By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — A roadway that runs past Auburn High School could soon bear the name of one its most celebrated alumni.
The city of Rockford is considering plans to rename a portion of Pierpont Avenue to VanVleet Way in honor of Fred VanVleet, a 2012 Auburn graduate who became an NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors and this summer signed a massive deal to join the Houston Rockets.
“It’s important to highlight someone who’s invested into our community, not just with money but with hope,” Bell said. “A street sign is just one thing that Rockford can do to show it’s appreciation for who Fred is and what he has done for us.”
“When kids go to school every day, all the way from elementary to high school, they’ll be turning on to VanVleet Way,” Bell said. “It’s a perfect way to honor Fred VanVleet and inspire young people in our community to bet on themselves each and every day they go school.”
Honorary name changes like this aren’t uncommon in the city. There are dozens of streets that bear an honorary name as well as their official designation, according to Jeremy Carter, the city’s traffic and development engineer.
Some recent examples include renaming a portion of Ogilby Road in 2019 in honor of Homer Hempstead, a Montford Point Marine who died in 2015 at age 89. That same year, City Council approved an honorary change of a portion of South Madison Street to Maffioli Avenue after Louie Maffioli, the first president and CEO of Wilson Electric Company. There is also a portion of Concord Avenue recently renamed for the Rev. Jesse and Mary Allen of Washington Park Christian Church.
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Earlier this year, a portion of Alpine Road in Machesney Park was given an honorary title as Corporal Nathan E. Carlson Memorial Highway. Carlson died in June 2022 in a military aircraft crash.
City Council members must approve of the change to VanVleet way before the honorary signs are installed. The council’s Code and Regulation Committee will discuss the change next week.