Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
Rockford council appoints Fox to fill vacancy
  ROCKFORD - Rockford council members appointed a new member Tuesday.
Gary "Wilbur" Fox, 46, 408 Pearl St., was sworn in by mayor Amy Joseph during council's regular meeting and immediately assumed his duties. Fox said he volunteered for the vacated seat because he wanted to do his part for the village.
"I just wanted to help the community," he said after the meeting. "I've been thinking about it for a while and decided the time was right."
Fox replaced Peggy Blossom, who resigned during the Nov. 5 council meeting. Blossom was appointed to the position in January after former council member Gary Hodge resigned.
Also on Tuesday, council members passed the final 2014 budget. Total appropriations in the general fund are expected to be $361,205, down from $368,442 this year. Village administrator Jeff Long estimates 2014 revenue to be $414,579, including a 2013 carryover of $43,000.
The village's 2014 water fund revenue is projected at $538,107, including an estimated 2013 carryover of $238,107. Appropriations from the fund are estimated at $352,845 - up from $334,425 this year.
The sewer fund will have an estimated revenue of $410,550, including a projected carryover of $103,800. Total 2014 appropriations for the fund are estimated at $345,560.
Long said he recently met with the Rockford Recreation Organization and Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing to discuss applying for a grant to help improve Shane's Park.
The grant would pay for another baseball diamond - Diamond 5 - and walking paths throughout the park, Long said. The paths' total distance would range between a half mile and one mile and would include 10 stations for stretching or resting. Each station would have solar lighting.
"A good park is a good economic development tool," Long said, paraphrasing Ebbing.
Council passed a resolution renewing the services of Judy Koesters as village solicitor. She will continue to receive $200 per month for basic services and $80 per hour for services rendered for litigation or other special projects. Koesters works for the village on an as-needed basis.
Council members also,
• discussed the possibility of constructing a digital sign on Main Street to promote the village and local businesses. Tom Rogers of the Rockford Belle and several business owners expressed interest in donating to the project.
• learned 2014 Mercer County dog tags are available for purchase at the village hall.
• were reminded a Community Days meeting will be held at 7 p.m. today at the village hall. Joseph requested representatives from all organizations and any interested volunteers to participate. If the meeting is not a success, the annual summer festival might be canceled, Joseph said.
• were encouraged to visit Shane's Park to see the Christmas decorations and light displays. Joseph thanked Joyce Emans and other volunteers for completing the project.
• were reminded to continue helping the police department stay on top of the weed and junk ordinance in the village.
• learned WCSM radio station would host a "Spotlight on Rockford" Dec. 9-13, during which $750 in Rockford gift certificates will be given away. The program is sponsored by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.
• were reminded the Rockford Area Development Corporation will be giving out candy canes at the intersection of state Route 118 and U.S. 33 on Dec. 21 starting at 1 p.m.
• learned the Rockford Belle will host an open house at 1-3 p.m. Dec. 21. Santa Claus will visit and pose for pictures. Cookies and punch will be served. The public is invited to attend. Council members discussed allowing the Belle to host Santa's visit every year and getting rid of the aging Santa House.
• learned leaf pickup will end Dec. 13.
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