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Perspective: Remembering a friend and activist


“I’m Katherine Andraski, Kingston Township” so began my three-minute speeches before the county board arguing for limits to electrical generating plants on prime farmland.


I stood at the podium because Brad Belanger invited me to join the Concerned Citizens. He was asking, “Hey wait a minute, do we want to welcome wind turbines to our county when they can be a health hazard? Do we want to cover prime farmland with solar panels, which become toxic waste once their useful life is finished?” He was a big, powerful man who touched my life with gentle integrity. He served as a beloved first responder in the Sycamore Fire Department for twenty-three years, helping people at their worst moments.


Brad taught me how to become an activist by strategizing how best to approach the county board and by doggedly showing up for meetings. He worked across the aisle to convince people as to why limits on renewables are important. The work paid off, with the county board writing sane ordinances, that protected the citizens and farmland.


Even after the state took away counties’ rights to set limits on renewables, even while he was undergoing strenuous treatments for esophageal cancer, Brad worked on revising county ordinances to fit the state’s requirements. He also insisted the county devise a battery ordinance that would protect fire fighters, the ground, and citizens from the dangers of this new technology. DeKalb County lost a good friend when Brad passed from this life to the next and so did I.

I’m Katherine Andraski and that’s my perspective.

Katie Andraski is an author, blogger, and retired composition teacher at Northern Illinois University. You can read more of her writing on Substack at Katie's Ground.