Spring is here, the weather is looking better, and there’s an optimism in the air!

Things are looking good, Quad-Cities!

And so, it’s a great time to check out some of the POSITIVE news and stories from around the area, which we do every month in our What’s The Good News feature on QuadCities.com and KWQC-TV6’s “Paula Sands Live.”

So, what’s the good news this month? Let’s find out…

New Book Offering Advice To Teenagers

Yours truly, Sean Leary, is working on a new book, Advice To A Teenager, based upon advice I’ve learned, been given, and will be giving to my son Jackson, who just turned 13.

If you’d like to contribute any advice, feel free to send it to me at Sean@QuadCities.com. Advice To A Teenager will be in bookstores worldwide this summer.

Davenport Coach And Teacher Honored

For 36 years, Davenport Schools teacher and coach Ira Dunsworth has provided support and guidance to students and athletes in the Quad Cities area. To honor him for his achievements and community spirit, the board of the Davenport Community School District has agreed to name the track at Brady Street Stadium after him. The decision was made at a regular school board meeting on March 22.

Dunsworth served as the head track and cross-country coach at Central High School from 1965 to 1995. His accomplishments include 15 State Championships and receiving the title of Iowa State Coach of the Year four times. He was added to the Iowa Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 1981, the Iowa Track Officials Hall of Fame in 2003, the Drake Relays Officials Wall of Honor in 2005, and the Brady Stadium Ring of Honor in 2009.

Dunsworth was also honored when a local sports event was named after him. Each spring, the Ira Dunsworth Invitational Meet is held at Brady Street Stadium.

In recognizing the Brady Street Stadium track being named in honor of award-winning, long-time Track Coach Ira Dunsworth, the Davenport School Museum has created a new hallway display. Visitors to the JB Young Opportunity Center will find the new display on the main entrance floor hallway, nearest the elevator, whenever the building is open. Researched and designed by museum Volunteer Jeanne Withycombe, the display contains photographs and artifacts related to the Davenport Relays and Jesse Day Relays dating back to the early 20th Century. The naming award ceremony takes place on the afternoon of April 8th, 2021 at Brady Street Stadium. The display will remain through the rest of the school year.

To find out more about Athletics and Extracurricular Activities at Davenport Community Schools, visit http://www.davenportschools.org/our-departments/athletics-extracurricular-activities/.

Two Legendary Area Music Businesses Celebrate Birthdays This Week

Two icons of the Quad-Cities indie scene celebrate birthdays this week, as Moline’s CoOp Records and Rock Island’s Rozz Tox are both blowing out the candles (Rozz Tox’ are probably on cupcakes), and although they’re both suffused with a spirit of fun, their success is serious testament to hard work and an example of how to do local business right.

It was 26 years ago that music scene fixture and die-hard Replacements fan Reid Robinson decided to take the leap and open up CoOp at 3727 Avenue of the Cities, Moline. Little did he know he was getting in when the getting was about to get anything but good.

The mid-‘90s were the last heyday for music stores. There were several already at the mall, a handful of indies and on top of that you had big boxes like Best Buy, Walmart and Target getting into the biz, much to the chagrin of those shops that specialized in music and related entertainment. But the 900-pound gorilla of online music, perhaps first writ large by Napster, but only to state the obvious trend, was right around the corner.

Within a decade, the vast majority of music stores in the Quad-Cities and elsewhere would be dead.

And yet CoOp survived.

Survived and thrived.

Rozz Tox began TEN years ago (doesn’t seem that long!) with Benjamin Fawks opening up a little coffee shop/café/performance space/hangout in a long dead-end section of a town that was headed in the wrong direction.

By 2010, downtown Rock Island had past its last peak as the It spot of the Q-Cs. The ‘90s and early-mid ‘00s were the heyday for The District, but once the shiny new things of downtown Davenport and the Village began to sparkle, people began giving the cold shoulder to downtown Rock Island, and once Moline started to show some signs of life in its downtown, Rock Island really began to wane, quickly.

And that was right when Fawks decided to open Rozz Tox at 2108 3rd Ave., Rock Island.

Good recipe for failure, right? Business opened in a declining part of town, a downtown on the way down, and in a spot way off the strip.

And yet . . . it thrived, and still does.

Both are awesome examples of local business done right!

Heart Of A Rock Scholarship Founded

The Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation (RIMEF) has a new scholarship for any Rock Island High School senior having a parent who has or has had a significant illness.

Triona Roberts and Megan Wilson (middle) established a new scholarship fund in honor of their mothers, Yolanda, left, and Terri. Yolanda died at 50 from breast cancer in 2019.

Triona Roberts and Megan Wilson (middle) established a new scholarship fund in honor of their mothers, Yolanda, left, and Terri. Yolanda died at 50 from breast cancer in 2019.

The new “Heart of a Rock” scholarship was established by Megan Wilson and Triona Roberts, 2010 RIHS graduates, in honor and memory of their mothers (Terri Wilson and Yolanda Roberts) who both fought a battle with breast cancer.

They want to support seniors who have undergone the unforeseen challenges that happen when parents are fighting illnesses, according to RIMEF. The $1,000 award will be given to one special student with a heart of a “rock” who has/had a parent with an illness of any kind.

The scholarship was established with donations from Wilson and Roberts along with donations from friends, family, and community members. While funds for the scholarship were being raised, Roberts’s mother, Yolanda, lost her battle.

The RIMEF will award a total $93,300 through 53 named scholarships and 16 Austin Academic Achievement Awards to the Class of 2021

To apply for scholarships, RIHS students should contact the foundation as soon as possible at 309-581-2154 or rimef@rimsd41.org. Scholarships will be awarded during the Austin Academic Achievement Awards and Scholarship Night scheduled for May 13, 2021 (pending Covid restrictions and concern for students/families).

Last year’s award program was done via video due to Covid and a video will also be created for this year’s program.

For more information, visit www.rimef.org.

Unicorn Library Keeps Kids Reading During Pandemic

Across the country, the destinies of many of America’s school libraries are on hold. They have been closed during the pandemic and it is not known when they will be able to reopen. But, two Davenport Community School District educators are dedicated to making sure that area kids still have quality books to read.

Shari Larsen, principal at Wilson Elementary School in Davenport, IA, and Amber Cravens, teacher of English Language Learners, developed a project that is putting books in the hands of children who are eager to read. That project, the Unicorn Library, became available to all students at Wilson Elementary in late January.

“A student can simply select a book, take it home and read it,” Cravens said. “They are free to keep the book, if they like. If they decide to return it, the book is sanitized, put in quarantine for 72 hours, and then returned to the books available for free check-out. Books are donated to the Unicorn Library, and anyone can donate, if they like.”

Cravens has a large personal library, so she started the project by allowing kids to pick books from that selection. Students from kindergarten to sixth grade can take books home, keep them, share them, or return them. If they do return them, they are quarantined and sanitized.

Cravens put out the word on social media about the project, and she has been receiving generous donations of books from the community. Most of them are elementary-appropriate books, but she doesn’t turn away any donations. For example, she has given donated books for adult readers to staff and community members.

So far, Cravens has distributed about 500 books through the Unicorn Library. Cravens founded the library, and Larsen and the Wilson Elementary staff work as a team with her and give the project their full support. “I am so proud of Amber for all the work she has put into this project,” Larsen said. “She has really been thinking outside the box.”

“If a teacher or a student has a need or want for a specific book, I keep an eye out for it,” Cravens said. “If a kid likes Curious George books, I’ll keep that in mind as I’m looking through donations.”

Larsen added that parents of the school’s kids are enjoying the Unicorn Library. “Some have brought us their old books to distribute,” she said. “The Unicorn Library helps us to level the playing field in student access to books. Everybody has access to it, and kids get so excited when they see the books that are available. We never tell a child that a book is not on their level. We hate to say ‘no’ to kids, and now we don’t have to. So often, we don’t realize the great impact that books can have.”

The greatest aspect of the Unicorn Library, Larsen noted, is the simplicity of the concept. “No investment was needed to start the project,” she said. “All it required was the kindness and generosity of others.”

Wilson Elementary School is located at 2002 N. Clark Street, Davenport, IA. To find out more about the school, call (563) 723-6950 or visit http://www.davenportschools.org/wilson/.

To learn more about the Davenport Community School District, please visit http://www.davenportschools.org/.

New Food Bank Opening In Galesburg

The Davenport-based River Bend Food Bank and Galesburg Community Foundation are partnering to bring a new regional food bank branch

to Galesburg. The branch will provide greater access to more nutritious and perishable foods for more than 50 food pantries in eight Illinois counties.

It will supply food for not only the Community Foundation’s service area of Knox and Warren counties, but also Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, McDonough and Stark counties.

In addition to the River Bend Food Bank, Galesburg Branch, FISH of Galesburg will re-locate to the space, allowing for greater guest access and allow FISH to increase their pantry offerings. Guests of FISH Food Pantry will continue to have their needs met from FISH’s current location until construction on the new location is complete.

The new branch will be at the corner of Main and Henderson streets in Galesburg, in the former Rheinschmidt’s Carpet Center.

Galesburg Community Foundation purchased the building in December 2020, and River Bend Food Bank will be a 15-year tenant of the property, with the opportunity for multiple lease renewals after the initial 15 years. The location was chosen after years of monitoring available real estate opportunities.

This specific location was selected as it provides easier access for the service area to obtain fresh produce and frozen protein and will reduce the amount of time spent by area food pantries that currently must pick up food to distribute from River Bend’s Q-C location, at 4010 Kimmel Drive, Davenport.

Quad City Arts Announces High School Art Awards

Quad City Arts on Friday announced the winners of the 44th Annual High School Art Invitational. It presented $6,000 in cash prizes and scholarships to area high school students and teachers for excellence in fine art.

The awards are as follows:

Senior Scholarship sponsored by Morency Family Foundation and Quad City Arts’ board members:

Senior Scholarship sponsored by Deere Employee Credit Union and Quad City Arts’ board members:

  • Jaide Logsdon, Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy

Best of Show sponsored by Butterworth Center/Deere Wiman House

  • Laurel Hynes, Davenport Central/Creative Arts Academy

Juror’s Choice Awards for artistic excellence:

  • Kaden Green, Pleasant Valley High School
  • Lexi Redmond, Pleasant Valley High School
  • Derek Coulter, Mercer County High School

Quad City Arts’ Staff Student Award:

  • Lola Johannsen, Pleasant Valley High School

Don Heggen Memorial Award for outstanding watercolor:

  • Dana Cabrera, Assumption High School

The Creativity Award sponsored by Joel & Diane Franken:

Elaine & Larry Sneath Award for painting:

  • Mya Diabira, Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy

“The Most Whimsical Award” sponsored by Charles White:

  • Isabella Cuellar, Mercer County High School

Living Lands & Waters Award for use of recycled materials:

  • 1stplace: Simon Showalter, Mercer County High School
  • 2ndplace: Bethany Witt, Central DeWitt High School

The Cutting-Edge Award sponsored by Cutting Edge Productions:

  • Alexsys Scheeper, Central Dewitt High School
  • Cassie Higgs, United Township High School
  • Madelyn Janke, Davenport West High School

Excellence in Clay sponsored by Marilyn Davis:

  • Bailey Mattioli, Pleasant Valley High School

Deborah Doehler Studio Award for jewelry/metal working:

  • LaDella Gallagher, Davenport Central High School
  • Excellence in Photography Award sponsored by Jack Wilhoit:
  • Marissa Cope, Bettendorf High School

Works made of Paper Awards sponsored by Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy

  • 1stplace: Molly Schroeder, Davenport Central/Creative Art Academy
  • 2ndplace: Jason Weng, Davenport Central/Creative Art Academy
  • 3rdplace: Olivia Hucke, Mercer County High School
  • 3rdPlace: Avery Behnke, Pleasant Valley High School

The Natural World award sponsored by Ralph Iaccarino:

  • Avery Conger, Davenport West High School

The Life at Night Award for Beauty, sponsored by Life at Night Productions:

  • Damian Nickell, Moline West High School

Carlo Centore Award for Mastery of Technique

  • Ethan Hancock, Davenport West High School
  • Lilly Meder, Davenport Central High School/Creative Arts Academy

Zimmerman Honda Award for Excellence

  • Abigail Butcher, Kewanee High School
  • Olivia Koehler, Bettendorf High School

Hilltop Campus Village Award

  • Omina Jaugsah, Davenport Central High School

Award for excellence in film sponsored by Dphilms:

  • Riley Ellis, Rock Island High School

The Mississippi Valley Woodcarvers Award for woodworking:

  • Madison Carlson, Pleasant Valley High School

Left Bank Art League Awards:

  • Malia Shinbori, Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy
  • Madison Carlson, Pleasant Valley High School
  • Alondra Gomez, Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy

The Rock Island Art Guild Members’ Awards:

  • Malia Shinbori, Bereskin Gallery and Art Academy
  • Kennedy Maombi, Rock Island High School
  • Kristina Snowdon, Mercer County High School
  • Eric Eastland, Bettendorf High School

Teacher’s Awards:

  • 1st place: Cassie Dunlavey, Central DeWitt High School
  • 2nd place: Alexandria Medenciy, Pleasant Valley High School
  • 3rd place: Dave Schaeffer, Davenport West High School

Quad City Arts’ Staff Teacher Award:

  • Lisa Stisser, Kewanee High School

The exhibition can be seen in person at the Rock Island Gallery (1715 2nd Ave.) Monday-Friday 10 a,m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on the final day: April 29, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The full exhibition can be seen online at https://www.quadcityarts.com/hs-invitational.html.

 

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.