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Monthly Archives: June 2017

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Leadership & Youth: Loves Park resident launches Rockford-centric T-shirt business Unstated Apparel

Loves Park resident and Rockford University alumnus Tanner Taylor launched his T-shirt screenprinting company, Unstated Apparel, on May 9. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

LOVES PARK — After working at his family’s screen printing shop for 13 years, Tanner Taylor decided it was time to start his own business.

On May 9, the Loves Park resident, 29, launched Unstated Apparel, a line of Rockford-, Illinois- and Wisconsin-themed T-shirts and tank tops for men and women.

Taylor said he has always been “artsy” and grew up with a love of drawing. He received his business administration degree at Rockford University and got on-the-job experience designing and producing custom sports jerseys at his family’s screen printing store, Exclusive Pro Sports, in Rockford. He noticed that pride for all things local had begun to swell and decided to tap the market with his own clothing line.

“There’s not a whole lot in the way of local shirts, apart from one company in Rockford, or (a line of clothing) that has to do with the state that’s not just the (outline of the) state slapped on a T-shirt,” he said.

One of Taylor’s designs, a “RKFD Born ‘N Raised” T-shirt, uses an “8” instead of a “B,” a “1” as the first leg of the “N,” and a “5” instead of an “S.” The numbers are aligned vertically to spell out “815.”

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Downtown Development: For some downtown Rockford businesses, dinner in a parking space can be delightful

Rockford Art Deli employee Kristin Hastings relaxes in the parklet outside of the store during her break Thursday, June 22, 2017, on North First Street in Rockford. [MAX GERSH/RRSTAR.COM STAFF]

“I saw these seats when I was driving past,” Diana Hamblock said over lunch outside at Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza, 408 E. State St. “I called (a friend) and said, ‘We have to go to eat there.’ “

Three downtown businesses have set up wooden platforms in streetside parking spaces, complete with seating areas and dividers to separate them from the road. The city calls them parklets. Customers see them as a nice space to eat outdoors, and the River District Association — which spearheaded the idea — calls them a part of downtown revitalization. Many incorporate greenery and shading, making them inviting stopping points for passersby as well as customers.

This year, Rockford Roasting Company and Woodfire Brick Oven Pizza joined Rockford Art Deli in installing parklets. David Bieck of Distinctive Creations designed and built all three. He said the cost ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, for a project that takes about a week.

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T-Map Projects: Downtown Development:


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Unity, Pride, Culture: 815: Fun around the Fourth … 8 fireworks displays from Freeport to Rockford and Beyond

Looking for a way to celebrate Independence Day? Here are eight places to catch fireworks displays.

The Fireworks Extravaganza & Midnight Ride of Paul Revere at Rockford Speedway: 7:07 p.m. July 4. Fireworks display after racing. Gates will open at 5 p.m. General admission: $15; $8, children ages 6-11; free, children ages 5 and younger. Rockford Speedway, 9572 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park. For info: 815-633-1500;

Fourth of July festival: 2 p.m. to midnight July 1. Also 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 4, Village Square and Saelens Park, Durand. Featuring musical entertainment, a parade, an ice cream social, duck races, food and fireworks. Free.

Freeport Sky Concert: 2 to 10 p.m. July 2, Stephenson County Fairgrounds, 2250 S. Walnut Road, Freeport. Featuring live music, children’s activities, food vendors, an Abraham Lincoln presentation and fireworks. Freewill donations. For info: 815-232-9000;

Rockford Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day Spectacular: 8 p.m. July 2, Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre at Rock Valley College, 3301 N. Mulford Road, Rockford. Featuring a concert of patriotic songs and fireworks. Cost: $30, adults; $29, students and seniors. For info:

Winnebago’s Fourth of July celebration: 5 p.m. to dusk July 3 and 7:30 a.m. to dusk July 4. Featuring food booths, amusement rides, car show and breakfast. A parade will be held at 10 a.m. July 4, followed by the opening ceremonies. Fireworks begin at dusk July 4 with viewing from the lawn of Winnebago Middle School, 407 N. Elida St., Winnebago. For info:

Rockford’s Fourth of July celebration: 6:50 p.m. to dusk July 4. The motorcycle parade begins at 6:50 p.m., the main parade begins at 7 p.m. in downtown Rockford. The SkyConcert Fireworks Show begins over downtown Rockford at 9:30 p.m. Admission to the Davis Park viewing area is $6; children 3 and younger are free with adult supervision. For information:

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T-Map Project: Neighborhood Stories – Volunteers help clean up Rockford neighborhood

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Dozens of volunteers are in the Ellis Heights neighborhood cleaning up the area and making it a safer place for families to live.

Volunteers spent the day picking up trash and cleaning up yards in the Ellis Heights neighborhood through Project 1013.

From cutting down trees to picking up trash, volunteers say they hope the work will improve the area for nearby families.

“We want to see obviously the gospel spread through the neighborhood but also break the negativity cycle I think that comes with this side of town and this particular neighborhood and if we feel we can get rid of some of the shrubs and some of the trees that maybe would block the bad element and open that up then maybe people will take pride and realize there’s a lot of positive things that happen in this area as well,” says Randy Young, project manager for 1013.

The group says they want to help clean up communities to hopefully make them safer. Project 1013 will finish cleaning up the Ellis Heights neighborhood this Saturday.

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TR-Map: Neighborhood Stories click here

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Transformation is Happening: Signs that Rockford is on the move

Next time you find yourself in a group of people complaining about Rockford — and especially if they’re lamenting a perceived lack of engagement in civic life by those who live here — stop the conversation right there.

You need to tell them they’ve got Rockford wrong. To clinch the argument, just point to Rockford Sharefest, which is nothing so much as a festival of community building, collaboration and, yes, engaged citizenship.

The 2017 version of Sharefest wrapped up last weekend after nine days spent working to get Levings Lake Park back in shape. All told, volunteers worked nearly 3,000 four-hour shifts, making environmental improvements and playground updates, adding an amphitheater and expanding the popular West Rock Wake Park.

Sharefest has been doing this kind of work for 11 years now, making physical improvements to schools and parks and the downtown streetscape. The idea is to tackle high-impact projects that require lots of volunteer heads, hearts and hands.

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Economy & Jobs: UPS adding 250 jobs at Rockford parcel sorting hub

ROCKFORD — United Parcel Service is hiring 250 workers to support a new day shift that begins July 15 at its air-sorting hub at Chicago Rockford International Airport.

The jobs are the result of air-shipping operations that UPS is moving from Des Moines, Iowa, to Rockford. The Des Moines facility was out of capacity, said UPS spokeswoman Christine Hand, largely because of the growth of Amazon and other e-commerce shippers.

The move is adding 13 flights a week to the Rockford airport, where roughly 121,000 packages are sorted each hour at UPS’ 586,000-square-foot facility, the company’s second-largest air-sorting hub.

UPS is among the region’s largest employers with 1,200 workers at its Rockford parcel-sorting hub, which operates a 6 to 10 p.m. shift and an 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift.

The new shift will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday through Thursday beginning July 15. Available positions include package handlers, part-time supervisors and tractor-trailer drivers. Starting pay is $10.20 an hour for package handlers, $15.60 an hour for part-time supervisors and $18.75 an hour for tractor-trailer drivers. Forty-three of the new positions will be part-time supervisors, 12 will be tractor-trailer drivers and the remainder will be package handlers.

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Economy & Jobs: The Junk Removal Dudes expands to Rockford area

A service known for helping hoarders is now helping out families close to home, and their name is pretty self-explanatory – the Junk Removal Dudes.

“All our customers have to do is point, and our workers do the rest,” says business founder and owner, Alex Broches.

It all started when Alex Broches’ mother, who has her own cleaning service, asked him to help out with some odd jobs

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Leadership & Youth: PEO Star Scholarship awarded to two Rockford seniors

ROCKFORD — The Philanthropic Educational Organization Star Scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year was recently presented to Rockford seniors Ella Domingo of Boylan Catholic High School and Suzanne Russo of Guilford High School.

Domingo is the daughter of Romello and Connie Domingo and was recommended for the scholarship by Chapter ET of Rockford. Domingo plans to study pharmacy studies at Purdue University in the fall.

Russo is the daughter of Tim and Elizabeth Russo and was recommended by Chapter LU of Rockford. Russo will pursue a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

The $2,500 scholarship is based on excellence in leadership, extracurricular activities, community service, academics and potential for future success.

For information:

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Education: Rockford library celebrates new children’s space, Summer Reading Club

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Public Library celebrated a $6,000 renovation to the St. Angel Children’s Reading Room of its Montague Branch, 1238 S. Winnebago St., this morning as it kicked off its Summer Reading Club program, as well.

What was once a study and meeting space with wood tables and chairs is now a bright and colorful children’s play and reading area complete with pint-sized furniture and interactive wall decorations and flooring.

The library’s Summer Reading Club encourages children, teens and adults across the city to pick up books over the summer. As participants finish books, they earn rewards such as coupons to local restaurants, Magic Waters passes and a chance to win a limo ride and movie tickets.

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Caring: Rockford Sharefest celebrates completion of Levings Park improvements

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) –For the first time in 11 years, Rockford Sharefest and the Rockford Park District hosted a celebration to honor volunteers and admire the newly renovated Levings Park.

It took 9 days, about 3,000 volunteers and 12,000 hours of service for Rockford Sharefest to renovate Levings Park.

“Sharefest really is Rockford. It is who we are as a people. We are doers. We are problem solvers, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to bring our community to the next level,” said Director of Rockford Sharefest, Creig Day.

Sharefest along with the Park District put on a celebration today where people could see the work that was done and get an idea of what the park was made for.

“This was an opportunity for the people who volunteered to get a chance to mix with and get to meet the people that use the park,” said Day.

Dead trees were removed, tables and shelters were painted, a new futsol court was made and many other renovations were made to the park, all done by volunteers.

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