SWORDSMANSHIP MUSEUM AND ACADEMY COMING TO COMSTOCK PARK
Jerry Berg is realizing a vision he had as far back as 2007. He is opening the Swordsmanship Museum and Academy. The first class is December 1 and will be Polish Sabre Tradition. There will also be classes in German longsword and Civil War sabre at the museum, 3926 West River Drive. Exhibits open in early 2022. Berg, the director, educator, and curator, lives in Comstock Park and loves the location he found in downtown Comstock Park.
“This location is right in the heart of downtown Comstock Park” said Berg. “I can tell that the area is growing, and I would love to have our museum be a part of that growth.”
Berg is an educator at heart and wants people to learn not only about the swords and how to use them, but also the history surrounding the time when they were used. That’s where the exhibits come in. He has a team of instructors, educators, and other experts he has met over the years that he reached out to when putting his museum plan together. He plans to have living history programs where educators dress in historical dress. At first classes will be offered to ages as young as 16 if parents also sign up for the class, and upward. He plans to open youth classes for younger kids and teens in 2022. He says his six-year-old daughter loves to come and watch.
Berg has been teaching at various locations and is looking to having a permanent location, noting, “I know that the community is going to love the interior of the building, which has enough space for both classes and professional museum galleries.”
Future plans include special classes such as “Swords in our Hearts” for couples for Valentine’s Day, and a “Swords in Springtime” celebration in 2022 at Dwight Lydell Park. Because of the uniqueness of the museum, Berg expects to attract aficionados from all over the country.
Because of his interest in swords and their history, Berg has acquired quite a collection including international swords from places like Indonesia, the Philippines, Africa, and Japan. Part of the Japanese collection includes an original Edo period (1603-1867) Kusarigama, a weapon consisting of a sickle blade with a weighted chain attached. Swords from the history of Britain, France, Mexico, the United States, and other countries are part of the Museum collection.
Besides swords, Berg has artifacts like 19th century swordsmanship manuals, books dating back to the 1840’s, and an 1863 newspaper picture from the Roanoke Island battle in the Civil war. His oldest artifact is a 1700-year-old arrowhead that dates back to ancient Rome. He has an over one thousand-year-old Viking age seax, a kind of knife, and many artifacts ranging between the Golden Age of Piracy in the 1700’s through World War II.
Berg became interested in history and weapons as a kid playing video games like Age of Empires and enjoyed changing the historical time of the games. He joined some online groups, started participating in Civil War reenactments, and formed his own group while a student at Grand Valley State University. He also became active in the Grand Valley Renaissance Festival.
Berg also runs two other museums that are currently homeless and are traveling exhibits – the Fishing Museum and Cultural Center, and the Lumberjack and Logging Museum both of which he anticipates will see similar growth in upcoming years.
To sign up for classes, visit www.SwordsmanshipMuseum.org. which lists upcoming events, stay updated by signing up for the digital newsletter, or visit the Museum on Facebook. Open hours are not set yet, but once the exhibit galleries are complete the Museum will be open to the public early afternoon into early evening on weekdays and weekends.
TIMBER RIDGE TREE CARE & TIMBER RIDGE WOOD PRODUCTS
What does an arborist do when he’s not working on other people’s property? For Dustin Meyers it’s, “yard work” on his own property. Meyers turned his passion for trees, the environment, and sustaining wildlife habitat into his life’s work by becoming a certified arborist. He is the owner of Timber Ridge Tree Care and Timber Ridge Wood Products, both located at 4335 Abrigador Trail in Comstock Park.
Timber Ridge Tree Care does everything from tree removal to transplantation to pruning, to storm damage repair, and more, while Timber Ridge Wood primarily does wood recycling and mulching. Meyers is all about “keeping the community thriving and beautiful, keeping the trees in our community healthy.” He has donated ground cover for the White Pine Trail trailhead and Veterans Memorial Park in Plainfield Township, and the Comstock Park Community Plaza.
Meyers started a landscaping and lawn care business, using a startup loan his grandmother gave him, in 1994 after graduating from high school. He decided to specialize in tree work and moved his business to West River Drive in 1998 where he had about a half-acre of property and a small office. As the business grew, he needed more space, and in 2009 he moved to his present location where he has eight acres and a much bigger office building.
When he started his business Meyers says, “It was just me.” There are now 40 full time employees who have jobs doing everything from office work, tree trimming, maintenance work on the 55 trucks, and operating cranes. There are four certified arborists. The company serves an approximately 50-mile radius of residential and commercial customers offering 24/7 emergency removal, land clearing, tree care and maintenance, and more. He says Timber Ridge Tree Care is now “one of the leading providers of specialist arborist and tree maintenance service companies within the greater Grand Rapids area.”
Meyers, who lives in Sparta, grew up in Belmont, graduating from Northview High School. He has family in Comstock Park, so he was familiar with the area when he decided to open his business in Comstock Park. A big plus is being right by the expressway, he said.
Meyers believes rigorous training is the key to good work and makes sure his employees have continuous training to keep up to date on current techniques and technology. Thorough training also ensures safety in hazardous conditions, he said. His own training was on-the-job and studying for the Certified Arborist Exam, a test with some 200 multiple-choice questions on which are divided into areas of expertise such as pruning, safe work practices, diagnosis and treatment, soil management, soil and tree risk management, tree biology, urban forestry.
Someone considering being an arborist has to have a love for trees and the outdoors. It has been the perfect job for Meyers who says there are plenty of opportunities. “You’ve got to enjoy people and be a hard worker,” he said. “It’s great, but it’s not for the faint of heart.”