Regional news briefs


Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) announced May 10 four appointments to the Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees. According to NIU’s Office of Public Affairs, two of the trustees are from Rockford. The Rockford trustees have extensive local political connections.

Mark J. Strauss, general counsel for Sunil Puri’s First Rockford Group, will join Barbara Giorgi-Vella on NIU’s governing board. First Rockford Group is a prominent area development firm.

Giorgi-Vella is an attorney at the law firm of Vella, Sparkman, Wheeler and Lund in Rockford. She is beginning her second six-year term on the NIU Board of Trustees.

Strauss is a new member to NIU’s board. Before joining First Rockford Group, Strauss was assistant city attorney for the City of Sycamore.

Other appointments were Cherilyn G. Murer of Homer Glen and Myron E. Siegel of Bannockburn.

The trustees are scheduled to take their positions June 16. NIU has eight trustees on the board.

Winnebago County

Winnebago County officials withdrew action concerning lifting a leaf burning ban before the May 12 County Board meeting. The issue met resistance from the medical community at a May 10 press conference.

In another retreat, the proposed enterprise zone for economic development in Winnebago is reportedly dead. The official reason is the targeted area does not meet unemployment and depressed area definitions, as defined by the state.

Observers countered the proposed 600 acres in Winnebago were very distant from the City of South Beloit’s enterprise zone. State law requires new enterprise zones be contiguous with existing zones.

County officials also took no action at their May 12 meeting on awarding $257,605 to MTG Management Consultants of Seattle, Wash., for study of Winnebago County’s criminal justice system.

Observers said County Board members wanted more information on what exactly the company would be examining.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli said the “gap” study will examine how to move information through the justice system from street level through the courts. He added the study will also research “business practices.” When completed, Logli said he didn’t believe the results of the study would “substantially impact” moving cases quickly through the justice system.


Ald. Pat Curran (R-2) expressed concerns about the color of drinking water in parts of his ward at the May 9 City Council meeting. Curran showed Council members vials of brown-colored tap water recently drawn from residents’ homes. Curran urged public works officials to immediately correct the problem.

Northern Illinois Service Co., will be paid $9,481 for the emergency demolition of 1215 10th St. The property was a two-family residence owned by Beers and Humpal. Northern Illinois Service is owned by Wayne M. Klinger of Winnebago.

Northern Illinois Service was also awarded $419,802 for demolition of three Invensys buildings in the 500 block of Lyford Road. Invensys’ used to be known as Barber-Colman Co.

J.E. Mark Inc., was awarded $51,737 to demolish buildings on seven properties. J.E. Mark was incorporated in March 2004, and is not in good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State’s business services office. Rockford attorney Robert E. Canfield is J.E. Mark’s agent.

At the May 2 City Council meeting, aldermen discussed the sale of city property to Community Kitchen for construction of a garage located near six city-owned properties at the intersection of Lee Street and School Street. Ald. Doug Mark (R-3) said the city acquired three properties through foreclosure procedures, but the city had no development plans at the time the properties were purchased.

No information was available at the meeting about how much the city paid to demolish buildings on the property.

At the May 16 City Council meeting, aldermen approved paying $425,000 to businessmen James Roddy and Steve St. John for damages in connection with a federal lawsuit they filed last year.

Roddy and St. John wanted to open an exotic dance club at the intersection of North Main Street and Auburn Street. However, a city ordinance prohibited the location of such a business. The ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.


City of Rockford Code and Regulation Committee members at their May 16 meeting voted 5-0 to protest a county zoning change proposal concerning 96 acres along 6310 Porter Rd. on the city’s far northwest side.

Approximately 50 acres of the area is mostly forest, which is targeted by Rockford Park District officials to become a park. Northern portions of the area are slated for development without public water and sewer services, which the city is legally protesting.

City officials argue that any development in the area should have public water and sewer services. Concerned citizens argue the water and sewer lines would cut through the environmentally-sensitive forest on the southern portion of the area.

Winnebago County officials did not return a message to identify the developer who requested the zoning change.

Republicans and Democrats split the responsibility of presiding over the May 23 City Council meeting while Independent Mayor Larry Morrissey was in Las Vegas attending a retail development convention.

YouthBuild-Rockford participants Manuel Banelos and Brandon Wade traveled to Washington, D.C., May 24 along with about 100 other YouthBuild participants to lobby Congress to support the program that assists unemployed and undereducated young people.

YouthBuild-Rockford was founded in 1995 and helps people between the ages of 16-24 learn job skills while earning a GED or high school diploma. Participants build or refurbish housing for homeless and low-income people in their community.

Since its creation, more than 250 people have received their degrees and built 25 housing units. The program has about 400 people on a waiting list.

YouthBuild-Rockford is part of the non-profit corporation Comprehensive Community Solutions Inc., and receives public funding from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Labor, City of Rockford, Rockford Housing Authority, Rock River Training Corporation and Illinois Department of Human Services. Comprehensive Community Solutions also receives support from private donors.

YouthBuild is also involved in litigation with the Rockford School District that is being argued before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Rock Valley College (RVC) Board of Trustees voted May 17 to hire former City of Rockford Administrator Einar Forsman for business outreach services. According to an RVC press release, Forsman “will be responsible for client development of business training and consulting opportunities, strengthening relationships with the college’s educational partners and manage RVC Business Outreach, Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), and Small Business Development Center (SBDC).”

Forsman was fired as city administrator after Rockford’s new Mayor Larry Morrissey took office April 25. At the time he was fired, the city’s 2005 budget called for paying Forsman $89,710 per year. In his new position, Forsman’s annual salary is $55,640.

Morrissey replaced Forsman with Jim Ryan, the city’s former Capital Improvements Program manager.


Village of Rockton officials held public hearings May 17 concerning annexation of 153 acres of Woodward Governor Co., property and 33 acres for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Greater Rockford Airport

Greater Rockford Airport officials awarded $330,684 in advertising contracts to 11 local and non-local print, television and radio media at the May 12 board meeting.

WREX-TV 13 and its news partner the Rockford Register Star were awarded $17,622 and $29,000 in contracts, respectively. No other Rockford media were awarded contracts.

Other contracts were given to Madison, Chicago, Quad Cities and other Illinois media outlets.

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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