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Downtown streets to close for more outdoor restaurant seating

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The City of Rockford, in collaboration with the River District  Association, will be closing sections of downtown streets this weekend to allow for more outdoor restaurant seating. Starting at 3 p.m., Friday, June 12, the 200, 300, 400 and 500 blocks of East State Street, the bridge on State Street, and Madison Street between East State and Market streets will be closed to traffic. At 8 a.m., Saturday, the State Street Bridge and Madison Street will open back up.…

Rockford Park District summer camps open June 22

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Rockford Park District's summer cay camps will open this month. Beginning June 22, Nature Quest summer camp will be open for youth ages 5-12. Based at Alpine Hills Adventure Park, the camp provides an introductory experience with a different theme and nature and environment related activity each week, along with traditional camp activities including archery, crafts, hiking, games, and tie-dyeing. Live animal demonstrations and special guests are also…

Local protesters call for better policing, not dismantling

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Removing officers from the Rockford streets would certainly bring change. But, contrary to an array of cries to disband police departments across the country, a group of local activists wants something else. Nearly 30 protesters who rallied at Davis Park Monday say it's time for Rockford to reallocate funds the police department spends on armaments and big salaries towards proactive community programs. "There is so much money and equipment that's being…

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara takes first step to secure police body cams

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, on Monday, announced that he is taking the first step to outfit city police officers with body cameras. "I signed the Mayoral Pledge from the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance to review, engage, report and reform common-sense limits on police use of force with feedback from the community, McNamara said. "I hear the concerns of our residents and want to take steps to ensure justice and equity for all in our community. I urge all…

2020 State Street Mile canceled

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Due to the health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and per the guidelines from the Winnebago County Health Department and state and local governments, the 2020 SwedishAmerican State Street Mile has been canceled. The State Street Mile would have celebrated its 36th year this summer. The mile-long race is held every August in downtown Rockford and brings families and individuals of all ages together for fun and fitness. The race also gives away $2,250…

Boone County Fair canceled because of coronavirus, other events planned

Staff Report BELVIDERE - The 2020 Boone County Fair has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers voted Saturday to not hold this year's event for the safety of fairgoers, staff, vendors exhibitors, sponsors, suppliers, volunteers, and the community. "The Boone County Fair Board has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic data along with local, state, and federal health officials," President Lyle Lee said in a release. "Although some restrictions have been…

Macy’s reopens at CherryVale Mall; hours modified

Staff Report CHERRY VALLEY, Ill. - Macy’s announced Monday that its CherryVale Mall location has reopened in Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan. Following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as state and local guidance, Macy’s opened Monday and will operate 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with in-store shopping and contact-free curbside pick-up. "We are ready to welcome our customers back to Macy’s Cherryvale,” Chief of Stores Officer Marc Mastronardi said. "We’re …

Rockford’s Riverfront Museum Park included in capital improvement bill

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Rockford's Riverfront Museum Park will receive state funding to improve its facility. Funding will come from a bill passed last week by the Illinois General Assembly, marking $13.3 million for the  Illinois Arts Council and  $50 million for the Arts Alliance Capital Coalition that will fuel 36 projects dedicated to permanent improvement in cultural infrastructure across the state. Rockford’s Riverfront Museum Park is among the 36 coalition members set to receive…

Peaceful Rockford protest ends with destruction of property, arrests

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Peaceful, yet boisterous protests became destructive Saturday as more than a thousand demonstrators converged on Rockford Police District 1 headquarters. The events began just before 4 p.m., at Haskell Park, where a crowd of a few dozen quickly became several hundred within the hour. Some held signs honoring George Floyd that bore phrases like "I can't breathe" and "Say his name," while the Black Lives Matter slogan was even better represented.…

3 people found dead inside Machesney Park apartment

By Jim Hagerty Reporter MACHESENY PARK - Three people were found dead inside an apartment building  in the 1100 block of Minns Drive Wednesday. Winnebago County deputies arrived at the scene just after 4 p.m., and discovered the bodies. How the people died has not been reported, however, Chief Deputy Rick Ciganek told reporters at the scene that a preliminary investigation indicated that there is not a threat to the community. "We believe what happened was contained in the apartment,"…

Winnebago County Health Department releases guidelines for bars, restaurants and churches in Phase 3 of ‘Restore Illinois’ plan

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - The Winnebago County Health Department, on Wednesday, released guidelines for bars, restaurants and churches as they enter Phase 3 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan. Starting Friday, bars and restaurants are permitted to offer outdoor dining and drinking after more than two months of carryout only. Tables must be six fee apart; those who are not seated must wear face coverings and practice proper social distancing, the health…

Local ministry provides COVID-19 aid to Russia

Staff Report LOVES PARK - A Rockford-area mission to Russia and the former Soviet Union today announced its on-the-ground church task force has distributed more than 500,000 meals to desperate families as Russia’s coronavirus infections hit a new high. The Slavic Gospel Association, 6151 Commonwealth Drive, Loves Park, partners with a grassroots network of  6,350 evangelical churches across the former Soviet Union to support orphans, widows, and families in need. It’s reached a critical…

Rockford Park District closes pools, cancels summer concerts for 2020

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Because of coronavirus limitations, the Rockford Park District has decided to close Alpine Pool, Harkins Aquatic Center, and Sand Park Pool will be closed for the season, and the the 2020 “Sounds of Summer” concert series will be canceled. District officials say since the start of pandemic, the Rockford Park District has followed and supported guidelines and requirements established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health…

Rockford Fourth of July fireworks canceled for 2020

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The July 4 fireworks will be canceled this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the City of Rockford announced Saturday. "My family and I love all the activities on the Fourth of July and it’s one of the best days for our community to come together," Mayor Tom McNamara said in a release. "We worked closely with our police, fire, and Public Works to evaluate the best options for this event." But, the mayor said, with health and safety of the community in mind,…

Rockford Public Library’s Summer Reading Club kicks off June 1

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Rockford Public Library's Summer Reading Challenge for children, teens, and adults will begin June 1 at all branches. The 2020 Summer Reading Challenge, “Digging Deeper!” will run through August 31. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no live celebrations kicking off the event, however, library officials say it is easy for readers to track their progress and win prizes from home by visiting RockfordPublicLibrary.org or by using the new Rockford…