Work Continues on I-180 Bridge in Hennepin

Work continues on the $25 million reconstruction of the bridge that carries Interstate 180 traffic high above the Illinois River between Putnam and Bureau counties.Crews have been making repairs on the half-century-old I-180 bridge sporadically for the past several years, and now pretty much all but the supports need to be rebuilt.

The project consists of a three-year timeline. This year, the crew is rebuilding the eastbound half, and next year, workers will rebuild the westbound half. A painting project is planned for the third year.

The bridge deck replacement work is being completed by Civil Constructors Inc. of Freeport.

The bridge was built in 1968.
Source: Putnam County Record

Census Response Rate in Putnam County is Among Lowest in Illinois

Counting efforts will end Sept. 30

The Regional Census Director for Northwest Illinois has his eye on Putnam County.

Perry Maier said Putnam County is ranking among the 10 lowest counties in Illinois as far as response-rate for the Census. Recently, Putnam County was sitting at a 60.9% response rate, compared to the state’s response rate of 67.9%.

Maier said COVID has had a direct impact on the response rate this year, and the Census organization is doing what it can to makeup for that. Many block parties and education events had to be canceled due to the COVID shutdown this spring.

Maier said there have also been a lot concern surrounding the citizenship question on the Census.

“People are still fearful of sharing information with the government,” he said. “However, your response is confidential, secure and protected by federal law.”

Maier stresses the importance of filling out the census as it’s linked to federal dollars that come back to support Putnam County to help with schools, trans…

Putnam County Board Eyeing Vote by Mail, Census Numbers

Putnam County Board is on a mission to get its residents counted, both for the upcoming election and the current census.

Board members discussed this week issues related to election costs and mail-in voting, as well as the lack of local response to the census.

County Clerk Dan Kuhn said information about how to vote by mail is available on the clerk's website. Information was also mailed to residents. As of this week, he said his office has received almost 100 applications for mail-in voting. Early voting will start at the clerk's office Sept. 24.

Kuhn also gave the board a run down on the extra costs that will be associated with the upcoming election, but says grant monies should cover the expenses he'll take on by hiring extra help. Kuhn estimates the county will outlay about $17,000 for election-related expenses, which will then be reimbursed by grants.

"Vote by mail is going to be a huge undertaking," Kuhn said, "But I think right now we've got a goo…

Granville Family Donates Locally Grown Corn to Give Area Schools Hand Sanitizer

Luke and Megan Holly of rural Granville recently sold a semi-load of their locally grown corn to Marquis Energy in Hennepin.

Instead of obtaining the profits, The Holly family asked that payment be transferred into a hand sanitizer donation. Their corn product produced 360-gallons of hand sanitizer, which the family kindly donated to several area schools.

“As I was hauling in the last of our 2019 corn crop May/June, I was intrigued about the new product, Marquis XT, the Hennepin plant was producing,” Luke said. “I spoke with Lester Smith at Marquis to inquire about how much hand sanitizer could be made with a semi load of grain. Turns out 360 gallons could be manufactured.”

Luke said with COVID fears on everyone’s minds, especially with schools already preparing for fall, his family decided to split the donation up to five area schools.

“It was something we could do to help the schools not only financially, but more importantly we thought of all of the little and big hands and in turn…

Princeton Pet Store Destroyed by Fire Eyes Mid-September Opening at New Location

‘We have everything moved to the new location’

Hennepin native Lori Boekeloo is proving the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

A May fire destroyed her Prince­ton business, but not her drive to succeed, and just a few short months after the blaze, Boekeloo will be ready to reopen her pet store Boek-el-ZOO.

The former Tanks/Boek-el-ZOO was gutted after an electrical fire May 30, and with it, years of work Boekeloo put into her beloved pet store. Boekeloo embraced the outpouring of support from loyal friends and customers and immediately began plans to rebuild the business as quickly as possible.

Community-supported fundraisers and a GoFundMe replenished her coffers enough to find a new location, still on Princeton’s South Main Street, just blocks from the former location.

“We are going to plan a celebration for a mid-September grand reopening,” Boekeloo said. “Our name will now just be Boek-el-ZOO.”

“We have everything moved to the new location and we’re now in the process …

Former Steel Mill Site Receiving a Lot of Attention, No Bites Yet

The former LTV and ArcelorMittal rolled-steel plant in Hennepin is considered one of the “most attractive sites” in the state of Illinois when it comes to companies looking to relocate.

“It’s received a lot of attention just in the short time I’ve been in the area,” said Mike Kirchhoff, CEO and president of North Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation, who was hired to the position last August.

What makes it attractive? According to Kirchhoff, it’s access to the Illinois River, Interstate 180 and railroad; it’s size, which consists of 853-acres of land; it’s 80-megawatt substation; water and sewer hookups ready-to-go; it’s proximity to Chicago and the concrete foundation that was left onsite following demolition of the former mill.

“It’s a quicker build, a cheaper build,” said Kirchhoff, referring to the foundation already set in place. “It’s a site that’s ready to go and everybody is looking for a site that’s ready to go. The attributes of this site are substantial. They put …

Hennepin Couple Awarded Putnam County Rotary's Service Above Self Award

A Hennepin couple has been awarded Putnam County Rotary's Service Above Self Award.

Jennifer and Rob Spratt, owners of Spratt's Tap weren't looking for recognition for feeding the county's school kids during this spring's COVID-19 shutdowns, they were just looking for a way to give back to the community.

Nearly 3,000 lunches later though, they're being recognized by their community.

"When Gov. Pritzker announced in March of this year the closing of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt we needed to do something to help the families that would be affected by the closure," Jen Spratt said.

"Having been a substitute teacher at the schools and having a mother that is currently the secretary at the Junior High school, I was aware that many families depended on school breakfasts and lunches to help feed their kids," she said.

In the beginning, she put on the Spratt's Tap Facebook page that hot dogs and chips would be available to any studen…

Hennepin Water Department Notice to Residents

Hennepin residents, please view the PDF document below for a notice from the Hennepin Water Department. You may fill out the form to see if you qualify for a discount on your water bill.

Notice to Residents

Thank you!