Thursday, September 5, 2019

Hennepin Vocational Trade Grant Notice

VOCATIONAL-TRADE GRANTS ARE STILL AVAILABLE!

The Hennepin Village Grant and Scholarship Committee would like everyone to know that the deadline for the Hennepin Vocational-Trade Grant has been extended to September 15th.

There are two grants still available. Examples of Vocational or Trade programs are, but not limited to: Cosmetology, Nursing, Horticulture, Early Child Development, Truck Driving, Welding, Electrician, Plumber, Dental Hygienist, Computer Technician, etc.

Please check out the Scholarships & Grants page for guidelines and applications. You may also email villageclerk@mchsi.com or call the Village Hall at 815-925-7138 for more information.

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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Power Plant Site Could Be Redeveloped, But Coal-Burning Will End in 2019

Image credit: News Tribune
What’s next for coal-fired plant site, workers?

Coal appears to have no future in Hennepin.

Village, county and state leaders, along with displaced-worker assistance representatives, met Friday with the community relations team of Vistra Energy to learn more about company aims and plans in the retiring of the coal-fueled Hennepin power plant.

Caroline Atkins, manager of corporate affairs, and Brad Watson, senior director of community affairs for Vistra, outlined the background to the decision to close the plant and provided information as to the next steps.

Watson anticipates the plant being retired by the end of this calendar year.

Atkins emphasized Vistra’s present focus is the safe operation and decommissioning of the plant and assistance to company employees, considering the necessary transition they face.

She said they have retained the services of the outplacement firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. of Chicago to assist employees affected by the shutdown in finding jobs elsewhere. Watson said this will not be a group approach, but individualized guidance for each employee who wishes to take advantage of this service.

Furthermore, he said Vistra itself will assist employees with skill assessment, resume writing and developing interview skills; and for emerging entrepreneurs, the company will offer itself as a resource in the key elements of launching a business such as how to write a business plan. For the employee who decides to retire, they will assist them with that process also.

Additionally, Watson pointed out that Vistra is seeking to coordinate employee services with regional and local agencies, including Illinois WorkNet Center and BEST, Inc.

Regarding the plant itself, Atkins indicated that after the plant has been satisfactorily decommissioned, the company can look at what can be re-purposed, what remains as scrap, and how to best use the land — whether to sell or redevelop the site.

Though the decision to close the plant as a coal-fueled operation is final, Watson indicated that it is Vistra’s preference to redevelop the site as a solar and battery operation — which is doable at the Hennepin location. However, he said that could not happen without favorable action on the part of the state legislature on the Coal to Solar & Energy Storage Act of 2019. Without this, it would not be financially feasible for Vistra to make this investment.

Apart from this prospect, Vistra would consider whether the option existed for someone else to redevelop the sight — possibly selling the site to a liability transfer entity, thereby removing the asset from the company balance sheet.

Watson estimates an 80% reduction in tax liability once the plant has been retired.

According to Tamara Mehalic, Putnam County Supervisor of Assessments, Vistra’s 2018 tax bill for the plant and the immediate grounds upon which it rests totaled nearly $250,000.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Hennepin Board Hears Concern About Deer Eating Produce

Hennepin Village Board got a refresher on varmints and gun laws Wednesday.

Illinois Conservation Police officer Robert “Leo” Finn met with the Hennepin Village Board at the invitation of trustee Lynne Haage, and provided information about dealing with invasive wildlife, hunting and discharging a weapon for conservation purposes within the village.

This presentation came in response to an individual who is growing produce on farmland within the village who approached Finn, seeking remedy and relief due to the damage deer are causing to some of the crops.

Based on Finn’s information and recommendations, village attorney Sheryl Churney will take steps to review and revise relevant village ordinances as appropriate.

On another matter, Churney indicated that an opportunity may present itself soon to speak with the owner of the abandoned house at 511 E. Sycamore St., to yet seek a favorable resolution to the property’s neglect, before moving to its demolition.

Either way, she is ready to act and will update the board regarding this at its next meeting.

Village engineer Bill Shafer said work on the riverfront steps will begin soon — first across from the grocery store, then at the boat launch, followed by those at the riverfront park.

Source: News Tribune

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Vistra Energy Announces Closure of Hennepin Power Plant

Four coal-fueled sites in Illinois will be shut down to meet pollutant standards

Hennepin residents and the rest of Putnam County learned Wednesday that the 66-year-old Hennepin Power plant, operated by Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, will be closed, resulting in the loss of approximately 60 jobs.

If all goes according to plan, the 294-megawatt plant could cease operations by the end of the year.

According to the company's website, Vistra Energy and its subsidiaries have announced four coal-fueled electrical-generating plants, including Hennepin, will be retired in order to meet the requirements of the recently approved revisions to the Multi-Pollutant Standard (MPS) rule imposed by the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB).

Without this rule change, according to the release, the company's entire downstate fleet was at risk of near imminent retirement. The company will close the following plants in Illinois: the Hennepin Power Plant, the Coffeen Power Plant, the Duck Creek Power Plant in Canton, and the Havana Power Plant.

Approximately 300 jobs will be eliminated across the four plant sites. Vistra is providing outplacement services and working with state workforce agencies to assist the employees impacted by the closures.

"Even though today's retirement announcements were inevitable due to the changing regulatory environment and unfavorable economic conditions in the MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator) market, they are nonetheless difficult to make," Curt Morgan, Vistra's president and chief executive officer, said.

"By far, the hardest decisions we make in our business are those that significantly impact our people. As always, we will do right by those who are impacted by this announcement. Our employees take pride in the work they do, and we appreciate their decades of service providing reliable and affordable power to Illinois, particularly in years like this one with periods of extreme cold and heat," Morgan said.

The four plant retirements are required by the revised MPS rule, which regulates emissions at eight power plants operated by Vistra subsidiaries.

The revised rule, which also calls for a reduction in annual mass caps for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, requires the company to permanently shut down 2,000 megawatts of capacity from the eight MPS group of plants by the end of the year, pending approval by grid operators, MISO and PJM Interconnection, and approval of the termination of certain tariffs by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In addition, the revised rule requires adjustments of these annual caps as additional power plant units are shut down or transferred. As a result, the retirement of the four plants will further reduce annual allowable sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in the MPS group of plants, driving total allowable emissions down by 57 percent and 61 percent, respectively, from that allowed under the former MPS rule. While not explicitly required by the MPS, carbon dioxide emissions will also be significantly reduced by approximately 40 percent relative to 2018 levels.

The decision to retire the four plants resulted from a plant-by-plant analysis that evaluated several factors in making retirement decisions, including ensuring compliance with the new emissions caps set forth in the revised MPS rule, plant economics, federal energy regulations, and MISO market rules.

In addition, consideration was given to prioritize retirement of higher emitting plants as suggested by the IEPA and IPCB along with the other factors listed above that resulted in a balanced mix of higher and lower emitting plant retirements.

As part of the closure process, the company is filing the required notices with MISO, PJM, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If it's determined the units aren't needed for reliability, Vistra expects to cease operations at all four sites by the end of the year. The company will take the necessary steps to responsibly decommission the facilities in accordance with all federal and state regulations.

Mitigating the impact

Plant closures can have detrimental impacts to the communities in which they are located, the release stated, but Vistra stated it aims to mitigate this impact by growing its Illinois business with newer technologies.

To that end, the company stated it continues to strongly support legislation to provide a pathway to reinvest and repurpose its existing coal-fueled power plant sites into solar and battery energy storage facilities.

Vistra has a demonstrated a history of developing these new technologies in Texas and California and, through the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act of 2019, could do the same in Illinois.

This legislation would allow the company to reuse substantial transmission infrastructure and its existing footprint of available land at its coal-fueled power plants to develop renewable energy facilities, mitigating employment and property tax impacts to plant communities and helping Illinois meet its clean energy goals.

Vistra stated it is hopeful the Illinois General Assembly will take up the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act during its fall veto session.

Senator reacts to closure announcement

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, in a statement, said the closure will have a large impact on the small community, which is located in the 38th Senate District.

“The retirement of the Hennepin plant was something I had worked for several years to avoid,” Rezin said.

“This plant provides a huge economic benefit to the region, and while the news is sure to be devastating to the hard-working employees and their families, it is my hope that our area employers will have their backs so that they can continue to live, work and raise their families here.”

Plant's positive impact over the years

The Hennepin Power Plant has made donations to the community in the recent past.

In April, Luminant bought four bullet-proof vests for the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

At the start of 2018, plant manager Byron Veech presented a $1,000 donation to the Putnam County Food Pantry. Money raised by power plant employees was matched by the company and donated to the pantry.

At the end of 2016, the Hennepin Power Station donated $3,000 for instructional equipment for Illinois Valley Community College’s revitalized agriculture program.

In August 2015, Veech, representing the power plant, presented a $15,000 donation to the Putnam County EMS ambulance service to help fund new LifePak 15 cardiac monitors.

And the Hennepin plant received a top safety award this summer from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which gave the plant its Voluntary Protection Program Star Status certification.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Luminant’s Hennepin Power Plant Celebrates OSHA VPP Star Status

Image credit: Putnam County Record
Through a steadfast commitment to safety excellence, Luminant’s Hennepin Power Plant and its employees are proud recipients of OSHA’s prestigious safety award — the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Star Status certification.

Hennepin plant is the first coal plant in Luminant’s fleet and one of only a few coal plants in the entire U.S. to achieve OSHA VPP Star Status. The Hennepin plant team recently held a celebration event, featuring a VPP flag-raising ceremony and congratulatory remarks from company leaders and OSHA representatives. OSHA’s VPP program recognizes employers and workers who have implemented effective safety and health management systems, and maintain injury and illness rates below national Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for their respective industries. In total, 12 sites across Luminant’s fleet have been awarded OSHA’s VPP Star Status certification.

Attendees included: Hennepin plant employees and retirees; Byron Veech, Hennepin plant manager; Barry Boswell, Luminant senior vice president and chief fossil officer; Wayne Harris, Luminant regional vice president of coal operations; state Rep. Lance Yednock; representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and state Sen. Sue Rezin; and OSHA representative Candra Jefferson.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Follow the Rules on Golf Carts, County Sheriff’s Office Warns

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the citizens of Hennepin of a few of the rules concerning the operation of golf carts and UTVs within the village.

There have been several complaints recently concerning the number of passengers a golf cart can transport. A golf cart may carry only the number of passengers for which it was designed.

It should also be noted that only a licensed driver, 16 years of age or older, may operate such golf cart vehicles.

Any violations may result in the owner being fined.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Preschool Screenings to be Held on August 5

The LaSalle/Putnam County Educational Alliance for Special Education (LEASE) Cooperative and the Putnam County School District will offer a preschool screening on Monday, Aug. 5.

The screenings will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Putnam County Primary School in Granville. A parent must accompany their child to the screening.

Putnam County children who will be 3 years old on or before Aug. 5 are eligible for screening for fall enrollment. If a child turns 3 after this date, they will need to be screened at a different location after their third birthday.

The screening will cover small and large muscle development, speech, language, hearing, vision, cognition and social skills. Parents who have other developmental concerns about their child can discuss those during the parent interview. All Putnam County families with age-eligible preschoolers are encouraged to take advantage of this screening. The results of the screening will be used to determine eligibility for the early childhood program at PCPS. Students not eligible will be placed on a waiting list.

The preschool program (Preschool for All) is a state-funded grant program from the Illinois State Board of Education, and all rules and regulations are followed for the grant support. The preschool program offers developmentally appropriate experiences for young children to strengthen their skills for success later on in school. The program includes hands-on activities presented in a positive and encouraging learning environment.

To make an appointment for the preschool screening, call the school at 815-882-2800, option 5.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Hennepin Park District Will Host Free Pickleball 101 Workshops

The Hennepin Park District will soon host free Pickleball 101 workshops that will cover the basics of the game, the rules, player safety, apparel, hydration and equipment needs. After an orientation, there will be time for playing the game. There will be two sessions, one for adults and one for children.

There is a maximum number of 12 people per workshop. If demand is high enough, more workshops will be scheduled. The adult workshop will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 6. The children’s workshop will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 8. Paddles, balls and water will be provided. Court shoes must be worn; absolutely no flip-flops or sandals will be allowed.

To register or for more information, contact the Hennepin Park District at 815-925-7319 or by email to hennepinparkdistrict@mchsi.com.

Source: Putnam County Record

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