USA and 27 different countries including: Jordan; South America; Canada;  Mexico; Australia and Israel to name a few. Each country has their own labeling requirements for how they want their product made. Even the shipping process can be affected. For example, one country requires heat-treatment of wood shipping pallets to kill insects.

The Fremont lab tests each batch for quality and safety attributes  and provides full documentation on all product. This is required by law. Record keeping also involves 3rd party auditing. Most companies purchasing The Fremont Company products have a company inspect for them before they will buy. The SQF audit, for example, is quite expensive but necessary in order to sell product to Walmart.  Detailed record codes  for all ingredients and packaging, are required so that, Jim explained, “we could do a backward and forward trace ability if there was a recall.”

Deb Gibson was once the quality control and organic program manager but has turned those jobs over to others. In the last year, she has become a consultant to Fremont and works on special projects. She is currently working on new formulations for the Australian and Canadian markets.   

Deb also developed the organic tomato ketchup product that is one of the largest private label formulations in the country. The USDA certified organic label can only go on products when stringent requirements are met.  Customer perceptions change over time such as the fact that “Fructose” (sugar) is considered natural now, but once was not. The use of granulated sugar is making a comeback as well as preferences in the spice profiles.

The Security Acts following 9-11 totally changed the way the food industry conducts their business.  At The Fremont Company, there are locked doors and pass-codes are used to keep outsiders from entering the buildings. “Back in the old days, one could walk in the plant at any time and visit with an employee working the line. That does not happen any more.” said Jim.

We are community oriented at the plant and have been working with the village, state and County on EPA requirements for the new sewer project here. Bob Thompson, chamber treasurer, expressed thanks to Jim on behalf of the village, for their support in this important community project. “There are equipment upgrades planned. And pre-treatment is taking place in our plant per EPA guidelines,” said Jim.

Jim and Deb ended with a question-answer session.


Tuway Factory Team, A Small Town Family Business Shipping Worldwide
GreenPlus Line Re-introduced in November 2009
by Sheila Baltzell

The Tuway American Group factory in Rockford, tucked behind the Mercer Landmark Plant just off Main Street, appears quiet on the outside, save for Federal Express Trucks coming and going regularly. But inside, the plant is humming alive with activity, as orders for dust mops, wet mops, microfiber products and other cleaning supplies are being prepared for world-wide shipment.

The Koester Family of Michigan including Trudy Koester, president of Tuway American Group, along with her daughter, Barb Koester, human resource manager, and her son Doug Koester,  proudly run the local manufacturing plant and stand behind the dedicated work of the company’s 34 unionized employees on the production floor with 6 additional managerial staff for a total of 40.



Tuway has been in business in Rockford since 1940. Otto Schaefer, started the broom and mop factory in Detroit, Michigan in 1923 and moved it to Rockford, Ohio when he feared that a smaller venue would protect it against vulnerability during World War II. In 1956, two Detroit attorneys purchased the struggling business and kept it on its feet. Dana K. Griffin and John R. Wilson were instrumental in Tuway’s growth, said Trudy, who was a CPA working for the duo in Michigan for 20 years.   Wilson was also a Certified Public Account with an aim for the financial growth of the company.  Griffin had an eye for bringing new and varied products to the customer. It was Griffin who introduced the first flat mop in 1970 that is still a standard in the cleaning word today. Velcro attachment came along, too, to a newer frame and became the popular Zipline still produced today.  

Koesters Purchase

In 1983, the team of Griffin and Wilson decided to retire, and proposed to sell Tuway, but wanted the plant kept in Rockford as part of the agreement. The men had a strong commitment to the managers and floor employees in the Rockford plant. The husband and wife team of Jim and Trudy Koester looked at their options and decided to buy the plant and continue in Rockford. Jim was a CPA and a former accounting student of John R. Wilson. The common ties were perfect and the deal was set in stone on May 4, 1983.

Jim and Trudy became managers of their new business, and Jim took immediately to the task according to his wife of her late husband. “Jim was a people person and loved all aspects of the company. He had fresh ideas, enjoyed the sales aspect, and kept up with the times including the use of computers.” Trudy implemented the computer-based accounting system as her role in the firm, and the two worked side-by-side until his untimely death in 1998.

Under their team effort, great things happened for Tuway, They acquired the American Standard company from Chicago, IL which produced dust mops in 1985; acquired the American Textiles company from Baltimore, MD which manufactured a more varied line of wet mops than Tuway did, and Jim’s discovery, in Europe, of the microfiber cloth. Seeing this as the wave of the future, Jim introduced the microfiber to the Rockford plant and then moved the Baltimore plant to Rockford. The business was growing with diversity and, most importantly, busy with new orders.  

Trudy Continues the Dream

Jim next tackled the problem of getting orders out in a timely manner. The plant was still set-up in a 1940’s mode of production. There were new and better ways, Jim knew, as he researched their options and eventually hired a consultant in 1997. He worked for a year, and made the suggestion, among others, of new machinery. Jim was just beginning to add machinery when he passed away in 1998.

Trudy decided right after Jim’s death to continue with their dreams.  She secured a loan from the Mercer County Revolving Loan Fund (and backed by village officials in Rockford) in order to buy-out a stock holder wanting to sell the company on the open market. “We are a family at Tuway; When I walk out on the floor, I know everyone by name. Tuway was meant to stay here, and I took necessary measures to do so,” said Trudy. She took over as the new president of the company, and moved ahead with placing the first of Jim’s new machines one month later. Their goal of improving efficiency was on the way to being realized as more automated machines followed.

Changes are Good

In the 1990’s, the plant floor was rearranged into a cellular-type manufacturing environment. The concept comes from automotive, and Pat Nuding, a former auto industry employee, was hired to make the changes.  Pat says that with cross training on all jobs and the reset of the manufacturing floor into cells that perform specific sewing functions, their production has tripled. “It is called lean manufacturing where we manufacture to order with a lead time of just 3 to 5 days, JIT (Just in Time) delivery. And, we have specific lines for specific products," said Pat, who was hired in 1998 as co-general manager. Later her husband, Grover Nuding, was hired with expertise in engineering for maintaining the machines.

Trudy and Jim’s daughter, Barb Koester, human resource manager, joined her mom in 1998, and their son Doug Koester became the vice-president of sales in 2002. Both have extensive manufacturing backgrounds, she in industrial organizational psychology, and he in automotive purchasing. Their qualifications suited the needs of the company very well. Barb produces their catalogs.

Many in the current workforce have spent their entire careers at Tuway  and know every  machine’s work. Local community members, take for instance Rosalie Hughes (pictured left), have many years in at the plant. She has 37 years in the mix and has seen many changes.  She runs the most complicated machine in the plant with 20 spools of yarn and two sewing machines. Looping and trimming the dust mops it makes. Teresa Heiser, another long-time employee,  has 12  years and does inventory and purchasing.

There was an addition of 10,000 square feet in 2003 bringing the total work and inventory space to 55,000. They added a Gerber water laser cutter for cutting a die through 10 layers of canvas at a time with keyholes, and a tufting machine witch attaches backing.

Microfiber Popular and Green

The new is old, says Trudy. "Going Green" is the latest catch-phrase, but here at Tuway, Jim had the jump on green cleaning products in 1991 when he introduced microfiber into our product line. Basically, microfiber cleaning materials are made for us in Asia, and we buy it to make our products. Polyester is milled till there are barbs on it, and the EPA, back then, said that the microfiber will get 97% of bacteria off a hard surface with only water. No chemicals!  Tuway was going green, then."  In November 2009, Trudy and her sales team re-introduced the microfiber, "GreenPlus" with a new sales initiative to “Go Green”.  Her service team is charged with re-educating the end-user with pictures, service, education and quality as Tuway has the biggest and best line of microfiber products in the field today, according to Trudy.

Tuway only sells wholesale to janitorial supply houses and have sales reps in 5 different countries for their international sales and the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Hospitals, and the health care industry, as well as schools and a myriad of end-users buy the Tuway name-brand cleaning supplies as well as Powell, a private label for whom they manufacture.

Rockford is proud to have them listed among their successful businesses, one which has earned the Ohio Exporter of the Year Award in recent years.


Posted August 1, 2010 by Sheila Baltzell



Visit the Kozy Korner in Mendon ~ You Won't be Disappointed
Spring 2009

The Kozy Korner in Mendon has had a long history of feeding the locals with homemade food. It was and still is a gathering place for coffee, pie and local news.  Owners have come and gone, and the newest proprietors are well-versed in serving up delicious food.

Dennis and Tanya Stumpf  came back to Ohio recently by way of Florida.  Originally from Mendon, the former Tanya High married Dennis who was born in Columbus and raised south of Dayton, Ohio.  From the start, he was the chef, and she served customers. Married 31 years, they have always worked together.

Dennis and Tanya spent 30 years in the restaurant business, working in 3 different establishments including 15 years in one 5-Star seafood restaurant called Lightsey's on Lake Okeechobee and 6 years at a steakhouse nearby called the Speckled Perch.  Dennis prepared the wonderful seafood and steak dishes that took one restaurant from a small outdoor picnic-style eatery to its 5 Star status with seating for 350.

For a while the couple lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and worked at the Fireside Inn, a dinner establishment and resort that was open year round.

Always a student of new and different ways to prepare food, over the years, Dennis developed his own secret recipes that are delicious. Mendon has now become their home and the little corner restaurant keeps them busy Tuesday through Sunday serving fish and lunch specials daily including Mendon favorites like meat loaf, sausage, burgers, fried bologna, grilled cheese, hearty soups and more. Friday fish specials include: the Alaskan Pollock, shrimp, oysters, frog legs, and clams, which are deep-fried with Dennis’ own special recipe of breading. He and Tanya’s homemade cole slaw, fresh baked bread,  and fresh cut French-fried potatoes complete the “platter”. On Saturdays they do a superb prime rib.

Add to this awesome menu a booming pizza business ~ they bake 30-40 a day on the weekends and that number gets higher when the Riverside Campground opens for the season ~ and this is one great spot for a meal out. Specials run $4.75 daily and $5.75 evenings.

The Stumpfs thought business would be slow and steady and that the two of them would be comfortable with the flow. But, instead, they have been busy, because of the great food and prices. They now have hired pizza help on the weekends, Tanya’s Aunt Edie Miller and Bob Christian to fill in the gaps doing whatever is needed. They have several dish washers, too.

It is small and quaint with news articles and pictures of glory days past covering the walls.  As its name implies there is only seating for around 24. No reservations are taken. The Kozy Korner’s clientele are served quickly which keeps the traffic flowing in this gathering place, and where a meal is always topped off with aromatic coffee and a delicious fresh baked dessert, made from scratch by local Mendon friend Bob Christian.

If you’d like to try out the fare at Kozy Korner, it is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 AM to 9 PM. Call 419-795-1501 to order a carry-out.


Other good places to eat in Mendon are The Pirates Cave, The Mendon Restaurant and Motor Inn Restaurant in Mercer, Ohio.




Pies, Pies and More Pies ~ Retired Mendonite Bakes Delicious Treats

Married almost 57 years, Bob, 77,  and the late Jean Christian, of Mendon, farmed the land for a living, an activity Bob still enjoys dabbling in from time to time even though he rents his land now. But the main focus of nearly every day for many years was the preparation of food for the Mendon Restaurant, owned and operated by their son, Pastor Randy Christian. 

The couple enjoyed cooking up specials on a daily basis and baking a daily supply of pie and cake to feed hungry patrons. Even when they retired to Florida for the winter months, they carried their crops of homegrown fruit with them and baked for their friends, Denny and Tanya Stumpf, from whom they rented a winter residence.

He said, “Jean has been gone 2 years now. I guess I am just carrying-on the legacy of her baking skills” which she taught to Bob. Up at 6 AM, he makes his way into the Kozy Korner to begin the daily ritual of preparing 5 to 10 fresh pies and an occasional cake. Favorites of the patrons include: pecan, sugar cream (but sugar free!) and butterscotch. He does however, when digging into Jean’s recipe box, prepares apple, cherry, red raspberry, black berry, gooseberry, and strawberry in season. He always asks Tanya what she would like for the day but he often gets to choose. Of the cakes he bakes, favorites are pineapple upside-down cake, German chocolate, carrot cake and spice cake, all of Jean’s recipes.

Bob takes time out from baking to go deer hunting and cut his own firewood for the main source of heat in his farmhouse. He admits to being a bit of a jokester. He recalls the day the Class of 1948 senior boys all had their hair done in permanent waves for their class pictures. Edie Miller remembers the incident which had her mother in “fits” as Bob’s best friend, Buzz High (Tanya’s uncle) had his hair done to match Bob’s.

Bob bakes a birthday surprise for each of his children and is happy that Jean taught their daughters, Barbara Hamilton and Beverly Piper the “tricks of the trade”. He bakes for church funeral dinners and does an occasional sugar-free “sugar” cream pie for shut-in friends.

Bob invites you to the Kozy Korner for some good home cooking.



Barrys’ Family Market Celebrates 20 Years in Rockford
Summer 2008

Barry Sr. and Robbie Peel and their family recently celebrated their 20th anniversary of business as Barrys’ Market in Rockford. They purchased the turn-key operation from Kevin and Brenda Barker in January of 1988.  The business is still family owned and operated and flourishing in the Parkway District when other groceries have closed. 

Robbie credits their meat department mainly as they are known far and wide for special cuts and tasty treats like their own recipes for ham loaf and marinated chicken, beef and pork.

Barry, Sr. and Robbie started out in partnership in Hicksville, Ohio with one of Barry’s brother who also had a grocery in Jonesville. An uncle in northern Michigan also was in the grocery business. During the time with his brother, Barry was the produce expert, Robbie worked the office, Barry, Jr. was the meat-cutter and his wife Janice ran the bakery.  The team of four eventually decided that they wanted a place of their own and found the Rockford grocery for sale. They purchased the store and moved their young families to Rockford, opening the doors for the first time on January 28, 1988.

At first they were affiliated with Super-Valu as their grocery supplier, then they used Roundy’s, IGA, and now Nash Finch.  One half of their items come through peddlers bringing dairy, meat, beer, milk, breads, soft drinks, and produce.

Besides Barry Jr, Janice and their family of two sons – Andrew and Barry, III (married to Julie), Barry Sr. and Robbie raised two other sons, Brett and Kerry, in Rockford. They have all worked in the store and worn many hats over the years, Janice recalls tackling the bakery when they arrived. When it became too costly to operate, she managed produce, became the assistant manager and later the manager of the store. Barry, Jr., always did the meat-cutting. Robbie explains that they don’t butcher, but they can get any special cuts desired. They have options that stores with pre-packaged meats only don’t have. That makes them special.

Robbie (at left) continues to run the office, and Barry, Sr., whose specialty is produce is now semi-retired and just fills in as needed. Barry, Jr, and Janice have moved on and started their own auto servicing business. Peel’s Pit Stop is located in Celina on Havemann Rd with help from their sons, Andrew and Barry (now married to Julie).

Taking over two years ago for his brother is Brett Peel, once the night manager and the dairy department manager. He brings with him his wife Toby, who works at Van Wert Physical therapy, and daughter Morgan, who both work at the store part-time. They are also expecting a baby in May 2008.

Son, Kerry is a CPA and one who worked at the store, but never followed it as a career. He has three children, Justin, Jillian and Jack. But even though some have moved on to different careers, they and their families are always ready to help-out, when needed, unloading trucks, decorating and filling-in.

Chances are, if you live in Rockford or the surrounding are, someone in your family or you know has worked at Barrys’ Market at one time or another. Judy (Frye) Avery is one of those people, and after 15 years, she is managing the store, doing the orders, planning the advertising, scheduling the 20 employees (mostly part-time help), and waiting on customers.

They all agree that the biggest change has come in the last two years with the cost of gasoline. All products they buy come with a fuel charge on the invoice.

Over the years they have remodeled the store, dealt with the floods of the St. Marys River, provided food during blizzards, and opened a seasonal greenhouse for spring and fall plants and other items.

And, Barrys’ Market supports the community with donations. They help annually with the First Methodist Christmas Day meal (turkeys), Rockford Community Days, Rockford Easter Egg Hunt, Parkway Sports fundraisers, and donate whatever the local volunteer firemen need when they are out on a run.

The family is planning an anniversary celebration soon. Watch for the details on the Parkway Independent and in the Photo Star Newspaper.

Gourmet Gifts by Kristi A Sweet Business
Kristina Stemen, Parkway Graduate of 1985 and Rockford resident, has built herself a sweet business that blossomed out of her love of cooking. Cookies and chocolate candy were her first endeavor in 1992 & 1993, and she filled gift basket orders. However, baskets can include about anything. She does chocolate covered pretzels and coffee baskets besides cookies and candy.

Her first adventure in catering was for her own wedding reception in 1997. Preparing the meal herself was challenging but she engaged others to do the serving while she was speaking her vows.  She added cakes, french breads and rolls,  in 1998. Those additions completed her step into the world of catering. 

She can serve 2-300, will deliver for an optional fee, or allow the customer to pick-up and has all of the serving trays and chafing dishes to make an elegant meal or buffet-style set-up look appealing and complete. Her experiences  include weddings, anniversaries, graduation parties, children's birthday parties, receptions, showers, and business events.

Kristi is a graduate of Wright State University with a BA in Accounting and Finance and works as an accountant in Van Wert. "Cooking provides an outlet for the creative side of me," said Kristi. "I enjoy the challenge in creating be it cookies, breads, cakes or food. I watch for the unusual when looking for new recipes. There are two family recipes I use, molasses cookies and cowboy cookies." She is totally self taught with the exception of a basic cake-decorating class she took .

Kristi does not watch the cooking show on TV, but rather subscribes to cooking magazines like Bon Appetit, Gourmet And American Cake Decorating. She cruises the Internet for recipes and collects cookbooks as a hobby.

When asked what is popular now, she mentioned warm chocolate dipping stations, cupcakes instead of wedding cakes and specialty desserts. "Lately I have been doing theme-based weddings. The western reception was fun and included boot shaped cookies, cactus cookies, and peach cobbler."

Last summer she provided some special desserts for the governor of Ohio. Ted Strickland was in town at the community building in Shanes Park at the Democratic Roast/Picnic. Kristi provided Krochenbush (creams puffs ~ set up in tiers, petit fours and truffles.

Kristi is the daughter of Vernon and Vera Kuhn. She is married to Dave, and they have a son, Noah, who often taste-test new recipes she is trying-out.

Rockford Gains New WELCOME Sign to South Entrance
"The new South Corporation sign is nearly complete," said Dan Henkle recently, co-chairman of the project.  According to Dan, lighting and a mound of river rock will be added this spring ~ items that will finish it out as an exact duplicate of the other signs welcoming visitors to Rockford.

The sign has been sponsored by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and the supporting organizations recognized with individual plates including:  The Rockford Chamber of Commerce; Rockford Tree Committee; Rockford Lions Club; Leota Braun Foundation; Rockford Carnegie Library; Twenty-First Century Club; Shanes Crossing Historical Society; Shanes Lodge #377 F&M; Rockford American Legion; Parkway Ministerial Association; Shanes Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles; Parkway Booster Club; Rockford Boy Scouts; Rockford 4H Clubs; and Rockford Girl
Scouts. In addition, the Rockford Area Development Corporation plans to add their plate very soon to all three signs.

The printing of the sign was done by Unique Award and Signs with the original design being completed by Twyla Hayes of BrandIt! Design.  Lightning will be donated by Rob Belna.

Construction of the sign was done by the Village Employees.  Total cost of the sign is $4,300.00.  Sign chairmen for  the Rockford Chamber were Bill Now and Dan Henkle.


Rockford Area Development Corporation Adopts Logo
Designed by Twyla Hayes of Brand It Design
The Rockford Area Development Corporation (RADC) is pleased to share the unveiling of their logo identity. The logo design is the brand identification of the RADC and the face of all efforts to enhance community and economic development in and around Rockford. Designed by Twyla Hayes of Brand It Design, Rockford, the logo was created with modern, eye-catching appeal and contemporary flair to represent progressive action. The slogan chosen is "Progress In Action". These visual and verbal identifiers are vital in attracting potential commerce and industry as well as creating a sense of civic pride to RADC members and local residents. Immediate plans are underway to use the logo in print and web media to increase exposure and communicate the core mission of the corporation.
Formed in the latter part of 2006, the mission of the RADC is to attract business and industry to the community and enhance the overall quality of life for its residents. The goals for the corporation are to attract new business, enhance the atmosphere for existing business, provide community development enhancements in infrastructure and housing, and attract new residents. These broad statements are developing into action items carried out by RADC members to further the progress of stated goals.
Information regarding the RADC and current activities as well as membership opportunities may be obtained by contacting or via phone 419.363.9779.
Rockford Area Development Corporation
PO Box 282
151 East Columbia Street
Rockford. OH 45882-0282


Mike Bruns Plumbing, Heating, Electrical, Ventilation and Air Conditioning of Rockford, Ohio Celebrates 25 years

Mike Bruns, PHEVAC offices, located at 103 N. Main Street in Rockford, recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the business opening.

Owner Mike Bruns of Rockford has specialized in all areas of this business and provides service beyond the sale.

Mike has a crew of 4 pictured from left to right, Chad Moeller serviceman since 1998, Chad Buschur, serviceman since 1995, Mike Bruns, owner and serviceman, and Clete Schmidt, office manager since 1992.

Mike recently reminisced about starting his own business. From 1981-1985, Mike had worked at Huffy's, Hensley Welding, Pontius Hardware, Ohio Plumbing, and Alexander and Bebout. He had a business for a short time with carpenter Joe Jackson called B & J Contracting. Mike mostly worked out of his house and a used van before he was able to really get started on his own. In 1985 his dad, the late Ralph Bruns, came to work for him. Ralph was an experienced serviceman (retired in 1990), and Mike bought the old Rockford Telephone building at 132 W. Market St. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Gene Steiner officiating. Dick Winters came to work for him as his office manager, and his first big jobs were doing the new work on the new L and L Restaurant (1985) in Rockford for owner Larry Hileman. Then in 1986, Rockford Lumber expanded, and Mike did that work as well. He has worked with many locate builders including Terry Bransteter and Larry Hileman. Back then, Mike had other employees including Nick Buschur and Roger Heuing, that people might remember.

Mike expanded again in 1990, buying the old Rockford Press building, then later 1/2 of the Main Street building beside Herb Muhlenkamp, accountant, where the offices are now located.

Mike and his crew are state-licensed in all areas of the plumbing, heating, electrical, ventilation and air conditioning including the health department. He sell Rheem Heating and Air Conditioning, Goulds' Water Systems, Delta Faucets, Aqua Water conditioning Systems, and stocks a wide inventory of pipe fittings and other hardware.

When asked what has changed the most in the past 25 years, he said that the Rockford Lumber Company went out of business, and big companies like Menards have taken the place of the smaller locally-owned operations. He also said that a verbal agreement and a handshake were once all that was required to do a job. Now contracts are often needed to get a job started.

One thing never changes, though, in a small town, people call day and night for reliable help! Mike spent New Year's Eve at a customer's house repairing an electrical problem and working on a flooded basement somewhere else. (We had downpours of rain, thunder and lightning that evening.)



Hydroponics Lettuce Farm Newest Rockford-area Business Venture
"It takes 6 weeks to grow Bibb lettuce from nursery to harvest," explained Bryan Stephenson, USDA-certified crop advisor for S & S Family Farms, a family-owned business headed by his parents Dave and Charlene Stephenson. Located at 10701 Now Road south of Rockford, Ohio, the business marks a continuum in the lineage of generations of farming on both sides of the family ~ but with a new twist.

Growing lettuce in water, on a large scale in a hothouse, is a relatively new thought for this part of Mercer County, where grain farming has been the predominant “industry”.  The Stephensons, however, have utilized their first-hand expertise in 4-H and farming, going back to their roots right here in Mercer County. Dave’s parents, Dick and Gene still farm near Chattanooga, and Charlene’s parents Don and Eileen Bollenbacher farm land west of Rockford as well. And, the farming linage on both sides goes back farther to their great-grandparents and great-great grandparents who settled this area. Those operations were and are all grain-based, and the younger Stephensons were looking for something different.  According to Charlene, 20 years ago, her dad discussed hydroponic tomato farming but they dismissed it as too labor-intensive.  Bryan, who served as Parkway’s FFA president for four years and attended Purdue University for two years in the agronomy program, began looking into hydroponic lettuce farming, and during the winter of 2005, they tried it on a small scale. The results were good, and the family decided in July 2006 to take the “plunge”. Construction money came from the local Mercer County Revolving Loan Fund and Peoples Bank.  Dave became the overseer of construction which is nearing completion.

Unlike waiting for the rain and sun to provide ideal growing conditions, this business requires energy to pump the well water and nutrients as well as heat and cool the 30 ft. x 128 ft. Quonset building, of steel frame and plastic double-wall construction.  After careful research, they dismissed wind and solar power and are using electricity to power the greenhouse.  They are using a 500,000 BTU corn-boiler with propane as back-up. Corn is readily available and more efficient.  It warms the water that flows through the floors because lettuce needs it to be between 68º and 72º (ideally) to grow. At night the computerized control boards, set-up and maintained by son, John, drop the temperature between 62º -65º.  Electricity runs the blower which pumps air into the space between the plastic layers to form dead air space insulation for the walls. Cooling in the summer is provided by pulling air through the bug-exclusion system.  It traps the insects and prevents them from entering the greenhouse to cause infestation of the lettuce crop.  Recycled water runs over a giant wall of corrugated cardboard and the air pulled through it evaporates and cools the greenhouse.

When the sky lights up at night south of Rockford, the community has come to know that the lettuce needs more light to grow. So the lights come on using timers that have been programmed by John to turn the lights on at 7 am and off at 5 pm.  On overcast days a sensor detects low light intensity and turns on the lights.  By adjusting the amount of light, the time to crop maturity can be maximized.

The REX variety of Bibb lettuce they grow is specially developed for hydroponics in the Netherlands, where Holland and Denmark are far advanced in this style of farming.  A seed is dropped into a rectangle of spun lava rock, called rock wool which has been soaked in water for 24-48 hours.  Germination takes 2 days with new plantings done in a staggered fashion to produce a constant crop. The nursery part of this takes two weeks after which the trays of tiny plants are then separated by cutting and dropped into holes in the trays for the remainder of the four week growing time. Charlene’s parents, Don and Eileen Bollenbacher have been active in helping with the transplanting of the seedling plants.  Bryan’s children, Noah and Abby also help with the planting. (Don and Charlene are shown at left.)

Our area is known for hard water. So a computer analyzes it and correctly mixes the two tanks (one for fast growth and one for lettuce health) of nutrients into the water to compensate for calcium, sulfur, iron and hydrogen changes. According to Charlene, “pH balance is very important because the crop can burn.” Nephew Devin Bollenbacher assembled the trays from the “Crop King hydroponic greenhouse kit” they purchased and helps with daily pH checks. The well water is pumped into the trays under the seedlings where a unique closed return system recycles the water through pipes for reuse. One feeder line of rubber tubing feeds two trays holding 18 plants per tray. There are 344 growing trays in the operation, and when not in use, the trays can be shut off from the water supply. The growth time in the water takes another four weeks to bring the crop to harvest. The heads are pulled from their water holes, the roots in the rock wool are trimmed off, and packing takes place. The lettuce is bulk packaged 12 heads per box or in individual plastic crispers. The harvested crop is then ready for delivery to the buyer. A cooler is under construction at the farm for short term storage. John’s wife, Amanda has made the sales contacts and delivery to most of the local buyers.

The Stephensons have applied for the Ohio Proud designation and plan to be producing 1600 heads of Bibb lettuce per week in 2007 when they are at full capacity with nearly 6000 plants of lettuce in various stages of growth.  They have a vendor’s license and currently supply: Parkway Schools and Barry’s’ Market in Rockford; Troyers and Earthen Treasures Natural Food Market in Berne, Indiana; Romer’s Catering, Chief Supermarkets and Logan’s IGA in Celina as well as health food stores in Ft. Recovery and Van Wert.  Bibb lettuce blends well with other salad greens and is very good on its own. There are even plans to try different lettuce varieties and possibly the herb basil in the future.

Editor’s note: The lettuce I purchased at Barry’s’ Market was crisp and flavorful. I used it in a salad and on sandwiches. The Stephensons will have lettuce available on a self-serve basis from the packing and storage building at the greenhouse.  For more information you may contact them at 419-363-3357.

Full Service Salon Celebrates 30 Years in Rockford

His 'N Hers Styling and Tanning Salon, owned by Brenda (Davis) Barker, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the shop in Rockford.

Brenda graduated from Parkway in 1973 and went on to the Ohio State Beauty Academy in Lima, OH, graduating from there in 1974. For two years she worked at the Modern Beauty Salon on Main Street in Rockford, which was owned by Shophie Pfister but struck out on her own in 1976. Brenda bought a shop over on Market Street behind the post office from Pat Bowen, another hair stylist who had Pat's Beauty Shop. In 1980, Brenda secured the old Schumm Drug Store on Main Street (beside the post office) and did some remodeling to the store. she opened the new facility in 1981. She added retail products and keeps an extensive line of shampoos, treatments and other hair-care items for sale.

Six years ago in 2000, the store underwent another remodeling, and Brenda added two tanning beds and a massage therapy room. Peg Dull is the LMT on duty, having started in 2001. She takes Monday and Wednesday appointments and does foot reflexology as well an massage therapy. She is a 2000 graduate of the SHI Medical School of Massage in Lebanon, Ohio.

Above, the current staff includes left: Ilene Davis, Brenda's mom, who is a Rockford High School graduate and a 1947 graduate of Warner Beauty College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Next year she will celebrate 60 years in the hair care business. She remembers when she gave machine permanents  (until 1958) and working for Marcella (McSherry) Easthom from January  1947 through January 1955. Marcella worked in the same building as Beanie McSherry (her dad) when the store was 1/2 his barber shop and half her salon. Ilene went to work for Sophie Pfister from 1956-1976, then went to work for her daughter.

Above, next to Ilene is Carol Zizelman, a 1959 graduate of Southerton-Martz Beauty Academy. She ran her own shop in Mendon from 1961 until several years ago. She has been at the His and Hers Shop since 1996.

Next to Carol above is Raeh Gardner who is the newest member of the His 'n Hers team. She is a recent Parkway graduate and graduated from Ohio State Beauty Academy in Lima on March 8, 2006. She specializes in cuts, color and nails. Raeh is available Tuesdays and Fridays or by appointment.

Over the years, Brenda has seen many hair changes not only in the styles, but also in the way hair is treated. For instance, they have seen these changes:

1950's ~ Bouffant Hair
1960's ~ Parted and Straight (Hippie) Hair
1970's ~ Long and Straight or Flipped like the tv star Farrah Fawcett
1980's ~ Permanent Waves and Big Hair; Mall Hair and Big Bangs
1990's ~ Short and Spiky - Styles that fit the person best
2000's - anything goes including texture and color are popular as a more  natural look from subtle to bold.


Rockford Physician, Jerry Sell, Completes Course on Women's Health
Adds New Services of Facial Chemical Peels and Cosmetic Botox Injections to his Practice
Jerry Sell, M.D., family medicine specialist, from Rockford, recently completed a Women's Health and Wellness course in Santa Pueblo, New Mexico. The topics covered included: heart disease, diet and weight loss, osteoporosis, bipolar disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult women, human papillomavirus infections and the new vaccine as well as other gynecological issues.

In addition, he received training in facial chemical peels and cosmetic Botox injections, which he is adding to the services he offers at his practice at 104 S. Main Street, in Rockford.

Continuing Education Courses are part of the requirement for continued board certification in Family Practice and for maintenance of licensure in the State of Ohio.

Call 419-363-3008 to make an appointment with Dr. Jerry D. Sell at Rockford Family Medicine.

Jessica, Travis. Kirby and Casey offer insurance, CD's, loans, free notary and fax service and more . . . .Chatt Insurance Center – Three Generations 
A Family-Owned Business, of all Parkway Graduates, Takes New Ownership

The first generation began in 1959 as a home-based insurance agency by Donald Caffee near Chattanooga. Donald Caffee is the one who created the agency's motto “the money is better off in YOUR POCKET than the insurance company’s!”

The second generation started when his nephew Kirby Stetler, joined an insurance company in 1976,
doing stints ranging from trainee to Director of Republic Mutual during 22 years.  Kirby’s stint at Celina Group involved his main love; farm insurance, where his farming life and concern for farmers’ needs has proven beneficial to his customers. He traveled with the agents and helped them talk with farmers. Kirby owns the Kermit and Fern Stetler Family Farm which has been in the family since his Aunt Neva (Stetler) Clouse and husband, Edgar Clouse, purchased the farm land in the 1920's. Kirby’s parents, Kermit and Fern Stetler bought the Edgar Clouse farm land in 1941 located between Willshire and Rockford.

Kirby gained his “selling” agents license in 1984, and was already a veteran in the insurance industry when he went to work for Don in 1997. He and Steven Hecht bought Caffee Insurance out in 2000. Kirby holds insurance designations and also taught CPCU (the “CPA of insurance”) but feels that his best lessons came from customers and experience, and the most valuable designation is someone with “common sense".  Travis, Casey, and Jessica share the same feeling.

Now the process has begun again with the third generation! Kirby and Steve sold the company to Kirby’s son-in-law Travis Pond, his wife Jessica, and his brother Casey Pond.  Kirby now has the flexibility to fill his new role as an inside/outside agency team member, visiting existing customers who wish to do reviews to make sure they are protected, and offering potential new customers advice to protect their life’s work. He also enjoys being the “PR/Advertising man for the group.” Kirby is adjusting to his new “semi retired” life as Travis and Casey  increasingly handle the main duties day to day. Kirby is still available in person or electronically to any customer and also keeps busy with refurbishing his antique car and working on the new duties his wife Judy has assigned to him now! 

Travis began working at the Chatt office in 2001. His 2003 associate degree from Wright State University is in business finance. He had not known Jessica very well in early high school, but they really hit it off when they worked together on a later Parkway Drama Club production. (Incidentally, working on a school play was how Kirby and Judy met.) Travis and Jessica began dating and married in July of 2004.

Casey, a 1999 graduate of Parkway High School and a 2002 grad of ITT Tech, with an associate degree in Computer Networking Technology, worked at Celina Insurance Group until recently. He was the lead tech at the help desk, serving 500+ agents and 200 employees in computer technology. He recently bought-out Sigler Insurance from LuAnn and Kim Sigler. He has combined his company with his brother and sister-in-law to make the Chatt Insurance Center an even broader-based business to serve the needs of the community. With Casey’s expertise, the company has gone completely paperless; all business is done online from faxing  to applications, to quotes and emails. They even revise policies for customers online. Travis and Casey are the sons of Ken and Carla Pond. Ken is the senior commercial underwriter at Celina Group, and his sons have been learning along the way since the 8th grade.

Jessica grew up with the family business and started out cleaning the offices, helping her mom, Judy, who works at Adams Central Schools as a guidance counselor and administrator. Jessica eventually worked her way up to helping her dad with office skills learned at Parkway High School. She worked during the summer months and attended Wright State University before marrying Travis Pond.

In January of 2005 all three became partners with Kirby and employ Aunt Jane (Stephenson) Suzuki, as their office manager.

Chatt Insurance Center are agents for the following insurance companies: Grange; Celina Insurance Group; United Ohio; Wayne Mutual; Donegal; Progressive and many brokerage companies. They sell Hagerty, which insures antique cars, and Golden Rule offering health insurance, and Grange Life for life insurance. Notary needs and faxing, safety materials and more are available. “This is a broad range of companies for an agency our size, but we can serve 99% of the people who come in. Families stay with us, even when they move away, “said Casey.

Kirby keeps busy with refurbishing his antique car and is in the first phase of “semi-retirement”. He enjoys being the Public Relations Manager for Chatt Insurance a couple of days a week. Kirby says, "Our motto is: Don’t Shop for Insurance Backwards. Instead of waiting to see if you are covered; think first of the types of things you would want protected before the event. Protect your life’s work and future. Let us help." 

Located at 10030 State Route 49, Chatt Insurance Center, offers the old and the new. Amish buggies find their way on the road that connects Spring Street in Dayton to Ft. Wayne, Indiana via State Route 49. Contact them at or via their website at


Support Your Local Merchants

Your Local Merchants Live in Your Community

and Support Your Interests.



8.  Save Gas Money


7.  Avoid Crowds


6.  Less Drive Time Means More Time To Shop!


5.  Support the Businesses That Sponsor School & Community Events


4.  Enjoy Hometown Shopping With Friends Instead of Strangers.


3.  Local Stores Want Your Business and Provide Quality Service.


2.  Keep Your Hard Earned $$ Turning Over In Your Community.


1.  Thank you for shopping at home!  You saved gas money.  Avoided Crowds.  Saved time.  Supported those who support you.  Shopped with your friends.  Received friendly service.  Kept your money working at home. 


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