Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dixon Waterfowl Refuge Thrives With Help of Volunteers

Photo credit: Dave Cook
As farmers worked this past weekend to bring in their harvest and gardeners prepared their flower beds for next spring, there was another harvest occurring at the The Wetland Initiative’s Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Native seeds have been harvested at the 3,000-acre refuge since the restoration began in 2001 and the public was first invited to help in 2009. Each year since, the refuge has hosted a Fall Seed Harvest event.

“Both for staff and volunteers, the Fall Seed Harvest is one of the most popular and fun events of the year because it’s an easy and satisfying activity. It’s also beautiful to be walking through the prairie in autumn,” Vera Leopold of The Wetlands Initiative (TWI) said.

Before 2001, the land had been farmed and TWI began the area’s return to a natural habitat by disabling the drainage tiles. Within a few months the area filled with water supplied by rain, springs and natural seepage. As the landscape changed, native species began to return.

As the restoration progressed, they focused on nurturing the site’s native plants and stocking the lakes with fish. As the area recovered, some of the land was designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve.

Another sign of success occurred in 2004 when the Audubon Society designated the refuge as one of Illinois’ most important locations for birds. It also helped the Pied-billed Grebe population expand and it played an instrumental part in the species being removed from a threatened status.

Leopold said TWI targets approximately 15 species of native plants during the harvest, including prairie blazing star, compass plant, white wild indigo, pale purple coneflower, and oxeye daisy.

Some of the seeds are common plants which typically have ripe seeds at this time of year, but others are from rare species like the state-endangered royal catchfly, which has brilliant red flowers.

“The amount of seed collected from each species will vary depending on how well the plants did this year and how much of their seed has ripened. Timing is a really important factor in the harvest,” Leopold said.

Dozens of volunteers arrived at the site in the early morning of Oct. 7 and they had traveled from throughout the Illinois Valley to both appreciate the beauty of the refuge and to help restore a vital native habitat.

“I just love being out here at the wetlands and seeing all of the different species of ducks,” William Cattani of Ladd said. Cattani is currently studying wildlife habitat management at Southern Illinois University.

During the seed harvesting, a plant would be identified for the volunteers and then they moved through the area gathering the seeds into a bucket. TWI senior ecologist Gary Sullivan didn’t know how many seeds would be collected, but said it could be hundreds of pounds and that some of the seeds couldn’t be easily obtained anywhere else.

“We expect the seed collected by volunteers during the fall seed harvest will be able to cover roughly 200 acres. After the volunteer day, our site managers will clean the seed and sort it into mixes appropriate for each habitat,” Leopold said.

The seeds are planted where improvement is needed to strengthen the diversity or density of the plant community.

Since 2015, most of the seed collected has been spread at Hickory Hollow, the refuge’s newest parcel TWI is restoring to native prairie and savanna. The seeds have been a vital part of restoring the rare habitat which ranges from sand prairie and sand savanna to wet-mesic prairie.

“Having the volunteers’ help is valuable because buying native seed is expensive. During a typical harvest, a group of volunteers can collect up to $20,000 worth of seed. It allows us to collect a lot of seed from the natural ‘stock’ we have right here at the Dixon Refuge to improve habitats elsewhere on the site,” Leopold said.

In 2018, the Hickory Hollow area will open to the public and will feature trails through the entire range of restored habitats and will follow the same route as the Dixon Dash 5K which was held on Sept. 23. Hennepin & Hopper Lakes will also be open again for a summer public fishing season by permit in 2018.

Each species of native prairie plant which takes root at the refuge helps attract the insects relying on it.

“Every additional species we introduce provides more food for insects, which in turn provide food for other wildlife. A prairie that has a healthy diversity of plant species will also provide a home to a huge variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, bees, butterflies, and more,” Leopold said.

She added that most of the refuge is now covered in a high-quality habitat which has been of crucial help in attracting the 675 species of plants and animals tallied during TWI’s first 24-hour BioBlitz held in June 2015.

“We’ll be holding another BioBlitz in the summer of 2018 and people can join us to help survey all the wildlife found at the refuge,” said Leopold.

For more information on the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge and TWI, visit www.wetlands-initiative.org.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hennepin Street Program Update

Please view the PDF below regarding updates to the Hennepin Street Program.

2017 Hennepin Street Program Update

Thank you.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Congratulatory Letter From Adam Kinzinger

Please click the link below to view the congratulatory letter from Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Congress Representative, regarding the Village's recent bicentennial celebration.

What an honor and an achievement!

Letter From Adam Kinzinger

Thank you, Representative Kinzinger!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Hennepin Celebrates 200 Years

Hennepin celebrated its Bicentennial this past weekend and fun was had by all! Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of the News Tribune.


Roger Bolin of Boyle & Bolin, Attorneys At Law presented on the life of Williamson Durley on Saturday at the cemetery walk. The walk was sponsored by the Putnam County Historical Society for Hennepin's bicentennial.


Terry Judd (right) was one of the guides for the cemetery walk on Saturday at Riverside Cemetery. The walk, sponsored by the Putnam County Historical Society, gave insight into the lives of some of those buried in the cemetery.


Members of the Theatiki Fife and Drum Corps were a part of the parade Saturday for Hennepin’s bicentennial. The group is dedicated to the preservation of 18th century music.


Members of CPASA, Community Partners Against Substance Abuse, were part of the parade Saturday at Hennepin’s bicentennial. The organization has members from Bureau and Putnam counties with the overall vision of working together to help the youth stay healthy, safe and substance free. CPASA won the judge’s choice award for the parade.


A participant on Putnam County Rotary’s float in Hennepin’s bicentennial parade smiles. On Saturday, Rotary won the best-themed category in Hennepin’s bicentennial celebration.


Members of the Putnam County Panteras and Putnam County High School Cheerleaders participated in the parade Saturday for Hennepin’s bicentennial. Pictured are Jennifer Alvarado (left), Madi Brannon, Madi Keegan, Paige Zellmer and Blair Stillwell.

Source: News Tribune

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Leaf Burning Guidelines

Hennepin residents, please be advised of the following leaf burning guidelines:

  • Burning allowed any day of the week from 10:00 a.m. to dusk
  • No burning allowed within 24 hours of ½ inch of precipitation
  • Fires must be extinguished with no smoldering
  • The Street Department will NOT pick up bagged leaves or branches

Thank you!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Hennepin

1915 Harvest Home Celebration
As Hennepin prepares for festivities during its bicentennial celebration this weekend, event organizers planned a number of modern-day activities as well as history-based programs.

The weekend wraps up with cruises on a paddlewheel riverboat. Showboat cruises once were a big attraction at Hennepin.

Here are seven other things you might not know about the village.

1. Hennepin predates Illinois

Illinois became a state in 1818 with 34,620 residents. Kaskaskia was the capital, and most people lived toward the south along forested areas and rivers.

Hennepin celebrated its birth in 1817 with the creation of a trading post on the northern side of where the current village is. It’s presumed to be the first non-native building in Putnam County.

2. Hennepin holds the oldest working courthouse in Illinois

Putnam County’s courthouse in Hennepin is the oldest courthouse in use in Illinois. The structure was built in 1839 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Dixon Waterfowl Refuge offers similar views to what early Hennepin settlers saw

On Saturday, Sept. 23 people will be able to take part in a 5k walk/run at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge in Hennepin that looks similar to what would have been there naturally at the time Hennepin was settled with backwater lakes, marshes, seeps, wet and dry prairie, savanna and forest, among other habitats.

Suzanne Wagner of The Wetlands Initiative said the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge isn’t exactly the way the land would have been when people settled Hennepin because there’s a levee now, but the habitats are similar to what the land looked like in the early 1800s.

The Hennepin and Hopper Lakes, south of Hennepin, were drained for farming for most of the 20th century, according to the Initiative. In 2001, the Initiative turned off the drainage pump. The refuge is now a 3,000-acre natural area open 365 days a year to the public.
Seven things you might not know about Hennepin

Pictured is the Harvest Home celebration in 1915 in front of the Hennepin United Methodist Church. The celebration has been going on for 105 years and will be celebrated in conjunction with the Village of Hennepin’s bicentennial celebration this year.

4. There’s someone buried as far back as 1832 in Riverside Cemetery

There are some interesting people buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Hennepin, and you can see their graves and hear their stories during the bicentennial celebration.

The Putnam County Historical Society is going to put on a cemetery walk in Riverside cemetery in Hennepin from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23.

Bicentennial committee member Teresa Clausen said some of the people you’ll learn about are:

Elijah Philips was murdered in 1832 when he was 16. He was killed 16 miles northwest of Hennepin by Native Americans. The story is he left Hennepin to look after cattle, and arrived in present-day Bureau County at a place called Ament’s Cabin. There was a sugar grove next to the cabin that had been sacred to the Native Americans.

He was shot twice and then the Native Americans used tomahawks to kill him.

Williamson Durley lived from 1810 to 1901. He and his brother Madison were outspoken advocates of ending slavery. Abraham Lincoln knew of the Durleys’ and asked for their support to win a seat in Congress. The Durleys are ancestors of Walter Durley Boyle, who was Illinois’ longest-serving state’s attorney and still was practicing law until his death at age 94 in 2008. In the Jan. 21, 2006, NewsTribune, A “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” comic ran that depicted Walter Durley Boyle’s 40 years as Putnam County’s state’s attorney and included a sketched likeness.

David Deck was born in 1848 and came to Hennepin in 1852. He ran away to join the Union Army in 1864. He fought in several battles, including one with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman when Atlanta was captured.

5. Harvest Home celebration has been going on for more than 100 years

The bicentennial is being celebrated this year in conjunction with Harvest Home, which has occurred in Hennepin for more than 100 years. It’s normally held on the third Saturday of September.

The Hennepin Methodist Church is sponsoring a Harvest Home chicken dinner this year on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Sandy Hrasch, a volunteer with the church, said Harvest Home celebrates the fall harvest. She said it’s been a tradition for 105 years that has always included a chicken dinner and is about thanking God for a bountiful harvest.

6. The logo for the bicentennial was created by a former fourth grade student

Last school year, the bicentennial committee chose the design of Isabelle Brown of Magnolia for the logo. The contest had been open to fourth-grade students of Putnam County Elementary. The students had been doing a unit on local Putnam County history.

7. There are no “West” streets in Hennepin

West Hennepin originally had been plotted across the Illinois River, said bicentennial committee member Quentin Buffington. He learned about this through looking at maps and talking with people through the years. Almost 90 years ago, before the lock and dam system, the Illinois River often was much lower, and there was a ferry that transported people across to west and east Hennepin. So, Hennepin has East Court Street, East High Street but no West versions of those streets.

Source: News Tribune

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Putnam County EMA Awarded $25,000

Putnam County Emergency Management Agency will be able to better protect its citizens and businesses after receiving a grant for $24,998 from the Illinois EMA.

On Monday the state awarded $500,000 in grants to 32 county EMAs, according to a press release.

The grant will be used for the emergency operations center — a part of the agency — to purchase new laptops, a cellphone booster to help improve service, a videoconferencing system, a new printer and shredder, a whiteboard, filing cabinets and training tables, said Putnam County EMA assistant coordinator Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer.

She said their agency is the support function when it comes to helping first responders in Putnam County. The agency helps get first responders the equipment and resources they need.

The county will have to spend the money and get reimbursed, but she expects the money to be reimbursed quickly.

A press release 47 agencies submitted grant applications with priority given to counties with the greatest need.

To be considered for a grant, the EMA agency had to be compliant with National Incident Management System requirements, have a current and approved emergency operations plan and have a functional emergency operations center. Putnam County’s center occupies the former United Steel Workers union hall on old 26.

The Illinois EMA is responsible for preparing Illinois for natural, manmade and technological disasters, hazards or acts of terrorism.

“It’s something amazing for this county,” she said. “Without this grant, we would not be able to purchase this equipment.”

Search Putnam County Illinois EMA on Facebook to keep updated.

Source: News Tribune

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Board Asks for Breakdown of Bids for Salt Storage Shed and Foundation

The construction of the new Putnam County (PC) salt storage shed has been tabled by the county board until the itemized bids for its planned concrete work are reviewed.

PC highway engineer Pat Sloan said the old shed in Hennepin, which he estimated was in excess of 50 years old, suffered severe storm damage earlier in the year, and its demolition was recently completed.

The county only received two bids for the concrete foundation work, the lowest at approximately $54,000. Board member Luke Holly questioned why there were only two bids and suggested the county find a way to increase the amount of bidders for future projects. He said only receiving two to three bids per project has become typical.

“I think for this amount we should re-bid,” Holly said.

After the board failed to make a motion to approve the existing bid, discussion began about the possibility of re-bidding the work. Sloan said it was getting late in the year; that re-bidding wouldn’t likely result in a lower bid; and added for the work required, which includes a reinforced, 8-foot thick floor and 1-foot thick walls capable of withstanding 100 mph winds, the bid seemed reasonable.

Rather than delaying the job with the proper, yet lengthy re-bidding procedures, PC Board Chairman Steve Malavolti suggested the board review the bids in an itemized format, so they could see the line by line costs involved. The board then approved the tabling of the discussion until its next meeting.

Sloan said the low responsible bid for the building portion of the project was approximately $30,000, and the costs were reduced by the design work being completed in-house by structural engineers.

Two remaining road projects which are scheduled for completion soon are repairs to the McNabb blacktop and work to correct the areas of Bottom Road which get washed over during heavy rains.

Source: Putnam County Record

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