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February Businesses of the Month

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German American State Bank was chartered on January 21, 1907 and prides itself as being one of the oldest community banks in the state of Illinois. Since the opening of the bank over 100 years ago, German American State Bank has remained committed to serving its communities of German Valley, Seward, Pecatonica, and Winnebago with products and services to help achieve the financial goals of our customers.

German American State Bank has grown from a single branch to now operating four full service locations by opening its second branch in Seward in 1983, followed by Pecatonica in 1999, and Winnebago in 2005. Our staff includes a team of local decision makers who recognize the importance of servicing our customers as a trusted advisor creating a personal relationship with our customers. At German American State Bank, you will meet with a staff member that can help you with your opportunities, questions, or concerns.

Paper Recovery Service Corp. was a company founded ‘ahead of its time” in 1994 by Frank A. Graceffa. Anticipating a growing need throughout the stateline for an increase in paper recycling capacity, Frank began building what today has become the stateline area’s leading document shredding /destruction and metal and paper recycling company.

The business started small, with just a forklift and one downstroke baling machine. As word spread that Frank ‘treated customers right’ the business began growing rapidly. Frank Jr. came on board in 2001 and the company literally began putting the ‘pedal to the metal’, with the addition of Paper Recovery’s Metals Division to buy everything from aluminum cans to large industrial and structural steel.

January Businesses of the Month

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Michelle Dykstra started her business Exposing Life Photography in October 2016, just a year after moving with her family from Denver, CO to Winnebago. She’s always enjoyed photography as a hobby, but wanted to expand her services to others. She specializes in family, children, senior and couples portrait photography.

With an indoor home studio and several beautiful forest preserves and parks in the area, there are plenty of options for finding the perfect backdrop. The indoor studio, perfect for cold and inclement weather, means she can serve clients anytime throughout the year.

As her business is still newer to the area, Michelle is focused on marketing her business and growing her Facebook following in 2019. You can help her reach her goal by following her page on Facebook. Additionally, as a business of the month, Michelle is offering a 20% discount off her one-hour photo session. For more details, like her Facebook page and send her a message.

As a hobby, Michelle enjoys taking nature and landscape photography, and volunteering her photography services for community events. Recently, she took pictures for the Winnebago Area Chamber of Commerce Family Fall Festival and a Sensory Santa event in Rockton. Michelle also volunteers at her children’s schools.

In case you haven’t heard, Winnebago Community Historical Society (WCHS) had an exciting year in 2018! The not-for-profit organization, along with the help and support of the community, assumed ownership of the Town Hall building, adjacent Veterans Park and Winnebago Area History Collection. They presented four programs on area history, held a Town Hall open house and participated in the Chamber Family Fall Festival.

One of their largest projects is the fundraising campaign to renovate the Town Hall building to be used as a venue for community events. They created a GoFundMe page and are accepting donations to reach their goal of $195,000. WCHS was already able to install a new roof, fascia, gutters and downspouts on the Town Hall. To read more about the renovation and fundraising campaign, visit the recent article about WCHS in the Rockford Register Star.

December Businesses of the Month

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Debbie Babbitt carries on the travel industry profession she grew up knowing as a child. Her parents ran an at-home agency and when Debbie retired after 25 years of teaching at Winnebago schools, she was excited to get back into it and help the residents of her community make special memories on their fantastic travel adventures.

For two years now, she has been offering her travel planning services to Winnebago area residents through Babbitt Travel Adventures. Her full-service travel agency specializes in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, honeymoons, and family travel.  Debbie should be your first call if you want to receive personalized service you can’t get online and avoid the hassle and stress of booking your own travel.

Her agency is affiliated with Travel Quest/Travel Leaders network, which gives her access to exclusive perks for travelers. It also provides a vast network of supplier contacts in the industry, so she can research, plan, and find the best travel deals for her customers.

When she’s not working, Debbie loves to read, but she also spends much of her free time learning about the travel industry and becoming certified in destinations around the world and with many different tour operators. Contact Debbie and plan your escape from the cold, winter months!

11 years ago, Prairie View Assisted Living Community opened in Winnebago and Tammy Bargman has been part of the organization since the beginning. Tammy is the Executive Director, and as a life-long resident of Winnebago, she enjoys being able to offer this assisted living option to the surrounding area. Her favorite thing is getting to know the residents and families; she has met many wonderful people over the years.

Prairie View Assisted Living Community offers its residents many levels of care – from independent living to hospice care – and has a nursing staff and 24-hour on-call service. There are also several activities available for residents. The location offers church services, crafts, groups that come in for caroling and other events, and a bus that takes residents on trips, such as a recent one to see the festive of lights.

For anyone interested in learning more about Prairie View Assisted Living Community, you can call or visit their website. You can also schedule a tour and lunch. Contact Tammy at 815-335-1800.

November Businesses of the Month

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Where can you attend a tea party, eat Crawfish Etouffee and say hello to husband and wife entrepreneurs right here in Winnebago? That would be Kennedy’s on Benton, of course! Owners Dan and Amy Kennedy took ownership of the restaurant in June and have been on a whirlwind adventure ever since.

When asked if there was anything that surprised them when starting out, Amy commented, “The amount of interest and support we’ve received was unexpected. The community has really brought us in and made us feel welcome.”

Kennedy’s on Benton offers a traditional menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they also offer some unique options. The “Taste of Louisiana” section on the menu is a nod to Dan’s home state and includes several family recipes and Dan’s original Crawfish Etouffee.

The restaurant also hosts a tea party every Saturday from 2-4 p.m. in the banquet room. It will be going on through December 22, and they ask that you call a week in advance to make reservations. As far as what we can look forward to in the future at Kennedy’s on Benton, Amy said, “We’re excited for 2019. We have plans to add live music nights, support local missions, expand our hours, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to add alcohol to our menu.”

Dan and Amy have worked in business together for 10 years – from a non-profit organization, to real estate and now as restaurant owners. The idea of owning a restaurant actually started more than 29 years ago, before they were even married. The timing was right for them earlier this year and we’re excited to have them in downtown Winnebago.

So what do two food enthusiasts enjoy most on Thanksgiving? Amy loves green bean casserole and Dan’s favorite is turkey. More importantly, this Thanksgiving they are especially thankful for their supportive family, including their two sons, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons.

Kennedy’s on Benton will be closed on Thanksgiving Day to give staff time to spend with their families. The Kennedy’s welcome anyone to contact them through messenger on their Facebook page or to stop in the restaurant to chat!

The ReMax of Rock Valley office is located in Oregon, but its 12 independent agents work to serve members throughout the local communities. These dedicated individuals have helped ReMax of Rock Valley become one of the top producing offices in the area.

“ReMax of Rock Valley agents are proud of their communities and live and work in the areas they serve. That’s one of the reasons we enjoy our jobs and being part of the local Chamber,” said Rebecca Hazzard, office owner and independent agent.

With cold weather and snow approaching, Rebecca shared some advice for buyers and sellers in the Winnebago area markets. She recommends, “Don’t let the winter months deter you from selling. It’s a seller’s market and is still a very busy time in real estate; there are many buyers looking for homes.”

ReMax of Rock Valley offers a free market analysis to help sellers determine the equity in their homes. This is a great tool for determining the market value of your home when preparing to list it.

So this Thanksgiving, whether you’re gathered around the table at a new house, or one you’ve lived in for years, enjoy the time with your family and friends. Happy holidays from all of the agents at ReMax of Rock Valley!