Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hennepin Lights Fuse for Fourth of July Celebration

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Village of Hennepin will host its 41st annual Fourth of July celebration, “Thunder on the Illinois”.

The event will be Tuesday, July 4 in Hennepin and will include activities throughout the day, starting with a Movin’ for Music 5K Run/Walk and pancake and sausage breakfast sponsored by the PC Music Boosters. The annual Cruise-In, held in Bassi Park, will be noon-4 p.m.
Near the Courthouse

In Walter Durley Boyle Park and the Courthouse Lawn, there will be a bags tournament with 11 registration, plus bingo, water fights for children and kids inflatables, along with a beer tent beginning at noon. Putnam County FFA will serve pork chops. several other food vendors will sell food.

The Templetons will perform at 4 p.m. on the courthouse stage, followed by the PC Chorus, Panteras and Little Panteras. Presentation of the citizen of the year will also take place on the courthouse stage during this time.

Abbynormal will play pop, classic rock, alternative and modern country tunes 7-9 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight.

The Big Show

Fireworks on the riverfront will begin at 9:30.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

4th of July 14th Annual Cruise-In

Preparations are underway for the 14th Annual Cruise-In to be held during Hennepin's 4th of July Celebration. Please view the PDF below for more information, and share with your family and friends.

2017 Cruise-In Flyer

This year we will be featuring Pontiacs and will have on hand Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, the world’s most well-known Pontiac drag racer with his car!

See you on the 4th!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Grain Prices Are Down; Not Affecting Local Economy

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Even though crops are bringing in less money, our area isn’t feeling the effects

It wasn’t too long ago farmers celebrated record-high grain prices.

In August 2012, corn topped $7.60 per bushel and soybeans passed $16. But since then, grain prices have decreased steadily, with corn currently below $4 and beans hovering just above $9. So with less money coming into farms, how does that impact surrounding communities and non-farmers?

As with many big questions, the answer is “It depends.”

“Some farmers have off-the-farm jobs,” said McNabb-area farmer Austin Pletsch. “Some people live off the farm income.”

That can make it difficult to track how crop prices impact the farmers and how they spend money.

Willard Mott, agriculture program coordinator at Illinois Valley Community College, pointed out that many of the effects of spending habit changes would be felt in the agricultural sector.

“Historically, when we have low commodity prices and farmers aren’t generating as much revenue they aren’t spending as much in other areas of agriculture,” Mott said. Expenditures such as machinery or fertilizer become reduced. “When a farmer makes less money, they’re going to spend less on inputs.”

Input costs are the expenses a farmer incurs growing the crop, things such as seed, fertilizer and pesticides, but also drying costs after harvest as well as equipment repairs, fuel and pay for any hired employees, according to the Illinois Farm Business Farm Management Association.

“That’s probably one of the biggest impacts because, when you look at the local economy, anyone who is involved in the input sector is going to see this ripple effect,” Mott said. There’s only so much money that can be saved, however. “We’re still going to farm the same number of acres.”

Not only have crop prices decreased, but input costs have been rising. In the 10 years from 2006 to 2015, input costs per acre nearly doubled for both corn and soybeans, according to the association. That may not mean farms are generating less profit, however.

“We’re in a strong position to face what challenges come ahead,” Mott said.

Citing the agriculture crises of the 1980s, Mott said a lot of things have changed since then. There are programs to protect farms in case of lost crops.

According to data from the North Central Illinois Economic Development Corp., agriculture employs 2.6 percent of workers in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. Compare that to about 21 percent that work in the retail.

Agricultural productivity towers over that of the retail sector.

In 2012, the year grain prices peaked, cash receipts across the tri-county area topped $1 billion dollars. That same year in the same region, retail sales were about $2 billion, only twice as much despite having ten times the workforce of the agricultural sector.

Ivan Baker, president and CEO of the North Central Illinois Economic Development Corp., said there is always fluctuation.

“If 2.6 percent of the area has less income, 2.6 percent has less disposable income,” Baker said.

He said luxuries are the first to go, such as staying in versus eating out or buying a used car versus a new car.

But while farms and agriculture face increasing expenses and decreasing profits, it doesn’t seem to have affected the over all spending in local communities in any uniform way.

Using information from the Illinois Department of Revenue, sales tax receipts for communities in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties have mostly increased as grain prices have decreased, especially in larger communities such as La Salle and Peru. Peru saw a nearly $2 million jump in sales tax revenue between 2012 and 2016.

In smaller communities, the change in revenue has been less than consistent. For example, Lostant and Hennepin have seen revenues increase, whereas Tonica and Wenona have seen decreases.

Perhaps it’s because, as Mott said, the farms still are doing well.

“Business is normal,” Pletsch said. “We haven’t been splurging. We’ve been making smart business decisions.”

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hennepin Park District Announces Summer Activities

Every Friday, beginning June 23, and continuing through July 28, the Hennepin Park District will show a movie on its big screen TV.

Movie starts at 11:30 a.m., and those interested can call the pool to find out the movie being shown that week. The cost is free for Hennepin and Hennepin Township residents and $5 for all other areas.

Popcorn and a beverage will be served during the movie. Movie participants may swim after the activity for open swim at no additional charge. Parents who remain with their children during the movie may also swim after the activity at no additional charge. Children under the age of 12 may swim up to 3 hours without an adult present. Children less than 45 inches tall must have an adult accompany them in the pool.

For more information or to find out the movie for the week, call the Hennepin Pool at 815-925-7319.

Source: Putnam County Record


Grandma Rosie's Opens in Spring Valley

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
Grandma Rosie’s recently opened its doors in Spring Valley at 502 S. Spalding St. (Route 89) just north of the Illinois Valley Veterans Memorial Bridge which takes the road over the Illinois River.

“Spring Valley needed a restaurant and ice cream shop that offered fresh food quick and ice cream at a family-friendly price,” said Jason Judd, one of the four owners of the business along with his wife, Vanessa; and cousin Jason Judd and his wife, Jenny.

“We also serve gyros, Italian beef and Chicago-style food plus an assortment of grilled cheese sandwiches and pork tenderloins,” he said.

The restaurant’s hours are now 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, with the closing time extended during spring and summer months until 10 p.m.

“Our family owns the laundromat next door, and we like it that it is on a main road (Route 89),” added Judd on why the location was chosen to open Grandma Rosie’s.

“The mission of Grandma Rosie’s is to get involved in the community and to make customer service our priority, and secondly to offer quality food at family-friendly price,” he added.

“We will deliver to surrounding areas,” he said. Customers can call 815-663-8416.

Grandma Rosie’s was named after Rosie Boggio, Jason’s grandmother. The first shop was opened in 2012 in Princeton by Frankie Boggio, Jennifer Judd and Jason Judd.

The other Grandma Rosie’s locations that have been opened in order are in Lacon, Seneca, Walnut and Tinley Park (trailer).

Source: Putnam County Record


Monday, June 5, 2017

Wetlands Initiative Does Much More Than Stock Fish at Hennepin

Images courtesy of the News Tribune
About two dozen volunteers planted native plants to give nature a helping hand Saturday on some of the earthier former farm ground at The Wetlands Initiative’s nature preserve south of Hennepin.

Recently, TWI acquired 400 acres southeast of the former Hennepin and Hopper Lakes and is restoring the area it calls Hickory Hollow back to Mesick prairie, sand prairie, oak savanna and hill prairie.

After acquiring the area and attaching Hickory Hollow (still closed to the public) to the 2,600-acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, the nonprofit organization planted prairie seed, with more of the wildflowers taking hold on the sandy ground than on the better farm ground.

It was just another restoration step for a group that’s made rapid headway since 2001 toward restoring now-3,000 acres to resemble Illinois of 300 years ago.

Rich Seibert, superintendent for the privately owned site for 16 years, talked recently to the Better Fishing Association about some successes and setbacks in attracting and accommodating native species and re-creating prairie, woodland, wetland and shallow lake habitat.

“We’re not just there for fishing, we’re not just there for ducks, we’re not just there for plants,” he said of TWI’s comprehensive approach.

But many of the BFA members wanted mostly to hear about fishing and the fish in the lake that’s protected from the river by levees that date back to the early 1900s. He reviewed the well-publicized war against common carp, which made up about 98 percent of the fish species in the drainage ditches before pumps were turned off to allow the below-river-level area to refill with water after decades of the drainage district being farmed. He noted if corn prices were $7 back in 1999-2001 rather than in the $2 range, Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge area likely would still be farmland.

Before allowing water to fill the old lake area, the state used natural, plant-based fish killer rotenone to try to kill all the carp. Years, later, they realized the carp ran away from the rotenone and up into the drains that were delivering fresh water from higher ground. Enough of them, some small, were able to stay in the field tiles (pipes) long enough that they survived to overpopulate the lake. So, TWI drained the lake again and this time blocked the tiles so the carp couldn’t get in.

When the lake was drained, the DNR helped net the gamefish and tried to hide them away in the Emiquon refuge and the Hormel ponds at Bureau. Seibert retold a story that when the fish-stocking truck backed up and started dumping in the prized Hennepin-Hopper Lakes gamefish, including trophy-sized bass and walleye, there were two fishermen on the banks. Why they didn’t keep the secret and enjoy the Hormel Ponds for themselves for a couple of years, he does not know.

“I heard about it the next day,” said BFA member Fred Reutner, a former Mendota bait shop owner who fishes almost daily.

Seibert said in five years since then, and since the lake was restocked with many more predator fish — including northern pike, bowfin (dogfish) and alligator gar — no common carp have been found in the lake. And TWI stocked the predators, also including crappie and bass, in part to bring back native species such as alligator gar and bowfin and in part to have plenty of fish that would eat tiny carp if a bird dropped one, perhaps.

Seibert said none of the alligator gar that were stocked have been found during sampling and shocking, but they don’t fit well in nets and they may run from electric current. He said not many northern pike were found during DNR sampling, but fishermen using the lake since it opened for the season on May 16 are catching lots of northern pike in the 24-inch to 3-foot range. He said there are so many that the Wetlands rules allow harvest of northern pike as small as 24 inches. “Some guys catch 20 northerns and keep three,” he said.

The season closes Sept. 1, and people who fish have to sign in and put a parking pass on their dashboards. No boat motors are allowed but many anglers are finding kayaks to be as good as anything for fishing the shallow lake. Fishing from shore is not allowed, as the lake is shallow and surrounded by plant life that TWI wants to protect.

“If the fishing’s good, fishermen will find a way,” Seibert said.

In addition to the gamefish, the lake has become home to a rare type of topminnow that is thriving in extra-shallow weedy areas, as well as rare red-spotted sunfish, which also seem to be thriving.

And the entire 3,000-acre property has rapidly become an attractor of some of Illinois’ rarest birds and wildlife. Yellow-headed blackbirds, common to the Dakotas but not Illinois, can be found in the weedy wetland, and in the past month, sandhill cranes nested at the site. An new trail has been added, due to investment by Marquis Energy, at the north end, and the addition of the 400-acre Hickory Hollow area at the southeast corner of the site will become restored habitat and also buffer a hillside prairie and bluffside seep (springs).

He said the Field Museum’s Doug Stotz has advised The Wetlands Initiative on habitat re-creation and has helped identify the birds, common and rare, attracted to the habitats. He travels the world as an ornithologist, and, says Seibert, “this is one of his favorite places in the world.”

TWI’s Dixon Waterfowl Refuge is a recognized state Important Bird Area under this program administered by the National Audubon Society.

Source: News Tribune


Friday, June 2, 2017

Putnam County Board Joins Bureau-Putnam Enterprise Zone

Putnam County is in the zone.

The Bureau-Putnam Enterprise Zone anyway.

The PC board on Thursday voted to pass a resolution joining the zone, abating taxes imposed on certain business properties in the district.

The board also allowed properties whose current 10-year abatement had ended prematurely be-cause of the state’s cancellation of the previous zone to have their abatement extended into the new district.

The caveat, and why the board has taken so long to join the zone, is its decision to remove the abatement for the ambulance service from both the new and old zones.

While the first year these abatements cease for current projects will only bring in approximately $900 for the ambulance service, the second year will see a $45,000 payment to the service.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Putnam County Man Lands 60¾-inch Musky

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
An accidental catch is gaining Joe Gensini more fame than anything he’s done over a decade of fishing in tournaments.

The Hennepin resident, with help from teammate Paul Malone, of Iowa, reeled in a 60 ¾-inch muskellunge while practicing for the Cabela’s North American Bass Circuit tournament recently in Green Bay.

He was fishing for smallmouth bass in 7 to 10 feet of water and using a homemade, one-eighth ounce, 1 ½-inch-long black hair jig when he thought the hook snagged on something at a drop-off.

He told Musky Hunter magazine he just felt a little “tink,” without much reaction until eventually the heavy object started to fight.

Since catching the fish, he received attention not only from fellow tournament anglers and Musky Hunter but also was shown on video and his fish appears on the home page for the Fishnstixtv Facebook site of hall of fame angler Bob Mehsikomer.

“This fish has caused quite a stir and I never set out for one of them. I’m a bass fisherman and I happened to catch a musky,” he said.

A very big musky, though.

The fish’s girth was 28 ½ inches. He said Mehsikomer and Musky Hunter estimated it weighed between 57 and 60 pounds.

“At this time of year, coming out of winter, it was a little skinny,” he said. “If I’d have caught that same fish this fall, it would have weighed 8-9 pounds more.”

The fish did not count as a record of any type. He was using 8-pound test line when he hooked the fish in Little Sturgeon Bay, between the cities of Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay. They used the trolling motor to keep moving with the fish and avoid breaking the line.

It took more than an hour to land the fish and he handed the rod to Malone near the end. He also later found out that in spring before May 20, when the musky season opened, they weren’t even supposed to land the fish. They caught it May 9.

“We tried to land it to catch and release the fish — and to get my jig back,” he said.

A couple of days later, Gensini and Malone finished 26th in the tournament.

He said they weren’t disappointed in their catch of more than 20 pounds of fish for two days, five fish per day.

“That fishery is so good. We finished middle of the pack in that tournament but the weights were just phenomenal,” he said of the smallmouth tournament that had a weigh-in at Sturgeon Bay.

The series also has some famous northern-waters competitors, such as Al Lindner and Bob Izumi.

He said it was his first time competing in a tournament there, but he loves fishing for fun on either side of Door County area either in Lake Michigan or in Green Bay.

Last week he and his son caught dozens of smallmouth in the 3 ½- to 6-pound range on the Lake Michigan side of Door County.

“It’s awesome. We just love it. My 9-year-old son just has a ball and I can’t say I’m much different,” he said.

Touring angler

Gensini, a 1996 Putnam County High School graduate, played baseball at Black Hawk Community College and kept playing in semipro and local hardball leagues until he was about 32, when he tore up his arm.

He said he started entering fishing tournaments because he enjoys competition. And his dad fished in some regional bass tournaments when he was growing up.

Gensini is a regular on three tours, pursuing largemouth and smallmouth bass. This year he has fished or will fish in New York, Iowa, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and Missouri.

He competes in BASS open and FLW Costa series events, both of which are pro-am events, where he’s the captain and guide for a partner who he might or might not know.

He and Malone travel together, compete against one another in the BASS and FLW tournaments, and share information and tips wherever they go. They’re friendly competitors.

“He’s one of my best friends if not my best friend. If I can’t win, I want him to win,” he said.

In Cabela’s team tournaments they fish together, which made the Green Bay tournament and the musky catch special.

“Typically we’re always fishing against each other,” Gensini said.

Gensini said he has had some good finishes in series points but hasn’t achieved a dream of winning a Bassmaster tournament and qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.

Source: News Tribune