Park District announces community honorees

Frank Schier, editor and publisher of The Rock River Times, was one of many recipients of the Rockford Park District’s Community Service Awards March 16 at Skybox Restaurant.

The annual awards are given jointly by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA).

Schier was the leader of the fund-raising effort to purchase and install boat docks on the west bank of the Rock River to increase opportunities for boaters to bring their boats downtown, tie up at the docks, visit businesses in the River District and enjoy all downtown has to offer.

On May 3, 2004, one boat dock with eight boat slips was installed on the west bank of the Rock River behind the Morrissey Building. When the application for grant funds from the state was not successful, Schier also led the campaign to solicit donations and arrange fund-raising events with the assistance of River District businesses.

Others receiving 2004 awards included the following:

John Anderson—In 2004, John Anderson and his family approved a land trade with the Rockford Park District and the YMCA, which will greatly enhance public access to the YMCA and the neighborhood park to be built at Northeast Community Park. Anderson and his family were also very instrumental in the following donations to the Rockford Park District: The Swan Anderson Building, the planting of trees along North Second Street, restoring the Sightseer Sculpture and also the Rockin’ Summer Campaign.

Kurt Carlson—Carlson has been a long-time partner with the Rockford Park District on many joint projects. In 1995, his family generously donated the land upon which Carlson Arctic Ice Arena was built. In 2004, Carlson partnered with the Rockford Park District to complete a land trade at Northeast Community Park. Without this land trade, the Rockford Park District would not be able to access our land at Northeast Community Park and to further invest in the growth and expansion of our Sportscore Two complex.

Dr. Mark Carlson & family—Dr. Mark Carlson and family have provided overwhelming support for Rockford Park District facilities and its programs for many years. Their donations and efforts at the ice facilities and ISC continue to strengthen programs and improve facilities so that countless other families and area children can participate and learn through programs that Dr. Carlson and his family have enjoyed themselves.

Phyllis Horvath—Artist and sculptor Gene Horvath demonstrated his deep interest in Rockford and her citizens, beautifying our community with 30 major public art installations between 1972 and his death in 1997. An early work, “Sinnissippi River Crab,” was the first sculpture exhibited on the Rock River Rec Path. Created in 1974, it had been on loan to the Park District ever since. Mrs. Phyllis Horvath, the sculptor’s wife, donated the sculpture to the District last year.

Following is a list of Parks & Recreation partners and advocates:

Bill Shannon—On Dec. 22, 2004, a celebration was held at Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc., to announce the finalization of an agreement with the new owners of Ingersoll Milling Machine Company and the Rockford Park District that allowed the District to continue leasing Oxford Park for $1 per year. Bill Shannon, a long-term employee of Ingersoll and friend of the Park District, is the person responsible for facilitating this beneficial partnership. Shannon stepped forward to represent the neighborhood and the District in discussions with the new owners and the executive office in Rockford, and successfully negotiated the renewal of the land lease.

Joe Sinkiawic—During his 46 years of service to the citizens of the District as an alderman and mayor of Loves Park, Joe Sinkiawic was a consistent partner in expanding parkland and recreation services in Loves Park. He recognized the importance of quality of life in attracting and retaining businesses and employees to the City of Loves Park. Mayor Joe Sinkiawic was passionately committed to seeing his beloved community thrive; and as a veteran of the Second World War, Sinkiawic also supported the installation and development of the Field of Honor memorial in Loves Park and in his retirement continues to be actively involved in this project.

Following is a list of corporate partners:

Arby’s—accepting on behalf of Arby’s are Kelli Whitlich, Wanda Heiderall and Michelle Cox. Arby’s and its dedicated staff have become a tremendous partner of the Park District’s in every sense of the word. Arby’s has been an instrumental partner in the creation of The Arby’s Cup Tournament, and a big supporter of the Sportstown Celebration, the Tiger Woods Foundation’s “In the City” Festival and, most recently, the Illinois Snow Sculpting competition.

Rock River Bank—Stephen Bonnell, accepting on behalf of Rock River Bank, became a Rockford Park District corporate partner in 2003 as a sponsor of the Holiday Tree Lighting, an annual event that ushers in the holiday season for hundreds of local families. Quickly, Rock River Bank expanded its corporate support, specifically through the Rockford Park District Foundation City of Gardens program. In 2004, Rock River Bank became the dinner sponsor for the City of Gardens Golf Play Day and supported the inaugural City of Gardens Wine & Roses event held in the beautiful Sinnissippi Gardens. The bank’s generous support continues to grow—this year, Rock River Bank has stepped up to become the Wine & Roses presenting sponsor.

Following is a list of museums and neighborhood partners:

Laura Bachelder—The historic Tinker Swiss Cottage house museum has seen remarkable growth during Bachelder’s tenure. In 1999, the rose garden in front of the Cottage was restored, and the construction of a replica of the original Tinker barn soon followed. Reconstruction of the suspension bridge across the Kent Creek is currently underway for projected completion in June 2005. Program offerings have also increased under Laura’s direction, including new outreach programs, and partnerships with other organizations such as the Ethnic Heritage Museum.

Shirley Fedeli—Shirley Fedeli was a charter member of the Board of the Ethnic Heritage Museum founded in 1989, and has served as its president for the last four years. This unique house museum located in the Cultural Corridor of downtown Rockford preserves the history, artifacts, costumes, and music of the African American, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Lithuanian, and Polish nationalities who settled southwest Rockford. This award is presented to Shirley Fedeli to recognize her efforts in bringing our citizens together by preserving and teaching us about our heritage.

Jim Powers—For several year, Powers has been very active in the North End Square Neighborhood Association, which serves an area of approximately 1,200 households. It has been one of the most effective and active neighborhood associations within the City of Rockford, with an impressive record of accomplishments ranging from beautification that included planting over 150 new parkway trees, to securing $35,000 to fund “period” streetlights on Huffman Boulevard, among many other efforts. Jim also serves as the North End Square Association’s liaison with the Rockford Neighborhood Network.

Following is a list of Snow Sculpting supporters:

Frank Beach—Frank Beach is the co-founder of and an adviser to the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition. Along with his family, Frank hosts international participants in the event, providing hospitality and friendship to sculptors from around the world. His career in public service is long and illustrious. Since 1981, Beach has been a member of the Rockford City Council, running unopposed many times. Care and concern for his constituents are hallmarks of Frank’s civic service.

Dennis Johnson—Johnson had a vision to bring a snow sculpting competition to Rockford, and he secured the support of many organizations and individuals to deliver this winter delight to our community each year. Johnson’s active involvement with the snow sculpting event continues

, and grew this year to include providing meals to hungry snow sculptors at one of his business concerns, The Stockholm Inn.

Following is a list of friends and business partners:

Edwin & Cleta Cassady—Ed and Cleta have operated Cleta’s Snack Wagon on the Sinnissippi Riverfront since 1985. Their friendly, professional, courteous, and generous service has brought joy to many. Our patrons can always count on Ed and Cleta to provide them with a delicious chili dog lunch by the river, a root beer float break during an evening stroll down the rec path, or to treat the family to dinner while going for a bike ride down the path.

Chris Denzer—Chris is Sportscore’s account manager for Lorden distributing. Chris’s vision for design and eye for promotion have been great assets to the new look and success of the Skybox bar. Chris has also been an integral part in securing Miller as a major sponsor for Fiesta Hispana and the International Adult Soccer League. His humor, attention to detail, and exceptional customer service have made him an outstanding representive for Lorden Distributing.

Javad Hosseini—After the Rockford Park District received the prestigious Sportstown USA designation, Javed Hosseini, owner and operator of Soccer Direct, a sports apparel and equipment store at the Indoor Sports Center, enthusiastically and generously supplied silk-screened T-shirts and embroidered polo shirts for all our VIP’s, and baseball caps for the Sportstown USA celebration. He also outfitted our own Rockford Raptors soccer ambassadors with team T-shirts to wear to promote Rockford’s designation of Sportstown USA at the Nationals in Orlando!

Following is a list of Rockford Park District Foundation and affiliates:

Rockford Park District Foundation—Kent Mallquist, accepting member. With a clearer focus on the potential role of private gifts in the future of the District, Rockford Park District Foundation formed a new board in 1993, composed of business leaders with a passion for the District’s mission, and hired a full-time executive director. Since its reconfiguration, the Rockford Park District Foundation has raised over $14.6 million in philanthropic support for the Rockford Park District. Building on a long history of significant gifts to the District, it has made the difference between the citizens having a good park system and a great one.

Dan and Ruth Nicholas—A generous donation to the Rockford Park District from Dan and Ruth made the creation of the City of Gardens program possible. Our community continues to benefit from their love of beautification and vision to create such a program. Dan and Ruth’s foresight and commitment to community have transformed areas of our city with such initiatives as the hanging basket program, bringing much joy to residents and visitors alike.

City of Gardens Advisory Committee—representing the Committee are: Nancy Lundstrom, Judy Pollack, Janet Hill, Ethel Johnson, & Judy BarnardThe City of Gardens Advisory Committee has worked tirelessly since the program began in 1999 to promote beautification efforts and to educate community leaders on its importance. Efforts have included the creation of a hanging basket initiative and a beautification recognition program for both residents and businesses/organizations. This year the advisory committee’s task has become even larger with the City of Gardens coordination of our community’s entry in America in Bloom—a national competition that encourages promotion of clean and green communities.

The Larson Group—Jeff Larson and Judy Knowler, accepting. In 2004, the Larson Group offered to design a motor vehicle sticker for the City of Gardens to be considered for the 2005 City of Rockford sticker. The timing of the call could not have been better with the City of Gardens coordination of Rockford’s entry in America in Bloom, a national competition that encourages community beautification. The Larson Group set the wheels of creativity in motion with the end result being a beautiful floral design in deep hues. The design was chosen for Rockford’s 2005 sticker.

Following is a list of environmental partnerships and volunteers:

Mark Dahlgren has purchased, planted and cared for more than 130 trees in Alpine Park in the interest of reforestation and the environment after the July 5th storm in 2003. Mark also worked with Park District staff to designate “no mow” areas throughout the park. Mark’s dedication and involvement has helped save the environmental quality of the park for future generations.

Jerry Paulson—As director of the Natural Land Institute, Jerry Paulson has developed a standing as one of the area’s leading spokesmen for the environment and responsible urban development. The NLI has acquired and preserved more than 12,000 acres of unique and significant natural land, and is active in open space planning and smart development. Toward this effort, Paulson has assisted the Rockford Park District with a natural resources inventory of the Page Park addition of the Landolt parcel, and with obtaining grant funding through the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Earth Beat—Jeremy DeWeerdt, (“Dee-wurt”) accepting. Earthbeat is a youth group that volunteers their time on an annual basis doing community wide service work. One Saturday in May, approximately 550 volunteers came together to remove graffiti, pick up litter, remove debris from waterways, spread mulch and playground safety surfacing material, paint and seal playground equipment, and do city wide landscaping projects. All of these projects equal thousands of dollars and man-hours of savings to the Rockford Park District.

Grant Gillenwater is a student at Boylan High School, who is currently involved in a mentoring program for trail guides, special events at Atwood, and prairie restoration with the Audubon Society on Atwood prairie south, with many of these hours spent in a volunteer capacity. He is also active with the Youth Recreation Council, is a lifeguard at Magic Waters, and aids in CPR, First Aid and AED training for the Rockford Park District. Grant’s dedication to helping make our community a better place to live is truly admirable.

Dr. Ann Gull—Clemons has been donating her time to help care for Atwood Outdoor Education Center’s non-releasable captive raptors since March of 2004. The Park District first made her acquaintance when our male bald eagle had an infected wound on his right leg. Dr. Ann treated him and provided follow-up visits to Atwood to check on the eagle about every month, free of charge. Dr. Ann continues to provide an incredibly valuable service to help maintain the quality of life and health of our captive raptors, a service we would not be able to afford without her generosity.

Following is a list of RPD program supporters:

Kim Hamm dedicated her time, talent and resources to help us construct the beautiful set for our Rockford Park District spring ice show, “Beauty and the Beast.” Her hard work and creative touch helped provide an opportunity for more than 100 children to participate in the show truly believing they were living the story. For her compassion and creativity, the Rockford Park District wishes to thank Kim for her efforts.

Rockford Pro-Am—When independent consultation identified the need here for facilities and programming specifically for beginning junior golfers, the Pro-Am helped lead the way to a solution. Not only did the Rockford Pro-Am provide leadership for the capital campaign to create the Learning Links at Ingersoll Golf Course and the nearly completed campaign for a teaching facility at Patriot’s Gateway, they did more. The Rockford Pro-Am committed one half of the annual dollars it distributes to charity to the Junior Golf Association of Rockford for ongoing funding of programming and maintenance of these facilities.

Gary Marzorati was instrumental in Rockford achieving the honor of hosting a second Tiger Woods Foundation event in 2004, with the first

event being held in 2001. The Rock River Valley is the only area to host two Tiger Woods Foundation events. As Co-chairman

of the event, Gary’s efforts and the efforts of the Rockford/Beloit 2004 Tiger Woods Foundation Committee, will return over $50,000 to the Stateline area for youth golf programming.

Diane Peterson has been a leading force and a change agent in the community with her continued efforts to offer quality sports for students in the Rockford area. Examples of her leadership include: Linking PE teachers to Rockford Park District services; facilitating and advocating for Rockford Park District use of Wyatt Stadium for the Ben Newson Summer Track program; and the organization of 1999-2003 partnerships for middle school sports between District 205, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club and the Rockford Park District.

Whiz Kids Enrichment Center—Linda Brown and LaVonne WilliamsThe Whiz Kids Program has been operating a soup kitchen at Washington Park Community Recreation Center since June, 2004. On a monthly basis, 739 meals are served, and for many soup kitchen visitors, it may be the only meal they will receive that day. We offer many thanks to the sister team of Lavonne Williams and Linda Brown. Lavonne was the driving force towards the agreement between Washington Park and the Whiz Kids Enrichment Center. Linda works with other staff in the kitchen preparing the delicious meals that are served.

Following is a list of community partnerships:

River District Association—Kim Wheeler, accepting. This private, 501 (C) 6 not-for-profit organization of 460 members is recognized today for its leadership in creating, marketing, and preserving a growing, thriving, prosperous business and residential community in Rockford’s downtown neighborhood and urban core, the River District. This unique area offers a myriad of opportunities to live an urban lifestyle, work, shop, and play. This award is presented with appreciation for the vision and leadership of the River District Association to developing Rockford’s downtown into a growing, vibrant community.

Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau—Wendy Fisher could not attend; LaVonne Brown, accepting on her behalfThe Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau under the guidance and leadership of Wendy Perks Fisher has partnered with the Rockford Park District for many years to bring visitors and tourism dollars to the Rockford community. Without the support of the RACVB, the Rockford Park District would not have been able to host such outstanding tournaments as the Midwest Regional Soccer Tournament this past summer that brought in 10,000 visitors and more than $6 million to our great community.

Following is a list of aquatics and tennis partners and supporters:

Rockford Ice Hogs—Chris Tumilowicz. The Rockford Ice Hogs have been integral in the success of the youth and adult hockey programs of the Rockford Park District. From players coming out to youth practices and games, to providing tickets and opportunities for the kids to play between periods at the MetroCentre, the Rockford Ice Hogs are true community leaders. We appreciate all of the support, and more importantly the time spent with the children throughout our hockey community, building dreams of future hockey stars.

Dale Larson has been an incredible leader throughout the tennis community in Rockford for many years. This leadership shows, as his High School Tennis program is the best in the Stateline. Dale has given his time and expertise to help other children learn tennis in Rockford and has been an avid supporter of the Rockford Park District. He has made an incredible impact with his teams at Guilford High School and throughout our community.

Phil Walden—For the past five years, Phil Walden, an avid tennis player and court maintenance expert, has assisted the Rockford Park District Tennis Department with ideas, donations and volunteer work to help us improve our programs and facilities. He has been a direct link to our wonderful tennis community and for this we are grateful. His passion for tennis and for the Rockford Park District has helped to make our programs among the top in the Midwest.

Sharon Whitlock and her family have donated many years to the Rockford Park District ice facilities and programs. Her love and passion for figure skating, especially synchronized skating, has been deeply appreciated. Sharon’s leadership has helped pave the way for many area children to experience the life-long skill of skating. She is an advocate and motivator for all children, and strives to better youth on the ice as well as well as off.

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