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Frank Haney: 60% of county’s pending COVID-19 tests are missing

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - More than 2,100 COVID-19 specimens collected at the UIC Health Sciences Campus are nowhere to be found, according to Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney. Haney said National Guard teams began collecting nose-swab specimens since April 24 and have been sending them to a third-party vendor for processing. "Zero tests have been reported to the Winnebago County Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health from this vender," Haney said in a…

City of Rockford receives EPA grant to clean up downtown properties

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The City of Rockford has received a $275,000 grant under the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfield’s Program to assess and clean up two downtown properties. Under President Trump’s administration, the EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants. Rockford will use its award for the Rockford…

Belvidere Assembly Plant re-opening June 1

Staff Report BELVIDERE, Ill. - The Belvidere Assembly Plant will re-open June 1, a FCA Group spokesman said Wednesday, May 6. "This plan has been developed following continuous discussions with the unions – the UAW, Unifor and Section 23 CTM – as well as local governments," Jodi Tinson, of FCA said. The status of production at FCA’s Mexico plants will be the subject of a separate announcement." The Belvidere Chrysler assembly facility has been closed for several week, in part because of…

Rockford Public Library offering curbside pickup

Staff Report ROCKFORD - –Customers of Rockford Public Library can now pick-up physical items they have placed on hold. By appointment, customers can reserve items through RPL’s website, rockfordpubliclibrary.org, or by phone. If the items are available, staff will pull them, sanitize them, and call to arrange to have them picked up through a curbside process. If the items are currently out on loan, a hold will be placed on the items until they return, at which time they will be…

2020 RAMI Awards canceled, virtual awards show Friday, May 8

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The 2020 RAMI Awards will be canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The uncertainty surrounding when social distancing requirements will no longer remain in place has made scheduling a new date impractical," the RAMI Awards Committee said in a news release. Instead of the live event, the committee will produce a virtual awards show at 7 p.m., Friday, May 8. "Once launched, the YouTube video will be available to all for however long these things…

RPS 205 announces graduation, prom dates

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Rockford Public School District 205 has announced its plans for prom, graduation and end-of-the-year activities. Graduation ceremonies will not be attended by friends and family, but will be started on the district's YouTube channel and Facebook page. Roosevelt: Friday, May 29, 4 p.m. Auburn: Monday, June 1, 4 p.m. Jefferson: Monday, June 1, 5 p.m. East: Tuesday, June 2, 4 p.m. Guilford: Tuesday, June 2, 5 p.m. The ceremonies will also air on…

Kelley Williamson donates $200K to local charities to help fight COVID-19

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Kelley Williamson Company has donated more than $200,000 to  Rockford areas nonprofit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Kelley’s Markets across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin are providing free coffee and fountain drinks to all police, fire, ambulance, rescue and first responders. "Our drivers, our office staff, our convenience store workers are the face of Kelley Williamson," CEO John Griffin said. “The community takes care…

Rock Cut State Park open under stay-at-home extension

By Jim Hagerty Reporter MACHESNEY PARK - Rock Cut State Park has made the list of states parks that opened Friday, May 1. Officials have confirmed that the park is now open for fishing, hiking, biking and boating with no more than two people. The confirmation comes after a Facebook post by staff who manage the park's concession services. "Rock Cut is open. Not the concession, beach or campground," the post reads. "We will work to fill pop machine at the concession next week and fill…

Illinois governor: Winnebago County a COVID-19 hotspot

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Winnebago County is considered a COVID-19 hotspot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday. "Rockford is a hotspot in the state," Pritzker said. "Winnebago County has quite a number of infections." As of this report, 426 people in Winnebago County have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the coronavirus outbreak was deemed a pandemic last month. The county has seen 14 fatalities. As in other counties, almost all COVID-related fatalities locally have involved at…

Lena church files federal lawsuit over Illinois stay-at-home order

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - A Lena, Illinois, church filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday, seeking relief from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide stay-at-home order. Pastor Stephen Cassell filed the complaint in the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of Beloved Church. The suit names Pritzker, Stephenson County Sheriff David Snyders, Lena Chief of Police Steve Schaible, and Stephenson County Public Health Administrator Craig Beintema as defendants. The petition says…

U of I Extension: Consider fruit trees this year

Staff Report ROCKFORD - While people may be thinking of growing vegetables this season, they might want to consider fruit trees as an addition to the backyard. “Fruit trees can be great for the backyard in Northern Illinois," University of Illinois Extension Local Foods and Small Farms Extension Educator Grant McCarty said. “We see a lot of homeowners reach out to us asking about what types to grow, how to grow them, and challenges they are facing in their current trees.” Apples and…

Rockford Public Library launches ‘Virtual Lunch and Learn’ series

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Rockford Public Library will launch "Virtual Lunch and Learn" this week, a six-part Webex series inspired by its live adult programs. The series begins at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, April 30, with “From Bootleggers to Retirees- a discussion of the Mafia in Rockford.” Hosted by local history expert Jean Lythgoe and author Kathi Kresol, the program’s  popular live version drew capacity crowds. “We’re thrilled to offer our community digital access to these popular…

Demolition of former Magna grocery store begins Thursday

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Demolition of the former Magna grocery store, 3915 E. State St., will begin at 7 a.m., Thursday, April 30, the city announced Wednesday. The building has been vacant for more than 20 years. The city recently took ownership of the property after negotiating a payment from the former owner in the amount of $120,000. "Removal of this building is part of the City’s larger strategy to eliminate blight and strengthen neighborhoods, while saving the taxpayer’s…

Cabello files complaint against Gov. J.B. Pritzker; opponent responds

By Jim Hagerty Report ROCKFORD - State Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, on Wednesday, officially filed a lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, challenging the governor's stay-at-home edict meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Announced Tuesday, the complaint claims the governor overstepped his authority to force businesses to close, essentially shutting down the state as health officials contend with coronavirus outbreaks. Cabello contends it should be up to businesses whether to…

State Rep. John Cabello to challenge Illinois stay-at-home order

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Illinois Rep. John Cabello says he will file a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order. Cabello's suit will be the second in the state filed by a remember of the Illinois House, however, the the Machesney Park Republican says it will differ from the complaint filed by Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia). While Bailey's filing, which resulted in a temporary restraining order, only applies to him,  Cabello said his…