Earlier in May, a 44-year-old gentleman discovered what is thought to be a World War II-era ordnance while fishing in the Kishwaukee River at Atwood Park. He brought the ordnance to the Winnebago County Public Safety Building the morning of May 16. The Winnebago County Bomb Squad was contacted to safely remove and dispose of the mortar shell.
During World Wars I and II, the area now known as Atwood Park was used by the Army as Camp Grant, a training center and shooting range. The Army Corps of Engineers, with the full cooperation of the Rockford Park District, has conducted several surface sweeps of the north side of the park since the south bank was the location the soldiers fired from, cleaned the property to a depth of 12 inches, and declared it clear. However, over many years, ordnance that was buried deeper may find its way to the top of the surface. If and when this happens, the Rockford Park District has protocol and procedures in place to handle the situation quickly and safely. While most of the rounds fired at Atwood are thought to be dummy or practice rounds filled primarily with sand, they could contain enough leftover explosive to cause injuries.
Atwood Park is considered by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Winnebago County Bomb Squad and the Rockford Park District to be a safe facility. The area where ordnance was found was not in use by the Park Districts outdoor education program. Park visitors and nearby visitors were not placed at risk.
Signs alerting the public to potential risk have been in place at both park entrances. The public is advised to leave anything out of the ordinary, suspicious or dangerous looking, in place and call the proper authorities. The Park District will continue working with the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct ordnance sweeps on the south side.
From the june 7-13, 2006, issue