Saturday, May 23, 2015

Elmer Tarr Fish Carving Legacy on Display at Museum

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
While many visitors will marvel at the large woodcarvings surrounding Starved Rock Lodge, another exhibit of the woodcarving art is now a featured exhibit at the Heritage Center on the La Salle County Historical Museum Campus at Utica. 

The museum display of hand-carved fish is a selection from the collection created by Elmer Tarr of Leonore.

Tarr retired as an electrician from the Hennepin steel mill in 1997 and took up carving as a hobby.

During his retirement, Tarr carved dozens of different specimens of fish including rainbow trout, salmon, bass and bluegill. He worked for about six hours every morning in his home with each carving taking about three to five weeks to complete.

Tarr was a perfectionist. He took great pains to duplicate the most intricate details of each fish.The thousands of scales on each carving were burned in, and the paper-thin fins were curled in a realistic fashion using steam from boiling water.

Each fish in the display is mounted on a stand with the native rocks and grasses, which Tarr also carved from wood.  Each example is unique and posed in a natural position. 

Over the years, Tarr’s prize-winning work was seen in the annual Valley Carvers competitions at Starved Rock Lodge, at Town and Country Art Shows in Ottawa and at the Sandwich fairs.

The completed display at Utica was designed by the museum director to simulate a natural environment in which the fish were swimming.

A generous contribution by the friends of Elmer Tarr covered the expenses in constructing the display.

Although Elmer Tarr died in 2014, his legacy will live on through his creative work, which was donated to the LaSalle County Historical Society by his wife Sandra Tarr.

If you go:
The museum is open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays,  noon until 4 p.m.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is Big Trailer a Big Problem in Hennepin?

Trailers and zoning were the main focus of the Hennepin Village Board on Wednesday night.

Zoning Officer Larry Brown informed the board about an issue with a trailer in Al’s Trailer Park near Fifth and Vine streets. Brown said the trailer was placed in the park without proper permits. The trailer is too large for the lot and too close to the street. He said notice had been sent to the trailer park owner. Brown also said a deck or porch was currently being built on the trailer.

Clyde Zellmer, past village board member, owns the trailer park.

Village mayor Kevin Coleman said he, Brown and village attorney Roger Bolin would work together to figure out how to proceed with the matter. Brown and Coleman also discussed other violations in the park, both from town zoning and state requirements.

Also up for discussion was the squaring off of Fifth and High streets.  The intersection currently forms a “Y” where Fifth meets High. Coleman said he had discussed changing the intersection many years ago, and Zellmer had asked about the possibility again. The large trailer in question sits near the intersection.

Village engineer Bill Shafer estimated the cost to change the intersection at $10,000. An electrical pole would need to be moved. Because of the difficulty, the cost to move it was estimated at an additional $10,000.

A small portion of the road currently sits on trailer park property, but because of the length of time the road has been in place, the village has a prescriptive easement, and is able to leave the intersection in place, according to Shafer. Prescriptive easements are easements that are allowed by the regular use of something, in this case Fifth Street.

The board decided the cost was too high to change the intersection at this time.

A walk in the park: B & M Concrete Construction of Magnolia was awarded the sidewalk contract for $21,800. The project includes a walkway in the Bassi Park as well as four handicapped ramps at Fifth and Court streets, near United Methodist Church. The project will begin next week and be completed by June 26.

The town board also decided to have an arborist come to town to check on multiple ash trees on village property. Some of the trees are thought to be dying, and the board asked that an expert decide which trees could be saved and which need to be removed.

Grass be gone: The board discussed implementing written warnings and fines for people who blow grass clippings onto curbed streets. The clippings get into storm sewers and cause issues with pipes. Diana Brandstatter, village clerk, was instructed to call local communities for examples.

Source: News Tribune


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Juror Pay Increasing for Putnam County Courts

Putnam County Board approved a mandatory raise in payment to jurors and officially joined the Economic Development Corp. of North Central Illinois at a special meeting this month.

The board had previously discussed the increase in juror pay, but because it was not on the agenda at the previous board meeting, a special meeting was held to take action. It’s $25 for the first day and $50 each day after.

- The board also signed a letter of commitment to the EDCNCI, the group taking over economic development in Putnam, Bureau and La Salle counties.

While the original fee for the county was going to be $7,808, because of letters of commitment from Granville, Hennepin and Standard, the fee will lower.

Board member Sheila Haage said with the village commitments, the county portion will be less than $5,000 per year.

Source: News Tribune


Monday, May 18, 2015

BioBlitz coming to Hennepin-Hopper

Image courtesy of The Wetlands Initiative
Teams will comb the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes on June 13-14 to identify as many species of plants and animals as possible in what is called a BioBlitz.

A BioBlitz is a methodical 24-hour survey of plants, birds, mammals, insects and other creatures. Scientists will lead volunteers to measure the site’s biodiversity. The event will run from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday so that daytime and nighttime species are surveyed, according to The Wetlands Initiative.

In recent years a dragonfly species never before recorded in Illinois was found at the Dixon Refuge. Another dragonfly not seen in the state since 1938 also was found there.

Nearly three dozen experts have agreed to participate representing the Illinois Natural History Survey, Chicago’s Field Museum, Peoria Audubon Society, National Park Service, Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, McHenry County Conservation District, Peoria Academy of Science, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Chicago Botanic Garden, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois Ornithological Society, Triton College in River Grove, and Trine University in Indiana.

BioBlitz is open to volunteers age 14 and older who are can hike for up to three hours across variable terrain. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. No scientific knowledge is needed to volunteer. Volunteers need to be stealthy, observant and follow the group leader’s instructions. Volunteers need not participate for the entire 24 hours. Refreshments will be provided.

Registration is required. Visit or call The Wetlands Initiative at (312) 922-0777.

Prior surveys of the refuge have found nearly 600 native plant species and more than 270 bird species. More information is needed about mammals, insects, fungi and other things.

Founded in 2001 and open to the public year-round, TWI’s Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes has been designated both an Audubon Important Bird Area and a Wetland of International Importance.

Now totaling more than 3,000 acres, the Refuge is renowned for its diversity of habitats ranging from marshes, rare seeps, and other wetlands to oak savanna, the lakes, and several types of prairie. The BioBlitz will include baseline surveying of the newest addition to the Refuge, nearly 300 upland acres where ecological restoration work will begin this fall.

Source: News Tribune


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Putnam County Students Get a Hands-On Government Lesson

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Putnam County High School senior class attended the 36th annual Law Day at the Hennepin courthouse this month.

The class was able to tour the courthouse, sheriff’s department and jail, as well as register to vote. The class also participated in a mock trial.

Former judge Scott Shore and attorney Roger Bolin have been organizing and participating in the event since the beginning.

The two talked to students about the day and the judicial system in general. Students also were introduced to all the office holders.

Shore discussed the importance of registering to vote, and urged each eligible student to do so in the county clerk’s office.

“If nothing else, at some point, you will be called upon to serve in one of the most important capacities any citizen can serve,” Shore said. “That is to vote. And vote you should.”

Putnam County Circuit Clerk Dan Kuhn said 19 students registered during the event.

The students then volunteered to play different roles in the mock trial and were helped by the bar association members to prepare.

The case, a civil lawsuit brought against the owner of a prom date match-making app by a girl who was paired up with her ex-boyfriend, was then argued and ruled on strictly by the students.

In the end, the jury found for the plaintiff, awarding her “$101,000” for expenses and pain and suffering.

“The kids are unique. You never know what they’re going to come up with,” Bolin said of the trial and the event. “One thing about this group, I thought they all came in here, and they were all very proper in appearance. It looked like they had a good time. I would compliment the students and the faculty members who were here today.”

One of the faculty members, social studies teacher Matt Gimbal, is also an alumnus of Putnam County. In fact, he sat on the jury during his law day.

“I think the kids did fantastic today. This is a good group of kids,” said Gimbal. “I do think it’s a good experience.”

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Putnam County Library Wins $50,000 Grant for ADA

The Putnam County library district is receiving a $50,000 Live and Learn Construction Grant from the State of Illinois and will use it to bring the building up to code for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The grant, which will be used for a much larger Granville library project, was among $701,000 in grants through the Illinois State Library announced this week by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

Jay Kalman, Putnam County Public Library Director, said, “I want to thank the Secretary of State’s office, the State Library, and Jesse White for thinking about us during a time when budgets are so important.”

Kalman said bids have gone out and will be awarded May 20 to begin the updating and for the move to the new library building in Granville.

“I am pleased to award these grants through the Illinois State Library to help maintain the infrastructure of our public libraries so that they remain the best information resource available to citizens,” said Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Putnam County Courthouse to Get New Wiring

The Putnam County Board voted Monday night to have Connecting Point Computer Centers map and label the Internet wiring throughout the courthouse.

The board agreed to the $4,350 bid brought by county treasurer Kevin Kunkel from Connecting Point to map the current wiring and replace a 24-port switch with a recommended 48-port switch. The offices in the courthouse have been having some issues with Internet. Some offices, including the state’s attorney’s office, are currently running on a separate switch.

The board also told Kunkel to find out how much additional wiring, if any, would need to be run to connect the state’s attorney’s office directly to the new port.

Kunkel was directed to get board chairman Duane Calbow’s approval for the possibly additional wires after finding out a total.

Kunkel also presented the totals for the county accounts. He made note of the smaller amount of sales tax income for the county this year versus last year, but attributed the difference to the lower cost of fuel, currently at almost half the price per gallon from last year.

The board approved the annual prevailing wage rates.

Rethinking body cameras
Board member Luke Holly asked sheriff Kevin Doyle about the possibility of the sheriff’s department using body cams in the near future. Doyle told the board the current state legislature does not allow law enforcement to video or audio tape any actions, except for traffic stops, without notification. Doyle said he believed the cameras would be waste of taxpayer money until laws change.

Property tax bills were mailed out and installments are due June 1 and Sept. 1. Kunkel said many people had already paid portions of their bill.

Hogs: County Zoning Officer Jim Burger is working with State’s Attorney Christina (Judd) Mennie to give a special use permit for a family-run small-scale hog farm. Special use permits have been granted in the past to family-run farms, but new legislation has changed the permitting process.

Turbines: Burger also informed the board he had been approached about a possible wind energy farm.

A bridge on the Bottom Road from Route 89 was downgraded to a weight limit for no more than an M-2 truck.

A special meeting will be held on Friday by Putnam County Board to discuss and possibly vote on the change in fees for jury members and joining the regional economic group.

Mike Richetta of rural Granville will take the place of retiring Standard Fire trustee Alan Aimone for a three-year term.

Signs, signs...
The board approved the $70,500 bid from MD Solutions of Ohio to provide the county and municipalities with newly mandated traffic signs. The signs and posts will be delivered to each facility, and one year’s time is allowed for installation.

Source: News Tribune


Hennepin Park District Offers Swimming Lessons

The Hennepin Park District will have three sessions of Red Cross swimming lessons this summer.

Each session will be two weeks long. There will still be six levels of swimming ability.

Level 1 is the beginning class, and children must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 and at least 42 inches tall to join this class. The morning sessions will run 40 minutes, Monday through Friday. The night session will run 50 minutes, Monday through Thursday.

The first session is June 15 to June 26. The times are from 9 to 9:40 a.m. all levels, 9:50 to 10:30 a.m. all levels, and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m. all levels.

The second session is July 6 to 17. The times are from 9 to 9:40 a.m. all levels, 9:50 to 10:30 a.m. all levels, and 10:40 to 11:20 a.m. all levels.

The third session is the night session from July 20 to July 30. The times are from 5 to 5:50 p.m. all levels and 6 to 6:50 p.m. all levels.

Registration for these sessions will start Saturday, May 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. Registration must be in person at the Hennepin Pool or during normal pool hours. The cost of the lessons is $33 per child.

Hennepin or Hennepin Township residents pay for all lessons for each session. Granville, Granville Township, Mark or McNabb residents pay $33 per child for one session. Standard or Magnolia residents pay $16.50 for one session.

For more information, call the Hennepin Pool at 815-925-7319.

Source: Putnam County Record