Mall madness, sod farming and curious critters

July 1, 1993

CherryVale Mall plays an audio cassette of a robin doing an injury call over its outside loudspeaker system. This is designed to let other birds know that a robin is being injured, and therefore, it is not safe for them (the other birds) to hang around. I’m not sure how many species of birds the threat is aimed at, or if it’s all birds in general. What does CherryVale have against birds besides a little crap on cars?

CherryVale Mall doesn’t have to play an audio cassette to keep certain people away; it has achieved a discriminatory goal by not letting Rockford Mass Transit buses on mall property. Even Paratransit buses for the disabled, which is a division of RMTD, is not allowed access to CherryVale. This ploy by the Cherry Valley Township was labeled as a money-saving necessity, but in reality, it is a cruel tool of discrimination. If the buses were allowed access to the mall, Cherry Valley would have to throw in a share of subsidy for RMTD. Currently, however, after years of pressure, Cherry Valley is considering loosening its purse strings.

For months now, Cherry Valley and RMTD have been negotiating terms for bus access. During the black hole in my recent years when I couldn’t drive, getting to the CherryVale Mall was an impossible goal for me. Why does Cherry Valley consider bus-riding people as undesirable? They oughta be a little more concerned with sprawl. Rumor has it that Sunil Puri’s about to latch onto the Cooling Sod farm, which borders the east end of Cherry Valley proper. The Sod farm approaches 1,000 acres in size, just right for a sprawling 1,000-plus home subdivision. The Sod farm, reportedly going out of business, is an excellent gathering place for those long-haired, long-billed shore birds during migration, which occurs in the spring and midsummer through October.

The sod-stripped patches of watered soil attract the shore birds, who beak probe the mud for invertebrates. The shore birds leave the grass seed alone, so it eventually grows in, forming new sod to repeat the sod farming cycle. This is, for once, a business unintentionally creating an unusual habitat. If the Sod farm goes, wouldn’t it be nice if the subdivision developers recreated the shore bird habitat somewhere? And monkeys might fly out of my butt. I know the mortgage rates are low, but do you think the average Cherry Valley-resident wants another 4,000 to 6,000 people hanging around?

On a positive note, Paratransit may be going regional soon. Negotiations are under way to extend Paratransit rides to Winnebago, Rockton and Roscoe. Hope there’s some forest preserves in between that disabled riders can visit using Paratransit.

Jane’s birthday party, held at the Burpee Museum of Natural History, raised $100,000 for the Jane outreach programs, such as partnerships with area libraries to host “Jane Corners” and field trips to the Burpee Museum of Natural History. Birthday parties are fun, and this one was no exception. It was no surprise party; Jane knew it was coming. But it wasn’t my fault she stayed asleep curled up backward in that comfy little pod. Actually, a lot of her is out of the pod now.

My personal highlights of the party were: (1) meeting Melissa Birks, rival reporter on Jane from the Rockford Register Star; (2) telling a party goer who looked just like that smiley co-host of The Red Green Show that he looked exactly like the smiley co-host of The Red Green Show; (3) watching elderly couples dance while the Dan Voll Combo played a scorching rendition of Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” My favorite party highlight was meeting Jane Solem. Jane is a gracious lady, for whom Jane the dinosaur was named.

Burpee President Lew Crampton gave a great birthday ceremonial speech in the large high-ceilinged dinosaur exhibit room. Lew was dressed up like Indiana Jones, but he looked more like John Wayne. But wouldn’t you know it, only in a museum of natural history could someone be upstaged by a critter. About one-third into Lew’s speech, a big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) flew into the room and flapped his way back and forth, close to the ceiling. It was a big sucker, too, with a 10-inch wingspan and a 5-inch body covered with light brown, soft-looking fur.

The people standing next to me thought the creature was a house sparrow (Passer domesticus). I’m sure most people thought it was a bird or a big, cute, fuzzy moth.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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