Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Putnam County Food Pantry Prepares for Christmas

Again this holiday season, the Putnam County Food Pantry, in collaboration with Toys in the Pantry, organizations, businesses, churches and schools from across the county, will be distributing Christmas baskets to local families in need.

This is the 30th year the pantry has sponsored the basket project. The baskets contain food and gifts for children and senior citizens. Included are items for a full Christmas dinner, breakfast and pizza for Christmas Eve. This year so far there have been basket requests from 100 families. The baskets will be distributed on Saturday morning, Dec. 16.

To support the basket project, cash and food donations continue to be needed. Products such as coffee, hot chocolate, drinks, gelatin, canned fruit, easy-to-prepare meals and personal care items will be especially appreciated. A cash donation of $75 will support the cost of food for one average-size family. Donations may be sent to the Putnam County Food Pantry, Box 96, Granville, or deposited directly at the Granville National Bank. Food may be left at any of the county banks or at the food pantry.

Over the years, the Putnam County community has been tremendously supportive of the ongoing work of the food pantry and the Christmas Basket Project.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Marquis Energy Donates $250,000 for Five Area High Schools

Image credit: News Tribune
Marquis Energy of Hennepin gifted five local high schools with $250,000 in cash contributions, to be used in advancing the fields of science, math or agricultural studies.

The local schools being awarded $50,000 each are: Bureau Valley High School, Hall High School, Princeton High School, Putnam County High School and St. Bede Academy.

“The success of our local students is a major priority to Marquis and we hope this investment makes a lasting impact in the lives of our future leaders,” said Mark Marquis, chief executive officer of Marquis Energy. “Our students have big aspirations and we look forward to seeing these future generations better the world.”

Also, the Marquis Energy-WI, LLC plant in Necedah, Wis., is also gifting the three local high schools in that area with cash contributions to be used toward science, math and agricultural advancements.

Marquis remains committed to bettering the community through service and producing corn-starch ethanol for cleaner air and a higher-octane, more affordable fuel, a press release asserted.

With a production capacity of one million gallons of fuel grade ethanol per day, Marquis Energy is the largest dry-mill biofuels production facility in the United States.

Source: News Tribune

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hennepin Fire Truck Gives Ride to School for Children with Best Escape Plans

Image credit: News Tribune
It’s not every day you get to be picked up for school by a fire truck.

Monday, two members of the Hennepin Fire Department picked up three Putnam County elementary students to bring them to school in a fire truck.

“This is unbelievable!” said third-grade winner Marley DeWolfe of Magnolia, who said she’s never ridden in a fire truck before Monday.

The department teaches the students about fire safety during Fire Prevention Week, which was Oct. 8-14, but the department wants the messages to stick with the students, said Quentin Buffington, firefighter/fire prevention officer/public information officer. Buffington drove the fire truck Monday with Dan Zilm, assistant fire chief.

The department then introduced an optional project to the students.

To be eligible to win the ride, the students had to complete and return a drawing of their home that included two ways of exit from each room and indicate the location of smoke alarms. The students also had to write down an emergency phone number and a meeting place outside the home in case of an emergency. After seeing all those pieces of information, the firefighters narrowed the completed entries down to the best plans.

“This is way better than riding the school bus,” said fifth-grade winner Brooklyn Brester of Mount Palatine. “Can you guys pick us up after school too?” Brester asked Buffington and Zilm.

Buffington said this has been going on for years, and he doesn’t know of any other local departments that do this for the students.

After dropping the kids off at school, an assembly was held to remind the students about fire safety.

“I’m very proud of you,” Buffington told all the students at the assembly. “You remembered everything I taught you.”

“The students not only enjoy it,” said principal Courtney Balestri, “it also has an effect on their safety, which is priceless to us.”

The three winners also received a $25 Amazon gift card, and three students were honorable mentions who got $15 Subway gift cards.

Buffington said more than 100 students submitted escape plans.

Source: News Tribune

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hennepin Considers Eminent Domain to Control 2 Lots and Runoff

The Village of Hennepin is considering using eminent domain to remedy a problem that’s been going on for years.

Village president Kevin Coleman said the board talked on Wednesday night about the possibility of using eminent domain for a property at Sixth and Locust streets.

The property is two empty lots, and Coleman said there’s a water flow issue. He said the problem arises when the ground is frozen and there’s a hard rain.

Coleman said in the past, the village has asked the homeowners for easements and has asked to purchase the property.

“This seems to be our last resort,” Coleman said.

The drainage comes from fields from Route 26 east of the village, Coleman said.

Coleman plans to talk to the village’s attorney about the issue.

Other news

Village engineer Bill Shafer talked about the High Street construction project, saying final paving will be completed during the spring. High Street was opened around the first week of November.

Bicentennial memorabilia

The village is selling wine and T-shirts from the bicentennial celebration. Contact a board member if interested.

Coleman said a case of wine (12 bottles) is $165 or one bottle is $20.

The mother of all sales

Coleman said Jerry Kuczera attended the board meeting to talk about a future yard sale called Illinois River Valley Yard Sales scheduled May 19-20.

Kuczera is trying to put together a garage sale that spans from Seneca to Lacon or beyond, Coleman said.

Coleman said some towns already have signed up, such as Marseilles, Utica and Granville as well as others.

Board members told Kuczera they liked the idea and they’re not opposed to it, Coleman said.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Marquis Oak Ridge Trail in Hennepin Open to Public

Image credit: Wetlands Initiative
After investing $100,000 for a new trail south of Hennepin more than a year ago, Marquis Energy hopes to get the word out so more people start using the trail.

The Marquis Oak Ridge Trail is located at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin and Hopper Lakes and was completed about a year ago, said Danielle Anderson, executive assistant/director of public relations and political affairs for Marquis Energy.

She said the 2.7-mile trail is made for hiking, running and bicycling.

The company is excited the trail allows people to enjoy Hennepin’s natural environment all year round.

The Dixon Waterfowl Refuge’s website states the trail can be accessed from Route 26 and turning west onto the levee south of the Coffee Creek bridge. There’s a lot to park along the levee.

Source: News Tribune

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Marquis Energy Goes to Germany for United Nations Convention

Marquis Energy LLC’s chief executive officer is speaking at a United Nations convention.

Early Thursday morning, Marquis Energy tweeted that Marquis Energy’s CEO, Mark Marquis, is speaking at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to discuss the benefits of biofuels to the environment.

The Hennepin-based company, the largest dry-mill ethanol facility in the United States, has been tweeting and retweeting on its Twitter about Mark Marquis’s trip to Germany.

The company has joined with other ethanol producers and their industry trade associations to form the Climate Ethanol Alliance, said Danielle Anderson, executive assistant/director of public relations and political affairs for the company.

“Our attendance at this conference allows us to share ethanol’s many benefits with all corners of the globe,” said Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis Energy.

The climate change conference is in Bonn, Germany. Leaders of national governments, cities, states, businesses, investors and others are gathering to speed up work on climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, according to the United Nations.

The United States indeed does have a delegation at international climate talks in Bonn, The Associated Press noted, even though President Donald Trump has promised to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate pact where nations set their own goals to reduce the emissions of heat-trapping gases. Because of legal technicalities America can’t get out until November of 2020.

This year is the first time ethanol (biofuels) has been represented at the convention, Anderson said, and they’re happy to talk about the benefits of their renewable fuel.

She said ethanol significantly reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes. Ethanol is a U.S. homegrown fuel that provides the nation with more energy security and a more affordable choice at the fuel pump, she said.

Anderson said regular gas is almost all blended with 10 percent ethanol. She said more gas stations are adopting higher blends of fuel, such as E15 and E85.

Source: News Tribune

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

PCES Students Raise Money to Help IVAR’s Animals

Image credit: Putnam County Record
When Courtney Balestri, principal of Putnam County Elementary School (PCES), was approached by a group of students wanting to do something to give back to their community, she had no idea it would end with a pie in her face.

The students were fifth -graders Maggie Spratt, Madison Wasilewski, Hannah Taliani and Kaden Nauman. After helping the group decide which project to develop, Balestri then involved the entire school in the charitable effort.

“They had several ideas and we helped scale it down to what we thought we could realistically accomplish. It was a teachable moment as they were forced to consider the many details of what would have to be done in order to reach their goal,” Balestri said.

The group eventually decided they wanted to raise money to help the animals at the Illinois Valley Animal Rescue (IVAR) in LaSalle. The students of each class collected whatever they could and as a reward, their principal announced a lucky few from the class raising the most money could throw a pie at her.

“It doesn’t matter if you gave five cents or five dollars, your efforts have made a difference and you’ve helped these animals,” Balestri told her students.

The school raised a total of $160 and the final morning of the event found Balestri a bit nervous.

“I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people many times and I’ve never been nervous, but for some reason my hands are shaking this morning,” she said.

To help celebrate the success of the fundraising, IVAR volunteer and PCES alumnus John McKirgan attended the Oct. 31 assembly. He also brought a four-legged representative in Laya, who was appropriately dressed in a hamburger Halloween costume. Laya is a two-time IVAR rescue who McKirgan adopted after she was returned to the shelter a second time.

McKirgan told the students the funds will help provide medical care to the shelter’s 35 dogs and more than 100 cats. He later spoke about why he likes taking shelter dogs to visit schools.

“I like getting the kids to enjoy the dogs and when they see a bit of the sadder side of pets, it helps give hope for the future because they’ll see how important their compassion is and that they can make a difference,” he said.

After the students were assembled in the gym, Balestri reviewed the school’s “Six Pillars of Character,” an ongoing exercise designed to help instill positive behavior and decision making. The pillars consist of truth, responsibility, respect, caring, fairness and citizenship.

Following that, Laya was introduced. When the students learned she’d had puppies while in the shelter, they asked how many babies she’d had. McKirgan’s answer of “Nine,” resulted in a roar of approval.

Balestri then drew three names from Valerie Peterson’s fourth-grade class: Brayden Zuniga, Jonathan Avila and Vincen Dobson. As their principal assembled the pies which she’d soon be wearing, the student body grew increasingly louder as they encouraged her to make them as big as possible.

Through each of the three pies, everyone in the gymnasium was laughing, including Balestri. Following the issuance of the pies, Balestri, as she wiped the cream from her hair, announced they were rather cold and wet.

As the PCES student body filed from the gym, many stopped briefly to pet Laya. Before heading back to class the organizers were asked which they enjoyed more, their principal wearing pies or helping the animals in the shelter.

The answers were unanimously “Helping the animals,” which shows Balestri’s students have been paying attention to their “Six Pillars of Character.”

Source: Putnam County Record

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hennepin Steel Site Salvage Halts Over Legal Issues

Image credit: News Tribune
Demolition at the old steel mill site has been halted until further notice by Hennepin Industrial Development, owner William Marino says. The halting of demolition follows IPS Steel of Michigan filing a complaint saying Hennepin Industrial has violated a contract.

Marino said Hennepin Industrial Development and IPS Steel of Michigan came to a mutual agreement on Friday that demolition will be halted until further notice, as Hennepin Industrial is in the process of refinancing so it can close the loan of what’s owed to IPS — approximately $14 million.

IPS, former owner of the site from 2014 to January 2017, filed the complaint in federal court in Peoria against Hennepin Industrial Development, Marino Development and William Marino. The amended complaint was e-filed Oct. 12.

Hennepin Industrial, the owner demolishing the old steel plant and salvaging scrap metal in Hennepin, purchased the property from IPS this winter, on seller financing.

IPS states in the complaint that there has been a breach of a contract out of the sale to Hennepin Industrial at the purchase price of $20 million.

When IPS purchased the property in 2014, the purchase price listed on the deed was about $13 million, according to a past article from the NewsTribune.

“We disagree with everything in the complaint,” Marino said. “We look forward to an amicable solution and moving forward with the project.”

IPS in the complaint says it provided money for the sale to Hennepin Industrial with the expectation there would be repayment from the salvage and sale of the scrap metal on the property. IPS has a security interest in the scrap metal on the property, the complaint says.

The complaint says Hennepin Industrial has failed to meet the payment obligations, and “has stolen valuable scrap metal, and has, through subterfuge and deceit, deprived IPS of the benefit of its bargain causing substantial damages.”

The complaint says Marino estimated the scrap value on the property at $34 million. It states Hennepin Industrial agreed to an initial earnest payment of $250,000 and an additional $4.75 million due at closing in January. IPS says Hennepin Industrial agreed to pay minimum quarterly payments of $3.75 million plus accrued interest, less any payments made to IPS as part of revenue sharing.

The members of IPS include Ishvar Sutariya of Michigan, Pravin Sutariya of Michigan, Bharat Sutariya of Missouri, Pravin Monpara of Pennsylvania and Blue Steel Industries in New Jersey.

Sellers want their money now

In January, Hennepin Industrial signed a promissory note — a contract with a promise to pay a certain amount of money on demand by a certain time or over a period of time — and security agreement related to the seller-financing, according the complaint.

The note from January stated the agreed upon seller-financed amount was $17.5 million with a 10 percent interest rate compounded quarterly, according to the complaint.

The note said the creation of a joint bank account to deposit all gross revenue earned from the property was required, according to the complaint.

The complaint says IPS could withdraw 80 percent of the deposits from the account on a weekly basis.

Source: News Tribune

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