Boone County

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In the midst of summer’s high temperatures, DeKalb, Winnebago and Boone Counties are ensuring the public is safe in times of extreme heat.

The Rockford City Market is moving many of its vendors inside the market building and under the Rockford City Market Pavilion on Friday due to the ongoing heatwave. 

The DeKalb County Health Department is sharing tips to help the public stay cool, hydrated, and informed.   

The tips include staying in air-conditioned locations, drinking more water than usual and checking local news outlets for extreme heat warnings. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Illinois Republican Jeff Keicher is the freshman Representative for the State's 70th House District, which includes parts of DeKalb, Kane, and Boone counties. He sat down in the WNIJ studios to discuss the end of the recent legislative session.

He said quite a lot was accomplished, considering the position his party was in.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Among the many ballot measures in yesterday's election were provisions that raise county sales taxes by half a percentage point.  

freesignprinter.com

Boone County’s board approved a special use permit for a natural gas peaker plant in Garden Prairie near Belvidere.

Member Cathy Ward says they voted 8-4 in favor, and they believe the plant near Belvidere would bring up to $900,000 to the area. Most of this money would go to Belvidere schools, and about $100,000 would go to the county directly.

Supporters of the plant cited a need for more tax revenue and jobs, while opponents  were concerned about water usage, excessive noise, and devaluation of local property.  

The Boone County board will consider a special use permit for a natural gas power plant.

Power Ventures plans on building the 450-megawatt “peaker” plant at Garden Prairie.  The $180 million project would provide extra power during periods of high use, but faces opposition from local residents. 

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One of the main arguments Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. has made in favor of its rail project is that it would act as an economic driver for the region.  Company lawyer Mike Blaszak says construction would create a significant number of jobs.

"Those of course, would be temporary," he said, "but the construction period would last at least two years."

Once the railroad is in operation, he envisions a smaller set of permanent positions operating trains, maintaining track, and other daily functions. 

The Winnebago County Board unanimously approved a resolution Thursday opposing the construction of the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.

The 261-mile railroad would pass through six Illinois counties and into Rock County, Wisconsin, to bypass congested Chicago freight lines. .  However, opposition groups have formed in many of the affected counties, including a group which claims more than 14,000 members in Winnebago County. 

Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc.

Hundreds of Winnebago Township residents protested the latest proposal for the Great Lakes Basin Railroad.

The 260-mile route would pass through several parts of Winnebago County in order to bypass Chicago freight traffic.  However, the Rockford Register-Star reports residents are concerned the route could pass through their farmland or have a negative effect on wildlife. 

Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc.

Great Lakes Basin Transportation Inc. unveiled a proposal for an alternative rail route that wouldn't run through Boone County.  

The company originally proposed a 281-mile railway that would bypass Chicago's congested freight lines.  However, this plan faced opposition from Boone County residents.  A letter opposing the project cited loss of livability, land, and water quality, as well as an increase in noise and insurance costs. 

  Boone County’s Health and Human Services Committee tabled a resolution to change the food service code.  

Under the current code, nonprofit organizations don’t have to pay fees for food service permits.  The Register-Star reports the change would have removed this exemption, and given the health department about $22,000 per year. 

The Boone County Board will discuss whether local nonprofits should be charged for food service permits. 

Fees are expected to bring in $25,000 for the Health Department, but the idea was criticized by some, including local VFW Commander Greg Kelm and County Board member Cathy Ward. 

In a Facebook post, Ward challenged the Health Department’s insistence that it needed the fees, saying the department’s budget is 88% salary and benefits.  

The Board meeting begins tomorrow at 6:00.    

Rockford-Area Schools Grateful For Stopgap K-12 Funding

Jul 1, 2016

The Illinois General Assembly passed -- and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed -- a stopgap budget Thursday which included larger-than-usual funding for public schools.  

Specifically, it provides a full year of funding for kindergarten through high school, as compared to just half a year for colleges and universities.

What Consolidation Means for Sub/Urban School Districts

Jun 13, 2016

Illinois has more than 8500 individual government entities – including a large number of community school districts, ranging from stand-alone elementary schools that feed into stand-alone high schools, or a completely centralized urban network of institutions.  This week, Chase Cavanaugh explores how the processes that play out in rural communities doesn’t necessarily apply in the cities.

Susan Stephens

  The Boone County Board voted 10 to 1 in favor of a letter opposing the Great Lakes Basin Railroad Project. 

The Rockford Register-Star reports that the document details various objections to "livability, including land loss, water quality, noise, and insurance costs.  It stands in contrast to another letter board members were considering.  That document was not as detailed about what the board feared were threats to “livability.” 

Illinois17th.com

A northern Illinois judge who helped implement a cameras-in-court program was selected to chair a committee comprised of chief judges from around the state.

Joseph McGraw is chief judge of the Rockford-based 17th Judicial Circuit. He'll assume the chairman's post on the Conference of Chief Judges in December.

McGraw will take over after the chief judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit, Elizabeth Robb, retires.

The Boone County Department of Public Health today confirmed that a Belvidere man is the first human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the county in 2014.

The coordinating committee of five Belvidere city aldermen and five Boone County Board members has voted unanimously to pursue completion of the interchange at Irene Road and Interstate 90.

The Belvidere Daily Republican reported the committee approved $81,000 for preliminary engineering and $33,800 for a right-of-way consultant, with the city and county splitting that expense.

Steve Rapp

A massive mulch fire is causing headaches for travelers and residents in northern Boone County.