Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trash Pick-up One Day Late

Attention Hennepin residents: Due to the weather, garbage pick up will be on Saturday, March 18 instead of Friday.

Thank you!


Monday, March 13, 2017

Steel Plant Site at Hennepin Sells Again

The old LTV steel mill, most recently purchased by IPS Steel in 2014, has a new owner.

Hennepin Industrial Development, LLC, incorporated on Dec. 7, 2016, purchased the property for $5 million on March 2, according to transfer documents obtained by the NewsTribune.

Hennepin Industrial Development LLC lists 4117 N. Lowell Ave, Chicago, as its main address.

Other documents obtained show IPS Steel continuing to hold the mortgage to the property, with IPS Steel acting as the lending agent and Hennepin Industrial Development LLC as the borrower. 

John R. Joyce, a partner at Chicago real estate development firm Roetzel and Andress, was listed in the mortgage documentation and was unavailable by phone for comment at press time.

Source: News Tribune


Saturday, March 11, 2017

FOID Requirements: Should They Go Away?

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Since 1968, anyone wanting to legally purchase or possess a firearm or firearm ammunition in the State of Illinois had to apply for and receive a firearm owners identification card.

A local lawmaker wants that to change in the near future, but some local lawmen in his district defend the FOID card system.

State Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator), a first-year representative whose district includes parts of La Salle, Putnam, Bureau and Livingston counties, submitted House Bill 699, his first bill, that would repeal the FOID Act and make it unnecessary for gun buyers to have an identification card before purchase. The bill is co-sponsored by 10 other legislators.

Long, who ran on a strong Second Amendment platform but not specifically on doing away with FOID cards, says the cards stop more law-abiding citizens from getting firearms while criminals are able to access guns at any time.

“Gangs don’t care about FOID cards. Gangs don’t care about concealed carry. Gangs don’t care about any of that.”

Long had an issue with FOID himself, almost losing his concealed carry privileges in Florida and Utah because of the slow turnaround when he reapplied as his card was expiring.

“It came down to the last few weeks....It was a concern of mine,” Long said.

He went on to quote the figures that 70 percent of murders in the state of Illinois have been committed by people with stolen guns and 60 percent of all crime involving guns have been used with stolen weapons — citing a recent Associated Press article, “Gangs reap guns from trains in violent Chicago neighborhoods,” as proof of weapons being stolen.

A 2014 study by the City of Chicago tracing seized guns used in crimes contradicts Longs assertion, finding that most of the guns — 60 percent — were purchased legally, mostly from nearby states, such as Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin, with weaker gun laws.

Long asserts, though, that the FOID regulations are redundant, requiring the same background checks by multiple agencies.

“If the Illinois State Police want to do a background check on somebody, they have the ATF and other federal background checks that are necessary when we purchase a handgun or a rifle,” Long said. “I’m a member of a gun club over here in Streator ... and they like the idea of the elimination of the FOID card. I have heard from both sides ... 10 people versus 300, 400, 500 people.”

Long said he is representing his district, which he says, is pro-gun, pro-concealed carry, and pro-Second Amendment.

Defending gun ownership and the FOID card

One of the constituents in Long’s district is Hennepin Mayor Kevin Coleman.

Coleman is a gun owner, hunter, and FOID card carrier. He also is against the proposed bill.

“There are enough people being killed in this state, with guns, why make it easier?” Coleman said. “I think it’s nuts.”

Coleman has owned a FOID card since it was first required, having purchased guns from licensed dealers throughout that time.

“I’ve never heard anyone complaining about it (FOID cards),” Coleman said. “People who are qualified to have guns have guns. It’s really strange that this pops up now from Jerry Long that never said anything about this during his campaign.”

Coleman shared an anecdote about a trip to Missouri years ago where he was able to purchase and pick up a gun on the same day, lending credence to the Chicago study.

Law Enforcement

Putnam County sheriff Kevin Doyle, like Long is a big believer in the Second Amendment, but says the FOID cards have become a system of checks and balances for the police, a sentiment echoed by Detective John Atkins of the Peru Police Department.

“I think it (the FOID program) has worked in general, and the biggest thing is, Illinois residents have just become accustomed to it,” Doyle said. “Now they are doing a lot more revocation of FOIDs through domestic battery ... or mental health issues and we’re getting notifications that we revoked their FOID.”

Atkins says the FOID has its benefits.

“It’s able to identified people who can have firearms and firearms ammunition,” said. “It’s easier for us to identify people who are able to have firearms from a law enforcement point of view, because they (the state police) already do the background check.”

Atkins, who taught concealed carry classes in the past, has heard people complain about having to get FOID cards, most because of the fee.

“I just told them that was the legislation since 1968 and that was a way to identify people that were eligible to carry firearms and firearm ammunition.”

Doyle, who is an avid hunter, says he hasn’t heard anyone complaining about having to get a FOID card, and said wait times have been lower recently for the $10, 10-year application.

It also isn’t an issue to get a FOID card, according to Doyle, if you don’t have anything criminal in your background. And even if you do have something minor, there are ways to clear up issues.

“I have had others come in that have had revoked FOID cards for prior crimes that didn’t believe it should (be revoked) and I’ve helped them go down the right avenues with the Bureau of Identification to get their FOID card back,” Doyle said. “I’ve never had anybody coming in with nothing in their background saying ‘Hey the state police won’t give me my FOID’.”

Atkins says whether FOID is there or not, life will continue on for the police.

“We treat everyone armed the same way. You never know,” Atkins said. “The people who are going to carry guns illegally are going to do it anyway. We’ll still be able to figure out who are firearms owners anyway, just from past knowledge and records keeping. It’s nice to have the information, but it’s not going to change the way we police.”

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

IV Emergency Services Help Each Other in the Wake of Deadly Storm

Image courtesy of The Salvation Army
Naplate and Ottawa bore the brunt of the damage inflicted by storms that howled through the area Tuesday night, and emergency services around the Illinois Valley helped out.

"We were unbelievably, incredibly lucky," said Peru police chief Doug Bernabei. "It went south on the river bank. It was right in between us and South Bluff."

For two hours, Illinois Valley Regional Dispatch fielded Ottawa's emergency calls during the power outage.

"We were inundated with 911 calls," Bernabei said. "I was very, very impressed with the telecommunicators here."

He joined five dispatchers in answering calls, and said it went smoothly.

"It was a tad crowded, but it helped," Bernabei said. "In the past, the calls were coming here no matter what, and we wouldn't have had five telecommunicators in here."

He said the city had sent public services help, including chainsaws, to storm-affected areas.

Mike Skowera, longtime Standard fire chief who previously lost his home to a tornado, said there was a funnel cloud sighted that never touched down north of Standard. He said Cedar Point and Granville sent engines to Naplate to help, but Standard did not.

"We couldn't see stripping a whole county. Especially with more bad weather coming," Skowera said. "Basically, it'd just be us and Hennepin with extrication abilities."

Source: News Tribune


Friday, February 17, 2017

Hennepin Looks For Way to Say Good-Bye to Mosquitoes

Summer is right around the corner, and with summer comes those pesky mosquitoes.

The Village of Hennepin heard apresentation this week from Chris Novak of St. Charles-based Clarke Co., on a possible mosquito abatement program.

Novak talked to the board the different types of mosquito-borne diseases common to the area, including West Nile virus, and what they didn’t have to worry about — Zika, before explaining the Clarke program.

“We do what is called an integrated mosquito management program at Clarke. The first and foremost step is what I’m doing for you right now, and that’s education ... then we survey and we map and we make records so we know where our breeding sites are,” Clarke explained. “(Surveillance, trapping for mosquitoes, justifying our mosquito control ... and then the last things we do are called larval and adult control.”

Novak told the board either Clarke could come in and do all the steps for the board, or someone from the village — or working for several villages — could become licensed and do the applications.

While he was unable to tell board members an exact cost or number of times the village would have to treat per season, Novak estimated an initial cost for the village of $15,000 for all the equipment, then approximately $3,000-$4,000 per season for weekly or bi-monthly treatments.

Novak was asked about consequences to the environment, especially animals that feed on mosquitoes, because of the chemicals used to kill the mosquitoes.

“Non-targets are a very important thing. The mosquito control chemicals we use today are designed to control mosquitoes. That’s it. We are very conscious of non-target organisms,” Novak said.

Novak said when spraying, they only spray at night, they are able to turn the machine off in designated areas, especially near beehives or other areas of special need, and use an especially small amount of chemical compared to what was used in previous years.

The board took no action on the proposal.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, February 9, 2017

4 Key Points From the IVAC Year in Review

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
While enjoying bacon, eggs and coffee early Wednesday, local business and community leaders learned about the state of business in the Illinois Valley when Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce held its Year in Review Breakfast Seminar in Peru.

Executive director Joni Hunt said she had accomplished all the things she set out to do in 2016 and said if anyone had any questions to reach out to the chamber.

“I may not have the answer, but I have 350 people I can call and somebody is going to have that answer,” she said.

Here are four key things to take away from the breakfast.

No. 1: A new PR guide

Everyone at the breakfast received a copy of “Advantage,” the new public relations guide by IVAC. Hunt said 2,500 copies were in circulation with plans for more.

She said the magazine was, in part, the result of a tour of businesses in the region.

“The reason I did that was because I wanted to know what it was like to do business in the Illinois Valley,” Hunt said. “A consistent theme from that discussion was that some folks were having trouble with recruitment … We hope that this helps those folks achieve their goals.”

The guide includes information on housing, health care and recreation in the area, alongside information about economic development.

No. 2: By the numbers

Hunt reported that there were 22 ribbon cuttings in 2016.

“That’s more than we’ve had in the last five years combined,” she said.

IVAC also hosted 56 events in 2016 and expanded its social media presence, Hunt said.

“We have 30 percent increase in our Facebook followers,” she said. “It’s on our agenda every single day at IVAC.

Hunt also reported there had been six showings at the Hennepin steel plant and several offers submitted, but so far none had been successful.

No. 3: New Members

IVAC board president T.J. Templeton reported that the chamber now has 350 members.

“What does 350 members mean to the chamber?” he said. “It wasn’t that long ago that we were in the low 300s or maybe in the high 200s. We’ve come a long way since then.”

The chamber has grown by 58 members in fewer than two years, Templeton said.

Hunt said it was the achievement from 2016 that she was most proud of.

No. 4: Future Plans

The chamber plans to focus on leadership development in the coming year for its members, Hunt said. It would focus on creating new programs and enhancing the existing ones.

“We want to create a positive work in environment in the Illinois Valley. We want people excited about everyone’s success in here. It’s contagious,” she said. “When we have investors looking in our area and they can feel that positive energy … That’s how we win, that’s how we have an edge.”

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Stitch in Time

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
This is a story that started over 60 years ago in the tiny town of Hennepin. It began before the steel mill came to town. It began before there was a grocery store and four taverns. It began before the firehouse and the new bank.

Newlyweds Rosemary and Frank Biagi bought a little house on the west end of High Street before there was a street sign to indicate their address. When their daughter, Rosalie, was small, Rosemary would take her next door to Bessie Hollumbach’s house to visit, as neighbors did often during those times.

“She had a tiny little rocking chair for Rosalie, along with a small box containing sewing supplies,” Rosemary recalled.

During these visits, the three of them began to piece together a quilt topper, made from the scraps of various projects that Rosemary had sewn for Rosalie and then her younger daughter, Chris. Over time, the quilt grew larger and larger, but before it could be completed, Hollumbach became ill, and so the project was put aside.

It was packed away in a box, and on the rare occasion it was seen, Rosemary indicated her desire to finish it, but the demands of being a mother and wife left it as a low priority.

Decades passed and eventually Frank grew ill and died. Rosemary was left to live alone in their home. The kids had grown and married and moved on. Though they visited often, it eventually became apparent that Rosemary would no longer be comfortable living by herself, so Rosalie and her husband, Bill Calbow, offered to let her move in with them to their condo in Henry, a short distance away.

Fifty years of memories and belongings had accumulated in the house and the thought of moving it was overwhelming. Rosalie, who battles her own health issues, was unable to do it without help, so she hired a helper to help them sort through and move everything.

Throughout the next few months, the women would all gather at the house and take down boxes and sort through them in an attempt to downsize. Rosemary would sit on her bed as each box came down and would laugh and reminisce and tell stories of the dolls with the ratty hair, and the knick-knacks that were given to her by this person, or that person.

They even found her original wedding gown, complete with a long yellowed veil and her wedding shoes, with her silk stockings tucked neatly inside. There was bittersweet laughter and tears as she made decisions about what could go with her and what had to be discarded or donated.

When they came to the box with the quilt topper, it was decided that since it was unfinished, it wouldn’t be included in the move. The woman helping Rosemary asked if she could take it and see if one of her friends might be willing to finish it for Rosemary. Rosemary agreed.

The helper had no luck finding someone to finish the quilt but felt it had significance and much sentimentality. She attends Willow Springs Mennonite Church and had recently become more active in their Women’s Group, so she decided to approach the ladies and see if they would be willing to tackle the project.

Isabel Bitting, a longtime leader in the group, enthusiastically agreed to help.

She said, “It is so nice to have a project that means something. The quilts we make and donate to the Mennonite Relief Sale are beautiful, but this quilt will have meaning.”

As the women sorted through the various materials that could be used as a backing, Beth Gerig came across an ample piece, which by luck or fate contained the exact colors needed to compliment the hodgepodge, mismatched pattern on the front.

As a bonus, it also contained hearts and small roses to compliment Rosemary’s name and the love that was being put into the quilt. Bitting’s enthusiasm infected the entire church.

She announced one Sunday that the quilt was in the quilting room, and she would love for anyone to come down and put a few knots in the quilt. The list of contributors was long, and included young and old, women and even men. Visitors that Sunday made their way down so they could participate in this labor of love. As they knotted, there was conversation, laughter and much fellowship.

It didn’t take long for the quilt to be completed. Bitting gave the quilt to the helper with a tag reading, “Pieced by Rosemary Biagi in the early 1950s. Knotted and finished in 2016 by her friends at Willow Springs Mennonite Church.”

During this whole process, Rosemary had no idea what was going on. The helper and Rosalie conspired to present it to her when the family was gathering for their Christmas meal. The bag was given to her and her face lit up.

The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered around as she pointed to the different fabrics and told their stories.

“Remember this one Rosalie? I made those Raggedy Ann dolls for you and your sister with this red striped material,” she said.

“And how about this one? I made you that winter coat out of this black and white checked fabric,” she recalled.

Chris said later, “The quilt is stories and memories of life. Each small square has a story. From her favorite dress, to toys she made us. Mom sewed a lot. All of our dance dresses, graduation, etc. I feel the quilt is a memory of life.”

Rosalie said she sat with it on her lap for the rest of the day, remembering and passing on stories.

“I have rarely seen Mom speechless. She was so touched,” Rosalie said.

So a little church in Tiskilwa with a big heart, made a big difference to a happy little old lady they have never met, thanks to a vision, love, dedication, some giving hearts and a stitch — or hundreds — in time.

Source: Putnam County Record


Friday, February 3, 2017

Putnam County Historical Society Acquires One-Time Bar

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Putnam County Historical Society has added to its collection.

This time, instead of memorabilia of days gone by, the group has acquired what used to be SAMM’s Bar in Hennepin, turning the one-time bar into a meeting room, storage space and exhibit room.

“We’d been talking about building a new building, because we are out of storage space,” said Sid Whitaker, PC Historical Society president. “When this became available ... we thought, well this is a building that is already insulated, and the cost of doing renovations to it and the purchase price would be equivalent to building, insulating and servicing a brand new building for storage.”

The recent purchase of the building also gave the society a sense of continuity, as all of its current Hennepin properties — the Pulsifer House, and Ag Museum along with the new building — now sit in a row along Old Highway 26.

The building offers 900 square feet of meeting room, 1,300 square feet of display area, and almost 800 square feet of storage space, not to mention allowing the society to use parts of the Ag Museum, previously designated for meeting space, for displays.

“There are two separate bays (in the area that used to house the main bar) that would be good for independent display areas,” Whitaker said. “We’d like to use one of the bays at the front to have a rotating display of things from the individual villages (of PutnamCounty).”

The group is currently in the process of clearing out, and trying to sell, all the kitchen equipment, updating the HVAC and electrical systems, and making a plan for exhibit layout.

They also are trying to find out the history of the building, which, over the years, housed an implement dealership, a boat store, and multiple different bars.

“We’re hoping we’ll be able to be actually doing things with displays in April or May,” Whitaker said of the project’s timeline.

The group will host its quarterly meeting in the back space on Feb. 12, with a program on Abraham Lincoln presented by Randy Keller.

For more information, or if you can provide the society with information on the history of the building, contact them at (815) 925-7560, or visit their website at www.putnamcountyhistoricalsociety.org.

Source: News Tribune