Image Map

Monthly Archives: March 2017

  • 0

Transform 815: Raju a serial entrepreneur in Rockford with a mindset to change the world

Josh Patterson came to Rockford to work for a tobacco company, a daily grind that had him working out of his car and driving around the city to visit 130 accounts each month.

Joshua Patterson, a musician and poet, was recently honored as one of 25 local black leaders to watch by Rockford Area Economic Development Council. When performing, he goes by the name Raju, which is an African word for “a king without a kingdom.” Patterson was photographed Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, on the State Street bridge in Rockford. [ARTURO FERNANDEZ/TRANSFORM 815 & RRSTAR.COM STAFF]

The job earned him a living, but it didn’t match his purpose in life.

So he quit.

He had no other job lined up, but he had a passion to change the world and working for a tobacco company didn’t cut it.

“He’s driven by his principles,” his brother, Matthew Simpson, said. “He always talks about how he wants to build on the positive and destroy the negative.”

“The way he responded to that feeling he had was the most Josh thing you could ever do. He just dropped it because it wasn’t edifying anymore, it wasn’t building.”

That, Simpson said, is how Patterson approaches his whole life, whether it is his music, poetry, real estate investments or any other endeavor he embarks on.

And for Patterson, there is always a new endeavor. The 28-year-old “serial entrepreneur’s” new daily grind is a mix of art, business and community activism. He’s working on a mix of music and poetry to be released in the first quarter of the year. He is creating a “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee“-style chat show that centers on Rockford. He’s part of an investment company called Eight Fifteen Capital. He’s co-founder of the Wabongo Leadership Council, which works to enhance leadership capacity within Rockford’s African-American community. And he’s months away from earning his MBA from Rockford University.

The former college football player also works in youth sports for Rockford Park District and is a father to a son born Oct. 8.

Read more

  • 0

Planning: SwedishAmerican Announces Expansion With New Clinic on Rockford’s Southwest Side

ROCKFORD – “SwedishAmerican is extremely excited to announce the construction of our new clinic.”

SwedishAmerican Board of Trustees chairman Dan Ross voicing his excitement for the hospital’s newest venture.

“We will be constructing on this location,” said SwedishAmerican CEO & President Bill Gorski. “A new healthcare facility on this property, to serve the citizens of this area of our community.”

And the location was the big news.

Dr. Gorksi shared that contracts have already been signed to convert this crumbling parking lot, into SwedishAmerican’s first clinic on Rockford’s southwest side.

One of the city’s most underserved areas for healthcare.

“It is an absolute void that we have felt,” said 5th Ward Alderman Venita Hervey.

Alderman Hervey has lived in the same house for 62 years-just down the street from the new location.

She says they’ve seen many essential services leave the underserved neighborhood.

“This is a full clinic just like we have everywhere else. And i think that’s going to be a significant benefit and a very welcome convenience for the residents of this area.”

Read more

  • 0

Leadership & Youth: Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey delivers his final State of the City address

ROCKFORD — Mayor Larry Morrissey pointed to a number of high-profile projects accomplished over the past 12 years in his final State of the City address today at the Nordlof Center in Rockford.

Among those accomplishments, Morrissey said, are newly built roads throughout the city; rebuilt corridors such as West State, South Main and 11th streets and Harrison Avenue; a revamped water system; AAR Corp.’s $41 million aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility; and soon a new $400 million regional hospital.

read more

  • 0

Healthy LifeStyles: (SAVE THE DATE) Open House on Food Gardening

Rockford, Ill – Calling all people interested in healthy lifestyles and increased access to healthy food in the Rockford area.


  • Are you concerned about food insecurity?
  • Do you want to grow food in your own backyard?
  • Do you want to know more about rental plots?
  • Are you interested in volunteering with others in neighborhood, teaching or church gardens?
  • Would you like education on growing vegetables and fruits?
  • Can you share some of your own expertise?

There will be an Open House on Food Gardening on Monday, March 27, 2017, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the lower level dining room at Second Congregational /First Presbyterian Church, 318 North Church Street, Rockford, 61103.  Please enter via the north door of the church.

The workshop is part of Transform Rockford/Healthy Lifestyle team and is being held with assistance from University of Illinois Extension and volunteer Master Gardeners, Neighborhood Network, Rockford Park District, the Community Action Agency for Winnebago and Boone Countries and many others.  There has been discussion about increasing access to fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits, and this workshop is an effort to explore the needs, wants and dreams, and to learn about existing resources.  Please come, be a part of the discussion, and hopefully, part of the solution.

Questions regarding this project can be directed to:

Cyndie Hall, Executive Director, Neighborhood Network,  779-348-7571,

Carol Erickson, Extension Educator, Illinois Nutrition Education Program, University of Illinois Extension, 217-300-0895,


  • 0

Safety – Letter: Thank you to Rockford Police, Fire

Published Wednesday March 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm

A special thank you to the Rockford Police Department and the Rockford Fire Department for resolving the noisy situation in my neighborhood. A recently vacated building owned by an out-of-town credit union had an alarm ringing. It rang and rang. I thought someone would call and report it. No such luck. I called 911 and asked for the nonemergency number not wanting to take fire and rescue time from maybe something really serious. I gave the information. Nothing. It rang all night.

The next day I decided to call again 911 this time. Within a few minutes they arrived. Officer Turner explained the processes of securing the building and contacting the fire department who came promptly and turned off the alarm. The moral of the story — don’t wait for someone else to call when there is an alarm ringing. Call 911.

Thank you, Rockford Police and Fire departments for you service to our city!

— Phyllis Grisanzio, Rockford

  • 0

Carking: Rockford aims to end youth homelessness

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — It’s never easy to see someone living on the streets, struggling to find food or shelter, but it’s even harder when it’s a child.

The main reason kids say they’re living on the streets or bouncing around between friends’ homes is because they were kicked out of their own house.

“It can be a scary place when you’re alone, you have nobody that will help you,” Tony Frazier said.

After six years of living on the streets Frazier is proud to call his apartment home. At 16 years old his grandma died and had no place to go. Moving to Rockford when he was 20, things didn’t get better until he found the Rockford Rescue Mission.

“I thank God for it, for God putting people in my life to help me get on my feet by showing me these resources that can help,” he said.

21 youth, ages 16 to 24, were identified by the City of Rockford last month, but the city believes that number is much higher. The problem is finding them.

“They can be homeless multiple times and go back to family and then be kicked out again or be asked to leave, they can stay with friends and be asked to leave,” Jennifer Jaeger, with the City of Rockford Human Services Department, said.

News Source:

  • 0

Responsibility: Rockford Fire expanding CPR bystander program

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — The Rockford Fire Department wants to make sure we save a life if faced with that emergency.

The department wants to expand its CPR Bystander program. That means going places and teaching the simple, hands-only technique. The department hopes to partner with neighborhood and business groups to get paramedics to meetings and teach others the life-saving technique. Paramedics may also offer courses at local fire stations.

“If we can improve survivability that’s what we’re all about and making a difference in people’s lives. Early CPR, early defibrillation, that’s what really make the difference in a cardiac arrest incident so we want to make sure everyone has the tools they need to make a difference in someone’s life,” Division Chief Matt Knott said.

Any organizations wanting to host one of those classes can contact the Rockford Fire Department at 779-348-7171.

News Source:

  • 0

Inclusion: National Inclusion Project partners with Rockford Park District

ROCKFORD — The National Inclusion Project recently partnered again with the Rockford Park District to provide inclusion training and expertise.

The park district will receive a $5,000 grant, which will allow the park district’s therapeutic recreation department to hire two staff members this summer to provide inclusion serves at Summer Blast.

As part of the partnership, the National Inclusion Project provides the Let’s All Play program model. The inclusive model allows individuals with disabilities to participate in the same recreation programs and activities as their peers.

For information: 815-987-1606;

News Source:

  • 0

Education: Rockford-Area Teachers Take Honors In Golden Apple Awards

Rockford-area teachers received several honors at this year’s Golden Apple awards.

The Rockford Register Star reports two schools had teachers that won the award for the first time.  Jared Young of Belvidere North High Schooland Sarah Schaefer of Roosevelt Community Education Center were honored in such a way.  Linda Julian of Willowbrook Middle School also became the longest-tenured award winner, with 39 years of experience.

The Golden Apple Foundation uses the awards to recognize excellence in teaching, and has been doing so since 1996.

Read more

  • 0

Arts & Recreation: Beauty & The Beast To Debut in Rockford

ROCKFORD – As Disney celebrates the 25th Anniversary of their classic Beauty and the Beast, a Rockford theater group is getting ready to do the same.

The folks at The Studio Rockford are putting on their own production of Beauty and the Beast, and they want you to “be their guest”!

Jay Lionardi and Emily Waldron sat down with actress Addison Emenecker, who plays Belle, and director and owner of The Studio Rockford, Courtney Walsh, to talk about the performances coming up this weekend.

For more information, watch the interview above, or click here.

News Source

Reality Check

Reality Check is a new section written and managed by Alex Gary, communications manager for Thinker Ventures. Alex specializes in digging up truthful, relevant and raw statistics. - visit page