March 3 2011

Super volunteers make REF Phone-a-thon a success

March 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

More than $22,000 raised for educational programs Stephanie Ragon volunteers for the Rockford Education Foundation’s (REF) annual Phone-a-thon. This is her third year making calls to the community in an effort to raise funds for educational grants. Ragon is a “super volunteer” because she doesn’t just volunteer for one shift—she’s there all three nights and sometimes stays for two shifts if she is needed. Volunteers like Ragon helped the REF raise $22,000 through the Phone-a-thon February 15-17. Ragon has five children and first heard about the Phone-a-thon through Rockford High School’s band program and this year was a parent volunteer representing Assumption School. When asked why she volunteers her time, she replied, “It is a wonderful and simple way to support our kids’ educational needs.” Another pair of super volunteers are Peter and Linda Skornia. The Skornias have been making callsfor REF for four years. With two children in Rockford schools, they feel that working at the Phone-a-thon is an effective way to spend their volunteer hours. “It takes a lot of volunteers to have a successful Phone-a-thon,” said Sue Arend, REF administrator. “The more volunteers we have, the more calls we can make and the more funds we raise. We’re grateful for our super volunteers as well as the generous support of our community.” Pledge cards for the REF Phone-a-thon have been mailed. Those who did not receive a call during the Phone-a-thon last week but would like to support the REF can call (616) 863-6317 or visit their website at

New Sable showroom makes homebuilding choices easy

March 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA “It’s all here. That makes decisions easy,” said John Bitely, vice president of Sable Homes, who was proud to show off his new selection center at the business offices at 11575 Edgerton Ave. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Bitely was joined by members of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting in celebration of the remodeled showroom. Bitely said Sable’s attention to efficiency allows the company to offer more home for less money than competitors and has moved Sable to number three in local builders despite a troubled housing market. He said Sable is poised to sell in tough times because the cost of a Sable home can be less than renting—a no-brainer for those looking for affordable housing. “We are already seeing an up-tick,” Bitely said of the building market. “We are more than cautiously optimistic.” Bitely said Sable is a perfect choice for young professionals who have jobs, but might not yet have a nest egg built up for a down payment. Home options run from as little as $100,000 on up and can equal a monthly payment of as little as $675 for a brand-new, quality home. “Why pay $800 a month for a place where someone else has cut their toe nails on the carpet when you can have brand new and pick everything out yourself?” pointed out Bitely. Sable’s focus on efficiency is the key to lower prices, and their energy-efficient philosophy means value lasts the life of the home. Bitely said new Sable homes at just under 2,000 square feet come with an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star certificate guaranteeing an annual heating bill of $500 to $600. Keeping costs low include extra attention to measurements and ordering, and Bitely said Sable no longer even has dumpsters at their sites. “Everything that goes into a dumpster had to be paid for,” he said. Eliminating the cost of extra material is just part of the formula he said makes Sable more affordable. With the selection center featuring everything from exterior stonework, siding to interior floors, countertops and fixtures, a homebuyer can see just what all the options look and feel like. “You aren’t picking from pictures in a brochure,” Bitely said. Jeff Martin is one of […]

ERMS to present Annie Jr. play

March 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

by FINE ARTS SUPER CREW PUBLICITY COMMITTEE The East Rockford Middle School sixth-grade Fine Arts Magnet (F.A.S.C.) will be performing “Annie Jr.” “Annie” is a unique musical play about a young girl whose parents left her at an orphanage when she was a baby. Annie had a note from her parents saying that they would come back for her, so she tries to run away, but Miss Hannigan (who owns the orphanage) stops her. The richest man in New York City wants to have an orphan spend Christmas at his mansion. His private secretary chooses Annie. Annie is amazed by how she is treated with such respect and awed by the wealth surrounding her. Will Annie have to deal with the disrespect from Miss Hannigan ever again? Come and find out! The dates are Tuesday, March 8 at 1 p.m., Wednesday, March 9 at 9 a.m., and Thursday, March 10 at 7 p.m. in the East Rockford Middle School cafeteria. “Annie Jr.” is a book by Thomas Meehan. Music is by Charles Strouse, with lyrics by Martin Charnin. It is presented on Broadway by Mike Nichols, and was originally produced by Irwin Meyer, Stephen R. Friedman, Lewis Allen, Alvin Nederlander Associates, Inc., the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Icarus Productions. “Annie Jr.” is based on “Little Orphan Annie” by permission of the Tribune Media Services Inc.

MAIN STREET by Roger Allen, publisher

March 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

Presidents party Nobody showed up last week at my Presidents Day party. Something about snow. I ditched the thought of going anywhere and partied alone all day. Then I realized I could only remember about five of the old presidents. Washington is on the one-dollar bill and Lincoln on the five, that’s easy. I’m pretty hazy about most of the rest; I’d never seen pictures of some of them. So I put down my appletini and cheese crackers and got out a book about our past presidents. Many don’t hold up well to the glare of history. Mostly they didn’t like the job. I did find out that the White House was overrun by rats in the early years. During Benjamin Harrison’s term, he and his wife were plagued by spiders, cockroaches and rats. She was kind of softhearted and left out food and milk for them. The president got a bunch of ferrets that quickly took care of the rats. Grover Cleveland deserves special mention not just because of having two non-consecutive terms as president. He also had a baby girl named Ruth. The public was so entranced with the child that Nestle named a candy bar after her. You guessed it: Baby Ruth. Warren Harding had a baby, too. Unfortunately, its mother wasn’t his wife. I still have a lot of presidents to get to. You’ll read it here if I find more good stuff. Funny business Ads from a major newspaper (not ours): • Free Puppies: 1⁄2 cocker spaniel, 1⁄2 sneaky neighbor’s dog. • Free Puppies: Part German shepherd, part stupid dog. • German shepherd, 85 lbs., neutered. Speaks German. FREE. • Snowblower for sale. Only used on snowy days. • Hummers—Largest Selection Ever—“If it’s in stock, we have it!” • Georgia peaches, 89 cents lb., California grown. • Treadmill, $300. Hardly used, call and ask for Chubby. • Open House at Body Shapers Toning Salon. Free coffee & donuts. • Joining nudist colony. Must sell washer & dryer. • For sale by owner: Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. No longer needed. Got married last month, wife knows everything. • Nice parachute: Never opened. Used once. That blonde again A blonde was playing Trivial Pursuit one night. It was her turn. She […]

THE TAX ATTIC — with Jerry Coon

March 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

What would Washington think? It was 1783. The United States of America had just defeated Great Britain, the mightiest power on the face of the Earth. It was now free of the king’s tyranny. The Revolutionary War had lasted eight long years. America’s commander-in-chief, George Washington, was gravely concerned that eight years of effort would be wasted if America’s citizens didn’t step up and do the right thing. What was his definition of the right thing? He enumerated four “pillars on which the glorious fabric of our independence and national character must be supported.” Washington went on to write that these pillars were vitally important, in fact, “I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power.” The four pillars were: 1. “an indissoluble union of the states under one federal head;” 2. “a sacred regard to public justice;” 3. “the adoption of a proper peace establishment;” 4. “the prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and, in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.” Washington was right. We needed a strong federal government and got it when the Constitution was ratified. We needed a sacred regard to public justice and got it when the Bill of Rights was passed. We needed a proper peace establishment and got that as part of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Number four has been troublesome and has caused us problems since 1783. However, it may very well be the most important of the four. You can’t legislate number four. There is no constitutional amendment guaranteeing it will happen. Make mutual concessions? Sacrifice individual advantages? Tough stuff. I wonder what Washington would think of the events that have been occurring in Wisconsin or even the budget reform that Governor Snyder is proposing. That’s difficult to say. There was no such a thing as collective bargaining in 1783. There certainly was no complicated tax system like we have today. Pensions, health insurance, fringe benefits—nothing of the sort existed in 1783. Things are much, much […]

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