By Mona Marcinkowski, Kathy Johnson and Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision residents
For any of you who had not been blessed with getting to know Billie Mills, you missed out on a remarkable woman. We became friends and “activists,” as Billie referred to us, in our determination to keep this asphalt plant out of our back yards.
Billie and Tom built their “sanctuary,” as Billie referred to their “slice of heaven,” more than 21 years ago. They custom built their home with pond a and lived upon more than 7 acres directly behind the quarry. Billie was a suave business woman, loved people, and fought for what she believed in.
Billie loved Rockford, fought to preserve it and became devastated when she saw what our county had become. She saw firsthand backroom deals, political favors, and the “good old boys club.”
Billie passed away Sunday, Oct. 30. We considered ourselves so fortunate in becoming friends with this remarkable woman. We were blessed to have gotten to know and love her. This fight brought us together, and we will continue on in Billie’s memory.
Editor’s note: So much for: ‘Hey, it’s just business. It’s just politics. It’s nothing personal’
Billie Mills is dead. There’s no doubt about it; the stress killed her — the stress of an asphalt plant invading her beautiful “sanctuary” complete with its serene pond and beautiful house and deck for surveying the scene — not to mention the loss of her property’s market value.
Just before the county board vote on the asphalt plant, I received an envelope from her with the following four items in it:
• a single, orange sheet of paper reading STANDARDS FOR SPECIAL USE PERMITS
*1. The establishment, maintenance or operation of the special use will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort, or general welfare.
*2. The special use will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the purposes already permitted, nor substantially diminish and impair property values within the neighborhood.
*3. The establishment of the special use will not impede the normal or orderly development and improvement of the surrounding property for uses permitted in the district.
* An asphalt plant in the E. State St. quarry is in direct violation of the Winnebago County Standards #1, 2, 3, and 6 for a special use permit.
• A letter entitled “ASPHALT PLANT A ‘BIG TOXIC CARCINOGENIC’ PROBLEM” with a sticker reading: “You’re invited to vote NO,” from Billie.
• Six single sheets stapled together. The first had a picture of the quarry where the asphalt plant might go, entitled, “They own ‘46’ Companies and pay only $400,000 in Property Taxes, ‘William Charles.’” The second sheet had a property tax bill for a property in the Fox Ridge subdivision on it, with the rate increasing from $1,784.61 to $1,859,88. Along side, the bill reads: “The properties directly adjacent to the proposed asphalt plant are in the City of Rockford and we pay Rockford Taxes! The third page said in big type: The property within a 1 mile radius pay an excess of $2 million in property taxes! Who’s the good neighbor?” The last three pages were her subdivision pictures, with the last two pictures being of Billie’s pond.
• Stationery with a small, round, black and white sticker with a shapely woman and an American flag, reading “Billie D. Mills Skin Care Products, Mfg. For Billie D. Mills Intl. Inc. Chicago/Rockford, IL USA, and the title, “Ink Spots from Billie….”
Her note read: “Hi Frank, This is what we sent to all the Board Members. Thought you would enjoy all the info we put together. Thank you for being there for us. We LOVE YOU! Warm regards, Billie D.”
For 20 of the 28 county board members, Billie was a nobody like the other nobodies whose lives and land they ruin for their special interest buddies. They have kissed the ass of special interests in disregarding the 2030 plan on all of its major challenges: the Cannell Development, parts of the Wind Ordinance, and now this damn asphalt plant. The 2030 Plan is a HUGE JOKE. Think “huge” and now go look at North Main Street starting at the YMCA camp and going a lousy three-quarters of a mile north with a DEVASTATING CLEAR-CUT. Swine. Look at the Amerock neighborhood. Look at Kilbuck Creek. The monied moreoffs are slowly polluting and paving our future.
And the politicians “Baa, Baa” and “Moooo” with the special dinners, vacations, campaign fund-raisers and backslaps with the envelope full of cash. But, hey, got that union vote! What a job.
Billie, what a personality you had, sparkling! Unlike so many of the “politically correct,” you really cared. You really were a character, unusual and bright. Poor Tom must miss you terribly. I never got to thank you for the very nice note. Billie, you’re in a better place than Winnebago County, and I love you and all your neighbors, too. I’m so, so sorry. I hope Tom and your neighbors sue the crap out of them! It will take a while.
Maybe the Winnebago County Board will remember you as they vote on the next “special-use permit.” Then again, maybe not. Just before her aorta burst, she said: “I can’t take this any more!”
Memorial service Nov. 4
Billie D. Mills, 67, of Rockford, died at 4:56 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011 in OSF St. Anthony Medical Center. Born Jan. 16, 1944, in Camp McCall, S.C., the daughter of William G. and Mary (Szilage) Fox. Married Thomas Mills in 1972, in Elgin. Founder of Billie D. Mills International in 1985. This company developed formulas for products under the trade name Sukkara Skin Care. She was also active in the East State Neighbors Association opposing the asphalt plant. She is survived by her husband, Thomas, of Rockford; children, W.T. Mills of Rockford, and William (Patti) Mills of Naples, Fla; grandchildren, Jacob and Brandon Mills of Naples, Fla.; sister, Candace (Walter) Evans of Dallas, Tx.; brother-in-law, Larry Mills; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and -nephews. Memorial visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, in Olson Funeral & Cremation Services, Ltd., North Main Chapel, 2811 N. Main St. Memorials to the family for a memorial fund to be established at a later date.
From the Nov. 2-8, 2011, issue