The Rockford Squire
Brad Van Gorder is a student at East Rockford Middle School, who has a birthday coming up next spring on May 20. Van Gorder is a valuable member of the Squire team, who sees to it that the readers on his route receive their paper each week, rain or shine. Van Gorder said his favorite class is wood shop. He said he likes it “because you get to build so many cool things and the things you make can be amazing.” For his future career, Van Gorder has aspirations of becoming an animator and game designer. During his time at the Squire, Van Gorder’s route has been very well serviced and not one person has ever complained about the job he has done. Staff members at the Squire are always happy to see him as he picks up his papers each week. “I have been a carrier at the Squire now for four years,” the industrious young man stated. “I wanted to be a carrier because I wanted to make some money.” Our grateful thanks to Brad for choosing to join our team, and bringing Rockford its weekly news.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Following the background stories of The Rockford Squire’s Publisher Roger Allen and Managing Editor Beth Altena, we, Cliff and Nancy Hill, have been asked to reintroduce ourselves to the paper’s readership. We welcome the opportunity and, at the same time, will lay to rest a question that is frequently asked us, “Which of you two write your stories?” First, a little background of who we are and how we came to be contributing reporters for The Rockford Squire: Nancy is a farm girl born and raised just outside of Howard City, Mich. Academically, she acquired bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Western Michigan University and, at the time of her retirement as a teacher from the Tri-County School System, she was just a few short hours away from a Ph.D. She devoted 32 years to enriching the lives of elementary students in grades kindergarten through third. Cliff, on the other hand, is a big city boy born and raised in Chicagoland. In pursuit of a business degree at the University of Illinois, he freely admits he left school after two years because he was anxious to get on with his life. What followed were vocational careers in retail supermarket management and the trucking industry, leading to retirement. Somewhat bored in retirement, Cliff went on to spend two five-year stints as a fisheries technician with the Wisconsin DNR and finally as a lab technician with Wolverine World Wide. Obviously we possess dissimilar personalities, perspectives, values and beliefs due to the differences in our educational and vocational backgrounds in addition to the very different worlds we were born and raised in. If you already personally know us, then you know that Cliff does not “suffer fools gladly” and loves a good fight, while Nancy, on the other hand, is perfectly willing to “turn the other cheek” and seek an amicable compromise. (Cliff thinks Nancy is probably right.) One strong commonality is that we are both avid readers of books, magazines and especially newspapers. Enough said about backgrounds. When you meld all of the above and more, the result is the “by Cliff and Nancy Hill” byline. The answer to the question “Who writes the stories?” is: “We—Cliff and Nancy—together write […]
Beth Altena I was in high school when my parents purchased the Rockford Register from a group of business people who had combined several local papers to form one big paper and quickly went broke. Nearly immediately I figured out I was not interested in newspapering as a way to make a living. My parents worked long hours, sometimes my mom was doing layout all night long on deadline, and they kept putting money in rather than taking it out. I went to college, didn’t study business or finance, and worked on a major in English and a double minor in political science and history. My dad had told me I wasn’t there to earn a trade, but to get an education and just study what I wanted. I don’t know if that was such great advice, but I took every class I felt like, including Chaucer and Greek, both of which I liked a lot. I never ended up graduating, despite completing the major and minors, though. It seems there are curriculum requirements and they want you to have those before they give you a diploma. Anyone who has had a family business will know what I mean when I say they have a strong gravitational field—they suck you in. In my summers home, my dad gave me about every job in the paper at one point or another. I tried sales and ended in tears—sales people have to be tough. I tried doing the bookkeeping and missed those finance skills I never learned. I enjoyed doing layout—that’s placing the stories and pictures on the pages. It’s like doing a puzzle and is really fun. Unfortunately, like my mom, it seemed I was often there all night long on Tuesdays. When my kids were little, my mom babysat and often got them off to school on Wednesdays. By then, I was married and had worked full time as a cashier at Meijer before quitting after the second boy to work part time at the Squire while the kids were small. I wanted to stay part time until they were in school all day and almost made it. I heard my dad was thinking of closing the newspaper after several failed attempts to get someone […]
Here at The Rockford Squire newspaper, located right in Rockford at 331 Northland Drive, we have been cranking out your local paper for years, taking pride in being a unique source of local news. What we haven’t done so much of is letting readers know what it is like “behind the scenes” and telling you how your paper happens each week. In the next few months we will be giving you articles about the people here who work out of our office. We often receive calls asking for our classified “department” or our education editor. With big newspapers, this may be a reasonable request, but we chuckle when we transfer the phone to the “department.” In fact, the newspaper, although heavily reliant on community members who help us with local coverage, is actually run by a staff of just seven people who work out of the office. We don’t have departments of people in charge of production, classifieds, circulation, or a team of editors. Our first featured staff member is Roger Allen, who was in charge of the paper for about 30 years after saving it from bankruptcy. He is the father of current Managing Editor Beth Altena, Here is his story. Better with Age You get a free history lesson: This newspaper you’re reading, The Rockford Squire, is the product of Rockford’s oldest continuously run business. Begun in 1871 (counting on my fingers)… it is 139 years old. My personal history began in Washington, D.C. I was born there only because I wanted to be near my mother. It was 1928. The Great Depression started the next year (not my fault). The family moved to Lombard, Ill., and then on to New Jersey, where I grew up. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I signed on with a major corporation. It didn’t take long to learn that I didn’t like corporate life. Moving to Michigan, I settled into insurance claims adjusting and started my own company. That endeavor evolved into catastrophe adjusting and employment with the National Flood Insurance Program and then with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These jobs required a lot of travel, which I loved. In slow times I worked as an accountant, but would leave for a catastrophe […]