Winnebago County News Briefs

The National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division III national women’s championship basketball tournament will be played at Rock Valley College from Thursday through Saturday.


Slain boys identified in murder-suicide

Authorities have confirmed the identities of two children found slain in what was described as a double homicide-suicide after bodies of the pair and their father, P.S. Ruckman Jr., were found dead dead on March 3 in home south of Cherry Valley.

The children were identified Christopher Ruckman, 14, and John (Jack) Ruckman, 12. Both were students at Rockford Christian High School.

The senior Ruckman, 58, was a political science professor at Rock Valley College, an instructor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and a nationally-known expert on presidential pardons.

The bodies of the three were found in bedrooms at the home after Ruckman’s ex-wife, Heidi, requested a well-being check.

“The Rock Valley College community is devastated by the news of the tragic deaths of Peter Ruckman and his two children,” said Doug Jensen, president of Rock Valley College. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Professor Ruckman and his children at this difficult time.”

Memorial services for the boys were held late last week followed by a private burial in Sycamore.


RVC host NJCAA women’s hoops finals

Rock Valley College will welcome the eight best teams in the country to town for this year’s Women’s Basketball Championship from March 15-17.

The 2018 NJCAA Division III Women’s Basketball National Tournament will be hosted on RVC’s main campus in the Physical Education Center, 3301 N. Mulford Road.

Four games are scheduled on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the tournament. Game times each day will be 1 p.m., 3 p.m, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door for $8 per day or $20 for the entire weekend.

Preceding the national tournament event on Wednesday, March 14 starting at 6:30 p.m., will be a special Tip-off Banquet for all qualifying teams at Prairie Street Brewhouse. The event will feature Keynote Speaker and special guest, Tamecka Dixon, a retired WNBA player.

More information is available at (815) 921-3822, by emailing or at


Four Auburn seniors are National Merit semifinalists

Four Auburn High School students are semifinalists for the 2018 National Merit Scholarship. Andrew Baxter, Ellen Chidley, Logan Power and William Snedegar are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists across the country for scholarships in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program.

All four students are seniors in the Gifted Academy at Auburn. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million that will be offered next spring. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program honors students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies. About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2016 Preliminary SAT/

National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents less than 1 percent of high school seniors in the United States.

From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level. To become a finalist, semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application and provide information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities and awards received. Finalists will be notified of their designation in February.


RACVB partners for nonprofit sports grants

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) announced a partnership with Sports Illinois to launch the inaugural Sports Illinois Huddle Host Impact Grant.

The purpose of this annual grant is to provide the Sports Huddle host community’s nonprofit(s) access to grant funding earmarked for positively impacting sports programs locally.

Beginning this year-as part of the 2018 Sports Illinois Huddle that is scheduled for May 20-22 in Rockford-RACVB Charitable Foundation has agreed to a matching grant of $1,000, elevating the available grant funding to a maximum total of $2,000.

“We are excited to partner with Sports Illinois to offer this opportunity to area nonprofit organizations. It’s a great way to combine our resources to develop local youth programming, acquire sports equipment upgrades and other related improvements that will continue to gain momentum as we highlight sports tourism in Illinois,” said Lindsay Arellano, RACVB director of sales & servicing and chair of Sports Illinois. 

Rockford region applicants are required to be a certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and must complete the application in full. Applicants are encouraged to include additional information to demonstrate sports program affiliation, organizational needs and strengths, and how the funding will be utilized. 

This year’s application period runs through April 27, 2018. The completed application should be emailed as a PDF file to The 2018 grant recipient(s) will be unveiled during the Sports Illinois Huddle. 



–Winnebago County News Briefs–