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    Session ends; legislative work continues for MP's Cabello
    July 17, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - The 2014 session of the Illinois General Assembly ended May 31, but that doesn't mean state legislators will be off duty until later this fall.
    That's especailly true of Reps. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, and Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, who were just appointed to new task force that will address illegal gun trafficking in Illinois. They represent the Parks area, including Machesney Park, Loves Park, Roscoe, Rockton and South Beloit.
    The bipartisan task force is charged with developing a comprehensive plan, including legislative proposals, to disrupt the flow of illegal guns into the state.
    "Most gun violence throughout Illinois and the city of Chicago isn't caused by law-abiding gun owners," said Cabello, a Rockford police officer. "Rather, it comes from criminals who possessed firearms illegally."
    "As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I look forward to serving on the committee to put more tools in the hands of law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, while continuing to protect the rights of upstanding gun owners."
    He added that he also sought the appointment "to be sure the task force isn't going to reduce the rights of people who are law-abiding gun owners."
    House Resolution 1188 declares an Illegal Gun Trafficking Emergency exists in this state and creates the task force to assess the following measures:
    1. Necessary levels of coordination, funding and interdepartmental and state/federal cooperation for effective gun trafficking interdiction.
    2. The legal framework necessary for getting guns off the streets, including the examination of current gun-running, straw purchasing and unlicensed dealer penalties and their interaction with city, state and federal policies.
    3. Feasibility of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Department of Justice anti-violence programs that have worked in other simularly situated states and cities, including after-school programs and job readiness that are peer-reviewed and cost-effective.
    The task force will submit a report on its findings to the 
General Assembly on or before November.
    A few bills pass
    In an interview July 10, Rep. Cabello talked about the recently concluded session and success he had with the more than 40 bills he introduced for consideration.
    Normally, he said legislators are allowed to move two measures for considerationi by the Legislature. The rest remain in the Rules Committee.
    He said the point of introducing so many is that people in leadership read them and there's always a chance that some will generate interest. Then the proposal usually is passed along to another legislator - Cabello said he didn't care about getting the credit - and it receives consideration.
    Introducing so many bills could "start a conversation that otherwise might never have happened," he said.
    One of Cabello's bills that passed both houses and was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn allows the village of Machesney Park to extend a tax increment financing district along the Illinois 173 corridor for another 12 years.
    Sometimes keeping a bad bill from becoming law is a worthwhile endeavor.
    Cabello said a bipartisan effort was able to keep the 2010 state income tax increase from becoming permanent. But he added, "Unfortunately, I believe that will happen in January, during the lame duck session."
    He said only 60 votes will be needed for passage, instead of the usual 71, and it will be a time for leglsiators leaving office to vote without fearing of repercussions in their home districts.
    The annual veto session will be in November. 

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    School District 122 to register 7,000 students next week
    July 17, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - It's that time again. School will resume Aug. 13 and registration of all students for 2014-15 will take place Tuesday through Thursday (July 22-24) at Harlem High School.
    The high school will be open for registration from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.
    For those on vacation during that week registration will be allowed the end of July or early in August. But district officials are encouraging registration July 22-24, if possible, because lines later in the month actually will be longer.
    Actual registration time next week will be about 20 minutes, they said.
    Visit www.harlem122.org for last-minute information about registration requirements and other updates.
    Schools will be in session this year during the following hours:
    Elementary schools, pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Early childhood morning, 8:10 to 10:40 a.m.; early childhood afternoon, 11:50 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. Kindergarten, 8:10 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. and grades first through sixth grades, 8 a.m. to 2:35 p.m.
    Secondary school, grades 7-12. Harlem Middle School, grades 7-8; ninth-grade campus, grade 9; and high school, grades 10-12, all from 8:35 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    This is the fifth year for registering all students at the high school. Previously, that process took place at individual buildings, which led to multiple problems. So Superintendent Julie Morris proposed registering everyone at one location and, with minor adjustments, the new approach has worked well.
    She and Cathy Martin, director of stakeholder engagement, both said they had heard very little grumbling about the change.
    Information gathering
    Registration at HHS has evolved into far more than signing up students for the coming school year. It is a one-stop location for that plus being able to gather myriads of information pertinent to 2014-15.
    For example, the Rock Valley Credit Union will have a table at which parents may get information about its savings program for students. Various colleges and universities will be represented to talk about programs for both students and adults. The YMCA will have information about its before and after-school programs while Blackhawk Pre-School will be there as well.
    The district's human resources department will be on hand for those interested in being substitute teachers or filling in for other positions, such as bus drivers, paraprofessionals and secretaries.
    Also, the district will be recruiting volunteers for "I Read," a partnership between District 122, United Way and Rockford Public School District 205. Martin said that program is in its fourth year and currently has about 100 volunteers. It is for K-3 students and requires a commitment of 20 minutes each week.
    "Career people come in before work or during their lunch break," she said. "We're hoping for 150 volunteers by the start of the school year."
    "Registration has become an event," the superintendent said. "We make it more doable for parents and to have a more consistent process in place."  At the end of the three days "you don't realize 7,000 have gone through," she said.
    Plenty of staff, including the superintendent and principals, are there in part because they reconnect with co-workers, the school community, parents and students.

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    Bowling benefit planned to help Coach Melissa Re
    July 17, 2014
    LOVES PARK – Save the date - July 26
Join us at our bowling extravaganza Saturday, July 26 at Park Lanes Bowling Alley for an evening of bowling, raffles, silent auction, bake sale and more to benefit Melissa Re.
    Melissa was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March of 2011. After eight months of treatments, including the removal of her left lung, she was declared cancer free. Unfortunately it returned in August of 2013.
    After going through chemo, it was determined that traditional treatment was not successful. Melissa is now participating in a trial drug study based out of Houston, Texas at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. This means she has to go to Texas every three weeks for tests and observation. We are asking for your help in supporting Melissa.
    Melissa has been a member of this community all of her life. Growing up she excelled in athletics through Belvidere High School, which she then continued to play while attending Rock Valley Community College, where she later earned her nursing degree.
    She has established her self as a nurse on the neuro intensive care trauma unit at St. Anthony's. But not wanting to leave sports behind, she decided to take a head coaching position as the sophomore girls basketball coach at Harlem High School, where she has been coaching for last seven years. Both her nursing and coaching have allowed her to help others. Now it's time for us to help her.
    The $25 admission will get you three games of bowling, shoe rental, unlimited pasta and unlimited salad. Registration will start at 6:30 p.m. with bowling at 7 p.m. The event will feature a Chinese raffle, silent auction, bake sale and 50/50 raffle.
    So come out and join us, July 26, for a night of fun to benefit our coach, our nurse, our friend Melissa Re.

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    Loves Park’s ‘DUI officer arrest rate’ recognized
    July 17, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK – At the July 7 Loves Park City Council meeting, aldermen heard about the “Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists” (AAIM), which is a not-for-profit organization that was found in 1982 by the families of loved ones lost in drunk driving accidents.
    Its mission is to prevent deaths and injuries caused by intoxicated or distracted motorists and “to assist impaired riving crash victims and their families in Illinois.”
    In conjunction, AAIM has conducted an annual survey of Illinois police departments to determine how many DUI arrests they make and to give recognition to the most productive departments and police officers. It is funded through an Illinois Dept. of Transportation grant and close to 700 police departments were surveyed.
    Loves Park Police Chief Rodney Scott explained that the department had received notice from AAIM that the department excelled in locating and arresting intoxicated drivers during the 2013 calendar year.
    “AAIM has a ranking system that compares us with other Illinois police departments,” he said. “Specifically, the officers of the Loves Park Police Department were able to place us in the following rankings:
    * No. 2 in the state when comparing the DUI officer arrest rate (6.30)  (No. 1 finished at 6.43).
    * No. 4 in the state when measuring our improvement in total DUIs (208) compared to 2012’s final total (140).
    * No. 22 in the state when comparing total number of DUIs. 
    “This number actually compares us against large departments, who have many officers issuing DUIs. I feel this number is especially impressive when you consider the size of our department, and compare it to the many departments who are larger. These numbers, and ultimately the safety of our community, would not be possible without the efforts of our officers.”
    In other council business, Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of June 29-July 5. There were 460 calls for service, 159 arrests, and 10 accidents reported.
    On the weekly fire department report dated July 6, a total of two fire calls, five false fire alarm calls, one rescue call, one mutual aid call, one carbon monoxide or gas leak call and six wires down calls.
    A total of $$22,372.77 in water fund bills, and $139, 144.64 in general fund and all other bills, as presented June 30, were approved for payment.
    A resolution authorizing public works to seek sealed bids for the annual 2014 Maintenance Program and road repairs at various locations in the city due to water main breaks was approved.
    Two ordinances, first reading were okayed: one for the Rockford park District’s Carlson Arena in the 4100 block of N. Perryville Road asking for a Class R2 (recreational, full alcohol) liquor license. The other is a request for a Class A (tavern) liquor license for Island Inn in the 7900 block of N. Alpine Road.

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    VetsRoll trip returns, already working on 2015
    July 17, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - Plenty of the Harlemites who gathered for their monthly breakfast July 7 had heard about the VetsRoll program. By a show of hands, several had been on one of the bus trips to Washington, D.C.
    A face was put on the program that day when Mark Finnegan, the founder, talked about how putting each trip together is a year-round effort.
    They just returned in May and already are head-long into fund-raising for the 2015 excursion. That year the number of participants, mostly veterans of World War II but also from the Korean War, along with Rosie the Riveters, will have passed the 1,100 mark.
    Upcoming stops will be the Rock County Fair in Janesville and the Walworth County Fair. The latter, held in southern Wisconsin, has provided $45,000 for the trip over the past three years.
    Breakfast emcee Bill Ryverson, one of many Harlem High School graduates in attendance July 7, called Finnegan one of those people who saw a need in the community and did something about it.
    Finnegan said the idea came to him as a memorial to his grandfather, a veteran of World War II who died in 2000. It also was a ground version of the Honor Flight program in Dayton, Ohio, in which veterans are flown to Washington to see the various military memorials.
    VetsRoll was publicly announced March 17, 2010, before the first dime had been raised. Yet a registration deadline of May 16 was set.
    "The community picked it up," he said. There was a first trip that May, with 115 veterans and eight Rosie the Riveters, women who worked on the home front to benefit the war effort.
    "We raised $90,000 in 60 days," Finnegan recalled. "We left Beloit (Wis.) with nine motor homes and three charter buses."
    This year the caravan included 10 charter buses and one motor home. There is no charge for veterans; the organization has to raise $300,000 to make the trip happen each year. "The buses alone are $80,000," he said.
    The 2014 trip had participants from 21 states, with the oldest a 95-year-old veteran from Wyoming. There were 140 assistants, most with medical credentials, who paid $500 each for the trip.
    Four 2014 graduates of Harlem High School, who were involved in the veterans documentary, went on the trip as well.
    On its way back this year, and going through Belvidere, he said the entourage picked up an escort of 140 motorcycles. In Ohio, he said state troopers were seen at the various rest areas, standing beside their vehicles and saluting the buses as they passed by.
    "This trip captures what is good about America," Finnegan said.

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    New police officer is Harlem graduate
    July 10, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK – At the June 30 Loves Park City Council meeting, Mayor Darryl Lindberg swore in the city’s latest police officer.
    Sean Kahly, a 2003 graduate of Harlem High School, served in the Army at bases in Alaska and Colorado from 2003 to 2012 in the position of a Military Police Officer so he comes with experience.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of June 22-28. Reported were 504 calls for service, 290 arrests, and 12 accidents.
    On the weekly fire department report dated June 28, three false fire alarm calls, three carbon monoxide leak calls, one natural gas leak call, and one odor investigation call were reported.
    A total of $235,613.28 in general fund and all other bills, and $17,743.25 in water fund bills, as presented June 23, were approved for payment.
    A motion was approved for a special event permit for an outdoor party July 5 from 2 to 9 p.m. and with live music from 2 to 5 p.m. in the 6400 block of Park Ridge Road.
    A resolution was passed authorizing the public works manager to hire Décor-Cem to paint the exterior walls of Fire Station No. 2 at a cost of $5,260.

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    GPS church farmers market offers variety to visitors
    July 10, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - "When are we gonna get there?" was and probably still is a common question from children traveling with their parents.
    One of the most-asked questions asked at the GPS Faith Community Church farmers market off Illinois 251 is: "When wil you be getting corn?"
    Corn on the cob already is available at grocery stores in the Parks and elsewhere. But that's not from around here. They're asking about northern Illinois corn, whether it's from Gensler Garden, Susie's Garden Patch in Garden Prairie, even Twin Gardens in Harvard.
    The answer: later this month, possibly as early as July 21. Bottom line is "as soon as Mother Nature says so," said Susie Silberhorn from Susie's, which had a booth at the market to the left side of the church.
    Don't let anyone fool you right now and say they've got local corn, she cautioned.
    The market, in its first summer, opened in May and has steadily grown in the number of vendors who appear from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday.
    There only were three to begin with and that made the organizers a bit nervous, said Lisa Short, market administrator. When it opened, there were nine. And now there are 22 on the roster.
    Variety of hats
    One of the helpers at Susie's Garden Patch is recognizable to those who shop at Schnuck's off Alpine Road in Loves Park. He's Bill "Onion" Taylor, who said he has about 250 differently decorated hats, for most every occasion and that means his part-time job at Schnuck's.
    He knows the produce business, having once sold onions at Rockford Speedway. And, hence, the nickname, which he's had for many years, he said.
    Another of the product booths was run by Larry Smith and his wife, Chris, from Machesney Park. "Picked this fresh three hours ago," he said, from their nearby garden. "No preservatives or artificial flavors," he said, quoting a sign in front of one of the tables full of greens.
    There were tables under the same tent with variety of jewelry, made by Chris Smith.
    There is much more here, including colorful hair flowers, Serendipity Soap and Such, whose pleasing scent carries into the walkway. Landscape Connection is a business but its booth offered flowers, hummingbird nectar, bird feeders, bird seed and more.
    Colorful sun catchers, the Woodford Street Baking Co., with a variety of original goodies,The Cravery cupcakes, Swedish Soul Fusion hot food, Laid from Scratch free-range eggsw and honey, and locally made Canola oil, were some of the others.
    "We're pleased by the quality and the mix," said administrator Short. "And they're the most wonderful people to be working with."
    The church also has a large community garden, nearby and hidden by a fence, with 20 raised garden beds. GPS sponsors a food pantry with another church, she explained, and also suppports the nearby Helping Hands Food Pantry in Loves Park.
    Church officials thought it would be nice of the overage from the community garden could be made available to others. And so the idea of a farmers market was born. Net proceeds, she said, will go into the Hope for the Hungry program.
    Plans are for the market to continue until mid-October.
    So far all is well. "God is good," Short said.

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    Rockford murder suspect Terence Doddy in police custody
    July 10, 2014
    BELOIT - Illinois State Police (ISP) confirmed last week that the nationwide manhunt to locate Terence Doddy, 36, of Rockford, who is a suspect in the murders of Tonya Bargman, 44 of Monticello, and Todd Hansmeier, 37, of Rockford, has ended.
    Police apprehended Doddy at approximately 11:23 a.m. on July 4, as he appeared to head in the direction of Wisconsin.
    The sightings began on Wednesday night (July 3) at approximately 8 p.m., when Doddy was spotted by an off duty Winnebago County police officer near Machesney Park.
    At approximately 11 a.m., on July 4, Doddy was spotted in Rockton after an ISP District 16 trooper observed the Gray Nissan matching the description of Tonya Bargman’s vehicle.
    ISP Air Operations also observed the area and provided aerial support on sightings and locations. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the law enforcement alert (Rock Island County Sheriff’s, Beloit PD, Winnebago County Sheriff’s, & Rockford PD) in an attempt to apprehend Doddy.
    The pursuit lasted for approximately 25 minutes and traveled west of Beloit, south near Shirland., and returned North on County H into Rock County.
    The suspect traveled east on Hwy 81 at speeds up to 100 mph. Illinois State Police was the primary pursuit vehicle with Town of Beloit Police, Beloit Police, Winnebago County Police and Rock CountySheriff’s deputies assisting.
    Beloit Police were able to deploy stop sticks near Kenucane Road and Hwy 81. Doddy lost control after his tires were deflated and drove into the north ditch striking a embankment and two trees near 2935 W. Hwy 81.
    Doddy resisted arrest from officers and was taken into custody soon after the crash.
    Town of Beloit Fire Department transported Doddy to a local hospital to be treated for injuries sustained. Rock County Deputies will be guarding Doddy at the hospital and transporting him to the Rock County Jail until extradition could be arranged for Illinois authorities. 
    Rock County Sheriff’s Office investigated the accident portion of the event. Charges of Terence Doddy are as follows:
    Operating While Intoxicated (1st offense)
    Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Owners Consent
    Fugitive Complaint for Homicide and Aggravated Domestic Battery for Rockford Police
    “The cooperative effort and fast response of our District 16 troopers, Zone investigators and police partners in Winnebago, Rockford, Rock Island, and Beloit should be recognized as solid police work, said ISP Director Hiram Grau.
    “Our thoughts are with the grieving families who have lost their loved ones and our hope is that this arrest will bring some closure to their pain,” he added.
    Doddy remains in police custody in Wisconsin and a court date and charges are pending.

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    Rock Cut Elementary's bookmobile makes house calls
    July 10, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK -  Rock Cut Elementary School is in the second summer of taking a collection of books into the neighborhoods where its children live.
    And there's good reason for it.
    Research dating back 30 years has shown students' reading ability regresses during the summer. In addition, that loss is felt by the students themselves, many of whom go several months without access to reading materials.
    One solution to that problem is as simple as taking books into the community. And so Rock Cut Elementary School is doing just that.
    The bookmobile, a white van provided by Harlem School District 122, ventures out every Wednesday for nine weeks, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. It is driven by one of the Rock Cut teachers, with an assist from two other teachers, and visits specific houses in four nearby subdivisions.
    While it doesn't play music as the popular ice cream trucks that cruise Loves Park and Machesney Park each summer, its arrival is anticipated by many children and their parents.
    A testimony to that is found in the following story.
    One Wednesday a family that was mistakenly missed got into their car and drove from neighborhood to neighborhood, until the bookmobile was located.
    More evidence can be seen in the enthusiastic faces of students when they approach the van. Once they arrive  they return the book(s) they took out the week before. Then they climb inside and peruse a vast array of offerings, There is a limit of three per child.
    There are "regulars" along the route, said this week's driver, Kelly Duncan, ESL-bilingual teacher at Rock Cut. If someone isn't home, a blue brochure is left at the front door with a "missed you" message.
    Varying number of kids
    Sometimes there are more kids than expected, as in one case July 2 when a sleepover the night before produced seven youngsters eager to grab a book or two. On other occasions neibhbors' children drop by to see what's available.
    And once there were two who weren't known to the school because their family just moved into town. They quickly became acquainted with the many treasures inside the bookmobile.
    Children know they get an incentive for obtaining, and returning, books. On July 2, it was a popsicle. Another time it could be bowling passes.
    Duncan was accompanied by Becket George, a second-grade teacher, and Becky Freehauf, who teaches third grade. Each wore a bright orange T-shirt inscribed with "Rock Cut Reads" on the front, along with a caricature of the school's mascot, a raccoon by the name of Rocky the Ranger.
    Families are reminded of each weekly bookmobile trek by an e-blast that is put out to school families the day before.
    "We tried 9 (a.m.) to 1 (p.m.) last year but found that was way too early," Duncan said. Even with the 10 a.m. start this year on July 2 some of the youngsters were still in their pajamas.
    The school's parent-teacher organization provided $1,000 each year, for additional books.
    One of the final stops in the first of four subdivisions was at the home of a family getting ready to go on vacation. "The kids wouldn't let us leave until they got some books," their mom said.

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    Harlem District 122 tries to make summer school fun again
    July 3, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - There was a time when kids went to summer school because it was fun. Then it became more focused on making up credits that were lost the year before due to failing grades.
    Now the fun is back; elementary and middle school-age youngsters are the beneficiaries.
    Since it's education there is an acronym involved and in this case it's SAIL, which means Summer Adventures in Learning. It's an appropriate name becase the "L" word (learning) is part of the four day-a-week program.
    Windsor Elementary School is the site of this year's first SAIL program and it's for children in first through sixth grade.
    Those involved experience learning through participation in a theme-based class that incorporates reading, writing and mathematics standards. Teachers prepared a wide range of opportunities that include math games, reading and writing, science, technology, physical education and more.
    Classes, which began June 9, meet from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday. They end today, July 3.
    There were three options from which to choose in first and second grades.
    One of them was dinosaurs, which provided youngsters an opportunity to learn about prehistoric life. There were multiple hands-on activities and even a field trip to the Burpee Museum in Rockford, which has a special exhibit on dinosaurs.
    The instructor was Kelli Blank, kindergarten teacher at Parker Center. The class was fun for her, too, she said, because they were able to do more activities than during the regular school year.
    She said youngsters also "are engaged in reading, writing and math in a fun setting." They did research, in which three or four worked in a group to write a report on a particular dinosaur."
    Writing what they did
    Children often write in their journals about what they did in class that day.
    There is a play period during each four-hour session and while some enjoyed cards or time in the computer, others brought out the dinorsurs and created a village just for prehistoric animals.
    Kids in third and fourth grades learned about the Olympics; wrote and illustrated stories through a variety of art media and styles; or learned about life in theater and, at the end of the session, put on a play.
    Fifth and sixth-grade activities were more involved.
    One two-week session focused on non-fiction articles and books, while incorporating writing and math by doing experiments using the scientific method.
    Another class focused on staying fit during the summer by playing unique outdoor field day sporting events, cooking in the classroom and working together.
    The final class for that age group was a drama camp, in whcih students learned about that subject through improvisat5ional games, skits and puppetry. They were able to explore many aspects of drama, from set design to makeup.
    That 8 a.m. to noon session wasn't the end for many of the youngsters.
    Some were bused to the nearby Carlson Boys & Girls Club for lunch and afternoon activities, such as art, gaming, gym and project learn, all of which ended at 5 p.m.
    This partnership between District 122 and the Boys & Girls Club was new this year. It offered a varied atmosphere for the children while helping families where both parents work.
    The more traditional summer school (making up credits) is bgeing held at the high school, Monday through Thursday of each week.

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    MP accepting applications for housing improvement grants
    July 3, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - The village is now accepting applications from homeowners for funding to help improve where they live.
    All a homeowner has to do is come to village hall, 300 Roosevelt Road, and fill out a one page, pre-application with their name, address, number of people in the household and annual household income.
    Those unable to get to village hall should call (815) 877-5432 and an application will be sent in the mail.
    The deadline for applying is 4 p.m. July 27. A lottery drawing will be held before the start of the Aug. 4 village board meeting to select four homeowners and 16 alternates.
    Mayor Jerry D. Bolin announced Friday that the village had received a $168,000 grant for the coming year. This is federal money that flows through the Illinois Housing Development Authority and on to participating municipalities.
    He called it "an honor and a pleasure" to be able to provide such assistance to homeowners in need.
    The $168,000 should be enough to fix up four houses. But Tammy Scott, grants writer for the village, said expenses won't be known until the contractor starts to work in the residence.
    The village has participated in this program since 2000. In each of those years alternates on the list have wound up receiving home improvements because of problems with the applications that were initially chosen ahead of them.
    For example, just this past year six originally were chosen to participate in the program. Ultimately, the 15th on the list of 20 selected during the lottery ended up having their home improved.
    Overall, theirs was the 93rd house worked on during the village's lengthy history of putting $3 million worth of grant money to that use.
    Applicants have numbered between 50-60 and 200 a year.
    Among the eligibility requirements are seeking improvements to a single-family, detached home; owner-occupied as the primary residence; and located in Machesney Park. Applicants must be credit worthy.
    Total income limits are $23,350 for two in the household; $26,250 for three; $29,150 for four; and up to $38,500 for eight.
    The spirit of the program is to provide low-income persons the ability to bring their entire home up to property code standards. Luxury improvements such as hot tubs, pools and decks are not eligible.
    Mayor Bolin said he and the entire village board support Machesney Park's continued participation in this program.
    It all started when Linda Vaughn was mayor. Scott said the program was brought to her attention and that Vaughn and the board told her to check into it. Approval came a while later and the village has been involved ever since.
    Scott said the improvements have had a significant impact on many lives.
    In one case it saved a homeowner from losing his house insurance because the roof was in such bad shape. Another time, the residents drove right by their improved house because they didn't recognize it.

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    Agreeing to disagree on vote to retain township attorney
    July 3, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - Harlem Township Attorney John Nelson and Trustee Arnie Cabello have exchanged letters with their views on the legality of a vote to retain Nelson and increase his rate of pay.
    Bottom line is they continue to agree to disagree on the issue.
    Nelson said the attorney is a township official. He or she is subject to being reappointed after each election by the township supervisor, with concurrence from the board of trustees. The board also sets the attorney's salary.
    If the board deadlocks on filling any vacancy of any township official, he stated that the township clerk, usually a non-voting member of the board, may decide the issue.
    That happened Oct. 7, 2013, when clerk Sheryl Crowley broke a 2-2 tie to uphold action at the Sept. 10 board meeting to renew Nelson's contract and accompanying pay increase.
    In his April 14 letter, Nelson reiterated his belief that the Oct. 7 action was legal. "If you (Cabello) believe that the interpretation of the law is wrong ... your remedy is through the courts," he wrote.
    But in the same letter he discouraged going that route. "It is my opinion that the best legal result (of legal action) that could be obtained would be a rollback of the pay increase that was enacted at the time of the appointment," he stated.
    "The cost of this kind of litigation could easily be in the tens of thousands, which hardly seems worth it."
    Not a town official
    Trustee Cabello stated in his letter dated June 9 that his research showed the attorney is not a township official.
    "This is the position I have reached after considerable discussion with several attorneys experienced in township statutes, as well as officials of the Township Officials of Illiniois (TOI)," he wrote.
    He attached letters supporting his position from Dwight O'Keefe, president of the Illinois Township Attorney's Association, and Jerry Crabtree, associate director of the TOI.
    "A township attorney is not an elected official," Crabtree wrote.
    "The only time a clerk is permitted to vote is when the board is replacing an elected position and there is a tie. Because the attorney position is not an elected position, this is not permitted."
    Trustee Traci Ort said as early as Oct. 7 that she was told by Crabtree that the township attorney was not an official "so the clerk does not have a vote." But Crowley said she talked with Crabtree, who told him something different.
    "The township attorney shall not be considered a township employee," O'Keefe wrote, quoting state statutes.
    The board initially voted 3-2 at its July 2013 meeting against renewing Nelson's contract. The issue, Cabello said at the time, was mnoney, not the man, was the issue.
    He and other trustees wanted to see if there was someone out there who would do the job for less.
    Cabello did agree with Nelson that it would not be fair for taxpayers "to be dragged into litigation that would only cost them more in terms of taxes to resolve a disagreement that, among reasonable people, can be easily resolved by my solution."
    His suggested remedy has two parts:
    1. Nelson would agree to advise the board that the township clerk does not have the authority to break a tie vote in the appointment of a township attorney.
    2. Reduce the township attorney's rates of pay to the same as they were prior to the reappointment issue. Since 2001, the attorney had been paid $200 per meeting and $150 an hour for work done outside monthly meetings.
    The proposed increase was to $275 per meeting and $175 for work done outside the meetings.
    Should the attorney agree to those points, Cabello wrote that he would "support the appointment of you (Nelson) as township attorney and entertain a reasonable increase in rates for your services."

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    Art competition wraps up at Carz R Us Automotive Shop
    June 26, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - The lobby area of Carz R Us Automotive Shop once again has taken on the appearance of an art gallery.
    Colorful drawings from students at Harlem District 122 elementary schools are affixed to the walls for customers and visitors alike to enjoy.
    There's something in it for the artists, as well.
    People come in and vote for the artwork of their choice. Voting ends Monday, June 30, after which they will be tallied to determine who wins which prizes. Every entry will get a prize. Those in the Top 5 will receive a little something extra.
    The business is on the south side of Illinois 173, just west of the intersection with Illinois 251. (Look for the red building).
    Carz R Us manager Matthew Aukes is no stranger to education. He taught band for six years in the south suburbs before leaving to partner with his brother, Ray, in the automotive repair and tire business.
    They have been in Machesney Park for six years, the last three at the current location. They initially started across the highway but had to move because of the improvements to 173.
    Looking back at his days working in education Matt Aukes said he wanted to do something for the 12 schools in Machesney Park. The art competition evolved from that wish and now is concluding its second year.
    But there's more.
    The Aukes' business has partnered with the Harlem School District in a year-round program that raises money for all extracurricular activities and electives. Here's how it works.
    Any person who mentions the Harlem Loyalty Program upon scheduling an appointment for work to be done on their vehicle, or upon speaking with the manager, will receive 5 percent off their service. In addition, Carz R Us will donate another 5 percent directly to the class of the month.
    "Once you are a member of this Harlem Loyalty Program you will always receive a discount and we will automatically make a 5 percent donation," Matt Aukes said.
    That program started in May 2013. From then until August 2013 it raised money that first month for the band, in June for visual arts, in July for libraries, in August for Habitat for Humanity, in September for athletics, in October for Christmas for Kids, in November for the Veterans Project documentary at the high school and in December for music.
    The program raised a total of $1,370 in 2013.
    Now the business has embarked on something new, in addition to continuing the 5 and 5 program.
    The Pick Up and Drop Off program is for staff vehicles at any of the 12 schools in the district, for any mechanical service done at the Carz R Us location.
    Also, $10 per oil change will be donated to whatever the School of the Month happens to be. That will apply to oil changes performed during a designated week each month.
    First up in 2014 was the freshman campus with Rock Cut Elementary School benefitting in February, Marquette Elementary in March, Parker Center in April and the high school in May.
    Upcoming will be Maple Elementary this month, the middle school in July, Windsor Elementary in August, Machesney Elementary in September, Ralston Elementary in October, Olson Park Elementary in November and Loves Park Elementary in December.
    Through May, those savings plans have brought in $903.40 for those schools.
    The programs are open to anyone and not restricted to parents of children in District 122.
    For all of its efforts on behalf of Harlem schools Carz R Us received a 2013-14 Harlem Pride award.
    Such recognition is afforded businesses, organizations, students and adults who go above and beyond in their support of Harlem High School.
    Beyond those beneficial programs, Carz R Us will have its third annual Customer Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 13 at the business.
    There once again will be food, give-aways, kids' activities, a classic car show, live music and a blood drive.
    "It's just giving back to the community," Matt Aukes said.

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    'State of the Village' address notes progress over past year
    June 26, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - Mayor Jerry D. Bolin has delivered his second State of the Village address, filled with accounts of positive steps that were taken during the past year.
    After taking office May 6, 2013, he said he analyzed the staff and work environment at village hall to be certain it was meeting high standards.
    The following areas were studied: safety, friendly demeanor, professionalism, fully staffed and non-hostile work environment.
    1. He found safety "needed improvement."
    Among the steps that were taken was to have a uniformed sheriff's deputy at all village board and committee meetings; added dead bolt locks where needed; and added faster-action door closing times. There was money in the new budget to hire one more deputy and purchase two squad cars.
    2. He said he found the attribute of "friendly demeanor" to be satisfactory for the most part. Yet he "could sense the tension from prior stressful provocation." As a result he said he "established a respectful and appreciative work environment."
    3. Professionalism? While he said he believed the necessary skills were present, they may have been restricted "becase of prior adverse conditions."
    That led to establishing the mindset of helping when and where it was needed. "Be proactive, learn the skills," he said. "Yesterday's skills are old news. Today's technology requires continual improvememnt. Share your skills with others."
    4. Fully staffed. There were several vacant staff positions when Mayor Bolin took office.
    He said a public works superintendent was hired, as was a receptionist/administrative assistant and a planning/zoning inspector.
    In addition, one member each was appointed to the planning and economic development committee, the public safety and improvement committee and to the planning and zoning commission.
    The village currently is looking for a new economic development coordinator.
    5. Non-hostile work environment, prior to May 6, 2013, needed improvement.
    He said he encouraged all staff to excel in their jobs with respect for all. He also encouraged everyone to use the proper channels, with micro-managing and egocentric tactics not satisfactory under his leadership.
    "Today, our staff and employee work environment are to the highest professional standard," he said.
    Community development
    Machesney Park is a leader in development and growth within this geographic area, Bolin said. Since May 6, 2013, it has attracted several businesses. Among them are:
    Meijer supercenter, opening in the spring of 2015; HMC Products, SCP Pool Company and TH Food, all at the Park 90 Business Park at Illinois 173 and Interstate 90; Hancock Fabrics, Chipolte Mexican Grille, Firestone Tire, Noodles and Company, Sleepy's Mattress, Kay's Jewelers, Mattress Firm and the U.S. Army training facility.
    In addition, he said several businesses have expanded, including Practice Velocity, Big Papa's Barbecue, U.S. Cellular, Field Fastener, Forte, Curtis Metal Finishing, Carz R Us, Trickie Enterprises, Jim Holder Heating and Air Conditioning, Machine Tool Builders and Alco Manufacturing Corporation.
    The following upcoming additions to Machesney Park's business community have been confirmed, he said. They are The Chop House steak house in the former Hawk's View Restaurant along Forest Hills Drive, being leased by Hoffman House Restaurant; Saws International and Salveo.
    The people's business
    In and around village hall Machesney Park has taken steps to be more efficient, while saving taxpayer dollars.
    Bolin said residential growth is returning with six zoning petitions and five subdivision plats having been submitted so far this year.
    The public works department is working to cut costs by taking on more projects, such as lawn mowing and seeking bids for garbage hauling, mowing, forestry and cleaning.
    Communication with residents has improved through the village's informational website, higher visibility on Facebook and participation in Twitter, and The Village Voice, the new village newsletter.
    There have been several town hall meetings to keep residents informed about upcoming projects in their neighborhoods.
    Financially, the village general fund as of April 30, 2014, end of the 2013-14 fiscal year, finished with 3.66 percent more money than the year before. The road fund's balance was 3.82 percent higher than in 2012-13.
    Sales tax from the Machesney Park Towne Center totaled $177,185.67, even with the departure of the J.C. 5 Star outlet store. But if that building remains vacant, the sales tax revenue could decrease to between $60,000 and $65,000.
    The video gaming tax, a new source of income for the village, is averaging $10,329.17 and amounted to $123,950.04 for the fiscal year that ended Ap;ril 30, 2014.
    Currently, there are 56 machines in 12 establishments in the village.
    Machesney Park is averaging $102,000 per month in revenue from the 5 percent utility tax, which was imposed March 1, 2013.
    Additional road projects have been made possible, and more are in the offing, because of this additional income.
    A rebate is available to qualified residents and so far $1,916.74 has been allocated to 34 applicants.
    Finally, in the four months that the village has been collecting the new hotel/motel tax, $1,628.03 has been realized.
    The mayor is continuing to ask that every individual resident, from the youngest to the oldest, do something this year to improve their neighborhood or their community at large. "There's nothing too small or too large to accomplish," he said. "Each achievement contributes to the success of our village and to the future for generations to come. We decide what that future will be by our actions of today."
    He asked for residents to "make an improvement in 2014 to our village" and to "join the Machesney Park 2014 team today." 

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    Monthly electric bills likely to increase in the Parks
    June 26, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - After two years of lower monthly electric bills, the kilowatt use rate likely will increase in July and be seen on local bills in August.
    Village homeowners in 2012 allowed officials to negotiate their kilowatt use rate through a third party. Since then they have enjoyed a rate of 4.68 cents per kilowatt hour.
    But now it's likely that the rate will increase to 7.59 cents unless something unexpected happens in the marketplace over the next couple of months.
    Here's a recent bill for a customer using 787 kilowatt hours in a month. The supply cost, at 4.68 cents per hour, was $36.83.
    But there was an additional delivery charge, which in this case was $38.80, plus taxes and fees amounting to $9.25, for a total bill of $84.88.
    With a rate of 7.59 cents the supply charge for 787 hours of usage would be $59.73, or $22.90 more, with the delivery charge, taxes and fees going up accordingly.
    There's a slight chance that the rate will decrease from the current 7.59 cents being seen in the marketplace, but it won't be close to the 4.68 cents.
    Machesney Park voters two years ago approved a referendum that authorized the village to negotiate kilowatt use rates for homeowners.
    The city of Loves Park currently has a rate of 4.66 cents and its contract expires Sept. 30. Dan Jacobson, director of public works and economic development, said they plan to partner once again with the city of Rockford on getting the best available rate for homeowners.
    But he, too, said a rate increase is expected.
    Here's what is happening in Machesney Park according to a report given by Village Administrator Tim Savage at the June 16 village board meeting.
    The anticipated increase has to do, in part, with demand factors and perceived market risks. There's fear of what might happen in the marketplace because of new federal regulations possibly leading to the closing of nuclear and coal-fired electric plants.
    He said the new, higher rate would become effective July 1 and that the village then would have 60 days to see if market conditions change and a lower rate becomes available. If not the 7.59, which he referred to as the "ComEd default rate," would remain in effect for the next 10 months.
    Near the end of that one-year period the village's consultant once again would have an opportunity to shop around for better rates for homeowners.
    Harlem Township recently locked in to a three-year contract with First Energy at 6.98 cents for the first year; 6.92 cents for the second year; and 6.85 cents for the third year.

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    Frisella remembered as a remarkable young man
    June 19, 2014
    By Tricia Goecks
    BDR Editor 
    BELVIDERE – When the call came in regarding an industrial accident at Ventra Assembly Plant on Tuesday, June 10, members of the Belvidere Fire Department responded. They quickly learned that the severely injured man was the son of one of their own.
    Jacob Frisella’s father Todd is a member of the Belvidere Fire Department. Fortunately Todd Frisella was not on duty at the time of his son’s accident.
    Jacob Frisella died of his injuries the following day. The band of brothers at the Belvidere Fire Department was shaken by the incident. “As soon as I found out, my heart sank,” Captain Al Hyser said.
    Pastor Allan Buss from Immanuel Lutheran church in Belvidere met with members of the fire department who were on the scene of Jacob’s accident as well as the members of Frisella’s shift.
    The Machesney Park man was a remarkable young man who was a motivational person for those around him. “Every day he quoted motivational things,” Todd Frisella said. “He was always pushing people to do their best and hit their goals.”
    “He was an inspiration to everybody because of everything he went through,” Jacob’s mom Shelly Caccio agreed. “He was driven beyond belief.”
    “He (Frisella) was really happy the way that Jacob was becoming such a fine young man and how he was developing into a responsible individual,” Hyser recalled.
    Jacob’s step father Rob Caccio described Jacob as the blueprint for all young men.
    Like the family members of many of the fire fighters, Jacob and his brothers were frequent visitors to the Belvidere fire station. Jacob stopped by to show his dad his newest car or purchase.
    Hyser recalled that when Frisella’s children came to visit, the younger brothers looked up to Jacob and were impressed with his love of cars, motorcycles and adventures.
    Jacob purchased and restored cars for resale.
    “If he could make money on it, he was flipping it. He liked to pay cash for everything,” Caccio said.
    Jacob was best friends with his mom. They spoke on the phone at least five times a day and exchanged text messages throughout the day.
    “We were inseparable,” Caccio said. “I don’t know any mothers and sons who had the relationship we did.”
    At one point, Jacob challenged Caccio to get a job at Ventra Assembly Plant. Through a temporary agency, Caccio worked at the plant for a six-week assignment.
    “I shared working there with him on the same machines as him. He had such a knack with all of the people there.”
    With every car that Jacob purchased, as soon as he got home, he would automatically flip the keys to Caccio for her to take the car for a spin. Shortly before his death, Jacob purchased a Mitsubishi Evolution.
    The Evo required a complete engine rebuild. With its parts and components neatly laid out in the garage, his friends Dino and Damir, the friends he affectionately called his brothers, have taken it upon themselves to complete the project.
    Chrysler employees from UAW Local 1268 have offered to assist Jacob’s friends with tools and advice to complete the work.
    A car rally is being planned in Jacob’s honor after the Evo rebuild is completed. Jacob’s ashes will ride in the front passenger seat as Caccio leads the rally.
    “We will take his car and go for a ride. I can hear him ‘hit it mom. Hit it mom,’” Caccio stated. “We had a blast in his cars. His final ride needs to be in his car with his mom. That is what he would have wanted.”
    Around the station, Frisella is known as someone who will go the extra mile for his friends and family.
    “He is one of the most giving individuals I have met in my life,” Hyser said. “He is so amazing to work with. One of the coolest things about him is that if something breaks, he can troubleshoot it, and everything will be working just fine.”
    Jacob took after his father’s mechanical aptitude. Although he struggled in school and was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Jacob was a quick learner and learned many skills by watching YouTube videos.
    “School doesn’t cater to people like him,” Caccio said. “Show him hands on and he had it. He was very smart. He just did not learn the way other people learned.”
    Jacob also inherited his father’s giving spirit. When the family looked at his driver’s license, they saw that he signed the card to be an organ donor. His lungs, heart, pancreas, kidneys, intestines and skin were donated.
    “Todd was really proud of the fact that he made that choice. It was on his license. He gave him memories to his parents to remember him by and now through organ donation he will live on through others,” Hyser said.
    Jacob leaves behind his mom and step dad Shelly and Rob Caccio, his dad and step mom Todd and Shelly Frisella as well as siblings Evan, Drake, Robbie, Spencer, Bryce, Haley, and Madyson.
    Visitation was at Fitzgerald Funeral Home at 1860 S. Mulford Road in Rockford on Wednesday, June 18. From 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. friends and family will share their memories of Frisella.
    The Belvidere Fire Department will do a walk through in their Class A uniform at the service. “We go there as one uniform family to support Todd and his family and to show them that we are all there together for him,” Hyser explained. “There is a void here. You can feel it. We are going to get through this together.”
    “Just like any big family we have our differences, but when it gets right down to it, we band together.”

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    Economic development 'wins' continuing for MP area
    June 19, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - Officials of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) have delivered some good news to the village when it comes to economic growth.
    Michael Nicholas, new president of the organization, appeared along with Jimsi Kuborn, director of investor relations, at the June 2 village board meeting to provide an update on how things are going here and in the region.
    In Machesney Park, he said 11 potential projects surfaced in the past year. Five have been won, three lost and three remain under evaluation.
    Three of the five "wins" are known entities: the Meijer supercenter, bringing 250 new jobs and slated to open in the spring of 2015; TH Foods, 50 jobs, in the Park 90 business park at Illinois 173 and Interstate 90; and Practice Velocity, with 303 jobs, the high-tech call center planning a mid-July opening in the renovated Kohl's building behind the Machesney Towne Center.
    Meijer is investing $20 million in the project that includes a 192,000-square-foot building and a convenience store with gas pumps at 173 and Forest Hills Road, behind Blackhawk Bank.
    Nicholas also listed the 150,000-square-foot LandMark Group Companies' corporate center at Park 90, along with "one we hope will be announced soon."
    In addition, he said, "We will include all investing real estate brokers and all of the region's municipalities, including the village of Machesney Park, in our Business Attraction Leads/RFPs."
    Macneshey Park is paying $25,000 this year for membership in the RADEC, at the Captain's Table level.
    Worthwhile investment
    Mayor Jerry Bolin said membership in that organization "gives us an extra connection out there. They're going global looking for business and that's where we gain the biggest portion of our money's worth. They provide us with international information and contacts."
    In addition, he said village leaders want the community to be as attractive as it can be to new business and industry. Being represtented by the RAEDC is helpful since the village's community development coordinator, up until recently Greg Anderson, had a lot on his plate other than economic development.
    There were some 2013 announcements for Machesney Park including a 30,000-square-foot expansion at Curtis Metal Finishing, resulting in a $3-million investment. Also, Machine Tool Builders announced a $2-million project, resulting in the addition of 20,000 square feet to its building.
    More recently, on April 9, Midwest Aero Support Inc. (MAS), 1303 Turret Dr., announced the addition of a Laminating Technology heat and vacuum applicator machine to pereform repairs to laminate panels.
    That will allow MAS to perfform laminate repairs cost effectively with high wuality and quick turn times, according to a statement from Brian Hermann, director of business development.
    "MAS has been very successful at meeting the needs of our customers through a broad range of repair solutions," said company President Brent Johnson. "With the addition of laminate repair capability, MAS will soon become a 'one stop shop' for specialized interior needs."
    MAS will observe its 25th anniversary in December.

  • Development coordinator MUGSHOT.JPG
    Village hires firm to search for new development coordinator
    June 12, 2014
     
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    MACHESNEY PARK - The village has decided to have Rockford-based Sikich LLP help find a new community development coordinator.
    The search is to find a replacement for Greg Anderson, who held that position for two years. He recently resigned and since has accepted a similar position in Brownsburg, Ind., near Indianapolis.
    Hiring an outside firm to fill a key administrative position is a change from how the village usually looks for new hires.  Village Administrator Tim Savage said for this position, "We feel it is necessary to utilize the services of a professional recruitment service."
    In a memorandum to the administration and finance committee and the village board, he provided background on the last search, when the village sought a replacement for Karen Lemmons, who resigned to take a job with the city of Tarpon Springs, Fla.
    "We just conducted a search for this position two years ago and during that process, we received only 25 applications with three applicants being viable contenders," he stated. "This was far below expectations."
    The village is looking for a "dynamic person" to take this job, he said, and believes "it is imperative to get the right message out about the type of candidate we are searching for, as well as the great career opportunity the village can provide to the right applicant."
    Machesney Park "is in the middle of some major growth opportunities and now more than ever is the right time to ensure that we get a quality individual ... and continue the village's growth," he wrote.
    Sikick quoted a cost range of $11,000-$13,000, at $165-$210 an hour, but didn't believe the cost would exceed $13,000.
    Savage said while Sikick and the other contender proposed similar rates, "Sikich was a little more flexible in their recruitment process, meaning the village can ultimately control the level of service and the cost of the services to be provided."
    The proposed timeline is to have an accepted offer within 60-90 days, he said, while remembering there can always be variables. The search will be only in the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
    What about Mullins?
    Before the unanimous vote of approval to hire Sikich, Trustee James Kidd asked if former Village Administrator Bob Mullins had been considered?
    Mullins served as administration and finance director for 10 years and was involved in the village's commercial growth over that time. He then became the first village administrator for about one year. He retired two years ago and subsequently ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor.
    "My thought is Mr. Bob Mullins is experienced, gets around and knows the movers and shakers," Kidd said in a follow-up interview. "Why not him? Even temporarily while we look for a permanent replacement. We could be missing opportunities in the meantime."
    "It's a viable solution; all Mr. Bolin (Mayor Jerry) has to do is approach him," the trustee added.
    Bolin said during the meeting that Mullins had resigned as village administrator. But afterward he revised that to say Mullins retired.
    "He used to be in that position and didn't want ti any more,"{ the mayor added. "I think we owe it to the village to get the most qualified person possible."
    Mullins said June 5 that he was retired and planned to stay that way.

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    Harlem turf project offers opportunity to leave a legacy
    June 12, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
    LOVES PARK  - The upcoming major improvement of the football field at Harlem High School is expected to be around for a long time.
    Artificial turf is the new surface that will replace grass it is expected to be finished in time for the first 2014 home game, to be played early in September.
    Ground-breaking ceremonies were held June 5.
    There has been a lot of talk about the $670,000 fund-raising goal and how the private campaign generated more than $400,000 of that amount.
    On June 2, longtime insurance agent Bob Shields offered a way for people to help with the project and leave a legacy at the same time.
    "I'm not here today to accept a check for 50 bucks," he told members of the Harlemites, mostly retired Harlem graduates who meet monthly for breakfast at VFW Post 9759 in Loves Park.
    "I'm not here for a donation. Some of us who are over 65 (years of age) are in a position to remember Harlem High School. We can leave a legacy. If Harlem has been good to you, think about making a commitment to Halem."
    The turf project was one possibility, he said. So is the school's schlarrship fund. "Now is a good time to make that decision," he said. "Don't let someone else do that."
    Personally, the 1965 grad said he "couldn't be more proud to be a Harlem Huskie. It changed my life."
    In addition to being involved with the turf project he spearheaded the longtime effort that resulted in building the new concession stand and baseball locker room on the grounds of the high school.
    High school athletic director Kurt Weigt said the turf project was historic for Harlem. He said $623,000 of the $670,000 has been raised since Jan. 27, 2014.
    The largest gift, he said, came from a Harlem alum who cared for the Harlem community. And that includes more than football. It also includes band, soccer and physical education, all of which will be using that field.
    He identified that donor as Brian Anderson, president of Anderson Auto Group. "I'm so pleased to have people like that in the community," Weigt said.
    In addition, $180,000 has come from the Harlem Booster Club and Harlem Fans Club, which will be paid over time. "We have received contributions of all sizes from all ages," he said. "This is a long-term commitment to the Harlem community. When I'm long gone we will still have a turf field."
    Weigt said the change in surfaces was a good deal for the school district.
    Currently, it costs about $30,000 a year to maintain a grass field. Artificial turf runs about $2,000, he said.
    One of the intangibles is the pride factor. "You will be as proud as you can be that you're a member of the Harlem community," he said.
    Turf fields already have been installed at Auburn and Guilford high schools, both in the NIC-10 along with Harlem.

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    HCC welcomes 59 teams, 900 players to summer of 2014
    June 5, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - It's that time again and Harlem Community Center stands ready to accommodate a large number of boys and girls for a summer of recreation.
    Opening Day festivities were held Saturday morning (May 31) with 59 baseball and softball teams, comprised of about 900 boys and girls, joining their coaches in marching into Harlem High School's football stadium. There, they were greeted by a large throng of appreciative family and friends.
    Among those leading the cheers and encouraging players and coaches to have a wonderful summer was Harlem Township Assessor Mark Sorrentino, HCC board member and longtime supporter of the almost 50-year-old community servant.
    He remembered going there when a youngster and enjoying what it had to offer. "This is a family and all of you are members of the family," he told those in the grandstand.
    Speaking of young people, he talked briefly about the new daycare center under construction along Forest Hills Boulevard, near the baseball and softball fields. It will be large enough to house 180 kids from youth through pre-school.
    But returning to Opening Day, he said, "This is one of my favorite days of the year, along with Christmas, Easter and Thnksgiving."
    Machesney Park Mayor Jerry Bolin also was part of the festivities, remarking how it was "a beautiful day to start this season." He asked the crowd to give all the coaches a big hand, which they did. And to the young players, he said, "I hope you all hit a lot of home runs, steal a lot of bases and come in first."
    Results of the recent sales of tickets by the ballplayers were made known, with Mayor Bolin drawing the lucky numbers for cash prizes. First place was worth $2,500; second place, $750; third place, $500; and fourth place, $250.
    Zephen Swain sold the most tickets. Spencer Scamp sold the winning ticket while Darrell Hereford sold the second place ticket and Dakota Pearson the third-place number. Each won a cash prize.
    Disagreeing with umpires' calls is as old as the game. Recognizing that could happen here during the summer, HCC Recreation Director Greg Wright put in a pitch for the local group of young umpires, some of whom may have gone through the school HCC started in 2009.
    "Show them you respect their work," he said. While asking that fans not yell at the umpires or disrespect them, he said, "If you have an issue, come and see me."
    When all was said and done, Sorrentino led the group in singing, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," signifying the start of another summer of baseball and softball at the HCC fields.

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    Two gaming liquor licenses per applicant
    June 5, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK – At the May 27 Loves Park City Council meeting, aldermen approved a resolution “authorizing the city attorney to make necessary changes” to the city’s liquor code to allow for a maximum number of two Class F video gaming liquor licenses per applicant.
    An addendum put forth by Alderman John Pruitt went further to define the fact that the city will limit the number of these types of licenses to two per applicant.
    The city has received numerous requests for such licenses in the past months, most of them having been approved. There are both stand-alone and those associated with eating and drinking establishments.
    An ordinance, second reading was passed, allowing for a Class F liquor license for Paradise Slots in the 7200 block of N. Alpine Road. Alderman Julie Hobel voted no on the motion.
    An ordinance, first reading, requesting a Class F liquor license for Marty Gras Slots in the 300 block of E. Riverside Blvd. was okayed with Hobel voting no.
    In the absence of Alderman Clint Little, Alderman Greg Jury gave the weekly police activity report for the week of May 18-24. A total of 484 calls for service, 174 arrests, and nine accidents were reported.
    On the weekly fire department report dated May 25, four false fire alarms and one carbon monoxide or gas leak were reported. A total of 851.5 hours were noted in public relations, the majority of hours spent on the Young At Heart Festival.
    A resolution giving the okay to a contract extension for mowing services through KS Lawn Service was also passed, under condition that the same rates as previously charged would be billed - $15 an hour with a two-hour minimum per call, along with proof of insurance on file with the city.

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    City Council extends appreciation for police, fire personnel
    May 29, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK – At the May 19 Loves Park City Council meeting, Alderman Clint Little, who heads the Police, Fire, Public Safety committee, made it a point to commend the city’s police and fire department members.
    He said, “This was Police Week at CherryVale, and our canine unit was there with Rico (the police dog). Our officers participated as they do every year and let people know that they are both a friend and protector to them.”
    He also noted that fire department personnel would be very busy during the Young At Heart Festival, not only being present but cooking up some good meals. Mayor Darryl Lindberg gave a big thank you to all the volunteers who make YAH the success it is every year, especially giving thanks to Alderman Marie Holmes, who spends hours on planning details.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of May 11-17. There were 492 calls for service, 194 arrests, and 10 accidents reported. On the weekly fire department report dated May 18, three false fire alarm calls, one mutual aid call, one carbon monoxide or gas leak call, and one extrication call were reported.
    Council members approved a total of $33,055.88 in water fund bills, and $412,671.47 in general fund and all other bills, as approved May 12. Alderman Julie Hobel abstained from voting on both.
    Deputy Clerk Sheila Mills reported that the city had received $44,237.62 in Motor Fuel Tax funds from the Illinois Department of Transportation for the month of April.
    Approval was given authorizing the city treasurer to make payment to the Illinois Municipal League (IML) for conference and hotel reservations for the annual Municipal League Conference to be held in Chicago Sept. 18-20.
    A resolution was passed authorizing the public works department to hire up to six temporary seasonal employees from May 1-April 30, 2015. Wage rates will range from $8.50 to $11 an hour depending on experience.
    An ordinance, first reading, was okayed providing for a Class F liquor license for Paradise Slots in the 7200 block of N. Alpine Road. Alderman Julie Hobel cast the one dissenting vote on the motion to approve.

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    Young at Heart brings rides, food ... and nice weather
    May 29, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - One never knows what kind of weather will accompany the annual Young at Heart festival, a Memorial Day weekend tradition for the past 43 years.
    Rain, unseasonably cold, hot, nice. All are possibilities. But Mother Nature was kind to festival goers this year, not to mention the organizers who fret about whether this major fund-raiser for the Parks Chamber of Commerce will be successful.
    Mayor Darryl Lindberg, with an assist from Machesney Park Mayor Jerry Bolin and others, kicked off the event Friday afternoon, about an hour before the announced start time.
    The brief opening ceremony was attended by some of the people who make Young at Heart work, among them the chamber's executive director, Diana Johnson.
    It was a time of thanking all those folks, paramount among them Ike and Lisa Trickie, in their sixth year as platinum sponsors. They received a plaque in appreciation of their support.
    The 2014 festival court was on hand for its first official function. Winners of the pageant, held May 10, were Mini Princess Kittra Love, Petite Princess Madison Hawn, Junior Princess Natilyn Scott, Senior Princess Miranda Schoultz and Queen Megan Clarida.
    A color guard made up of Loves Park police officers and firefighters brought the American flag to the stage, where the court led the small group in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Craig Carlson from Northwest Bank offered a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
    As the festivities continued Mayor Bolin offered a preview of the fun times to come. "We're ready to party" the entire holiday weekend, he said. And he encouraged people to enjoy themselves and to be safe.
    Mayor Lindberg was expecting to introduce some state legislators, but reported they were still in Springfield "in a boxing match" over pension reform and other issues. While the 2014 session is supposed to end May 31, he said he expected lawmakers to continue working for a couple more weeks.
    The designer of this year's winning Young at Heart button, Harlem High School senior Elizabeth Schutt, was there and was introduced by Johnson.
    Others who were introduced included elected and appointed officials from the city of Loves Park and village of Machesney Park.
    There were words of praise for Skinner Amusements, which provided a wide variety of rides and concessions in the Midway.
    "Skinner Amusements has been here a long time," Lindberg said. "Pat Skinner is one of the best."
    Saturday was the big day for the event with a parade in the morning, live entertainment at night and capped by a $25,000 fireworks show.

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    City honors Salvation Army for its commitment to the community
    May 22, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK – At the May 12 Loves Park City Council meeting, Mayor Darryl Lindberg presented a proclamation to Salvation Army Director of Community Relations, Dollye Kozel, declaring the week of May 12-18 as “Salvation Army Week” in the city.
    Lindberg noted that the Salvation Army has been providing services in the community for 127 years, and the proclamation recognized the organization’s dedication and commitment.
    Details were announced concerning this year’s Young At Heart Festival scheduled for May 23-26. This year’s Parade Marshall, Lindberg said, would be Helen Waddell Wyatt, a former member of the Rockford Peaches baseball team. She is an appropriate choice as the theme for the festival this year is “Celebrate Baseball – America’s Favorite Pass-Time.”
    Wyatt, whose hometown is listed as Lemoyne, Penn., played with the Battle Creek Belles in 1951, the Peaches in 1950-51, and the Springfield Sallies in 1949.
    YAH buttons can be bought at various locations, including city hall and cost $7 in advance, $9 at the gate. The buttons allow access all three days of the event.
    The parade will “step off” at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 24 from Woodward on N. Second St. going north and ending at MeadowMart.
    Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of May 4-10. A total of 471 calls for service, 216 arrests, and 13 accidents were reported. On the weekly fire department report dated May 11, one fire call, three false fire alarm calls, two mutual aid calls, one natural gas leak call, and one carbon monoxide or gas leak call reported.
    Aldermen approved payment of $25,293.39 in water fund bills, and $195,227.99 in general fund and all other bills, as presented May 5.
    An ordinance “declaring the intent of the city of Loves Park, Illinois to utilize funds in the Special Tax Allocation Fund for the Loves Park Corporate Center Redevelopment Project Area for future anticipated redevelopment project costs with in the project area” was approved.
    An ordinance allowing for a special use permit for “automobile sales and sales and installation services for audio/stereo equipment and accessories” in a commercial retail zoning district in the 7700 block of Forest Hills Road was also okayed.

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    Harlem replaces two principals, plans to replace stadium turf
    May 22, 2014
    By Bob Trott
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK – Following a lengthy closed session Monday, May 12, the Harlem School Board appointed Matthew Cascio Harlem Middle School Principal and Dyonna Johnson Olson Park Elementary School principal, and approved measures concerning the upcoming addition of new field turf at Clyde F. Peterson Stadium, home of high school football games.
    The two new principals replace principals who wanted to return to the classroom, Superintendent Julie Morris said after the meeting.
    Cascio moves from the assistant principal position at Rockford Guilford High School to replace John Cusimano at Harlem Middle School.
    Johnson replaces Burt Townsend at Olson Park Elementary School. Superintendent Julie Morris said, after the meeting, that the move was made because Cusimano and Townsend wanted to return to the classroom.
    Turf Goal Nearly Reached
    Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand reported the district had raised approximately $620,000, or 90 percent of its goal, for the new turf. He said after the meeting that funding has come from contributions and from allocations of $10,000 to $15,000, typical yearly amounts budgeted for upkeep of the stadium.
    Bids approved by the board May 12, for the stadium project, were: $424,990 to Civil Construction, Inc., for high school site preparation, and $411,507 to Field Turf USA, Inc. for the new surface. The board recognized Athletic Director Kurt Weigt for being instrumental in the project.
    Plans call for the new turf to be installed in time for the first home game of the 2014 season for the Harlem High School varsity football team, against Rockford East. The contest is set for the second week of the season.
    Organizational Meeting
    Following the closed session and adjournment of the regular meeting, school board members held their annual organizational meeting. Members of the board were elected in 2013, and hold two-year terms, and there were no elections this year.
    Norm Alpers and Dennis Harezlak were appointed, at the organizational meeting May 12, officers for due process, expulsion and residence hearings. For each of those three activities, Alpers is the main officer, and Harezlak is the substitute.
    In addition, Human Resources Director Dani Hopkins was named Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) agent, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compliance official and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) compliance official, and Superintendent Morris was named the Employer Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) officer.
    Appointed district complaint managers were Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Josh Aurand and Human Resources Director Hopkins. Aurand will also serve as appeals officer for free and reduced meals and district activity accounts manager.
    Morris, Aurand, Superintendent's Administrative Secretary and School Board Recording Secretary Kris Arduino and Administrative Assistant Mindy Schumacher were named Open Meetings Act (OMA) officials and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officials.
    The above appointments and others approved by the board, at the organizational meeting, call for the officers to all remain the same as for the previous year.
    Finances
    Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Aurand reported the following recent Harlem School District expenditure totals: payables, $827,302.21; payroll, $2,468,165.31; and total, $3,295,467.52. Payment of those bills was approved by the school board.
    Personnel
    Superintendent Morris reported the following personnel moves, which were approved by the board: seven new employments, seven leaves-of-absence, four resignations, 10 transfers within the district, 10 sick leave requests and one new position, a .3 hours-daily Full-time-
    Equivalent (FTE) elementary school music teacher to start next year.
    Also approved was an addendum of one transfer, from Harlem High School Special Education procedural coach to Harlem High School Special Education diagnostician, effective Aug. 12, 2014; and employment of a district extended school year coordinator, effective May 13 of this year.
    Science Olympiad Team
    Twelve members of the Harlem Middle School (HMS) Science Olympiad Team, which advanced to state competition, were introduced to the board by HMS Teachers and Team Coaches Denise Pape and Marla Price. This is the ninth time the team has advanced to state competition. The team had a total of 32 members.
    Pape described the Olympiad as a marriage of science, technology and research of the science world. She said this year's team earned medals at the Rockford Christian Invitational in January, Regional at Rock Valley College in March and state varsity event at the University of Illinois. This year's team had some new members and some who have competed for longer periods of time, Pape told the board.
    Pape described Price as new to the program. Pape credited all parents of team members with their contributions to a lengthy November-April season. "They (all persons involved) are very organized and dedicated to such a large task," Pape added.
    IREAD, Golden Apple
    Gordon Kaye, Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority (RAVE) and SMG general manager, and his wife, Anne Kaye, United Way Volunteer coordinator, were recognized by Director of Stakeholder Engagement Cathy Martin. Martin said the Kayes' have been instrumental in their volunteer efforts toward the Harlem School IREAD program to help students, and are moving to the Denver, Colo. area to be closer to family members. RAVE is the private firm that operates the BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford Icehogs hockey team, Davis Park and Coronado Theatre. "They definitely will be missed," Martin said about Gordon and Anne.
    Also recognized by Martin were Harlem's 2014 Golden Apple Award Winner Carolyn Massier and Golden Apple Finalists Meghan Hembrough, Loves Park Elementary School first grade teacher; Kasie Kosinski, Machesney Elementary fourth grade teacher; and Sarah Shaw, Windsor Elementary fifth grade teacher.
    Young at Heart
    Harlem High School Senior Liz Shutt was on the agenda for winning the 2014 Young at Heart Button, but she and High School Fine Arts Teacher Barb Kurilla, who was scheduled to introduce Shutt at the meeting, did not attend. Board President Heather Kelley said the introduction will be rescheduled for the next school board meeting. 
    Brownie Troop 3440
    Seven members of Brownie Troop 3440, from Maple Elementary School, led the Pledge of Allegiance at the May 12 session.  Maple Principal Becky Girard said the Brownies earned a pin for leading the pledge, and previously were involved in planting a maple tree for Earth Day and releasing butterflies.
    Committees Approved
    Harlem School Board committees will remain the same. The following committees, with committee chairpersons listed first, were approved following the May 12 closed session:
    * Policy Committee, 16 members: Heather Kelley, board chairperson;  Larry Barger, board member; and George Russell, board member; Superintendent Morris; Superintendent for Curriculum and Instrictuion Barb Browning; Board Recording Secretary and Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Arduino; Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Aurand; Harlem Middle School Associate Principal Dusti Adrian; Leah Krippner; Personnel Director Hopkins; Michelle Erb; Margo Sickele; Heidi Lange; Jeremy Bois and a rotating cycle of elementary principals;
    * business services committee, six members: board members Russell, Evelyn Meeks and Travis Turner; Morris, Aurand and Administrative Assistant Schumacher;
    * education committee, 13 members: Kelley, Meeks and Turner of the board; Morris; Browning, Administative Assistant to the Supeintendent and Recording Secretary Kris Arduino; Sickele; Erb, Terrell Yarbrough; Chad Dougherty; Harlem Director of Student Support Services Heidi Lange and rotating elementary principals;
    * discipline policy review committee, 20 members: board members Pattie Lawrence and Sue Berogan; Morris, Browning, Arduino, Girard, Weigt, Larry Smith, Krippner, Jason Blume, Shari Heller, Sickele, Erb, Brock Morlan, Jerry Harris, Don West, Lange, Beth Williams, Sharon Carlson and Michael Plourde. 
    * public relations ad hoc, eight members: Kelley, Lawrence, board member Bargerv, Morris, Aurand, Martin, Hopkins and Arduino.
    Meetings
    Upcoming meetings, presented by board members May 12, were:
    * business services committee, June 11; discipline policy review committee, June 30; regular board, June 16; policy committee, July 21; education committee, June 26, and third- and fourth-quarter regular board, Aug. 20, all at 6 p.m.
    Delegate Assembly
    Turner was named Harlem's representative to the 2014 Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) Delegate Assembly. He replaces Russell.
    Professional Development
    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Browning reported the number of professional development specialists will increase from two to four at the elementary level, to bring students' success in the classroom up to the level the where it should be; and added the proposed 2015-16 school year calendar includes an increase in the number of School Improvement Project (SIP) days in conjunction with the added help in professional development.
    Other Business
    Also approved unanimously by the board May 12 were:
    * a bid of $398,995, plus an alternate of $7,250, for a total of $406,245, from Distinctive Roofing, Inc., of Rockford, for roof replacement at Marquette Elementary School;
    * a bid of $192,335 from Larson and Larson Construction, Inc. of Loves Park, for secured entrances at Parker Center and Olson Park Elementary School;
    * vacation days of June 24-27, 2014, for Superintendent Morris;
    * an alternate bid of $4,550 for the Maple Elementary School lighting project, to Wilson Electric Company of Rockford;
    * an agreement to pay a rate of .0628 for electricity, to Direct Energy, for one year;
    * a measure declaring certain Harlem School District property as surplus;
    * a request for student travel for the high school girls' track team, to the state meet at Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston May 22-24;
    * a request to use the high school main gym and fieldhouse for a Grades 3-8 basketball camp Sunday, June 15 and Sunday, June 29, each from 5-9 p,m.;
    * changes in the student dress code to reflect changes in what students are wearing, compared to two years ago; the changes came from the discipline policy review committee, chaired by board member Lawrence.

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    First Loves Park mayor honored at his 100th birthday
    May 15, 2014
    By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK- Loves Park City Council meeting, Mayor Darryl Lindberg read a proclamation declaring May 7 as “Homer E. Burton Day” in the city, the date of Burton’s centennial birthday.
    “The city is proud of its roots,” Lindberg said, and noted that the former mayor and himself were the only two mayors still living. The city incorporated on April 30, 1947.
    Information supplied by Burton’s daughter, Joyce Burton Walker:
    On April 26, a birthday celebration was held for Loves Park’s first mayor, Homer E. Burton. He was 100 years old and currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
    Burton and his family visited Loves Park a couple of years ago, at that time visiting with late Joseph Sinkiawic, also a former mayor.
    As explained by daughter Joyce Burton Walker, her father was a very successful businessman here in the 1940s. The City of Loves Park incorporated in 1947 and Burton was elected its first mayor.
    He and partner, Norm Dreyer, owned the Burton and Dreyer “Joyce Ann Candies and Carol Ann Cookies,” which operated in a building is today a bowling alley.
    Due to health issues the family relocated to California in the 1950s where he started a cookie and candy brokerage business throughout the west.
    The family was involved in church activities in Southern California and a calling was accepted as the pastors of a church in Riverside.
    As Joyce noted, “In 1960 the door opened for a move to Las Vegas and H.E. Burton became instrumental in the development of Mortuary Pre-Need for Nevada and other states.
    “He retired in 2000. His wife Ruth Burton went to Heaven in 2003. His children - Joyce, Richard and Jeannine, and their families are very dear to him.
    “His main mission in life has been to serve his Lord and Savior, witness to others and to seek God’s Will for his life. His 100 years have been richly blessed. His actual birth date was May 7. Another celebration was planned in Canton, Georgia for May 3.”
    Burton was born in Louisville, Clay County, Illinois in 1914 and married Ruth Holland in 1936. The family relocated to Las Vegas in 1960.
    Another proclamation was declared for May 10, naming it “Letter Carrier’s Food Drive Day,” an annual event. This year is the 20th year for the food drive whereby letter carriers and volunteers pick up donated non-perishables for are food pantries. 
    Jerry Pyfer, letter carrier with the Loves Park USPS Branch was on hand to accept the proclamation. He noted that, “With this year’s expected donations we will have collected over 1,960,000 pounds of food in this area over the past 20 years. Getting into the summer months tends to be a slow time for the food pantries.”
    As is done each year, the mayor also proclaimed the month of May as “Motorcycle Awareness Month” in Loves Park.
    In other business, Alderman Clint Little gave the weekly police activity report for the week of April 27–May 3. There were 400 calls for service, 190 arrests, and nine accidents reported. On the weekly fire department report dated May 4 listing two fire calls, three false fire alarm calls, and one carbon monoxide or gas leak call.
    A total of $213,047.61 in water fund bills, and $204,073.83 in general fund and all other bills were approved for payment, the bills as presented April 28. Alderman Julie Hobel abstained from voting on payment of the general fund bills.
    Alderman John Pruitt gave the monthly building report for the month of April. A total of 105 permits were issued and $8,560 in permit fees were collected.
    An ordinance amendment concerning the regulation of storage of garbage containers (garbage cans) was passed. Alderman Little explained he would vote no  “because of one individual’s complaint, and because we already have an ordinance in place, this is not a public safety issue but merely ‘how it looks,’ and makes all residents responsible.” Apparently, there was a complaint of garbage cans being kept in the front of a garage that was not appealing to the neighborhood. The amendment was passed by the majority of aldermen.
    A Class B (packaged – all alcohol) liquor license, second reading resolution, for Windsor Mini Mart in the 1000 block of Windsor Road, was approved.

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    Harlemites celebrate an 87th birthday; meet new principal
    May 15, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - Ninety graduates of Harlem High School turned out May 5 for their monthly breakfast meeting at VFW Post 9759 on Windsor Road.
    The opening format changed a bit with the group standing and singing "Happy Birthday" to George Secrist, a 1945 grad who had turned 87.
    He was served breakfast by his nephew, Kevin Fisher (a Rockford East alum), and lastly enjoyed dessert - a piece of birthday cake.
    In addition, Secrist received about a dozen birthday cards and sat with a table full of his classmates.
    As is usually the case the breakfast included a guest speaker, this time the new Harlem High School principal Terrell Yarbrough. But he almost didn't make it.
    He said he had a conflict and was going to tell Delores Hall, who sets up the organization's programs, about it. But after seeing the expression on her face, he said he changed his plans and made it, afterall. "You do not want to disappoint Delores," he said.
    May is the busiest time of year at the high school with the Harlem Pride awards and Jazz Band Cabaret, Senior Awards Night, Prom and, finally, graduation on May 24.
    It also will herald the end Yarbrough's first year as principal, which was enjoyable yet challenging.
    There was a problem right off the bat when the school was forced to cancel the traditional Homecoming parade on Sept. 30. That was because of a state law requiring students to be in the classroom for a full five hours a day, in order for it to be official.
    It wasn't possible to arrange dismissal and meet that requirement, what with football fans beginning to enter the football field as early as 4 p.m. for the sophomore game.
    But he was able to settle in with continuing support from staff, students, parents and the community.
    "My goal was to build relationships with students, staff and the community," he said.
    Did that happen? "There's not a lot of evidence that I've been successful," he continued. "But it seems that every day I talk with someone who's excited about Harlem High School."
    He said he inherited school from longtime principal Joe Hazen that had a foundation of being successful. There are 500 seniors graduating this year, from an overall population of about 2,100, which Yarbrough termed "awesome."
    More students are taking advanced placement classes than ever before and they're scoring 3s and 4s, on a scale of 1-5, on the AP test.
    The artificial turf campaign is in full swing and supporters are hoping to have a new surface on the varsity football field in time for the fall season. Before being publicly announced, private fund-raising had generated more than $400,000, further evidence of community support for the school.
    Ground breaking is anticipated early in June, with construction wrapping up in August.
    Yarbrough is a native of Milwaukee who has been in Harlem School District 122 for six years, coming here from Beloit.
    Looking at the 2014-15 school year, he said, "We have work to do. We will continue to evolve to be the school we want to be."

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    Royal Court selected for 2014 Young at Heart festival
    May 15, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - Five girls were chosen during the 43rd Young at Heart Pageant on Saturday to represent the 2014 festival for the coming year.
    After a year's absence the Mini Princess competition was back with three contestants. The winner was Kittra Love.
    In addition, Madison Hawn was chosen as the Petite Princess; Natilyn Scott as the Junior Princess; Miranda Schoultz as Senior Princess; and Megan Clarida as the Queen.
    First runners-up were Peyton Johnson as Mini Princess; Melena Traverzo as Petite Princess; Zyann French as Junior Princess; Kaleigh Swafford as Senior Princess; and Alyssa LeCleir as Queen.
    Longtime emcee Frances Williams provided some interesting asides about a few of the winners and runners-up.
    Madison, the new Petite Princess, had been first runner-up for the past two years. The new Junior Princess, Natilyn, is a previous pageant winner. And Kaleigh, first runner-up for Senior Princess, also was first runner-up in 2013.
    Some specialty prizes also were awarded.
    The Most Photogenic were Haley Musgrave in the Mini Princess competition; Melena Traverzo as Petite Princess; Zyann French as Junior Princess; Samantha Snedigar as Senior Princess; and Megan Clarida as Queen.
    Williams said Melanie Bradley, editor of the Post Journal, chose the Most Photogenic winners.
    Those chosen as giving the best interviews were Kittra Love, Mini Princess; Madison Hawn, Petite Princess; Zyann French, Junior Princess; Miranda Schoultz, Senior Princess; and Melissa Riedel, Queen.
    Creative sportswear winners were Haley Musgrave in the Mini Princess event; Madison Hawn, Petite Princess; Zyann French, Junior Princess; Kaleigh Swafford, Senior Princess; and Megan Clarida, Queen.
    Those selected as best in the formal wear category were Haley Musgrave, Mini Princess; Madison Hawn, Petite Princess; Natilyn Scott, Junior Princess; Miranda Schoultz, Senior Princess; and Megan Clarida, Queen.
    Other candidates included Kalista Hicks and Brielle Brough for Petite Princess; Alexis Hagans, Lexis Romero, Ashlyn Johnson, Nakara Watson, Haleigh Zanoni and Aliah Peterson, Junior Princess; Brianna Brough and Torrie Rowell, Senior Princess; and Regan Youngberg and Shania Knutsen, Queen.
    Each of the Queen candidates was asked a different questoon at the end of their competition.
    Regan was asked what she would do if elected queen? She answered that she would spread the word about Memorial Day and what it's all about.
    The Young at Heart festival is held over Memorial Day weekend and includes a parade.
    Melissa was asked to describe her best friend. She said she actually has two best friends, who make her laugh and keep her on the right track.
    For Shania, the question was what advice would she give to a child? Be who you want to be, she answered, and chase your dreams.
    Megan was asked to tell of her favorite childhood memory. She said it was going to the park with her parents.
    And Alyssa's question was when was the last time she failed and how she handled it? She said she once told a secret she was supposed to keep and made up for it by telling her friend it would never happen again.

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    Harlem Pride awards go to students, adults, businesses
    May 8, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - Twenty-five Harlem Pride awards were handed out Friday night (May 2) to a variety of people for going above and beyond in their devotion to Harlem High School.This is an annual occasion, recently held in conjunction with the Jazz Band Cabaret that follows the presentations. It was new principal Terrell Yarbrough's first year as "host' of the evening, replacing longtime principal Joe Hazen who retired last year.Awards were bestowed upon nine students for being involved in a variety of activities on behalf of the school.DeJowan Woods, better known as "De," won his second consecutive Pride award.He was a junior last year and a regular on the varsity basketball team. While going to a game he noticed an elderly fan was having difficulty getting into the gym. He stopped, made she she got safely inside and continued on to get ready for the game.This year he helped difuse a situation in which a teacher had encountered a threatening student.Other student award winners were Tyler Ellinger for his volunteer work with Rockford Special Olympics athletes.Jake Gregor set up a wheelchair basketball game during halftime of a Huskie varsity contest this past season.Seth McPeek found a wallet belonging to another student containing more than $100 and a gift card and without hesitation turned it in to the office.Taylor Mershon was recognized for her efforts at becoming an outstanding all-around student.Javier Montezuma Jr. has made substantial changes in his life over four years at Harlem. His first two years he had 72 referrals to the office and failed four classes.During his last two years he had no referrals and passed 19 of 20 classes. "His success will inspire future Harlem students," principal Yarbrough said.Austin Shanks genuinely cares for a student in the life skills and is always there for her.And Alyssa Sickler and Hailee Whitmire, student-athletes and longtime friends, organized a fund-raiser for the family of a staff member who died to help with medical expenses.Student groups The principal gave three Harlem Pride awards to student organizations.The Harlem Badminton League was an extra-curricular activity set up by senior Conner Wessman for all students to enjoy.Carol Johnson, student council advisor, was recognized for the emergence of The Dog Pound. This was a large assembly of student fans that sat in bleachers on the north end of the football field and showed their support for the football team. After home games football players joined those in The Dog Pound in singing the school song."They changed the complexion of fall sports," Yarbrough said.The student council was honored for continuing to paint parts of the football field with the Huskie emblem and letters in the end zone.Adults, businesses Businesses and others receiving Huskie Pride awards were Carz R Us, Matt Aukes; Grace Lutheran Church, Ed Goetz, Dick Dunphrey, Carl Freehaul and Mike Swanson; Midway Village and Museum, David Byrnes and Laura Forman; Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment (RAVE), Gordon Kaye; Rock Valley College, Lori Perkins; and Rock Valley Credit Union, Barb and Tom Churchill.Dianne Harrington received a Pride award for providing homeless Harlem families with food, school supplies and household goods.She said afterward that her work was being done through GPS Faith Community Church, 10714 N. Second St. in Machesney Park.Gail Derr was recognized for differing kinds of donations to the school.Paraprofessional Vickie Hauser who works in life skills is helping a child outside the classroom.Recent Harlem graduates Alexis Joyner and Mercedes Joyner have emerged as leaders at Rock Valley College.And Paul Lanman, husband of the late Pam Lanman, received a Pride award in recognition of his wife's efforts to keep Harlem hallways safe, which was cut short.

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    Life goes on for successful middle school bowlers
    May 8, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - Harlem Middle School's boys and girls bowling teams only had two days to savor their successes in the annual Illinois Elementary School Association tournament.They were back practicing at Forest Hills Lanes on April 8, what with three conference matches left to be played. And then there was the Harlem Invitational, held April 26, along with the season-ending Top 16 tournament today (May 8) at The Cherry Bowl.But before they got down to business the teams unveiled the trophies they won April 5 in Joliet. The girls successfully defended the state championship they won in 2013, while the boys brought home third-place hardware.In addition, there was cake to help celebrate the successful two-day trip.Eight-grader Stephanie Richards finished third individually, improving on last year's eight-place effort.But her focus was on the team and how it came back from being 76 pins down with one game to go. "We made up 123 pins to win," she said.She said their parents tried to keep it from them, that they were losing. But they knew it, anyway, mostly because of the way the Minooka team was acting."I was nervous the whole time," she said. "We knew Minooka would be strong coming into the tournament but we were strong, too."Of her moving up in the individual standings this year, she said, "Oh, yes, it was a huge improvement."Conference finishesLeague play is over now and Harlem had another good year.Varsity girls teams finished first and third while the junior varsity also took first and third. The varsity boys team was fourth; the JV teams were first and third.Becca Hagerman finished first among all conference bowlers with a 192 average per game. Richard was second with a 170; Kayla Verstraete fifth with a 166; Treasure Childs, seventh with a 160; and Graci Cabello, ninth with a 158.On the boys side Noah Mandujano came in fourth, averaging 198 per game, followed by Kyler Gerl, 10th at 188; Nick Howard, 11th at 186; Darby Windsor, 12th at 185; and James White, 16th at 176.All of them will be participating in the Top 16 tournament.The April 26 invitational primarily featured Harlem and Freeport teams, though one team of fifth and sixth graders was allowed from Rock Cut Elementary School.Harlem once again enjoyed a measure of success with girls varsity teams placing first and third; boys varsity teams first and third, one of the boys JV teams, second, and the young Huskies, the fifth and sixth-graders, first.Sixth-grader Josh Roth rolled a four-game 798 series, averaging 199.5 per game, to lead all JV bowlers. That effort which would have earned him second place had he been bowling with the varsity team. He is the son of Tina and Mike Roth.Tournament resultsHere are the individual results from the tournament:Varsity Boys, Series, Kyler Gerl, 738, second place; Nick Newman, 727, third place; and Zach Zimmerman, 713, fourth place.Varsity Boys, High Game, James White 214, second place; Jared Ohman, 212, third place; Darby Windsor, 211, fourth place; and Noah Mandujano, 206, fifth place.Varsity Girls, Series, Becca Hagerman, 733, first place; Stephanie Richards, 686, third place; Graci Cabello, 645, fourth place; and Sydney Keller, 622, fifth place.Varsity Girls, High Game, Treasure Childs, 215, first place; and Delaney Lopez, 162, fifth place.JV Series, Josh Roth (sixth grader), 798, first place; Noah White, 503, second place; Kaeden Witt (sixth grader), 462, third place; Dustin Dahlberg, 411, fourth place; and D.J. Nobel, 388, fifth place.JV High Game, Ethan Pash (sixth grader), 206, first place; Aaron Rille, 144, second place; Alyssa Willard, 115, third place; Haley Schwartz, 111, fourth place; and Brent Garcia, 94, fifth place.Head coach Kelly Nimtz said she expected next year's tournament to have more area schools because the state tournament is being pushed back to April 17-18. That means the Harlem tournament will be held earlier in the season.Looking at the future of Harlem bowling, she predicted continued success at the middle and high school levels."My job as a coach at this level is to get the eighth graders ready for high school competition," she said. "The crop of eighth graders we have had this year will be great additions to our high school program."She said this year's seventh graders "are only going to get better and better and add in our sixth graders coming up, Harlem has successful seasons ahead in middle school and high school. We keep reloading!"She added that parents of those competitors are bowlers themselves, "and they are so supportive of their kids and all tghe kids. Harlem parents are the best!"

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    Terrang Trail homeowners may get sanitary sewer service
    May 8, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - Terrang Trail is on a lengthy list of village streets scheduled for improvements sometime in the next seven years.But Terrang Trail, which extends east off Alpine Road, may get something extra in the installation of sanitary sewer service.Village Engineer Chris Dopkins mentioned that as a possibility during the April 21 village board meeting.When the badly pock-marked street, as well as Terrang Court, get new surfaces will depend on when Rock River Water Reclamation District does its project.Dopkins said the first step has been taken. The district surveyed residents in that area on whether they wanted water and sanitary sewer service and the results were favorable. While neighboring Centaur Drive has village water and sewer, Terrang Trail residents have well and septic.Dana Carroll, engineering manager for Rock River, said April 22 that sewer lines now were available because of the Roosevelt Road improvement. “The neighborhood in general has expressed enough interest” in receiving those services, he said.District officials now are determining the cost and how many people would be served by the utilities. Since residents of Terrang Trail, Terrang Court and Hans Lane would be assessed for the improvement, the next step would be having a neighborhood meeting to explain all of the details. Then a formal petition would be passed around to affected residents.Advance preparations probably will take most of the spring and early summer, Carroll said. He added it's very unlikely that the project would begin before next year.“It's possible for both to happen at the same time,” he said of the utility installation and road improvements.Concerning the utility work itself, he said, “My confidence level is high that there will be some kind of a project. The question is how much of a project it will be.”Dopkins said the Terrang Trail road improvement would be a step above the normal resurfacing, but not a complete reconstruction.Village assesses fine Also on April 21 the village liquor commission approved assessing a $3,000 fine against Ann-Lee Management, doing business as Legends Sports Bar and Grill, for two alleged violations of the municipal code dealing with liquor licenses.Village Attorney Tom Green said the company stipulated to the fine but not to having violated any village codes.In a follow-up interview, Village Administrator Tim Savage said an incident occurred between two customers inside the business on Jan. 13, 2014. Subsequently, village officials determined there had been two code violations:* The managing bartender responded inappropriately to the incident.* Employment records did not list the managing bartender as working for the business.Green said having the liquor commission handle the matter avoided going to an administrative hearing, where there would have been additional costs and possibly a higher fine.The commission's decidion, which was unanimous and came without comment from members, was final and not subject to concurrence from the village board.

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    Harlem soccer team serves pancakes to help turf campaign
    May 1, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - Members of Harlem High School's girls soccer team were up bright and early April 19 to help out the artificial turf campaign at their school.They served pancakes and bused tables from 7 to 11 a.m. with all proceeds going to toward the $670,000 project that will bring a new surface to the football field on which they play home games."The VFW gave everything so it's 100 percent profit," head coach Brad Heidenreich said.And there was a $230 bonus as well. Post Commander Adam Abdul won the 50/50 drawing and immediately gave his winnings - $230 - to the girls for the fund-raiser.Josh Aurand, assistant superintendent of Harlem School District 122, said the campaign had reached $540,000 as of April 24. That amount includes $10,000 given by the village of Machesney Park. The city of Loves Park was scheduled to act on a $10,000 donation earlier this week.The goal is $670,000 and the deadline for raising the full amount is May 9."We have the current canpaign totals on our website (www.harlem122.org), which will change as we receive pledges," Aurand said. Team on a roll Since the fund-raiser the Lady Huskies have improved their record to 11-1 overall and 5-0 in the NIC-10. Most recently their senior goal keeper, Alyssa Sickler, recorded her fifth consecutive shutout, 2-0, Friday night in a non-conference game with Marian Central, Woodstock.During that streak Harlem has defeated DeKalb, 1-0; Moline, 2-0; Belvidere North, 5-0; Belvidere, 9-0; and Central.During the fund-raiser Sickler said she and other seniors were "hoping our last year will make more history than we already have. Winning conference is definitely in our thoughts."While this team has a lot of experience, she said a number of freshmen are "a big deal, a great addition. Everyone is contributing."Classmate and close friend Hailee Whitmire recently was commended by coach Heidenreich for becoming an integral part of the team this spring."I pushed myself," she said. "I played club and switched to a team with better competition. I wanted to prove that I could do better."During the fund-raiser members of the team were wearing T-shirts specially made by their coach to celebrate the April 10 win over Boylan, first in the 27-year history of the Harlem soccer program.The shirts bore the inscription, "Beat the Streak," on the front. On the back it stated, "We 'Did it, 4-10-14."The five-shutout string has followed the 2-1 shootout win over Boylan.In the most recent win Harlem received goals from Emily Scott and McKaela Schmelzer.They'll be back in action tonight (May 1) at Rockford Auburn, with varsity action beginning at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday they will be at the Lady Pretz Cup in Freeport, with a field that includes Hampshire, Libertyville, Marian Central, Sycamore and Woodstock.The showdown with Hononegah is May 8, one week from today, on the road at 7.

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    A farewell to former 3rd Ward Alderman Dick Brinker
    May 1, 2014
     By Margaret Downing
    Reporter
     
    LOVES PARK - The City of Loves Park has lost one of its diehard supporters. Richard "Dick" Brinker, former Third Ward Alderman, passed away April 25. Brinker served as alderman for 36 years, having retired from the City Council April 29 of last year, stating at the time that he was then free to actually "retire" from city service. He and wife Gloria have been Loves Park residents for about 55 years.Upon hearing that Brinker had passed away, Mayor Darryl Lindberg said, "We were always very proud and grateful to have Dick as a city servant. First of all, he was a good friend and this is a tremendous loss to Loves Park. We were friends for over 35 years going back to when I was police chief."Upon becoming mayor, Lindberg appointed Dick as chairman of the finance and administration committee."He was a great family man and anything we needed, he would always be there to help us out."Lindberg also recalled how involved Brinker was with the Loves Park Lions Club as a long time member, the Harlemites, and the yearly Young At Heart Festival.Fifth Ward Alderman A. Marie Holmes sat next to Brinker for a total of over 20 years on the city council."We were long time friends," she said. "You never know who you are going to meet in life and we became great friends. Our families shared a lot over the years, and it was through Dick that I became good friends with Gloria. He has surely been missed on council this past year."Brinker, always an avid reader, graduated from Rockford East High School in 1952, and Gloria, a Loves Park native, graduated from Harlem High School in 1954. The two met at a friend's wedding and were married in 1956."We lived in Rockford for a year," Gloria explained, "and moved to our current home in 1957."The Brinkers were parents to three children; daughter Darla Peterson (Eric), and sons Dale (Deb) and Dennis (Judy). There are seven grandchildren and one step-grandchild.Dale and Deb live in Antioch, Dennis and Judy live in Fishers, Ind., and Darla and Eric are Rockford residents.Brinker retired from Chrysler skilled trades in 1995 and said last year that he never considered running for public office. Some 37 years ago, however, Gloria recalled four men coming to see her husband about running for alderman. Dick gave it a try and won. There were many highlights Brinker recalled in his 36 years on the council. Some of those include: when Loves Park annexed Rock Cut State Park; the flood control project, a major undertaking, which Dick recalled "seemed like years to complete; "turning the old Marshall Junior High into the Loves Park City Hall complex; and bringing Napleton's into the city. He was also in possession of a good sense of humor, being known on St. Patrick's Day as "Dick O'Brinker."A year ago, Brinker's wish was, "to take it easy, travel a bit, and visit with the kids and grandchildren, as long as our health holds out." Unfortunately, time was not in the cards. The city has lost an immensely supportive resident.As of press time, a visitation was being planned at Delehanty Funeral Home for Thursday, May 1 from 5 to 7 p.m. with a tentative funeral service set for Saturday, May 3, 10:30 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church.

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    Parks Chamber unveils new Young at Heart button
    April 24, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - The Parks Chamber of Commerce officially displayed the 2014 button for the 43rd Young at Hearts Festival Thursday morning at Harlem High School.On hand for the announcement were officials from the chamber, city of Loves Park, village of Machesney Park and Harlem School District 122. And this year's winning artist, Elizabeth Schutt, was available for interviews and to accept a $100 check from the chamber.Chamber board members selected her creation from among 50 entries.After graduation in May she plans to attend Rock Valley College and major in art. Her next stop likely will be Northern Illinois University but that's not definite at this point.Elizabeth said she had been interested in art all of her life. She participated in the fine arts program at Machesney Elementary School and has been involved ever since.Her inspiration, she said, comes from personal experiences. And when she's at work, she enjoys listening to a variety of music, especially classical and opera. "I also sing opera," she said.The fact that this is her senior year really "dawned on me recently," she said. "I'm excited to leave but then I think, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm leaving.'"This is the 12th year students of high school art teacher Barb Kurilla have submitted designs for Young at Heart. She said she is amazed how "they come up with something new every year."Diana Johnson, executive director of the chamber, welcomed a large turnout to the ceremony. While they weren't able to attend, she announced Ike and Lisa Trickie of Machesney Park as the event's platinum sponsor for the sixth consecutive year.Longtime Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg heralded the button ceremony as the first official event of the upcoming festival. Young at Heart is held over the Memorial Day weekend on grounds surrounding Loves Park City Hall.He said it had been guaranteed by Machesney Park MayorJerry Bolin that the weather would be perfect. "If not, talk to him," he said.Machesney Park is a partner with the city in the event and Mayor Bolin also was at the button unveiling. "I can't believe this is the 43rd year," he said. "It's a family event and I hope everyone will attend."Young at Heart is the primary annual fund-raiser for the Parks chamber. It offers music, food and rides.The chamber each year has a pageant and the current court consists of Petite Princess Elenita Romero; Junior Princess Kira Daehne; Senior Princess Cassandra Melton; and Queen Danielle Gouchenour. The actual competition usually is held a couple of weeks before the festival.In addition. the a Service Above Self award is presented to someone who has gone above and beyond in serving the community.

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    No state multiplier for 2015 Harlem Township tax bills
    April 24, 2014
    By Bob Balgemann
    Reporter
     
    MACHESNEY PARK - This year's property tax bills are a thing of the past when it comes to having, or not having, a state multiplier. A new tax bill should be received by property owners sometime in May, with the usual installment dates in June and September. So it's too late to make any inquiries with township Assessor Mark Sorrentino's office. But 2015 is another matter and all those details currently are being worked out. Sorrentino told the township board at its April meeting that there won't be a state multiplier this year, for 2015 tax bills. To determine if a multiplier is applied state officials look at home sales in the village and in Winnebago County, he explained. If they determine there is a significant difference between home prices and assessed values, a multiplier is applied to equalize the value. That occurred for the 2014 tax bill, the first time in the four years Sorrentino has been in office. But there won't be one this year and he said, "That's good news."What it means is that sales values and assessment values are more in line with one another.There will be a multiplier from the county, however, and it's lower than last year. Tentatively it will be 2.7, which means property values once again will be reduced. County multipliers in recent years were 4.04 in 2010; 4.44 in 2011; 4.00 in 2012; and 5.71 in 2013.A lower multiplier could lead to some tax bills being lower than the ones that will be received next month. But whether that happens will depend on new rates for taxing bodies on one's bill, such as School District 122, the county, North Suburban Library District and others. The school district takes about 70 percent of a property owner's taxes.Too often a homeowner complaints to the assessor's office that his or her assessment was lower yet the tax bill went up.It is suggested that property owners determine the taxing bodies on their bill, give them a call or attend one of their meetings and see what their proposed tax rate is for next year.Enough of those inquiries will give a resident an indication of what his or her tax bill will be in 2015.Speaking of inquiries it's almost time to take any questions or concerns to the assessor's office. The new assessed values for property in Harlem Township should be available early in August.Once assessments are known, Sorrentino invites residents with inquries to drop by his office in the township building behind the Machesney Crossings shoppint center for a talk. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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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.”