Rockford

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Three teens were arrested in Rockford this weekend, suspected of stealing cars and using them during recent crime sprees.

Rockford Assistant Deputy Police Chief Doug Pann says juvenile crime was the major factor in a big increase in violent crime in the city last year.

“We’ve got some groups we know are engaging in the robberies and auto thefts. It’s all tied together," he said. "We’ve been working on this for several months now, identifying them and getting them off the street. And we will continue to do that until it stops.”

City of Rockford / rockfordil.gov

There are big plans for an important part of Rockford’s downtown. Thursday night, the public gathered at Memorial Hall to hear about the future of Davis Park.

A 23-year-old Rockford man was killed and two others injured in a crash that shut down a busy intersection for most of the day Wednesday. He’s been identified as Juan Lozano Junior.

The three were spotted driving a stolen car overnight near Rockford and were briefly pursued by Illinois State Police troopers, who gave up the chase. The stolen car was found a short time later after crashing into a tree near Anderson Japanese Gardens at the intersection of Spring Creek and Highcrest Roads.  

The largest city in Illinois is nowhere near the top in a 2016 ranking of the best Illinois cities for families, and the third-largest city didn’t fare much better.

Chicago ranks 154th of the 162 cities on the WalletHub family-friendly list, and Rockford placed 149th. Aurora – the second-largest Illinois city – came in at number 99.

WalletHub says it rated Illinois cities on four weighted categories of and then totaled the scores to achieve the ranking.

http://rockfordcityil.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1212&Inline=True

A controversial housing proposal for Rockford’s east side has the go-ahead from a reluctant city council. Aldermen approved the site plans for the development on South New Towne Drive, on a 7 to 5 vote.

http://bit.ly/1mC7M2r

Rockford aldermen delayed a vote surrounding a proposed affordable housing development on the city's east side. The New Towne project involves 49 units intended to replace some government subsidized units on the city's west side.

Rockford Register-Star: A closer look at New Towne's $240K-a-unit price tag for affordable housing in Rockford

"Candle" by Tom Danita / CC by 2.0

Every year, friends, family, and service providers gather in Rockford to remember a special group of people: the homeless in their community who have died over the past year.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

2014 was declared “The Year of the Maker” by a magazine dedicated to Do-It-Yourself culture. President Obama even hosted the first-ever Maker Faire at the White House. And as 2015 draws to a close, there’s an invigorated push in Rockford to create a space where people can get together to share ideas and equipment.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Rockford is the first community to effectively end homelessness among its veteran population as part of a national effort called Zero: 2016. Dozens of communities are participating in the campaign.

Beth Sandor, director of the Zero: 2016 Movement, said, “Rockford had to demonstrate that it was able to house more veterans every month than were homeless in the community.”

To date, Rockford has housed 73 veterans.

Rockford Public Schools / RPS205.com

Plans to build two new elementary schools in Rockford are back on track.

The Rockford School Board voted last night to proceed with its ten-year facilities plan -- particularly the construction of the two schools that will replace five outdated buildings on the city’s southeast side, at a cost of $42 million.

The board had delayed a vote so members could determine if the district really could afford the schools on top of major renovations and everyday expenses.

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