Friday, May 20, 2016

New Yard Waste Guidelines in Place

New yard waste guidelines are now in place. A site has been constructed at the south end of 2nd Street for Hennepin residents to deposit their yard waste (grass clippings and weeds) and tree trimmings (branches and twigs). All residents are asked to take care of their own yard waste and tree trimmings by depositing them at the site. The Street Department will continue to pick up limited amounts of debris from resident’s homes if they are deemed unable to move the debris themselves.

The Village requests that residents put their yard waste to the back of the containment to allow the area to fill up from back to front. This site is under video surveillance and citations will be issued promptly to anyone abusing the area by dumping restricted items.

  • No yard waste in plastic bags is permitted at the site.
  • Branches must be no longer than four feet.
  • In addition, this site is not intended for a dumping site for entire trees. Residents are responsible for hiring a tree service for removal of trees. The site is intended for smaller fallen branches or pruned branches only.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Hennepin Village Board of Trustees


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New PCHS Principal and Assistant Principal Announced

The Putnam County CUSD 535 Board of Education has announced the hiring of Clayton Theisinger as the new PCHS principal for the 2016-17 school year. Theisinger is currently serving as an administrator at L-P Township High School.

Chris Newsome was also hired as the new assistant principal/athletic director at PCHS for the 2016-17 school year. He is currently serving as the technology director for Putnam County schools.

Source: Putnam County Record


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hennepin Awards Pair of Four Year Scholarships

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Hennepin Village board awarded the Adam and Ida Deck scholarship Nos. 91 and 92 Wednesday night at the board meeting, helping two more seniors from Hennepin and Hennepin Township attended college.

The Deck Scholarship, which started in 1974, gives $1,200 a year for first place and $1,000 a year for second, for four years to students, based on scholastic ability.

This year first place went to Lauren Bauer of rural Hennepin and second place was awarded to Ryan Friel of Hennepin.

Both Bauer and Friel will attend Iowa State University next year, with Bauer majoring in business management and Friel majoring in public relations.

The board also donated to local groups and charities, including $150 to the PC Community Center, $100 to the Special Olympics, $100 to American Red Cross, and $100 to the Marshall Putnam Fair Pageant.

The board also will donate $1,100 to Putnam County Educational Foundation on behalf of the Citizen of the Year.

The name of the citizen has not yet been announced.

Source: News Tribune


Superintendent McCracken Named ‘Superintendent of Distinction'

Jay K. McCracken, superintendent of Putnam County Community Unit School District 535 in Granville, has been named the 2016 Superintendent of Distinction by his colleagues in the Starved Rock Region of the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA).

McCracken will be honored at an awards luncheon April 21 in Springfield. State Superintendent Dr. Tony Smith is the featured speaker at the luncheon that will honor 21 IASA regional Superintendents of Distinction.

“I am honored to be nominated by my fellow superintendents, as they are a phenomenal group of dedicated professionals! The support among our Starved Rock IASA membership has helped all of us become more successful in meeting the ever-changing needs of our students,” said McCracken, who has been an educator 39 years, serving as a teacher, coordinator of professional development and dean of students before being named superintendent in Putnam County in 2008-2009.

Those nominating McCracken noted several accomplishments, including:

    -Implementation of a 1:1 technology program using Chromebooks for all students in grades 5-12 and classroom Chromebooks in grades 3 and 4.
    -Reactivation of the Educational Program Improvement Council (EPIC) to ensure cohesive curriculum decisions as well as utilizing Illinois Virtual School to allow students advanced courses that otherwise would not be available in a small- to medium-sized school district.
    -Implementation of PC College Start, a partnership program with Illinois Valley Community College that provides an opportunity for students to potentially earn an Associate’s Degree while attending Putnam County High School.
    -Commitment to Rising Star, a program dedicated to continuous improvement that includes school improvement measures and focused action items.
    -Use of Response to Intervention coaches in each building to help teachers provide focused support for students that need help in certain academic areas. Also, implementation of the PC Paws behavior management program that focuses on students’ social emotional learning.
    -A PC mentoring program that provides real support for new teachers. Regular times are embedded in the schedule for mentoring and teachers are paid for additional hours needed to implement the program with integrity. Professional development opportunities for all teachers and staff include early dismissal twice a month for internal professional development and staff is regularly sent for targeted training.

“Public education is facing some of its most difficult times, and that is when leadership is most important. These ‘Superintendents of Distinction’ were selected by their peers in their regions because of the dedication, commitment and leadership that they have demonstrated,” said IASA Executive Director Dr. Brent Clark.

The second annual awards luncheon is again being sponsored by Horace Mann, one of the nation’s largest insurers focusing on the needs of educators.

“Each year, educators face growing challenges, and this year is no exception. Despite those challenges, superintendents constantly find ways to make their school districts successful,” said Marita Zuraitis, Horace Mann President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are proud to recognize the ‘Superintendents of Distinction’ and applaud their efforts to provide outstanding educational environments for their students and their teachers.”

McCracken achieved his Bachelor of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University, his Master’s Degree from Aurora University, and his Superintendent’s Endorsement from Western Illinois University. He and his wife, Kimberley, have a daughter, Megan Rolfs (husband Brian) and two grandsons, Gavin and Aiden Rolfs.

Source: Putnam County CUSD 535


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PC Board Decides no Further Hearings Needed for Hog Farm Expansion

After reviewing the plans, confirming with the Farm Bureau there were no issues or complaints, and a discussion with family hog farm owner Darren Brown, the Putnam County Board decided Monday, April 11, no further hearings were needed concerning an expansion of Brown’s farm.

Brown is planning on constructing an additional building adjacent to his existing facility and said he has met the requirements from the Department of Agriculture.

Brown said, “I was hoping in the future to do an expansion, but what really got me going quicker was that I have six kids. My daughter, who is a senior this year, has told me she wants to attend a community college and come back to work on the farm and with our livestock, and I want to do what I can to keep our kids interested in farming. She’ll help manage it, and she loves our animals. It’s great to see. The Department of Agriculture is very strict with what you’re doing and with your plans. We want to add to the value of the community, and we have taken the extra steps to make sure it will give the best impression to those passing our farm.”

Brown has an arrangement with a neighboring farm to dispose of the waste and says his nutrient management plan can be fulfilled on his own property if needed.

Putnam County Board Chairman Duane Calbow said, “You’ve met all the requirements and the State’s Attorney and Farm Bureau have reviewed the plan and we appreciate you being here to answer our questions. It’s good it’s a family thing, Putnam County is highly agricultural, and we have a hard time keeping our children here. This is a way for a family to stay together and help the community.”

Source: Putnam County Record


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rare Whooping Cranes Use Area Wetland as Migration Layover

Image courtesy of The Wetlands Initiative
Five whooping cranes, from an endangered North American population of about 600, made a migration stop this week at the Hennepin and Hopper Lakes in the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

It created a buzz Wednesday in the Chicago office of The Wetlands Initiative, the owner and manager of this Illinois River wetland.

Gary Sullivan, senior ecologist with The Wetlands Initiative, said there are few modern records of whooping cranes stopping in Illinois.

“They have not been observed many places in the state,” Sullivan said. Admitting he might be biased, the refuge and its habitat must have some attraction to these birds, he said.

To protect the five birds, The Wetlands Initiative decided Wednesday afternoon to close the interior of the refuge to the public. The access road and parking lot near the observation tower remains open and the entire refuge will be reopened once the birds leave, Sullivan said.

For the past two weeks, Nebraska officials closed off a wildlife area to the public to protect three whooping cranes that stopped there. The area was reopened this week after the cranes resumed their northward migration, according to news reports.

One whooping crane, a female, stopped at the Dixon refuge several years ago, Sullivan said. It was tracked by biologists as it migrated to Canada but it died after hitting a power line, he said.

The tall, white birds’ historic breeding range once included the prairie wetlands of the Midwest, Sullivan said. After human settlement of the continent, whooping cranes declined from shooting and from destruction of habitat by agriculture, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By 1941, the wild flock was down to 15. In 1970 it was listed as endangered and conservation efforts brought the number of wild whooping cranes back to 383 in 2010. The only self-sustaining wild population nests in Canada and winters on coastal Texas. The eastern population, which once nested in the Midwest and wintered in Louisiana, went extinct.

For the last 15 years, Operation Migration tried reestablishing the eastern population with hand-reared whooping cranes, each fall coaxing them from Wisconsin to Florida with an ultralight airplane. Wildly popular with the public, this program was shut down this winter by federal wildlife officials who said it was not producing self-sustaining breeding birds and that less human interaction is needed. Since 2001, the program released nearly 250 whooping cranes. From this, only four wild-fledged cranes survive today, the service said.

The closely-related sandhill crane, which is brownish-gray, is more common and abundant than whooping cranes and nests throughout the Midwest.

Source: News Tribune


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hennepin & Hopper Fishing Opens May 15

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The fishing season will be May 15 through Sept. 5 at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes in The Wetlands Initiative's Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Anglers caught 3,606 bass and 778 northern pike during a special 24-day fishing season last fall, the first fishing allowed there since 2009. Hennepin and Hopper Lakes was closed to fishing in 2009 so that The Wetlands Initiative and Illinois Department of Natural Resources could reduce numbers of common carp and stock the lakes with native fish. Re-infestation of carp, not native to North America, scratched a plan to reopen it in 2012.

Only fish of the following species may be kept and all other species must be released:

Minimum sizes and number limits:
Bluegills, pumpkinseeds — Any size, no limit.
Crappies, any type — 9 inches, 20 fish.
Largemouth bass — 15 inches, three fish.
Walleye — 18 inches, three fish.
Muskellunge — 42 inches, one fish.
Northern pike — 24 inches, three fish.
Channel catfish — Any size, six fish.

The refuge is private property and public fishing is allowed by The Wetlands Initiative under these rules and regulations:

    Closed Mondays except Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.
    There is no charge to fish but a permit is required. Permit applications will be available at the kiosk by the boat launch beginning May 15. Permits issued individuals cover all immediate family members listed on the application.
    All state fishing regulations apply. A valid state of Illinois sport fishing license is required for anglers over age 16 unless legally declared blind or disabled. Catches may be checked by Illinois DNR and state fines assessed for violations.
    Fishermen may be checked for bait, creel limits and state and site regulations. Those who do not comply with inspections will be deemed guilty by default. Violators will have their permit revoked for the season and an application for a new permit will be considered by The Wetlands Initiative.
    Men, women and children fish at their own risk. Children under 12 may not fish unless under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
    A logbook will be kept at the kiosk by the boat launch. All permitted anglers are required to enter their name, permit number and date and time prior to leaving the boat launch dock to fish. After fishing, all anglers are required to enter the number of each species caught, sizes and number of each species kept or released.
    No animals of any kind, other than game fish, are to be taken at any time.
    No gas-powered motors are allowed even if raised out of the water. Only electric trolling motors are allowed.
    Fishing will be allowed from boats only. No shore fishing is allowed.
    No live bait is allowed except for red worms, wax worms, and night crawlers. No minnows, crawfish, leeches, cut bait, and no other live baits, are allowed.
    Fishing is allowed from sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.
    Fishing is allowed only within the designated fishing zone. The fishing zone encompasses all of the lakes south of the buoys extending west from the boat launch to the western shore of the lakes and ending at the buoys in the southern portion of the lakes. See the map.
    No littering is allowed. No garbage cans are on the premises; whatever you bring in must be packed out.
    The parking lot by the boat launch is limited to 40 vehicle and boat trailer units on a first-come, first-served basis. When the boat launch parking lot is full no more boats will be allowed onto the lakes for fishing.
    No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the lakes at any time.
    Fishing may be closed at the discretion of The Wetlands Initiative Dixon Refuge site manager. The site manager is the final authority on all decisions.
    For information call The Wetlands Initiative at (312) 922-0777 or email at

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hennepin Librarian Needs Help Getting Her Original Lego Design Produced

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
Local librarian Paula Taylor is an avid Lego aficionado. Having previously completed many impressive builds, she decided last year to build a creation of her own design.

An interesting option for Lego enthusiasts is the company offers builders a chance to see their original designs become mass produced. It’s no easy task, but with the support of friends, family, fellow builders and, hopefully, the residents of Putnam County, there’s a chance Taylor will succeed on her first attempt.

Being a librarian, Taylor found her inspiration in philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s favorite and best known work — libraries. With the massive fortune from his steel empire, Carnegie used much of his wealth to build more than 2,500 public libraries from 1881 until his death in 1919.

“I drew inspiration from two different Carnegie libraries, each with its own architectural details that I liked, like the cornerstones, pillars and window configuration. I also wanted to include things you’d find in a modern library because libraries have evolved a lot,” said Taylor.

Taylor’s Carnegie style library is built on a 32x32 inch base plate and is constructed from more than 1,600 pieces. From the concept to the completed project, Taylor spent a year constructing her creation. Full of details, the little library is an accurate rendition inside and out.

The grounds are landscaped and feature a fountain, flowers, flag, bench, tree, trash can (with a banana inside) and patrons. Going inside through the double glass doors, the accuracy continues.

Book shelves, computer terminals, meeting room, book drop, snack kiosk with coffee, reading lamp, tables, chairs, clock, newspapers and of course, librarians and patrons, are all details which you’d find in any library. There’s one more simple creative detail that sets this design apart and endears itself to anyone who knows and loves libraries; Dewey, the famous library cat.

Dewey, for those unaware of his story, was a stray kitten who was found almost frozen to death on the coldest morning of the year inside the overnight book drop by a librarian in Spencer, Iowa. The librarians decided to keep him and named him in honor of the Dewey decimal system. He soon became a beloved fixture of the town and library. His story brought him worldwide fame and he’s been featured in a documentary and several books. In Taylor’s library, he’s upstairs and appears to be preparing to make the leap onto the top of the bookshelves.

The program Taylor has submitted her creation to is called Lego Ideas. It can be found online at With a few simple steps, viewers are able to officially support her project. She has one year from submission to receive 1,000 supporters. Once that goal is met, Taylor will receive an additional six months to reach 5,000 supporters. Reaching that goal will earn another six months to reach to ultimate goal of 10,000. Once projects reach that level, the project is considered for production.

If selected, Taylor would give input to the professional Lego designers, whose job it is to create the final set based on the original build. Once complete, it would go to the factory and then be shipped around the world and released for sale. Taylor would be featured in set materials, receive royalties on sales and receive recognition as the product creator. Supporters will be able to own the Lego set they helped make happen on Lego Ideas.

“If it doesn’t reach the goals, I’ll be OK, it’s my first project,” said Taylor.

She’s already preparing for her next build, but offered no clues as to what it will be.

“I’m going to take a different approach though. With this one I bought a multi-colored kit and just started building. I ordered as need be, whereas with this next one I’m graphing it out on graph paper so I’ll know exactly how many pieces will be in it,” said Taylor.

Currently, Taylor has 117 supporters and 345 days left to gather her supporters. If everyone within Putnam County lends her their support, Taylor will have secured a good portion of what she needs to succeed in sharing her appreciation of both libraries and Legos.

Source: Putnam County Record