Environmental Hall of Fame inducts The Rock River Times, Rock River Trail, Winnebago County, Frank Schier and Scott Christiansen

Press Release
May 27, 2010

ROCKFORD, Ill.—The Rock River Times (TRRT), Rock River Trail, Winnebago County, TRRT Editor & Publisher and Rock River Trail Founder and Chairman Frank Schier, and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen have been inducted into the Environmental Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame inductions will be presented by Allen Rubin of the National, Illinois and Chicago Environmental Halls of Fame (NICEHF) at an upcoming Winnebago County Board meeting and at the Oct. 7 Winnebago County Green Business Awards.

“I’m gratefully appreciative and greatly humbled by this honor,” Christiansen said. “We are certainly committed to consistent and significant efforts in Winnebago County to be environmentally friendly. It’s stunning to be recognized on this level.”

Schier said: “Our thanks goes out to Drs. Bob and Sonia Vogl for nominating us. Illinois Solar Energy Association’s Mark Burger was also inducted last year, as were the Vogls and their Illinois Renewable Energy Association. They are all regular columnists contributing expert quality in renewable and environmental issues for The Rock River Times. Of all the organizations in the Environmental Hall of Fame, adding in our new inductions, I think we have the largest number of associate honorees. Our county, paper, trail project and myself are certainly privileged by the company we keep on this river of good hearts.”

The Environmental Hall of Fame recognizes environmentalists (corporations, companies, individuals and organizations) who are committed to taking a stand for a green, sustainable planet. The selection committee nominates outstanding candidates for recognition and inducts the winners into the organization. Receiving a place in the Environmental Hall of Fame is intended to be equivalent to receiving an Academy, Emmy or Grammy Award in the entertainment industry. Other members of the Hall of Fame include the American Solar Energy Association, the American Wind Energy Association, the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Park District, Conscious Choice magazine, CTA, Hunter Lovins, Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA), Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA), Merchandise Mart, Museum of Science and Industry, Pierce and Keely Shaye Brosnan and Whole Foods Market. Visit environmentalfame.com.

TRRT, a weekly newspaper with a distribution of 22,000 free newspapers, was nominated for its eco-friendly practices and promotion of sustainability. In May 2009, TRRT was named recipient of the Seth B. Atwood Memorial Park and Conservation Service Award (Business Category) for its dedication to the preservation of natural areas and park spaces, recreation and education. The newspaper features a regular weekly column by fellow Environmental Hall of Famers Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl, president and vice president of the IREA, respectively, and offers regular contributions from Environmental Hall of Famer Mark Burger, president of ISEA and principal of Kestral Development Corp. The newspaper has featured a Renewable Energy section since 2002, and also includes an Outdoors section and a Naturally Rockford section. The weekly newspaper has been a “Major Sponsor” of IREA’s annual Illinois Renewable Energy & Sustainable Lifestyle Fair, now in its ninth year, since its inception. Visit TRRT at rockrivertimes.com and the IREA at illinoisrenew.org.

The Rock River Trail was nominated for its promotion of eco-tourism along the Rock River. The project aims to bring together the communities along the Rock River in forming a recreational/eco-tourism destination, similar to the Appalachian Trail. The Rock River Trail would run along the 287 miles of the Rock River, through 10 counties (Fond du Lac, Dodge, Jefferson, Rock, Winnebago, Ogle, Whiteside, Lee, Henry and Rock Island) and 33 cities and villages in Illinois and Wisconsin. Visit rockrivertrail.com.

Schier was nominated for his environmental stewardship through his involvement with TRRT, the Rock River Trail and other local environmental initiatives. In April 2009, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and the Rockford Park District presented a Community Service Award to Schier in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding contributions and unselfish devotion for the advancement of parks, recreation and leisure. He is a member of the IREA’s board of directors and was instrumental in organizing the Winnebago County Green Business Awards. He remains active in supporting groups such as Four Rivers Environmental Coalition, Rockford Park District, Severson Dells Nature Center, the Rock River Sweep, Friends of the Rock River and other efforts.

Winnebago County and Christiansen were nominated for environmental stewardship, promotion of sustainability and the creation of Freedom Field. Freedom Field is a not-for-profit organization formed by local government and business officials to facilitate the development and operation of a renewable energy solutions center. The center, which is in the Rock River Water Reclamation District’s complex near Chicago/Rockford International Airport, will increase regional awareness of renewable energy opportunities and strive to facilitate local development and commercialization of renewable energy solutions.

“Winnebago County government and its Chairman Scott Christiansen have a track record of proven results on implementing green energy projects,” said Dr. Robert Vogl, IREA president. “Freedom Field’s solar hot water system for heating and cooling is unique according to any standards of design. That system and the soon-to-be-installed wind turbine and rooftop prairie will be collecting data for students to use. It’s just not technology for technology’s sake, but for learning’s sake. County taxpayers should be proud of this long-term value and innovation. Scott also promulgated $20,000 worth of WinGIS mapping time to the Rock River Trail Project. He also allotted $6,000 to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve for the creation of up to 20 new campsites on the Rock River at Hononegah and Hincliff Forest Preserves.

“The Rock River Times has been a powerful media presence in renewable energy for at least a decade, even before we began writing for the paper,” Vogl added. “This paper helped create a clean energy vision for Rockford and the surrounding area, and its reach is growing. This latest project on the Rock River Trail is an outstanding notion that will be this newspaper’s legacy.”

Rubin also extended an induction to the Environmental Hall of Fame to the winner of the Micro-Hydro Generator Design Challenge for science classes on the high school, community college and four-year college level, as well as professional design, engineering and manufacturing firms in the 10 counties hosting the Rock River Trail. That award will be given at the Oct. 7 Winnebago County Green Business Awards. This will be an extension of NICEHF’s National Environmental Science Fair, “Students Hope for Planet Earth.”