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Freeport, IL

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Recreation

Freeport and Stephenson County families live close to nature and enjoy the great outdoors in any season. They make full use of city parks, county parks, and a 715-acre state park contained within the county’s boundaries.

The Freeport Park District maintains more than 770 acres of parkland in eight parks, a nature preserve, and a new wetlands preserve. In addition, the district operates Park Hills Golf Course, with two 18-hole courses.

The largest of the city’s parks is heavily wooded Krape Park, site of a picturesque waterfall that tumbles down from a high limestone bluff, an operating carousel, a handsome band shell, nature trails, miniature golf course, tennis courts, a baseball field, playground, picnic tables, a duck pond, boat rentals, and a concession stand. Yellow Creek meanders through a portion of the park.

 

Thirty-six-acre Read Park, the location of the Park District’s headquarters, features an Aquatic Center swim complex of pools and a huge water slide. In addition, it has ball fields, tennis, basketball, and shuffleboard courts, floral gardens, a playground, sand volleyball, picnic sites, and concession stands. A community room in the park is available to community organizations and individuals.

Taylor Park, on the city’s northeast side, is the site of the Lincoln "The Debater" statue. In addition, Taylor Park offers softball fields, a playground, a basketball court, a tennis court, sand volleyball, picnic area, and a shelter house.

The Park District’s Oakdale Nature Preserve covers 133 acres and offers a lodge with kitchen and dining facilities for overnight stays, a nature center, nature trails, a native prairie, team building course, and an auditorium.

Area golfers enjoy the challenges offered by the 36 holes at the District’s Park Hills Golf Course. Among the features of Park Hills are a driving range, clubhouse with a grill and a pro shop, instructions by a golf professional, cart rentals, horseshoe courts, and the Jets Observatory that opens at dusk for star gazing through a 12-inch telescope. Many other excellent golf courses are within an hour of Freeport, including the world-class golf courses at the luxurious Galena Territory development.

The Freeport Park District plans and conducts a comprehensive, year-around program of sports, activities, and recreation for residents of all ages. Among the instructions offered are swimming, golf, and boccie ball lessons, ceramics, photography, euchre, and holiday crafts. The District also organizes a variety of sports leagues for adults and teens, and plans trips to special locations and events for all age groups.

The Stephenson County Senior Center, in Freeport, provides a wide ranging program of activities and events specially designed for active senior citizens.

A short distance north of Lena, in northwest Stephenson County, is Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park, with 177 camping sites on its 715 acres. In addition, the park has a 40-acre lake for swimming, boating, and fishing, seven miles of trails, and a concession stand. Bikers can explore the 21 miles of the Pecatonica Prairie Path between Freeport and Rockford.

The programs of Freeport’s YMCA and YWCA offer additional recreation and fitness activities for residents. The YMCA shares the space and facilities of the Sports Center on the campus of Highland Community College. The building features a 25-meter, six-lane swimming pool, two saunas and two whirlpools, three indoor racquetball courts, two gymnasiums, a walking/running track, a batting cage, a game lobby, Universal gym, Iron Works, and Nautilus equipment.

The Freeport YWCA is located close to downtown and offers an indoor swimming pool, indoor racquetball courts, and privately managed state-of-the-art fitness facility.

The smaller communities of Stephenson County also boast expansive park systems for outdoor family fun. Lena’s Lions Park, for example, features a new swimming complex with a high water slide called "Splash Land." The Lena Golf Club has two courses, the nine-hole Stagecoach Course and the 18-hole Wolf Hollow Course. In Pearl City, there are four well-equipped parks for family fun.

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Education

Freeport School District 145 is committed. They’re committed to giving all students a solid educational base on which to build a lifetime of success. They’re committed to encouraging families to take an active and meaningful part in their schools.

Each year, 5,000 students from Freeport and the nearby communities of Cedarville and Ridott attend District 145. First-to-fourth grade students attend Blackhawk, Center, Empire, Lincoln-Douglas and Taylor Park elementary schools. Carl Sandburg Middle School serves the fifth and sixth graders before they head on to Freeport Junior High School for the seventh and eighth grade and four years at Freeport High School.

The district’s newest school serves the area’s youngest students. The Jones-Farrar Early Learning Center opened in 1995 and was designed with young learners in mind. The center also houses a Head Start classroom, Northwest Illinois

Special Education Preschool, the at-risk preschool program Prekindergarten Active Steps to Success and the YMCA Day Care.

Each day in District 145, the 700 faculty, staff and administration members work hard to educate the whole child. Building on a foundation of reading, math, language arts and other academic basics enhanced by consistent use of technology, District 145 is preparing students for the 21st Century. The curriculum covers science, social studies and other academics, but also addresses the social, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of the children who come to their schools. The district is proud of its award winning sports, music, and activities programs. Discussions of substance abuse, ody safety, personal health and non-violent conflict resolution encourage health emotional and social growth. Special needs are met through programs such as Title I, Special Education, Speech and Gifted Education programs.

In each school, students have regular access to computers in the classroom or in labs.

When District 145 students leave five grade schools and come together at Carl Sandburg Middle School, they come to an environment structured toward preparing students for the academic and social challenges of junior high and high school. Students are grouped into traditional or multi-grade teams, remaining with the same group of students throughout their two years at Carl Sandburg. In addition to their rigorous academic studies, students attend PRIME TIME, the daily advisory period, where the focus is on personal development: self-esteem, multi-cultural diversity, conflict resolution, goal setting and problem solving.

Students are also encouraged to develop leadership skills as Representatives of Active Participating Students who represent their classmates in discussions of school activities and procedures and as sixth-grade Ambassadors who perform school and community services.

At Freeport Junior High School, a team approach is also used to provide core instruction in math, science, social studies, physical education and language arts. Elective opportunities include band, orchestra, foreign languages, home economics, industrial technology, art and computers. A range of sports, arts, and service programs are offered as extra-curricular activities.

A comprehensive menu of electives and extracurricular activities awaits students at Freeport High School. With the emphasis still firmly on the basics, students have the chance to explore arts, foreign languages, journalism, business education, computer science and technology, and vocational programs through the countywide vocational and technical education systems, SAVTES.

District 145 is proud to see their students go on to the best colleges and universities around the country. District 145 offers each student a high-quality education and works to raise the bar year after year.

Freeport offers excellent alternatives to public education in several private and parochial systems. Freeport Christian Academy is a K-12 school operated at the Freeport Baptist Church and has a small enrollment.

Tri-County Christian School has two campuses in Freeport and enrolls about 185 students in preschool through the eight grade. The core curriculum includes strong emphasis on public speaking, creative writing, and computers skills in addition to the basics of reading, language arts, math and science. The school offers a "latchkey" program for youngsters in first through fifth grade.

Freeport Catholic Elementary School and Aquin Catholic Junior/ Senior High School combine to provide a complete, faith-centered first through 12th grade academic education. A new preschool at St. Thomas Church provides educational activities for children three to five years of age. The elementary school houses kindergarten through the sixth grade. The curriculum is broad based and focuses on the basics.

Aquin Catholic Junior/Senior High School has more than 200 students enrolled in seventh through 12th grade. Its college prep courses emphasize communication skills, social studies, math and science. Daily religion classes help to instill Christian values in students. A full 95 percent of graduates go on to some form of higher education. The school encourages participation in a wide range of extracurricular activities, including National Honor Society, yearbook, student council, and an Interactive Service Club. Students can also participate in a broad schedule of sports and athletics and in band and music programs.


Education

Higher Education

The 140-acre campus of Highland Community College sprawls with grace and beauty on Freeport’s west side. The two-year college serves a district population of 90,000 from Stephenson, Ogle, Jo Daviess, and Carroll Counties. Each semester, the college enrolls approximately 7,500 students who range from 16 to 86 years of age. The average age of students is 32.

The Highland campus has seven buildings: the Liberal Arts Center, the Science Center, the Technology Center, the Community Services Center, the Sports Center, and the Student/Conference Center. Included on the campus is a natural prairie, woodland, a pond, outdoor study areas, four softball diamonds, a baseball field, physical education fields, and a multipurpose athletic field. A mile-long paved and lighted bike path links the college to the edge of Freeport.An encircling roadway gives access to several parking areas.

Highland College awards Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Engineering Science, and Associate in General Studies degrees in 28 majors, including agriculture, business administration, computer science, history, music, physics, political science, pre-medicine, psychology, theatre, and others. It awards certificates in 21 different career programs.

 

In addition, the college awards Associate of Applied Science in 17 career subjects. Staying current with technology, Highland has 275 computers in seven labs dedicated to student use. Each student has an E-mail account.

The college’s Community and Corporate Education (CCE) division offers creative programming to meet the needs and interests of area individuals, groups, and businesses. To achieve this goal, CCE offers credit and non-credit classes, workshops and seminars, adult basic education, workplace literacy and customized contract courses, and activities for children and senior citizens.

Highland College’s CCE has five major components: Adult Education, Community Education, Continuing Education, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, and Workforce Development.

The Adult Education Program is composed of literacy classes, adult basic education, general education development preparation courses, English as a second language instruction, career exploration/job skills classes, and workplace literacy classes. Community Education offers non-credit and non-vocational courses designed to appeal to the general public.

Continuing Education offers both credit and non-credit courses, mostly during evening hours at extension sites throughout the college district. Highland College serves as a sponsoring organization for RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the Corporation for National Service. Highland’s Workforce Development Center provides customized training to companies throughout the Freeport area.

Students who have achieved an Associate Degree can complete their college work at the Highland Community College campus, thanks to Columbia College, which has its main campus in Columbia, Missouri. Columbia conducts evening and Saturday classes that lead to four different degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Arts in Individual Studies.

Proximity to Rockford allows Freeport students to commute for higher education opportunities. Rockford College, a private, liberal arts college, awards bachelor degrees in nearly 50 majors. At its Rockford Education Center, Northern Illinois University offers about 35 courses in Business, Education, Engineering and Engineering Technology, Health and Human Sciences, and Liberal Arts and Sciences. Freeport students also commute to classes at NIU’s main campus in DeKalb. Highly skilled physicians are training at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin, is about the same distance from Freeport as is Rockford College.

Of course, the famed universities in Chicago are also available to Freeport area students. Among these are the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University, and DePaul University.

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Shopping

Freeport boasts more than 200 national, regional and local stores offering an array of brand-name merchandise at value-oriented prices. A number of shops and boutiques also carry an assortment of handcrafted items and other special offerings. Friendly, courteous service is always part of the pleasure when shopping in Freeport.

More than 100 of these commercial outlets are located in downtown Freeport, the city’s major shopping district. Everything is available from downtown merchants and consumer services suppliers including appliances, computers, accounting services, legal services, antiques and collectibles, art and craft supplies, banks, picture frames, flowers, videos, CD’s and tapes, sporting goods, cleaners, hardware and building supplies, food products, fashionable shoes and clothes for the whole family, fine jewelry and gifts. Nearly a dozen coffee shops and restaurants are situated in the downtown area serving shoppers and the thousands of people who work in the offices, stores and manufacturing facilities of downtown Freeport.

Lincoln Mall, on West Galena Avenue, on the city’s northwest side, offers the comfort of indoor shopping at a large home improvement center, a furniture store, and a dozen other quality shops. An Eagle Country Market food store is also conveniently located on the northwest side. A variety of other stores and restaurants are clustered in the vicinity. Shopping and restaurant opportunities continue west on Galena Avenue all the way to the neighboring town of Lena.

Another major shopping area is growing on the city’s south side. The Meadows Shopping Center located on Highway 26 South is a large, convenient shopping center anchored by a Big K-Mart and a J.C. Penney department store with additional smaller specialty shops and service providers. The other shopping centers on South Street and West Avenue are home to several stores that meet a wide variety of needs -- from sewing and crafts to toys, home furnishings and home decor. Three major supermarkets and a number of restaurants satisfy many food needs. The south side is also home to Walmart and Shopko department stores, and several automobile dealers.

Visitors frequently tour Stephenson County in search of bargains. They find then in the dozens of antique malls and shops and in small town markets. For example, in Lena, located on scenic Stagecoach Trail, shopping is still done in locally owned stores that face each other across railroad tracks, remembering a time when the railroad was vital to the economy of the community.

Within an easy hour’s drive, a multitude of other shopping opportunities await in places like Rockford, Galena, Madison, and Monroe.

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Business

A highly diverse collection of business and industry is well established in Freeport and Stephenson County. The city is a center for the insurance industry, with such well known names as The St. Paul, General Casualty, Western States Insurance, Trustmark, Kemper, and Viking Insurance. It is also a major industrial center, with four Fortune 500 companies on its lengthy roster of manufacturing firms.

The city’s largest employer is Honeywell’s Micro Switch division, which has several plants in various locations within the city and county. This world class company makes a wide variety of switches, sensors, and related interface and local control components for the OEM market. It has more than 3,000 workers.

The 300-acre industrial campus of Kelly-Springfield Tire Company is in the rural area southeast of Freeport. The firm’s 1,700 workers produce automobile, truck, and farm tractor tires.

With 1,000 employees, the Newell Window Furnishings Company makes drapery hardware and window treatments under the brand names of Newell, Levolor, Magic Fit, Spectrim, Joanna, and Kirsch. The parent company of Newell Window Furnishings is Newell Company, which also has its worldwide headquarters in Freeport.

Among Freeport’s other major employers is Furst-McNess Company, founded in Freeport in 1908. Furst-McNess makes and distributes feed premix for farm animals, plus a large variety of household products,flavoring, desserts, mustards, and spices. It employs about 250 people.

Business

Sauer-Sundstrand, with some 350 workers, produces hydrostatic pump and motor components. More than 300 professionals are employed at the headquarters of Newell Co., located in downtown Freeport. Anchor-Harvey has about 150 workers and produces nonferrous forgings, brass and aluminum alloys, and does general machining for various

manufacturers and aerospace contractors. Star Manufacturing Company has about 80 workers and produces plow replacement parts and industrial forgings.

Ultrasonic Power Corporation has 30 employees and produces ultrasonic power supplies and components for the ultrasonic cleaning and biotechnical markets both here and abroad.

A wide range of products originate in the Freeport area. They include potato chips, rebuilt engines, ready mix concrete, plastic molded model railroad switch stands, cultured marble, trophies, cheese, municipal water treating systems, packaging, roll forming and sheet metal working machinery, molded plastics, automation equipment, vending machines and snack foods.

Business

An Enterprise Zone established several years ago, encompasses Freeport’s primary industrial sector, plus an expanding commercial area on the city’s south side. Companies in the Enterprise Zone can take advantage of a variety of economic incentives. The attraction of the Zone has helped the community acquire its Walmart and Shopko department stores and the Seaga Manufacturing Co.

A Tax Increment Finance district established about the same time as the Enterprise Zone covers Freeport’s central business district and a small area of the old industrial section. It seeks to encourage restoration and redevelopment of downtown business facades and other improvements.

An organization known as Freeport Downtown Development was formed in 1998 to focus on the process of downtown transformation for the 21st century.

Agriculture continues to contribute strongly to the area’s economy. More than 1,400 farms in Stephenson County raise beef and dairy cattle and produce corn, soybean, hay, oats, and other cash crops. The largest dairy producing county in Illinois, Stephenson County has 23,000 dairy cows producing 346,344,000 pounds of milk annually. The market value of all farm products sold is $125,000,000 annually.

Business travelers to Freeport have a wide choice of excellent accommodations in six hotels and motels with more than 300 rooms. In addition, there are attractive bed and breakfast establishments in Lena and Orangeville. Meeting and banquet facilities will seat as many as 550 persons. The more than 70 restaurants in Freeport and Stephenson County offer a wide variety of menus from fast-food to ethnic cuisine.

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Healthcare

Excellent health care is readily available to Freeport and Stephenson County residents through a hospital facility in Freeport and clinics and other medical services in the smaller towns and villages.

The Freeport Health Network, organized in 1995, is made up of Freeport Memorial Hospital, the Freeport Clinic, Family Medical Clinic, the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center, Home Health Care and Hospice, HealthWorks Occupational Health Services, Urgent Care, and individual physicians throughout the area. The Network provides broad health care services for Stephenson and other counties in Northwest Illinois. The hospital and the Ferguson Cancer Center are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Hospital, Clinics, and School of Medicine.

With 76 physicians on its medical staff, 200-bed Freeport Memorial Hospital offers a wide range of services, including sophisticated echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), full body CT scanning, nuclear medicine, ultrasound, mammography, laser surgery, lithotripsy, intensive-coronary care and cardiac rehabilitation, and physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies.

The hospital operates a Family Birthing Center that features labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum rooms for each patient; a Sleep Center; Pain Clinic; Cataract Center; Continence Clinic; and the Freeport Regional Health Plan.


Memorial Hospital’s 24-hour emergency service is staffed by physicians and nurses specially trained in emergency medicine. It is a state-designated Level II Emergency Care Center and also a Poison Control Center for the area.

The Freeport Clinic occupies a modern structure across Stephenson Street from Freeport Memorial. Organized in 1945, it has grown in number of physicians and services and operates four satellite facilities to serve the rural areas of Stephenson County.

The Monroe Clinic, established for more than 50 years, operates in eight locations, two of which are Freeport and Lena. The Clinic, as a whole, has 80 physicians on staff who are trained in 30 medical

Healthcare

specialties and subspecialties. Fifteen health care professionals serve the medical needs of Freeport area patients. The services of the Monroe Clinic include cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, optometry, orthopaedics, psychiatry, general surgery, thoracic surgery, vascular surgery, sport medicine, and others.

Dozens of doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals have offices in Freeport and Stephenson County.

Three high quality nursing homes offering skilled short and long-term care are located in Freeport. Several more are found throughout Stephenson County and in neighboring counties. Three facilities provide treatment for substance abuse.

Two provided mental health services.

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Residents dial 911 for emergency assistance. Police squad cars are equipped with mobile data terminals to enhance response time and provide officers with needed information. Among the public service programs maintained by the Police Department are the national D.A.R.E. drug awareness program, Neighborhood Watch.

The Freeport Fire Department operates out of three strategically placed fire stations, serving the community and surrounding areas. The city has a fire insurance rating of Class 3 in the city and Class 8 in rural areas.

Freeport is the seat of Stephenson County government, giving the city administration proximity to county officials and opportunities to work cooperatively on issues of joint interest.

City leaders also work closely with the Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Foundation in seeking to expand existing business and industry and attract new firms to the community. Joint leadership efforts are responsible for the city’s highly successful five-square-mile Enterprise Zone and the new enterprises it has drawn to the community.

The City of Freeport operates its own water utility, obtaining water from five wells. Plant capacity is 14,000,000 gallons per day, well in excess of peak consumption. The city’s waste water treatment plant operates with 2 million gallons excess capacity.

Residents obtain natural gas from Nicor, NI Gas. Electricity is furnished by ComEd. Telephone service is provided by GTE.

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