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Looking back at 2013

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 2:15 p.m. CST

Editor’s note: The following is another segment in an ongoing series in the Bureau County Republican’s look at some of the headlines from 2013.

July 2: Princeton Police officers investigate a series of vehicle burglaries reported in the last couple weeks. Police Chief Tom Root confirms four vehicle burglaries were reported last week, all on the northeast side of town. Another vehicle burglary from the weekend occurred on South Fifth Street. All the vehicles had been left unlocked and items taken from them, Root says.

July 4: Bureau County ESDA coordinator Kris Donarski says 305 county residents and households have qualified for federal assistance, as of June 27, for federal disaster assistance to help recoup expenses caused by the April flooding. However, thanks to an extended application deadline, there is still time for other Bureau County people to apply for federal disaster assistance, she says.

July 6: Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson says Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to not pass concealed carry legislation is due to “too much government” and the gun violence and crime in Chicago that can have a lot of influence on decisions made for the entire state. A lot of people recognize there are 49 states that have concealed carry legislation, and Illinois is the hold up, the sheriff says.

July 9: Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus says the new law which allows 17 year olds to vote in primary elections, if they turn 18 by general election day, won’t make much difference in voter turnout. Historically, voter turnout in Bureau County is very low for primaries, due in part to voters not wanting to declare a political party, she says.

July 11: The Bureau County Board moves forward with a plan to upgrade the grounding grid system for the communication tower at the county jail, with the hopes to eliminate any future lightning strikes. After discussion, the board also decides to look into getting a grounding study done for the courthouse tower.

July 13: West Nile Virus-infected mosquitoes are found in both Bureau and Putnam counties. Kurt Kuchle with the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, says the Bureau County sample was collected June 25, and the Putnam County sample was collected July 9. The health department has collected 26 mosquito samples so far this season with 21 of those tests in Bureau County and five in Putnam County, Kuchle says.

July 16: St. Patrick Catholic Church parishioners in Arlington continue the church’s major renovations in an attempt to compliment the church’s original Gothic-style design from when the building was built around 1921. The church was “modernized” in the 1970s, and its original back altar, altar rail and statues removed. The Rev. Patrick Fixsen became the church’s administrator in 2011 and has made it a goal to get the church back to its original state.

July 18: With heat indexes expected to reach near 100 degrees for the next several days, the Bureau County Senior Center opens its doors as a cooling site and offers fans for senior citizens. Director Denise Ihrig says people can come in and sit in an easy chair and relax or join others in an activity or just visiting with people. The center has also started a noon time meal program, she says.

July 20: Photography, foods and crops, child development, interior design and animal science are just a handful of the hundreds of projects which will be showcased at the annual Bureau County 4-H Fair at the Bureau County Fairgrounds in Princeton. About 300 area young people participate in the 4-H and Youth Development Program outreach of the University of Illinois Extension, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

July 23: Ground is broken for a 3,800-square-foot addition to the Tiskilwa Public Library. Village and state officials join library board members for the groundbreaking ceremony. Once the new library is built, the existing library will become a community meeting place. An interior ramp will be built from the new addition to the existing library, with an exterior ramp located at the building’s north side for handicap accessibility.

July 25: The hot and dry weather conditions this summer haven’t been too hard on Bureau County crops so far, but it would be nice to give them a good drink of water, according to Ag View FS staff agronomist Ben Johnson. Bureau County is sitting in a good place compared to other parts of the Midwest with local farmers able to get their crops in the field in a more timely fashion than in other areas. Though Bureau County was wet with its spring rains, that early moisture is what has carried the crops through to this point, he says.

July 27:The Hall High School Board hears from Kevin Willis of First Midstate on the school district’s upcoming purchase of a $32,000,000 building bond. He advises the board it received an A-plus rating from S and P. The board also hears from Joel Kahn, project executive from Leopardo Companies, on the progress on budget estimates and design documents. Everything is going as planned, Kahn says.

July 30: Coyotes may not be getting more aggressive, but they do appear to be getting braver and heading closer to residential areas. In recent weeks, WQAD News 8 reporter Chris Minor reported on two separate incidents in Rock Island in which neighborhood dogs were attacked by coyotes. Bureau County Animal Control Officer Scott Robbins says he wouldn’t say there are more local coyote sightings this year, but coyotes do seem to be getting braver and coming closer to more residential areas.

Aug. 1: The Tiskilwa Village Board selects Arthur Walters as the 2013 Citizen of the Year. A lifelong resident of Tiskilwa, Walters has dedicated 29 years of his life to the local fire and EMT squad. His goal was to achieve 30 years with the department, however, he was forced to retire a year early when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Being a recipient of the Citizen of the Year award is a “pretty cool” thing, Walters says.

Aug. 3: St. Thomas More Parish in Dalzell is given a chance to extend its time until the church doors are permanently closed. If the Catholic parish can double its weekly collection and find a way to fill its pews during masses, it has the chance to remain open until July 2014. According to the Rev. Patrick Fixsen, however, looking at the current amount of weekly collections and number of parishioners gathered at mass, the church has the possibility of closing in January after it’s merged with Holy Trinity Parish in Cherry.

Aug. 6: The 2013 Bureau County Fair royalty pose for photographs following the Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Bureau County Fair Queen pageants at Princeton High School. The Little Miss royalty are Little Miss Makenna Maupin of Wyanet, first runner-up Emilee Merkel of Princeton and second runner-up Johnna Bogatitus of Dalzell. The 2013 Junior Miss is Kendra Cain of Princeton, with first runner-up Hannah Atherton of Walnut and second runner-up Haleigh Hall of Princeton. The 2013 Miss Bureau County Fair Queen royalty are Queen Ashley Simmon of Geneseo, first runner-up Felisha Brunson of Kewanee and second runner-up Emilee Livesay of Geneseo.

Aug. 8: The Manlius Village Board discusses the possibility of passing an ordinance to prevent residents from keeping chickens in their backyards. Village President Rob Hewitt shares a letter with board members received from Bureau County Zoning Director Kris Donarski about inquiries from residents wanting chickens on their property. Hewitt says he believes the village already has an ordinance preventing poultry in the village limits, but he would have to check back and read exactly what is stated.

Aug. 10: The Sheffield Public Library celebrates 100 years of reading by hosting an open house for the community. Library Board President Karl Rahr says a host of activities are planned for the 100-year anniversary of the Andrew Carnegie Library, which was built for $3,715 and was officially dedicated on Aug. 9, 1913. Sheffield is one of 105 Illinois communities that is home to a Carnegie structure — all funded by Andrew Carnegie and primarily built in small towns across the state between 1889 and 1923.

Aug. 13: The Bureau County Housing Authority receives $280,030 in federal money for capital improvement projects at its Spring Valley and Princeton sites. Bart Niemuth, executive director for the Bureau County Housing Authority, says this year’s money will be used, in part, to install a parking lot for tenants on the property directly north of the Princeton High Rise and also to upgrade fire alarm systems at the Spring Valley High Rise and Princeton High Rise.

Aug. 15: More than 40 Walnut residents attend a special meeting organized by Walnut Village Board member Aaron Staker to discuss how to improve their community. One of the most predominant ideas presented by the group is that something needs to be done to make the downtown area more presentable. The need for new businesses is also discussed. The group also establishes a committee to develop ideas for community events. The Princeton Elementary School District receives confirmation its Early Childhood Block Grant program will receive state funding and can go forward this fall. At a special meeting, the PES Board approves the recall of certified staff for the Early Childhood program, as well as other certified staff for the kindergarten through eighth-grade program for this coming school year.

Aug. 17: An unfair labor practice complaint is filed against Bureau County with the Illinois Labor Relations Board by the Police Benevolent Labor Committee (PBLC). As explained at the Bureau County Board meeting, the crux of the complaint is that a contract agreement was apparently reached on or around May 31 with the county, Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson and the PBLC on a new two-year contract, but the sheriff has not yet signed it. Both he and the union agree there are deep problems inherent in the language of the new contract which need to be changed and corrected, Thompson says.

Aug. 20: Ladd veteran LeRoy C. Padgett is presented with four medals, which he had earned but never received, by Congressman Adam Kinzinger at a ceremony at the Ladd American Legion Hall. Surrounded by family members, village officials and legion officers, Padgett is awarded the United Nations Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the Army Occupation Medal of Japan, and the Nation Defense Service Medal.

Aug. 22: The village of LaMoille finally receives the grant money which it had been awarded in September 2008 after Illinois was declared a disaster area after damaging winds and flooding hit the state. Village Board President Steve Stouffer is able to, once again, secure the monies for the village to completely fund a new storm sewer project. The village is now on its way to receiving federal funds worth $749,819, which is being released by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Aug. 24: The Cherry Grade School Board calls upon its community for help to push for legislation that would guarantee a consolidation between Cherry and Dimmick elementary schools. Although it was initially intended in March that Cherry would merge with Dimmick, about 60 community members learn at Cherry’s board meeting that the merge isn’t going as “fast and smooth” as everyone hoped. The Cherry community hopes to continue sending their students to Hall High School, however, the Dimmick Elementary School District feeds into LaSalle-Peru High School. The Cherry School Board is requesting a change in legislation language, just in the case for Cherry and Dimmick.

Aug. 27: Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton remains strong, in spite of some challenging financial times, according to hospital officials. The Princeton City Council hears from PMH Chief Financial Officer Tricia Ellison who says PMH experienced gross patient service revenue of $69.7 million for Fiscal Year 2013, which is a 4 percent decrease from Fiscal Year 2012. Of that amount, PMH had $35.8 million in write-offs, with expenses increasing by 1 percent. However, the balance sheet remains strong, with total assets of $38 million and a total liability decrease by 2 percent, Ellison says.

Aug. 29: Continuing hot temperatures, reaching well into the 90s, result in the cancellation of Princeton Youth Football practices and other outdoor activities. Cooling centers are opened to give those without air conditioners a break from the heat and humidity. State Rep. Don Moffitt meets with the Ohio Village Board to inform the board the state has extended the village’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District for another 12 years. Board President Charles Thomas says the TIF District is a great tool with which future boards can work. With TIF funds, the village has funded several improvement projects, including the $1.4 million water filtration plant.

Aug. 31: Area leaders in businesses, cities, industrial companies and financial institutions meet at St. Bede Academy to discuss the need for a regional effort to create jobs in the Illinois Valley area. Cherry native Jack Rooney, now of Springfield, says the Illinois Valley area has a rich personality and culture unlike any other region of the state and serves as the heart of the United States with Interstate 80 and Interstate 39. Meeting organizer Dick Janko urges the leaders to get a regional organization going to create jobs for the Illinois Valley.

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