The first Heirloom tomato festival drew crowds and helped pack downtown Rockford on Saturday, August 22. In the parking lot of the Promenade, the festival included a salsa contest that tried the taste buds of judges, who had to sample a whopping 34 salsas. Some caused sweat to break out on judges’ faces, but no one dropped out before the tasting was done. “We expected maybe eight entries,” said organizer Meredith Gremel. She said of the judges “I kind of feel sorry for them.” The event featured tomatoes, games and music, and was a kick-off to fundraising by the Rockford High School Youth Initiative, who provided the volunteers for the children’s activities at the festival. Initiative president Shelby Denhof said this year’s project for the community group is to build a Habitat for Humanity home. The undertaking will require raising an amazing $75,000. Denhof said the group hopes to rehab or build from scratch a house right here in Rockford. Prior to the festival, the organization had already raised $850 by holding pop can drives. “We hope to have half raised by January, begin building by February or March and be done by June, “ Denhof stated. Youth Initiative volunteers helped youngsters with a bag toss, painted faces and helped kids decorate their own heirloom tomatoes to take home. Under a tent Reds offered samples of tomato-based salad, salsa and soup for $2 each. Ingraberg Farm highlighted many varieties of heirloom tomatoes and Earthkeeper Farms was also present with tomatoes. The event was well-attended and organizers were pleased with the turnout. Downtown merchants joined in the fun by offering discounts and deals for those who showed up with tomato-related items. It is planned for the festival to be a yearly event.
August 27 2009
29th Matthew Barton, Robert Hevia-Carter, Chad Elder, Russ Osbun 30th Courtney Corvers, Joanne Polasek 31st Paul Bartlett Sr., Rob Brinkman, Scot Hay, Kelly McLellan, Michael Reeds, Ken Rowley, Bob Tidey SEPTEMBER 1st Millie Groen, Sarah McLellan, Scott Pratt 2nd Wanette Abshire, Brad Des Noyers, John Hone, Robby Kuntz, John Winks, Marilyn Ziomkowske 3rd Anna Ellen 4th Judy Baer, Doug Behnke, Rose Doering, Travis Fase
The Good News With all the bad news in the world, I’m happy to see that we’re getting off the gasoline kick. Crude oil was formed from living things buried under prehistoric seas, and eventually it will all be used up. The automobile made use of cheap petroleum but, a century later, it’s not so cheap anymore. One look at the Interstate and you can see the results of supply and demand. Transportation has drastically changed our lives and we can’t easily give it up. But it looks like the human race is getting serious about exchanging gasoline for renewable-source electricity. (Thank you, Thomas Edison!) We’re on our way to an oil-free future. That’s good news! Extinction Not us! Charles Darwin, in postulating the theory of evolution, noted that plants and animals best adapted to the environment were the ones who survived. He never figured on the changes humans could make on the environment. We have species disappearing because humans are taking away their habitat. You know what happened to the passenger pigeon, the bison, the great auk, and many others too small to notice. Humans are the worst enemy of lots of plants, birds and animals. We hunt them, eat them and change them by breeding. We have to live, too. About all we can do is keep a few samples around to remind us. I guess that’s what zoos are for. Health Insurance Confusion There’s too much misinformation floating around to figure out what’s going on with the 3-5 bills in Congress. It’s too much to cover in one fell swoop. Medicare has been a successful program, although expensive. It can be expanded and made less expensive. Congress should concentrate on “Medicare for all.” Frankly, I trust the government more than the competing, for-profit insurance companies. Abby Strikes Out Dear Abby admitted she was at a loss to answer the following: “Dear Abby, “A couple of women moved in across the hall from me. One is a middle-aged gym teacher and the other is a social worker in her mid twenties. These two women go everywhere together and I’ve never seen a man go into or leave their apartment. Do you think they could be Lebanese?” “Dear Abby, “What can I do about […]
Should government be involved in health care? The bill before Congress is entitled “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.” When all is said and done, the final version of the bill that President Obama signs will influence the health care of all of us, our children, and our children’s children. I believe it’s that big of a deal. It’s an emotional topic. From what we see on the television, people are not afraid to voice their opinions about government’s further involvement in health care. I say “further” involvement because we do have the Medicare and Medicaid programs that are currently administered by the government. Is there waste in these programs? Yes. Is there a bureaucracy in these programs that makes it difficult to deal with at times? Yes. However, do the programs run as they are advertised? I would say yes. When a taxpayer turns 65, he/she enrolls in Medicare and usually ceases to be covered by normal health insurance. This happens every day, all day long, and usually happens without a glitch. Many taxpayers, however, do purchase a supplemental policy because of the shortcomings of Medicare. When an elderly person in a nursing home runs out of money and is no longer able to pay for care, Medicaid somewhat seamlessly picks up the paying of the nursing home. This also happens all day long, usually without a glitch. So, let’s start with the assumption that our federal government is already involved in the health care business, but currently it is limited to the 65-and-over crowd. They now want to get involved in the under-65 crowd. Perhaps we should be reviewing the Medicare and Medicaid programs to see if the federal government is worthy of expanding their involvement. Are they controlling their costs or do they have the same problems the private sector has with wildly increasing costs? How is the health care for the participants compared to the private sector? Just because the federal government can get involved in the under-65 crowd’s insurance doesn’t mean they should. Of course, the federal government’s motivation for this involvement comes from two items. First, there are approximately 47 million Americans who are not covered by health insurance of any type. More people every day are joining […]
After reading last week’s article in the Rockford Squire, I thought it would be helpful to provide additional information on the City’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the proposal to extend the term of the DDA for an additional thirty (30) years. As reported in the Squire the original DDA was formed in 1984. At the time a DDA is created, a base SEV is established, which represents the assessed value of all properties within the district. At the time Rockford’s DDA District was established, the total value was $2,679,400. The taxes generated from this value continue to go to the various taxing jurisdictions such as the County, Community College, Intermediate School District, Kent District Library and the City. Over time, as the value of the district increases, the new taxes generated above the base value are “captured” by the DDA and reinvested within the District, according to the Development Plan. Through this mechanism the taxes paid by the business/property owners within the District are reinvested in the form of capital projects to improve the overall business climate within the District. In my opinion, DDAs are one of the most effective economic development tools a small community has at its disposal. Overtime as the City and DDA continues to make public improvements within the District, private investment also accelerates. We have seen over the years the wonderful investment our business owners have made throughout the downtown area. This public/private partnership only serves to continue investment throughout the entire district. The chart below identifies the various taxing jurisdictions that are subject to capture within the DDA. Through this capture, the DDA collects approximately $192,000 for reinvestment within the District. Of the $192,000, shown in the chart, the City of Rockford is the largest capture of over $110,000. It is important to note that the City does not capture taxes from the Rockford Public Schools either for debt, operations or their special recreation millage. Of this capture, approximately $95,000 goes towards paying off the downtown streetscape bond issue, with another $25,000 going each year towards the Peppler Park Renovation project. The City and DDA are also splitting the cost of the Northland Pontiac purchase and renovation to the parking lots. The remaining money, about $60,000 per year […]