Wednesday, August 9, 2017

FFA Alumni Tractor Drive Set for Aug. 13

The Putnam County FFA Alumni will raise funds for the Bill Biagi Memorial FFA Alumni Scholarship with a tractor drive on Sunday, Aug. 13.

The tractor drive will be held in conjunction with the Putnam County Ag Museum on Sunday, Aug. 13. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and the tractors will depart the Putnam County Ag Museum in Hennepin at 10 a.m. Participants will explore the countryside of Putnam County for the morning with a 12:30 p.m. return. Lunch will be provided for all drivers who participate in the event.

The Putnam County Ag Museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bob and Jerry Read will be giving a presentation on the history of the hardware and implement business begun by the Duke Brothers in 1880 and taken over by the Read Brothers in 1957.

All proceeds will be donated to the Bill Biagi Memorial FFA Alumni Scholarship Fund. The cost of the drive is $40 per tractor.

For more information, call Brian Biagi at 815-252-0474 or email him at This event is sponsored by McNabb Grain Co.

Source: Putnam County Record


Friday, August 4, 2017

Committee Plans Hennepin 200th Anniversary Party

The Village of Hennepin will celebrate its bicentennial the weekend of Sept. 22-24, and community members are working to make the weekend one to remember.

The theme of the celebration is “Let’s Fall into the 1800s.”

Friday Sept. 22 — There will be a movie at the Hennepin pool with complimentary hotdogs and popcorn. Adults will be able to play bags nearby while kids are watching the movie.

Saturday Sept. 23 — Also in the plans so far is a 5K Walk/Run in the morning at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge. It will start at The Wetlands Initiative off Route 26 south of Hennepin.

People are invited to join the parade around midday; enter a float, walking unit, motor vehicle or anything that, organizers say, is positive and celebratory of the celebration.

More information about the parade can be answered by Lynn Haage at, (815) 925-9251 (days) or (815) 925-7185 (evenings).

A talent competition will occur later that Saturday at the courthouse. Dance, music and comedy acts are encouraged for the competition. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top talent of each age category. There is an online registration form.

There also will be a pancake breakfast sponsored by Hennepin Fire Department, bingo sponsored by Putnam County Community Center, old-time games for kids, a kickball tournament, a cemetery walk sponsored by Putnam County Historical Society, a harvest home chicken dinner sponsored by Hennepin Methodist Church, a bags tournament for junior high and high school (sixth-12th) students and a band/beer tent sponsored by Hennepin Marine.

Sunday Sept. 24 — The riverboat the Spirit of Peoria will dock in Hennepin where people can get on for cruises on the Illinois River. This event is sponsored by Marquis Energy and North Central Bank.

Times are subject to change. More information to come.

Source: News Tribune


New Judge Requested in Dispute Over Railroad Access at Hennepin

Image credit: News Tribune
A judge will continue to allow Hennepin Industrial Development LLC the right to access, use and repair the railroad tracks owned by anyone with a claim to the land below the crossties until a reassigned judge can schedule the matter for a hearing at the earliest possible date.

Circuit Judge Thomas Keith on Thursday in Putnam County ordered that his previous order issued on July 25 will remain in effect until the reassigned judge can schedule the matter for a hearing.

The order, set to expire Aug. 4 (today), went into effect after Hennepin Industrial complained that someone from the neighboring Marquis ethanol plant property blocked the tracks by piling sand and gravel on them. Some track was cut, Hennepin Industrial Development said in its initial complaint against Marquis Energy.

On Wednesday, Marquis Inc. filed a motion for a substitution of judge. In the motion, it states that under Illinois law, substituting a judge in any civil action is allowed when a party timely exercises its rights. It also states each party is entitled to one substitute of a judge as a right.

The matter has been referred to Chief Judge Paul P. Gilfillan for reassignment.

Lawyers from Marquis Energy had argued that their client did not own the land where there’s a dispute over access to the tracks that lead to the Norfolk Southern line.

The blockage obstructs Hennepin Industrial’s ability to move large quantities of scrap metal, the complaint states. Hennepin Industrial intends to load approximately 100 rail cars per month over the next two to three months to ship out for recyclable metal.

Two additional defendants were added to the case. Now the three defendants are Marquis Inc., Marquis Energy and Marquis Management Services Inc.

During Thursday’s hearing, it was said that Marquis Inc. is the owner of the land being discussed.

Michael J. Scotti III is the attorney for Hennepin Industrial Development.

John Gekas is the attorney for Marquis Inc.

Hennepin Industrial Developent says it has priority rights under a railroad easement dating back to previous owners that allow it to traverse the adjoining piece of land northeast of the mill site.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hennepin Uses Savings on Major Street Projects

Advanced Asphalt has $800,000 contract

Improvements the village needs are coming to Hennepin, said Mayor Kevin Coleman.

Hennepin Village Board recently voted to accept a bid of $774,587.30 from Advanced Asphalt Co. for road construction. Advanced Asphalt’s main office is in Princeton.

The village is financing the improvement on High Street and Sixth Street through investments made years ago, Coleman said Monday. The work includes widening High Street from Eighth Street to Route 26. A biking/walking path will be added to the road. Coleman said walkers and joggers frequently use Route 26 onto High Street.

New water mains and fire hydrants will be put in on High Street as well.

The village also will be doing construction that will be paid through state motor fuel tax money, including, parts of Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, 11th and Front street.

The project should start within two weeks, but it’s not known how long the project will last right now.

The village will put in some stop signs, one at Morine Drive and 10th Street as well as two stop signs at the 10th Street and Hazel Marie Boyle Drive.

The next meeting is 6 p.m. Aug. 16.

Source: News Tribune


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Judge Grants Access to Rail Line Near Ethanol Plant

A judge will let Hennepin Industrial LLC access, use and repair the railroad tracks that cross land owned by Marquis Energy LLC or anybody else with a claim to the land below the crossties. Circuit Judge Thomas Keith’s temporary order only lasts through Aug. 4.

Hennepin Industrial, the owner demolishing the old steel plant and salvaging scrap metal, filed an emergency complaint last week over railroad access against Marquis Energy LLC.

The complaint stated that in June, Marquis piled sand and gravel on the railroad track, and some of the track was cut, to block the track between the old steel mill and the Norfolk Southern main line.

The request for an emergency temporary restraining order was filed in Putnam County last Thursday, and the parties met Tuesday at the Marshall County Courthouse in Lacon.

Roger Bolin, attorney for Marquis Energy LLC, said the easement had been abandoned before Hennepin Industrial LLC. purchased the plant because of stipulations dealing with the tracks and plant not being operational after a certain amount of time.

“It’s their easement until proven otherwise,” Keith said late in Tuesday’s hearing.

Bolin also said Marquis Energy LLC is not the owner of the land being talked about, therefore indicating Hennepin Industrial LLC named the wrong defendant (or owner) in its complaint.

“You’re arguing as if you are,” Keith said to Bolin.

It was not clear which entity owns the land being discussed.

The blockage obstructs Hennepin Industrial’s ability to move large quantities of scrap metal, the complaint states. Hennepin Industrial intends to load approximately 100 rail cars per month over the next two to three months to ship out for recyclable metal.

Hennepin Industrial says it has priority rights under a railroad easement dating back to previous owners that allow it to traverse the adjoining piece of land northeast of the mill site.

The complaint stated Hennepin Industrial purchased the property with seller financing, requiring a large payment on Sept. 1.

The steel mill site owners’ lawyers wrote that if they are unable to move scrap materials by rail, Hennepin will default on its loan obligations.

Michael J. Scotti III is the attorney for Hennepin Industrial.

The next hearing will be Aug. 3 afternoon at the Putnam County Courthouse, in Hennepin.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

State Provides Some Support to Schools

It was a short meeting, but it mostly contained good news, at least for a school district in Illinois.

While the Putnam County School District is still owed $609,721.23 in mandated funding from the state, they have received a payment of $448,298.99. This raises the total Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax payments for the year to approximately $3.1 million.

Superintendent Carl Carlson said he wasn’t sure if any additional payments would be received because the court has ruled Medicaid payments take a precedent over other state obligations, which may put future categorical payments in jeopardy.

Carlson is also still a member of a group of 419 Illinois superintendents who are speaking as a group to bring attention to the negative impact the state’s financial problems are causing the 1.2 million students they represent.

As the state’s financial troubles deepen, the Putnam County District has continued to exercise financial prudence. Last fiscal year, 91 percent of the budget was spent. This year the district improved that figure and spent only 87 percent of its budget, partially achieved by a $25,000 savings in the transportation budget. While a significant savings, a portion of the money still owed by the state includes more than $267,000 for transportation costs.

Also at the meeting, Carlson was happy to report the Illinois State Board of Education’s required Life Safety inspections resulted in all four Putnam County School buildings passing with 100 percent compliance.

Source: Putnam County Record


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

County Looks Forward to Site Redevelopment for Future Industry

Image source: News Tribune
The day explosive charges went off and the steel mill at Hennepin toppled was the day the largest steel mill building also fell off of the Putnam County property tax rolls.

Now a three-story-high pile of bent metal detached from a foundation, the debris from the old mill building that housed up to 1,000 workers during boom times has become personal property rather than a taxable structure.

People who keep an eye on the tax base, such as Putnam County schools superintendent Carl Carlson, say they planned ahead for loss of property taxes from the building. And when owners started stripping the site, they contributed to the structure’s devaluation.

“There’s other growth in that area that has offset it,” he said.

The overall property assessment in Putnam County has gone up, not down, in the past four years.

Cheryl Roelfsema, vice president for business services and finance at Illinois Valley Community College, said other developments such as the ethanol plant boosted the overall equalized assessed valuation in Putnam County.

Putnam County Supervisor of Assessments Tamara Mehalic said Putnam County’s equalized assessed valuation in 2014 was $181.3 million for 2014, $182.2 million for 2015, $209.1 million for 2016 and, tentatively, $209,730,584 for 2017.

The main entrance to the former steel mill building has fallen on its side. Workers will continue to demolish the plant.

The county will publish its assessments this Wednesday for 2017, and then the public has 30 days to file an appeal with the board of review.

The entire steel mill site was up for sale nine years ago for $25 million and was assessed at $21 million. After years of light use or no use, and after the buildings were stripped of equipment, assessment on the largest steel mill building was reduced last summer to $1.4 million and then this summer to $743,375.

Property taxes on the big building halted the day of the “implosion” in June. Mehalic divided the assessment that was in effect for this year by 365 days to arrive at a sum to eventually be billed on next year’s taxes.

When the building comes off of next year’s assessment list, the whole steel mill site, 873 acres and 21 separate parcels and a few smaller buildings, still will be on the tax rolls.

Industry and assessment should rise again

If all goes according to plans, industrial development will rise again on the land, which has been called a “mega site” for industry.

Industrial-site redeveloper William Marino has been assuring civic leaders such as Hennepin mayor Kevin Coleman and superintendent Carlson that he will market parcels on the 873-acre site and some of the smaller remaining buildings for industry.

“We have lots of plans for it — nothing I can disclose,” Marino said.

Carlson said once the wreckage from the building is removed and the slab under the steel factory building is restored, that site should become attractive to developers.

Industrial developers are showing interest in the many parcels of land, and especially the rail and river access, said Marino, of Chicago-based Hennepin Industrial Development LLC.

A barge awaits more steel salvaged from the demolition of the former J&L and LTV Steel building on a dock that’s part of the more than 800-acre industrial site that is being redeveloped at Hennepin. Parties who’ve expressed interest in the site almost all have shown interest in access to the Illinois River, said William Marino, of Chicago-based Hennepin Industrial Development LLC.

“Everybody wants the dock,” Marino said.

The buildings where rolled steel was produced since the 1960s had become obsolete, but infrastructure for the site is not, Marino said. That includes a power substation, rail access, smaller buildings, drainage structures, water line and gas lines.

For income during the demolition phase, crops have been planted on some of the land, all of which still is zoned industrial. Also, Hennepin Industrial Development is shipping out scrap metal by barge from the dock where rolled steel had been loaded from the late 1960s into the 2000s.

If anyone’s worried that Marino won’t actually market the land and infrastructure as a “mega site” for industrial development, Coleman said he doubts that Marino could recoup his costs if he didn’t market it and sell it.

He points to Marino’s demolition and redevelopment of the former 350,000-square-foot Essex Wire plant on North Main Street in Rockford as an example of Marino’s efforts.

Source: News Tribune


Friday, July 14, 2017

Golf Cart Ambulance Pops up at Putnam County Events

Image credit: News Tribune
No tax funds were needed to set up a miniature first-response ambulance that could help save lives during events that attract big crowds in Putnam County.

During the Fourth of July celebration in Hennepin, Putnam County EMS began utilizing a used golf cart. PCEMS director Andy Jackson said sometimes it’s difficult to get an ambulance to people in crowds in the park or fairgrounds.

The cart will allow emergency medical technicians to begin providing first aid or other care until the ambulance can be moved to the scene.

Jackson said fundraising events helped to purchase the cart and outfit it with whatever might be needed immediately in case of an emergency at events such as the Marshall-Putnam.

The fair at Henry opened Wednesday and continues through Sunday evening.

On the Fourth of July, Jackson and the cart were carrying medical equipment, first aid equipment and a defibrillator. From the donations, the ambulance service bought a flashing light (that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter-style outlet), and paid Hennepin Boat Store to make the PCEMS signs for the sides.

Source: News Tribune