News and notes from the Dec. 7 Rockford City Council meeting
By Stuart R. Wahlin
Aldermen adopted a resolution Dec. 7 to authorize issuance of up to $3.45 million in tax-exempt capital improvement revenue bonds on behalf of Trinity Lutheran Church’s Trinity Learning Center project near the intersection of North Second and Jefferson streets.
According to minutes from a recent public hearing: “Proceeds of the bonds will be used for acquisition, construction and installation of land, buildings and equipment to provide facilities for various charitable functions and activities, including day care services, a food bank, and education and advocacy services, and transportation and youth programs…and related equipment, facilities, improvements and costs.”
Trinity will be responsible for subsequent loan payments to the city as part of the refinancing plan.
In other bond news, council members approved the sale and issuance of $1.7 million in tax increment financing (TIF) bonds to improve and extend infrastructure to Spring Creek Development Group’s planned $60 million project on West State Street, between Springfield and Pierpont avenues.
Increased tax revenues resulting from the mixed-use development are expected to absorb the bond debt.
BMO Capital Markets was the lowest of four bidders, offering an interest rate of 4.9171 percent.
Aldermen Nancy Johnson (D-8) and Bill Timm (R-9) voted “no.”
Aldermen approved a fiber optic purchase agreement with MFS, of Omaha, Neb. Ald. Linda McNeely (D-13) voted “no.”
υ Recommending the Fire Department’s $117,015 purchase of 125 and 1XX Pierpont Ave., adjacent to an existing fire station, as part of a planned regional fire training academy on West State Street. The purchase is payable with grant funds from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
υ Awarding a $128,021.90 agreement to McClure Engineering Associates for design engineering and construction inspection related to emergency repairs on Sandy Hollow Road, between Ninth and 20th streets.
υ Recommending approval of amendments to the city’s compensation ordinance to reflect recent changes to the insurance and early retirement programs. The matter will return to the floor for final approval in the form of an ordinance.
proper reverence for Old Glory
During public comments, veteran Jim Buckingham Sr. spoke to council members regarding what he considered the improper—even illegal—display and lack of care for the American flag at facilities throughout Rockford.
Donning camouflage Army fatigues and a red beret, Buckingham carried a flag to the microphone as he began his remarks.
Buckingham reported many of the American flags that had been posted along State Street last year had either fallen down, or had been blown upside-down. After bringing the issue to the attention of city staff, the flags were taken down, he noted appreciatively.
Buckingham also noted the Rockford Register Star had been displaying a “ragged” flag above its news tower. Similarly, he demanded that the daily take down the weathered flag, with which they complied by replacing it.
Not all flag-bearing agencies were as cooperative, however, he said. Buckingham indicated a downtown employment firm on Kishwaukee Street ignored his request to remove a tattered flag displayed on the property. Three weeks later, when Buckingham threatened the employment agency with legal action and picketing by Vietnam War veterans, the flag was taken down.
“Why did I have to threaten them?” he wondered. “Why did the flag have to be so disrespected?”
Buckingham said he met resistance again Nov. 7, when he’d visited the Rockford Park District’s Riverview Ice House to inform staff their American flag was improperly displayed in relation to inferior flags.
“I asked them politely to replace it,” he reported. “Right away, they proceeded to bring the Park District police and tried to usher me out of the way.”
A police officer reportedly assured Buckingham the discrepancy would be addressed in short order, but by the following Monday, the problem had not been corrected, so he notified Ald. Doug Mark (R-3), who contacted the Park District the next day regarding the issue. By Veterans Day, however, the flag was still improperly displayed, so Buckingham and fellow veterans picketed at the Ice House. Two hours later, the flag was finally taken down.
“Why did I have to fight so hard in demanding the proper respect and display of the American flag?’ he wondered again.
Buckingham argued those who wish to display the American flag need to do so correctly by following the rules and regulations in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code.
In an effort to, perhaps, avoid further confrontations, Buckingham warned that the Luther Center, TouchGlobal, Chase Bank, the nCenter and additional alleged City of Rockford discrepancies are next on his list.
“As a patriotic veteran in this community, I have many avenues of information, as well as veterans, at my disposal to aid in my fight to support our heroes,” he concluded.
The week of Dec. 7 was proclaimed Rockford Junior Chariots week in honor of the wheelchair basketball team.
Nov. 25-Dec. 10 was proclaimed 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
December was proclaimed National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
From the Dec. 9-15, 2009 issue