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Paone Set for Hall of Fame Induction
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STERLING - On Saturday, January 22, 2005, Tony Paone will be inducted into the Sterling-Rock Falls Men’s Bowling Association Hall of Fame. The Meritorious Service recognition being bestowed upon Paone on that date is the highest award that can be given to a member of the local association. Paone joins 31 previously inducted individuals into the hall of fame that originated in 1976, Paone admitted that his forthcoming induction came as a complete shock.

"It was something I didn't even expect," said Paone, the owner of Paone's Blackhawk Lanes in Sterling. “I was caught totally by surprise.”

Paone's nomination to the local hall of fame was sponsored by his son, T.J. Paone, Loren Wolf (operator of the Blackhawk pro shop) and Tony Murray (local bowler and employee of the lanes).

According to Jim Hammer, the chairman of the hall of fame committee, a person can be nominated on individual ability or for meritorious service contributed to the sport.

“Ability is measured through individual performance and sanctioned league records,” said Hammer. “Meritorious service criteria is very subjective.”

Paone's induction revolved around several areas to which he contributed in making bowling the success it is on the local level. As a proprietor he has sponsored teams in various leagues throughout the years. He currently sponsors five teams that bowl locally. He also actively participates in city, state national men's association bowling tournaments on a regular basis. Another area that was given weight in his nomination was his involvement with the junior and senior citizen leagues. Finally, his overall dedication to the developing and improving of Blackhawk Lanes as a whole was of key importance.

Paone has been involved with the junior leagues as a coach and serves on the board of directors. He also serves as the auditor of the junior league's total financial picture. In addition to these duties he is the record keeper for both the junior and senior citizen leagues.

Paone's dedication to the developing and improvement of his bowling center is reflected in the state-of the-art facility he has turned Blackhawk into. Bowlers are greeted by resurfaced lanes. Clean and attractive modernistic furnishings adorn the center's bowler and spectators areas. Along with the clean environmental surroundings, Paone has strived to keep up with new bowling technology as it comes out. Equally important is the good mechanical condition of the center's equipment. It is of vital importance that the pin-setters, ball returns, computerized scorekeepers and lane surfaces are in perfect condition when the leagues come to bowl.

“Equipment is of utmost importance,” says Paone. “It has to be well maintained and kept in good working order to keep the operation running smoothly.”

When the lanes are running at maximum efficiency the bowlers are happy, and that makes Tony happy. After all, his main endeavors in running the center are to have a profitable business for himself and his family, and, at the same time it is equally important that he makes the lanes a clean, attractive and economical recreational facility for persons of all ages to enjoy. The facility's existence is based on the steady return of its patrons.

Paone, 56, has been actively involved in bowling since the age of nine. He graduated from Newman Central Catholic High School and Saint Ambrose College. At Saint Ambrose he graduated with a major in business. He is married to Cathy and they have four children and nine grandchildren.

Paone became interested in operating a bowling center while working in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “We were good friends of the proprietors of the bowling center in Cedar Rapids," said Paone. "We did a lot of things together. I worked for them part-time.”

While visiting his family in 1981, Tony found out that Blackhawk Lanes was for sale. That was 23 years ago. Since then he has made it his goal to provide a state-of-the-art center that offers a clean and healthy environment, and a pro shop that is second to none. Blackhawk Lanes is truly a place where all can enjoy bowling, have a good time and just plain relax.

Paone's induction ceremony will be held at the Holiday inn south of Rock Falls. The ceremony will include a dinner and dance. The dance, which will feature local DJ Paul O'Neal, is being sponsored by the Sterling-Rock Falls Men's Bowling Association. A cocktail hour from 6 until 7 p.m. will get the festivities under way. Dinner will be served from 7 until 8 p.m. The induction ceremony will start at 8 p.m. The dance starts at 9 p.m. and lasts until midnight.

Hammer says that tickets will go on sale right after Christmas. All persons wishing to attend this event are asked to purchase their tickets at least 10 days prior to the event.

“We need to get our reservations into the Holiday Inn within that 10 day window,” says Hammer.

“Tickets, for the dinner, may be purchased from Hall of Fame committee members and bowling association board members. Tickets may also be purchased at Paone's Blackhawk Lanes in Sterling.” For additional ticket information please call Jim Hammer at 815- 625-4673.

Article reprinted from The Daily Gazette