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Monthly Archives: April 2016

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Education: Rockford Iqra School teacher honored with local award

ROCKFORD — Ann Marie Wiermanski-Johnson, a fifth-grade English teacher at the Rockford Iqra School, was named the 2016 Rockford winner of the Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher Contest.

One of her students, Yusra Khan, wrote the winning essay as an expression of gratitude toward Wiermanski-Johnson. Both student and teacher received certificates of recognition in a ceremony at the school on April 7.

Winning the regional contest qualifies Wiermanski-Johnson for the Barnes & Noble National Teacher of the Year contest.

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Leadership: Dan O’Shea Sworn in as Rockford Police Chief

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey and City Attorney Patrick Hayes swore-in Dan O’Shea as the city’s next police chief.

The former Elgin Commander spoke to residents during the ceremony inside city hall’s lobby about improving transparency, and reducing violent crime.

O’Shea says, “One of the first things we gotta work on interaction and inter-agency involvement with the county sheriff the FBI the DEA. I wanna utilize all the resources we can get.”

The new chief took time to meet with residents and city officials an hour before the ceremony. He says they made it clear what the department’s main focus should be.

He adds, “The residents, they spoke clearly when I was looking forward to this job that they want to reduce violent crime, they want to be more involved with the police department. They want more transparency, and they want us to work on some juvenile initiatives. I’m prepared to lead this organization to take on that mission.”

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Quality: Rockford College of Medicine students win at annual research day

ROCKFORD — The University of Illinois College of Medicine recognized 12 Rockford students at its 21st annual research day April 13.

Students and their awards are: Pooja Narendra, Best Basic Science Research Poster and Outstanding Poster awards; Jonathon Martins, Best Case Report Award; Sunil Palani, Best MBT Student Research Poster Award; Craig Forsthoefel and Ijeoma Agu, Best Medical Student Technical Poster Award; Anthony Logli, Best Use of Literature in a Student Research Project Award; Jenny Tumba, Dean’s Action Council Award; Natalie Allen, Encouraging Excellence in Rural Health Award; Mark Frakes, James Scholar and Encouraging Excellence in Rural Health awards; Matthew Summerlin, Outstanding Poster Award; Qing Wang, Supporting Model Public Health Practices-Research Award; and Sarah Linder, Sister Mary Linus Nowak Research Award.

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Economy & Jobs: About 400 gather for the Rockford chamber’s Manufacturing Expo

SOUTH BELOIT — Business management consultant Eileen McDargh approached the Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s Manufacturing Expo stage tonight giving high fives to people as the “Rocky” movie theme song played.

The keynote speaker told a crowd of about 400 from the Rock River Valley’s manufacturing industry that they reminded her of the boxer in the Academy Award-winning film.

“He was the grassroots, street-smart fighter,” the Californian told those gathered at the Garden Hotel & Conference Center. “What is more grassroots than manufacturing? Do you not also have to be incredibly street smart?

“You have to be able to do what Rocky did. You have to be able to take a licking and keep on ticking. Here you are sitting in Rockford. Everything that I’ve looked at says this is an incredible, incredible community and organization.”

McDargh, who has written books about developing a leadership culture in a business environment, preached the importance of being resilient in a post-recession economic climate. She commended local industry leaders for their survival skills.

The Transform Rockford movement, she said, is a perfect example of a competitive community coming together for everyone’s benefit while avoiding the “red ants of negativity,” seeking various viewpoints rather than views and embracing the ideas of strategic partners.

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#TransformRockford volunteers are out and about!

TransformRockford volunteers are out and about almost everyday creating strategies and connections. We are indeed transforming our region from within!

Anyone can subscribe, print, and share the #TransformRockford Calendar. See link

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Leadership: City of Rockford to host meet and greet, swear in new police chief

ROCKFORD — The city of Rockford will host a meet and greet to introduce Daniel O’Shea as the new police chief of the Rockford Police Department at 4 p.m. April 18 in the lobby of Rockford City Hall, 425 E. State St.

O’Shea will be sworn in at 5 p.m. at the City Council meeting in council chambers on the second floor.

Seating will be limited, and overflow seating will be available in the lobby.

For information: 779-348-7331.

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Unity, Pride, Culture: Rockford’s true colors? Tourism bureau coloring book lets you paint civic pride

ROCKFORD — The city’s tourism bureau is drawing outside the lines — and hopes to color you impressed — with its latest effort to build Rockford’s brand and stoke civic pride: a coloring book.

But not just any coloring book. This one is filled with drawings of the Coronado Performing Arts Center, Rockford City Market, Severson Dells Nature Center, Rockford Art Museum and other local attractions.

The 32-page coloring book cost $4 each and are for sale at the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau office, 102 N. Main St., and will be available for purchase at each venue featured in the book and at three dozen locations that are hosting the 14th Annual Spring ArtScene this weekend.

Coloring books aren’t just for kids anymore. Coloring is associated with stress relief and has become a wildly popular adult hobby.

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Caring: Cheap Trick’s charity is no joke, and Rockford may be the biggest beneficiary

ROCKFORD — After 17 studio albums and countless live gigs, Cheap Trick’s road to rock stardom is well documented. But the band’s charitable track record has never enjoyed as much critical acclaim.

First-graders at Luther Academy at Gloria Dei School in Rockford sit on either side of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen as they all sing a song in music class in 2000. Nielsen spoke to music classes all day on many topics from his childhood growing up in Rockford to the many musical instruments he now plays. RRSTAR.COM FILE PHOTO

First-graders at Luther Academy at Gloria Dei School in Rockford sit on either side of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen as they all sing a song in music class in 2000. Nielsen spoke to music classes all day on many topics from his childhood growing up in Rockford to the many musical instruments he now plays. RRSTAR.COM FILE PHOTO

Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Bun E. Carlos and Tom Petersson wouldn’t have it any other way, said Jay Graham, co-founder of GrahamSpencer, a Rockford advertising firm. And the city is arguably the biggest beneficiary of the band’s success, he said.

Graham has been acquainted with the band members for years, and he recently produced a promotional video for the city’s tourism bureau that features Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers extolling on Cheap Trick’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll.

The members of Cheap Trick have donated time and money to countless charities and causes since they leapt from Rockford to international rock fame in the 1970s.

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Leadership & Youth: Rockford’s Future: How Young Professionals Fit In

Young professionals are the leaders of tomorrow. They’re a group that’s reshaping our region, delivering new insights to the workplace and inspiring local businesses to stretch themselves in new ways.

Encompassing a wide demographic, these individuals in their 20s and 30s are a part of the millennial generation. According to Pew Research Center surveys, millennials are avid users of social media, generally distrustful of others, burdened by debt and in no rush to marry. They’re also relatively unattached to organized politics and religion, with 50 percent of participants in a 2014 survey describing themselves as politically independent, while 29 percent said they’re not affiliated with any religion.

This is the highest recorded percentage of disaffiliation of any generation.

With a wide range of interests, young professionals explore some of Rockford’s greatest attractions and participate in community improvement projects.

“The Rockford region continues to grow and transform on so many levels,” says Andrea Mandala, marketing and communications manager for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re a very community-driven region that allows for young professionals to be involved with various organizations, committees and volunteer groups. You really get the best of both worlds – big-city amenities with a small-town feel – when living here.”

To ensure continued prosperity in the region, area leaders find it imperative to keep young professionals living in our region and their dollars flowing through the local economy. Fortunately, our community offers an abundance of entertainment, education and recreation options for young professionals to explore.

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Caring: Club Blue throws Rockford’s ‘party of the year’ to aid disadvantaged children

ROCKFORD — A charity that benefits disadvantaged children has raised more than $1 million since 2011 by throwing the city’s most exclusive party every April in a location that’s kept secret until days — and sometimes hours — before the fete.

The business model of Club Blue is unique among Rockford-area nonprofits. Many charities are struggling to stay afloat as state aid disappears, and Rockford’s capacity for giving has been tested by joblessness and two decades of declining household income.

Club Blue has raised an average of $200,000 a year, nearly all of which comes from a party that one night a year draws an elite circle of roughly 500 wealthy professionals from the Rockford area. All the money goes to local charities that serve disadvantaged children, especially those who are victims of abuse.

One in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18, according to theCarrie Lynn Children’s Center. The children’s advocacy agency serves 600 children a year in Boone and Winnebago counties who are the victims of sexual or physical abuse.

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