Photos by TOM SCOTT It is easy to recapture the magic of Christmases past when there is a perfect setting for it. Downtown Rockford—with its signature Currier and Ives beauty, friendly atmosphere and twinkling lights and red ribbons—is ready for another holiday season. There are plenty of activities planned for a kinder, more personal way to celebrate this special time of year. “Rockford is definitely the perfect place for those looking for an old-fashioned holiday atmosphere,” said Jeannie Gregory, executive director of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. “The merchants do their part by fashioning beautiful window displays and decorating their shops, and the City puts up the holiday banners and spends hours wrapping the trees in strings of lights. It makes it easy to showcase such a beautiful setting with holiday events.” The season kicks off with the annual Lighting Ceremony, which will take place at Peppler Park on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. The Rockford High School brass ensemble and the Rockford choirs will be performing holiday music for those anxious to start the holiday season. Each year during the lighting ceremony, the city is covered in darkness and after a countdown from 10 the power is turned on to thousands of lights around the downtown area, including the Rockford Dam overlook. Michigan House Rep. Peter MacGregor will be giving a message of peace to honor the start of the special holiday season. The Heart of Rockford Business Association Open Houses will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 16-17, from 5 p.m. until 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the store. There are discounts, samples, goodies and giveaways, and each participating merchant has their own holiday specials planned. To add to the atmosphere, the sidewalks will be lined with luminaries. Also on Nov. 16, the Rockford Community Children’s Choir will be performing at 5 p.m. and the Rockford Community Chorus will follow at 6 p.m. Both will be at the Rockford Rotary Pavilion. The Gingerbread Contest is scheduled from December 2 through 18. There are different divisions, with the contest featuring gingerbread houses—and gingerbread people for the younger set. The entries will be showcased in the downtown stores, and will add another decorative dimension to the holiday tidings. The entries will be […]
November 10 2011
Rockford’s own much-awarded and celebrated nature photographer Stacy Niedzwiecki needs your help winning a free photo trip to Guatemala. On an online photoblog contest with over 2,000 entries, Stacy’s entry has made it to the top 25 with this photo she took at Shaner Avenue and 11 Mile of a flooded corn field. Log on at rainforestalliance.org and click on the photo contest link. Stacy’s photo appears in the “Forest” category, image #5. Perhaps the amazing community that earned Rockford bragging rights to the nation’s best farm market can work a little more magic to help Stacy on her way to a once-in-a-lifetime photo trip. Voting runs through November 30, 2011.
Last year a Rockford family made world news when Barbie Soper had her third child, Cearra, on 10/10/10. The unusual date for the newborn was interesting enough, but made more surprising by the fact that her brother, one year older, was born on 09/09/09. Topping this, the Soper family’s firstborn was 11 months earlier on 08/08/08. Today the household is busy with three youngsters and the “magical” date nearing again. According to Barbie, however, this year will not add a fourth child on 11/11/11. “No, I am not pregnant,” she stated. “I have been getting a lot of comments about 11/11/11, like, ‘Gosh, you’re not showing very much for almost having a baby due,’ and, ‘Does Spectrum have your suite ready?’” “We wouldn’t change a minute of our lives,” she added. “We always have constant entertainment with eight, nine and ten running around. We are rich with love, that is for sure!”
Parking on all city streets in the City of Rockford is prohibited between the hours of 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. from November 15 through April 1 each year. This allows for road crews to clear these streets overnight during the winter months. Officers will be placing warning notices on cars for the next week as a reminder to residents. Citations will we issued to violators after November 15, 2011.
Increases in benefits Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced how much Medicare premiums would increase for 2012. It was previously announced by the Social Security Administration that Social Security recipients would enjoy a 3.6% increase in benefits beginning in January 2012. Exactly how much of that 3.6% the recipients would get to keep would be dependent upon how much Medicare premiums would also increase. It is interesting to know how the Social Security benefits and Medicare premiums interact. There is a provision in Social Security law, a hold-harmless provision that says a recipient’s Social Security check cannot be decreased due to an increase in Medicare premiums. As you remember, for the last two years Social Security checks have not increased. This means that although Medicare premiums have actually increased from $96.40 in 2009 to $99.90 in 2010 to $115.40 in 2011, none of these increases were applied to the approximately 73% of all recipients who were already receiving benefits in 2009. Their premiums stayed at $96.40 because their Social Security benefit could not be decreased. Those who signed up for Social Security in 2010 and 2011 paid the higher premium amount. One of the biggest surprises to come out of Washington lately has the 2012 Medicare premium decreasing from the $115.40 2011 amount down to $99.90—a 13.43% decrease. Since the states seem to be saying their Medicare costs are increasing exponentially, I fail to see how Medicare premiums could go down by 13.43%. I’m not holding my breath for my health insurance premiums to go down by 13.43%. In fact, I would be happy to see them only go up 13.43% next year. It almost makes one wonder if there is some funny government accounting going on here. The decrease down to $99.90 still means that Social Security benefits will be decreased by $3.50 per month. Recipients were paying $96.40 and now will be paying $99.90—the $3.50 increase. So, the overall decrease in Medicare premiums still results in an increase, but that’s a whole lot better than what it could have been. People who signed up for Medicare in 2010 and 2011 will also be paying the reduced amount of $99.90 in 2012. Another group of taxpayers will also receive an […]