Editorial: Earth to the Star: Rockford already is ‘On Board’

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Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be that their heads weren’t screwed on quite right.

It could be, perhaps, that their shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been their heart was two sizes too small.

The Rockford Register Star’s lead article in the Dec. 7 “GO” section, “If we had a monopoly on the Here and Now,” began, “Monopoly is sold in 80 countries and produced in 26 languages, but only the fantasy edition you helped us dream up captures the Rock River Valley.”

Apparently, those who dreamt up the imaginary “Rockopoly” game featured in the article spent a little too much time in fantasy land—because the reality is Rockford already is “On Board.”

“Rockford On Board,” released in September 2005, is a Rockford-themed take on the Parker Brothers classic real estate trading game “Monopoly.” The game sells for $34.99, and all proceeds go to Comprehensive Community Solutions (CCS), Inc., a nonprofit agency providing education, job training, neighborhood development, community service and affordable housing programs in the Rockford area.

“Rockford On Board” is available at many local businesses, including The Rock River Times, or online at www.youthbuildrockford.org. More information about the game is also available online at www.rockfordonboard.org.

CCS’s “Rockford On Board” features Rockford-themed pewter game pieces of a screw, a sock monkey, the Forest City Queen, a Sinnissippi “Rockman,” Jane the dinosaur and the Clock Tower.

Squares on the board include the following, in order from the “Go Corner”:

First row: Sinnissippi Park as the “Go Corner,” Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) as the “Community Chest,” Edgebrook Mall, Rockford Register Star as the “Income Tax Square” (where you pay $25 for a subscription), Ken Bennett & Associates as a “railroad,” Jefferson High School Classes of 2004 and 2005, Rockfordlink.com as the “Chance,” The Rock River Times, Grant Park Auto Sales, and Chicago/Rockford International Airport as the “Jail,” where instead of going to jail, you prepare for a flight.

Second row: Gypsum Supply Company, International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Local 792 as the “Electric Company,” Garwick Electric Incorporated, Irish Rose Saloon, Midwest Life and Health Group LLC as a “railroad,” Premier Accounting and Tax LLC, RAEDC as “Community Chest,” Magic Waters, Sportscore, and Guerilla Graffix as “Free Parking.”

Third row: Specialty Screw Corporation, Rockfordlink.com as “Chance,” Hynes Associates, Rockford Health Systems, Pacific Bearing Company as a “railroad,” Miller Engineering Company, Millikin Benning Kleckler and Kobischka LLC, UPS as “Water Works,” CCS Construction LLC, and the Chicago/Rockford International Airport as the “Go To Jail” square, where instead of being sent to jail, you’re sent to the airport to hold for departure instructions.

Fourth row: Woodward Governor Company, The Market Junction, RAEDC as “Community Chest,” Mincemoyer Jewelry, Pierce Distribution Services Company as a “railroad,” River District Association as “Park Place,” Rockfordlink.com as “Chance,” Minglewood as “Income Tax” (where you instead pay to buy artwork), and Joseph Behr & Sons Incorporated as the coveted “Boardwalk.”

The center of the board is decorated with artwork that serves as kind of a map of Rockford attractions, including flowers from Sinnissippi Gardens, a jet from Rockford AirFest, a picture of Coronado Theatre, the bike path, the Forest City Queen, the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, the Rockford IceHogs, the now-defunct Rockford Lightning and a soccer player from Sportscore.

The “Rules & Regulations” slightly simulate the front page of the local daily, with the paper’s flag at the top of the page, along with their Web address, logo and tagline, “It’s what you know.”

The game is a high-quality production, and plays exactly like “Monopoly.” Players receive ownership cards for all their properties, just like in “Monopoly,” and can put yellow and black houses and purple hotels on their properties, and charge extra for anyone who lands on them. Stickers of Verona Towers and Century 21 Country North can be applied to the houses and hotels. The properties’ squares and ownership cards also list the street of the respective businesses and organizations.

Some of the Rockfordlink.com cards read as follows:

“Congratulations! You win 2nd prize at the annual snow sculpting contest. Collect $10 from YouthBuild Rockford Bank.”

“Take a stroll to Sinnissippi Park Start Square. Collect $200.”

“Pay city vehicle sticker tax of $15 to the center of the board.”

Some of the RAEDC cards read as follows:

“Go directly to Chicago/Rockford International Airport and hold for departure instructions. Do not pass Sinnissippi Park Start Square, do not collect $200.”

“You take a wrong turn onto the Jefferson Street Bridge. Go back 3 spaces.”

“You have been elected Mayor of Rockford. Pay each player $5.”

The box is even well-decorated, with a smiling sock monkey, Jane the dinosaur, Tinker Swiss Cottage, Magic Waters, the Coronado Theatre, the Symbol, City Hall, the State Street Bridge, TWA, Sinnissippi Gardens, the Millennium Fountain, Davis Park and the City of Gardens logo adorning its colorful cover. The inside of the box has a plastic tray for the “banker” to neatly organize the bills ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $500), with the tray sponsored by YouthBuild Rockford and the bills sponsored by Folkerts Manufacturing, Inc., of Rockford.

The only thing that “Rockford On Board” could have included to better “capture the Rock River Valley” is if, instead of being sent to the Chicago/Rockford International Airport, you were sent to the new Winnebago County Justice Center. But the makers of the game probably could not afford the construction costs of the jail, and, well, there just wouldn’t be enough game pieces to fill all the beds.

Simply put, no one could ever create a Rockford Monopoly game that better “captures the Rock River Valley.” And, as an added bonus, all the proceeds from the sale of the game go to a good local cause—CCS!

CCS, whose headquarters is at 917 S. Main St., is best known for its YouthBuild Rockford program, which serves 16- to 24-year-old dropout youth, helping them complete their education, learn job skills and build new homes for low-income families. The program has provided educational and vocational opportunities for 506 youth since 1995, and has logged more than 105,306 hours of community service, participating in 1,046 projects in the Rockford area. YouthBuild members have completed 31 units of affordable housing in Rockford, redeveloping blighted neighborhoods and providing affordable family homes.

In fact, you may have seen an article in last week’s issue of The Rock River Times about how YouthBuild Rockford recently received a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Rockford program was one of five Illinois programs to receive funding.

Now, one has to wonder why the local daily would find it necessary to create a “fantasy” Rockford version of “Monopoly” when a real one already exists. It couldn’t be that they didn’t know about “Rockford On Board.” Not only does the daily have a square on “Rockford On Board” and their name on the rules & regulations, but CCS Founder and Executive Director Kerry Knodle sent the newspaper an e-mail Nov. 8 reminding them of the game, and asking for any help the local daily could offer in helping CCS promote it.

Dec. 7, the day before the article about “Rockopoly” appeared in the daily’s “GO” section, the Register Star’s Web site posted a three-paragraph “News Now!” item about “Rockford On Board.” The

daily’s Web site posted another “News Now!” item about the game Dec. 19, this time two paragraphs long.

One also has to wonder why the daily couldn’t find room to mention “Rockford On Board” in its “GO” section article about their own fantasy game, which they apparently do not plan on ever producing. Which also begs the question, why write about something that does not exist and never will exist?

Maybe the local daily was just upset that when people landed on the Register Star in the “Rockford On Board” game, they were charged a “$25 subscription fee.” The Star did, after all, make “The Register Star News Tower, home of the GO section” the “Go Corner” in their fantasy game. The “Go Corner,” of course, is everyone’s favorite spot on the real “Monopoly” board because gamers collect $200 for doing nothing but passing “Go.” I guess that’s kind of like the local daily collecting 50 cents during the week and $1.50 on Sundays for a newspaper that features stories about things that don’t exist.

Staring down from their Tower with a bottom-line frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

They growled, with their Gannett fingers nervously drumming,

“We MUST find a way to create our own fantasy game to keep Christmas from coming!”

And now every Rockfordian down in Rockford can only hope

That the local daily’s small heart will grow three sizes beyond that of a mope.

For more about “Rockford On Board,” CCS or YouthBuild Rockford, contact the CCS office at 963-6236.

(Italic portions of this article adapted from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

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