Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rep. Andy Skoog to Hear Concerns

Attention Hennepin residents:

Rep. Andy Skoog will be in Hennepin on February 2. He will be at the Village Hall at 10:30 AM and would like to meet with the residents of Hennepin to hear their concerns about the district and the state.

Thank you!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Getting Old Records From Putnam County Will Get Easier

Getting old records from the Putnam County Circuit Clerk is about to get a little bit easier.

Circuit Clerk Cathy Oliveri got approval from the board Monday night to allow Family Search to digitally scan all of the old records in her office for search on their website.

The circuit clerk’s office, as well as Putnam County Historical Society would get a digital copy of the records.

While the entire copy cannot be placed online or given to an individual, per the agreement, it will help with searching for specific records, which can then be printed by the circuit clerk’s office if requested.

Currently, searching for a specific record can take a private citizen as long as a day to find, during which time an employee from the office has to stay with the record.

This digital imaging will alleviate that time, Oliveri said.

Family Search is an international genealogical organization run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other news:

* A resolution for a culvert replacement in Magnolia Township that will cost the county approximately $25,000 passed, as well as resolutions for state gasoline tax-funded maintenance and MFT funds for the county engineer’s salary, as required by Illinois Department of Transportation.

* Judd Construction of Hennepin won the bid for the EMA building roof replacement for $23,850.

* Matthew Holmbeck of Hennepin was appointed to Putnam County Zoning Board of Appeals for a three-year term.

Source: News Tribune


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Warm Weather Holds Down Christmas Bird Count Stats

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
There were a couple surprises but the area’s three Christmas Bird Counts this season were fairly mediocre thanks to El NiƱo.

“The counts have been pretty slow this year because the weather’s just been too mild,” said John McKee, Starved Rock Audubon Society member from Ottawa.

“There’s been nothing to concentrate the birds, nothing frozen, no snow cover,” McKee said. “In general the total number of birds was down, especially the woodland birds. They were scattered out and hard to find.”

McKee joined other bird watchers in the Dec. 17 count at Hennepin, the Dec. 20 count at Starved Rock and the Jan. 1 count at Illini State Park.

“Eagle numbers of course are low because it’s been so mild. They haven’t been pushed down from up north,” he said. “In all accounts it seems like owls are getting harder to find.”
Hennepin logged a little more than 60 species, about average, he said.

“The most unusual find on the count was a palm warbler which, considering the weather was not a huge surprise, but it was the first time we ever found one on a Christmas count,” McKee said.

Other Hennepin birds included an eastern phoebe and 15 swans, including one trumpeter swan.

“We did have a pretty decent list of ducks and that’s what got our numbers up,” McKee said. “We had no mourning doves on the Hennepin count. I don’t think I’ve ever done a count where we didn’t find a mourning dove.”

At Starved Rock, counters found pelicans, sandhill cranes and a shrike. Total species were average, in the 50s, McKee said. At Illini State Park, counters found a black scoter (a duck) and eight turkey vultures that should have migrated south.

“That’s another sign of a mild winter,” McKee said. “They are undoubtedly finding dead deer out there and managing to survive just fine without going south.”

The National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Counts are held Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 to assess bird populations and guide conservation efforts.

Within a 15-mile diameter circle, birdwatchers count and record all birds and species they can find on one day. This year the society logged 541 counts and counted more than 15 million birds. The first count was held Christmas Day, 1900 as an alternative to the holiday sport of shooting birds.

Source: News Tribune


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

First Woman State's Attorney Reflects on First Year

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Christina (Judd) Mennie marked a milestone Dec. 17 in her career as an attorney, as well as making history in Putnam County, serving as the first female state’s attorney in the county for one year. Mennie took over the office after Jim Mack was elected to the 10th District Judicial seat in 2014.

The NewsTribune sat down with Mennie to discuss her first year in office, as well as her 2016 bid for election.

NT: What made you decide to accept the job of state’s attorney after it was offered by the county board?
CJM: The fact that the county needed someone to fill a vacant seat was a big part of it. I was approached by several people asking me to consider it and although it was hard closing my practice, I wanted to serve the county in the best way possible.
This County is my home so it all made sense.

NT: What has been your biggest learning curve so far when it comes to prosecuting instead of defending?
CJM: I think that being a defense attorney actually helped me. I thought it was going to be hard to transition, but I feel that it has actually given me a broader spectrum and the ability to look at both sides of the case in an objective way.

NT: I know you had some fears about taking it. Have any of those issues come up? If so, how have you dealt with them?
CJM: Since I grew up here, I am fortunate to know just about everyone. I was initially worried how that would play out, but it has worked out. In this line of work, people are going to be unhappy due to the circumstances they find themselves in once in a courtroom setting. I deal with that by following the law and working with people as best as the law will allow. My main goal is to do what is best for our county.

NT: What are some of the things you have done as state’s attorney that you are most proud of?
CJM: I have had several large prison sentences imposed. The majority of those sentences have been drug-based offenses. Because of that, I have begun looking into programs that target drugs in our area. These programs take some time to get off the ground. Since I have only been in office a year, I haven’t had sufficient time to get those programs fully implemented, but I am hopeful that the county will see the job I have done thus far and grant me that opportunity next November.

NT: What made you decide to run for office in 2016?
CJM: I really love my job and this county.
I am lucky to have great staff and courthouse personnel that help effectively run this office. We also have an efficient county board who are working very hard to make ends meet through this financial crisis in our state. In addition, I’m lucky to have a great working relationship with an outstanding police force that does an excellent job bringing me solid cases. All of those things were factors in the decision.

NT: What is one piece of advice you would give to someone coming to court?
CJM: Show up! I am amazed by people who do not show for their court dates. I am sure it is either intimidating or not the thing you want to be doing that day, but if you are not there, a warrant for your arrest will be issued. We work with people so stay in contact with the office and attend your court dates.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The U of I Extension Shares Focus of Programs with PC Board

The Putnam County Board meeting held Monday, Dec. 14, consisted largely of representatives from the University of Illinois Extension office sharing the focus and impact of the office’s programs.

Despite the difficulties in Springfield and the inability to find a way to move the governmental process forward, the Extension programs within the local area were a success. However, Jill Guynn, county director for the local Extension office, shared concerns about the future of their own budget.

“As of July, our funding has been suspended along with many others because of the state budget. We’re operating on our emergency line right now and, as everyone is, are looking forward to having the state budget resolved and being able to get back to normal operations,” said Guynn.

Susan Glassman, nutrition and wellness educator, discussed the success of the series of three programs held at the Putnam County Community Center in Standard which educated residents about healthy eating. She also shared statistics about the percentages of residents who have diabetes and heart disease.

Breanne Suarez, 4-H and youth development educator, discussed the successes of the various programs held within local schools, including the robotics club, gardening, health and wellness, and programs which showed students the many different careers available within the health care field.

Daryle Wragge, ag and natural resources program coordinator, discussed the numerous programs available to the local ag industry, the benefits they provide, how they help highlight environmental damages caused in part by agricultural practices, and how to effectively change them.

“When you see a dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi river down in Louisiana that is half the size of Rhode Island, where nothing is growing, no plant life, no fish, no crayfish, no mussels, there’s nothing ... when you see things like this happening ... OK, why? Draining, we’re draining our nitrates that aren’t used in our soil up here, in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana. This we bring, not only just from commercial and industrial bases, but from agriculture. Some of these are going down river and causing a massive problem down there, and agriculture needs to definitely be aware of it,” said Wragge.

In other news:

• Jim Burger, county zoning officer, spoke to the board about zoning issues and proper permit procedures regarding home improvements at Lake Thunderbird.

• The board also approved the ambulance service contract between the county and the McNabb Fire Protection District, which will span from Dec. 1, 2015, through Nov. 30, 2016. The details of the contract were unchanged from the previous contract.

Source: Putnam County Record


Village Seeks to Replace 30-Year-Old Truck

During the Hennepin Village Board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 16, the board approved a tax levy ordinance. This levy will raise taxes 5 percent, minimum, according to village president Kevin Coleman. This will increase revenue by an estimated $4,020 over the year. It was figured by using an average value of $100,000 for the approximately 300 homes in Hennepin, which works out to an increase of roughly $15 per home, according to Coleman.

Putnam County deputy Josh Randall shared information about Henry’s electronic miles per hour sign and the benefits Hennepin could obtain by having one within the village. According to Randall, the signs not only help promote safer driving, but also track information regarding traffic patterns. Maintained by the public works department, Randall believed the signs cost between $2,000 to $4,000.

The board discussed the need to replace the village’s 30-year-old International dump truck. Purchasing a used truck was discussed, but concerns were raised that doing so would result in acquiring someone else’s problem truck. It was agreed to continue to research purchasing a new truck.

“I know we brought this up last month, but suddenly the truck is a problem now; we need to be a little bit more proactive with our equipment moving forward and have a plan in place. We can’t just all of a sudden, in a budget year, say we’re going to spend $160,000 on a new truck,” said board member Quentin Buffington.

“I think for four years I’ve brought up that we’ve needed a new truck. I don’t know how much more proactive I can get,” said Coleman.

The board discussed altering the frequency of lawn services from Spring Green within the village parks.

The board also approved a donation of $100 each to Freedom House and the Voluntary Action Center.

Source: Putnam County Record


Hennepin Park District Will Host Holiday Activities

The Hennepin Park District will sponsor holiday activities over the holiday break.

On Monday, Dec. 28, there will be a Movie and Popcorn Day. They will show “The Giant King” on the big screen TV. Popcorn and a beverage will be served during the movie. The movie will start at 11:30 a.m. and should conclude at approximately 1 p.m.

On Tuesday, Dec. 29, there will be kid’s bingo from noon to 1 p.m. Kids will play bingo for some exciting prizes.

On Wednesday, Dec. 30, it will be free swim for Hennepin and Hennepin Township residents.

On Tuesday, Dec. 30, there will be a New Year’s Eve party to celebrate the upcoming new year from noon to 1 p.m. There will be a variety of activities for the kids to do.

On Friday, Jan. 2, there will be a Movie and Popcorn Day. They will show “Frozen” on the big screen TV. Popcorn and a beverage will be served during the movie. The movie will start at 11:30 a.m. and should conclude at approximately 1 p.m.

All activities are free to Hennepin and Hennepin Township residents. The cost for all other areas will be $5.

All participants in the activities are invited to stay after for open swim at no additional charge. Open swim will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on each of these days. Children under the age of 12 may stay for three hours if not accompanied by an adult. Children under 45 inches must have an adult present with them in the pool area.

For more information, call the Hennepin Pool at 815-925-7319 or email at

Source: Putnam County Record


Friday, December 11, 2015

Hennepin Ethanol Plant Reaches 1 Billion Gallons

On Thursday Marquis Energy celebrated reaching the milestone of 1 billion gallons of ethanol production. Marquis is a leading producer of corn-based ethanol and its co-products, including distillers’ grains and corn oil.

The north unit of the facility began production April 20, 2008.

With continuous operational enhancements to improve production efficiency made by the team at Marquis, Marquis was able to hit this milestone in 7½ years.

“We are proud of the team here at Marquis Energy to have produced over a billion gallons of renewable fuels throughout the past 7½ years,” said Jason Marquis, vice president.

“This accomplishment highlights the hard work and dedication of our team, which contributes to our local farm economy, and also the world’s energy markets. The production of fuels from renewable sources strengthens our national security, is a cost effective oxygenate for fuel, and has lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.”

The total facility capacity is expected to surpass 300 million gallons per year when the south unit comes online in the coming weeks.

Marquis anticipates reaching the 2-billion-gallon milestone by 2020.

Marquis leverages strategic location and technical innovations to operate as one of the leaders in the ethanol industry.

Source: News Tribune