Winnebago County News Briefs

Chronicle Media

Sears Holdings has identified the Sears store at Cherry Valley Mall as one of 11 in Illinois it seeks to keep open as it seeks a new buyer to continue operating a scaled down company. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)


Sears hopes to keep local store open as it seeks buyer

Sears Holdings has identified a local Sears store as one of 11 in Illinois it seeks to keep open as it seeks a new buyer to continue operating a scaled down company.

The company identified the stories in a Bankruptcy Court filing last week, according to published reports.

The Sears store is located at Cherry Vale Mall. Other Sears stores that could remain open including downstate outlets in Fairview Heights and Peoria, plus Chicago suburban  stores in Bloomingdale, Chicago Ridge, North Riverside, Oak Brook, Schaumburg and West Dundee plus Kmarts in suburban Bridgeview and Des Plaines.

Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month and offered a plan to sell its best-performing stores and keep them open. Separately, the company is in the process of liquidating a Sears in Joliet and Kmarts in Moline, Quincy and Norridge.


City Council approves $156.8 millon budget

The Rockford City Council last week approved a balanced 2019 budget of $156.8 million for 2019. 

Notable items included in the new budget include:

  • Overall staff reduction of 11 full-time equivalent employees from 2018 to 2019.
  • A flat property tax levy. Maintaining a flat levy leaves approximately $1.5 million in revenue the City could otherwise have collected from property taxpayers.
  • Year two of the five-year vehicle replacement program. The 2019 budget includes $5.8 million in equipment purchases, offset by $5.8 million in revenue from lease proceeds. Increase of 2 percent in pension contribution as mandated by the State to approximately $17.5 million. This covers police, fire and other city employees. (The contribution just five years ago was $10.5 million.)
  • $240,000 to replace the Police Records Management System, which is at its end of life this year. The new system allows participating law enforcement agencies in the county to access each other’s records.
  • Equalized assessed valuation (EAV) expected to increase an estimated 4 percent in 2018. An increased EAV equates to an increase in property value and a lower property tax rate.

As recommended by the City’s auditing firm, the City is consolidating the first of several funds into the general fund to comply with common practices in municipal accounting. The 2019 budget reflects the consolidation of the sanitation fund and the audit fund into the general fund, increasing the general fund by approximately $9.4 million on both the expense and revenue side.

This consolidation into the general fund makes the budget seem disproportionately larger than the previous year, due to the restructuring of funds.


Tracy Wang named RU Lincoln Laureate

Rockford University senior Tracy Wang (Jiangsu, China) has been named as a 2018 Lincoln Laureate by The Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Each year, the annual Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Ceremony recognizes excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities by seniors from each of the state’s four-year, degree-granting colleges and universities, and one student from the community colleges in Illinois. This year’s ceremony took place on Nov. 17 in Springfield. President Eric Fulcomer, Ph.D. accompanied Wang for the ceremony.

Tracy attended Pine City High School in Pine City, Minn., and will graduate from Rockford University in 2019 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Math. After completing her degree, she plans to attend law school to achieve her professional goals.  

As an active student leader, she has been a member of the Rockford University Facility Committee, the Multicultural Club, and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. She is also currently serving as the student representative to the University’s Board of Trustees.  


Northwestern Medical to manage health services

Northern Illinois University has entered into an agreement to have Northwestern Medicine assume management of the university’s Health Services. The NIU Board of Trustees voted to support the agreement in a special meeting Nov. 15.

“We are excited to enter into a partnership with one the most respected health care systems in the nation,” said Wheeler Coleman, chair of the NIU Board of Trustees. “Northwestern has the expertise to not only provide excellent care for our students, but also to successfully navigate the constantly changing health care landscape.”

Starting Jan. 15, 2019, Northwestern Medicine will manage NIU’s campus clinic to provide high-quality outpatient health care similar to that at an urgent care facility or primary care physician’s office. The clinic will be staffed by medical professionals with years of experience providing the services currently offered by Health Services, all of which will still be offered. Northwestern Medicine also will provide an expanded menu of clinical services and more flexible hours. Walk-in service also will be available, a departure from the appointment-only model currently in place.


Illinois Top 200list nearing completion

The final votes are being tabulated, and when they are, a major project to mark Illinois’ bicentennial will be complete.

The Illinois Top 200 list, voted by the public, include 20 categories, such as the best scenic locations in the state, top political leaders, favorite movies shot in Illinois and leading musicians. Votes are being tabulated for the final category: Unforgettable Moments. Choices include a diverse set of news events such as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal and the removal of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office.

Bicentennial best-of voters recently picked Abraham Lincoln as the state’s best leader. That was the second-to-last list. 

When the list is complete, the results will be available on the Lincoln Presidential Library’s website, and will be a resource for anybody who is interested in exploring the state’s history.

The full Top 200 list will be ready in time to be part of the celebration of Illinois’ 200th anniversary on Dec. 3. 



–Winnebago County News Briefs–