Open letter to the community and Dr. Chapdelaine
By Jeffrey Havens
Dr. Roland Chip Chapdelaine
Rock Valley College
3301 North Mulford Road
Rockford, IL. 61111
Dear Dr. Chapdelaine:
In light of recent events concerning Rock Valley College (RVC), and as a life-long citizen of this community, I am writing this to convey some suggestions that may benefit this areas future economic and educational health. I have already discussed some of these issues with the community leaders listed at the end of this letter:
1. Abandoned all discussions concerning the moving of the Rockford Art Museum (RAM) out to RVC. A recent letter-to-the-editor in the Rockford Register Star summed it up best, Its a terrible idea. Such a move would result in further gentrification of the city. The history of Rockford over the past decades since World War II reveals neglect of the west side due to racism. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent over the past decade or so, to remedy desegregation lawsuits that the Rockford School District and its taxpayers were hit with because of such racism that resulted in discrimination. RVC has deserved the recent spate of negative publicity because such discussions are viewed in the same lightabandonment of the downtown and west side. Another reason to discontinue talks is that such a move would remove the RAM from the towns cultural corridor that has the Coronado Theater, Midway Theater, Times Theater, Davis Park, New American Theater, Memorial Hall, Klehm Arboretum, Burpee Museum, Tinker Swiss Cottage, Discovery Museum, etc. The neglect of the west side brings me to my second point.
2. If an Arts and Instruction Center (AIC) must be built, consider a site downtown in the cultural corridor. This center could be built in conjunction with the RAM and could pioneer the use of alternative energies for this community by operating on such energies. Other community colleges in this state have satellite sites, and the people of the west side deserve such a branch. In addition, there are many colleges around the nation that have facilities which operate on some alternative energies. I am confident that grant money could be secured for an effort. There are several sites to consider, one of them being the former Armory building.
3. Utilize the wide open spaces on the north end of campus to begin research and development of alternative energies. The site appears ideal for the placement of some solar panels, windmills, or biological generation of hydrogen, which then could be transported by pipelines or stored in tanks for fuel cells, for shipment to where it is needed. A whole technology curriculum could be designed around these alternative energies. I have already spoken with RVC chemistry professor and professional engineer, Steve Squier about this idea, and he has indicated that he would be delighted to teach such courses. According to Robert Lindstrom, the RVC Program Director of the Fox Valley Alliance for Economic Development, such ideas could see fruition because of available grant money. If enough energy is generated from this system, it could be used directly by the college or sold back to Commonwealth Edison. If not, it would surely contribute to advancing the causes of energy independence and sustainable energy resources. I encourage you to investigate this idea further. It fits in well with your desire to lead, which is described in your vision and mission statements.
4. Forge relationships with more governmental, educational, and private institutions to encourage research into improving and creating new energy technologies that will make a hydrogen-based economy a reality. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting on alternative energy in March in New Orleans offers an opportunity to learn more and establish such contacts and relationships. When I recently corresponded with Mr. Robert A. Levin, the Executive Director of the Rockford Area Council of 100, and Robert Lindstrom, the RVC Program Director of the Fox Valley Alliance for Economic Development, they expressed interest in attending this event. You may also receive information about this event at: http:www.aiche.org/conferences/spring/criticalissues/. In addition, models of such alliances may followed. The most notable one being the consortium between several Icelandic government agencies and DaimlerChrysler, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Norsk Hydro. Again, this fits in with your desire to lead.
As for me, I will be furthering this cause, this year, thorough my participation in the Rockford Register Star Community Viewpoint Board, as Chair-elect of the local branch of the American Chemical Society, continual column writing for The Rock River Times, and possibly also for the Rockford Register Star. I welcome any response you may have and wish you the best of luck in furthering these ideas.
Jeffrey P. Havens
cc: Rock River Times
Rockford Register Star
Doug Scott, Mayor of Rockford
Steve Squier, Professor of Chemistry
Robert Levin, Rockford Area Council of 100
Robert Lindstrom, RVC Program Director, Fox
Valley Alliance for Economic Development
RVC Board of Trustees
Tara Blazer, Director of RAM