Monday, April 25, 2016

The Rhubarb's analysis of Boone County Board Actions on the GLB RR

The Rhubarb
4 hrs

Boone County Board now seeks GLB Railroad information

Publisher/Editor The Rhubarb
By Lisa Rodgers
BOONE COUNTY-On March 16, 2016 vehicles were parking out by Logan Ave. Hundreds (est. 360) of people filled the Boone County Board room and overflowed into the hallway for the regular Boone County Board monthly meeting. Emotions were running high as the unusually large attendance was due to media announcing the Great Lakes Basin Railroad and its intent to put a railroad through three states and eleven counties using eminent domain. Boone County Board meeting was the first government public meeting following the announcement of the proposed railroad and route change.
Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg announced at the start of the meeting the railroad would only come under public comment as it was not on the agenda. He also informed those attending “this is not a public testimony.” Those in attendance had traveled some distance as they hailed from Rock County, WI, LaSalle County, IL as well as Winnebago County. Boone County residents were very well represented.
Several speakers addressed the county board with their concerns ranging from the location of the track to its vicinity to Capron Grade School, vicinity to a Girl Scout facility, water drainage issues, township roads subject to closure, the number of trains being 110 per day running at 70 mph, disruption of bus as well as emergency responders and farmers attempting to gain access to their farm land. “No eminent domain for private gain” said Susan Sack who is from LaSalle County, IL.
“The Boone County Board will not be taking a position on the Great Lakes Basin Railroad,” said Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg at the end of the public comment to the dissatisfaction of those attending the meeting. Attendees were discussing the issue out in the hall and being interviewed by local media who had attended.
On April 11, the Boone County Public Safety committee met. Raymond Larson, Chairman, Karl Johnson, Vice Chairman with Sherry Branson, Denny Ellingson, and Craig Schultz consisting of the committee.
Posted April 12 the following day on Facebook by Boone County Board member Cathy Ward,
“TRAIN TALKS UPDATE - Last night, at the Boone County Board Public Safety, I convinced the committee to discuss the proposed freight train that is set to travel through much of the county. Before this, no committee had it on their agenda even to discuss. The committee finally agreed to bring this plan to the full board to see if they want a special meeting to discuss it in front of the public, but there are definitely some on this committee who do NOT want the board to take a position either for or against and one committee member said he has absolutely no interest in the thoughts or feelings of the 245 people who attended the meeting last week to protest the freight train route. I asked for a copy of the tape and I will give you his exact words when I transcribe it. Amazing. I thought we were elected to listen to the people who elected us and act on their behalf.”
On April 13, the City/County Coordinating meeting also met. Craig Schultz Chairman, Cathy Ward, Vice Chairman, with Cory Lind, Kenny Freeman, Brad Stark consisting of the committee.
The Rhubarb has requested and obtained copies of the audio recordings of both public meetings from Boone County Administration. The audio from the April 11 Public Safety meeting is 1:40:15 in length and the audio from April 13 City/County is 39:44 in length. The Rhubarb encourages ALL citizens to request a copy of these audio recording to hear for themselves the comments and positions taken in regards to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad, social media inaccuracies in regards to facts, and that the Boone County Board has no influence on the decision process by the Surface Transportation Board. These are the elected officials who currently represent the citizens of Boone County. All county public meetings are audio recorded. Please contact Boone County Administration at 815-544-547-4770 to request a copy. The Rhubarb wishes to remind the citizens of Boone County that several of these individuals are up for re-election in November. Please become an educated and informed voter.
Since the April board meeting in Boone County many public bodies have issued resolutions objecting to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad. Scoping meetings and informational meetings have occurred over the past several weeks as well with hundreds attending in the three states and eleven counties involved in the proposed railroad expressing their serious concerns.
On April 20 the Boone County Board met once again with only about 40 in attendance. A significan change in direction by seeking public comment by the Boone County Board in regards to the Great Lakes Basin Railroad was announced.
Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg announced that all committee meetings in the month of May would have the Great Lakes Basin Railroad on their agendas. In a change of position from the April board meeting, the Boone County Board is now seeking information from the public in regards to Great Lakes Basin Railroad. A county board retreat on May 12 which is open to the public will discuss the information that has been provided over the last month. The Boone County Board will be discussing a potential letter to be drafted and submitted to the Surface Transportation Board with the counties concerns and possibly an objection to the proposal.
During the meeting Mr. Walberg referred to a photo of the section (Wisconsin Subdivision) going through Boone County and stated the following, “I have a suggestion I wish to propose but not vote on tonight. I propose this section in Boone County that is referred to as the ‘Wisconsin subdivision’ be removed from the Great Lakes Basin proposal. I question if there is enough traffic to pay for this.”
During board discussion in regards to the upcoming meetings Boone County Board member Cathy Ward stated, “I hope our board will take a position and stand up and be counted.”
The Boone County Board is now seeking comments and information from the community. Great Lakes Basin Railroad will be on Boone County Board Committee Agendas. May 12 the Boone County Board will hold a retreat open to the public in regards to the Great Lakes Basin railroad. On May 18, the Boone County Board will hold its monthly meeting and the discussion and any decisions made at the retreat will be brought to the regular board meeting.
The following are a list of dates and times for each meeting. Citizens are encouraged to attend and speak at these meetings with their concerns. The public is encouraged to attend as many as you are able.
All meetings are held at 1212 Logan Ave, Belvidere, IL 61008
May 2nd, Administrative & Legislative 6:00 p.m.
May 3rd, Roads and Capital 6:00 p.m.
May 4th, Planning, Zoning, Building 6:00 p.m.
May 5th, Health and Human Services 6:00 p.m.
May 9th, Public Safety 6:00 p.m.
May 10th, Finance Tax and Salaries 6:00 p.m.
May 11th, City/County Coordinating Committee (6:30 PM)
May 12th, Board Retreat (6:00 PM)
The May 12th retreat will be a public meeting with a time for public comment. It is anticipated that a letter will move to the regular board meeting on May 18th.
May 18th Boone County Board Meeting 6:30 p.m.
Boone County Meetings and Agendas
Boone County Board Standing Committees and Chairman and members
Boone County Board Members contact information
From Block GLB Railroad Facebook page April 23, 2016. May date to be confirmed.
"Grundy County Board Chairman David Welter said he attended Thursday to listen to residents and said he has reached out to Frank Patton, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Basin Transportation. ****Patton has agreed to a public meeting held in Grundy County the first week in May,**** Welter said."
(From the Herald News article: "Hundreds turn out for meeting in Seneca to object to Great Lakes Basin rail project" posted previously)”
Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Michael Dunn, Jr.
779.348.7627 phone
815.967.6913 fax
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the RMAP Policy Committee will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2016 at 1:15 PM at Winnebago County Hall, 404 Elm Street, Rockford, IL, 61102. For the full schedule of the Policy Committee, click here.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the RMAP Mobility Subcommittee will be held on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 10:00 A.M. The meeting will take place at the RMTD East Side Transfer Center, 725 N. Lyford Road, Rockford, IL. For the full schedule of the Mobility Subcommittee, click here.
Deadline for Surface Transportation Board comments is June 15, 2016
For more information please visit

DAILY NORHTWESTERN; Rauner expected to approve emergency higher education funding

Rauner expected to approve emergency higher education funding

Robin Opsahl, City Editor
Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign a Senate bill passed by Illinois lawmakers Friday that would allocate $600 million in short-term funding to public state universities and Monetary Award Program grant recipients.
The bill — a response to challenges faced by public higher education institutions in the state from the lack of a state budget — passed unanimously in the Illinois Senate after passing 106-2 in the House. Illinois is currently in its 10th month without a budget.
The Senate bill came only days before Chicago State University — a public university serving largely low-income, minority and non-traditional students — planned to shut down. If Rauner were to sign the bill, public four-year universities would receive $356 million and state community colleges would receive $74 million, with CSU receiving $20 million.
A statement issued by Rauner’s press secretary praised the “bipartisan momentum” and hoped it would lead to budget negotiations.
“Lawmakers in both chambers put aside political differences to provide emergency assistance for higher education, ensuring universities and community colleges remain open and low-income students can pay for school,” press secretary Catherine Kelly said in a statement.
The effort almost failed Thursday night after debate over funding social services being added to the bill. However, this additional funding was cut before the bill passed Friday morning.
Democrats, including Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), criticized the lack of funding for non-education public services. Madigan’s office could not be reached for comment.
“If (Gov. Rauner) continues his unwillingness to assist our human service providers, he will be successful in destroying the safety net for those most in need and for critical state services,” Madigan said in a statement. “I am hopeful the governor sees the funding in this higher education package not as a solution, but as emergency assistance to those most in need.”
In addition to funding specific universities and community colleges, the bill also outlined giving more than $169 million to fund MAP grants, $6 million for public high school Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and $11 million to the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.
Layoffs and cuts that had already been implemented will not be reversed with the emergency funding at many public universities, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Officials from Chicago State University and Northern Illinois University did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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New Boone County Animal Services building on track for August opening

By Adam Poulisse
Staff writer

Posted Apr. 25, 2016 at 8:44 AM

BELVIDERE — The new Boone County Animal Services building is on track to open later this summer.
"It would be nicer if it was sooner," Boone County Animal Services Operations Supervisor Roger Tresemer said, "but we're anticipating end of August."
The 3,200-square-foot building on Squaw Prairie Road will replace the current 1,250-square-foot facility on Appleton Road. It will include a consultation room, a receiving area for animals, an activity room and other amenities.
Rockford Structures of Machesney Park will oversee the project. Because of the milder winter, crews were able to move dirt and begin construction as early as February, Tresemer said. Footing was poured for the building around late March.
The project costs about $1 million. In November 2014, 63 percent of voters approved a referendum to raise $800,000 through property taxes to help pay for the building. The general fund will cover the difference, which will be repaid with the $5 add-on fee for dog tags that was implemented two years ago. That increase has generated about $70,000.
Boone County Board Chairman Bob Walberg said the construction timeline is in line with what the board hoped and expected.
County and Animal Services officials have regular meetings with the building crews at the site to review progress. Walberg has been to two so far.
"It's a real nice facility to offer the services we do," he said. "It's going to create a lot of good will and pride for our community. It's a statement of respecting animals and the people (who) care a lot about them."
Adam Poulisse: 815-987-1344;; @adampoulisse

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