Funding & Alignment: Rockford’s River District highlights their best transformations and hints at what’s to come


Out with the old and in with the new, the Rockford River District Association has released a video showing the progress of downtown throughout nearly 4 years. If you weren’t excited about the new changes yet– there are even more to come.


Revitalizing downtown Rockford is an online video that has been floating around the internet and highlighting some of the city’s greatest achievements.

Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, Josh Albercht, states, “The start of this year is a good time to reflect on all the great progress so far and get people excited and encouraged to see that momentum continue in 2016.”

The video shows events like Stroll on State, Rockford’s River Lights and the City Market. The River District credits the City Market as its push to revitalize.

River District Director of Business Development, Leah Tuneberg, explains, “That to me is just a complete testament that Rockford has something to showcase. If we can get the word out there and tell people they will see for themselves on how much is changing and how wonderful it is.”

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Quality: Rockford Icemen coach Tim Mattila to enter Hall of Fame Sunday

Rockford Icemen coach Tim Mattila has been teaching hockey and helping young players develop on the ice for more than 25 years. But it’s been Mattila’s desire to educate himself that’s led him to a place in the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame.

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“I’m always looking to learn from somebody else that’s been there and done that and is good at it,” said Mattila, who will be inducted into the Hall on Sunday. “I tried to get better and expand my knowledge to become somebody that can offer something to these kids.”

Well before amassing more than 900 career victories and leading the Icemen to 16 state titles — 15 consecutive — Mattila, like most coaches, was a player. He played high school hockey in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, and then in college at Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He also played semi-pro for the Janesville (Rock River) Jets in the 1980s. But his true growth within the sport didn’t begin until he took the reins of Rockford’s high school hockey team in 1991.

“Once I started coaching, I had a passion to be become a better coach,” Mattila said.

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Ideation: Community Invited to Revitalization Intra Segment & Communication Spoke Gatherings

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Draft strategies along with details of the extensive research and study go into each strategy. The community is invited to join in on the below discussions.

1/20 Revitalization Intra Segment Review
         Rock Valley College;Woodward Tech Center from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

1/20 Communication Spoke Network Forum
         Rockford University Business School, room 122 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.


January 2016 Newsletter


As we begin 2016, I would like to take a moment and offer many thanks and appreciation to all of our wonderful and dedicated volunteers. You each put great energy, passion and thought into the work over the past year in developing our draft strategies.

I looked forward to the year ahead as we review, evaluate and gather feedback on our strategies and prepare for the implementation phase. Sincerely, Mike Schablaske

click here to view newsletter


Healthy Lifestyles: Dozens Gather to Discuss Rockford Food Co-Op

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — Local restaurant owners are working to bring a food co-op to Rockford, and they want us to become a part of their initiative.

Susan Wheeler is asking the community to come together and bring a co-op to the city. A co-op is a grocery store where you pay a membership fee for local and unprocessed foods. Wheeler says Rockford hasn’t had a co-op in more than a decade, and bringing one back to the area means investing in local foods. She also says having a co-op is like having Rockford City Market year-round, just without the music.

“People will experience an experience of community, They will see their neighbors, they will see people from the community working there, buying there. You know each other, because you’re coming to member-owner meetings. You’re going to experience your shopping at a whole different level,” says Susan Wheeler of the Wild Rhubarb restaurant.

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Inclusion: Mark Your Calendars and Plan to Attend!

1/19 Leadership Meeting
Rockford University; Burpee Center from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

1/20 Revitalization Intra Segment Review
Rock Valley College;Woodward Tech Center from 8:30 – 10:30 a.m.

1/20 Communication Spoke Network Forum
Rockford University Business School, room 122 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

1/26 Living the Brand and Communications Intra Segment Review
NIU Rockford from 5:00 – 7:15 pm

2/16 Leadership meeting
Kresge Hall from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

3/14 Leadership meeting
Rock Valley College Woodward Tech Center from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

RVC introduces its new pilot program to assist those with disabilities, a robot named Destir

Rock Valley College has a new pilot program that sends robots to class to help students with disabilities finish their degrees. Only on 13 News– we gets the first look into what set the gears in motion for this project.
If FaceTime and a Segway had a baby– its name would be Destir. Standing for distant education Segway telepresence iPad remote; Destir is a new pilot program starting this semester at Rock Valley College.
Rock Valley College Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems, Chuck Konkol, says, “Destir is a telepresence robot that allows people that can’t go somewhere to be there.”
Destir’s first controller is RVC student Jim Farone. He has a disease that effects his nerves and muscles. Because of this he has limited mobility.
Jim says, “I want to learn and I want with all sincerity to thank Rock Valley College.”
In 2014, Chuck Konkol wrote the grant for Destir. He wanted the college to use it for tours, guest speakers and now students with disabilities. Chuck says Destir can help the self-esteem of the student using it.
Chuck says, “Students that are maybe home bound and students with social disabilities. It’s basically being able to hear the teacher, see the whiteboard and being able to see body language.”

Chuck believes in time students and teachers will get used to the robot. He just wants them to give it a chance but he envisions having a handful of Destirs roaming the campus to help open doors for students with disabilities.
“And go across the stage with Destir that would be awesome.” Chuck adds, “That is what I vision Destir to be used for.”
For Jim, Destir is more than just a robot. Destir is his ticket to do something he never thought he would be able to do again, go to school.
“Dr. Steven Hawking, renowned physicist who’s in a wheelchair with ASL can still do complex mathematics with just his head.” Jim explains, “I’m going to come out a wizard with Destir.”
Jim’s first class using Destir will be this Monday, January 11. He says he is nervous and excited.

Inclusion: Rockford Muslim women find ‘strength, freedom’ in veiling or wearing the hijab

ROCKFORD — The head coverings many Muslim American women wear serve as constant reminders of their faith. Today, these symbols stand for piety, but also a religious tradition some Americans misunderstand.

Islamic extremist attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, California, have sparked a national discussion about Muslims and their culture and traditions. Some politicians, notably Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, have recommended extreme measures to protect Americans, such as tracking all Muslims or barring people of the Islamic faith from entering the United States.

Even so, a group of Rockford women continue to express their faith by wearing the hijab, or a headscarf accompanied by modest, head-to-toe dress.


Muslim women have different attitudes toward the hijab, which is not to be confused with the niqab, a head covering that conceals the wearer’s entire face except for the eyes, or the burqa, a cloak that covers the wearer’s entire body. Hijab in Arabic means “to cover,” and many Muslim women don the garment in order to abide by interpretations of the Quran, or Islamic religious text, that call for modest dress.

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Spotlight: Rockford’s First Baby of 2016

ROCKFORD (WIFR) — What better way to ring in the new year than with a new baby.

We caught up with the parents of the first baby born in Rockford in 2016.

Wesley James Sharp was born at 2:18 this morning and weighed in at seven pounds nine ounces.

The baby’s due date was right on schedule which was January 1st.

The Sharps did not think at 2:00 AM their baby would be the first born of the new year so this comes with a lot of emotions for the couple.

This is the sharps first child.

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