Winnebago County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Rockford Sharefest volunteers recently completed a project to expand and improve amenities at Levings Park. (Rockford Park District photo)


Rockford Sharefest efforts help improve Levings Park

For nine days, more than 2,900 volunteers helped expand and improve Levings Park amenities while building unity and relationships along the way.

Since 2007, Rockford Sharefest has done major makeovers in Rockford public schools, and last summer, Alpine Park received a makeover. This year, Rockford Sharefest 2017 took place at Levings Park, 1420 S. Pierpont Ave., Rockford, a culturally diverse park that has helped many families over the years create memories that will last a lifetime. Rockford Sharefest exists to identify, develop, and lead projects that empower and release volunteers to make an impact for the common good.

Over the past two months, the Rockford Park District, City of Rockford, Winnebago County, West Rock Wake Park, Southwest Ideas for Today and Tomorrow (SWIFTT), and Rockford Sharefest along with church leaders, businesses, and residents worked together to refurbish, restore, and upgrade Levings Park.

Enhancing and expanding opportunities at Levings Park is all part of a multi-year Master Plan by the Rockford Park District. Improvements made as a result of the work completed during Rockford Sharefest are part of Phase 2 of the Master Plan.

“Each time we come together for Rockford Sharefest, we accomplish something that nobody thought was possible. Levings Park provided an amazing opportunity for us to make a difference, by bringing residents to this park and asking everyone to dig in and help, we created community. Volunteers donated their gifts, abilities, and resources to rebuild Levings Park, making it even better,” said Creig Day, Director of Rockford Sharefest. Some of the main leads of Rockford Sharefest spent 16 hours a day at Levings Park from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“What was accomplished in a week would have taken months, maybe years for the Rockford Park District to complete. Every aspect of Levings Park has been touched and we can’t thank Rockford Sharefest volunteers enough for their willingness to take down trees, paint, build a playground or provide hospitality to those volunteering throughout the park,” said Rockford Park District Assistant Executive Director Jay Sandine.


Bus drivers, school  board settle contract

The Rockford School Board approved an agreement with AFSCME Local 1275, the district’s bus drivers union.

This ends the nearly year-long negotiations with the district’s approximately 235 bus drivers. Union members voted May 26 to accept the School Board’s last, best and final offer dated Nov. 15, 2016. The union’s action cancels the School Board’s plans to negotiate a contract with First Student to outsource transportation services. 

The agreement is a three-year contract that will continue through June 30, 2019. It contains the same terms, wages and benefits bus drivers have been working under since January when the School Board voted to implement its last, best, final offers to AFSCME Local 692 (paraprofessionals), AFSCME Local 1275 (bus drivers) and AFSCME Local 3210 (nutrition services).

“I am pleased that we have reached an agreement with our AFSCME Local 1275 bus drivers’ union,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “We understand how difficult this process has been for our staff, students, families and our community. We look forward to continuing our work together of making Rockford Public Schools the first choice for all families.”

Negotiations continue with paraprofessionals and nutrition services staff.


Highland Farmers Market returns

The Highland Farmers Market has returned for its sixth season.  The market will be held every Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Highland Community College in parking lot C (near the YMCA).

The farmers at the market offer a variety of fresh, local produce. In addition to produce there will also be beef, lamb, pork, jams, jellies, bread and other baked goods.  All products are locally grown or locally produced by local farmers.  For more information about the Highland Farmers Market call the University of Illinois Extension call (815) 235-4125.


RVC Cold Forming Center gets donation

Rock Valley College recently received a $25,000 donation from the Fastener Education Foundation in support of the College’s Cold Forming Training Center. The check was presented to RVC officials at the Fastener Industry Summit on Wednesday, June 7, in Rosemont, IL.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Fastener Education Foundation, our supporters and the industry, I was pleased to present Rock Valley College with a $25,000 check to support the implementation of the Cold Forming program,” said Phil Johnson, President & CEO of ContMid Group LLC. “We look forward to a long relationship with the College and eagerly await the graduates from the program to join the industry.”

Rock Valley College’s Cold Forming Training Center graduated its first class of cold header operators on May 25. The five graduates completed a 12-week training course, which included 30 hours of job readiness. All five graduates successfully passed the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) Machining Level 1 Skills Standard, earning a credential in Measurement, Materials & Safety. Two of the graduates were already employed in the fastener industry and are now applying their new skills to their current jobs, while the other three graduates are currently in the interview process with local fastener companies.

Since its inception, RVC’s Cold Forming Training Center has received tremendous local and national support from the industry in the form of financial and equipment donations.


–Winnebago County News Briefs–