News briefs


Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey handed the Aragona Club, located at 320 Kent St., a seven-day suspension of the club’s liquor license beginning May 27. The suspension follows a shooting incident the weekend of May 21.

According to a May 27 press release, Morrissey ordered the suspension after “a large, disorderly crowd” was observed by police. However, despite the police presence, three individuals were shot while exiting the club.

The city alleges fees were charged to enter the establishment, a violation of a Special Use Permit allowing liquor to be sold at the club only in conjunction with weddings, banquets and special occasions.

Finance and Personnel Committee members are recommending the city reject all bids to demolish the City Yards Foundry Building. The committee is also recommending the project demolition be put out for bids at a later date.

Aldermen approved May 23 an ordinance that authorized the mayor to execute a development agreement with Emerson Development Corporation. Richard Z. Bubien of Palatine is listed in state records as the president of the company.

Rock Road Companies of Janesville, Wis., was awarded $1,774,775 worth of arterial street resurfacing at the May 23 City Council meeting. William E. Kennedy is the president of Rock Road Companies, and Stephen E. Kennedy is the company’s secretary.

In the continuing change of staff at City Hall after the April 5 election, Jim Caruso, Rockford Community Development director, announced May 27 he was retiring effective May 31. City officials will post the job for applicants this week.

Caruso is moving back to Lincoln, Neb., where he lived before he came to Rockford in 2002.

In addition to Caruso’s position being open to applicants, Morrissey announced May 27, the positions of director of education and lifelong learning and a director of tourism, culture and special events will also be posted this week.

Concerned neighbors met with officials from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford May 26 to discuss water drainage and communication issues associated with the college’s planned $24 million construction project.

Workers began clearing trees and shrubs from the site last week, which raised concerns about possible flooding. Many of the attendees said they weren’t aware of the project, and thought school officials should have done a better job notifying them of construction preparation

However, school officials and attendees appeared to agree on how future communication issues may be addressed through a designated liaison.

The College of Medicine plans to house a new program called the National Center of Rural Health Professions. The addition will add 60,000 square feet to the campus.

Regional Dean Dr. Martin Lipinsky is seeking $6-$7 million in privately donated funds for the $24 million project. Contributors interested in donating to the effort may contact the college at 395-0600.

Winnebago County

In what may be a prelude to a lawsuit, the Rockford Black Business Owners Association (RBBOA) put county leaders on notice that they were allegedly not complying with laws that require minority participation in construction of Winnebago County’s new $156 million jail and criminal justice facility.

Letters from the organization were read into the record as being placed on file at the May 26 Winnebago County Board meeting. The letters are at the Winnebago County Clerk’s office for inspection.

Kenneth Dismuke, president of RBBOA, wrote in his May 24 letter “[t]here are minority companies, and laborers that are not allowed to work on the project.”

Tom Kirkpatrick, director of the Chicago Crime Commission, addressed Winnebago County Board members at their May 26 meeting. Kirkpatrick urged public officials to build alliances with private entities to battle crime. Kirkpatrick limited his comments to street gangs, violent crime and programs designed to prevent and address crime.

He was asked to come to Rockford at the request of accountant Fred Marcus, who was appointed in 2002 by former 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Gerald Grubb to the largely nominal Winnebago County Citizens’ Commission on Crime and Public Safety.

Although Kirkpatrick did not specifically address the topic of organized crime, the Chicago Crime Commission’s 1997 publication The new faces of organized crime, said: “Traditional organized crime should be a top priority for law enforcement, but with the growing public concern about street gangs and violent crime, and with organized crime operating on a global scale, its resources are stretched thin.”

The commission’s 1997 book is the latest publication on the topic of organized crime.

During an interview last November, Assistant U.S. Attorney John McKenzie said during the past 17 years he has worked in the Rockford office, he could not recall any organized crime prosecutions in this area.

McKenzie’s comment precedes an April 25 indictment of 14 Chicago Mob members and associates on murder and racketeering charges by Chicago-based U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Included in the indictment was Rockfordian Frank G. Saladino who was found dead of natural causes in Hampshire, Ill., the day Fitzgerald announced the charges on April 25.

Despite concerns about the cost and purpose of a proposed study of Winnebago County’s justice system, County Board members authorized officials to spend up to $257,605 in what is believed the most expensive study in county history. The May 26 vote was 16-11 with one absent.

Recipient of the funds will be MTG Management Consultants of Seattle, Wash., who beat out four other competitors for the project. County officials did not negotiate cost, but qualifications for the study, however, to keep between $185,000-$200,000.

At the meeting, no county officials questioned why the study wasn’t performed before the size of the new jail was determined in 2002. However, board members debated the cost and need of the study.

The 1,212-bed, $156 million jail was originally sold to voters as a 1,200-bed, $130 million project in September 2002, but dropped to 975 beds and $110 million by November 2002.

MTG will analyze, assess and make recommendations to improve the criminal justice system by examining “current business practices’” according to the six-page specification for the project.

In other jail construction contracts, County Board members approved spending $9,389,000 for pre-cast jail cells, $8,085,000 for masonry work, and authorized change orders totaling $4,211,808. The jail cells and masonry work appeared to be awarded to the second-lowest bidders.

Normant Security Group of Alabama submitted an alternate bid of $9,349,000 for the jail cells to Egyptian Concrete Company’s $9,389,000. However, Egyptian Concrete of Salem, Ill., was awarded the contract.

Public Safety Committee Chairman John Sweeney said he wasn’t sure if Normant submitted a bid for the pre-cast concrete cells or cells with metal bars.

Sweeney said Egyptian Concrete was awarded the contract for pre-cast cells.

Of Egyptian Concrete’s 12 total political donations, six went to State Senate leader Republican Frank C. Watson (R-51, Greenville). Since 1997, Egyptian Concrete contributed a total of $3,120 to Watson’s campaign in six transactions.

Gerald Broom of Salem is president of Egyptian Concrete.

Asked if political influence played a part in the selection of Egyptian Concrete, Sweeney reacted by saying: “It’s ridiculous. … There’s no correlation between this and the contract.”

Eric Helander Masonry Construction, LLC, of Dixon submitted a base bid of $7,564,000 to Freeport-based Harn Construction’s $6,481,600. However, the Public Safety Committee said Helander was awarded the contract because Harn Construction was “not able” to fulfill the contract.

Helander was awarded two additional contracts of $46,000 and $475,000 for other jail-related masonry work.

The $4,211,808 in jail construction change orders will net a saving of $1,211,808. However, the net saving does not include extra money paid by the county to the jail architectural t

eam for the changes. The Durrant Group of Madison, Wis., heads the jail architectural team, which includes Rockford firms Larson and Darby and PG Architecture.

Greater Rockford Airport

Greater Rockford Airport commissioners awarded Rockford Blacktop Construction Co., $878,080 to grade surfaces related to the expansion of the cargo apron at the airport. The contract was approved at the May 26 meeting.

From the June 1-7, 2005, issue

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