Rockford

Rockford Schools Receive $400,000 Grant

Mar 31, 2016

Rockford Public Schools received a $400,000 grant from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. 

The funds are part of a greater effort by the organization to improve student educational opportunities, particularly as they relate to college and the job market.  In choosing Rockford, the foundation zeroed in on the district's Academy program, which, in addition to standard instruction, provides career-based learning through company visits, job shadowing programs, and more elaborate capstone projects. 

Numbers from Winnebago County Coroner's Office / Data visualization done in collaboration with the ddiLab in the Department of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University

The rate of heroin-related overdose deaths in Winnebago County is among the highest in Illinois.

Deaths involving drugs in the county nearly tripled in the last decade. Longtime County Coroner Sue Fiduccia says that means it's time to think outside the box when it comes to breaking down the stigma surrounding addiction and treatment.

eEgin police department

Rockford's Board of Fire and Police Commissioners announced their pick Thursday for the city's next police chief: Dan O'Shea of the Elgin Police Department.

O'Shea is Elgin's Police Operations Bureau Commander. He beat out Rockford Assistant Deputy Chief Doug Pann for the position. A third finalist dropped out earlier this week after he was offered a contract extension at his current position in Racine, Wisconsin.

Rockford Shigella Outbreak Reports 4 New Cases

Mar 24, 2016

The shigellosis outbreak in the Rockford area has risen to 152 cases. 

  The Winnebago County Health Department reported four new cases in the outbreak this month, and that the bacterium has spread beyond individual schools and daycare centers to the entire community.  Todd Kisner with the Department’s Center for Health Protection says the best way to prevent the disease, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting, is to enforce routine handwashing, particularly among children. 

Barmore Civil Trial Goes To Jury This Week

Mar 21, 2016
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The civil trial against the city of Rockford in the 2009 police shooting of an unarmed black man is expected to go to the jury this week.

Mark Anthony Barmore was shot to death in the basement of a Rockford church by two white police officers in 2009. It was one of the city’s most racially-charged events in recent history.

Rockford PD Launches Body Cam Pilot Program

Mar 7, 2016
Flickr: West Midlands Police / Photo cropped from original

The Rockford Police Department is launching a body camera program today.

Thirteen volunteer officers will wear body cameras for a 60-day trial period. 

Douglas Pann is the city’s Assistant Deputy Police Chief. He says this kind of program hasn’t been done before with the department.

“It’s really a test-and-evaluate. Once they complete that, then we would look at other vendors also. But at this point, this will be the first one," Pann said.

Mercy Rockford Health System

MercyRockford Health Systems and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey have reached an agreement on permit fees and specific development projects to allow a proposed $485 million medical campus to move forward.

The city announced Thursday that MercyRockford President and CEO Javon Bea and Morrissey agreed on terms for the City of Rockford to annex the 263-acre site at I-90 and Riverside Boulevard.

"School buses" by Flickr User JohnPickenPhoto / (CC BY 2.0)

The Rockford School District could save more than $1 million on fuel to run its buses this year.

Officials say the cost of diesel fuel has dropped to its lowest point in 11 years.

The district budgeted $2.1 million for fuel this year but has only spent $503,000. The final tab is likely to fall below $1 million.

The Rockford Register-Star reports district officials are eyeing the purchase of used buses to upgrade its fleet.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Students at Rockford’s Guilford High School showed off their latest high-tech projects to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner today.

Rauner stopped by the school to talk about education funding and to check out their innovative engineering-track programs. He pledged to increase K through 12 funding and reduce state mandates on schools.

The Republican governor also clued the students in on the partisan battles that were blocking progress on a state budget.

"ARBRE ÉVOLUTION" By Flickr User MONTAGE CHARPENTE / (CC BY 2.0)

An arboretum in northern Illinois hopes to draw new interest by building treehouses where visitors can climb into the branches for better views.

The Register Star reports the treehouse initiative at Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Rockford coincides with efforts to offer more family-friendly activities.

Three treehouses would be built at the arboretum, which is owned by Forest Preserves of Winnebago County.

Leaders will discuss at a meeting next month the possibility of hosting a treehouse design competition for architects.

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