Wednesday, January 21, 2015

IEPA Public Notice

Please review the Public Notice by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regarding the sale ArcellorMittal steel plant.

IEPA Public Notice


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gun Collection Worthy of Display in Courthouse

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Putnam County Sheriff’s office is taking its guns out. The antique ones anyway.

The sheriff’s office will soon display a set of antique guns and police equipment in the lobby. The county board this week approved spending $750 on a secure display case.

The guns include dueling pistols, German guns, an Ithaca automatic and burglar gun and a 1921 Thompson submachine gun believed to be the oldest in existence.

“It’s the lowest serial numbered tommy gun in the country,” said sheriff’s Deputy Josh Randall. It is numbered 100.

“That gun (the tommy gun) supposedly came from Trader Jack,” Putnam County sheriff Kevin Doyle said. Trader Jack Redshaw was a globally renowned businessman from Granville who was killed in his office in an unsolved murder in 1955.

The guns have been displayed in county treasurer Kevin Kunkel’s office.

“Most of them came from Mrs. Redshaw when she died.  She gave them to the sheriff, Buck Spratt at the time,” Kunkel said. “Her husband was Trader Jack.

“He was killed, supposedly reaching for the Thompson.

“It was originally sold to the Bloomington police department in 1921, and was then sold to a gun dealer in Marshall County in 1929.

“How it got to Trader Jack?  Your guess is as good as ours,” said Kunkel. “The .22 ‘cowboy pistol’ was from a murder trial that went on in Putnam County. That was in evidence.”

The guns will be moved to a more secure cabinet in the lobby where they can be watched, both by dispatchers and cameras, to ensure their safety.

“The county board didn’t think the office was a safe place to keep them because of their value,” Doyle said.

The gun cabinet is in the process of being built, and the display should be in place in the near future.

Source: News Tribune


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Putnam County Unemployment Rises

As always, the monthly unemployment figures from the Illinois Department of Employment Security consist of good news and bad news. This time around, the news for Putnam County is worse than usual.

The state has as a whole fared much better with unemployment statewide at 6 percent for November 2014, down from October’s 6.6. But while most of the state continues to see unemployment shrink, Putnam County isn’t following the trend. Following last month’s figure of 6.6 percent, the local percentage has inched up to 7.1 percent. While lower than a year ago when local unemployment stood at 10.2 percent, the reversal is still not a good sign for the county.

Nationwide, the unemployment figure stands at 5.5 percent.

“Our local economies continue to grow at a steady, deliberate pace, just as they have throughout the year,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said. “Diverse economies such as Illinois’ move deliberately because we have exposure in multiple sectors. Worker training programs driven by the private sector will lead to a more nimble workforce in a better position to qualify for unfilled job opportunities.”

Locally, Bureau and LaSalle County saw their fortunes continue to rise. LaSalle County’s unemployment stayed steady at 7.9 percent, the same as October and down from November 2013’s 11.0 percent. Bureau County’s numbers shrank to 7.2 percent compared to October’s 7.6 and November 2013’s 9.3 percent.

“November data follow trends established earlier this year. More people describe themselves working than one year ago and the labor force remains stable. Help-wanted advertising continues to be steady,” Media Relations Director Greg Rivara said. “Declines in professional and business services are concentrated in temporary help and likely are seasonal. Declines in retail trade are curious and could reflect more online purchasing activity rather than at brick-and-mortar storefronts.”

The greatest job growth statewide was seen in the education and health services industry. The lowest unemployment figure in the state belongs to Henderson County where only 4.3 percent of the populace are unemployed.

Source: Putnam County Record


Steel Mill Assets on the Auction Block

The next step in the renovation of the former Hennepin steel mill has been scheduled, and apparently the building isn't quite as empty as previously thought. Heritage Global Partners Asset Advisory and Auction Services has listed an auction for the contents of the building on Feb. 11 and Feb. 12, with a pre-auction tour available on Feb. 10.

Alex Dove of Heritage Global Partners said a full cataloguing of the assets of IPS Steel, formerly ArcelorMittal, will be done during the next couple weeks, and items for bid will be listed on the company's website at Most of the items listed so far are pieces of scrap or tools from the previous operations. Dove said he expected at least 700 lots by the time cataloguing was complete; 30 lots are already on the site.

The auction will be online only, starting at 7 a.m. on Feb. 11 and ending at 10 a.m. on Feb. 12. All of the items up for auction can be viewed during a pre-auction tour on Feb. 10. The tour will be guided and conducted at different times during the day. Details on how to be included in the bid process are also on the website.

Dove could not give an initial estimate on the possible auction proceeds.

Source: Putnam County Record


One-on-One With the State's Attorney

Sometimes good news has a trickle-down effect.

When Republican James Mack was elected to the position of circuit court judge in the November election, that created a vacancy for the Putnam County State’s Attorney position he held. Due to regulations, the position had to be filled by a member of the same political party, so with a recommendation from Republican Central Committee Chairman Alma Toedter and unanimous support of the Putnam County Board, Christina Judd-Mennie became the first female state’s attorney in Putnam County. The Putnam County Record spoke with Judd-Mennie

PCR: How’s the job been so far?

Judd-Mennie: So far, so good. Everybody’s been very helpful. I’ve had Paul Bauer from the state’s attorney’s office in Marshall come down. He showed me a couple of things. All of the office-holders have been great.

PCR: Was this something you ever thought you’d want to do?

Judd-Mennie: I would say early on in my career I thought about it. As my career grew and I opened my own office, it kind of dissipated a little bit. When the opportunity came, I toyed with it for a while and first I thought, “I don’t know. I just got my office up and running.” I love my office, and I liked being able to do a little bit of everything. But I just decided, sometimes service comes before what you want to do, so I decided I would try to help the county the best I could.

PCR: Were you surprised when you were recommended for the post?

Judd-Mennie: Yes. I definitely can’t say I was just sitting there saying, “Oh yes, it’d be me.” I know there were a few other people who had expressed interest, so it wasn’t just me.

PCR: How long have you been practicing law?

Judd-Mennie: I think late 2004, so about 10 years. I started with Durley (Walter Durley Boyle) and Roger (Bolin), and then in 2010, I went out on my own.

PCR: Do you feel anything there is special about being the first female state’s attorney in Putnam County?

Judd-Mennie: Absolutely. I think that’s pretty neat, for me anyway. There’s a lot of female attorneys, and I went to a state’s attorney convention in December before I was appointed. There were several women, but if you look statewide, it’s definitely a male-oriented position. But I have nieces and even a nephew who think it’s pretty cool. It’s something I take pride in.

PCR: Ten years from license to state’s attorney is a short time. What do you think about that?

Judd-Mennie: It is, and I know I’ve got a lot to learn yet. But I’m a quick learner, and I’ll do my best. What’s great is I have a lot of resources. The state’s attorneys around here have all welcomed me and said, “You need anything, there’s probably not much we haven’t seen. Call us.” I’ll probably have to lean on some people at the beginning.

PCR: Have you had a lot of experience with criminal law?

Judd-Mennie: I was assistant public defender when I was with Durley and Roger, so I was on the other side of the fence. I think that might help a little bit. Sometimes, I think you can lose perspective, and I’ll be able to see both sides. And that might benefit all of us.

Source: Putnam County Record


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Posts of 2014

Enjoy these top-visited stories on the Village of Hennepin website during 2014! Data was compiled from Google Analytics.

Village of Hennepin Top Posts of 2014
Starting with #10...

10. Illinois Chamber Hires Hahn as Director of Communications

9. Hennepin Man Helps Turn Around Struggling Restaurants

8. Hennepin Steel Mill Sold

7. Halloween Activities in Hennepin

6. Hennepin Power Plant Fire Forces Unit 2 Off

5. Thousands Expected in Hennepin for 4th of July, Courthouse Anniversary

4. 4th of July Celebration in Hennepin

3. Army Wife Honored for Memorial Walk

2. Alcohol Sting Touches Five Putnam County Businesses

And the most-visited story from 2014 was...

1. Remembering Eric Ciucci

Thank you for visiting our site this year and sharing local stories with your friends and family. From the Village of Hennepin, we wish you a safe and healthy 2015!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Laws Starting January 1

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Driving in Illinois will be more worry-free in 2015 — but you’d better watch out for any and all oscillating lights.

Dozens of new laws take effect on Jan. 1 and some will make motorists happy, indeed.

Remember when you had to hand over your license after getting a speeding ticket? Now you keep your license. The state adopted a “sign and go” law (Public Act 98-870) that lets drivers keep their licenses after getting ticketed.

And don’t panic if you forgot to update your vehicle registration sticker; Springfield now allows you to skate if you can show you paid for a sticker or bought one online (Public Act 98-1103), even if the new sticker has not yet arrived in the mail.

Peru police chief Doug Bernabei said both laws were overdue in Illinois.

“’Sign and go’ was the law that I worked under as a police officer in Florida back in the 1980s and it was not problematic,” Bernabei said. “I don’t understand why it took Illinois so long to pass such a simple thing.”

Bernabei dubbed the new registration rule “a good common sense law.”

“With readily available technology officers know instantly if the registration is valid or not regardless if the sticker is on the vehicle,” he said. “Let’s not issue tickets to people if they really don’t deserve it.

“We need to focus on bigger issues.”

Another traffic rule
Now for the bad news: Be prepared to pull over for flashing, oscillating lights — any lights.

Scott’s Law, which has long required motorists to move into the next lane to not brush past police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances, has been expanded (PA 98-0873) to include vehicles used by the Illinois Tollway system.

Helping the down-on-their-luck
At the office, employers can no longer conduct background checks until after an applicant has been deemed qualified for a job.

The so-called “Ban the Box” law (PA 98-0774) does, however, contain exemptions for police and other positions that require criminal background checks.

Carol Alcorn, executive director for Public Action to Deliver Shelter, said criminal convictions are an obstacle for many needy PADS clients who want nothing more than a second chance. The new law won’t keep employers from asking probing questions, she noted, but at least ensures that once-troubled applicants will at least make it in the door to answer such questions.

“The new law is going to give people an opportunity to answer questions in person,” Alcorn said, “instead of having their applications thrown onto the ‘No’ pile.”

Getting tough on bullies
Prosecutors and courts will also get tougher on stalkers. Starting Jan. 1, anyone convicted of stalking is ineligible for state-funded drug abuse treatment programs. (PA 98-0896) Additionally, courts are expanding the use of GPS monitoring to include cases involving domestic battery, stalking, unlawful restraint as well as attempted murder.

“Obviously, the nature of these offenses creates a significant threat to certain members of the public,” said Greg Sticka, chief deputy assistant La Salle County state’s attorney, “and the use of GPS tracking devices is a further tool to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

Courts are also cracking down on domestic battery suspects who’ve committed prior offenses in other states. PA 98-0994 gives courts the option of enhancing domestic violence penalties when a suspect has a battery conviction (or its equivalent) across state lines.

Schools must also crack down on bullying. PA 98-0801 givens schools the authority to punish bullies who use social media and electronic devices to harass their peers, even if the bullying happens off school grounds, outside classroom hours or on privately-owned devices.

Steve Wrobleski, superintendent of La Salle-Peru Township High School, said the new law aligns school policy with recent court decisions, though he and other administrators are waiting for guidance on how it will be implemented.

School will be in session for non-violent offenders, too. Springfield is allowing convicts to reduce the length of probation by getting high school and college degrees. Under PA 98-1114, getting a high school diploma will shave three months off probation and getting a bachelor’s degree trims probation by six months.

“I believe any person who works to earn a high school diploma or college degree is putting themselves into a position to access better jobs with higher pay and benefits,” Wrobleski said, “which certainly have a net gain for the local community and society as a whole.”

E-cigarette precaution

Tobacco laws are being expanded to include e-cigarettes, too. Springfield passed measures that requires refilling liquids be secured in child-safe packaging (PA 98-1021) and that e-cigarettes be sold behind the counter (PA-0983), or in a sealed display case, in an age restricted area of the store.

More new laws in '15

Several notable state laws take effect Jan. 1.

Among them are:

No smoking on state-supported college and university campuses in Illinois. (Public Act 98-0985)

Tornado country: All new school buildings must include storm shelters. (PA 98-0883)

Purple Heart license plates are exempt from registration or renewal fees. (PA 98-0902)

Juveniles can’t satisfy community service by giving blood or volunteering at a blood bank. (PA 98-0824)

Public records: Intentionally altering, destroying, defacing, removing or concealing public records is a felony. (PA 98-1063)

Military spouses and children remain eligible for state disability services if the service member is reassigned out of state. (PA 98-1000)

Manufacturing meth within 1,000 feet of a school carries 6-60 years in prison and fines up to $400,000. (PA 98-0980)

Pregnancy rule: Requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. (PA 98-1050)

Creates a law enforcement registry for caregivers found to have abused, neglected or exploited their clients. (PA 98-1039)

Unpaid interns are allowed to file sexual harassment claims. (PA 98-1037)

Complaints about a nursing home or care facility may be submitted electronically to the Illinois Department of Public Health. (PA 98-0988)

Sex trade, slavery: Establishes a fund to provide services for human trafficking victims. (PA 98-1013)

Wildlife: Adds black bears, gray wolves, mountain lions and cougars to the list of protected species in Illinois. (PA 98-1033)

Voters can dissolve a fire protection district and consolidate with an adjoining district. (PA 98-1003)

Police departments no longer are allowed to hold their officers to ticket quotas. (PA 98-0638)

Source: News Tribune


Monday, December 22, 2014

Volunteers Deliver for Children, Seniors

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
The Putnam County food pantry embodied the season of giving Saturday, passing out 137 Christmas baskets to families in Putnam County.

Any family who filled out the forms available in the Putnam County Record and at the United Church of Christ received a basket. The pantry also provided gifts for seniors and children, donated and wrapped by Toys in the Pantry. This year, 175 children and 50 senior citizens got presents to put under the tree.

“We’ve been working on this since last summer,” said food pantry director John Shimkus.
Tables were set up Wednesday, baskets were filled with dry goods on Thursday and finished with cold foods Saturday morning.

Volunteers delivered 47 baskets to local citizens in Putnam County communities, while 90 people picked the baskets up.

Newly-appointed Putnam County state’s attorney Christina Mennie and her husband, Scott, were on hand to make deliveries.

“We’ve been delivering for 9 or 10 years,” said Mennie.

“Joel (Hopkins) gets the volunteers (for delivery) every year,” said Judy Hopkins, a food pantry executive.

Hopkins said the food pantry has been handing out Christmas baskets for 27 years.

Source: News Tribune