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Taking it up a notch

The movement toward changing the name of Bureau County’s Negro Creek has come back to life.

About a year ago, Phillip Mol of DePue had heard the creek referred to as “Nigger Creek” one too many times, so he formed a group and created a Facebook page dedicated to changing the name of the creek. When Chad Errio of Seatonville heard about it, he disagreed and formed a group and a Facebook page dedicated to preserving history and keeping the name as it is.

A social network war ensued with heated words and name-calling spread across Facebook and on newspaper blogs.

But after several separate meetings of each side in January and a joint meeting in March, little has happened.

That all changed about a month ago, when Cosmo Andoloro of suburban Hoffman Estates began posting on Mol’s Facebook page.

Andoloro and Mol are old friends.

“I had taken a passive, mild interest in this, maybe a year ago, and to be honest with you, I didn’t get deeply involved in it because I honestly thought it would be a no-brainer,” Andoloro said Friday.

Andoloro said he thought a simple submission to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) would result in the changing of the name. Mol wanted to change the name to honor the Adams or Love families who initially settled by the creek. That provided historical context for the change, and Andoloro said only some local support would be needed.

But it didn’t work out that way.

“The opposition had made the issue (about) Phil and not the name,” Andoloro said. “I just mentioned to Phil, ‘Phil, do you need any help?’ and Phil’s response was, ‘Yeah, I can’t really do this anymore.’”

So Andoloro agreed to take over getting the name changed.

“I’ve been a political activist for about 30 years,” he said. “I have some experience in this type of thing.”

Andoloro has written letters to the members of the Bureau County Board, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin and even President Barack Obama.

“I’m not asking for legislation, I’m not even asking for any action,” he said. “All I’m asking for a positive response to this to submit to the USGS so it does show that the elected officials are aware, and even if they don’t support it, wouldn’t stand in its way.”

Andoloro is now waiting for the responses, which he expects to be positive.

“I can’t imagine an elected official in 2012 sending back a correspondence in response to what I sent saying, ‘No, sorry, I can’t support this,’” he said. “If they do do that, just as a citizen, I would certainly question that elected official’s judgment and probably work in such a way to make people know that.”

After the responses are received, Andoloro will look for signatures to submit with his petition for the name change, probably sometime after the first of the year.

Andoloro said some people are hesitant to express their support for the name change.

“These people are actually afraid to come above the radar and speak out because of the social injunction that they believe will happen in their community if they do,” he said. “So they communicate with me through private messages, and they communicate with me through email thanking me for doing what I’m doing.”

Andoloro said he would like supporters of the name change to talk to their friends, county board representative and other local officials.

Some of the angry talk has continued on the Internet between the two sides.

“I’m also getting, obviously, some very negative feedback from the opposition,” he said. “There’s this idea that, ‘You’re an outsider, it’s none of your business.’ Well, I’m a citizen of the planet Earth.”

But Andoloro has been in contact with Errio and said they have found some areas of agreement.

“I guess both of us have kind of evolved and moved toward the center on this,” he said.

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