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Looking back on 2013

Editor’s note: The following is another segment in a series looking back on the headlines covered in the Bureau County Republican in 2013.

May 7: Tiskilwa Public Library officials learn a state grant will allow the library to build an addition to its building. Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White says the Tiskilwa library is entitled to receive a Fiscal Year 2013 Illinois Public Construction Grant, with a maximum award of $504,241. The grant requires the library to match the grant with an additional $465,453. The library will meet the grant from a combination of savings, donations and a loan from a local bank.

May 9: James Reed of Arlington announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the office of Bureau County Sheriff in the March 2014 primary election. He pledges to “be a working sheriff for Bureau County” and has served in nearly every capacity in the sheriff’s office during his 22 years with the department, Reed says.
The Hall High School Board meets with architects to discuss a new high school building. Architects tell the board only 17 of the 54 school referendums on local ballots across Illinois passed in April. Of the 12 building referendums, Hall was one of only two that voters approved.

May 11: The Walnut Village Board nominates and approves Dennis Grobe as acting village president, who will serve until the next general election in two years. Grobe accepted the new position and still retained his position as a village trustee, keeping his voting power as a trustee. The village had no candidate on the April ballot for the president’s position.

May 14: Local officials work with federal and state officials to determine if Bureau County is eligible for federal assistance following the April 17-18 rains and flooding which damaged properties and infrastructure across the county and state. Bureau County ESDA coordinator Kris Donarski says five teams have been sent out to assess the state, county by county, for damages.

May 16: Tiskilwa residents are invited to see building plans and ask questions about a new addition to the existing library during an open house at the library. Tiskilwa Library Board President Rich Foss says bids for the expansion project are due to be open in May with groundbreaking this summer. Hopefully, the library can occupy the addition next spring or summer, Foss says.

May 18: The discovery recount of the April 9 election votes on the Hall High School referendum does not change the results of the final outcome, that the Hall High School District will get a new high school, according to Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus. The discovery recount was requested by Mary Alice Mueller who had filed a petition in the county clerk office with eight signatures asking for the recount of the referendum votes.

May 21: Two people are arrested Saturday night following an armed robbery on Princeton’s North End business district earlier in the afternoon. Princeton Police Chief Tom Root says David E. Jones, 30, of Kewanee allegedly entered Anne’s Antiques at 938 N. Main St., displayed a handgun, and ordered the owner and a female subject in the store to the floor. He grabbed all the money from the register and fled on foot. Jones was later identified by a female subject, Rebecca L. Daily, 20, of Buda, who was later charged with being Jones’ accomplice.

May 23: With dwindling state dollars hanging over the district’s head, the Princeton Elementary School Board discusses impending cuts that need to be made to keep the district afloat. Those cuts could include closing Reagan Middle School building in Tiskilwa for the 2014-15 school year and implementing a three-year plan to reduce the number of certified and non-certified staff and increase class sizes.

May 25: Perry Memorial Hospital CEO Rex Conger announces the city-owned hospital will close its Women’s Healthcare Unit, which includes obstetrics, labor, delivery and nursery services. The expected closure date is Jan. 1, 2014. The decision was not an easy or a quick one, Conger says. Regulatory changes, changes in patient volume, payer mix and significant reductions in state and federal reductions are many of the issues which helped PMH make the tough decision to close the Women’s Healthcare Unit, which employs 12 staff members, he says.

May 28: The House bill dealing with the medical use of marijuana goes to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature. If signed, the new law would allow patients with certain diseases to receive a prescription from their doctor for marijuana to relieve their symptoms. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association strongly opposed the legislation, as does Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson. The legislation is written in a terrible, unenforceable manner, he says.

May 30: The city of Princeton moves forward with an engineering study into the problems within the city’s sanitary and storm sewer systems. In special session, the Princeton City Council unanimously approves an agreement with the Farnsworth Group to evaluate the city’s sanitary and storm sewer issues, as well as the flooding issues in the Dover Road/Euclid Avenue and the Greencroft/Metro Center areas. The total cost of the study is estimated at $9,100.
The Princeton Police Department is transformed into a murder crime scene, complete with blood, caution tape and fingerprints, as a mock scenario planned out for the Princeton Police Department Explorer Post No. 40 to solve. Solving the crime scene is one of several activities planned for the Explorer group to help them better understand the workings of the police force. The group includes young adults from ages 14 to 21 and is led by explorer adviser Jenn Hand.

June 1: Federal Emergency Management Agency team members are expected to be in Bureau County within the next few days to talk with residents and business owners about storm and flood damages received during the April 17-18 heavy rains that hit the area. Bureau County Emergency Services Disaster Agency coordinator Kris Donarski says the FEMA team will go door-to-door in the hardest hit areas of the county, though residents do not have to wait to meet with FEMA representatives before applying for federal assistance.

June 4: The state of Illinois considers legislation which would allow citizens to register online to vote, but Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus says getting more people to register to vote isn’t really the problem. The problem is getting registered voters to actually go out and vote, she said. Though she understands the premise of online registration, there are already several registration options out there for people, including county clerks’ offices, driver’s license facilities, and some high schools, Hieronymus says.

June 6: Seventeen Bureau County households are approved so far to receive federal disaster assistance for damage costs incurred from the April 17-18 heavy rains and floods. Gov. Pat Quinn says the $65,316 in federal aid designated for Bureau County residents is part of more than $73 million going statewide to help more than 26,000 Illinois residents affected by the April flooding.

June 8: The village of Manlius plans to crack down on people dumping personal trash in the village’s garbage bins. Village board members discuss the issue, with some board members having witnessed people misusing the garbage cans. Following discussion, board members agree they would be on the lookout for people misusing the garbage dumpster and agree persons caught will be ticketed for violating an ordinance.

June 11: Bureau County is one of 24 Illinois counties approved for federal disaster aid for local governments following the heavy rains and flooding in April and May. Gov. Pat Quinn says local governments in approved counties incurred more than $40 million in costs for their flood fight, public safety and recovery efforts. As an example, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson says Princeton had about $60,000 in costs due to the April flooding.

June 13: The city of Spring Valley is not sure if any street program will happen this year. The city has only $40,000 to spend from the Motor Fuel taxes, with $50,000 expected annually for the next eight years. Spring Valley Streets and Alleys Committee Chairman Chuck Hansen wants to roll this year’s money into next year and not have a street program in the current year. The council will continue the discussion in future meetings.

June 15: Several Hall High School graduates will be part of the project which will provide a new high school for generations of Spring Valley area children. The Hall High School Board hires Leopardo Construction Co. for its $32 million new school facility. Leopardo President Rick Mattioda is a Spring Valley native. Other Spring Valley natives working on the project are Tony Orlandi and Jason Samolinski, who will be on-site every day monitoring the project.

June 18: Celebrating its 43rd year, Gateway Services Inc. announces its 26th annual phone-a-thon, which is Gateway’s largest fundraising event of the year. This year, Gateway Services has set a goal of $45,000. Funds raised will be used to continue to provide quality services to children and adults with disabilities in Bureau, Marshall and Putnam counties.

June 20: Families with more than two students in the Bureau Valley School District will get a little break next school year with student fees. With a recommendation from the Bureau Valley Finance Committee, the school board votes to place a cap on the $100 book and registration fee required per student. The cap will be placed on fees greater than $200. Board President Rick Cernovich speaks out against student fees and fundraising, as he pointed out the district has one big fundraiser called “property taxes.”
The district’s mission is to live within that money provided by taxes, he says.

June 22: The Bureau Valley School Board hears from Ann Lusher, president of the Bureau Valley Education Association (BVEA), about the staff’s concerns that announced cuts will affect student education and make Bureau Valley a less attractive working place for staff. As part of the new year’s budget, the district will make about $475,219 in cuts, included phasing out the German language program, reducing industrial arts and home economics, releasing a tech support employee and a physical education employee, retiring two teachers and changing the staff insurance coverage.

June 25: The Spring Valley Elementary School District Board discusses the new addition to John F. Kennedy School. Superintendent Jim Hermes says the size of the project is amazing.

So far, construction has been going as planned and the builders have begun moving dirt and getting the area ready for the geothermal heating system.
Pretty much every inch of this property is changing, Hermes says.

June 27: The Manlius Village Board meets in special session to comb through the village’s water billing ordinance and make recommendations for changes to current fees charged for water usage. The issue of water fees has been a topic of discussion at the last couple village board meetings. Village President Rob Hewitt scheduled the special meeting to discuss changes that would better benefit residents and the village. No final action was taken at that meeting.

June 29: Two local emergency preparedness leaders receive state recognition for their roles in the Bureau Putnam County Emergency Preparedness Community Partners (BPEPCP) coalition. Deb Wood and Lisa Clinton, BPEPCP co-chairs, are honored at the Integrated Public Health and Medical Preparedness Summit for coordinating the year’s most creative emergency preparedness exercise in the state, a two-site mock disaster drill involving numerous countywide resources, agencies and emergency responders.

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