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Monthly Archives: March 2017

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Caring: GoFundMe page helps pay for Rockford fire victim’s funeral expenses

ROCKFORD — While an Oregon man and his sister are left grieving for their father, who died Tuesday after a fire swept through a Rockford apartment, they are struggling to pay for his funeral arrangements.

Russell Johnson, 60, died Tuesday from burns he suffered after a fire broke out in his second-story Rockford apartment at 719 Buckbee St. Firefighters were called to the four-unit apartment building at 12:23 a.m., finding Johnson and his roommate inside. Johnson’s roommate, Francis “Frank” Robinson, 47, also died Tuesday.

Brandon Johnson, 35, said via email today that he and his sister, Angela Lee, 33, of Rockton, were not “expecting this and he (their father) has no resources or insurance of any kind.”

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Leadership & Youth: Rockford officers spend night on the basketball court with local kids

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — Some local officers are picking up a basketball to spend time with Rockford kids.

Rockford officers are going one on one with some local teens on the basketball court as part of their first rec night.

District Two officers teamed up with Rock House Kids to provide a safe place to play sports at the station’s gym. Officers say they hope being able to reach out to the kids through sports will give them another outlet.

“I love basketball, I love athletics, it’s what I grew up on”, says District Two Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke. “It helped mold me into the person I am today, and hopefully by allowing kids to come in and be involved in sports hopefully some of these kids are going to go on and make decisions and do real well.”

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Education: Collaborate & Code at Barnes & Noble with Rock Valley College

Media Contact: RVC Public Relations, 815-921-4510

Event Date: Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rock Valley College CIS (Computers & Information Systems) is partnering up with Barnes & Noble CherryVale Mall for a Collaborate & Code event to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset.

Join the fun on Thursday, March 30, 2017 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in CherryVale Mall, 7200 Harrison Ave, Rockford, IL 61112.

If you’re a tech enthusiast, crafter, educator, tinkerer, hobbyist, engineer, science club member, author, artist, student, entrepreneur, or maker of any kind—join the Barnes & Noble Collaborate & Code event! Learn from each other, hear from the experts, and work on projects.

Chuck Konkol, Rock Valley College CIS (Computers & Information Systems) Faculty, will lead sessions in coding with robots, the minute of code, and telepresence with “DESTIR the Robot”! Featuring: LittleBits, Lego, Magformers, Ozobots, DESTIR, KUBI, and more!

Event is free and open to the public.

For more information on Collaborate & Code 2017 please contact Chuck Konkol at (815) 921-3164 or


News Source

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Education: New women’s group supports Rockford Promise

ROCKFORD — Rockford Promise, whose goal is to provide free college to graduates of Rockford Public Schools, received a $2,300 donation Thursday from Northern Illinois 100 Women Who Care.

Northern Illinois 100 Women Who Care is a new organization that formed in Rockford earlier this year. Women who join the group pledge to give $100 three times a year to various local efforts and causes. The women meet and nominate groups they’d like to support. They receive brief presentations, vote and donate. Rockford Promise is the group’s first recipient.

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Check Out the Transformational Projects

Your Ideas

Between August and October 2016, spoke teams and the broader community generated project ideas that will lead to achieving the impact and strategy statements. Over 200 project ideas were submitted through Community Idea Exchanges events, as well as online. The original list of projects ideas is available on the 2016 Project Inventory.

The Process

Between July and October 2016, community members throughout the Rockford region submitted over 200 project ideas. Ideas were captured at Community Idea Exchange sites and online. To see the full list, click here

The region’s shared values, vision, impact and strategy statements guided the 14 spoke teams to refine the list of transformational projects. The project inventory contains the most current list of transformational projects. With the completion of metrics and milestones, all projects will be sequenced and updated on the Transformation Map.

View list here of those projects currently on the Transformation Map.

Identifying future Projects

The Transformation Map will be updated on an annual basis. Shared Values, Vision, Impact and Strategy statements will guide the evaluation process

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Economy & Jobs: Greenlee in Rockford shaking up status quo

Published Saturday March 25, 2017 at 8:00 am

In the field of advanced manufacturing, Greenlee, at 4455 Boeing Drive, Rockford, produces tools for use by electrical professionals rather than the weekend handyman working on a project.

“It’s the guys and gals who go out to job sites and are kind of doing it morning and night every day,” said Rishi Malhotra, vice president of marketing and customer care for Greenlee.

The average electrical contractor today is more than 57 years old, and Malhotra said companies that produce tools need to adapt to the aging workforce as well as the increase in new apprentices.

“We want to make tools that are more ergonomic and easier on the body. It reduces worker’s compensation costs,” he said, adding new tools also should focus on safety.

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Becca’s Closet Opens in Rockford for the season

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) — It’s said that a girl never forgets her wedding dress and her Prom dress. Now, thanks to an area church, and a national drive, some Stateline girls are picking unforgettable gowns, free of charge.

About 100 families stopped by Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Rockford to visit Becca’s Closet. It serves as a boutique that collects thousands of dresses, shoes and accessories to provide them to girls for free. The church is able to provide families with these clothes thanks to donations from the community throughout the year.

“It’s really fun when a girl comes in, they leave a little taller, says Amy Hoening, Executive Director of Rockford Area Lutheran Ministries. “Their posture is a little straighter. You can see maybe they’ve never had that special gown on before and it makes them feel so self-confident. So to be a part of that is really a privilege.”

Becca’s Closet was started by Rebecca Kirtman, a 16-year-old Florida High School student who wanted to gather dresses for girls in her community for Prom or Homecoming dances. She was killed in a car accident shortly after beginning her “closet.” Her parents have continued her mission by making it a national program that now has 90 chapters across the country.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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