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Looking back on 2013

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 3:06 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 3:11 p.m. CDT

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Editor’s note: Following is another segment in an ongoing series of headlines from 2013.

Oct. 19: After 20 years of serving as Bureau County Treasurer, and 40 years total in the treasurer’s office, Nina Cattani-Urbanowski announces she will not seek re-election in 2014. Urbanowski will retire at the end of her current term next December. Looking back on the past 40 years, Urbanowski says she’s seen plenty of changes come and go within the treasurer’s office, however, the most significant change she has faced throughout the years is the advancements in technology. At the Bureau County Republican’s inaugural Illinois Valley Living’s Women of Distinction Award ceremony at Deer Park Country Club in Oglesby, 10 area women were named Women of Distinction, including Kim Abel of Mendota, Kathy Casstevens of Utica, Mary Ann Cernovich of Sheffield, Lisa Clinton of Cherry, Dawn Conerton of Magnolia, Pat Schou of Princeton, Nedda Simon of Princeton, Loretta Volker of Princeton, Judith Wilkins Wright of rural Tiskilwa and Teresa Zearing of Princeton. BCR Editor Terri Simon emceed the event, and WGN Radio personality and Princeton resident Kathy O’Malley was the keynote speaker.

Oct. 22: The Malden Playground Committee reaches nearly one-half of its $25,000 goal to buy new playground equipment for Malden Grade School students. Malden Grade School Superintendent Mike Patterson says about $11,000 has been raised so far to get the needed new playground equipment. That money has come through community donations and also from an ongoing Pennies for Playground classroom collection. To add to that amount, the Malden Playground Committee plans a fundraiser for Saturday at the Princeton Moose Lodge.

Oct. 24: Harvest in Bureau County comes to an abrupt halt as rain and then snow stops combines in their tracks. Though chilly temperatures will continue throughout the week, Bureau County should be done with any more snow, though the area could see some spotty rain showers, according to WQAD meteorologist James Zahara.

Oct. 26: If Tuesday’s snowfall can be trusted, Bureau County residents could be facing an early winter. Tuesday’s first measurable snow event of the season actually ties with the 1913 snow event as the third earliest date of a measurable snow of 0.1 inch or greater in the Quad Cities area. The only earlier dates for a measurable snowfall were Sept. 25, 1942, when 0.1 inch of snow was received, and Oct. 18, 1972, when two inches of snow were received. Locally, the Princeton Water Treatment Plant records a total of 1.5 inches of snow during Tuesday’s snowfall.

Oct. 29: Community Partners Against Substance Abuse coordinator Dawn Conerton announces 806 pounds of unwanted and expired medicines are collected at the Princeton, Buda, Wyanet, DePue and Granville police departments as part of the local National Take Back event. Since beginning a Prescription Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) in July 2010, the coalition and area law enforcement agencies have collected 5,149 pounds of unwanted and expired drugs through the P2D2 program and Take Back days, Conerton says.

Oct. 31: About 40 Tiskilwa residents attend a meeting of the Princeton Elementary School Board, with several of them voicing concerns about the possible closing of Reagan Middle School in Tiskilwa. Resident John Brokaw refers to a petition signed by nearly 300 people opposing the possible closing of the Reagan building, saying the closing of Reagan would destroy the “remaining pulse of the small community.” The board takes no action the Reagan decision.

Nov. 2: About 35 Hall Township High School officials, area dignitaries, community residents and guests brave the rainy weather for a groundbreaking ceremony for Hall’s new multi-million dollar high school building. Hall Superintendent Mike Struna says the first bid package for mass excavation will be opened Nov. 13 and approved by the Hall High School Board on Nov. 20. Hopefully, the new school building will completed and ready, with the current school demolished and removed, in time for school to open in early September 2015, Struna said.

Nov. 5: Bill Rosenow of Sheffield announces his candidacy for the office of Bureau County Sheriff. He is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination at the March 18, 2014, primary. Rosenow says he has an extensive background in law enforcement, including 32 years with the Illinois State Police and one year as the appointed interim sheriff to fill a vacancy. He’s still in good health and thinks he has a lot to offer the residents of Bureau County as sheriff, Rosenow says.

Nov. 7: The Sheffield Village Board hears from resident Connie Hahne that new playground equipment project has reached $42,500 toward its $50,000 goal. Many of the donations came from outside the community. The playground equipment will be ordered in January. The project committee plans on keeping the big swing and the big slide at Veterans/School Park. All of the other existing equipment will be removed, Hahne says.

Nov. 9: DePue officials learn the village will receive a $173,250 state grant to renovate its ground level water storage tank on the north side of town. Gov. Pat Quinn makes the announcement, saying the DePue grant is part of a $8.83 million investment which the state is making in 23 towns or townships for improvements in their water and sewer systems. DePue Mayor Eric Bryant says now the village can go forward with the bidding process for the water storage tank project.

Nov. 12: Bureau County communities and schools host celebrations throughout the county to honor veterans on Veterans Day. An estimated 900 area veterans are recognized in the annual Veterans Day tab published by the Bureau County Republican.

Nov. 14: Bureau County will save more than $100,000 in insurance premiums during the next three years for its property, liability and workman’s comp coverage. Insurance Committee Chairman Mike Kohr presents two bids for the Bureau County Board’s consideration, both of which he said would result in a monetary savings for the county. Bureau County is currently paying a premium of $291,563, for its property, liability and workman’s comp coverage through CIRMA. After lengthy discussion, the board votes 15 to 9 to accept the CIRMA bid of $229,950.

Nov. 16: Spring Valley will receive $9.5 million from Illinois Jobs Now! to overhaul and repair its wastewater treatment plant. Gov. Pat Quinn flies into the Peru Airport to make the announcement to area officials. The $9.5 million to Spring Valley is part of more than $200 million in flood recovery assistance awarded so far this year to help communities recover from spring floods. Spring Valley’s wastewater treatment plant suffered extensive damage during the springtime flooding, and combined with its advanced age, was in dire need of repair, the governor said. The grant was “Godsent,” Spring Valley Mayor Walt Marini says.

Nov. 19: Trained emergency personnel from Bureau County are on their way to the Washington, Ill., area to assist with recovery efforts after the area was devastated Sunday afternoon by a tornado., Bureau County Red Cross Director Lori Compton says trained disaster volunteer Mike Hellberg from Princeton was headed to the Washington area on Monday morning to help with the Red Cross’ disaster assessment work. Bureau County’s emergency response vehicles and personnel have also been alerted and are ready to go if needed.

Nov. 21: About 60 miles northwest of the tornado-struck Washington area, Bureau County residents, businesses, schools, churches and groups organize collection drives to gather needed items for the storm victims. An estimated 1,000 homes were damaged, and many were destroyed during Sunday’s storm, which recorded several tornado touchdowns and winds reaching into the 190 miles per hour range. Lindsay Ponsetti of Simply Fresh in Spring Valley is one example of a business owner seeking to help storm victims, announcing her store will be a collection point for clothing and other items for the storm victims.

Nov. 23: The Walnut Village Board learns approval has been received from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Financial Assistance Section for needed improvements in the village’s sewer system. The sewer project has an estimated project cost of $1.9 million. The approval letter from the IEPA represents the acceptance of the village into the financing program of that agency. The next phase of this project will be to submit the actual loan application for the funds needed, the village engineer tells the board. If everything falls into place, construction could be completed by spring/summer of 2015.

Nov. 26: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces a proposal to decrease the amount of corn-based ethanol required to be used in 2014 for gasoline manufacturers and retailers. The decision brings frustration for area farmers and came as a surprise for local farmers like Greg Steele of rural Princeton. With all the political pressures in government, as well as politicians’ focus on getting votes, this ultimately takes a toll on these types of mandates, he says. The decision involves so many aspects of government that it puts tremendous pressure to make things change, Steele says.

Nov. 28: The Princeton Elementary School Board decides to keep the Reagan building open next year, but for a different use than its current housing of fourth- and fifth-grade students. After several months of discussion and input from the public, the PES Board follows a recommendation from Superintendent Tim Smith for the Reagan building, located in Tiskilwa, to house one pre-kindergarten classroom, to service preschool students in the Tiskilwa community, and to provide space for two additional educational services, effective in Fall 2014. Leases will be extended to the Bureau-Marshall-Putnam Tri-County Special Education Cooperative and to Crossroads High School. School sites will be realigned as follows next fall: the Douglas building will house three pre-kindergarten classrooms and kindergarten; the Jefferson building will house first and second grades; Lincoln will house third and fourth grades; and the Logan building will house fifth through eighth grades.

Nov. 30: The Friends of Strays no-kill animal shelter is awarded a $1,500 grant from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation. The monies will be used to assist low income individuals and senior citizens in getting their animals spayed and neutered. Linda Sullivan, a Friends of Strays Board member, says the shelter is very fortunate to receive the grant and encouraged eligible residents to take advantage of the opportunity.

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