Monday, March 11, 2019

Putnam County to See New Circuit Clerk

Image credit: News Tribune
Say hello to Putnam County’s soon-to-be new circuit clerk.

Carly Neubaum, 26, of Granville will be Putnam County’s new circuit clerk effective May 1.

Monday night, the board accepted current circuit clerk Cathy Oliveri’s recommendation.

Oliveri announced her resignation last month, citing family obligations. She recommended that her chief deputy, Neubaum, fulfill her remaining term that ends in 2020. Both are members of the Democratic Party.

Neubaum said she began working in the circuit clerk’s office in 2015 and said she plans to run for the seat in 2020.

Board member Willie Holmes asked Neubaum if she’s fully qualified after board member Steve Malavolti asked if there was discussion on the matter.

“I think so,” Neubaum said confidently, and Oliveri followed with a confident, “I know so.”

Board member Charlie Lenkaitis and chairman Steve Malvolti thanked Oliveri for her service.

When asked if the office would hire someone after Oliveri is gone, Oliveri said the budget includes room for the circuit clerk and two employees, which is what the office currently has.

Source: News Tribune


Friday, March 8, 2019

Putnam County Historical Society Opens for Season

Putnam County Historical Society Pulsifer House and Agricultural Museum are open for the season.

The Agricultural Museum of the Putnam County Historical Society will be open the second Saturday of the month from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. beginning tomorrow in Hennepin.

Pulsifer House, the Society’s historic house museum will be open every Wednesday and Friday (except Good Friday and Black Friday) from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. beginning Friday, March 15 in Hennepin.

Source: News Tribune


Monday, February 18, 2019

Strapped for Cash, Putnam County Can’t Hire Additional Manpower for Every Shift

Image credit: News Tribune
One man. One night. One county.

He thinks the public should know.

Jacob Frund loves the community he lives in and works for, the Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy said. But the job comes with drawbacks.

Often, one deputy watches the county for a night, as well as other days, while a dispatcher communicates with him back at the Hennepin office.

“Everyone just thinks this is Putnam County, nothing happens,” Frund said. “But they don’t see the domestics we go to. They don’t see what happens at 2 a.m.”

The NewsTribune rode with solo deputies to see the challenges that come with protecting the smallest county in Illinois.

“As a solo deputy, who’s coming to help me?”

It was a Tuesday December night when deputy Jake Bush scoured the county to make his assignments. First he drove to Magnolia to check on a student because of an event at school, and then Bush drove to a Putnam house, where the owner thought someone was occasionally breaking in.

Even before Bush left the office to go to Magnolia, he was helping a resident with a restraining order.

While checking on the Putnam house, dispatch called Bush to come back and give medication to a man booked at the jail. Bush said it wasn’t that long ago when all five jail beds were full.

When people work together, they’re able to ask questions and figure things out together. That’s often not the case when deputies are alone at night on a call.

“It gets a little hairy sometimes,” said deputy Frund, who responded to a domestic call in Granville on a Thursday February night, and then went to direct traffic at Lake Thunderbird for a power line hit by a tree.

He explained that when he’s alone, he’s the officer, detective, jailer and more.

“As a solo deputy, who’s coming to help me?” asked deputy Josh Randall.

He mentioned that if the county decided to save money and lay off one deputy, there’d always be only one deputy at any time.

What happens if no one hears you?

Sometimes there’s no cellphone reception.

“I don’t have service right now,” said deputy Frund, holding up his cellphone during a recent ride-along.

Frund was directing traffic at Lake Thunderbird after a tree hit a power line, and he mentioned sometimes all he hears is static on the scanner.

The deputies don’t have computers in their vehicles to communicate to dispatchers either.

It begs the question, what happens if the only deputy on duty was hurt and unable to communicate with other responders?

Lone deputies a safety issue

One deputy on duty is a public safety concern, said Putnam County Sheriff Kevin Doyle, and it’s a concern for officer safety. A deputy is often the first on scene to emergency calls.

Putnam County is Illinois’ smallest county at about 171 square miles, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or fast to get across the county.

The villages of Mark and Granville have police, but neither are on 24/7.

Granville Mayor Jared Baker said he looked back at records until July, and Granville didn’t have any open night shifts.

Both villages are on the northern end of Putnam County, which means if Mark or Granville provide backup, it would take about 16-17 minutes driving the speed limit to make it to the county’s southern end at Magnolia.

And Lake Thunderbird on the county’s western end is about 20 minutes away from Granville and about 15 minutes from Henry, where there is a police department.

It’s not like nothing happens in Putnam County either. with a population of about 5,727 in 2017.

Doyle said during a recent two-day, bad-weather event, there were about 41 calls of service for the sheriff’s office.

Because they are short staffed — when there’s more than one deputy can handle — Sheriff Doyle or Chief Deputy Chad Haage are called from home on their off time to assist.

Why only one deputy?

The amount of staffing is the reason there’s often only one deputy on at night, Doyle said.

The sheriff said he’d like to hire at least two more deputies, but “I don’t see it happening in our current financial situation.”

There are seven deputies, and one is assigned full time to the task force. With six deputies remaining, “covering two people every shift is impossible,” Doyle said.

Throw in vacations, sick time and days off — it’s just not possible to have two deputies on at all times.

“I think there should be at least two deputies on a shift,” said county board chairman Steve Malavolti.

In April last year, the county announced its general fund was nearing empty.

The primary job of the board is to ensure county safety, Malavolti said, and he doesn’t foresee a future where the board would decide to lay off a deputy.

He thinks there would be enough money to hire another deputy if the public approved a safety tax (such as the one that failed in November with more than 75 percent of voters voting ‘no’).

The county may try again in 2020 to ask the public to approve a tax increase, he said.

Pay disparity

There is a sizeable starting pay difference between the Putnam County deputies and other area police departments.

“If this continues with the wages, I’m going to struggle to maintain the guys I have,” said sheriff Doyle, who mentioned he doesn’t blame those who would choose to leave because of pay, especially those with young children.

The average hourly rate for the seven county deputies is $24.78 an hour — compare that to Peru police department, where officers started off at about $27.75 an hour in 2017.

It’s not only deputies; there’s also a difference for dispatcher salaries — a Putnam County dispatcher made $15.75 in 2017, whereas a dispatcher working for Illinois Valley Regional Dispatch started at $18 an hour in 2017.

“I think they stay because there’s a good atmosphere here, a good working relationship among deputies and dispatchers,” Doyle said, but asked, “How far does that go?”

Source: News Tribune


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Putnam County Accepts Mennie Machine’s Solar Permit

A 13-17 acre solar project may be coming to Putnam County.

Monday night, Putnam County Board accepted a special-use permit for Mennie Machine on farmland off Route 71.

But just because the permit was approved doesn’t mean the project will happen. The state will hold a lottery drawing to choose what permits can go through with the plans.

Jessica Tyler with developer GEM Energy and Bill Mennie with Mennie Machine were at the meeting to answer questions.

Tyler explained the plan is for a community solar project, and “Members of your community, businesses, anybody within Putnam County, anybody within Ameren could then participate in the project.”
Not all solar projects will happen

Mennie Machine’s project is one of many names in the hat for Illinois solar permits.

A date hasn’t been finalized for the lottery, said Anthony Star, director for the Illinois Power Agency, but he expects it to happen the second half of March.

“We are still determining the number of projects that will be selected because it also depends on the volume of applications we get for distributed generation solar and some other factors,” Star said.

He said they’re working through details on how information will be released about who gets chosen after the drawings happen.

The deadline for the lottery is noon Wednesday.

Source: News Tribune


Sunday, January 27, 2019

Putnam County Baseball/Softball Registration Open

Putnam County baseball and softball registration is now open!

Please view the following PDFs for more information.

Summer Baseball/Softball Flyer

Player Registration Form

Medical Release Form


Monday, January 21, 2019

Village of Hennepin Vacates Right of Way to Allow Barn Restoration

Hennepin Village Board this month approved vacating a 13-foot strip of the Ninth Street right of way for Tim Rylko.

Rylko explained after the meeting that the vacation is because he wants to restore a barn for personal use at the location, and he needs the roadway for it.

The agreement includes Rylko reimbursing the village for legal fees related to the ordinance and for the survey related to the plat needed to record, said village attorney Sheryl Churney.

There also will be an agreement to give the village an easement for public utility purposes for the strip of land, she said.

Source: News Tribune


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hennepin Continues Work Toward Wetlands Bridge

Hennepin’s plans to connect the village to the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge with a bridge is getting closer to fruition.

Wednesday night, Ken Giordano, president of Illinois Valley Surveying and Consultants, gave the village’s board an update on the project.

Stanley Consultants informed Giordano that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources needs $2,690 to finish its review for the project.

The possibility of a walking/bicycling bridge to the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge has been discussed for a couple years between Hennepin Village President Kevin Coleman and Paul Botts, president and executive director of The Wetlands Initiative, the nonprofit corporation overseeing the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

About a year ago, the village board approved a motion to allow the village to work with Illinois Valley Surveying and Consultants to get the project going.

The bridge is planned to go over Coffee Creek from Third Street to the refuge south of Hennepin.

“We don’t want to start design until we get all the permits signed off on,” Giordano said on Wednesday night.

The village needs the IDNR to sign off on the project before Environmental Protection Agency signs off, he said.

The fees are well within the budget for the project, Giordano said.

The board approved the payment to continue the project.

Source: News Tribune


Monday, December 24, 2018

Meet Grace, The White-Tailed Deer Who Loves People and Candy Canes

Image credit: News Tribune
It was near the routes 89 and 71 intersection in Putnam County where they first saw the police officer.

Not long after, squad car’s blue and red lights were on and Debra Moreland was pulling over to the side of the road. The lone passenger in her cargo van, a white-tailed deer named Grace, had caught the officer’s attention.

“She’s just standing in the back, looking out the window like she always does,” Moreland said. “And I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to pull me over. He’s going to pull me over.’ And sure enough, the lights came on. He came up and asked ‘Do you know you have a live deer in the back of your van?’”

Moreland, a rural Princeton resident, was transporting Grace to an event as part of her Furry Friends Traveling Petting Zoo. The officer was just making sure Moreland hadn’t picked up a deer she thought was dead only to find out it was still alive and a huge safety hazard to an unsuspecting driver.

But that was not the case. The 12-year-old doe is a popular guest among schools, nursing homes and other local events.

And around Christmas time, demand for Grace certainly increases.

“We’ve been busy,” Moreland said. “This year we did events for Granville, Walmart, Ace (hardware), Ladd, Starved Rock Lodge and Oglesby Elks.”

Do you know anyone who owns a pet deer? Debra Moreland dotes on her 12-year old deer Grace outside her home in rural Princeton. Moreland raised Grace from a fawn and travels with her to different events in the Illinois Valley through her Furry Friends Petting Zoo. The deer becomes a popular pet around the holidays.

Grace is not easily alarmed like wild white-tailed deer. She doesn’t dash away from humans but enjoys affection and being petted by her admirers, Moreland said.

“She’s very good around people,” she said.

But loud noises can be startling for the doe. Moreland said she takes precautions when traveling with Grace to avoid things like a truck horn that might send her into a frenzy.

“When a deer’s adrenaline gets pumped up, it’s tough to bring it back down,” Moreland said.

Dr. Bethany Sondgeroth of Bureau Valley Veterinary service said even if a white-tailed deer is farm-raised and was never born in the wild, they are still wild at heart.

“Grace is pretty unique in that she’s acclimated to people,” she said. “But they are still a wild animal even if they are tame and eat out of your hand. They will certainly buck and jump and kick if they are startled.”

Grace hasn’t had any instances of harming people, but she is one to try and eat out of your hand, Moreland said. She’ll sniff out food, even candy. Moreland says she has to keep a close eye on Grace so she doesn’t end up scarfing down decorative candy canes.

“She loves peppermint — anything sugary sweet,” Moreland said. “She’ll grab them off the (Christmas) tree if I’m not paying attention.”

While Grace does appear to have an appreciation for the holidays, don’t expect to see her flying away anytime soon like one of Santas reindeer. Moreland says Grace likes to stay put on the farm in Selby Township.

“(Deer) can run and jump so we knew we needed to have tall fences,” Moreland said. “But she’s never bothered to try and get out so evidently she’s content here.”

Moreland said even when a storm knocked a tree branch into the fence causing a breach, Grace stayed put. Moreland suspects growing up with dogs may have contributed to Grace’s friendly disposition.

“I got her when she was young and bottle fed her. They said if you do that she would tame down, and she has,” Moreland said.

Grace was a tame deer Moreland acquired from a farmer south of Hennepin, she said. Moreland got the proper registration through the state of Illinois to own her. Wild deer are not pets. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has a lot of rules and regulations on approaching wild deer, even if they are injured or orphaned.

“It’s against the law. You’re supposed to report them,” Moreland said.

But Grace’s contact with other deer (wild deer do come by the farm) are more non-interactions than anything.

“Being raised with dogs, I don’t know if she’s confused or not because bucks have come into the yard before. She doesn’t pay any attention to them,” Moreland said.

Last week on the farm, Grace was a little more preoccupied with eating greens than getting her picture taken. Peppermint is the only food she craves.

“She eats a variety of things,” Moreland said. “She loves watermelon, muskmelon and zucchinis.”

Moreland said she has heard of deer living up to 20 years old, and by all indications the 12-year-old Grace is still going strong.

“All the hunters I run into tell me she’s quite healthy,” Moreland said.

So, the plan is to continue their travels around the area, interacting with people who have never touched a deer before.

“She still hops right in the van for me. She makes it really easy,” Moreland said.

So, more interactions with befuddled police officers could be in store in the future.

Source: News Tribune