Rochelle

Guy Stephens/WNIJ

Rochelle has leveraged its location, and resources like its municipal railroad, to spur a lot of business activity in its corner of Ogle County. Now it’s set to move into neighboring Lee County in a big way. 

Nippon Sharyo Plant In Rochelle To Close

Aug 16, 2018
WNIJ

It’s the end of the line for Rochelle rail car maker Nippon Sharyo. It appears the company is shuttering its Illinois plant.

In 2012, the announcement that the Japanese rail car manufacturer had selected Rochelle for its massive factory came with much fanfare. Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki and then-governor Pat Quinn helped cut the ribbon at a celebration while Taiko Japanese drums thundered in the cavernous building.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The German Deputy Consul General of Chicago paid a visit to Rochelle Wednesday.  It’s the latest development in a trade mission initiated by Gov. Bruce Rauner with Germany and Poland.

Dr. Andreas Goetze was pleasantly surprised by the city’s infrastructure, particularly when it came to transportation, and said the visit fits well into the consulate’s work.

"Politics plays a certain role, because we can work on the framework for economic activities," he said.

Goetze says the visit is another part of his country’s involvement in the state.

Vicki Snyder-Chura / Rochelle Twp High School

One Rochelle-area teenager used the occasion of Veterans Day to honor his great-grandfather by sharing an important part of their family's history.

Rochelle Township High School Senior John Combs spent only a few Veterans Days with his great-grandfather, who died 11 years ago. But it could have been much worse for his family. Combs turned a class assignment into an opportunity to write an essay about his great-grandfather James Combs and how he was mistaken for a ghost during World War II.

WNIJ

DeKalb and Rochelle may be in the running for a massive new auto manufacturing plant. Toyota and Mazda announced they are teaming up to build a $1.5 billion factory in the U.S. but didn’t specify the site.

State Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, says he knows state and local economic-development officials are working on a code-named project that meets the same specifications of the Toyota/Mazda plan. 

Demmer says he’s not surprised that DeKalb and Rochelle are contenders. He said both of the cities within his legislative district have what a manufacturer of that size needs.

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

A group of Rochelle residents is being recognized for their engineering work at the Illinois State Fair. 

Back in May, a class of Rochelle middle- and high-school students used a 3-D printer to build a prosthetic hand for local farmer Jack Hubbard.  He had lost the arm in a mechanical accident, and the new hand now lets him avoid his bulky work prosthesis at home and play more easily with his kids. 

Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

The Rochelle community used a three-dimensional printer to give a local farmer and mechanic a new prosthetic arm. 

Jake Hubbard lost the use of his left arm in 2013, when an 1,100-pound tire fell on him in a mechanical accident. He was able to acquire an artificial limb for work hours, but he took it off in everyday settings.

Vic Worthington, the technical-lab teacher at Rochelle Middle School, attends the same church as Hubbard. He recalls when a child asked Hubbard about the stump, covered in a surgical sleeve. 

wnij

Nippon Sharyo will lay off 100 employees from its factory in Rochelle.  The rail car manufacturer based its decision on a complication with one of its prototype cars, along with other business considerations. 

Nippon Sharyo says its factory will continue operations so it can meet deadlines for current projects.  The company has operated in Rochelle since 2012.  

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

 

The argument for the Great Lakes Basin Railroad is that it will be an economic driver for the region.  But while some are enthusiastic about its potential, some are skeptical – including the railroads that are supposed to be its major clients.    

Great Lakes Basin Railroad lawyer Mike Blaszak says the line will be a boon for the railroads using it -- and for their customers. He cites the example of fracking sand that is mined in Wisconsin.  

Visitors to Rochelle this weekend will have a chance to see some unusual artwork in a field next to the city’s high school.  It’s an appropriate venue, because the material used is often found in a field.  It’s the first U.S. National Straw Sculpting Competition.

Federal Grant To Expand Rochelle's Rail Service

Sep 30, 2016
Flickr user Luke Jones / "Railroad Tracks" (CC V 2.0) http://bit.ly/2FudahT

Rochelle was awarded a $3.42 million grant through the federal Economic Development Administration.  

It's expected to provide about half the funds to expand the City of Rochelle Railroad further into Lee County.  

Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone Is Approved

Sep 9, 2016

The  Illinois State Enterprise Zone Board recently approved the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone.  

The zone provides exemptions to a variety of business taxes, which would then promote economic development in the two counties.  The two counties were ranked sixth among 18 statewide applicants.  They competed for 12 vacant slots.  

Grubsteakers Reopens 17 Months After Tornado

Sep 7, 2016
Chase Cavanaugh/WNIJ

Grubsteakers was a popular highway stop at the intersection of Illinois 251 and Illinois 64 when it was devastated by a tornado on April 9 of last year. 

Owner Ava Mirtoska saved 11 people that night by herding them into the restaurant’s basement, and the location’s strong community connections motivated her to start anew.

"This is like a home for most of the regulars," she said, "and that’s one big reason I rebuilt it and went back into business." 

Today, Mirtoska opened the doors to a parking lot full of gracious clients.

Rochelle Firm Grows Hydroponic Tomatoes Year-Round

May 9, 2016
MightyVine

Chicago foodies and restaurateurs had a problem: They wanted fresh tomatoes year-round, but crops shipped in during winter lacked the tasted of a locally grown summer batch.

To address this taste issue, they started a company called MightyVine.  Dutch-born Chief Operating Officer Nic Helderman says that, once the company formed, it moved quickly to establish operations in Rochelle.  

Vicki Snyder Chura / Rochelle High School

A tradition continues at Rochelle High School this morning: it’s “Ag Day,” a showcase for the area’s farming heritage.

Non-farmers will get the chance to climb on tractors, check out the school’s greenhouse, and learn which animals you can pet -- and which ones you shouldn’t.

Carol Schneider

It was a year ago Saturday a massive tornado bulldozed a 30-mile path through northern Illinois. It’s often referred to as the Fairdale Tornado because of the tiny DeKalb County town it nearly destroyed. But farms and neighborhoods are still being rebuilt all along the EF-4 tornado’s path. The Rochelle-area is making huge strides, thanks to the efforts of committed volunteers.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Public Safety officials say they are confident that they have accounted for all residents of the devastated DeKalb County community of Fairdale and are preparing the next steps in the process.

Kirkland Fire Chief Chad Connell said Friday afternoon that search operations were winding down at the unincorporated town on Highway 72 west of Kirkland.  He said teams were going through the rubble one last time with dogs to make doubly sure nothing had been missed. 

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

A second Fairdale resident has been found dead in her home as the result of injuries she received when an overwhelming tornado swept through the tiny residential community Thursday night.

She was identified as Jacklyn K. Klosa, 69. At a a morning news conference Friday, DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller identified the first fatality as Geraldine M. Schultz, 67, also in her home. Her body was discovered by her family Thursday night.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A railcar factory in Rochelle hit a major milestone Tuesday -- it completed its one-thousandth passenger rail car since opening in 2012. 

Rochelle A Victim Of Its Own Success?

Sep 22, 2014
wnij

Picture a town that can attract jobs, but not residents. That’s the case for Rochelle, which is in the middle of an industrial boom. But local leaders say they need to address stagnant population growth.

Economic Development In Northern Illinois

Sep 25, 2013

Economic development is the focus of WNIJ’s latest collaboration with the Rockford Register Star. WNIJ’s Mike Moen and the Register Star’s Chuck Sweeny recently discussed the topic with 16th District Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Jason Anderson, who's the economic development director for the city of Rochelle.

IDOT

The Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics  has recognized several northern Illinois airports for their accomplishments throughout the year, including, according to IDOT, "an outstanding partnership with the state of Illinois and their commitment to customer satisfaction."

Area winners of the "2013 Airport of the Year" include:

WNIJ/pixlr

We continue our series "Community Close-Up" in a city trying to capitalize on its prime location.  Rochelle sits along Lincoln Highway near I-39 and I-88, earning it the nickname as the "Hub City."  City leaders hope recent upgrades and business opportunities will attract people to this city at the crossroads.