Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label environment. Show all posts

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, 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

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

EPA Responds to Hennepin Mayor and Checks Former Steel Plant

Image credit: News Tribune
On a request by the Hennepin village president, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency inspected the closed steel mill plant outside of town on March 9 for environmental hazards and contaminants.

“Our Bureau of Land staff will be meeting with Bureau of Air staff to discuss the findings and a final report will be completed,” said Kim Biggs, spokeswoman for the Illinois EPA. “There will be more information available in the coming days/weeks.”

The steel mill opened in the late 1960s and closed in 2009, and the property is now owned by Hennepin Industrial Development LLC. It previously operated under various names including ArcelorMittal.

The steel mill opened in the late '60s and closed in 2009, and the property is now owned by Hennepin Industrial Development LLC. While addressing guests last month at a business luncheon, village president Kevin Coleman said half of the building was torn down and several parties are involved in litigation over the site and its demolition. He also said he was worried about possible hazards and contaminants at the closed factory.

While addressing guests last month at a business luncheon, village president Kevin Coleman said half of the building was torn down and several parties are involved in litigation over the site and its demolition. He also said he was worried about possible hazards and contaminants at the closed factory.

This week Coleman said his worry came from his recent aerial views of the plant during a flyover. Among things he saw that prompted him to call the EPA, Coleman said, were waste treatment cells and materials lying on the ground.

“It was pretty awful,” he said. “In my position as the mayor I felt I could make a call and ask questions and hopefully get a response. I contacted the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in February.”

Old PCE issue

Coleman — who has been village president for 21 years and served on the Hennepin Public Water District board for about 28 years, chairman most of those years — remembers underground water contamination at the steel plant about 10 years ago, he said.

“Illinois Environmental Protection Agency helped us tremendously and pinpointed the location where this was coming from,” he said.

Referring to documents from the Hennepin Public Water District, Coleman said the water district received a letter in November 2009 from Illinois EPA that a contaminant posed a threat to public drinking water in Hennepin.

The contaminant of concern was tetrachloroethylene, aka perchloroethylene, perc or PCE. Tetrachloroethylene is used as a cleaner and solvent in dry cleaning fabrics and for degreasing metals.

The PCE was detected at more than 2.5 parts per billion, exceeding the Class I groundwater quality standard and warranting public notification. Some people who ingest water with PCE over long periods can experience adverse health effects, according to the EPA’s letter and notice from 2009.

“We were fortunate that our secondary well is three-quarters to 1 mile from the primary well,” Coleman said. “We were able to run our secondary well until they solved the problem.”

The steel mill had dumped this used solvent on steel mill land about a half-mile west of the plant, about 400 feet north of the water district plant, said Coleman, referring to a map.

This dump site had been cleaned up in the late ‘80s and early 1990s, Coleman said. However, by then, unknown quantities of PCE had seeped into the groundwater, he said.

The EPA installed a special recirculation pump at the water district plant in 2012, Coleman said. This continuous system pulls water out of the aquifer and aerates it, allowing the volatile PCE to evaporate and returning cleaned water to the aquifer.

Old Pickle liquor issue

In a separate incident, the Illinois EPA closed and plugged an underground injection well in 2014, which had been used by the factory to inject used pickle liquor deep underground. Pickle liquors are acid solutions used to clean metal.

Coleman said the mill’s underground injection well was so deep that it was far below the aquifer used for drinking water, he said.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thousands of Waterfowl Highlight Area Christmas Bird Counts

Image credit: News Tribune
Thousands of waterfowl were counted in area Christmas Bird Counts this year before the Arctic blast hit Christmas Day, according to John McKee of the Starved Rock Audubon Society.

“Probably the most unusual waterfowl was at Hennepin Hopper Lakes. We counted 451 tundra swans. And we also had six trumpeter swans, which are becoming less unusual. They were at Swan Lake, which was appropriate,” McKee said.

The society held the Hennepin count Dec. 15, which includes Hennepin and Hopper lakes, and found 82 species, a record high for the 16 years of this count, McKee said. Volunteers counted 11,492 mallards, 4,852 Canada geese and 1,801 greater white-fronted geese.

“The Hennepin count gave us the most interesting stuff because it was still warm at that point and the weather hadn’t turned too bad yet,” McKee said.

Lingering late migrants included one eastern phoebe, four sandhill cranes, one gray catbird and one Harris’s sparrow, he said.

A week later, volunteers held the 49th annual count centered at Starved Rock State Park. Volunteers counted 11,607 common grackles, a species of blackbird.

“Probably the most unusual thing was a towhee. Six pelicans but pelicans have become pretty common. They were in backwaters of the canal over by La Salle. A nice flock of cedar waxwings, 25 of those,” McKee said.

The count on Jan. 1 at Illini State Park was a different story.

“The high temp that day was minus 6,” McKee said. “We had 53 species which is about average, maybe just a tad below average.”

The warm weather in the December counts produced scant numbers of horned larks. After the cold blast and snow, hundreds were tallied on the Illini count, McKee said.

At feeders, pine siskins were numerous.

“This has been a year of pine siskins, big time. We’ve had more than 100 at our feeders and have had for weeks,” said McKee of Ottawa. “There are hordes of them.”

The counts attracted about a dozen volunteers, which is about average, he said.

The National Audubon Society holds its Christmas Bird Counts Dec. 14 through Jan. 5 in the Americas. Within each count’s 15-mile diameter circle, volunteers tally numbers and species of birds they find in one day. Audubon and other organizations use the count data to assess bird populations and to guide conservation.

Last year, there were 2,536 counts held in Canada, the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

Source: News Tribune

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Interest in Solar Project Rises in Putnam County

While the spinning electrical turbines of the wind farms built in surrounding counties create sustainable energy, the harvests of Putnam County remain traditional — at least for now.

Jim Burger, Putnam County zoning officer, reported at the Jan. 8 Putnam County Board meeting that there’s interest in constructing a solar farm in the south end of the county, near Route 29 and close to Marshall County.

Burger said representatives from the unnamed company will make their presentation to the board at an upcoming meeting, and requested the board begin preparing a zoning amendment that would allow for its construction.

“The state grants they’ll be applying for need to be completed in 2018, so work wouldn’t even likely begin until 2019,” Burger said.

According to the Illinois Solar Energy Association website, there were more than 3,700 people in the Illinois solar industry in 2016, a 7 percent increase from 2015. They also estimate there will be an additional 5 percent increase in 2017. Illinois ranks 17th nationally for the number of solar jobs.

There are 233 solar companies within the state, the 10th most in the nation. While Cook County leads the state with 127 solar arrays, generating nearly 12,000 kilowatts of electricity, nearby LaSalle County generates more than 20,000 kilowatts with three solar installations.

Source: Putnam County Record

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Friday, May 20, 2016

New Yard Waste Guidelines in Place

New yard waste guidelines are now in place. A site has been constructed at the south end of 2nd Street for Hennepin residents to deposit their yard waste (grass clippings and weeds) and tree trimmings (branches and twigs). All residents are asked to take care of their own yard waste and tree trimmings by depositing them at the site. The Street Department will continue to pick up limited amounts of debris from resident’s homes if they are deemed unable to move the debris themselves.

The Village requests that residents put their yard waste to the back of the containment to allow the area to fill up from back to front. This site is under video surveillance and citations will be issued promptly to anyone abusing the area by dumping restricted items.

  • No yard waste in plastic bags is permitted at the site.
  • Branches must be no longer than four feet.
  • In addition, this site is not intended for a dumping site for entire trees. Residents are responsible for hiring a tree service for removal of trees. The site is intended for smaller fallen branches or pruned branches only.

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Hennepin Village Board of Trustees

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PC Board Decides no Further Hearings Needed for Hog Farm Expansion

After reviewing the plans, confirming with the Farm Bureau there were no issues or complaints, and a discussion with family hog farm owner Darren Brown, the Putnam County Board decided Monday, April 11, no further hearings were needed concerning an expansion of Brown’s farm.

Brown is planning on constructing an additional building adjacent to his existing facility and said he has met the requirements from the Department of Agriculture.

Brown said, “I was hoping in the future to do an expansion, but what really got me going quicker was that I have six kids. My daughter, who is a senior this year, has told me she wants to attend a community college and come back to work on the farm and with our livestock, and I want to do what I can to keep our kids interested in farming. She’ll help manage it, and she loves our animals. It’s great to see. The Department of Agriculture is very strict with what you’re doing and with your plans. We want to add to the value of the community, and we have taken the extra steps to make sure it will give the best impression to those passing our farm.”

Brown has an arrangement with a neighboring farm to dispose of the waste and says his nutrient management plan can be fulfilled on his own property if needed.

Putnam County Board Chairman Duane Calbow said, “You’ve met all the requirements and the State’s Attorney and Farm Bureau have reviewed the plan and we appreciate you being here to answer our questions. It’s good it’s a family thing, Putnam County is highly agricultural, and we have a hard time keeping our children here. This is a way for a family to stay together and help the community.”

Source: Putnam County Record

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Is Hennepin Wetlands Most Diverse Spot in State?

A piece of Putnam County might be the most biologically diverse part of the state.

The Hennepin and Hopper Lakes, part of the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, offer more flora, fauna and fish than anywhere else around.

 As far back as 2001 the area was just farmland. It was an area with a broken down levee that just wasn’t cutting it anymore. That’s when The Wetlands Initiative began as they purchased the land, turned off water pumps and tried to restore it to its former glory.

Paul Botts, the executive director of the initiative, spoke at Spring Valley city hall on Tuesday evening about the changes taking place in the wetlands area.

Botts said his team addressed old maps that showed how diverse the prairie and wetland area was. Then after World War I it was turned into farmland.

“We like to say that for 75 years only two plants grew there; corn and soybeans,” Botts joked.

Although the statement is technically not true, the biological diversity of the area was completely tarnished. Botts said people thought it impossible for his team to turn the area from farmland back into a thriving ecosystem, but TWI set out to prove them wrong.

“Even when the area has been altered for decades you can bring back wetlands of real high quality,” Botts said. “But it’s not as simple as turning the pumps off and getting the water back.”

Changing the 3,000-plus-acre property back took a lot of donations and effort. The initiative encountered many problems with drainage tile and invasive carp. Common carp are bottom feeders that kill a lot of different plants and create muddy stagnant water. The carp became such a problem in the lakes that they caused a scientific anomaly.

“We proved carp can survive and breed in drainage tile,” Botts said.

But the carp are no longer a problem as the team destroyed the invasive species over a three-year period. Now plant diversity levels have hit their highest mark since the wetlands were opened.

Now that the carp are no longer a problem, the area will be open to fishing. Botts said that the lakes will be open to the public under Illinois Department of Natural Resources guidelines as soon as the paperwork is finalized through the state. He expects that to happen in the coming months.

The goal of The Wetlands Initiative team always has been to create a place for the public to enjoy.

“Our perspective always was to do this for the people. It’s an asset,” Botts said.

The initiative holds plans for the future beyond opening the area up for fishing. It already has an observation tower for bird watching and boardwalk trails that go into the marshes. There are plans to create even more trails into next year and then open up to the public for future suggestions.

“We don’t intend for this place to be for just right now. We intend for it to be for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Botts said.

Source: News Tribune

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

BioBlitz Finds Unusual Plants and Animals

Image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The BioBlitz held June 13-14 at Dixon Waterfowl Refuge uncovered many interesting plants and animals.

“We are just starting to go through the data. I’m sure many other species of interest will turn up,” said Vera Leopold with The Wetlands Initiative.

Some highlights of the 24-hour intensive survey include:

King Rail — a secretive marsh bird that is state-endangered.

Snakes — A 6-foot-long bull snake and three milk snakes were found, along with a number of other reptiles and amphibians.

Fungi — Experts identified more than 50 species of fungi, far more than were expected.

Loon — A common loon was discovered, usually not seen during summer in Illinois.

Dragonflies — Three species of dragonflies and damselflies, not previously known to occur at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge

Plants — Several plants new to the site have not yet been identified.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Hennepin Putting Money Toward Ash Borer Treatment

The village of Hennepin doesn’t have a Tree City USA distinction for nothing. The board voted at Wednesday’s meeting to pay Shearer Tree Service $1,785 to treat six ash trees for emerald ash borers.

Scott Shearer and Dean Morris, both certified arborists, told the board they believed they would be able to save the trees using a 99.5-percent effective method called Tree-age, a product inserted in to the trees once a year for two years. They will administer the treatment as soon as the weather clears.

ZONING AND ORDINANCE

The large and out-of-place trailer in Al’s Trailer Park, discussed at the last meeting will be headed to the zoning committee for a possible variance, according to zoning officer Larry Brown.

Village property maintenance officer Josh Randall told the board of an issue with the first-come first-serve rule in the park shelters and asked the village to look in to ways of handling double bookings. Randall also asked the village to come up with a way for citizens to file formal, signed ordinance violation complaints. Board member Matt Dean will return to the next meeting with a possible solution.

The board directed village attorney Roger Bolin to draw up an ordinance making it unlawful to blow grass clippings onto streets, whether they have curbs and gutters or not.

Source: News Tribune

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Naturalists Flock to 24-hour BioBlitz Survey at Hennepin

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
More than 90 people from Illinois and surrounding states flocked to one of Illinois most successful conservation and nature restoration sites Saturday for Putnam County’s first-ever 24-hour BioBlitz.

Event organizers, many of them wearing T-shirts carrying the words, “So many species, so little time,” showed up at the vast Dixon Waterfowl Refuge south of Hennepin with the goal of finding as many species of birds, plants, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and insects as possible. In the process, they were hoping to find species that had not been seen — or recognized — since the wetlands restoration began in 2001.

The Wetlands Initiative invited volunteers to help, and more than 90 showed at noon Saturday, putting on sunscreen and bug spray. Some prepared for an all-day and all-night quest.

They were ready to look for everything from wading birds and snakes to owls that would be called in by Steve Bailey from the Illinois Natural History Survey around 10 p.m. Saturday. Some came to see the wetlands, marsh and sandy bluff-side seep area for the first time, and others showed up in hopes of finding plants or animals they hadn’t seen before at the nature preserve.

“This is one of the birding hotspots of all of Illinois. More than 270 species of birds have been found here and there are 920 in all of North America, so one-fourth to one-third of all birds in North America have been found here,” said Gary Sullivan, senior ecologist for The Wetlands Initiative.

Teams mobilize
While he was talking, one group had just launched canoes to search for turtles and to check minnow traps and “cover boards” plopped down in and around the marsh in hopes of attracting shade-seeking salamanders and snakes. Another group including nature-close-up photography expert Dick Todd of Princeton headed out in a flat-bottomed boat to do fish-sampling.

A research assistant from Chicago Botanical Garden, Anna Braum, was heading out on a plant survey with another group. Her focus is on endangered and rare “plants of concern,” and she was particularly excited about getting to explore the Dore Seep, along the southeast shore of the Hennepin-Hopper Lakes area. It’s a partially wooded, partially marshy, sandy-soiled partial-hillside prairie where groundwater comes to the surface. There’s not much habitat like that in Illinois anymore, and since it’s been allowed to go back to a natural state, she’s interested in seeing what pops out of the ground.

Also heading out from the BioBlitz base (tents near the parking lot) after noon orientation were Starved Rock Audubon Society members and Ottawa residents John and Cindy McKee. They led a group of net-carrying naturalists including retired Mendota grade school superintendent Bob Chinn on a search for butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies.

Chinn was on his first BioBlitz, but it was by no means his first time volunteering at a natural area. He usually spends several weeks per summer working in Glacier National Park. While he was hunting with the McKees, they found an unusually-colored tiger swallowtail. Its wings are yellowish at the top, orange-ish in the middle and have the typical dark blue with colored dots at the bottom. John McKee said this particular swallowtail in southern Illinois has evolved to, sort of, imitate the orange spots on the pipevine swallowtail, which has caterpillars that are poisonous or not palatable to birds. Along the theory of Batesian mimicry, this swallowtail has mimicked a butterfly that birds have learned to leave alone.

Amphibious assault
In another group, amphibian and reptile expert Tom Anton from the Field Museum, college student and Fermilab summer naturalist Tristan Schramer and food scientist and herpetology fanatic Joe Cavataio headed out, looking under tree bark and rotting deadfalls for snakes and scanning the wetlands and partially submerged logs for turtles. They’d found and temporarily captured a 6-foot-long bull snake that was just getting ready to shed its skin, and they had spotted painted turtles and their relatives, redear sliders. They were hoping, however, to find something unusual, like a map turtle or a line snake. Anton said there’s a historic record of a line snake being found in Granville in 1933, and they could show up if the habitat is right.

“It’s exciting if you find things that are re-colonizing a place,” Anton said.

Restore it, and they come back
Re-colonization by native species is exactly what The Wetlands Initiative wants to see happen. About half of the species of plants in the marsh edge and prairies were planted either by seed or forbs by TWI and volunteers. Seeds from plants found in isolated spots have been redistributed around the preserve. In all, about 700 species of plants have been found at the site that mainly hosted soybeans and corn in summer. Since the initial stocking efforts, fish species, such as alligator gar, once native to Illinois River backwaters, have been reintroduced.

But almost all of the aquatic plants have come up in the lake and marsh naturally. Those grew, Sullivan said, from the seedbed that existed when pumps were turned off and late-1900s corn and soybean fields surrounded by Illinois River levees were allowed to fill up with water ranging from 3 to 6 feet deep.

Birds have come back and continue to find their way to the site. Sullivan said the habitat is right for sora rail and the endangered king rail (small wading birds).

And the habitat is right for birds at the refuge. Sullivan said birds as rare as whooping cranes and black-bellied whistling duck have been found at the refuge, as well as pied-billed grebe, common gallinule, least bitterns, sandhill cranes and black terns. Sullivan said there are 30 endangered or threatened birds in Illinois and 22 of them have been found at the refuge.

Rain dampens plans
Rain prevented the owl prowl Saturday night as well as late-night check of an insect light station, but the biology buffs were hunting again Sunday, said site manager Rick Seibert.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Is Big Trailer a Big Problem in Hennepin?

Trailers and zoning were the main focus of the Hennepin Village Board on Wednesday night.

Zoning Officer Larry Brown informed the board about an issue with a trailer in Al’s Trailer Park near Fifth and Vine streets. Brown said the trailer was placed in the park without proper permits. The trailer is too large for the lot and too close to the street. He said notice had been sent to the trailer park owner. Brown also said a deck or porch was currently being built on the trailer.

Clyde Zellmer, past village board member, owns the trailer park.

Village mayor Kevin Coleman said he, Brown and village attorney Roger Bolin would work together to figure out how to proceed with the matter. Brown and Coleman also discussed other violations in the park, both from town zoning and state requirements.

Also up for discussion was the squaring off of Fifth and High streets.  The intersection currently forms a “Y” where Fifth meets High. Coleman said he had discussed changing the intersection many years ago, and Zellmer had asked about the possibility again. The large trailer in question sits near the intersection.

Village engineer Bill Shafer estimated the cost to change the intersection at $10,000. An electrical pole would need to be moved. Because of the difficulty, the cost to move it was estimated at an additional $10,000.

A small portion of the road currently sits on trailer park property, but because of the length of time the road has been in place, the village has a prescriptive easement, and is able to leave the intersection in place, according to Shafer. Prescriptive easements are easements that are allowed by the regular use of something, in this case Fifth Street.

The board decided the cost was too high to change the intersection at this time.

A walk in the park: B & M Concrete Construction of Magnolia was awarded the sidewalk contract for $21,800. The project includes a walkway in the Bassi Park as well as four handicapped ramps at Fifth and Court streets, near United Methodist Church. The project will begin next week and be completed by June 26.

The town board also decided to have an arborist come to town to check on multiple ash trees on village property. Some of the trees are thought to be dying, and the board asked that an expert decide which trees could be saved and which need to be removed.

Grass be gone: The board discussed implementing written warnings and fines for people who blow grass clippings onto curbed streets. The clippings get into storm sewers and cause issues with pipes. Diana Brandstatter, village clerk, was instructed to call local communities for examples.

Source: News Tribune

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Monday, May 18, 2015

BioBlitz coming to Hennepin-Hopper

Image courtesy of The Wetlands Initiative
Teams will comb the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes on June 13-14 to identify as many species of plants and animals as possible in what is called a BioBlitz.

A BioBlitz is a methodical 24-hour survey of plants, birds, mammals, insects and other creatures. Scientists will lead volunteers to measure the site’s biodiversity. The event will run from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday so that daytime and nighttime species are surveyed, according to The Wetlands Initiative.

In recent years a dragonfly species never before recorded in Illinois was found at the Dixon Refuge. Another dragonfly not seen in the state since 1938 also was found there.

Nearly three dozen experts have agreed to participate representing the Illinois Natural History Survey, Chicago’s Field Museum, Peoria Audubon Society, National Park Service, Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, McHenry County Conservation District, Peoria Academy of Science, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Chicago Botanic Garden, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois Audubon Society, Illinois Ornithological Society, Triton College in River Grove, and Trine University in Indiana.

BioBlitz is open to volunteers age 14 and older who are can hike for up to three hours across variable terrain. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. No scientific knowledge is needed to volunteer. Volunteers need to be stealthy, observant and follow the group leader’s instructions. Volunteers need not participate for the entire 24 hours. Refreshments will be provided.

Registration is required. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZPG59Y8 or call The Wetlands Initiative at (312) 922-0777.

Prior surveys of the refuge have found nearly 600 native plant species and more than 270 bird species. More information is needed about mammals, insects, fungi and other things.

Founded in 2001 and open to the public year-round, TWI’s Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes has been designated both an Audubon Important Bird Area and a Wetland of International Importance.

Now totaling more than 3,000 acres, the Refuge is renowned for its diversity of habitats ranging from marshes, rare seeps, and other wetlands to oak savanna, the lakes, and several types of prairie. The BioBlitz will include baseline surveying of the newest addition to the Refuge, nearly 300 upland acres where ecological restoration work will begin this fall.

Source: News Tribune

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Grass Clippings Notice

Notice to Village of Hennepin Residents

Please do NOT blow grass clippings onto the curbed streets! Grass clippings clog the storm drainage system. This can be expensive to repair!

Thank you for your cooperation,
Hennepin Village Board

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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

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hennepin Requests County-Wide E-Cycling in Future

Disposing of a television set has become no easy task, and Hennepin's mayor asked the Putnam County Board for a little help in the future.

Village president Kevin Coleman on Tuesday told the county board Hennepin will host an electronics recycling event Nov. 22 for Putnam County residents only, but subsidies for recyclers expired this summer. That means the village will pay 4 cents per pound to recycle old TVs, computers and other e-junk for people who can show identification of county residency.

Last December, Hennepin recycled 19,254 pounds of "e-cyclables," at a December event. That amount would cost the village $770 this year.

Coleman said he thinks it will be too much for Putnam County's small villages to take on in the future.

He said he knows the county board is working on appropriations for the next fiscal year starting in December, and he believes the county should organize e-cycling efforts in the future. Any village could host the events, however, he said.

Board committees can discuss it.

"Maybe people have gotten rid of most of their old computers and TVs," Coleman remarked hopefully.

Source: News Tribune

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Seed Hunting Fun in Hennepin Refuge

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Just off Route 26 in Hennepin is a dirt road entrance to the Sue and Wes Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes.

If you drive too fast, you might miss the brown highway sign that points you in the right direction.
The trees on the roadway block the vast wetlands that contain hundreds of wildlife species. In 2012 this refuge was listed as a Wetland of International Importance in accordance with the International Ramsar Convention Wetlands. It is one of only 35 other sites in the United States to have been recognized as meeting the qualifications of Ramsar in the past 25 years.

Saturday, volunteers came to the refuge to take part in collecting seeds during the annual seed harvest. Even with bitterly cold temperatures and rain, volunteers showed up ready to work with buckets in hand.

“Just 14 years ago this was all vast farmland,” said Louise Harrison, originally of South Africa, but now residing in Kewanee. “What they’ve done here is mind-blowing. It’s incredibly difficult to restore wetlands, so I have the utmost respect for the people who have helped do this. I just wish I was here sooner to take part in it.”

Rick Seibert, the site supervisor for Hennepin & Hopper Lakes who works for the Wetlands Initiative, said he and volunteers were collecting seeds to be planted in different areas of the wetland to have a more diverse ecosystem. Seibert said about 20 volunteers came out Saturday and split into groups to collect seeds.

His group split off from the others and went down Sleep Forest Trail, a one-mile walking trail in the refuge to look for Royal Catchfly seeds.

In Seibert’s group, a master gardener, Antoinette Strezo of Earlville, and a master naturalist, Laurel Maze of Peru, said that in order to hold their certification, they have to complete several hours of training and volunteering.

“This is a wonderful way to get the volunteer hours,” Maze said.

Not everyone in the group was a master of something. Bob Meyers of Hennepin was part of Seibert’s group as well, and he was just a loyal volunteer to the refuge.

“Bob has been volunteering with us since 2001,” Seibert said, adding Meyers used to take water samples from the refuge three times a week to check nitrogen levels.

“It was just an excuse to get in the woods,” Meyers said. “I was more privileged to do it than making a donation to it.”

A former science teacher was also part of the group of volunteers. Mary Ann Smith of Princeton said the last year she taught, she taught a botany class and she took her students to see the refuge.

“I think it’s important to say that not all of us here are here for training purposes. Just local people who care about it,” Smith said.

Source: News Tribune

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Recycling Old TVs Becoming Tough, Hennepin Learns

What to do with old televisions and fallen leaves were among topics the Hennepin Village Board wrestled with on Wednesday.

TV recycling problem
Have you noticed television-recycling opportunities disappeared after this spring?

Hennepin officials noticed it, too. Residents frequently ask what to do with old TVs as they purchase modern ones.

Village president Kevin Coleman noted that the village recycled 19,000 pounds of TVs and other electronic devices last December, at no cost.

Government incentives for recyclers to haul away TVs and computer monitors have expired, so the recycling incentives merely are the metals inside the set.

“The people we used last year are charging 4 cents per pound,” Coleman told the board.
If 19,000 pounds were recycled, the village’s cost could be $770, a board member calculated.

Board members agreed that if they have a recycling event, people from all over the county will show up. Board members discussed requiring people to show identification with the Hennepin ZIP code to participate, but later they settled upon scheduling an event and then urging the county to organize countywide events in the future.

“Everybody’s been accumulating it and they’ve been asking about it,” trustee Quentin Buffington said of unwanted electronic items.

Leaf burning, any day
Board members reviewed and then revised the village ordinance on leaf burning Wednesday. Coleman said, years ago, a resident had complained about leaf burning and requested it not be allowed on Saturdays and Sundays; in response the village made an ordinance banning it on two weekdays including Thursdays.

That ordinance also prohibited burning after a rain or when leaves were wet, prohibited use of burning barrels and required fires to be extinguished at dusk.

Board member Clyde Zellmer said “if a guy’s only off on a Thursday,” the ordinance made it impossible to burn leaves. Board members unanimously agreed.

The item was not on the agenda, but board members concurred that they were not spending money and could have a voice vote to allow burning any day.

Trustee Matt Dean emphasized that it’s important to enforce all the other portions of the ordinance, namely not burning wet leaves and having all fires out by dusk.

Recreational wood campfires still are allowed.

Streets, accessibility
The board approved hiring low bidder Universal Asphalt for $60,326 for the street and curb improvement program, about 7 percent above engineer Bill Shafer’s estimate but $7,000 less than the other bid. Shafer said the first two weeks will be for curb and sidewalk work, and after concrete for curbs cures, the paving should be completed within the following two weeks.

Also regarding sidewalks and roads, Shafer told the board the wheelchair ramp between the downtown grocery store and “Ray’s” will be taken out and there will be ramps at Ray’s and the store instead.

In addition, streets superintendent Tim Rylko and the village are planning to remove curb from part of the street to the north of the shelter in Bassi Park (east of the courthouse and near the village hall) and to create a 24-foot-wide driveway to and perhaps a few parking spots near the shelter. He said that will be better than people having to park on the street and carry things to picnics and community events.

Donations
The board voted to donate $1,000 to the PC Wellness after-school activities program for this school year and also will donate $100 to the countywide Oct. 2 Partners in Education dinner and anti-bullying and parenting workshops, with child care and children’s activities provided.

Source: News Tribune

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tobacco-Free Park Policy

The Village of Hennepin recently passed a 2014 Tobacco-Free Parks Proclamation so that those who use our parks can get the maximum benefit and enjoyment from them.

Please view the document below for the full details.

Tobacco-Free Parks Proclamation

Thank you!

Hennepin Village Board

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hennepin Discusses Tobacco-Free, Gun-Free Zones

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
Signs banning smoking and guns in certain locations in town kept popping up at the Hennepin Village Board meeting Wednesday.

Regarding smoking, the village is taking the lead in tobacco-free parks effort following the theme, “Play hard, breathe easy.”

Becky Piano, public health educator from Bureau and Putnam County Health Department, brought signs professionally designed by Frank Boggio that will be posted at the entrances to the village.

She also brought posters the fourth- and fifth-grade students designed. Those posters will be transformed into signs the village will post at the entrances to the village parks. She asked the board members if they wanted to have the junior high and high school students complete some designs, too, because the signs will become permanent fixtures.

Village trustee Quentin Buffington said since the parks are for the children, he thinks it’s great to have the signs designed by the younger children in town.

“Save your time,” Buffington said to Piano when she proposed a poster contest for the older students. “Keep it simple.”

The board was in agreement.

“It’s your park. You guys can design it any way you like and we’d just pay for it,” said Dawn Conerton from Community Partners Against Substance Abuse, who accompanied two health department representatives at the meeting.

Piano said the health department received a “We Choose Health” grant from Illinois Department of Public Health and is in the second year of the five-year grant. She said the “three focuses” of the grant are working with schools (including Putnam County and Bureau Valley) on health and exercise, smoke-free public places and worksite wellness.

She presented the board with a tobacco-free park policy to read. Mayor Kevin Coleman said the board can approve the policy next month.

The health department plans to approach Granville about tobacco-free parks next.

“Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll be as easy to work with as you are,” Piano said.

Concealed carry exceptions

Trustee Lynn Haage brought to the board meeting some window stickers that the village needs to post on public buildings. She said Putnam County sheriff Kevin Doyle provided the stickers, and businesses can request them.

The board discussed where to put up signs, a handgun with a red slash through it, including the parks. They indicated the school properties would be the school district’s call. Trustee Clyde Zellmer said such signs can’t go up at the boat ramp, since hunters use the ramp “about 90 days out of the year.”

Source: News Tribune

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