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Monthly Archives: November 2014

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Planning: Take the City of Rockford survey on downtown Rockford experience

City of Rockford conducts survey

ROCKFORD — The City of Rockford’s Community and Economic Development and Public Works departments seeks residents to complete surveys on the downtown Rockford experience.

The survey should take about 10 minutes, and submitted answers will be anonymous.

The feedback will help identify catalytic projects and activities to implement for continued growth of the central area and the entire community.

To complete the survey:


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Unity, Pride & Culture: Free parking, free shuttle service for Rockford’s Stroll on State

ROCKFORD — Several parking options are available for those attending Saturday’s Stroll on State in downtown Rockford.

The event is scheduled from 4 to 9 p.m.


The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will offer two free remote parking options with free shuttle bus rides available throughout the night. Shuttle parking lot No. 1 will be at the YMCA, 200 Y Blvd., and has more than 500 parking spots available. Shuttle parking lot No. 2 will be at Heartland Community Church, 1280 S. Alpine Road, with about 1,500 parking spots available. Shuttles for both locations will have volunteer helpers and will operate from 4 to 10 p.m. Both shuttle routes will drop off riders on Market Street, one block from the festival grounds.

In addition, the city of Rockford will have the downtown public parking lots and decks available throughout the night. A parking fee of $5 will be charged at the parking decks. A map of the parking lots and decks available throughout the downtown is online at On street parking will be available throughout the downtown and on side streets as posted.

The “Stroll” launches from City Hall at 5:45 p.m. with the Tree Lighting Ceremony taking place at the PNC Bank Plaza at 6 p.m. Downtown shops and restaurants will be open throughout the event, food vendors and beer gardens are available throughout downtown, and other family-friendly events like ice skating, horse and wagon rides, pictures with Santa, and much more will be available. There is no admission charge.


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Happy ThanksGiving from TransformRockford!

 TransformRockford team members and volunteers wish all a safe and memorable ThanksGiving weekend!


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Video: Community Vision Rally

Take a few moments to watch the Community Vision Rally video:

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Jobs & Economy: Transform Rockford Tours AAR Headquarters

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Airplane maintenance company AAR has already broken ground on a 200,000 square foot hangar to be built near the Rockford airport.

Now, it’s time for AAR to break the ice with Transform Rockford. Today, that organizations executive director took a tour of the world headquarters.

Hundreds of thousands of parts are packaged at AAR’s massive distribution center in Wood Dale.

“That’s what you’re going to see in Rockford.”

But today, it was Rockford coming to Wood Dale.

“It’s an exciting chance for people to do something that compliments other work that we already have in the region and take it to a whole new level,” said Transform Rockford Executive Director Mike Schablaske.

Schablaske paid his first visit to AAR’s world headquarters to compare visions with the airplane maintenance company that’s committed to building its 7th Hangar at the Rockford airport.

“We’re talking about a World class company coming to Rockford making Rockford greater. So learning about that today, I think they absolutely complement one another,” said Schablaske.

“The Rockford project for AAR as well as the state of Illinois and the Rockford Region is very important. We put a lot of focus on it and we’re out there. We’re going to have to all work together that’s why I really wanted to have Mike come out to see the broad scope of things,” said Greg Dellinger with AAR.

In the coming days we’ll bring you a closer look at the dynamics of AAR and also show you how Transform Rockford is hoping to build off the potential that AAR has to offer.


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Caring: Our View: Empty Stocking has holes

 Rockford Register Star readers have been extremely generous over the years, helping to provide Christmas presents for thousands of children in the Rock River Valley.

Our Empty Stocking club has been around for more than three decades. Our goal is to help make sure every child in Winnebago and Boone counties has at least one present underneath his or her Christmas tree.

Last year, more than 3,400 children were given a free toy and gloves or mittens.

We need your help to make that happen again. We’ve set an ambitious $60,000 goal so that we can buy the gifts for the little boys and girls who may not get anything otherwise.

You helped us reach that goal last year and hope you do so again this year.

The toy giveaway will be upon us soon — Dec. 13. Registered families can pick up their toys on that day here at the News Tower, 99 E. State St.

Donations may be sent to:

Empty Stocking Club

c/o Associated Bank

612 N. Main St.

Rockford, IL 61103-6997

Empty Stocking is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit agency, which means that every donation is tax-deductible.

Please help make a child’s Christmas brighter.


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Caring: Rockford Reads seeks volunteers


How to help: Rockford Reads seeks volunteers

The Rockford Reads project is looking for volunteers to work with second grade students in more than 30 elementary schools. The direct benefit to the children will be increased exposure to print and book language through adults reading aloud and listening to the children read a book. Community Volunteers give as little as one hour per week to read one-on-one with students at an elementary site of their choice.

To volunteer, contact Marsha Sisney, Parent & Community Engagement Supervisor with the Rockford School District, at 815-966-3271 or send an email to The required volunteer information and background check forms will be mailed to you. Fill out the forms and return them to the Parent and Community Engagement Department, 501 Seventh St., Rockford, IL 61104. You will be contacted with an assignment and a starting date. Volunteers will work with students from Jan. 13 through the end of May.

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Neighborhoods: “We can make a difference” Citizens Rally to Fix Rockford landmark

The timing is off on one Rockford landmark


One of the most recognizable landmarks as you come into Rockford needs repairing. The clock’s time at the Clock Tower Resort is off and it has been for quite some time.


It bothered one man so much he decided to use his radio show to take action. If timing is everything there is something wrong in Rockford.

Can you tell me what the time is?


Can you look at your clock and tell me what it is?

“1:37. You are late.”

“I knew that sounded wrong. It’s like 1:53.”

So is the clock right?

“Ummm almost.”

The Clock Tower Resort’s clock does not keep time correctly.

“I have been driving by it for five years and it’s been wrong for five years,” says Jim Stone.

The WXRX host was so mad the clock did not work he took to the airwaves. He’s been complaining about the broken time piece since this summer. Finally, he went to his owners at Mid-west Family Broadcasting and asked them to help him fix it. It just signed an agreement with the resort’s owners. The media company is now responsible for fixing and maintaining the clock for the next five years.

Transform Rockford’s executive director says this is actually the kind of initiative been promoting.

“People can take from this that they can make a difference. Take some inspiration from what they are doing. If we can do this then maybe then maybe they can do something in their neighborhood,” says Mike Schablaske.

The clock isn’t expected to be fixed until at least next year. But a broken clock is right at least twice a day, right?

“Actually its right 8 times a day. There are four different sides.”

Mid-west family needs the community’s help to fix the clock tower. It’s started a fund for it’s repair and maintenance. You can contact the station for more information on how to donate. You can also click here.


More news from TransformRockford

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Quality: Rockford’s Coco Key becomes a movie set


ROCKFORD — Coco Key water park became a movie set Thursday as a father honored his late 10-year-old son with a film project to raise money to fight the brain cancer that killed him.

The movie, “Thrill Ride,” is a low-budget children’s action film by Mason’s Movies, a nonprofit company formed by Chris Parrish of Woodstock after the death of his son, Mason, three years ago from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

The film stars Kristen Johnson, who won two Emmy Awards as Sally in TV’s “Third Rock From the Son.” Set in an amusement park, it is the story of three kids who sneak into the park one night to hunt for loot that Al Capone was said to have buried there. The park’s attractions — a sea witch, evil mermaid, pirates and monsters — come alive and give the kids what Parrish describes as a “wild and dangerous ride beyond all imagination.”

The plot was Mason’s idea and father and son, who tossed movie ideas back and forth like a game of catch, wrote and pitched the idea to studios.

“Mason was a naturally gifted storyteller,” said Parrish, who moved to Illinois after 18 years as a screen and TV writer in Los Angeles.

Writing was one of the things Mason was able to do as his cancer progressed. He wrote until he could write no longer.

Parrish said that on the day Mason slipped into a coma his son said, “Mom I feel like writing. Give me my notebook.”

Mason’s Movies found backing from Vince Foglia, founder of the Cary manufacturer of disposable health and personal care items, Sage Products.

“He doesn’t want a dime,” Parrish said, noting that half of the film’s proceeds will fund future films and the other half will go toward brain cancer research, vans equipped for disabled children and for an after- school program, Cartoon Comics Inc., which teaches the craft of cartooning and storytelling.

Parrish did not disclose the film’s budget, but said that in comparison with a big budget Hollywood product “it will cost what they spend on sushi.”

The film, which will be released in 2015, will be about 90 minutes.

“That’s the target,” said producer Angie Gaffney. “We recognize the short attention span of children.”

Part of the story involves a water park. Alex Hughes, location manager for Mason’s Movies, said Coco Key at the Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center was chosen from a half-dozen parks he considered for the film because it had the decor for a pirate theme. He describes the film as “Goonies” meets “Night at the Museum.”

Hughes said most of the movie will be filmed at Chicago Studio City, where the rest of the amusement park was built.

There will be no weapons or swearing in “Thrill Ride.”

“This is a PG movie,” Hughes said.

Brian Leaf: 815-987-1343;; @b_leaf