Friday, October 31, 2014

The Country Stop is a Hennepin Landmark

35 years... and still a local favorite

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
A decent early breakfast can be hard to find in some places, but Hennepin isn’t one of them. For 35 years, area residents have known where to go for great food and warm greetings.

Cindy Migliorini opened the Country Stop Restaurant in 1979, although it wasn’t quite her idea.

“Basically, my dad was putting in the market next door and I was working at O’Connor’s at the time,” Migliorini said. “He said, ‘Do you want to put in a restaurant?’ and I said ‘Sure.’”

A typical day for Migliorini starts between 3 and 4 a.m. when she wakes up. The restaurant opens at 5 a.m., and some days she’s in early working on the day’s specials. Sometimes, she said she arrives in time to let the first people in.

“It depends what I have to do. If I have to bake pies, or if there’s a delivery due, than I have to be here,” Migliorini said. “It just depends on what’s happening.”

Everything in the Country Stop is homemade by Migliorini’s own hands, although through the years, she’s had some help keeping the restaurant open ... and not just by the hired help.

“When I started, I didn’t have any kids; I wasn’t married. Things change, and the business grew. Even though my kids have careers and college, they still come back and help,” Migliorini said. “Except for my son. He worked here one day and said, ‘This isn’t for me,’ and he never came back to help.”

She credits good workers and help by the family for keeping her and the restaurant going, but especially her customers who come back day after day, year after year.

“The best thing about it is all of the people I’ve met that I never would have met otherwise,” Migliorini said. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life here.”

Through the years, she’s seen a lot of changes in the area, but not all of them have been good for her. When the Country Stop opened, Migliorini said the most busy time of the year was hunting season.

“That’s changed. With the new technologies and changes, a lot of hunters have those small grills and stuff and take it with them,” she said. “When I started out, they didn’t do that. They’d come back here for a sandwich or something. Now they just stay out all day.

“Sometimes, trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for things ... it gets to you,” Migliorini said. “You never know what’s going to happen in this area. Some days, everything goes so smooth, and the next it’s just like the first day you opened.”

Being a fixture of the area for so long, Migliorini has a very loyal clientele. That’s not always as good as it sounds. Customers become family, and after 35 years, some of those customers pass on.

“This year, we lost three of our everyday people. That’s when you really start thinking about the past. I wish I would have kept a journal,” she said.

Source: Putnam County Record


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hennepin Chef Lands 40 Under 40 Award

Image courtesy of the Putnam County Record
Illinois Valley Community College’s Illinois Small Business Development Center honors 40 local up and coming young leaders under the age of 40 each year. One of this year’s award winners is Hennepin’s Matt Dean.

Dean, 33, is currently a division chef/food fanatic chef with U.S. Foods out of Streator. When Dean first went to college, he had no idea how his life was about to change.

“I went to Illinois State University (ISU) and got my degree in public relations. I minored in tourism studies and took some business management classes. When I was down there, I started working for campus dining services. I was trained by a classic French chef. I got pulled into the catering department, which was the beginning of me becoming a chef,” he said.

Dean then went onto Le Cordon Bleu and earned an associate degree in baking and pastry. After working in the Chicago area, he moved back to the Illinois Valley.

In his position with U.S. Foods, Dean travels and researches culinary trends and helps other chefs learn how to perform them properly. The key is getting the trendy concepts to the restaurants before they become mainstream.

Dean is a village trustee and a fireworks coordinator for the village of Hennepin. He is a member of the Hennepin Fire Department as well as a First Responder. Dean is also active in the United Methodist Church Men’s Group and supports the Relay for Life — Team Hennepin of the Marshall/Putnam Chapter. He is also on the Pi Sigma Epsilon Marketing Fraternal Organization.

Dean’s personal philosophy is unique for a person of his age.

“If you want to make something of yourself, you’ve got to give back,” he said. “Whether it’s to the church, whether it’s doing the work at the fire department or here at the village, it’s important. When you give back, you make connections and get involved, but that’s not why you do it. It gets you more involved in the community. It opens doors for you. It helps other organizations.”

Dean cites the upcoming Putnam County Education Foundation Hallowinestock event on Nov. 1 as an example. Dean will be the celebrity chef who prepares the appetizers at this event.

“As I get involved, more people follow me, and I can promote events like this,” he said.

Dean remembers being moved at an early age by a volunteer opportunity.

“When I was at ISU, we did the food for the state Special Olympics,” he said. “So 20-30 hours a week on top of your regular work was the serving for this event ... you had kids coming through the line who got like a 10th place ribbon who were so excited. You had to come around the food tables, take off your gloves and give them a high five. That is more rewarding than getting a write-up in a Chicago magazine on a dish you prepared.”

Honorees of the 40 under 40 program were nominated by the community at large and selected by a panel of independent judges. They were honored at a reception at the Deer Park Country Club in October.

Source: Putnam County Record


Courthouse Repairs Ahead of Schedule

The work crews at the Putnam County Courthouse will be working a little while longer this year.

Putnam County Board President Duane Calbow told the board at its Oct. 14 meeting that workers from Otto Baum Co. had finished repairing a stone band around the 175-year-old Putnam County Courthouse earlier than expected, which allows them to perform some repairs to the building’s facade before the weather changes. Workers will not have to stop for the winter and set up again in the spring to continue work.

“It’s going to save us a little bit of money,” Calbow said.

Continued work on this year’s building project called for board approval of the additional $17,178 to complete. The supplement was passed on a 3 to 1 vote with board member Willie Holmes as the lone dissenting vote. Holmes worked on the building staff at the courthouse for years and has cautioned restoration of the oldest continuously operating courthouse in Illinois is a luxury the county can not afford.

In other action, the board:

• Heard from former Putnam County Emergency Management Agency Director John Ehrhardt on completed trainings for acting supervisor Bob Cofoid. Other PCEMA personnel have also completed various trainings and work on the communications set-up for the PCEMA building is nearly completed. Meanwhile, the board is continuing its search for a new PCEMA coordinator.

• Heard from county zoning officer Jim Burger who said his office has received inquiries from businesses on zoning in the county. Berger indicated some of those inquiries were from prospective medical marijuana cultivation operations.

• Received a report from Marshall-Putnam-Woodford Regional Superintendent of Education Phyllis Glazier. The ROE will be split up and consolidated with other ROEs at year’s end, with Putnam County being folded into the LaSalle County ROE. Glazier also thanked the board for its support over the years.

• Discussed possibly sharing the cost of electronic recycling with other local governments in the county. The request came from Hennepin Mayor Kevin Coleman. Coleman noted last year’s e-recycling event gathered over 19,000 pounds of used electronics. Because the services are no longer free, that same amount would cost Hennepin $770. The next e-recycling date is Nov. 22.

• Approved increasing mileage reimbursement to 56 cents per mile.

Source: Putnam County Record


Hennepin Talks Park Renovations

Street repairs, ordinances and elections were on the agenda at the monthly Hennepin Village Board meeting Oct. 15.

The board held a discussion on the plans to replace the crumbling base around the cannon which is on display at Walter Durley Boyle Park. The cannon was made at the West Point Foundry between 1859 and 1861. There are no records as to how the village of Hennepin came into possession of the cannon.

Village Mayor Kevin Coleman informed the board the Hennepin Business and Betterment Association was willing to help pay for the renovations of the base of the display.

“We’ve talked with them, and they are going to help fund rebuilding the cannon and the area around it. One of the thoughts on how to do this is have a granite base instead of the concrete block that has been there in the past,” Coleman said.

Coleman explained that the granite base would be 6,000 pounds and will hold up better than a concrete base. The Hennepin Business and Betterment Association has chosen the granite with the understanding they would donate $3,000 to the project. The granite will cost $4,700. Plans are also underway to create some sort of plaque to denote information about the memorial. There will also be a 5- to 6-foot walking area around the planned memorial. The cost of the concrete walking area may run about $1,000.

Village trustee Quentin Buffington explained to the board in more detail about the Hennepin Business and Betterment Association donation.

“It’s a 50 percent donation up to $3,000,” Buffington said.

Buffington went on to explain the thoughts of the Hennepin Business and Betterment Association.

“Currently when you are in the park and look at the Veterans Memorial, you look at the back side of it. The only way to access the memorial is to walk through a parking area to get to it. The thought is to use this cannon and this project as an anchor to moving the Veterans Memorial to a new location that would be more suitable,” Buffington said.

The board approved to use up to $7,000 on the cannon project out of the park maintenance fund.

In other news, the board:

• Heard the village’s annual trick or treat event would be on Oct. 31 at Walter Durley Boyle Park. Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be served starting at 5 p.m. The parade will start shortly before trick or treat hours, which will be from 6 to 8 p.m.

• Amended the village’s subdivision ordinance to include a rule that all future subdivisions will have their utilities put in underground in the village.

• Coleman also announced three village trustee positions are open. Petitions are available for interested parties at the village hall.

• Hennepin Business and Betterment Association will hold a food drive on Nov. 8. Village residents are asked to put their donated items in a bag and leave it outside their front door.

Source: Putnam County Record


Putnam County Record Office to Close Nov. 26

We at the Putnam County Record have made the difficult decision to close the Granville office, effective Nov. 26.

There was a time when all the processes necessary for producing the Record were completed at the Granville office. Since the purchase nearly two years ago, all of those processes are now completed at the Bureau County Republican location in Princeton.

For the past year we have had the office open three hours a day. Six months ago, we started tracking the traffic to the office. It wasn’t surprising we averaged only five customers on a weekly basis. The majority of those customers’ needs could be satisfied over the phone or online.

There are those who will say by closing the office that we don’t have a commitment to the community. We understand that sentiment, but we are no different than any other business as we look to allocate our resources to publish the very best newspaper we can. Money spent on an office that no one uses is not a very sound business decision. However allocating those resources to better the product is.

We look forward to continuing to provide our readers with the best that we can offer.

Source: Putnam County Record


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Food Pantry Drive

Hennepin will have a food drive for the Putnam County Food Pantry on Saturday, November 8.

Residents are encouraged to leave non-perishable food items on porches in plain sight before 9AM that day.

Thank you for helping to feed those in need in Putnam County!!


Halloween Activities in Hennepin

Hennepin will celebrate Halloween on October 31, as usual. The schedule is below. We hope you will join us for a ghoulish good time!

Friday, October 31

5:00 PM - Hot dogs, chips, and drinks provided for trick-or-treaters and their families at the Village Hall. Short parade to follow before trick-or-treating begins.

6:00 - 8:00 PM - Trick-or-treating in Hennepin. Leave your porch lights on if you are handing out candy!

Happy Halloween!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Putnam County: Illinois' Political Bellwether

Want to know who will win the governor’s race in November between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner?

Forget the polls. Watch Putnam County.  It’s the smallest county in the state in geography with a population of 5,800 and an unusual knack for picking the winner.

“As the vote goes in Putnam County, so goes the state,” said Democrat and Putnam County Clerk Dan Kuhn.

It’s not just that they pick the winner, the winning percentage in Putnam County mirrors the winning percentage statewide.

In the 1998 governor’s race when George Ryan defeated Glenn Poshard, Ryan won 51% of the state vote.  He won Putnam County with 49.3%.

In 2002 Rod Blagojevich beat Jim Ryan statewide with 52% of the vote. Putnam County voters gave Blagojevich 51%.

Four years later it was eerily similar with Blagojevich winning 49% statewide over Judy Barr Topinka.  Putnam County voters backed Blagojevich with 46% of the vote.

The only hiccup was four years ago when the losing republican---Bill Brady--- beat Pat Quinn in Putnam County. Voters, according to reporter Ken Schroeder of the Putnam County Record could not get past Quinn being a part of the Blagojevich administration.“He was part of that regime,” Schroeder said, “that’s more than likely why the first time around against Brady, no, they didn’t take him.”

This time around the governor’s race is---so far--- quite quiet, taking a back seat to local race for judge.

“Nobody’s talking about it. Nobody’s talking about the governor’s race,” said Alma Toedter, the Republican County chair.

Dan Kuhn, the Democrat, agrees.  “I don’t see a lot of enthusiasm about the governor’s race,” he said.
The reason says Schroeder is simple.  “There is very big resentment against Chicago politicians or rich politicians,” he said sitting on the steps of the 175-year old county courthouse. “Neither one plays real well in Putnam County.”

There are a few more Democrats than Republicans in Putnam County, a split of 58-42 says the county clerk.
Neither Governor Pat Quinn nor his Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has visited the county during this election season.

If either came here they would find this part of the state in trouble.

“I would say the biggest issue right now is unemployment,” said Denise Boggio, owner of Boggio’s Orchard a destination for visitors buying pumpkins, visiting a corn maze or stocking up on apple cider donuts.

The latest unemployment rate in the county is 7.8%, a full point higher than the state average.

The county’s largest employer, a steel mill closed, in 2009 and with that 600 jobs disappeared and disappointment has lingered.

Alma Toedter says voters tell her there is bi-partisan discouragement.  “I think they are so fed up with the one we have now and then the other one he’s got so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it all,” she said, adding,  “So I don’t know how this is going to go. I really don’t."

Both Toedter and Kuhn predict their respective guy will win in part because people here will go to the polls next month the way they always do.

In the March primary 46% of registered voters in Putnam County cast ballots compared to just 16% in Cook County.

“That’s one of the things about Putnam County, people do get out and vote,” Dan Kuhn said.

Or as Alma Toedter put it: “If you don’t vote don’t complain afterwards that your guy didn’t get in or he’s not doing a good job.  You vote, then you got a right to b*tch.”

Source: NBC Chicago