Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Batter Up!

It will be “batter up!” time this spring for the children of Hennepin due to the actions of the Hennepin Village Board and its new baseball and softball coordinator Steve Staley.

The board approved Staley’s proposed budget of $10,950 for the upcoming baseball and softball season. This budget will include the cost of hiring officials and diamond maintenance among other items in the budget. The board discussed the need for a committee to oversee the program and appointed village trustee Quentin Buffington to serve as liaison for the board.

Staley also bought to the board’s attention the need for electricity to be turned on for the field and bathroom facilities, as well as some low hanging tree branches that need to be trimmed. Mayor Kevin Coleman said he had already contacted Mattingly Tree Service about the tree limbs. Coleman also asked village employee Tim Rylko to turn on electricity to the field facilities.

Discussion was also held on possible improvements in several village sidewalks. Due to potential costs involved, the board agreed to instruct Rylko to work on select areas where tree roots have buckled sidewalks. They also agreed the plan to add sidewalks in Bassi Memorial Park should have priority this year. The board is expected to vote on approval of funds to act on this project in the April board meeting.

Colors for Arie coordinator Carol Miller reported the date for the annual walk has been set for Saturday, May 23. Community Partners Against Substance Abuse (CPASA) will handle the registration and T-shirt table on the day of the event. Miller has asked the community for volunteers to man color stations throughout the walk/run route. Coleman and the board assured Miller he event had its full support. The run has been held in honor of Miller’s daughter, Arie Boggio.

In other business the board made its annual donations to the Putnam County Rotary Afterglow ($300), the Putnam County Community Center ($150) and the Marshall-Putnam Fair Queen Pageant ($100).

The board reviewed a suggested proposal by trustee Matt Dean on a potential grant program to help area business improve the facades of their buildings. The proposed program would allow matching funds up to a select amount to be used. The proposal will be reviewed in more detail at the April board meeting.

Coleman also asked village residents to contact the board or anyone connected with updating the Veterans Monument in Walter Durley Boyle Park. The group needs names of area veterans who served in wars on the following dates: Aug. 2, 1990, to present;Dec. 20, 1989, to Jan. 31, 1990; Aug. 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984; Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975; and June 25, 1950, to Jan. 31, 1955. Names can be emailed to americanlegion1044@yahoo.com.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Marquis Ethanol Plant to Double

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
Jeff Robertson, president and director of risk management for Marquis Grain, presents the history of the Marquis ethanol plant and outlines the plans for the expansion in progress at the Putnam County Rotary Ag Night March 19 at the McNabb Fire Department Jim Goldasich Center.

When construction is completed, Robertson said the ethanol plant in Hennepin will be the largest dry-mill plant in the world. The expansion will double the output of the plant, and will require more corn from farmers, which will increase demand and prices for corn locally.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hennepin Village Board Turns Attention Outdoors

All things outdoors were they main discussion items at the Hennepin Village Board meeting Wednesday.

Steve Staley will take over as the baseball and softball coordinator this year. He presented his budget of $10,950 to the board. It was approved, along with the formation of a baseball committee, comprised of village board member Quentin Buffington, Staley, and local citizen Nancy Mattingly.

Staley also brought some issues to the board. There are some low-hanging limbs at both fields near the elementary school, and there currently is no electricity or water to the bathrooms or field used by the high school baseball team.

Mayor Kevin Coleman said he was aware of the limbs and he had spoken to Mattingly Tree Service. Mattingly had advised he would get them trimmed as soon as the ground hardened enough to get a truck to them. Coleman also directed Tim Rylko of the street department to turn on water and check on electrical issues at the park.

Staley also told the board the concession stand near the diamonds was in ill repair. The board already had OK’d a $14,000 replacement building last year, but it had not been built. Buffington will look in to the problem.

Colors for Arie

The board heard from Carol Miller, organizer of the third annual color run, Colors for Arie. The run, which takes place each year in Hennepin on Saturday, May 23, is in memory of Miller’s daughter, Arie Boggio. This year the proceeds will be split between a local family and Community Partners Against Substance Abuse. Coleman told Miller the village would help in whatever way possible as the event approached.

Façade program

Board member Matt Dean discussed a proposed façade improvement program. The program would allow for matching funds, up to a certain dollar amount, for the façade improvement of town businesses. The board will look in to it further and discuss it at the next meeting.

Source: News Tribune

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Men and Women Train for River Rescue Scenario

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Bureau and Putnam County Emergency Management Agencies held a table top drill, the first of a three part training event, this week at the Putnam County EMA building.

“The idea with the table top is, it’s a quicker, two-hour drill, and they (emergency personnel) talk about how they are going to respond,” said Bureau County EMA director Keenan Campbell.

The drill centers on an Illinois River water rescue.

“We go through a list of events, and then in a few months, we’ll do a ‘functional’ that builds on this one,, followed by a full-scale in the fall,” Campbell said.

The training is designed to help the responders see where improvements could be made and to get them thinking about different scenario responses.

All Putnam County fire departments, as well as those from the river side of Bureau County, and Putnam County and 10/33 Ambulance services, police officers, dispatchers, and river rescue members attended the training. The next exercise will be June 24.

Source: News Tribune

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Fishing at Hennepin and Hopper Will Reopen This Year

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Wetlands Initiative is working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to reopen public fishing this year at the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes south of Henry.

“The lakes are healthier than they’ve been at any time since The Wetlands Initiative has been involved and the fishery is doing great,” said initiative executive director, Paul Botts. “There won’t be any sort of fishing club with extra days or hours or any membership-type fee. Public fishing at the Dixon Refuge will now be just that, public fishing open to all.”

Dates and hours have not yet been established. Fishing was suspended in 2009 to permit drainage, removal of common carp and wetland restoration.

“With the change in state administration it’s not a fast process right now working with any agency on a written agreement,” Botts said.

The DNR has the expertise and staff to help The Wetlands Initiative rid the lakes of carp and restore native fish, he said.

“One of our primary goals at the Dixon Refuge is to have a sustainable fishery and the DNR staff are the experts on successfully managing public fisheries,” Botts said. “The details will follow just as soon as we can work through the state’s review process.”

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

HBBA Seeking Information for Veterans Monument

The Hennepin Betterment Association and Hennepin American Legion is in the process of updating the current Veterans Monument in WD Boyle Park. We request any additional names of Hennepin and Hennepin Township residents who served active duty during the following recognized DOD conflict dates:

August 2, 1990 to Present
December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990
August 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984 
February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
June 25, 1950 to January 31, 1955

Please email the service person’s name, service dates, and branch of service to americanlegion1044@yahoo.com. Thank you!

Deadline is March 31, 2015.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

More Land for Dixon Refuge

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
The borders of the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge are inching their way south on Route 26. The Wetlands Initiative recently acquired 417 acres of land along the southeastern border to add to the refuge. The purchase brings the refuge’s total area to more than 3,000, and was closed on Dec. 17, 2014.

The land was previously owned by Vulcan Lands, Inc., which had leasing more than half of the area for farming. TWI purchased the land for $1.575 million, well below the appraised value of $2.164 million. The purchase was made possible by grants from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Grand Victoria Foundation and the Oberweiler Foundation, as well as a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund. Only 283 acres will be added to the refuge. The remaining 134 acres will be sold to help pay off the bridge loan and begin restoration on the new refuge land. Sale of the 134 acres will be subject to a permanent conservation easement that will prohibit mining and multiple home development.

Restoration of the new tract will begin in fall 2015. Nicknamed Hickory Hollow by TWI because of the wooded ravine and intermittent stream running through it, the tract includes several habitats that are now globally rare, including oak savanna and sand/dry prairie.

“We’re very excited to extend the landscape mosaic at the Dixon Refuge with these upland habitats once typical of the Illinois River Valley,” said TWI Executive Director Paul Botts. “Habitat fragmentation is a critical issue in conservation. Certain bird, reptile, and other species live part of the year in wet lowland areas but need drier upland areas for other parts of their life cycle.”

The new acreage will also buffer and protect the adjacent Dore Seep, an Illinois Nature Preserve located within the southern end of the Dixon Refuge. Seeps are rare wetlands found along the base of slopes where groundwater emerges, and the Dore Seep is the largest in the central Illinois River Valley.

Once restored, the addition will expand and improve habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife that have little suitable habitat remaining elsewhere in the region. In particular, the restoration is anticipated to increase breeding habitat for many grassland, savanna, and woodland migratory birds. The restoration will also benefit numerous migratory songbirds that will use the restored savanna and woodland habitats as an important stopover in a heavily agricultural area.

The Dixon Refuge is open to the public daily for hiking, birdwatching, and paddling. TWI plans to establish new trails through the Hickory Hollow addition, as well as a scenic overlook atop the bluff face.

The Dixon Waterfowl Refuge was established in 2001. It originally had been drained and farmed for nearly a century when TWI began restoring the site to the mix of prairies, wetlands, and backwater lakes once found there. In 2012, the Refuge was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, one of only 36 such sites in the United States and the only one that is entirely a restoration. The Dixon Refuge is an Audubon Important Bird Area and also an official stop on the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Boekeloo Invents Elevated Hunting Tree Stand

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
“It’s all about safety. There are too many people falling out of trees and tree stands each year,” said Jimmy Boekeloo, of Hennepin. Boekeloo was tired of hearing about people getting injured when deer hunting, so he came up with an idea to make the sport he loves a little safer.

“Putting them up and taking them down is really the main time that people fall. Just getting it up and getting it secure is really what I was trying to make safe,” said Boekeloo.

Boekeloo invented LockJawz, a patent-pending elevated hunting tree stand. The stand, which uses a gripping mechanism to secure to a tree, has a pulley to raise the stand and put it in place.

“It’s going to be the only one you’ll be able to pull out of the box, assemble in five minutes, and put in the tree,” said Boekeloo. “There is a wheel assembly option on it as well, so if you decide to buy the wheel assembly, it turns into a game cart.”

He has been working on the prototype for about five years now, and said he had many failures before settling on the design he patented.

Boekeloo said his next step was to ask for help.

“The next step was realizing I wasn’t smart enough to do it myself. I’m smart enough to know I’m not smart enough to do this on my own.” He took his idea to Mennie’s Machine, which has been helping him with prototypes and engineering.

“They have been very instrumental. They basically gave me their whole machine shop, gave me their engineer, and said, ‘develop away’,” he said. “I went to him with bar napkins and graph paper. He put that on the computer and figures out clearances, sizes, if everything is going to swing right. All that stuff can be done on a computer instead of in a garage for the next ten years.”

Boekeloo currently is producing prototypes and going to hunting and gun shows to try and get his name out. “We are probably going to start with online sales, unless we can get in to retail stores,” Boekeloo said.

He is trying to find somewhere to mass assemble the stand, while keeping the costs low. “We’re going to try and keep it affordable for the general public. I did an average cost of 34 different tree stands — the average was about $177. Because ours is a specialty item with the locking safety system, it will probably be $250,” said Boekeloo.

While there are plenty of other elevated stands on the market, even some with locking mechanisms, Boekeloo said, “We’re not going to do anything other than the safest stand on the market.”

Source: News Tribune

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