Rockton Township has overseen needed renovations and improvements inside and on the grounds of the building known formerly as “The Greater Rockton Centre,” on Main Street.

Recently the center was renamed, “Rockton Township Center.” The reason for the name change was to identify who owns the center.

The new signage on the door comes complete with an eye catching illumination.

The first improvement made around four years ago was having a new roof put on. Next a rubberized finish was applied to the exterior which is expected to last 30 years.

All of the sidewalks have been replaced to allow better wheelchair accessibility.

Last year the emergency exit stairway was installed. New landscaping dressed up the entrance and yard spaces.

This year plans are to begin renovation of the restrooms to make them handicap accessible, and ADA compliant.

After all of the other improvements and renovation are complete new doors will be installed in all parts of the center. The kitchen will be converted into a prep kitchen.

Finishing touches for the inside include new carpet and a fresh paint job.

On Monday evening. June 26 the center was rented by Talcott Library for their regular board meeting.

The crowd was so large that the community center bypassed the amount of 99 people who are allowed in at one time, per fire codes.

This incident prompted the Township Board to talk about the event at their July 12 monthly meeting.

“I came down here to see how things were going”, Township Supervisor Paul Williams said. “It was like something in a movie.”

To avoid capacity issues in the future a sprinkler and fire alarm system will be added to meet building codes. Both are in the original improvement and renovation plans.

The Township has received a $25,000 donation from Winnebago Country per Jim Webster to use for the renovation.

The building has a history dating back to the 1970’s when the American Legion first sold the community center in order to build and expand to a new building across the street on the corner.

A group of Rockton residents banded together to fill the need for a non-profit center to serve as a meeting place for local residents and groups. The people on the Governing Board served without pay.

The mortgage was paid by having a weekly roast beef dinner and if funds were insufficient several of those members took turns paying the mortgage.

As time went on it became harder to get people to volunteer and the board agreed to turn the facility over to the Township with specific conditions.

In its existence the center has been used for various events and special occasions.

In former discussions options of rebuilding, tearing the center down or donating it to someone else were considered.

If the Township ever decided to dispose of the center a contract shows that the building was given to the Township as a gift. All of the money would go to charitable organizations in the community.

Another area that the Township took action on is a billboard that sits along Hwy. 2, in Rockton Township, some is part of the former Paul Cannell property. Township Trustee Randy Johnson has been in contact with Lamar who owns the billboard.

Johnson has negotiated a new contract with the new rate to begin in 2024 (though there were four years left on the old contract that has increased the annual revenue for the Township to $1,200 per year. The former contract was for 10 years at $100 a year.

“As beneficiaries accepting this money we should look forward to making a contract through our terms or we should consider removing it,” Trustee Gene Hermann said in the discussion phase.

The lease should be reviewed annually, Johnson said. Trustee Connie Gleasman said, “This will add to our income.”

Trustee Vicki Ivy asked what the money would be used for. Gleasman answered, “This will go into our general account and it needs to be allocated as non-taxpayer funds.”

Hermann said that Seipert & Co. can shed some light on what account the money should go into.

Lamar has the right to illuminate the sign or even to put up an electronic sign.

A new contract cannot extend past the 2025 election as a new board might be seated.

Ivy was contacted by the manager at the Capone’s Bar in South Beloit regarding noise and public drinking outside the bar at all hours, plus other safety issues.

“I am worried that something bad is going to happen, the police have been called at different times,” Ivy said. “There is a noise ordinance in the Township,” Williams said.

Gleasman revisited the idea of hosting a tire and mattress event. During a former cleanup tires and mattresses weren’t picked up during past cleanup days.

Johnson suggested that Jack’s Tires be contacted regarding pick up of tires. Supervisor Williams said that this would be a Winnebago County issue.

Williams said that he will contact Winnebago Country Representative Jim Webster to see what can be arranged.

Williams reflected on last month’s meeting when the Township talked about the property of the University of Illinois. Building which is no longer a medical facility.

“The Township can no longer enforce any codes because they have no authority to reclaim the property. No one is taking care of the property,”  Williams said.

Gleasman asked if there are any ordinances on the books regarding maintenance. Williams said, “This is a community issue.”

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