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    Comcast volunteering to benefit Northern Illinois Food PantryBy Margaret DowningReporter
    April 17, 2014
    LOVES PARK – Comcast representative Joan Sage was present at the April 7 Loves Park City Council meeting to receive a proclamation from Mayor Darryl Lindberg declaring April 26 as “Comcast Cares Day” in the city.That day is when thousands of local Comcast employees, friends and families will participate in the largest corporate day of service in the country by volunteering their time to local non-profit agencies.Locally the Northern Illinois Food Bank will be one site being helped. Sage said, “This is the 13th year we have been involved.” Aldermen were invited to participate.Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly fire department report dated April 6. There was one fire call, one false fire alarm call, one mutual aid call, one carbon monoxide or gas leak call, and one assist police call reported. The weekly police activity report was not available.Alderman John Pruitt gave the monthly building report for the month of March. A total of 54 permits were issued and $3,032.25 in building permit fees was collected.City Clerk Bob Burden reported that the city had received $38,370.70 in Motor Fuel Tax funds from the Illinois Dept. of Transportation for the month of March.A total of $29,258.62 in water department bills, and $156,176.46 in general fund and all other bills, as presented March 31, were approved for payment. Alderman Julie Hobel abstained from voting on paying the general fund bills.Mayor Lindberg advised aldermen that yard waste pickup would start in the city April 11.A resolution authorizing the city to spend funds “at the same rate as the 2013-14 Appropriation Ordinance” until the new 2014-15 ordinance is approved was passed with Alderman Julie Hobel casting the one no vote.The city treasurer was authorized to hire Beggin, Tipp and Lamm, LLC, Certified Public Accountants to perform the city’s annual audit for fiscal years 2014 through 2016. By going with the same firm for three years the city will save money by locking the price in place for that time period. The same firm did the last audit.A resolution was approved authorizing the city treasurer to hire Timothy W. Sharpe, Actuary in Geneva, Ill. to provide actuarial services for the city in regards to police pension funding. According to John Danielson, treasurer, the city saved about $20,000 by going this route rather than using the State of Illinois Actuary.A resolution okaying engineering services for Alpine Road improvements/repairs at a cost not to exceed $29,800 was passed with Alderman Julie Hobel voting against the motion.A resolution approving proposals to clean Water Tower No. 2 and No. 3 was approved at a cost not to exceed $4,260 on No. 1 and $6,100 on No. 2.Public Works received the go-ahead to seek sealed bids for the painting of 525 fire hydrants in the city, half of the total hydrants in the city – the other half having been painted last year.A resolution to seek negotiated bids for wall preparation and painting at Fire Station No. 2 was approved, as was the seeking of negotiated bids to repair cement block walls in the street department building.An ordinance, second reading, amending a section of the city’s code of ordinances regulating permits for overweight vehicles was approved, which Alderman Little explained “will bring the city in line with state regulations, plus we’re doing a little house cleaning” in the ordinance.An ordinance, first and second readings, was approved “establishing a non-home rule municipal retailer’s occupation tax and non-home rule municipal service tax.”

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    Armed robbery suspect arrested in Machesney Park
    April 17, 2014
    MACHESNEY PARK – On Friday, April 11, at approximately 1 p.m. the All Credit Lenders, 7900 N. Second St. Machesney Park, was robbed.A white male entered the business armed with a handgun and demanded money.An investigation was initiated by Winnebago County Sheriff’s Detectives and reviewed with the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office and resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant for Christopher D. Fuller, 35, of Machesney Park.Fuller was taken into custody without incident on the evening of April 11. He has been lodged in the Winnebago County Jail on a charge of Aggravated Robbery. His bond is set at $75,000.A toy handgun was recovered near the scene of the robbery.The charge against Fuller is merely an accusation. He is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.

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    Rock Cut Elementary teacher among 2014 Golden Apple winners
    April 10, 2014
    STATELINE – Golden Apple Foundation is very pleased to announce the five Golden Apple Recipients for 2014.The teachers, who were surprised in their classrooms today by Golden Apple Foundation Board Members and Sponsors, principals, superintendents, family and representatives from the media, are:Carolyn Massier - Rock Cut Elementary, Loves Park, Second Grade - 9 years teaching experienceSarah Meyers - Fairview Early Childhood Center, Rockford, Autism PreK - 6 years teaching experienceJoshua Rollins - Washington Academy, Rockford, Fifth Grade Gifted - 7 years teaching experienceErin Salberg - Rockton Grade School, Rockton, First Grade - 8 years teaching experienceAmanda Schieshe - Washington Academy, Belvidere, Third and Fifth Grade Engineering Technology - 8 years teaching experience These distinguished PreK-5th grade teachers were among twenty outstanding finalists representing the public and non-public school districts of Winnebago and Boone County. Since January, all twenty have participated in a rigorous selection process. Collectively, 320 observations were conducted in their classrooms over one month by trained Golden Apple community volunteers. In the final stage, finalists were interviewed by teams of Golden Apple Foundation volunteers. The newest Golden Apple teachers will be welcomed to the 18th Annual Excellence in Education Banquet with a Red Carpet Arrival on Friday, May 2nd at the beautiful Radisson Hotel. Excellence in Education will be celebrated and each Golden Apple Teacher will be honored and presented with a cash award and a professional development stipend from Golden Apple Foundation, a desktop computer for their classroom from Rockford Computers for Schools, a laptop with computer software compliments of Entré Computer Solutions, and the Terry Ingrassia Professional Development Scholarship compliments of Rockford University.They will also be inducted into the Golden Apple Teacher Academy where they join 165 members in continuing to positively impact the education profession through mentoring and professional development of teachers from Winnebago & Boone Counties. Each of the five will be featured in a televised special compliments of WREX.Next year, teachers in 6th-12th grades in both public and ISBE recognized non-public schools in Winnebago and Boone Counties will be eligible for the award.For more information or for reservations for the 18th Annual Golden Apple Banquet held on Friday, May 2, 2014 contact the Golden Apple Foundation office at 226-4180, at info@goldenappleofrockford.com, or register online at goldenappleofrockford.com.

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    Registration for April 26 Great American Cleanup™ now open
    April 03, 2014
    LOVES PARK – Coordinating Agency Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful’sExecutive Director Lori Gummow announced last week that the 26th Annual Great American Cleanup™ will be held Saturday, April 26 in Northern Illinois.Volunteer registration is now open for both Winnebago and Boone County collection routes with a choice of 20 equipment pickup locations.The Great American Cleanup™ is the region-wide litter collection involving more than 1,000 citizens from all municipalities, agencies and service organizations in Winnebago and Boone County.Individuals and teams from businesses, civic groups, churches, youth, or neighborhood organizations can select specific routes or be assigned to a targeted area.Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and its partners provide safety and litter-collecting equipment at strategic staging sites the day of the event, which is to be returned at the end of the collection. The bags of litter are retrieved within the next week by participating contractors. “Last year we had more than 1,200 volunteers clearing more than 300 miles of roadside,” said Frank Manzullo, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Great American Cleanup coordinator.“We hope to attract even more volunteers this year,” he added. “Now that the snow has melted, we need to improve the image of our neighborhoods and event venues.“As the Stateline welcomes visitors to its spring and summer events we want them to know that we take pride in our community,” Manzullo said.Preregistration for the event is required. Volunteers should register by Friday, April 18. On Saturday, April 26, a designated team coordinator may pick up supplies at one of the 20 distribution sites between 8 and 9 a.m. and bring them to their assigned team cleanup location.The sites are listed at www.knib.org.* Team members meet at the start of the route, receive their supplies and pick up litter between 9 a.m. and noon.Complimentary water and snacks, courtesy of event sponsors, are also provided to the volunteers.The Great American Cleanup™, a nationally-organized anti-littering campaign, was originated by Keep America Beautiful in 1985. The effort has been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.It has grown into a catalyst for change, becoming the nation’s single largest volunteer community improvement program. Removing litter and debris ensures resident safety and gives best impressions during the rest of the year.Cooperating partners and local sponsors of this year’s Great American Cleanup™ in Northern Illinois include Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful; Burger King; the City of Rockford; Don Carter Lanes; Frito-Lay; McDonald’s; Mid-West Family Broadcasting; Pepsi Cola of Rockford; RK Dixon; The Rock River Times; Rock River Trail; Rock Vally Culligan; Winnebago County; the Winnebago County Highway Department; the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department; and 23 WIFR Gray Television Inc.Organizations, groups or individuals interested in participating in the 2014 Great American Cleanup ™ may call Frank Manzullo at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful at (815) 637-1343 or register at www.knib.org/programs/great-american-cleanup/.Free Oak TreesIn an additional effort to beautify Northern Illinois, in honor of Arbor Day free oak trees will be available, in limited quantities, at select distribution sites and at the Rockford Park District Trolley Station, 324 N. Madison St., on Saturday, April 26.The grant from the Living Lands and Waters project requests the trees be planted within sight of the Rock River.

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    Bates family donate farm safety equipment to Rockton Fire Department
    March 27, 2014
    By Jean Seegers Reporter
    SOUTH BELOIT – Rockton Fire District personnel and firemen from Rockford, Cherry Valley and Boone County gathered Saturday morning, March 22, at Demeter Grain, Equipment and Storage, 4739 Prairie Hill Road, South Beloit.The firefighters came together for a training simulation of the Great Wall of Rescue. The equipment is used for rescuing victims trapped in grain bins. Kirsten Kniss, representing Great Wall Rescue in Lanark, Ill., demonstrated the adaptability and practicalities of the metal partitions as a tool in rescuing victims of farm accidentsRockton District Fire Chief Kirk Wilson announced the donation of two units of Great Wall Rescue equipment to the department by the Bates family.Roger and Judy Bates own and operate a farm in rural Rockton. The rescue wall system was instrumental in saving Roger Bates' life last January.Another key factor in his rescue was the quick thinking of his 20-year-old grandson Mike. On Jan. 31, 2014, Bates climbed a ladder to the top of his grain bin to loosen some clumps of corn. He fell into the large bin while the auger was running.The 78-year-old farmer was submerged up to his neck in the corn and could not move. His grandson reacted quickly by shutting off the auger and immediately called 911.Rockton Fire and Rescue units and several area fire departments responded and arrived on the scene within minutes. Efforts to extricate Bates using wet dry vacuums were less than effective.The Orangeville Fire Department rescue division specializes in farm accidents. They arrived on the scene with the Great Wall of Rescue. The interlocking panels were inserted around Bates and the corn was sucked out through a tube.After five tense hours, the bin had been emptied, and Bates climbed the ladder and embraced his grateful family.Chief Wilson said Bates was very fortunate. Nearly all such accidents result in the victim suffocating. The Bates family decided to donate two Great Wall of Rescue units, valued at $3,000 to the Rockton Fire District as a gesture of their gratitude and to help future accident victims.Bates personally thanked the fire departments as well as the Salvation Army who were on the scene assisting the rescuers and family throughout the ordeal.Wilson took the opportunity to present a plaque to Mike Bates Jr. for his bravery and quick thinking."If it weren't for you, your grandpa wouldn't be with us today," he said.

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    Township prevails in $5.3-million market value reduction
    March 20, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann Reporter MACHESNEY PARK - Harlem Township Assessor Mark Sorrentino had some good news - from a governmental viewpoint - for the township board at its monthly meeting.He told trustees that his office had prevailed in a requested market value reduction of $5.3 million submitted by Petry Development for property in the township. That resulted in a property tax savings of $176,000 for local taxing bodies, such as Harlem School District 122, Winnebago County, Rockford Park District and, to a lesser extent, the township.Petry sought the reductions for improved property, with homes on them, and vacant lots."Four attorneys were present, two from the school district," Sorrentino said. "It was a three-hour hearing. Our evidence was well prepared and strong. Their approach and methodology were inappropriate.""It was a tremendous effort, a good team effort," he said, adding that he brought his deputy assessors to the hearing "so they could see how it worked."Earlier, he said the developer's appeal used an income approach, which was based on market rent as opposed to market sales in the vicinity. "That's not fair," he said. "They should not get a discount because it's a rental."Countywide, he said Petry's requests sought $25 million in market value reductions.Township Attorney John Nelson asked the assessor if he thought Harlem Township was bouncing back as far as the economy was concerned.While the answer was yes, Sorrentino thought the there would be another negative multiplier from the county, when assessments are figured for next year. "I hope it's four or less," he said.Overall, he said "good things" are happening. The list included the multi-million-dollar Woodward Governor expansion at Harlem and Perryville roads; upcoming construction of a new Meijer supercenter at Perryville and Illinois 173; and construction of three new buildings on the northeast corner of 173 and Interstate 90."Woodward is in Harlem Township so it will help those taxing bodies," he said. The impact on the township itself will be minimal "because we don't have that high a tax rate," he said. "But every dollar helps."Sixty-two percent of a township property owner's taxes go to School District 122, he said.Salt almost goneAlso at the township board's March 10 meeting Road Commissioner Rick Thompson said he was "within a snowfall or two" of running out of salt. "We exceeded our salt use, as did everybody else," he said. "We used over one million pounds, which is about twice as much as we normally use. But we can get more if we need it."His 2014-15 budget was approved by the board that night and will include dollars for an overlay - oil base with three-eighths inch chipped pea gravel - for Brown, Picken and McMichael roads. Those are subdivision streets near the Boone County line.In addition, the road department plans to spend $80,000 on a new dump truck that, of course, will have a snow plow. Delivery is scheduled for August, Thompson said, "so we'll have it in time for next winter."

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    Kody Walsh found guilty of murder, fleeing in jury trial
    March 13, 2014
    WINNEBAGO COUNTY – Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato announced that on March 3, Kody Ryan Patrick James Walsh, 24, was found Guilty of First Degree Murder, Aggravated Fleeing to Elude a Police Officer and Aggravated Unlawful Restraint after a jury trial in front of the Honorable Judge John Truitt.The jury also found that the allegation that the murder was accompanied by exceptionally brutal and heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty was proven.The jury also found the allegation that during the commission of the murder, the defendant personally discharged a firearm that proximately caused death was proven.During the early morning hours of September 9th, 2012 Walsh shot Lori Daniels, 36 in the head twice while inside a car traveling from Rockford to Beloit along I-90. Afterward, Walsh forced the driver of the vehicle to go to Beloit at gunpoint.He then fled back to Winnebago County where he led officers on a high speed chase involving several law enforcement agencies.Walsh exited the vehicle and fled from officers on foot after discharging a weapon in their direction. He was eventually arrested in Memphis, Tenn. after a high speed chase that ended in a car crash and foot chase by members of the West Memphis Task Force. First Degree Murder is a Class M Felony that has a sentencing range from 20 to 60 years in the Illinois Dept. of Corrections.The penalty range is enhanced to 45 years to Natural Life when the defendant personally discharges a firearm that proximately causes death. Aggravated Fleeing to Elude a Police Officer is a Class 4 Felony with a sentencing range of between 1-6 years in the Illinois Dept. of Corrections based upon the defendant’s prior criminal history. Aggravated Unlawful Restraint Using a Deadly Weapon is a class 3 Felony with a sentencing range of 2-10 years in the Illinois Dept. of Corrections based upon the defendant’s prior criminal history.Sentencing is scheduled for April 7 at 9 a.m. in front of the Honorable Judge John Tuitt in Courtroom D of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center.

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    Frigid temperatures don't deter Polar Plungers at Rock Cut
    March 06, 2014
    By Rhonda Mix Reporter
    LOVES PARK – Some people might call it crazy, especially with the wicked winter weather the Midwest has been having this year.Yet hundreds of Boone and Winnebago residents braved the cold Saturday and headed out to Rock Cut State Park's Olson Lake to take part in the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge – a statewide event wherein participants jump into frigid lakes as part of a fundraising event for the Special Olympics.It was not only Boone and Winnebago counties that participated. People also traveled to the event from towns and cities across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.While onlookers watched, 448 participants lined up at noon and waited for their turn to race or dance into the arctic lake.In order to have a go at hurdling themselves into the water, individuals as well as teams wearing creative and festive costumes, were required to raise a minimum of $75 in donations. Payton Rink of Roscoe, and her father, Shawn, said they were taking the plunge for family friends.“It's for a good cause,” said Payton, who had participated in one other Polar Plunge. “It'll be bad getting dressed after though,” she added, laughing.“The water is not the bad part,” said Shawn, adding that this year's plunge was his fourth. “It will be the wind and the air after.”“It's going to be terrible,” said Austin Jacobsen, a Rockford resident also plunging for his fourth year. “Every year it gets colder and colder.”Though the wind was whipping and the air was chilling to the bone, the enthusiasm of all attendees – whether onlookers or participants – provided a warm and motivating atmosphere. Some people too afraid to brave the water themselves were lucky enough to have a family member volunteer to go in their stead.“This is my first time jumping,” said Rockford resident Jimmy Dulca. “I'm jumping for my wife. She works for the Easter Seals and is too scared to jump herself.”Several tents were provided for people to escape the cold, including a tent where participants were invited to attend the after-plunge party and enjoy a free lunch.Plungers received special sweatshirts and people who raised more than $500 were entered in contests, one of which included a prize which was probably most welcome at this time of year – a four-night trip for two to toasty Cancun Mexico.All proceeds from the event benefited Special Olympics athletes in Illinois.Perhaps the best reward for participants was the knowledge that they were sacrificing themselves to the elements for good reason.“It is fun and it's for a good cause,” said Jacobsen. “It also gets everyone aware of helping out people with disabilities.”The event raised more than $114,000 for the Special Olympics.

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    Ribs become pork chops as villagescales back first summertime event
    February 27, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - The village's new events committee initially agreed that a three-day rib fest should serve as the inaugural summertime event, probably sometime in July. Village Administrator Tim Savage brought that idea to the village board at its Feb. 3 meeting, looking for $30,000 in seed money. But the matter was laid over for two weeks so trustees could be given more information. The committee met again, on Feb. 11, and decided it would be better to have a two-day festival, featuring pork chops that would be grilled by the North Park Fire Department and Harlem-Roscoe Fire Protection District. That reduced the needed money to $12,000.After discussion Feb. 18 the village board voted 7-0 to approve the event, along with spending the $12,000 to help get it off the ground.Mayor Jerry Bolin, who chairs the committee, told trustees that churches would participate in providing music. In addition Pistol Pete, a rhythm and blues performer from Rockford who has moved to a Chicago, may return and put on a show. "By special request," Savage said after the meeting.During the committee meeting member Ike Trickie said he thought the matter was being rushed a bit, what with summertime a few months away.Another member, Nina Jacobson, mentioned legalities associated with the name, "Ribfest," which had been sold the now defunct On the Waterfront festival in Rockford. She thought it should be rebranded and have a new name.After more discussion the consensus was to plan a two-day event, featuring pork chops grilled by local fire departments, and local talent providing most of the entertainment.Festival dates were proposed for July 26-27.The committee will meet again March 4 and members have some homework to do before that time.Among the upcoming action items will be a name for the pork chop festival; names of people to chair the various portions of the event; and having a Ferris wheel and some kiddie rides at the event. Trickie said his company would provide a stipend with which to hire someone to coordinate the festival. Committee member Tommy Meeks will contact Pat Giblin to see if whe would be interested in doing that.

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    Fire truck, ambulance collide while enroute to emergency
    February 20, 2014
    LOVES PARK – On Wednesday, Feb. 12, at about 3:40 p.m. a North Park Fire Dept. truck and a Lifeline ambulance were involved in an accident in the 2200 block of N. Alpine Road. There was heavy damage to the ambulance, and moderate damage to the fire truck.It was unknown if there were any injuries. The two emergency vehicles were both in route to emergency calls, but it was unknown if they were in route to the same call.Traffic was backed up on Alpine Road for a long period of time, because the two emergency vehicles were blocking part of the road. Then shortly after the first accident, at about 4:20 p.m. a Loves Park police squad car was hit from behind at the intersection of Forest Hills Road and Riverside Blvd. The damage to the vehicles was minor.

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    Science Olympiad team prepares for regional tournament
    February 20, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - Harlem High School's Science Olympiad team has been involved with quite a few tournaments this year, in preparation for the upcoming regional at Rock Valley College.Not long ago 600 students were on the Harlem campus for an event featuring 17 teams from 11 schools. More recently Harlem was in two tournaments leading up to the March 15 regional, a prelude to the state finals.Advisor Natalie Bader said they mostly have finished in the middle of their competitions so far this year.But Harlem has enjoyed plenty of success at the regional and this year will be vying for its eighth consecutive championship.Members of the team are building projects, such as a magnetic levitating car, a boomilever and the scrambler, a car with an egg in front.And they're researching topics for the testing side, essentially classroom work for those who aren't adept at building things.Senior Alex Pacheco is a builder. He and his teammate, Austin Jaraczewski, have built a Rube Goldberg-type device for the Mission Possible category. It has a start task and an end task, with energy transfers in the middle.A random collection of golf tees, marbles and paper clips is dropped a funnel. That action trips a mouse trap, which will mix baking soda and vinegar together, which will inflate a balloon that pushes two wires together to ignite an ignitor, which drops a weight that turns on a lightbulb."The end task is turning on the light bulb," Alex explained. "How you get there is up to the team, with a maximum of 15 steps."The more steps a team uses, the more points it gets, he said. And he and Austin plan to conjure up more steps before the regional.Fifth year for AlexThis is Alex's fifth year in Science Olympiad. "A friend told me about it and, coincidentally, he left but I stayed. It was a good decision. It probably helped me get into MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)." He plans to major in physics.Sophomore Brandon Chiodini is building a magnetic levitating vehicle, powered by a propeller. The vehicle will float and proceed to the other end of a track, with time being one of the disciplines that results in points."It's a fun way to put my skill set to work," he said of his involvement with Science Olympiad since eighth grade. "There aren't too many opportunities for that away from the classroom." He also enjoys competing with others having the same interests.Kierin Jackson-Ramos is a senior who competes in testing because she's better at that side of the competition than the building side.This is her first year in Science Olympiad and joined because "I thought it would help me stay up to date with science. I've learned a lot. And I don't have to worry about a grade."She has received a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where she plans to major in linguistics, and will be part of the honors program.Another newcomer to the organization is Josiah Wolf, just a freshman, though he participated at Harlem Middle School while in seventh and eighth grades. He also golfs and plays tennis, so "this keeps me busy during the winter months.""I've always been interested in science and math," he added. "It's also challenging." While building is more fun, he said, "I enjoy studying for the tests." So far he has participated in six competitions, winning five medals.

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    Loves Park Police undergoing leadership changes
    February 13, 2014
    By Margaret Downing Reporter
    LOVES PARK – With the retirement of Loves Park Police Chief Jim Puckett, who has moved on to a position with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office as the Facility Security Director reporting to Sheriff Dick Meyers, openings needed to be filled in the city’s police department.Before a packed council chambers, Former Deputy Chief Rodney Scott was sworn in by Mayor Darryl Lindberg as the new Police Chief at the Feb. 3 council meeting.Former Sergeant Chuck Lynde was sworn as the new Deputy Chief, and Detective Shane Lynch was sworn in as a sergeant. All three men began their law enforcement careers with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office.Scott became a Loves Park patrol police officer in 2001, moving up to detective in 2007, and then Deputy Chief in 2009 when Puckett filled the Chief’s job upon Patrick Carrigan’s retirement. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.Lynde started at the sheriff’s office in 1982 and came to Loves Park in 1986 as a part-time officer, becoming full-time in 1988. He was designated the first “canine officer” in 1992, and was promoted to sergeant in 1997. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Staff and Command.Lynch started at the sheriff’s office in 1996, became a Loves Park police officer in 2000, and a detective in 2005. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science.In other business, aldermen approved a resolution authorizing the mayor “to negotiate a fireworks display with Central States Fireworks, Inc. and to accept donations to help offset costs – and to establish a separate account within the City to disburse funds for the fireworks show to be held during the Young At Heart Festival at the end of May. The Parks Chamber has designated city hall grounds once again as the location for the festival.A resolution authorizing the public works department to seek negotiated bids for backflow inspection/prevention testing equipment was approved.A resolution authorizing an easement grant for the extension of a parking lot on city property in the 4900 block of McFarland Road was approved.Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly fire department report dated Feb. 2. There were four fire alarm calls, one public service call, one mutual aid call, seven carbon monoxide or gas leak calls, one wires down call, and two smoke or odor investigation calls reported. The weekly police activity report was not available.A total of $34,998.35 in water department bills, and $202,632.79 in general fund and other bills, as presented Jan. 27, were approved for payment.The mayor advised aldermen that a “Transform Rockford” meeting was upcoming at Harlem Senior High School and anyone interested in attending could do so, as these efforts will or can affect the whole area.According to the Transform Rockford website“By applying strategic planning processes used successfully in businesses, our community will develop our vision – together – for the future as well as strategies and detailed plans to achieve that vision. Every individual, through a public process, will be asked to provide insight, input and commitment to this transformational endeavor. Then, using the vision as a guide, an aggressive implementation plan will bring our collective vision to reality.”Its mission statement is as follows: “The Transform Rockford mission is to facilitate the creation and implementation of a strategic plan by the community for the purposes of dramatically improving the social and economic well-being of the community and its residents.”

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    'Go Red for Women' promotes awareness of heart disease
    February 13, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - Thirty-five staff members from Harlem District 122 schools and the administration center wore red Friday morning, joining a national campaign to raise awareness of heart disease among women.That affliction is the No. 1 killer of women, claiming more lives than all of the cancers combined. Yet, according to many, it is something they don't often think about.Ryan Monroe, new wellness coordinator for the school district, came up with the local event in concert with Dani Hopkins, human resources director."We wanted to have an event for it," he said. "This came to mind." He added that as far as he knew, this was the first such gathering ever held here.One of the women attending the 7 a.m. assembly was Pam Cook, who works at the administration center. “Heart disease is called ‘the silent killer,’ which is why a lot don't think about it,” she said. "This brings awareness, which is good," she said.The American Heart Association launched the National Wear Red Day on Feb. 7, 2003. Through research and education, the Go Red for Women organization reports there have been considerable strides in the improvement of women's health nationwide.The organization made the following points:* Since 2003, 34 percent fewer women now die from heart disease, saving 330 lives every day.* More women are taking ownership of their health by developing healthy lifestyles. For example, 37 percent are losing weight, 43 percent are checking their cholesterol, more than 50 percent exercise more, 60 percent have improved their diets, 33 percent have developed heart health plans with their doctors, and 15 percent have quit smoking.Despite those improvements, the association stated that heart disease still kills 1,100 women each day.Following Friday's event participants had breakfast in the school's Commons, consisting of oatmeal, fruit and a yogurt parfait bar.

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    Outgoing Police Chief Jim Puckett honored Jan. 31
    Febuary 06, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK - The gymnasium at the Loves Park City hall complex was heavy with area law enforcement and municipal officials, city employees, friends, and area residents Jan. 31 at a program and reception that honored Chief Jim Puckett upon his retirement after 35 plus years with the department.
    Everyone present was there to give their best wishes to Puckett and many heartwarming comments and remembrances were conveyed. Two daughters, a granddaughter, a baby grandson, and son-in-law also attended the event.
    Puckett is a lifelong resident of Loves Park and a graduate of Harlem High School. He also served in the Marines, including time in Vietnam. He began his career with the City of Loves Park in 1978 when then Police Chief Darryl Lindberg, hired him as a police officer. He moved up the ranks in the department and served as deputy chief under Chief Patrick Carrigan.
    Carrigan retired in 2009 and Puckett was moved into his position as Chief, with Detective Rodney Scott, who also started out as an officer, becoming Deputy Chief. Scott has now been named the new Loves Park Police Chief.
    Several persons made comments and several honorary plaques were presented to Puckett during the program. Puckett may have retired from Loves Park, but he now has a new position and title. His new boss, Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers, hired Puckett, who began his new job as "Security Director" of the Winnebago County Sheriff's office in downtown Rockford on Feb. 3.
    As director of security in various county buildings, Puckett now has the job of overseeing security at the Justice Center, the Winnebago County Courthouse, the entrance to the Public Safety Building (PSB), the county administration building, and the new Juvenile Courthouse, formerly the old Federal Courthouse. Puckett says he is looking forward to some new duties and to working with Meyers.
    Chief Rodney Scott, a Loves Park police department employee for 12 years, stressed Puckett's dedication, leadership skills, and the fact that Puckett "always places others first. He always wanted to be involved and has consistently demonstrated his sincerity and respect for his officers."
    Scott also had good words to say about Chief Puckett's positive attitude, saying, "He leads from the front. He is always right there for his officers."
    Mayor Darryl Lindberg noted in speaking of Puckett, "This is both a bittersweet and a congratulatory time for the City of Loves Park. We are going to miss him." He remarked how many of the city's employees have gone to hold good positions with other agencies and said he it is good know "our people are in demand."
    Fairly new to the position of police chief in 1978, Lindberg recalled how Puckett was the second officer he hired to the department, saying, "We had 33 officers at that time. It's kind of strange to think that 36 percent of our current officers were not yet even born then!"
    Sheriff Meyers praised the leadership under Puckett and said, "We have had and continue to have tremendous inter-department cooperation," and recalled time Puckett was Chairman of the Integrity Task Force.
    Puckett gave his thanks not only to his fellow officers, but also to his wife and family, support staff, to the mayor and aldermen and city employees, noting how grateful he was for their friendship and loyalty. "I have never taken my job for granted and have always honored my badge with the greatest respect."

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    ‘Catholic Schools Week’ declared in Loves Park
    January 30, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK - At the Jan. 20 Loves Park City Council meeting, Mayor Darryl Lindberg declared the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2 as “Catholic Schools Week” in Loves Park.
    This year’s theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2014 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” The annual observance starts the last Sunday in January and runs through the following week.
    Schools typically celebrate the event with Masses, open houses, and other activities for students, families, parishioners, and the community at large. 
    St. Bridget volunteer and parent, Patti Bishop, says, “We are grateful the City of Loves Park can again join in our celebration and proclaim the week of Jan 27-Feb 2nd as Catholic Schools Week in Loves Park.
    This year’s theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of a Catholic education. First, schools are communities - small families in their own right, but also members of the larger community of home, church, city and nation. 
    “The students at our school represent many different civic communities including Loves Park, Machesney Park, Rockford, Rockton, Roscoe, South Beloit, Belvidere, Caledonia, and even Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
    “The school’s new logo features a swirl of colors interacting around a cross, which is at the center of all Catholic education. The vibrancy of the colors and the movement and shadows in the logo portray the inner-connectivity and community life that are present in our Catholic schools. Faith, knowledge and service are three measures by which any Catholic school can and should be judged.
    “The 384 St. Bridget students and 30 faculty/staff members along with over two million other Catholic school students enrolled in 6,685 Catholic schools throughout the United States, will use this week to celebrate the uniqueness of the faith-filled education they receive and the ways in which Catholic schools prepare students to make a difference in the world around them.”
    Besides Patti Bishop and St. Bridget’s student council members, Mrs. Jill Deckard, 5th grade teacher and Student Council Moderator, and Father Keith Romke, associate pastor, also attended the meeting.
    St. Bridget’s new pastor, Monsignor Dan Deutsch, was not able to attend due to being on a vacation but said he was very disappointed to miss the council meeting.
    The school was opened in 1955 and has been serving the area ever since and provides education for pre-school through eighth grade. Students are community minded and are involved in various projects during the school year, including the Food Pantry, Rescue Mission, homeless teens, Carpenter’s Place, and Park Towers.
    Scheduled activities during the week for St. Bridget students are: Sun. Jan. 26 – School Open House with a Skate Party that evening; Monday, Jan. 27 – “Duct Tape Day” at school; Tues. Jan. 28 – “Neon Day.” Wednesday, Jan. 29 is “Holiday Day” where students dress like their favorite holiday or wear holiday colors, plus a free hot lunch is offered and no homework that day.
    St Bridget “Spirit Night” at basketball games is also included that day and by wearing St. Bridget clothing, students get free admission. Thursday, Jan 30 is “Pajama Day” and students bring their slippers and favorite pillow to school.
    At 2 p.m. popcorn and drinks at classroom parties is on the agenda. Friday, Jan. 31 western wear, class day, or dress as a famous person is scheduled. There will be an 8 th grade vs. faculty volleyball game at 2 p.m. Face paint or hair coloring is prohibited at the events.
    In other business, aldermen approved payment of $13,381.54 in water fund bills, and $44,423.43 in general fund and all other bills, as presented at the Jan. 13 council meeting. On the motion to approve payment of the general fund bills, Alderman Julie Hobel abstained from voting.
    Resolutions were passed appointing Loves Park Police Deputy Chief Rodney Scott to the position of police chief effective Feb. 3; Sgt. Charles Lynd to the position of Deputy Chief Feb. 3; and Shane Lynch to sergeant Feb. 3. The changes come about due to the retirement from the police department of Chief Jim Puckett, who will be moving on to a position with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s office.
    Mayor Lindberg advised the council that Loves Park Police Officer Mike McCammond was named “Officer of the Year” at the annual Clifford Johnson VFW Post No. 9759’s annual event honoring first responders.
    A resolution authorizing reimbursement to the Regional Office of Education for the purchase and installation of windows in the Regional office test center at a cost of $12,345 was approved.
    A resolution authorizing the emergency replacement of a wall-mounted air conditioning unit in the server room at city hall was passed at a cost not to exceed $844, L&M Sheet Metal to do the work.
    An ordinance for a special use permit for a fitness center and health club in a light industrial zoning district at 8174 Commerce Dr. was approved.
    An ordinance for a special use permit for “the number of accessory structures permitted exceeding 120 square feet” in a single-family residential zoning district in the 500 block of E. Grand Ave. was okayed, as was a variance in the “maximum allowable accessory size permitted” at the same location.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of Jan. 12-18. There were 344 calls for service, 107 arrests, and 20 accidents reported. On the weekly fire department report dated Jan. 19, three false fire alarm calls, one public service call, and three carbon monoxide or gas leak calls were reported.

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    GiGi's Playhouse receives national exposure on NBC
    January 23, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESENY PARK - GiGi's Playhouse is quite well known in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Now it's on the map nationwide after a segment on the NBC Nightly News television program in December.
    "The national office in Hoffman Estates has received a lot of response," said Paula Capone, executive director of the Machesney Park playhouse at 8801 N. Second St. "There was so much that they had to switch to a bigger server."
    Founder Nancy Gianni told the story of GiGi's to a national audience. She remembered when her daughter was born with Downs syndrome 11 years ago.
    She said she went from panic to understanding to wanting to create a place where her daughter - GiGi - and others could spend time together.
    Today, there are 20 such playhouses internationally with the most recent facility opening in August 2013 in Mexico. Another is being proposed for Madison, Wis.
    The Machesney Park GiGi's opened Jan. 8, 2011 and observed its third year of operation two weeks ago. This playhouse now serves about 200 families - including the young, old and in-between - from this area as well as Rockton, Roscoe, South Beloit, Belvidere, Poplar Grove, Monroe Center, Wis. and Paw Paw.
    Capone told the story of a teacher at Poplar Grove Elementary School who had two children with Down syndrome in her class. She started a penny fund-raising drive for the playhouse, which soon became schoolwide and ultimately raised $1,200.
    GiGi's is starting its third year locally by adding a mathematics program to its list of learning activities. There are some tutors but more are being sought. The playhouse also has a literacy program and help with homework that includes fun time and a snack.
    Other activities in the planning stage are a theater troupe for pre-teens and teens; a kinder-music program; and cheerleading.
    All kinds of social gatherings already exist for children, teens and adults.
    Teen-Tastics is for those 13-19 and Capone remembered a special time over the recent holidays when the group traveled in a limousine bus to sing Christmas carols at the Walter Lawson Home for Children on Alpine Road
    Then they went to see the Festival of Lights in Rockford and array of Christmas-related blowups at the Trickie residence in Machesney Park. They concluded the evening with a stop at Jerry's Pizza.
    "They just warm my heart," Capone said of those involved with Teen-Tastics. "The whole night was magical to me."
    GiGi's also offers Family Fun Night for the entire family, Friday Friends for those 18 and older, Learn & Play Saturday swim lessons, open play and more.
    This playhouse has a number of goals, among them, "Walk in our doors and find a place where you feel like you belong, meet new friends, nearn something new and have lots of fun."
    Capone became GiGi's second director July 29, 2013, after spending 20 years in a variety of capacities with the YMCA of Rock River Valley.

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    CHIEF JIM PUCKETT DEPUTY CHIEF RODNEY SCOTT
    January 16, 2014
    Loves Park Police Chief announces retirement
    LOVES PARK – Loves Park Police Chief James Puckett has formally announced his intention to retire on Feb. 2.
    Police Chief Puckett has been an outstanding employee of the City of Loves Park since 1978 when he was hired as a patrol officer. 
    Since that time he has served our community as a detective, sergeant, deputy police chief and chief.
    His resignation culminates 36 years of faithful service to Loves Park and he will certainly be missed. Chief Puckett has been offered a position by Sheriff Meyers as Facility Security Director for the Sheriff’s Department. 
    In order to provide a smooth transition for this very important position, it is my intention to ask the City Council to approve hiring our Deputy Police Chief, Rodney Scott to fill the Police Chief vacancy.
    Deputy Chief Scott is a very highly qualified individual who has been in a command position for several years.
    If approved, he will assume his new duties following his swearing in which will take place at the February 3 City Council meeting.
    At that same meeting it is my intention to ask the Council to promote Sgt. Charles Lynde to Deputy Chief. Sgt. Lynde is also highly qualified to fill this spot and would also be sworn in on Feb. 3.

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    Liquor commission rejects bid for bar boutique license
    December 12, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - The village liquor commission is recommending denial of a requested bar boutique (BB) license to allow operation of five more video gaming machines in town. With that comes the recommendation against creation of a fourth such license.
    Officials of Scorchy's Slots next will appear before the full village board Monday night, where final action is expected.
    A BB liquor license is relatively new and allows on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages in an establishment where there primarily are just the five video gaming machines.
    The machines are the primary source of revenue, with alcohol bringing in about 10 percent. There is no musical entertainment and no food other than pre-packaged snacks.
    The request is for a former deli in a strip center at 7916 Scott Lane, on the southwest corner of Harlem Road.
    First on the commission's agenda was the request that a fourth BB license be approved.
    There was immediate opposition to that action with Sandra Much, 7909 Scott Lane, saying she had the signatures of 81 people on a petition objecting to the business in their neighborhood.
    She said the front of her house faced the parking lot and expressed concern about noise, smoke and garbage coming from patrons.
    "In the summer I like to have my windows open, and smoke will be coming into my home," she said.
    Much turned to Ike Trickie, one of the liquor commissioners, and asked if his removing snow from that parking lot would put him in a conflict of interest with this issue?
    He replied that he didn't believe one had anything to do with the other. "I've been plowing it since 1977," he said.
    Not in residential area
    Gunnel Stewart, 7906 Scott Lane, said her bedroom is within 100 feet of the place where the business would be located.
    She also expressed concern about noise and smoke, along with squealing tires from patrons as they left the lot.
    "Businesses like this should not be next to a residential neighborhood," she said.
    James Marsili, one of the officers in the company, said they wanted to provide a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere for their customers. "I don't think the noise level will be an issue," he said.
    "There will only be five terminals in the building, so that limits the number of people who can be in our establishment. These establishments are not causing a disturbance. We are strong advocates of moderation. It's not a bar; it's a respectable establishment."
    Commissioners addressed questions to the Jacob Marsili, 21, who would be the general manager, about his age and whether he had ever run a business before.
    The vote on creating a fourth BB license failed, 3-2, with commissioners Erick Beck, Robbin Snodgrass and Kate Tammen voting no. Commissioner Trickie and Liquor Commissioner Jerry Bolin voted yes.
    Given that, the request for ussiance of a BB license was denied, 5-0.
    Snodgrass said she would vote against issuing the license because of the 81 signatures and other phone calls and contacts from people about the gaming issue as a whole.
    Some who contacted her were concerned that the money being spent on such machines could better be spent on food for children.
    Beyond that, Beck said the way the building sits on the property is not conducive to this kind of business.
    Bolin said he personally visited the area two times and felt the establishment would be too close to a residential area, along with a church being across the street.
    Staff recommended approval of the request as long as it met all applicable zoning, building, health and fire codes. Residents are located to the north and south of the proposed location, with a church on the east and a restaurant and auto repair shop to the west.
    Planning and Zoning Coordinator Carrie Houston said the request complied with the 2010 comprehensive plan, which calls for neighborhood commercial service and retail uses in that area.
    As proposed, hours of operation would be 9 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The machines would be located in a 1,000-square-foot space.

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    Mayor pleased with new location for Machesney Park tree lighting
    December 05, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - Mayor Jerry Bolin is happy with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, held this year at the new entrance to the Machesney Towne Center.
    "I thought it went very well," he said in a follow-up interview. "I was very pleased with it. There was a very good crowd considering the weather."
    Weather is one of the uncertainties that accompany any outdoor activity this time of year.
    In recent years it has rained, and there has been snow on the ground for the tree lighting and visit of Santa Claus. This year it was just cold, with a slight wind and a temperature in the low 20s.
    The tree lighting previously was held outside Machesney Park Village Hall at 300 Roosevelt Road. Trees planted by elementary school children were decorated by current students. One of the decorated trees also had lights, which came to life with the flip of a switch.
    Beforehand, village employees served hot chocolate or coffee from a table near the main entrance to village hall. And those who turned out for the festivities could duck inside to get warm, if need be.
    This year the event was held in an open area with a tent set up as a wind break, but it didn't afford any warmth. There was plenty of parking, which sometimes was a problem at village hall.
    Same day as parade
    Another change was with the date of the event. It usually was held a few days after the Christmas parade, sponsored by the Parks Chamber of Commerce. This year it was on the same day, after the parade, and it probably will remain that way in the future.
    Santa Claus was there and, as always, was very popular among children. A long line of youngsters quickly formed upon his arrival and, one by one, they told him what they would like to see under their tree Christmas morning.
    The tree for this year's ceremony, standing 16 feet tall, was acquired from St. Albin's Nursery. "We hoped for a bigger one but settled for this one," Bolin said.
    Some of the curious wondered if the tree would remain there and be used for future lightings. The mayor said it would stay put until spring. Then, a decision will be made as to whether it stays there or is relocated to the northeast side of the towne center parking lot, where the village wants to put in a bandshell.
    Improvements to the towne center are continuing, primarily redoing part of the ring road that circles the property off North Second Street.
    Village officials are continuing to market the six outlots, which front Second Street, and hope to find a tenant for the former JC's 5 Star Outlet store, which is being vacated as the popular shopping destination closes soon.
     

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    Harlem School Board goes along with school board association no votes
    November 21, 2013
    By Bob Trott
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - No was the word as members of the Harlem School Board concurred Tuesday, Nov. 12 with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) on many resolutions to be considered at an IASB Delegate Assembly Nov. 23.
    The school board also concurred with the IASB on many “yes” recommendations.
    Among recommendations of no from the school board and IASB committee were measures concerning:
    * charter schools being required to refund state monies for enrollment of a child when that child leaves;
    * lobbying of the state to develop laws, rules and standards that all school board members shall follow, and if broken, shall cause board members to be subject to disciplinary action, including removal from office. 
    Among measures receiving “yes” recommenations from the school board and IASB were:
    * one that would amend language to allow school boards to support mandates for time requirements and appropriate exemptions for Physical Education in Grades K-12;
    -a resolution that would call for each local school board to have the right to determine its curricular content, including mandated curriculum from the Common Core Standards;
    * a measure calling for objection to the Prevailing Wage Act, which says all Illinois public bodies shall not pay less than prevailing hourly wages for school district work, but there was one dissenter, Board Member George Russell, Harlem's delegate to the Nov. 23 session.
    Closed session
    After a fairly-lengthy closed session, the board appointed Aaron Guske technology director for the district. He replaces Paul Sizek, who had served in that capacity for several years and left to take a position in the Chicago suburbs. Guske becomes technology director after serving as Harlem's Information Technology (IT) systems administrator.
    Also after the closed session, the board approved a tentative agreement with the Food & Nutrition Services Employee Group, for 2013-16.
    In separate action following the closed session, the board voted to expel two students for the remainder of this school year, and transfer them to alternative programs. Parents of the students were offered the possibility of probation agreements with the district, if done so before the end of the work day Wednesday, Nov. 13.
    School Board
    Members Day
    The school board Nov.12 approved a resolution proclaiming Nov. 15 a School Board Members Day to honor citizens who devote so much of their time and energy for the education of Harlem students.
    Reading a proclamation of the special day was Superintendent Julie Morris, who said board members do such things as: offer efficient operation of the district's business, adopt public policy, donate countless hours without receiving compensation and have a direct impact on the quality of life within their community.
    Members of the board: President Heather Kelley, Vice President Larry Barger, Secretary George Russell, Patti Lawrence, Evelyn Meeks, Travis Turner and Sue Berogan were included on the resolution.
    Bills
    Payment of bills totaling $6,117,064.53 was approved by the board. Reporting other recent financial statistics, including payroll of $5,140,386.79 and payables of $976,677.74, was Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand.
    Upcoming meetings
    Board President Heather Kelley reported she received two very satisfactory and four satisfactory reports on how the board conducted business at its Oct. 15 regular meeting.
    Kelley also reported the board's next policy committee meeting is set for Monday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m., and regular meeting Monday, Dec. 9, also at 6 p.m. The next education committee meeting is Jan. 23, 2014, at 6 p.m., the board president reported.
    Board members approved first and second readings of school district policies Nov. 12.
    Board Member Russell reported the next business services committee meeting is Thursday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m., and Board Member Lawrence reported the next discipline policy review committee session is Jan. 30, 2014, at 6 p.m.
    Proposed Committees
    Appointments for Harlem School Board committees for 2013-14, proposed, are:
    Policy - Heather Kelley, chairman; Larry Barger, board member; George Russell, board member; Superintendent Morris, Kris Arduino, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Barb Browning, Dusti Adrian, Leah Krippner, Dani Hopkins, Michelle Erb, Margo Sickele, Director of Stakeholder Engagement Cathy Martin, Heidi Lange, Jeremy Bois and elementary pincipal (rotation cycle);
    Business Services - Board Members Russell, Evelyn Meeks and Travis Turner, Superintendent Morris, Assistant Superintendent Aurand and Mindy Schumacher;
    Education-Chairman Kelley; Board Members Meeks and Turner, Morris, Assistant Superintendent Browning, Arduino, Sickele, Erb, Terrell Yarbrough and Middle School Principal John Cusimano;
    Discipline Policy review: Superintendent Morris, Browning, Arduino, Maple Elementary Principal Becky Girard, Kurt Weigt, Larry Smith, Krippner, Jason Blume, Jeremy Bois, Shari Heller, Sickele, Erb, Brock Morlan, Jerry Harris, Rodney Scott, recently-hired Transportation Director Don West, Heidi Lange, Beth WIlliams and Sharon Carlson;
    Public Relations Ad Hoc - Kelley, Board Member Lawrence and Board Member Barger.
    Adequate yearly progress
    The Harlem School District did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as a district for the 2012-2013 School Year (the AYP Target for 2013 was 92.5 percent of students meet or exceeding standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) in the areas of Reading and Math. The district is required by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to regularly update ts District Improvement Plan (DIP) and School Improvement Plans to address these areas, using the continuous improvement planning process.
    Improvement plans
    Board members approved a District Improvement Plan (DIP), including a Rock Cut Elementary School Restructuring Plan and Maple Elementary Corrective Action.
    School Improvement Plans (SIP's) were approved for: Parker Center, Loves Park Elementary School, Machesney Elementary, Maple Elementary, Marquette Elementary, Olson Park Elementary, Ralston Elementary, Rock Cut Elementary, WIndsory Elementary, Harlem Middle School and Harlem High School.
    Tax Levy resolution
    The Harlem School Board Tuesday, Nov. 12, approved the 2013 tax levy resolution and certificate of tax levy resolution.
    Also, the following special taxes will be levied, by resolution approved by the board: 
    * a $1,4 million special tax for Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) purposes;
    * $370,000 for fire prevention, safety, energy conservation, disabled access, school security and/or specified repair; 
    * $3.45 million for the Special Education Program;
    * $400,000 for leasing education facilities and/or computer technology purposes.
    Surplus Property, Facility Use
    Property no longer used by the school district, much of which is computer equipment, was declared surplus by action of the board. Items declared surplus are offered to the public for sale.
    A request from Boys Club Baseball to use the Harlem Ninth Grade Campus Gym for pitching instruction on the following dates: Nov. 17; Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; Jan. 5, 12, 18 and 26; Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23; and March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, was approved by the board.
    No price increases
    Board members renewed an agreement with Kelley Williamson for fuel and related items for the Fiscal Year (FY) 14 School Year, with no price increases. Also renewed with no price increases was an agreement with DLA Architects for the the FY 14 School Year.
    Report cards
    The following have new report cards in the Harlem district: Harlem School District, Harlem High School, Harlem Middle School, Loves Park Elementary, Machesney Elementary, Maple Elementary, Marquette Elementary, Olson Park Elementary, Parker Center, Ralston Elementary and Windsory Elementary.
    Harlem's new website says full report card information can be obtained by going to Illinoisreportcard.com.
    Personnel
    Superintendent Morris reported the following personnel moves for the district: seven leaves-of-absence, four transfers within the district, three sick leave requests, 37 employments and one new addition. An addendum had one resignation and five employments.

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    'Grocery Grab' winner gives prize to Helping Hands pantry
    November 14, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK - First-place winners in the Loves Park Lions Club's annual "Grocery Grab" have three options as to what they do with their prize.
    They may keep all the grocery items they're able to load in their carts, to a maximum value of $1,000, during a frantic two-minute shopping spree at Valli Produce off Alpine Road. They may get a gift card worth up to $1,000. Or they may donate the money to a charity.
    This year's winner, longtime local resident Sharon Glawe, chose to give the $1,000 to the Helping Hands Food Pantry on Elm Avenue in Loves Park. "I've been giving to them for years," she said.
    A sore hand kept her from pulling items from shelves and putting them in her grocery carts Saturday morning (Nov. 9). Helping Hands volunteer Jose Loredo did that for her and easily selected $1,000 worth of products in the allowable time.
    Mayor Darryl Lindberg was the official starter and time keeper. It was he who started the Grab five years ago "and we kept it going," said Vic Nelson, secretary of the Lions Club.
    Glawe said beforehand that she and Loredo had a plan. Loredo said he was at the store earlier, to map out the route.
    First stop was laundry detergents, where he yanked bottle after bottle of Tide, worth $15.83 apiece, off the shelves. Some packages of coffee were collected on the way to the poultry bin, where more than 10 turkeys were collected.
    Then, seemingly a matter of moments after the spree had begun, Mayor Lindberg blew his whistle to signal an end to the two minutes. 
    The carts filled with products were taken to cashier Fran Palazzolo, who rang up the items. It wasn't long before the $500 plateau was reached and passed. Then $800.
    "You won't need it all," observed Tom Walker, managing director of the food pantry.
    A few seconds later a hearty round of applause broke out when Palazzollo announced the $1,000 mark had been achieved. Quite a bit was left in remaining carts.
    Matter of coincidence
    The Loves Park Lions Club sold 500 chances at $10 each for the Grab. The drawing occurred Nov. 6, with Glawe's name selected as the primary winner.
    She said it was strictly by chance that she bought one of the tickets. She happened to be having breakfast at Pat's Diner and was getting ready to place some money in the restaurant's jar, which holds donations to the Helping Hands Food Pantry.
    High school classmate John Myers happened to be there, too, and he asked her if she would buy a ticket for the Grocery Grab. "I asked how much it was and he said $10," she recalled. "I happened to have $10 in my hand so I bought a ticket."
    The second prize, a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of Rock River Disposal, was won by Terri Bailey with Karissa Swanson claiming the third prize, a $50 Visa gift card from U.S. Bank. They both were at Saturday's Grab to receive their rewards.
    Timing can be everything and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, Glawe said she was excited to be able to give $1,000 to the pantry.
    "We always need it right now," Walker said of cash donations.
    Valli Produce did more than just provide the facility for the Grab. The store donated $750 or the $1,000 prize with the Lions Club providing the balance.
    "They're just good people," Mayor Lindberg said of the folks at Valli.
    For the Lions Club, the Grab is a major fund-raiser, with the proceeds used to help local visually and hearing impaired residents.

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    Fourth Pasta Ball benefits Helping Hands Food Pantry
    November 07, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    MACHESNEY PARK - About 250 people filled the Forest Hills Lodge Nov. 2 to show their support for the Helping Hands Food Pantry on Elm Avenue in Loves Park.
    The fourth Pasta Ball featured 105 silent auction baskets, numerous door prizes, and entertainment from a Chicago-based comedy improv group.
    All of that was put together for the food pantry, which in December will observe its 10th anniversary. It is serving a record number of families - 750 over the last two months - totaling 1,133 individuals.
    Ron Kellett, president of the organization's board of directors, thanked those who were present for supporting the faith-based pantry. It's a place that fills a need and provides hope in the community, he said.
    "We've had a good night thanks to you," he said.
    One of the major needs of the pantry - a walk-in cooler - was realized because of residents Marty and Mary Gregory, he said. Now the pantry will be able to supply the hungry with milk, cheese and other dairy products.
    The pantry was established in December 2003 in the back of a small garage on the property of North Park Church of Christ. That first month 78 families came through its doors.
    Two years later some local contractors asked pantry officials if they'd like a larger building. The answer was "yes," and from that offer came the current 30-by-50-foot building housing a "client choice" pantry. That means people take what they want rather than being given a large box of food, likely containing items they don't want.
    Initially, the pantry was open once a month. Starting in September 2010 it was open once a week and that continues today.
    Kellett said the pantry has no paid workers, meaning every dollar it receives goes toward purchase of food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank. The church does not charge rent and pays the organization's electric, gas and phone bills.
    The first Pasta Ball brought in $12,000. It 2011 the revenue increased to more than $25,000 and last year it rose to more than $27,000. He said it would be a while before they knew how much was generated by the fourth event.
    Sponsors for this year's ball were Field Fastener, platinum; North American Clutch and Driveline, diamond; OSF St. Anthony Medical Center and Noah's Ark Waterproofing, silver; and Fleet Lift Truck Service and Gleason Cutting Tools Corporation, bronze.
    Table sponsors included Gibson Real Estate, Fleet Lift Truck Service, Roger's Drywall, IBEW Local 15, Harlem School District 122 Retired Teachers, Halo Cupcakes, Gregory family, Riverside Community Church, Seifert family, Kellett family, Fidder family and Youssi family.

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    MAYOR DARRYL LINDBERG Illinois Municipal League President
    October 31, 2013
    Loves Park Mayor Darryl F. Lindberg elected IML President
    SPRINGFIELD — This past week in Chicago, the Illinois Municipal League held its 100th Annual Conference. Over 1,500 mayors, council members, and local officials attended the conference recognizing IML’s “Century of Service to Illinois Municipalities.”
    The IML Conference is the gathering place for education, in-depth working sessions, and learning about new laws and responsibilities for municipalities and municipal officials. It is also where a new president is elected to lead the IML’s 1,124 municipal-membership.
     On Saturday, Oct. 19, the IML membership elected 36 Vice Presidents to take a leadership role within the statewide organization. Mayor Darryl F. Lindberg of Loves Park was selected to serve as the organization’s President for the next year.
    Also elected during the Conference were Mayor Jerry Daugherty of Mascoutah as First Vice President and Mayor Dale B. Adams of Rockton as Sergeant-at-Arms.
    Speaking during the official “passing of the gavel” ceremony, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer of Danville, the outgoing IML president, said, “I have the privilege of passing on the gavel to not only a great friend, but a great leader who has great passion for this organization.”
    Accepting the gavel before the overflow crowd Mayor Lindberg said “I am proud to stand before you at the start of my presidency of the IML. It’s the proudest moment of my career, and I owe it all to you, my fellow municipal officials, who made this possible by your dedication and willingness to support the IML. You recognize the importance of this great organization.”
    Lindberg went on to say, “When IML sends notices and asks for your help, we as municipal officials must take action so our municipal voice is heard loud and often. That’s the only way we can succeed for our citizens.
    IML is the unified voice for municipalities and a gathering place to share problems, share ideas and work together to better our communities.”
    Mayor Lindberg was elected mayor of Loves Park in 1997. Prior to his election he served as a police officer, then Police Chief, serving for 18 years. Lindberg continues to serve in various professional, community, and civic organizations.
    He is married to wife Judy and has two married children, two grandsons and four granddaughters. 

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    Leaf vacuuming underway in City of Loves Park
    October 24, 2013
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK – At the Oct. 14 Loves Park City Council meeting aldermen received the leaf vacuuming schedule that was set to go from the week of Oct. 14 through the week of Dec. 2, weather permitting.
    The schedule showed the week of Oct. 14 as “all of city limits.” The weeks of Oct. 21, Nov. 4 and 18 – west side of N. Second St. from Peachtree Court “to the point.” Also, Alpine Valley, Forest Hills Road to Venus, and Juniper Lane south to Windsor Road.
    For the weeks of Oct. 28, Nov. 11 and 25: the east side of N. Second St. to Forest Hills Road, Anna Road south to the point, and the east side of Forest Hills Road.
    For the week of Dec. 2 - “all of city limits.”
    Mayor Darryl Lindberg read a proclamation declaring the month of October as “Domestic Violence Month” in the city. Last year in Illinois a total of 342 cases were reported.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of Oct. 6-12. There were 429 calls for service, 184 arrests, and 10 accidents reported.
    On the weekly fire department report dated Oct. 13, three false fire alarm calls and one assist police call were reported.
    A total of $5,039.66 in water fund bills, and $163,885.28 in general fund and all other bills, as presented Oct. 7, were approved for payment.
    Alderman Julie Hobel made a motion to amend the general fund bills by removing one line item due to a “competitive pricing “ issue. There was no second to her motion to amend the bills. Hobel said she would vote yes to pay the bills though in order that all other vendors would get paid but wanted her reservations on record.
    Alderman John Pruitt gave the month building report for September. A total of 89 building permits were issued and $10,725 in permit fees were collected.
    Two variances for property in a commercial retail zoning district at 6101 N. Second St. were passed. One variance was for a required side building setback and the other was in regards to the number of required parking stalls at the site.
    A driveway addition variance was also approved for the front of a residence in the 700 block of Renrose Ave. that is in a single-family zoning district.
    Mayor Lindberg advised aldermen that city street paving of various roadways was set to commence Oct. 15, depending on rain. The city had hoped to have to begin sooner and Lindberg said he did speak with a representative of William Charles Co., who promised the paving project would be expedited.

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    Miss Illinois brings 'don't text, drive' message to Harlem
    October 24, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - The reigning Miss Illinois dropped by Harlem High School Thursday afternoon (Oct. 17) and brought with her some sound advice: don't text while you are driving.
    Brittany Smith showed two videos to a driver's education class, taught by Brad Heidenreich, which focused on the dangers of texting while driving and speeding.
    After the videos the suburban Elmhurst native encouraged students to resist picking up the cell phone while behind the wheel. "Say 'no' to the phone," she said. "You can call them back. We're talking about a life."
    Sending a text message while driving means taking one's eyes off the road for 3-to-6 seconds, she said, more than enough time to suddenly be involved in a crash.
    The first video included two real-life stories.
    A woman talked about her daughter who was killed in a crash that occurred while she was texting her boyfriend.
    Another example was of a young driver who was texting and when he looked up the next thing he saw was a bicyclist crashing into his windshield.
    Two examples of distracted driving. Two instances of trying to multi-task while driving a 3,000-pound or more vehicle that resulted in death.
    "No text is worth dying over," Smith said.
    Car crashes claim the lives of more teen-agers than anything else, she said. "Something like that can happen in a split second," she said. "It's not an accident because accidents can be prevented."
    Speed dangerous, too
    The second video dealt with speeding, which not only can kill but maim someone for the rest of his or her life.
    During the question and answer period that followed Smith said she had been involved in a crash her senior year at York High School. It was a fender-bender that happened while she was deleting a text message from her phone.
    "I was very fortunate," she said, adding that she made a pledge never to do that again.
    Former Harlem High School teacher Paul Perrone, who coordinates programs for the Red Ribbon organization in Rockford, reminded what was stated in one of the videos, that so many young people think they are immortal. As for people in general, he said, "We never think it can happen to us."
    He asked the students if they would continue texting after seeing the videos?
    One answered it didn't matter what they said because it wouldn't happen to her.
    He asked the students if any of them had been involved in a crash? Again there was one response, from a girl, who provided an example of being distracted by driving. She and her boyfriend were arguing when he drove through a stop sign. Each was injured in the wreck that ensued.
    A question came from the class instructor, who asked students how many of their parents texted while driving? Most hands went up.
    "What would it take so you don't do that anymore?" asked Perrone, who coordinated bringing Miss Illinois to the school.
    There was no response.
    Heidenreich said in a previous interview that in recent years a focus of the driver's education program has been on the dangers of distracted driving.

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    MP to change location of annual tree lighting
    October 17, 2013
    MACHESNEY PARK - The village's annual tree lighting ceremony will be in a different location this year.
    Mayor Jerry Bolin said the event would be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 24 at the new entrance to the Machesney Towne Center, formerly the Machesney Park Mall, off North Second Street.
    The annual parade will be held as usual, going down Elm Avenue, with the tree lighting to follow. He said Machesney Elementary School was being invited to lead in the singing of Christmas carols, adding that he hoped churches also would participate.
    He said the tree would be live, or artificial, depending on what can be found.
    Meanwhile, the tree next to village that was used in lightings of years past may be decorated, with children from Marquette Elementary School being invited to do the honors.
    Meanwhile, contribution is to the annual toy drive being sponsored by the village, in conjunction with North Park Church of Christ, now are being accepted at village hall, 300 Roosevelt Road. The distribution of toys will take place in mid-December.

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    Machesney Park Village Clerk Lori Mitchell elected president of the Municipal Clerks of Illinois
    October 10, 2013
    SPRINGFIELD – On Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, Machesney Park Village Clerk Lori Mitchell was elected President of the Municipal Clerks of Illinois at its Annual Meeting in Springfield.
    Lori will represent the approximate 1,300 Municipal Clerks throughout Illinois during her tenure as MCI President.
     “As an officer of MCI, building relationships and mentoring each other, along with increasing our knowledge base, has always been my foremost goal,” Mitchell said. “That objective will be re-doubled as I continue to serve as MCI President.”
    About MCI
    In 1965, a group of Clerks attending an Illinois Municipal League Clerk’s Workshop initiated our State Organization – Municipal Clerks of Illinois (MCI).
    The immediate goal of the organization was to pursue State legislation that would upgrade the professional and educational opportunities for the Municipal Clerks.
    By 1967, legislation had been approved entitling the Governor to appoint three Clerks to consult with the Trustees of the University of Illinois to plan the Clerks' Training Institute held in 1976 at the University of Illinois.
    Since that time, collaborative educational opportunities have improved tremendously. In addition, the relationship with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) has provided Illinois Municipal Clerks the opportunity to participate in education and networking with clerks throughout the world.
    Today, MCI membership is sought by clerks throughout Illinois and the certification of Registered Municipal Clerk (RMC), Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) and Master Municipal Clerk (MMC) bring a level of respect to the Municipal Clerk unsurpassed by many other municipal offices.
    Lori has achieved each of those certifications and brings Machesney Park residents a wealth of knowledge about the important role of municipal government. She looks forward to leading MCI during the next year.
     

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    Clothing drive Oct. 12 benefits environmental programs
    October 03, 2013
    LOVES PARK — Clothing donated to the Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful Fall Clothing Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, will help fund environmental programs of the non-governmental non-profit agency.
    The expanded drive now takes place at 11 Winnebago and Boone County sites, including the parking lots of all 10 Rockford area Schnucks and Belvidere Township Building, 8200 Fairgrounds Road.
    The new sites include the Schnucks stores at East State Street, Charles Street and Rockton Avenue, Rockford. There will no longer be a drop-off at North Main and Riverside, Rockford.
    “We encourage residents to bring bags of clothing left over from garage sales, closet or estate clean-outs,” said Lori Gummow, Executive Director of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful.
    “We appreciate donations in any condition, which may include accessories such as purses, hats and shoes, soft-sided luggage, throw rugs, linens and stuffed toys,” Gummow added.
    Shoes should be tied together in pairs or kept together with a rubber band. Items should be in plastic bags weighing no more than 10 pounds. Boxes and hangers are not accepted. 
    The clothing and accessories contributed are re-used by redistributing them in the United States or Third World Countries. Items that can no longer be worn are repurposed into such products as carpet padding, insulation and polishing rags.
    “We are grateful for the time more than 140 volunteers donate to make the process as convenient as possible,” added Gummow. Volunteers are still being recruited for most locations.
    To register, call the Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful office at (815) 637-1343 weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or send an email to coordinator Martha Byrnes at Martha@knib.org.
    For 25 years Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful has been improving Northern Illinois Stateline neighborhoods by reducing waste, reusing and recycling resources for future generations.
    Their mission is “To improve our environment through education, public awareness and community involvement.”
    For additional information, visit the website, www.knib.org, or the Facebook page “Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful.”
    Locations of Clothing Drive drop-off sites:
    Belvidere: 8200 Fairgrounds Road, Belvidere Township Building
    Cherry Valley: 2206 Barnes Blvd.
    Loves Park:  1810 Harlem Road
    Rockford: 3134 11th St.; 2514 S. Alpine Road; 2642 Charles St.; 6410 E. State St.;
    2601 N. Mulford Road; 3150 N. Rockton Ave.; 1715 Rural St.
    Roscoe: 4860 Hononegah Road

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    Bonding with comrades a big part of serving in the military: Silver Star recipient speaker at annual POW/MIA event
    September 26, 2013
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK - Keynote speaker at the Arthur Anderson Peace Park Field of Honor event Sept. 20, hosted by the Rockford Charter Chapter of VietNow, was Silver Star recipient Richard Bennett of DeKalb, who served in Afghanistan, and received the medal for running  "35 meters" to cover the body of an injured medic during an attack, then bringing him back to safety.
    Bennett joined the Army in 2008 and said he recognized early on "the quality of self-service that is inherent in those men and women who serve in our country's military."
    One very important facet when in the service he experienced was how members of a platoon bond. "You never forget the faces of those in your platoon. I grew up with three sisters but now I have brothers," he stressed.
    He noted how, after being slightly injured during his first mission, that he was sidelined for a month and was given the duty of being the contact for those out in the field.
    One incident, in which a service person was killed in action and his body had to be left behind in a truck in order for rest of his buddies to be saved, stuck in Bennett's mind and resulted in nightmares of seeing the dead soldier's body alone in the abandoned truck.
    As time went on Bennett saw himself as being outside of the truck rather than in it with the body.
    Eventually the body was recovered and returned to his family but the image stuck.
    Bennett eventually became a squad leader and finally came to realize the importance of his nightmares and said, "The nightmare scenario came from service people being separated from their brothers."
    Bennett also mentioned the importance of House Resolution 231 that was established earlier this year, of a Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. This Select Committee's purpose is to investigate all unresolved POW/MIA cases, hold hearings on POW/MIA issues, and look for ways to better identify, search for, and return remains of fallen service members.
    Currently there are more than 83,000 Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing In Action (MIA) who are either unaccounted for or still missing. Bennett said, "Finding the lost should be of most importance - never leave a fallen comrade."
    The ceremony in Loves Park is an annual event and is held to remember those service people held as prisoners of war, and those missing in action, past and present.
    National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed each year in this country on the third Friday of September. Observances are held across the country, including at military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans' facilities.
    This observance is one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families' POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.
    The flag is flown at major military installations, national cemeteries, all post offices, Veterans Administration medical facilities, the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the official offices of the secretaries of state, defense and veterans affairs, the director of the selective service system and at the White House. 
    The ceremony in Loves Park included music, a reading of POW/MIA names and bell ringing, a candle lighting ceremony, a missing man table ceremony, the playing of Taps, and a three-gun volley salute presented by the Rockford Charter Chapter VietNow Color Guard. Fellowship. Refreshments followed in the Loves Park City Hall complex. 
    Representation of area veterans groups at the ceremony is quite evident every year. Honored guest included Gold Star parents Jim and Angie White, and Gold Star wives Carolyn Montgomery and Lynn Berg, all of Rockford. The recognition day is described as "a day set aside to honor and remember American's POWs/MIAs, those returned and those still missing and unaccounted for from all of our nation's wars.
    Master of Ceremonies was Mike Parker, an Army veteran and Loves Park native, who is a life member of Vietnow. Parker welcomed and introduced guests and attendees. He mentioned that over 100 people were involved in the event, and thanked Bruce Jacobsen of Vietnow for all the time and effort he put into getting it arranged.
    This year's event was dedicated to the memory of Dorothy Boyer, who passed away in May at the age of 92. Boyer's son, Green Beret, Alan Lee Boyer, went missing in Laos in March of 1968 and she never wavered in giving her support to POW and MIA issues.
    Loves Park City Mayor, Darryl Lindberg, also spoke and recalled being on the original board with businessman Art Anderson in planning the Field of Honor that is adjacent to city hall grounds, which now holds the Gold Star memorial, the Korean War vets memorial, and the main memorial honoring our country's service personnel from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf/Middle East.
    Machesney Park Village President, Jerry Bolin, also spoke to the assemblage and referred to not forgetting our POWs and MIAs.
    As Lindberg said, "Both Loves Park and Machesney Park have about an equal population of around 25,000 people, and we are referred to as 'the Parks.'
    During the Sept. 20 event, the symbolic Missing Man Table Ceremony was presented by Angie White and assisted by Lynn Berg.
    Retired Loves Park businessman, Lee Hartsfield and WW II Navy veteran, read a poem he wrote about "not forgetting" our country's POWs and MIAs. Hartsfield provides American flags at the Field of Honor on several national holidays each year for veterans and those who might wish to get one.
    Singer Becky Boyland of Rockford sang beautiful renditions of the "National Anthem," "God Bless America," "Pray for this Land," (which she wrote), and "Letters from War."  The audience, which was a good size, participated in singing "God Bless the USA," which was led by Douglas Mark.
    Reading of Names of Illinois Servicemen listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action from the Vietnam War era was presented by Warren Ramsey and Don Allen. Bell tolling was done by the Major General John L. Borling Division of Sea Cadets.
    A replica of a Vietnam prisoner cage was also on display.
    Rockford Chapter Vietnow Chaplain, Pastor Bob Theroux, gave the benediction, and the Rockford Charter Chapter Color Guard presented a three-gun salute. Drummer was Billy Hartenberger. Paul Saltzgiver and Matt Maurizio, Rockford Wind Ensemble, played Taps. 

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    New city employee will earn $30,000 a year
    August 29, 2013
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK – At the Aug. 19 Loves Park City Council meeting, aldermen approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Darryl Lindberg to fill a “replacement secretary/utility position” in his office effective in September.
    Juan Terre, who is bilingual, was hired at $30,000 a year. The mayor said he needed a person to help out the city hall part-time custodian as needed, which explains the title of the job.
    Fourth Ward Alderman Julie Hobel voted “no” against the measure, stating, “I’m voting no because I believe this money could have been better spent by hiring a professional consultant for suggestions on how to cut spending in all departments.
    “I am also voting no because the position was not advertised to the public in a fair manner.”
    First Ward Alderman Clint Little also voted against the resolution citing the fact that, “The city has gotten by for three years without filling this position, in which the vacancy was not filled at a time that cutbacks had to be made.
    “Now that the city is coming out ahead is not a reason to be spending. I also agree with Alderman Hobel, that qualifications should be considered in filling a position rather than one person appointing the candidate.”
    After the subject had been broached July 22, Mayor Darryl Lindberg had something to say about this issue.
    In regard to the unfilled mayoral secretarial position, that spot has gone unfilled since a retirement in June of 2010. It came at a time when the city was having some shortfalls in revenue so has gone unfilled since then with the mayor and his assistant picking up that work in addition to their regular work.
    Mayor Lindberg explained that he and his assistant, Gail Daughtry, can no longer deal with the increasing workload, “We can’t do it anymore, it is an unfilled position and we’re going to fill it.”
    In relation to Hobel’s suggestion that the city hire a consultant, the mayor noted, “It doesn’t make any sense when we can do that just fine in-house. Concerning our legal staff, we get really good results. We watch our billings and we are not overcharged. The city has used them for years and years.” Lindberg said he spoke to several aldermen and none saw a reason for that.
    In other business, the okay was given for Fire Chief Phil Foley to replace phone systems at Stations No. 1 and 2 at a cost not to exceed $6,900 from a communications company on  Windsor Road.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of Aug. 11-17. There were 483 calls for service, 207 arrests, and 14 accidents reported. On the weekly fire department report dated Aug. 18, two fire calls, one false fire alarm call, and one odor investigation call were reported.
    A total of $8,953.14 in water department bills, and $147,203.64 in general fund and all other bills, as presented Aug. 12, were approved for payment. Alderman Hobel made a motion to remove “one line item” for lack of competitive pricing but the motion failed for lack of a second, with all aldermen voting to okay payment of the bills, as Hobel noted she would vote yes so all the other vendors would be paid.
    A resolution was passed authorizing the mayor to seek negotiated bids for the resealing and restriping of the parking lots and drives surrounding the Loves park Municipal Building.
    A special event permit allowing a weekly farmer’s market in the south parking area and south grassy area of Loves Park Scuba at 7307 N. Alpine Road, each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Dec. 1 was approved.
     
     

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    Harlem approves teacher contracts with two step increases in three years
    August 29, 2013
    Harlem approves teacher contracts
    with two step increases in three years
    By Bob Trott
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - "A step is $700,000, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand and Superintendent Julie Morris said about Harlem's three-year contract settlement with its teachers, approved by the school board Monday, Aug. 19.
    They said the contract gives Harlem Federation of Teachers' members two step increases in a three-year period, which will end in 2016.
    There were no dissenting voters among the school board, which consists of: Sue Berogan, Travis Turner, Heather Kelley, George Russell, Larry Barger, Patti Lawrence and Evelyn Meeks.
    "We're very pleased with the outcome," Superintendent Morris said after the revised special meeting, which included a closed session for discussion of the contract settlement.
    The settlement ends negotiations on the present teachers' contract, which started in March and involved a lot of hard work, Morris added. The district has approximately 540 teachers, Aurand told the press Aug. 19.
    In August, 2010, the Harlem School Board approved a three-year contract with its teacher’s union that ended this summer. That contract included a two-year pay freeze for many of the teachers' base salaries.

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    Harlem School District 122 begins a new year
    August 22, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK – A new school year began Aug. 14 at elementary schools, the middle school and high school in Harlem School District 122.
    Initial enrollment numbers were not available as the district continued registering students through the end of the week.
    It marks a year of transition at Harlem High School where a new principal, Terrell Yarbrough, has replaced Joe Hazen, who retired last summer after 12 years in that position.
    Yarbrough previously served as principal at Machesney Elementary School and before that was assistant principal at Harlem High for two years.
    Originally from Milwaukee, he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and his master’s degree and principal’s license from Marquette University, also in Milwaukee.
    After beginning his administrative career in Milwaukee, he relocated to Beloit, where he served as dean of students and then as an assistant principal.
    The village’s public safety coordinator, Rocco Wagner, is reminding motorists to be aware of school zones. There, lower speed limits are in effect “on school days when school children are present.”
    While no school hours are posted, motorists are asked to be mindful of the lower speed when they see children on sidewalks or in the case of Harlem High School, walking along the side of Alpine Road.
    Wagner also cautioned students and the general public against texting while driving.
    Then-Mayor Tom Strickland issued a proclamation Sept. 17, 2012, in concert with the start of the 2012-13 school year, urging drivers to pledge not to ext while behind the wheel.
    “Text messaging is the main mode of communication for most American teenagers, with half of them sending between 21 an 70 texts a day,” the proclamation read, in part.
    “Ninety percent of American teenagers expect a reply to a text message within five minutes. In an AT&T survey, 43 percent of American teenagers admitted to texting while driving, even though 97 percent knew it was dangerous.”
    Another study showed those sending text messages while driving “are 23 times more likely to crash,” according to proclamation.
    Brad Heidenreich, a driver’s education teacher at Harlem High School, said part of the instruction over the past five years has focused on various distractions that can affect a person while driving.
    The state Legislature during its recently concluded session passed House Bill 1247, which forbids use of a cell phone while driving, unless it’s hands-free. That bill was sent to Gov. Pat Quinn on June 19, meaning he has until Aug. 19 to take action on it.
    This would be considered a moving violation, with the first offense costing the individual $75.

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    Governor signs Hotel Tax bill
    August 15, 2013
    Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was in Rockford last week to sign Senate Bill 1859, which will increase visitor spending by $16 million, generate $1.9 million in new revenue, and create more than 400 jobs. nomic benefits. The bill amends the Counties Code to allow the Winnebago County board, with the consent of  municipalities representing at least 67 percent of the population of Winnebago County, to impose  a tax of up to 2 percent on local hotels. Revenues collected would be used solely for sports, arts, or other entertainment or  tourism facilities. 
     

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    New Executive Director hired for Rockford Region Economic Development District
    July 25, 2013
    ROCKFORD — The Rockford Region Economic Development District (RREDD) is pleased to announce that Dana L. Hoefle became the executive director for the organization effective July 15, 2013.
    RREDD is a nonprofit agency focused on economic development planning; this includes planning for job creation and growing community wealth in Boone and Winnebago counties.
    The bi-county structure allows the region eligibility for federal grants from the Economic Development Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
    Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, serving as the 2013 governing board chair of RREDD stated, "We are pleased to welcome Dana to our organization.
    Her knowledge of our region and passion for building on its strengths will be instrumental in helping us achieve continued success."
    Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg added, "Her knowledge and dedication make her an asset not only to our organization, but to the region as a whole. I look forward to watching our region grow as a result of her skill and experience."
    Hoefle, a native of the Rockford Region, reflected upon this opportunity saying, "I am very invested in seeing this area live up to its true potential, and I believe that economic development is one of the few focus areas that has the ability to create far-reaching and long-lasting improvements for us all. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to use my experience to work with such an impressive organization."
    Ms. Hoefle graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor's degree in Community Health.
    She also received her master's degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Policy Administration from the University of Illinois in Chicago.
    Involved in the community to which she serves, Dana is a member of IGNITE Young Professionals and an Advisor for the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Rock River Valley Pantry.

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    A.B.A.T.E. volunteer injured in car-motorcycle crash
    July 25, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK – Village Trustee Erick Beck pointed to the podium on the other side of the room during the July 15 village board meeting.
    On May 6, he said his son, Greg, stood at that podium to accept a proclamation on motorcycle awareness from Mayor Jerry Bolin.
    Greg placed a sign with the inscription, “Start Seeing Motorcycles,” in front of the podium.
    A little more than two months later, about 9 p.m. July 12, just three days before the board meeting, Erick Beck said Greg was injured when a car pulled out in front of his motorcycle at the intersection of North Second Street and River Park Road.
    “He laid down his bike” and tried to slide away from the car, Erick Beck told the board, staff and those in the audience. Later, in a follow-up interview, he said one of the car’s front wheels wound up on his son’s left arm.
    Greg was taken to Swedish American Hospital with injuries to his shoulder and leg, Erick Beck said, along with having road rash, a bruised kidney and bruised ribs. While he’s recovering, he’ll probably be out of work for a couple of weeks.
    The trustee’s purpose for bringing that information to the village board meeting was to implore people to drive safely all the time, ‘not just in neighborhoods where there are children.”
    He reminded everyone that the difference is a 3,000-pound car and an 800-pound motorcycle.
    Someone took a photograph of the wreck with a cell phone, he said, and soon it was on Facebook. “People take a picture and, boom, it’s news,” he said.
    Greg Beck was and still is active in A.B.A.T.E., which stands for A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education.
    The mission of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois is to preserve the universal right to a safe, unrestricted motorcycling environment. It also strives to propose and advocate actions that can be taken by elected and appointed officials to protect and conserve the natural resources of the state of Illinois.
    Also, the organization works to influence state, national and worldwide political actions in favor of motorcycle nights. It also conducts programs to educate drivers, seniors, legislators and motorcyclists.
    A.B.A.T.E. originally was started by Easyriders magazine in 1971. It was incorporated in Illinois in 1975 and currently has 12,000 members and 60 chapters throughout the state.
    Greg Beck is a member of the Kishwaukee Valley chapter, which includes Winnebago and Boone counties, and he does a lot of volunteer work.
    For the past two years he worked as activities director, setting up fund-raisers and other events. He’s stepping down from that job, not because of the crash but because his son in an incoming freshman at Harlem and a member of the football and baseball teams.
    His son likely will be playing for both the freshman and sophomore teams, which means a lot of trips to games, including Chicago this fall for a freshman contest.
    “I’ll still be involved,” Greg Beck, now 41, said. “I’ll go on runs when I can. We have a big one in October that a friend, Ed Triplett, and I started four years ago. The idea is to raise money for the Safety Net program. We have a Safety Net officer who actually goes into schools and talks to kids.”
    Meanwhile, he continues to rebound from the accident, which he said left the motorcycle totaled. “I feel that I will, but I won’t know until I do it,” he said. “I’m in the market to buy one.”
    He’s been riding motorcycles for about seven years, after starting out on mini-bikes as a youngster

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    Machesney Park seeking state grant for boat ramp project
    July 25, 2013
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK – The village is pursuing a $200,000 grant through the state Boat Access Program for improvements to the old boat ramp area, along the Rock River at 7930 Shore Drive.
    Submitting an application was recommended for approval by the administration and finance committee, at its July 15 meeing. It will go before the full village board for consideration on Aug. 5.
    Village Engineer Chris Dopkins explained that the village first applied for a grant through the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 2006. The goal was to acquire the property at 7930 Shore Drive, immediately south of the old boat ramp.
    He said the village received funding in 2007, and proceeded with demolition, grading and seeding.
    In an effort to make the area more conducive to boat loading and unloading, he said another grant was sought to acquire properties to the north and south of 7930 Shore Drive.
    No more money was received, however.
    Dopkins said those funds come from the Marine Motor Fuel Tax, which is generated by boat and canoe registration fees and fines. Income is determined by how much money the state receives in a given year.
    Due to the economic downturn, the state didn’t fund any boat ramp grants in 2008. But it requested that the village resubmit its application in 2009 and, after no funding was received that year, again in 2010.
    Since then the village has received money from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to acquire the property to the north, and potentially to the south, of the launch site.
    Now, Machesney Park is required by the 2007 grant to develop the DNR-acquired property into an operational boat ramp, the engineer said. That needs to be done in the next two years to remain in compliance with the grant.
    To do that work the village plans to apply for the Boat Access Program grant, which would reimburse redevelopment costs of up to $200,000, Dopkins said. The village won’t be required to match any portion of the grant amount.
    Staff is recommending the application, he said, “so we can finish what was started in 2007-08.
    Lawn mowing questioned
    During the public comments portion of the village board agenda on July 15, Shore Drive resident Nick Chabucos suggested the village is violating its own ordinance by not keeping up with mowing of vacant lots it owns along and near the Rock River.
    “It’s almost waist high in some cases,” he said of grass and weeds. “Come down Shore Drive and see.” He added that his own trustee does not visit that area “to see what’s going on.”
    He said there’s standing water in ditches that is breeding mosquitoes.
    “We never had that problem when there were houses,” he said, referring to the village’s ongoing buyout of houses damaged or destroyed by the June 2008 flood.
    Mayor Jerry Bolin said July 19 that some of what Chabucos said, about the vacant lots not having been mowed for a month, was true. But he added that was because of excessive rainfall, in which water overflowed some portions of the riverbank and was on that property.
    “You can’t mow when that happens,” he said. “To say we’re not doing anything is not accurate.”
    He said the village had pumped out some of the ditches but that the water level in that area continues to be high.
    The mayor, Village Administrator Tim Savage and the new public works superintendent, Chad Hunter, did meet last week to talk about Chabucos’ claims.
    “We will be watching it more carefully,” Bolin said, adding that the mowing schedule will be adjusted, if necessary.
    “I welcome comments,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”