Rock River Trail signs up in Rockford and ribbon cutting in Dixon
Rock River Trail signs were erected on Rockford’s Jefferson and Chestnut Street bridges Wednesday, Oct. 3, and the opening ceremony of the Dixon Section of the Rock River Water Trail is Friday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m.
The 4-by-8-feet signs warning kayakers and canoeists to move to the east shore of the river to portage the Fordham Dam were installed by Rock River Enterprises and Barge, Inc.
Another 4 by 8 sign giving Park District phone numbers to call for transportation around the dam by truck will be installed this week next to the boat launch at the Prairie Street Brew House and Riverview Ice House.
Portaging the Fordham Dam is nearly impossible and very dangerous due to the area being used as a construction staging zone for the Morgan Street bridge project.
“We have opened many sections of the Rock River Water Trail in Wisconsin,” said Frank Schier, the Rock River Trail Initiative’s (RRTI) founder and editor and publisher of this paper. “Safety first! We want to make sure that if someone does come down the river, they know where to portage and that we will provide transportation until after the Morgan Street bridge is finished.
“The City of Rockford Public Works Department Director Tim Hanson and his staff, Charles Jones, Kwame Calvin and Dave Peters, have been amazing in getting these signs out. The City Council, Mayor Morrissey and City Administrator Jim Ryan’s support and donation of more than $6,000 of signs to the trail has been crucial. They have reaffirmed by their commitment and actions that Rockford and Winnebago County are the founding city and county of the Rock River Trail.”
Along with the campsite signs at Hononegah Forest Preserve, Sportscore I, Blackhawk Park and Hinchcliff Forest Preserve, Rockford has provided some campsite, portage, canoe/kayak launch, and dam warning signs for Beloit, Byron, Oregon, Milan and now the dam signs for the Dixon opening. The City of Dixon made its own portage and canoe/kayak launch signs, but only Rockford’s sign department has the capacity to produce the big 4 by 8 dam warning and directional signs.
Schier has much praise for the Rockford Park District, too: “Executive Director Tim Dimke and his board constantly say ‘Yes!’ to RRTI proposals, and retiring Deputy Director of Operations Ron Butler put his personal cell phone number on the portage assistance sign! Wow! His assistant Cindy Bacher and Manager of Horticulture and Parks Dan Erwin are really ‘can do’ people. They remind me of Debbie Thompson; they are a joy to work with on any project.”
Artist Debbie Thompson, Lee County member of the Rock River Trail Initiative Council, coordinated the sign creation and opening. She will also host the RRTI Council meeting in Dixon’s Chamber of Commerce offices following the opening.
Dixon’s opening ceremony will be held at historic Presidents Park, 201 Lincoln Statue Drive, Dixon, Illinois. The location for the ceremony is the site along the Rock River of Fort Dixon, where Abraham Lincoln served as captain of the Sangamon County Volunteers in the Black hawk War of 1832 and in front of the State of Illinois Lincoln Memorial, the only sculpture of Lincoln in military uniform. The site is at Dixon’s Heritage Crossing, where founder John Dixon operated his ferry on the Galena “lead” Trail connecting central and northwest Illinois. The site is also where canoeists and kayakers on the Rock River Trail will put their boats back into the Rock after the Dixon Dam portage. Directly across the river is the centerpiece of Dixon’s riverfront redevelopment, a multi-million-dollar mixed-use plaza with another bronze memorial statue of Dixon’s own President Ronald Reagan entitled “Begins the Trail.”
Mayor Jim Burke, City of Dixon, Debra Carey, Director of Dixon Park district, along with Debbie Thompson, Lee County member of the Rock River Trail Initiative Council, will cut the ribbon to officially open the water trail section.
The gathering will last no later than 1:30 p.m. as several attendees have a commitment following the ceremony for a Rock River Trail Initiative Council meeting at Dixon’s Life Safety Building, 306 S. Hennepin Ave.
The ribbon cutting is an opportunity to celebrate the establishment of a recreational water trail along 320 miles of the beautiful Rock River through Wisconsin and Illinois. The opening of the water trail in Dixon affirms the city’s special place as a gem of the Rock River Valley.
The Rock River Water Trail is a key component of the vision of the Rock River Trail Initiative. The Rock River Trail Initiative envisions a commonality of interests in and respect for the Rock River that will result in: active participation by a diverse and growing number of residents and visitors in recreational trails on and along the river, revitalized and prosperous river communities on a clean river and the enjoyment and appreciation by all of the scenic beauty, natural resources and historic and cultural assets of the Rock River Valley.
AGENDA FOR ROCK RIVER WATER TRAIL OFFICIAL DESIGNATION
OF THE DIXON SECTION
AND RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY
October 12, 2012 @ 1:00-1:30pm
201 Lincoln Statue Drive, Dixon, Illinois
MASTER OF CEREMONY
• Debbie Thompson, Lee County Rock River Trail Initiative Council Member
SPECIAL GUEST & SPEAKERS
• Mayor Jim Burke, City of Dixon
• Debra Carey, Dixon Park District Director
• Amy Madigan and George Bellovics, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
• Diane Banta, National Park Service
• Frank Schier, Rock River Trail Initiative Founder & Coordinator
PRESENTATION OF THE ROCK RIVER WATER TRAIL OFFICIAL SIGN
• Debbie Thompson, Member of the Rock River Trail Initiative Council
From the Oct. 10-16, 2012, issue
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