Open house introduces community to equestrian center, honors donors

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 Seated are Ambassador Peter Secchia and Grand Rapids Police Chief Kevin Belk; in the background, horse and officers paid rapt attention to Sheriff Stelma speaking.

by Cynthia Price
Legal News

Men in suits, women in uniforms, families, hundreds of kids and several horses were in evidence as the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and its civilian support partner the Kent County Traffic Squad welcomed the community to its new Equestrian Training Center in Rockford Wednesday.

According to Sheriff Larry Stelma, plans to create Millennium Park at around the turn of the 21st century prompted law enforcement to start thinking about using a mounted unit to police events and venues where officers on foot or in cars are less effective. The Kent County Traffic Squad, a little-known volunteer corps, took over the fund-raising. Stelma pointed out that Kent County’s is the oldest civilian traffic squad in the United States.

As tireless supporter Don DeGroot of the KC Traffic Squad rose to speak, the horse shown in the photo at left neighed loudly in approval.

Plans for the Equestrian Center received a great boost from humanitarians Peter Cook, whose son spoke briefly, and Ambassador Peter L. Secchia, who attended himself.

The complex includes a stable with an arena and stalls, and a large pasture. At the Open House Wednesday, families waited in line for a chance to have their children led on horseback around the new arena by uniformed officers who seemed to relish the task.