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Looking back on 2012

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series focusing on the events in and around Bureau County in 2012.

March 2: The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approves a revised schedule for the contamination cleanup at the former New Jersey Zinc/Mobil Chemical Superfund site. The schedule was submitted by the DePue Group, which consists of CBS Corporation and the ExxonMobil Corporation, the parties responsible under Superfund. The revised schedule will require work at the Superfund site to move forward in a “timely manner with enforceable deadlines.”

March 3: Sue Krolak of Spring Valley beats out 33,104 other participants nationwide to win this week’s prize in the Checkered Flag Challenge, sponsored locally by the Bureau County Republican and nationally by Second Street Media. It was Krolak’s first time to enter one of the BCR’s online contests. Krolak won the local contest by 141 points. She won the national contest — and a NASCAR Fathead of her choice — by 24 points. Krolak credited her victory to luck, though she does watch a lot of NASCAR, she said.

March 6: The city of Princeton hires a new city manager, Jeff Clawson of Fairfield, Iowa. According to a press release issued by Princeton Mayor Keith Cain, Clawson comes to Princeton with more than 25 years of city government experience. Until Clawson begins his work full time in Princeton, he will travel to the city on weekends and occasionally during the week to work with the city in its budget process and to meet with department heads, Cain says.

March 8: If David Turpen of Tiskilwa wins the March 20 primary election, he’ll face a greater problem at the Nov. 6 general election. As of now, Turpen would face no Democratic challenger for the District 7 seat on the Bureau County Board, but Turpen couldn’t take his seat on the board because he doesn’t live in District 7. Turpen is facing incumbent Marshann Entwhistle for the Republican nomination for the District 7 seat. County Clerk Kami Hieronymus confirms Turpen is a resident of District 19.

March 10: Bureau County Girl Scouts help plan one big birthday party, complete with cake, games and entertainment. The Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, which encompasses Bureau, LaSalle and Putnam counties, are participating with other Girls Scouts nationwide in celebrating the 100th birthday anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA. Locally, the birthday celebration is set for March 18 at Illinois Valley Community College. Malden Junior Troop 1068 Leader Tricia Sennett says her troop has been busy for the past month working on a camping display for the celebration.

March 13: The two sides of the Negro Creek name issue come together, not to yell or name call, but to celebrate the things the groups have in common. Mol and Sharon Kopina, who want to change the name, sat down with Chad Errio and Carl Neuhalfen, supporters of leaving the name alone, to discuss the future. The Kopinas say they will continue the fight to change the name on either a social or national level. Errio and Neuhalfen say they will continue their efforts to block any change on a local level but would accept a state or federal change.

March 15: Bureau County Board members debate just how much they should be paid for their service to the county. Fees and Salaries Committee Chairman Marshann Entwhistle presents a recommendation from the committee to set county board salaries at $8,000 annually for the board chairman; $3,500 annually for the vice chairman; and $75 for the remaining 24 board members for attending regular monthly meetings and $40 for attending each committee meeting. Currently, the board chairman gets $5,000 annually, with all other members receiving $115 per month, which includes all meetings, whether or not they attend them.

March 17: An estimated 440 Bureau County fourth-graders attend the annual Bureau County Ag Fair sponsored by the Bureau County Farm Bureau at the Bureau County Fairgrounds in Princeton. The annual event included 14 learning centers, which covered topics such as small animals, conservation, equipment, embryology and safety.

March 20: Though spring doesn’t officially start until today, Bureau County residents have already had several weeks of unusually mild weather, which has led to earlier outdoor clearing projects, and unfortunately, to several brush, grass and field fires. Diana Stiles, director of the Bureau County Emergency Telephone System Board (BuEComm), says Bureau County fire departments have responded to a total of 29 brush, grass and field fires so far this year, with seven of those fires happening in January, five in February and 17 in March.

March 22: Princeton voters say no, no, no and no to home rule. The home rule referendum on Tuesday’s ballot for Princeton voters is defeated on a 1,569 to 411 vote.  In the contested Bureau County Board races, Republican incumbent Marshann Entwhistle beats challenger David Turpen on a 185 to 95 vote, and newcomer Derek Whited beats newcomer Tony Pease for the Republican Party’s nomination for District 6 on a 173 to 126 vote.

March 24: Gen. Wesley Clark addresses the Patriot Renewable Fuels annual shareholders meeting in Annawan. Clark, who spoke at the invitation of Patriot CEO Gene Griffith, retired as a four-star general in 2000 and now serves as co-chairman of Growth Energy, an ethanol industry support group. Each year the average American spends $1,000 on importing oil and other liquid fuel products into the United States, for a total of $300 billion annually. That money needs to be kept at home, Clark says.

March 27: With flowers blooming and lawns growing, Bureau County residents will probably not be surprised to learn the month of March has been one for the record books with its unseasonably warm temperatures. WQAD News 8 meteorologist Anthony Peoples says March is the warmest March on record for the Quad Cities area, which experienced seven consecutive days of high temperatures which tied or broke previous records. High temperature records are also broken in Princeton, which set eight new high temperature records during the past two weeks.

March 29: The Bright Beginnings program at the Princeton Elementary School District is discontinued for next year, at least until state funding is secured. At Monday’s meeting, the PES Board approves Reduction in Force (RIF) action for the entire Bright Beginnings staff. Superintendent Tim Smith says he hopes to be able to reinstate the Bright Beginnings program and staff for next year, dependent on the status of the state’s Early Childhood Block Grant which funds the program.

March 31: After deliberating for just more than 15 minutes, the Regional Board of School Trustees unanimously approves the petition by the Leepertown School District to dissolve, with most of the district being annexed into the Ladd School District and a small portion annexed into the Princeton Elementary School District. Leepertown Superintendent Amber Harper says it’s a relief to know where the students will go next year.

April 3: The Bureau County United Way ends its 2011-12 campaign at $105,094, which is 88 percent of its original goal of $120,000. Bureau County United Way Director Michelle Lymberopoulos says this year’s campaign did a little better than last year’s campaign which raised 81 percent of its $120,000 goal. The Bureau County United Way helps support 15 local not-for-profit agencies.

April 5: The radio equipment at the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department is 100 percent junk and needs to be replaced, according to consultant Jim Eatock of B-K Electric. Eatock has completed a 171-page study of the public safety emergency radio system in Bureau County, as authorized by the Bureau County Board. The county board meets in special session to hear the findings of Eatock’s study.

April 7: Questions, comments and rumors have circulated for the past several months regarding Citizens First National Bank, headquartered in Princeton. The Bureau County Republican sits down with Citizens First National Bank President/CEO Tom Ogaard for a question and answer setting to learn about the state of the company’s 21 banks in 17 communities. When asked how the bank has ended up in its current situation, Ogaard says it’s the result of the economic conditions and is primarily related to loans made for development purposes. The values of those properties have deteriorated rather significantly, he said.

April 10: Bureau County residents are healthy, but maybe not quite as healthy as they were last year. According to a recent study released, Bureau County is ranked as the 25th healthiest of Illinois’ 102 counties. However last year, Bureau County was ranked as the 23rd healthiest county. But overall, Bureau County appears to be on an overall healthier trend; the county ranked 34th two years ago.

April 12: The Tiskilwa Village Board votes to sell the Tiskilwa Public Library property to the library district. The library district will pay $5,000 for the property and reimburse the village for previously paid bills like utilities. The final transaction will be just over $8,800. Library Board President Rich Foss says the library board wants to preserve the historic structure of the existing building if possible, as well as the old jail building that sits behind the library. The hope is to build an addition with the help of grant money from the Illinois Historic Preservation Society, Foss said.

April 14: The village of Dalzell may be the future home of Concerts For A Cause, if concert organizer Mary Noonan, the village and residents can reach an agreement. Noonan says she purchased the property on the south side of the Timber Creek Estates subdivision, but since the economic climate isn’t favorable for building houses, she wants to build a stage for two annual Concerts For A Cause events. The village board takes no action on proposal.

April 17: The Princeton Park Board votes unanimously to discontinue electricity at the Alexander Park skate park, due to repeated vandalism. Superintendent of Parks Keith Scherer tells the board his staff discovered a broken electric meter early last week at the skate park. Elaine Russell, director of the Princeton Park District, says this isn’t the first time the electric meter has been vandalized. The location of the skate park has made it easier for vandals to strike, Russell says.

April 19: The Bureau County Board decides if members don’t attend their meetings, they won’t get paid. The board approves a motion to pay board members $25 per assigned committee meeting and $75 for full board meetings, with no pay for missed meetings. The vice chairman is given the same compensation as the other regular board members, with authorization given to attend all committee meetings. The board chairman’s annual salary is increased from $5,000 to $8,000. Compensation changes begin with the new fiscal year, starting Dec. 1.

April 21: The Bureau County Board could be dealing with God at its next meeting, or at least with His Ten Commandments. Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Kristi Warren presents a proposal from retired minister David Beck of Malden, who along with a group of sponsors, wants to install a Ten Commandments monument on the Bureau County Courthouse lawn. The board asks State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann to look into the legality of the proposal.

April 24: Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission is the new owner of the former Orchard View Rehabilitation and Healthcare facility, formerly the county-owned Prairie View Nursing Home. The new buyer, officially listed at the Bureau County Courthouse as Chicago Title and Trust, purchased the property on Feb. 17, 2012. Jan Imhof of Dubuque, Iowa, a spokesperson for the mission, confirms the religious organization is the new owner. The mission originated in Chicago with ties to Madison, Wis. and Dubuque, Iowa.

April 26: Princeton Elementary School students are getting a good, basic education, but nothing fancy, according to Superintendent Tim Smith. The superintendent says he’d love to provide more for the students, but the district just doesn’t have the money to do it. The biggest problem is the lack of revenue from the state, which has cut funding and is consistently late on its payments of what funding is still there, he said.

April 28: The Princeton High School Board unanimously approves the hiring of current PHS Principal Barb Schmidt for the newly-created position of assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the new school year, a position which will be shared with the Princeton Elementary School District. Current PHS Assistant Principal Andy Berlinski will assume the PHS principal position. Both positions will take effect on July 1.

May 1: A committee in the Peoria Catholic Diocese recommends the merger of St. Patrick’s Church in Sheffield into St. Anthony’s Church in Atkinson, and the closure of the Sheffield church building by July 2014, though no final decision has been made. Parishes in the diocese are in the process of an eight-step restructuring process which began in August 2011. Three town hall meetings will be held to further explain the final recommendation and answer questions.

May 3: Winds and an electrical line fire knock out power for numerous customers in Bureau County. A thunderstorm moved through western Bureau County, knocking out power to about 2,100 customers in the Buda, Sheffield, Mineral and Wyanet areas. Ameren Illinois spokesperson Leigh Morris says apparently straight-line winds associated with the storm triggered relay switches which turned off the power. One day earlier, an electrical outage knocked out power in Princeton for about an hour.

May 5: The Hall High School Board meets in special session to consider a variety of options for dealing with the school’s aging facility, and all of the options are expensive. The average age of the school building is 75 years old, and half of the school is almost 100 years old. School officials are dealing with crumbling walls, leaking roofs and failing mechanical systems. Four options range from about $18 million to nearly $35 million. No decision is made.

May 8: Long-time Princeton resident Lou Brown is named grand marshal for this year’s Bureau County Homestead Festival parade. Though she said many people are more deserving than her, being named grand marshal is a special honor to her because she helped get the Homestead Festival organized, Brown says. Brown has also been involved in numerous community organizations and events. Brown and her husband, Paul, moved to Princeton in 1969 and owned and operated Princeton Crown Lanes.

May 10: The Bureau County Board closes the door to a request to place a Ten Commandments monument on the Bureau County Courthouse lawn. Based on his research into Ten Commandments legal cases, State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann recommends denying the proposal until a clearer ruling is made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, Herrmann says he has received a letter from the ACLU stating its objections to the proposed Bureau County monument, which means a possible lawsuit could be brought against the county.

May 12:The United States Postal Service announces a plan to save eight Bureau County post offices marked for possible extinction. But to keep those post offices open, they and 13 other Bureau County post offices will see their hours cut, some by as much as 75 percent. The change will affect every post office in Bureau County with the exceptions of Princeton, Spring Valley and Walnut. Community meetings will be conducted to review options in greater detail.

May 15: Andrea Anderson, director of the Zearing Child Enrichment Center (ZCEC), learns the Illinois Department of Human Services does not have enough money to pay for childcare services for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30. The ZCEC receives about $12,000 a month from the state for the program. The center had been receiving state payments in a timely fashion, coming no more than a week or two late each month, Anderson says. The ZCEC Board will meet to talk about its options, she adds.

May 17: Although the land that comprises Bureau County has been around since the beginning of time, and men and women have walked its rolling hills and prairies for thousands of years, Bureau County as a county has only existed for 175 years. The county observes its anniversary with a look at its settlers and early communities.

May 19: Bureau County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Investigator Randy Hasbrook says a rash of burglaries has occurred recently in the Sheffield and Buda area. Most of the burglaries were in the daytime and were all non-forced entries, Some of the items stolen include medication, music equipment, electronic equipment and money. People need to keep the doors to their homes and vehicles locked, Hasbrook says.

May 22:The Illinois Department of Transportation confirms it has received 248 written comments about the proposed Route 89 bridge replacement project near Spring Valley. The project, estimated at $22.5 million, is currently in the preliminary engineering phase, with a tentative scheduled completion date in December 2013. The next public hearing on the proposed project is scheduled for this fall, at which various alternatives for the project will be presented.

May 24: The Bureau Valley School Board makes plans to begin working on a list of life-safety issues which need to be addressed at the Bureau Valley North, South, Wyanet and the alternative school buildings. Broken doors, padlocked doors, doors which don’t latch, lighting and accessibility issues, totaling more than $300,000, were itemized. Board member Don DeWaele says not all the items have to be done immediately, but will be prioritized, with hopefully some of the work done in-house to save money.

May 26: Gusty strong winds do no favors to the Bureau Emergency Communications’ (BuEComm) system, but Director Diana Stiles says the emergency system’s own emergency plan worked without any problems. A downed tree on Elm Place in Princeton took down poles and telephone lines causing BuEComm’s system to go down, however, the system’s back-up plan immediately went into effect, and all calls were rolled over to Putnam County, Stiles says.

May 29: Bureau County has two confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, in recent weeks. Bureau/Putnam County Health Department Executive Director Diana Rawlings confirms there was a positive case of pertussis in a child in a Bureau County School and an earlier confirmed case in an adult, not associated with the school. Ladd School Board President John Piccatto confirms Ladd was the school with the confirmed case of pertussis. Also, some end-of-the year events were rescheduled to avoid spreading the pertussis germs, Piccatto says.

May 31: Students of John F. Kennedy and Lincoln schools in Spring Valley dance, sing, march and laugh under a sunny sky to celebrate 125 years of education. Parents, staff and community members join the party at the Spring Valley Mini Park to commemorate Spring Valley Elementary School Day and mark the end of a year-long celebration of the district’s birthday. Spring Valley Elementary Superintendent James Hermes, Kennedy Principal Gina Herrmann and Lincoln Principal Kim Lisanby-Barber worked on celebration plans to get the students excited about the anniversary, Hermes says.

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