Westchester February 2017 Newsletter
From the Desk of The President POLICE DEPARTMENT
Daisy Troop 45436 were recognized for their commitment to the Girl Scout organization with a pinning ceremony held at Village Hall on Saturday, December 31st before “ringing in the New Year” at noon that day.
January 2017 has come and gone. With it we have a new President of the United States of America and both legislative branches of our federal government under majority control of the Republican Party. That being said, Mayors, who’s allegiance is to the residents we serve, cannot afford to be tied to any one party. We represent all the residents of our communities and with our elected Non-Partisan Boards of Trustees our job is how we can better the lives of our constituents and businesses. Our job now is to get back to work, solve the problems we face through the fault of no one, and push ahead. We, like all communities around the country, have infrastructure issues. Next October Westchester will be 92 years old. Although we have had many fixes in the way of street replacements and repairs and water and sewer repairs and replacements the amount of work will never end. If you compare the life cycle of our infrastructure to the wear and tear on our bodies, medically speaking the
streets, sewers, valves and lines under the ground can easily be compared with the arteries veins, capillaries and associated valves and joints needing replacement or repair of our own bodies. The common denominator in all of this is the amount of money available and the cost associated with making those repairs and replacement. Westchester property taxes pay for approximately 38% of the costs associated with the general operating budget of the village. As you are well aware, the Village of Westchester relies on property taxes for the majority of the cost of running the village. Personnel costs and pension obligations are ever increasing as well as the costs of goods and services. Nobody likes paying taxes and fees on anything and we at the village really understand that. Unfortunately, taxes and fees no matter what they are assessed on are necessary to fund the improvements in our community.
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Police Department FEBRUARY 2017
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Westchester has an underground infrastructure of 54 miles of sanitary sewer pipes, 65 miles of water mains, 51 miles of storm drains and pipes, 2100 catch basins, 870 fire hydrants, and 49 miles of streets. Over the past 7 plus years this administration has utilized issuance of bonds at historic low rates in addressing a portion of all of the above necessary utilities of which most are underground and unseen. Sales Tax, Income Tax, Places for Eating Tax, in conjunction with fees, fines and other revenue sources assist in keeping Westchester a “Proud Village with a Bright Future.” I believe in my heart of hearts that the well oiled group of board members, administrators and staff are doing the best they can with the tools, dollars, and above all the wherewithal to get the job done. At times we are going to stumble and make decisions that frankly did not work to my, the board, or administration’s liking. I can assure you that board decisions are discussed and decided upon on the best information at the time. Unfortunately the crystal ball of the future is not in my hands. As of this writing State Government does not have a budget and is not working the way any of us envisioned. There stalemate has all of us holding our breath. We will approach Fiscal 2017 with your best interests, knowing what we want to get accomplished, married with your, mine and our ability to pay for services and improvements which is not small task.
COMPLAINTS AND CONCERNS As Mayor, I am here to answer any question as it relates to the Village of Westchester. I am also ready willing and able to defend this village and its operations to whomever asks… Just ring my phone at 708-3450092. Our village, through a past referendum is a Village Manager form of Government with the day to day operations
run by a professional Village Manager Janet Matthys. The office of Mayor does not come with the executive power similar to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other strong mayor forms of government that Bellwood, Broadview, Berkeley, Hillside, Melrose Park, and Stone Park have. That being said, Westchester employs very competent Department heads; Police Chief Steven Stelter, Fire Chief James Adams, Public Works Director Robert Lewis, Community Development Director Melissa Headley, Finance Director Chris Webber and IT Manager Greg Hribal. The Village Board’s role is one of policy making and direction by passing ordinances, approving policy changes, and village code adoptions, not execution. I am very proud of this village and all of its departments and our accomplishments over the past 7+ years. I am equally proud of all of our schools, places of worship, parks, library, homes, businesses that are located here. I, along with our board, have embraced our cultural diverse population that live, work, volunteer, and pull together when faced with what appears to be difficult challenges. Like the sign says “ A PROUD VILLAGE WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE.”
FISCAL 2017-2018 RAPIDLY APPROACHING Presently we are in the fourth quarter of our fiscal year ended April 30, 2017. During the months of February and March the village board, village manager, and department heads will be working diligently to prepare our budget for Fiscal Year 2018 which begins May 1, 2017. Special sessions of the board, finance director, village manager and department heads that are open to the public are being scheduled. YOU ARE ALL INVITED TO ATTEND these workshops and discussions by the various department heads as they ask the board to consider approving their budget requests. The Special Budget Meeting schedule is as follows (all special budget meetings will begin at 6:00pm as they have in the past): Tuesday, February 7 Discussions will be held on
budgets for the Public Works Department, the Utilities Fund, the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, and the Capital Improvements Fund. Tuesday, February 21: Discussions will be held on budgets for the Fire Department, the Fire & Police Commission, Information Technology (New Department), the Debt Service Fund and the Hotel-Motel Tax Fund. Tuesday, March 7: Discussions will be held on budgets for the Police Department, Emergency Management Agency, the Planning Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals, the Community Development Department, General Revenues and the Administration and Finance Department. If necessary, an additional meeting will be scheduled for Tuesday, March 21st to resolve any open discussion items.
COOK COUNTY TAX RATES On June 13, 2016, the Cook County Tax rates for 2015 were released. Not to confuse anyone but the tax collected is always for the prior year. I have attached below the 2015 Tax Rates for Proviso Communities which border entirely in Proviso Township. The Cities and Villages are Bellwood, Berkeley, Broadview, Brookfield, Hillside, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Stone Park and Westchester. The tax rates are for the Village portion only. It does not include School Districts, Library Districts, Park Districts or any other taxing districts. If you would like to see all of the tax rates a complete look at all tax rates can be found on pages 48-51 at: http:// w w w. c o o k c o u n t y c l e r k . c o m / newsroom/newsfromclerk/Pag es/2015CookCountyTaxRatesR eleased.aspx#. The 2015 Tax Rates for the Proviso Township towns are as follows: Village of Bellwood 8.343 Home Rule Community Village of Berkeley 4.446 Home Rule Community Village of Broadview
3.123 Non-Home Rule Community Village of Brookfield 2.415 Non-Home Rule Community Village of Forest Park 1.808 Non-Home Rule Community Village of Hillside 5.079 Home Rule Community Village of Maywood 12.022 Home Rule Community Village of Melrose Park 2.523 Home Rule Community Village of Stone Park 7.794 Home Rule Community Village of Westchester 1.438 Non-Home Rule Community As you can see, the Village of Westchester has the LOWEST of the villages compared. You will be receiving your first installment 2016 tax bill at the beginning of February. As a non-home rule community, our tax rate increase is limited to the lower of the CPI or 5% of the prior year tax rate. In the March 2017 newsletter, we will provide a summary of your tax bill by taxing district for your reference.
COOK COUNTY PROPERTY TAX BILLS Each year during this time we can all expect to receive our Cook County Property Tax Bills. Cook County Property Tax Bills have either been sent by the county or will arrive shortly. In Cook County, the due date for the First Installment property taxes is always the first business day in March. A law passed by the Illinois Legislature in 2009 raises the First Installment tax from 50% to 55% of the prior year’s total tax. Cook County homeowners may take advantage of several valuable property-tax-saving exemptions. There are currently 8 exemptions available if you qualify: The Homeowner Exemption, Long Time Homeowner Exemption, Senior Citizen Exemption, Senior Citizen Freeze Exemption, the Home Improvement Exemption, Returning Veterans’ Exemption, Disabled Veterans’ Exemption, and Disabled Persons’ Exemption. You can receive the Homeowner Exemption if you own or have a lease or contract
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which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes of the residential property. It must also be used as your principal place of residence for the year in question. This exemption will be prorated if you purchased a newly constructed home that was not ready for occupancy until sometime after January 1 of the tax year in question. For further assistance, call the Taxpayer Services Department at (312) 443-7550. If you have never received a Homeowner Exemption on your home, you will need to apply for one. Exemption forms may be obtained by calling or visiting one of the Assessor’s Office locations or your local township assessor. The Longtime Homeowner Exemption was designed to offset increases in property values for homeowners who have lived in their homes for 10 years or more and experienced significant growth in their property value. Those who qualify and receive this exemption should be aware that the exemption is not automatically renewed. The property must continue to qualify and the exemption must be applied for annually. To qualify for Tax Year 2015, you must meet each of these requirements: have used the property as a principal place of residence from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2015.Had a gross household income of no more than $100,000 for 2014, the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV ) of the property must have increased significantly, owns the property or have legal equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2015, be responsible for the payment of 2015 property taxes. If you believe you qualify, please contact the Cook County Assessor’s Office at 312-4437550. The Senior Citizen Exemption provides tax relief by reducing the equalized assessed valuation of an eligible residence. This savings is in the form of a deduction on the second-installment real estate tax bill. Senior Citizens receiving the Senior Citizen
Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption and do not have to apply for it separately. State legislators passed a new law that states that senior citizens have to reapply annually for the Senior Exemption. To be eligible for the Senior Citizen Exemption, you must be 65 years of age or older during the tax year for which you are applying, you must either own the property or have a lease or contract which makes you responsible for the real estate taxes; and the property must be your principal residence. The Senior Freeze Exemption allows qualified senior citizens to apply for a freeze of the equalized assessed value (EAV ) of their properties for the year preceding the year in which they first apply and qualify for this exemption. For example, a senior citizen who qualifies and applies for this exemption in taxable year 2016 will have the EAV of the property frozen at the 2015 EAV. Those who qualify and receive this exemption should be aware that this does not automatically freeze the amount of their tax bill. Only the EAV remains at the fixed amount. The amount of dollars that the taxing district asks for (levy) may change and thus alter a tax bill. To qualify for the taxable year 2016, you must be born prior to or in the year 1951, have a total gross household income of no more than $55,000 for 2015, Own the property, or have a legal, equitable or leasehold interest in the property on January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016, own the property, be liable for the payment of 2015 and 2016 property taxes, and use the property as a principal place of residence on January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016. Those who are currently receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption will automatically receive an application form for the Senior Freeze Exemption. Senior Citizens receiving the Senior Citizen Exemption automatically qualify for the Homeowner Exemption and do not have to apply for it separately. You must file each year in order to continue to receive the Senior Freeze exemption and the requirements must be met each year.
The Home Improvement Exemption allows you to increase the value of your home with up to $75,000 worth of improvements without increasing your property taxes for at least four years. The exemption is available to owners of single-family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, and apartment buildings up to six units. The Home Improvement Exemption can also be used for repair necessitated by structural damage as a result of severe weather conditions, such as flooding. The exemption is not granted for loss of personal property, normal weather damage, or routine maintenance. Routine maintenance includes repairs to or replacement of parts that would not increase the value of your property. Other options are available to Seniors through the Senior Citizen Real Estate Tax Deferral Program (contact the Cook County Treasurer’s Office at 312/443-5100) and the Circuit Breaker Program offered through the Illinois Department of Revenue (call 800/624-2459 for more information). The Returning Veterans Homeowners Exemption is available to Veterans returning from active duty in armed conflict are eligible to receive a $5,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value of their property only for each taxable year in which they return. To qualify the veteran must be an Illinois resident who has served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Illinois National Guard or U.S. Reserve Forces, be returning from active duty in an armed conflict involving the armed forces of the U.S., owned or had a legal or equitable interest in the property and used it as a principal place of residence on January 1, 2011 and be liable for the payment of property taxes. This exemption is administered through the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Call 312.814.2460. The Disabled Veteran Homeowner Exemption is available to Veterans with a service connected disability as certified by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs are eligible for this annual exemption. Beginning with Tax Year 2015 (billed and paid
in 2016), veterans whose level of disability is as little as 30% are eligible for a deduction from the EAV of their primary residence. The amounts of those EAV deductions range from $2,500 to $5,000. Also, for the first time, veterans 70% or more disabled are totally exempt from property taxes. To qualify the veteran must be an Illinois resident who has served as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty or on active duty in the state of Illinois, Illinois National Guard, or U.S. Reserve Forces and has been honorably discharged, have at least a 50% serviceconnected disability certified by the U.S Department of Veterans’ Affairs, own and occupy the property as the primary residence on January 1, 2011, and have a total EAV of less than $250,000 for the primary residence, excluding the EAV of property used for commercial purposes or rented for more than 6 months. A surviving spouse of the qualified veteran may claim this exemption as long as the spouse does not remarry. If the surviving spouse sells the residence, the exemption may be transferred to his or her new primary residence. The Disabled Persons Homeowners’ Exemption provides disabled persons with an annual $2,000 reduction in the equalized assessed value (EAV ) of the property. To qualify the applicant must be disabled or become disabled during the assessment year, own or have a legal or equitable interest in the property, or a leasehold interest of a single-family residence, occupy the property as the principal residence on January 1, 2011 and be liable for the payment of property taxes. If a person’s home previously received the Disabled Persons’ Homeowner Exemption and the taxpayer now resides in a facility licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act, his or her home is still eligible to receive this exemption provided: the property is occupied by the spouse, and the property remains unoccupied.
NEW STATE LAWS JANUARY 1, 2017 Nearly 200 new laws took effect January 1, 2017 in Illinois.
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While the state’s Democratic and Republican lawmakers still couldn’t agree on a state budget, they were able to pass laws applying to feminine hygiene products, synthetic drugs disguised as consumer products, marijuana, health, fishing, driving violations, privacy and more. Listed below are just some of the most significant and interesting changes to Illinois law and how they might affect you. DRUGS Synthetic Drugs Prosecutors will have an easier time going after gas stations, convenience stores and other retailers caught selling synthetic drugs disguised as “bath salts,” which mimic cocaine and other powerful drugs. Retailers in violation face fines of up to $150,000 and revocation of their business licenses by local governments. Weed People caught with small amounts of marijuana of up to 10 grams will now face citations carrying fines of $100 to $200 instead of six months possible jail time and fines of up to $1,500.
CHILDREN AND FAMILY New Adoption Registry Disclosures New bills adding to list of adoption disclosures, including reasons stated by birth parents for placing a child for adoption and making it easier for birth and adoptive parents to exchange medical and background information if beneficial to the adoptee. Grandparent Visitation Grandparents and greatgrandparents will be allowed to visit grandchildren in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Sick Leave Flexibility Employers that provide sick leave benefits are required to allow employees to use their leave to care for immediate family members due to illness, injury or medical appointment of the employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, sibling, parent, parent-in-laws, grandchild, grandparent or
stepparent. SCHOOLS Breakfast After the Bell Illinois schools with 70 percent or more low-income students are mandated to serve breakfast after the instructional day has begun, as well as before school. Excused to Play Taps Students may be excused from school to play “Taps” at military funerals. Driver Education All driver education teachers will be required to instruct students on proper actions to take during a traffic stop by law enforcement. PUBLIC SAFETY Railroad Crossings Drivers who drive around lowered gates at grade crossings will face stiffer fines for violating railroad crossings laws. Fines will increase to $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. Smile — You’re on Camera Private transportation companies that transport people or goods on a contracted basis will be allowed to have a video recorder operating, provided there is a sign posted stating that a passenger’s conversation may be recorded. VETERANS Hero Highways Families of fallen military members killed in action may request an honorary sign around designated roads. BUSINESS Renter Scofflaws People who fail to return $500 or more in rental equipment within three days after the rental period has expired will be charged with a felony. Employees’ Online Privacy Employers will no longer be able to ask employees or prospective employees for their user names and passwords to personal online accounts, including social media accounts. Recognizing Signs of Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse Cosmetologists, estheticians, hairdressers, nail technicians, braiders, and barbers working in Illinois will be required to learn how to recognize signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. All salon workers will be required to take a one-hour course on the subject as part of their continuing education when they renew their licenses.
Illinois Rep. Frances Ann Hurley was the lead sponsor of HB 4264. ANIMALS Retired Police K-9s Police officers will be given first preference to adopting their retiring canine partners so that the K-9 can remain part of the officer’s family. If the human officer is unable to adopt his or her K-9, the bill also ensures that a fellow officer or employee can give the retired dog a home rather ending up in a shelter. Catfish Beware Anglers can now catch catfish with a pitchfork, spear gun or bow and arrow. HEALTH Contraceptives All women will be able to access birth control without additional costs, thanks to a new law requiring insurance companies to provide up to 12 months of coverage for almost all FDA-approved contraceptive options. Sen. Toni Hutchinson sponsored HB 5576, which was signed into law in August Strengthening Patient Rights Sen. Daniel Biss sponsored SB 1564, an update to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience law, which allowed medical providers to refuse certain medical treatments based on religious objections. Under the new law effective New Year’s Day, medical providers will be forbidden from such actions. “This measure enables Illinois to restore some balance to the patient-doctor relationship in Illinois,” Biss said when the bill was passed in August. “Providers have been able to withhold vital information from patients that could mean the difference between life and death, all because of personal objections.” Tampon Tax Sales tax will be eliminated on feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and menstrual pads. Commonly called the tampon tax, SB 2746 changes the state’s tax codes to make sure essential women’s health products such as tampons, pads and menstrual cups aren’t charged the same sales tax as shampoo. Sen. Melinda Bush sponsored the legislation. Expanding Epinephrine Access and Training. Annie LeGere was 13 when she died as a result of anaphylactic
shock from an unknown allergic reaction. Police were the first to arrive on the scene but were unable to help LeGere because they were not allowed to carry or administer EpiPens. Under this new law, law enforcement agencies will be allowed to conduct training programs that teach officers how to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis. The law also allows health care practitioners to prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in the name of an authorized entity where allergens that could cause anaphylaxis may be present, such as a school. The bill, HB 4462, was sponsored by Sen. Chris Nybo. Removing Lead Toxins Properties with high lead levels will be prohibited from being sold or released until the problem is mitigated and the property is considered safe. Older homes are more likely to contain lead, and children are more susceptible to lead poisoning, according to Illinois Senate Democrats. Sen. Donne Trotter sponsored SB 2300. GOVERNMENT Freedom of Information Allows courts to fine public bodies between $2,500 and $10,000 if they willfully and intentionally failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests, including daily fines of $1,000 if the public body fails to comply with the court’s order after 30 days to address FOIA. LAW ENFORCEMENT Requiring Officials to Accept Cash Bail Law enforcement officials will be required to accept cash to post bail when SB 2252 goes into effect. The genesis for the law, sponsored by Sen. Steve Stadelman, arose from an incident in which a minor was kept in a juvenile detention center for a weekend because officials refused to accept cash due to a county policy, despite their credit card machine being broken Granting Probation for NonViolent Offenders The law allows for more flexibility in granting probation for certain nonviolent offenders. SB 3164, sponsored by Sen. Michael Connelly, requires a review of a pre-sentencing report, as well as an explanation of why incarceration is appropriate for
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August, Bertino-Tarrant said, “This change is past due. There is no reason why the taxpayers should be forced to pay for pensions for lobbyists.” Official State Artifact Designates the pirogue, a long narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk, as the official state artifact. Egg Candling No grade A or AA eggs may be sold to consumers 45 days or more after candling, a method used by poultry keepers in which a bright light is shined through the shell to determine the quality of edible eggs.
VILLAGE CODE FOR SNOW REMOVAL Although we have not had a great amount of snow as of this writing mid January, I have received several inquiries regarding what code the village may have in place regarding snow removal. Some of the emails were for residential sidewalks, some of the others for the sidewalks on Wolf Road and along 31st street. On April 13, 2004 Ordinance number 041647 was passed that included the following, and still remains in effect. Section 302.3 Sidewalks and Driveways: All sidewalks, steps, driveways, parking areas and similar paved areas for use by the public, shall be kept in a proper and acceptable state of repair free of all potholes, surface defects and all SNOW, ICE, mud and other debris. Any sidewalk or paved public areas or portion thereof that is deemed to constitute a danger to public health and safety by virtue of the condition and state of disrepair shall be promptly replaced or resurfaced by the owner of the property immediately abutting or fronting on the sidewalk or other paved public area. Please make every effort to comply with the ordinance and keep as much snow and ice off the sidewalk as possible.
COMPLIMENTS TO WESTCHESTER FIRE DEPARTMENT I received this email and promised to include it in this month’s newsletter: “My wife and I wish to say
Thank You to the men of the Westchester Fire Department for all their help in their “Patient Assist” visits in helping me up and down the stairs for our doctor’s visits. Their help was very timely, extremely professional and done without expecting any thanks. We wish them God’s speed and safety during each day of their work. Thanks Again, Men.” Don and Marie Eck- Kensington Ave. Westchester, Il. I shared your compliment with the village board, village manager and our Fire Chief Jim Adams who shared it with our firefighters. We here at the village pride ourselves with providing the best service and services we can for all of our residents and those who require our services. Thank you once again…Sam
25TH AVENUE BRIDGE OPENS Hopefully we in Westchester will be able to see a reduction of truck traffic along Mannheim Rd. On Thursday, December 22, 2016, I was invited by Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale to attend the ribbon cutting of the 25th Avenue Overpass. For the past several years those of us traveling north of the Eisenhower Expressway at St. Charles Road in Bellwood were literally stopped dead in our tracks, due to the installation and construction of the overpass. Former Governor Pat Quinn, IDOT Director Randy Blankenhorn as well as many elected officials were present as the ribbon was cut formally opening the roadway. Both Mayors Frank Pasquale, from Bellwood, Mayor Ronald Serpico, and representatives of the Union Pacific Railroad, were the predominant force pushing for and obtaining the necessary funding to complete this multimillion dollar project. Kudo’s to all involved. While looking north from the base of the overpass I saw Mayor Serpico’s vehicle in the s/b lane facing north and Mayor Pasquale’s vehicle also facing north in the n/b lane. Mayor Serpico challenged Mayor Pasquale to a race…I know who won, the people of our region by investing in our transportation system. Great Job, Mayors!
WESTCHESTER BOY SCOUTS IN THE NEWS
In our January Newsletter you may have seen a picture on our picture page of one of our young adults receiving an award from Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart. As a follow-up to the picture I am pleased to shed some light on the photo. Pictured with Sheriff Dart is Eddie Colaianni. Eddie resides in Westchester with his Parents Edward Sr. and his mother Gail, and is a senior at Nazareth H.S. graduating this coming May. Eddie was being awarded the Sheriff ’s Youth Medal by Sheriff Dart for his volunteer work in the village. The Ceremony took place late November. Eddie completed over 100 hours of volunteer service to receive the prestigious award. The certificate Eddie received states: The Youth Service Medal of Honor Award is awarded to Edward Colaianni for showing an exceptional commitment to serving others and having an outstanding spirit of volunteerism. Volunteers make a difference in individual lives as well as communities. Many contributions of time and talent are given by concerned and committed youth. The Sheriff ’s Youth Service Medal of Honor program was established to recognize Cook County Students who have volunteered a minimum of 100 hours of community service during the previous year. High school students who meet the necessary criteria are honored at a ceremony where Sheriff Thomas J. Dart presents the awards. The 2016 Medal of Honor recipients have contributed over 40,000 hours of service to a variety of agencies and organizations throughout Cook County. About 275 names from throughout Cook County were listed on the handout. Congratulations, Eddie! Thank You for all you do for Westchester. On Saturday, January 14th, I was able to attend a ceremony for Aiden Paul Denby Walton who was inducted into the Eagle Scout Court of Honor. Aiden, is another fine example of the youth of Westchester who has been able to persevere and obtain the Eagle Scout Designation. Aiden has assisted in many of the events the village has hosted such as the monthly electronic recycling event,
village-wide clean-up day, and flag retirement ceremonies.
MONTHLY WATER BILLING ON TRACK Our monthly water billing system will hit its 1 year anniversary on February 1, 2017. Our water billing clerk Jocelyn Jones has been doing her best getting the bills out on time and handling any questions and concerns with the program. I have heard both positive and negative feedback on the program. We have been able on several occasions to detect abnormal usage within a month’s time instead of after 3 months with quarterly billing. This is certainly a benefit to the homeowner that has had an undetected problem with leaky toilets and fixtures detected within 1 month’s time. Some of the negative comments have been surrounding having to write a check each month for the usage. My comment to that is do we not all write a check to ComEd, Nicor, and Cable TV each month. I can vividly recall writing a check to Nicor in the summer for far less than the water bill we are receiving. Direct deposit is available for those not wanting to write a check each month similar to what you can sign up for with other utilities. Should you have any questions regarding your bill please contact Ms. Jocelyn Jones, our water billing clerk, at 708-345-0020 ext. 415
PUBLIC WORKS BATTLES THE ELEMENTS During the month of January our public works crews attended to 4 water main breaks on several locations throughout the village. Several of these occurred when the temperature was well below freezing and with a wind chill that dipped below the minus 10 degree range. Having been out on these breaks in the past I can certainly tell you they are no fun. I would like to commend those who responded to the call outs and thank them for their work ethic. Repairs were made at10909 Nelson- 10” main; 2238 Boeger- 12” main; 2440 Boeger-12” main; 1537 Suffolk6” main. Those residents looking out their windows during the night time digs may have seen a bright light shining
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certain non-violent offenders with no prior probation sentences or prison convictions prior to sentencing. Providing Legal Counsel for Minors Charged with Murder The new law requires legal counsel during the interrogation of minors under the age of 15 who are charged with murder. Any oral, written or sign language statement by a minor without counsel present during a custodial interrogation shall be inadmissible as evidence in any juvenile court proceeding or criminal proceeding against the minor, according to SB 2370, which was sponsored by Sen. Patricia Van Pelt. Allowing Children to Testify Outside of Court Children who are the victims of battery or domestic abuse may testify using closed circuit television in lieu of testifying in the courtroom. Sen. Michael Connelly sponsored SB 2880, which also allows for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to
testify via CCTV. Enhancing Social Media Password Protections The legislation strengthens current laws prohibiting employers and prospective employers from accessing employees’ social media passwords. The amendment to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act also prohibits employers from asking, requiring or coercing employees and applicants to authenticate or access their social media accounts. Rep. Will Guzzardi sponsored HB 4999. Juvenile Offenders Raises the age from 13 to 15 for minors accused of homicide and certain sex offenses to be represented by legal counsel throughout the interrogation process. AND A FEW MORE NEW LAWS New Illinois bike law gives cyclists the same rights as drivers Starting January 1, lawmakers hope a new law taking effect in Illinois will help clarify those guidelines and increase cyclist and motorist safety. House Bill 5912 amends the state’s vehicle code, and will assign the same-right-of-way privileges to cyclists that car drivers
have. The law is also known as “Dennis’s Law” which came after a judge’s ruling on a 2015 fatal accident involving a man from Hampshire, Illinois. Recording Video in Transportation Vehicles Starting in 2017, vehicles that transport people or goods on a contractual basis will be allowed to have a video recorder operating, as long as a notice is posted letting passengers know their conversations may be recorded. Sen. Dan Biss was the chief sponsor SB 0629. Adopting Police Dogs Upon Retirement Police officers will have the first opportunity to adopt their canine counterparts when the dogs retire from the force, thanks to a new law. Upon passage of SB 3129, the bill’s sponsor Sen. Tom Cullerton said, “The special connection formed between an officer and their dog should be honored. We should want to give retiring police dogs a loving home.” If the dog’s handler chooses not to adopt the dog, the canine can then be adopted by another officer or employee in the agency, or given to a nonprofit organization or no-kill animal shelter to assist with the
adoption of the dog. Protecting Low-Wage Workers Companies will be banned from asking a worker who is paid less than $13.50 an hour to sign a noncompete agreement. Sen. Patricia Van Pelt sponsored SB 3163. In related news, earlier this month Chicago Tonight reported on Jimmy John’s agreement to a lawsuit regarding its use of noncompete agreements. Using Sick Days to Care for Others Workers will have greater flexibility in how they use their sick time in 2017 (no, playing hookie is not covered here). Under the new law, companies that provide sick leave to employees must allow them to use up to half of their allotted time to attend to the medical needs of family members. Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins sponsored SB 6162. Ending Pension Abuse for Lobbyists Under the law sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, lobbying groups will be ineligible to receive taxpayerfunded pensions. When HB 4259 was signed into law in
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down at the dig site. The village purchased a LED portable light standard that made the dig site a safer place for our PW employees.
BENEFITS OF BUILDING PERMITS Many constructions projects are contemplated and actually started during the winter months. A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications. When Do You Need A Permit? The best way to find out if you need a permit is to call your local building department. Discuss your plans with the code official before beginning construction to determine whether you need a permit. Even if a permit is not needed, the code official will answer construction questions and may provide valuable advice. B & F Construction Code Services, Inc. is the company hired by the Village to do plan reviews and is also contracted to enforce village code compliance. B & F Construction Code Services, Inc. is a plan review and inspection consulting agency. They provide plans reviews for all types of projects from single-family homes to high rise buildings. The reviews include all disciplines: building, mechanical, plumbing, electric, energy, fire protection and accessibility. Plan reviews are done in 9 business days for the first review and 5 business days for re-reviews. A single fee is charged with no additional fee for re-reviews. All reviewers are certified in the disciplines they review. Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections. If you decide to sell a home or building that has modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied,
or make costly repairs. A property owner who can show code requirements were strictly and consistently met as demonstrated, by a code official’s carefully maintained records, has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety and welfare. By following codes guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners.
FEBRUARY HOLIDAYS Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, 207 years ago, in a log cabin near Hodgeville, Kentucky. He became the 16th President of the United States, leading the country through its greatest trial, the Civil War. His life was full of personal tragedy and disappointment, but his belief in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and his experience gained as a state legislator, lawyer, and Congressman, along with a whimsical sense of humor, gave him the strength to endure. Throughout his political career Lincoln strove to maintain the ideals of the nation’s founders. He saw slavery as a hypocritical for a nation founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” In an 1854 speech Lincoln said: “I hate it (slavery) because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the worldenables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us a hypocrites.” As president he used the power of the office to preserve the Union. In freeing the slaves Lincoln left a legacy to freedom that is one of the most enduring birthrights America possess. Information compliments of the National Park Service. Civil War History Buffs Over the past month I have been watching Comcast Cable Channel 274, the American Hero’s Channel, Civil War Battlefield series with great interest. I learned a great deal about the Battle of Antietam
and how that battle could be seen as a tide turner for the North. The Battle of Antietam is considered the bloodiest day in the history of American war, with over 23,000 soldiers wounded, killed, or missing. The Union held off the invasion of the Confederacy, although President Abraham Lincoln was very unhappy that the Confederates were allowed to retreat back to Virginia. Still, the battle was declared a Union victory and Lincoln followed it with the Emancipation Proclamation, which officially made slavery the primary cause of the war. President Lincoln had first proposed the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet in July 1862, but Secretary of State William Seward suggested waiting for a Union victory so that the government could prove that it could enforce the Proclamation. Although the Battle of Antietam resulted in a draw, the Union army was able to drive the Confederates out of Maryland – enough of a “victory,” that Lincoln felt comfortable issuing the Emancipation just five days later. The battle was fought on September 17 1862. Just 15 days ago we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. It appears to me that our country as a whole need reminding of what these two great men stood for and the difficulties they ultimately gave their lives for. Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, February 14th Tuesday February 14, 2017 is a date that by now should be seared in the minds of everyone. Yes guys and gals you know it, VALENTINES DAY. That little Hallmark Holiday that can make or break you. Regardless if your wife or significant other gave up chocolate for her New Year’s Resolution. Break down and get a box. Frango Mints, Turtles, or even a personalized Nothing But Bundt Cake (Red Velvet is outstanding), but no leftover Christmas Candy, your ship will certainly sink. Flowers will help put you ahead of the 8 ball if you are in that position. There are many personal relationships in our society with LOVE being the commonality of all of them. On Valentine’s day we proclaim our LOVE for LOVE in all forms because, as The Beatles put it, “Love is all you need.” I have written in past years about the
different colors of Roses and what they mean, but Ill refresh your memory in case like me you forgot. Red: Love and Romance Red roses are the traditional symbol for love, romance, and will always be a way to say “I love you.” The red rose has also reflected beauty and perfection. Deep or dark red roses can reveal an unconscious beauty. Yellow: Friendship, Joy, Get Well Throughout history, yellow has been closely associated with the sun, making these roses excellent for cheering people up. Yellow roses send a message of appreciation and platonic love without the romantic subtext of other colors. The color represents feelings of joy and delight. Lavender: Enchantment, Majesty, Love at First Sight The color purple has a traditional association with royalty. In this regard, shades of lavender roses suggest an air of regal majesty and splendor. Pink: Love, Gratitude, Appreciation Pink carries with it the connotation of grace and elegance, as well as sweetness and poetic romance. Dark pink roses are symbolic of gratitude and appreciation, and are a traditional way to say thanks. Light pink roses are associated with gentleness and admiration, and can also be used as an expression of sympathy. White: Purity, Innocence, Sympathy, Spirituality Early tradition used white roses as a symbol for true love, an association which would later become the hallmark of the red rose. Also known as the bridal rose, the white rose is a traditional wedding flower. In this sense, white represents unity, virtue, and the pureness of a new love. White roses are also associated with honor and reverence, which makes them a fitting memorial for a departed loved one. Maybe a little dinner date at HER favorite place not yours, a movie of HER liking and not an action flick, an open car door, a massage at a SPA place instead
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of your 30 second shoulder rub. These are just a few tips that just might work for you. Sam February 20, 2017 Although not a national holiday, for those old enough to remember on February 20, 1962 Astronaut John H. Glenn sat in a one man space capsule named Friendship 7 and was propelled into outer space on top of an Atlas Rocket. He was one of the original Mercury Seven military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA as the United States’ first astronauts. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and was the first American to orbit the Earth. He was the fifth person in space. Astronaut Glenn completed three orbits not a scheduled seven due to a warning light involving a possible heat shield problem, only to find out later that the indicator light was faulty. Astronaut, Marine, and former U.S. Senator Glenn passed away on December 8, 2016. God Speed, John Glenn. What makes me write about Astronaut John Glenn, and highlight the February 20th date? Well I am a big movie fan and I recently saw the recently released Movie “Hidden Figures” that I would highly recommend to everyone. The movie, which has been touted in many periodicals, tells the story of 3 African American women; Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson. I would categorically acknowledge each as science, technology, engineering, and mathematical geniuses, who through very difficult times in our country’s history were instrumental in the many successes of our beginning NASA Space Exploration Program. For those who have not seen it I will not spoil it, but I believe the authenticity of the movie and its depiction of the women as Human Computers and more importantly as role models for us all. I do not think NASA would have named a building in honor of Mrs. Katherine Coleman Gobel Johnson on May 5, 2016. Katherine Johnson also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama in 2015; a well
deserved honor. George Washington’s Birthday George Washington born February 22, 1732 was the first President of the United States (1789–97), the Commanderin-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that drafted the current United States Constitution and during his lifetime was called the “father of his country”. Widely admired for his strong leadership qualities, Washington was unanimously elected President in the first two national elections. He oversaw the creation of a strong, wellfinanced national government that maintained neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types. Washington’s incumbency established many precedents, still in use today, such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address, and the title Mr. President. In 1775 the Second Continental Congress commissioned Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution. In that command, Washington forced the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and nearly captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the middle of winter, he defeated the British in two battles ( Trenton and Princeton), retook New Jersey and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. His strategy enabled Continental forces to capture two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787, which devised a new form of federal government for the United States. Following unanimous election as President in 1789, he worked to unify rival factions in the fledgling nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton’s programs to satisfy all debts, federal and state, established a permanent seat of government, implemented an effective tax system, and created a national bank. Washington’s Farewell Address was an influential primer on republican virtue,
warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars. He retired from the presidency in 1797, returning to his home and plantation at Mount Vernon where he died on December 14, 1799. Information compliments of Wikipedia.
LEAD WATER TESTING FOR SCHOOLS I was pleased to read that the Illinois State House of Representatives and Senate have passed legislation requiring mandatory testing of elementary and day care centers for lead in drinking water. Since learning about what transpired in Flint, Michigan, the Village of Westchester did not wait for state and federal EPA regulations or laws to change before offering our certified water operators expertise in taking samples from drinking sources throughout all our public schools, who did so without any hesitation. We will again be reaching out to all of the elementary schools, public and private, and include day care centers in testing. I will be asking the board to allow our operators to take the samples under the strict guidelines of our testing lab and track the results. I will ask the board to allow the schools and daycares to be charged the rate we pay for taking our EPA/IEPA required municipal samples to assist in making the program as affordable as possible. As reported by the CDC and other authorities, there is no level of safe lead consumption. Presently the EPA Lead and Copper Rule has set a 15 parts per billion level as the standard. Lead exposure is all around us, with old paint being the most prevalent means of exposure. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over months or years. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children younger than 6 years of age are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal. Lead-based paint and leadcontaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and
soil. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also might be exposed to lead. For more information see the Mayo Clinic website at http:// www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/lead-poisoning/ home/ovc-20275050.
VEHICLE STICKERS GO ON SALE MARCH 1ST Per Village ordinance, each vehicle (including motorcycles & trucks) registered or housed in the Village is required to have a 2017 Westchester vehicle tag, correctly displayed on the lower right corner of each vehicle windshield, or on the license plate for motorcycles, by May 1, 2017 to avoid late fees and potential ticketing for noncompliance. Failure to purchase your sticker within the allotted timeframe (prior to May 1, 2017) will result in a penalty fee. Stickers purchased after April 30, 2017 will also be subject to a citation by the Police Department for failure to display a proper vehicle sticker. Save time this year and purchase your sticker online at www. westchester-il. org. Questions, please contact the Finance Department at 708-345-0020.
SORROW IN OUR MIDST Mr. George J. Strnad Sr. passed away on January 10, 2017 at the age of 89. Mr. Strnad is the father in law of Westchester Fire Chief James Adams and father to Jim’s wife Pattie. He was the beloved and cherished husband of Lois (nee Hock) Strnad. Along with Pattie Adams, he was also the loving Dad of Mary Ellen Riddle, Nancy ( Jim) Dziekan, Debbie ( Jamie) Ross, the late Karen and the late George “Georgie” Strnad, Jr. He was also the dear grandpa of Jimmy (Meghan) Dziekan, Jimmy, Danny and Rachel Adams, George and Lily Ross and Aubrey (Cory Deerwester), Erik and Amber Riddle and great grandpa of Carys Deerwester and Leif Blair. George has served St. Joseph H.S. as Athletic Director, Teacher, Counselor, Coach and , for the past 11 years, as Assistant to the Athletic Director. George’s legacy at St. Joe’s was his Catholic faith
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that guided all of his decisions and actions. He touched the hearts of literally thousands of students, student athletes, faculty, and staff members. He is described as not only a great teacher, but also a valued mentor. George retired from St. Joe’s in 2016 after 37 years of service. George served our country as a veteran of the United States Army serving in WWII. Coach Strnad was also the Statistician for the Chicago Bears for 38 years. Please keep the Strnad family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
FROM THE BOARD At the December 20th Village Board Meeting, the following items were approved under the Consent Agenda: • Approval of the Record of Bills ending 12-15-16 in the amount not to exceed $1,651,406.60 • Approval of Departmental Monthly Reports from the: Community Development Department, Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works Department • An Ordinance Amending Sections 11.32.150, 11.32.155, 11.32.185 and 7.60.100 of the Westchester Municipal Code • An Ordinance Amending Section 11.32.160 of the Westchester Municipal Code • A Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Professional Engineering Services Agreement with Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. for Biannual Bridge Inspections in the Village of Westchester, in the Amount of $4,700 • A Resolution Approving the 2017 Schedule of Meetings of the Village President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Westchester, Cook County, Illinois • A Resolution Regarding the Periodic Review of the Closed Meeting Minutes and the Destruction of the Verbatim Recordings of Certain Closed Meetings of the Village of Westchester At the December 20th Village Committee of the Whole Meeting, the following items
discussed under New Business: Replacement • Vehicle Policy • Highlands Concept Plans • Declaring Surplus Vehicles • Preliminary Engineering Report – Balmoral Avenue At the December 20th Village Committee of the Whole Meeting, the following items discussed under Old Business: • Waste Management Contract Extension Proposal • Fee Schedule for Building Permits At the January 10th Village Board Meeting, the following items were approved under the Consent Agenda: • Approval of the Record of Bills ending 01-05-17 in the amount not to exceed $959,961.54 • Approval of Monthly Departmental Reports from the: Community Development Department, Police Department, Fire Department, and Public Works Department • An Ordinance Authorizing the Sale or Disposal of Surplus Property Owned by the Village of Westchester • A Resolution Approving and Establishing a Vehicle Replacement Policy for the Village of Westchester and Adopting Guidelines and Procedures Therefore At the January 10th Village Board Meeting, the following items were approved under the Active Agenda: • A Resolution Authorizing the Execution of a Mutual Release and Settlement Agreement Between American Painting Inc., and the Village of Westchester
SCAMMERS…SCAMMERS… SCAMMERS For the past several years Scammers, also known as criminals, have come up with various and ingenious ways to steal from us, whether it be money, identity, or other privacy invasive types of theft by phone or the internet. We by nature are a believing help full lot of human beings. We for the most part were raised to be helpful, caring and considerate and to display sympathy and empathy toward those in need. I certainly am
not asking you to change, but what I am asking you is to be more inquisitive and maybe just a little more skeptical as a protective measure. Scammers are very convincing and tug on our heartstrings, and they know it. On the news a few weeks ago I heard a report of a woman in Arlington Heights who lost $4,000 to a Scammer. ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL — Police are warning residents about “grandkid scams” after a woman was swindled out of $4,000 worth of gift card scheme. An alert was issued Monday about the scam that involves an offender calling a victim and pretending to be a grandchild in urgent financial trouble, such as needing to pay an impending medical bill. In the recent incident involving a village resident, a woman was called Thursday, Jan. 5, by someone who claimed her grandson needed bail money, according to Arlington Heights police. The caller told the victim to buy $4,000 worth of gift cards from Target and asked the victim to call back with the cards’ information, police said. “Scammers are good at pretending to be people they are not,” stated the village alert. “They can be convincing: sometimes using information from social networking sites, or hacking into your loved one’s email account, to make it seem more real, and they’ll pressure you to send money before you have time to think.” Police gave residents the following important tips to avoid being bilked out of big bucks in one of these schemes: • Double check to make sure the phone number belongs to your grandchild. • Check with other family members • Even if you haven’t received a call, check with neighbors and friends to see if they’ve encountered the scam and so you can possibly know what to expect if you’re targeted. With our Tax season upon us I would like to reiterate a SCAM that is not new, but is still occurring. IRS PHONE SCAM Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a
consumer alert providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS. These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request. “These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.” The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will NEVER: 1. Call to demand immediate payment, nor will we call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. 2. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. 3. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card. 4. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. 5. Threaten to bring in local police or other lawenforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do: • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue. • If you know you don’t
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owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ( TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or at www.tigta. gov. • Remember, too, the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box. You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; Update September 2016 — To file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant, choose “Scams and Rip-Offs” and then “Impostor Scams.”
METROPOLITAN WATER RECLAMATION DISTRICT OF GREATER CHICAGO As a resident of Cook County our property tax bills indicate a percentage rate of tax to support the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District also known as MWRD. Over my term in office and throughout several newsletters I have often referred to MWRD and have sought their assistance both financially and through engineering assistance in an effort to mitigate and prevent our homes from flooding, which was one of my main goals, and the goals of my running mates for seeking election to office back in 2009. I have had the pleasure of working with then MWRD president Terry O’Brien, his board of commissioners, and have worked exceptionally well with his successor, Ms. Mariyana Spyropoulos, her board of commissioners, and with David St. Pierre, Executive Director, and Ms. Catherine O’Connor an exceptional leader who heads the engineering department. As a proponent of all of the MWRD initiatives I would like to share President Spyropoulos’ Annual Message reflecting on 2016 and what is in store for 2017. Please take note of the forward progress on the McCook Reservoir and how Westchester and our region will be benefiting in similar fashion to what the south suburban
communities are presently benefitting from the completion of the Thornton Reservoir. The selection of Addison Creek as one of 6 watershed project in 2012 has now been made a reality. I, along with my supportive board of Trustees and administration, as well as elected leaders and boards from communities along the Addison and Salt Creeks have sought relief for far too many years. I am pleased to report it IS underway. President’s Spyropoulos’ Annual Message “The year 2016 was a great one at the MWRD. The MWRD is raising the bar on water quality initiatives, recovering resources, neutralizing energy usage, managing stormwater and improving the planet. Our size and scope make us a world leader in the water utility field and a pioneer in implementing initiatives that impact our environment. Our staff ’s ingenuity and unbridled passion for protecting the environment and our residents has expanded our footprint, elevated our performance and sparked many achievements in 2016. Here are a few highlights from this inspiring year. Mariyana T. Spyropoulos President of the Board of Commissioners Financial Savings In September, the GFOA again bestowed the MWRD with the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 2016 and for the 32nd consecutive year. This award includes special perfor¬mance measures recognition for providing objective measures of progress toward accomplishing the government’s mission and goals and objectives for specific units and programs. The MWRD again received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting (CAFR) marking 40 consecutive years putting the MWRD in the top two percent of governments receiving a consecutive award. The MWRD’s CAFR documents our ability to provide assurance to investors, regulators, rating agencies and the public that the MWRD’s financial condition and results of operations are fully and fairly presented. This is critically im-portant because in July we closed on a $427 million bond sale. We achieved savings in excess of
$120 million on future debt service. The MWRD maintains a AAA rating with Fitch Ratings and a AA+ rating from Standard and Poor’s. We continue to be a national leader in cost savings. In fact, at $197 per Chicago resident, the average cost for the MWRD’s wastewater services is less than half the cost of the national average of $452. The MWRD has continued to support its mission by implement¬ing sustainable practices in resource recovery and energy efficiency while strengthening our financial foundation. We continue to maintain strong general fund balances and reserve balances for the capital improvement budget. Legislative Assistance Advances Crucial Project The McCook Reservoir, part of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan ( TARP), took a major step closer to becoming the world’s largest combined sewage reservoir in 2016. With Phase 1 of the McCook Reservoir set for completion in 2017, our Illinois delegation suc¬cessfully introduced an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 which requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of McCook Reservoir Phase 2. Adopted in 1972, TARP has been instrumental in protecting the region’s drinking water supply in Lake Michigan, improved water quality of local rivers and streams and provided an outlet for floodwaters to reduce street and basement sewage backup flooding. The first phase of the McCook Reservoir will provide 3.5 billion gallons of storage. Phase 2 will be completed in 2029 and will provide an additional 6.5 billion gallons of stor¬age. The reservoir will protect the waterways from pollution and provide more than $114 million per year in flood damage reduc¬tion benefits to 5 million people in Chicago and 36 suburbs. Praise for Thornton Composite Reservoir Although McCook is on schedule to become the world’s largest combined sewage reservoir, this distinction for now belongs to the MWRD’s Thornton Composite Reservoir ( TCR) which went online in the fall of 2015. This reservoir
serves a 90-square-mile area in Cook County by holding up to 7.9 billion gallons of water before it can be treated at the nearby Calumet Water Reclamation Plant ( WRP). TCR protects 556,000 people from flooding in 14 communities, including the South Side of Chicago and 13 suburban communities. Since it was brought into ser¬vice, there has only been one combined sewer overflow in the Calumet River System, a prime example of the reservoir’s ef¬fectiveness in protecting our waterways from pollution and our basements from flooding. The MWRD received multiple awards and honors for the reservoir: the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Mines and Minerals 2016 Illinois Mined Land Reclamation Award; the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management 2016 Flood Reduction Project Award; the American Public Works Association (APWA), Chicago Metro Chapter’s 2016 Project of the Year; the APWA Chicago Metro Chapter’s 2016 Public Works Project Excellence Award; the APWA National Conference’s 2016 Project of the Year; Water and Wastes Digest’s Top Projects for 2016 Award; Friends of the Chicago River’s 2016 Green Ribbon Award; and the ASCE Illinois Section’s 2016 Project of the Year. Disinfection Facility Unveiled at O’Brien WRP The new disinfection facility at the O’Brien WRP went online in time for this year’s recreation season. The O’Brien WRP utilizes ultraviolet (UV ) radiation to disinfect water as a final layer to its treatment process to reduce bacteria in the water that is released from the plant into the North Shore Channel. Together with the Calumet WRP disinfection system the quality of water throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) will dramatically improve. Eradicating Drugs from our Water We have always known that safer and cleaner waterways start at home. The MWRD once again partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to collect hundreds of pounds of pharmaceuticals. The success of
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School District FEBRUARY 2017
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these collections prompted the MWRD to permanently house drug drop-off boxes at four locations, including three WRPs and the Main Office Building. While educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications and harm to the environment, we are also work¬ing to reduce accidental contamination of streams, rivers and lakes. We also partnered with the Cook County Sheriff ’s Office to expand their Prescription Drug Take-Back Program. In addition, we continue to push for the elimination of pesticides, micro¬beads, chlorides and other harmful pollutants to our waters. Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS) Microbiome Research The MWRD is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to study the typical sources and distribution of microbial communities in the CAWS. Microbial communities are key players in maintaining the CAWS’ health. This sevenyear study aims to understand the composition and sources of the CAWS microbial population using state-ofthe-art metagenomic science. Since 2012, Argonne scientists have been analyzing samples taken monthly from the Chicago River between March and November and running the samples through a DNA sequencer to identify and count the microbes in the river. The work is measuring and recording changes in microbial communities as we begin disinfecting secondary treated water at O’Brien and Calumet WRPs and as the Thornton reservoir and the first phase of the McCook reservoir are completed. The entire study will be completed in 2019 and will record the improvements that occur as the MWRD takes steps to manage its outflow. RESOURCE RECOVERY Nutrient Recovery Underway In 2016, we opened the world’s largest nutrient recovery facility to improve conditions as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. The new Ostara
facility at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant works to recover nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, from the wastewater treatment process. Excess phosphorus in waterways can cause algae to grow and bloom, creating toxic conditions that destroy aquatic life and severely limit recreational enjoy¬ment of lakes and rivers. The MWRD’s nutrient recovery facility will greatly reduce its nutrient effluent load to the Chicago/ Calumet river system, upstream of the Mississippi river basin, and as a result, will reduce its impact on hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. Phosphorus and nitrogen are being recovered to create a high value fertilizer, marketed as Crystal Green. The process is both economically and environmentally viable. The new facil¬ity has a production capacity of 10,000 tons of Crystal Green per year. As part of the commercial sale of Crystal Green, the MWRD receives revenue for every ton of fertilizer it produces. By removing phosphorus from the water and returning it to farmers and other agricultural producers, this facility represents a significant shift in the wastewater industry from treatment to recovery for reuse. Water Reuse In addition to phosphorus, we are creating new opportunities to recover water through a new partnership with American Water to supply clean, reusable water to the industrial sector at the rate of about 10 million gallons per day. We have also experimented with the recovery of algae, which we can produce 24 tons daily. The algae can be harvested and converted for use in bioplastics, biochemicals, biofuels, pharmaceuticals and dyes, or used as fertilizer or as aquaculture feed, returning the phosphorus to the nutrient cycle. Working Towards Energy Neutrality In September, the Board of Commissioners unanimously sup¬ported an amendment to the Resource Recovery ordinance, which allows us to begin accepting organics that will help us grow our energy production and reach our goal of energy neu¬trality by 2023.
We are currently developing a program that will allow us to receive organic waste at our Stickney and Calumet WRPs that will help us produce biogas, which can offset the energy demands of the treatment plants. Our Calumet WRP has digester capacity to process 400 tons of food waste daily, and we are building a processing facility and a receiving station that will help expedite the process. Through the ordinance, we would also be able to receive high strength organic materials for biological phosphorus removal and organic feedstock, such as yard waste, tree trimmings, and wood chips to strengthen and add to our biosolids compost blend. These are critical initiatives that protect our planet and produce savings for our taxpayers. Biosolids Part of the waste that is being hauled each day to landfills is wood chips and yard waste. By combining it with our Class A biosolids, we are developing another reuse opportunity through a high-value compost. Since receiving state authority last year, we continued to develop this product and move it closer to the market. We produced approximately 145,000 dry tons annually over each of the past five years and are targeting a distribution goal of 90,000 dry tons per year. Given the demand for this product on golf courses and at park districts, we know there is a similar value to making biosolids available to the public. We held a naming contest for a product we hope to market soon. We received 726 creative submissions that will help us market our resource and educate the public on the many benefits of biosolids reuse. Receiving the materials to create the compost and selling the finished product will provide another revenue stream for the MWRD. This compost blend will assist soil for plants, helping to increase water retention and promote root development. Utility of the Future Expanding our mission beyond water treatment to an array of environmental causes has made us a leader in the industry. In 2016, we were one of 61 utilities from across the
U.S., Canada, and Denmark that were selected by a peer committee of util¬ity leaders to receive the inaugural “Utility of the Future Today” designation. The recipients received a display flag and a special certificate to further identify and promote their outstanding achievement as a Utility of the Future organization. The Utility of the Future program is a partnership of water sector organiza-tions that celebrate the progress and exceptional performance of wastewater utilities while supporting the widespread adoption of an innovative business model. Through our many endeavors in water management, resource recovery and community part¬nering, we are setting a national trend as a utility of the future. Stormwater Management As watershed stewards during a time of changing weather patterns, one of the growing issues facing our region is flood¬ing. Since the Illinois General Assembly granted authority to the MWRD to manage stormwater for Cook County, we have extended our resources to fight the danger of flooding to the point we now have 100 projects in stormwater management currently ongoing. We are performing preliminary engineering and design work on several alternatives recommended for phase I projects, including flood control projects and streambank restorations, while also constructing drainage improvements in phase II, moving forward with the flood prone property acquisi¬tion program and green infrastructure improvements. Many of these green infrastructure projects are drawing major acclaim while contributing to quality of life improvements for communi¬ties. The trade magazine Stormwater Solutions recently named a green infrastructure project implemented by the MWRD in Blue Island as a top 10 stormwater project in the nation. The magazine recognized the innovative green infrastructure proj¬ect for its work in managing water and preventing flooding in the community. For the project,
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PRESIDENT Continued from page 26
the MWRD installed six rain gardens and two permeable parking lots in flood prone areas to capture more than 150,000 gallons of stormwater per rain event and assist in mitigating flooding damages. The MWRD has invested in and is currently working on about 20 green infrastructure projects throughout Cook County. The MWRD partners with various municipalities on these projects that use natural landscaping to manage water and provide environmental and community benefits, while preventing stormwater from entering the sewer system. We are currently finalizing five studies across Cook County that examine the potential use of green infrastructure as a solution to manag¬ing excess stormwater. As a result of some of these findings, we are partnering with the city of Chicago on a pilot study that will gain insight into the effectiveness of various technologies aimed at reducing basement backups. The proposed dataset will be comprised of approximately 40 residential properties in the Chatham neighborhood to evaluate the effectiveness of low-cost improvements in reducing basement backups, such as downspout disconnection and extension, rain gardens and backflow preventers. Space to Grow No MWRD conversation about green infrastructure would be replete without a mention of our award-winning partnership
known as Space to Grow. The collaborative program converts Chicago schoolyards into community spaces for physical activity, outdoor learning, environmental literacy and engagement with art, while addressing neighborhood flooding issues. This joint venture, formed between the MWRD, Chicago Department of Water Management, Chicago Public Schools, Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands constructed three new schoolyards in 2016: Wadsworth Elementary School in the Woodlawn neigh¬borhood, Gunsaulus Scholastic Academy in the Brighton Park neighborhood and Corkery Elementary School in the Little Village neighborhood. The program received the 2016 Best of Green School Award for Collaboration by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in collaboration with the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) in Pittsburgh in March, and then again in August, Space to Grow partners received the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies’ (NAFSMA) first place Green Infrastructure award in Portland, Oregon. Rain Barrels The free rain barrel program continued to be extremely popu¬lar among residents, municipalities, and community groups. Between January 2014 and December 2016, the MWRD worked with 88 municipal partners and two dozen non-governmental organizations to distribute more than 120,000 barrels. This demand has cultivated a newfound understanding and appre¬ciation for managing
water in addition to providing communities with a tool to combat flooding. When we started this program, we knew that a few barrels may not make a drastic difference in the amount of water overwhelming our drainage and storm sewer systems, but 120,000 rain barrels capturing rain in a one-inch event is equivalent to 6.6 million gallons of water, enough to fill 10 Olympic size swimming pools. Restoring the Canopy In April we launched a new program designed to inspire Cook County residents to adopt a more traditional form of green in¬frastructure that will truly add green to our communities while retaining stormwater. Driven by the devastation caused by the emerald ash borer and extreme weather events that have led to the loss of approximately 13 million trees, staff embarked on an ambitious plan to help restore the Cook County tree canopy. In only a few months, more than 25,000 free oak tree saplings were distributed as part of the Restore the Canopy, Plant a Tree program. This program works toward restoring the region’s tree canopy and managing local stormwater which will help reduce flooding, improve local water quality by lessening the load of water overwhelming our sewer system, and promote resource recovery by planting the trees in our composted biosolids blend. To distribute these trees, the MWRD has forged partnerships with more than 25 different municipalities, 30 schools and nearly 50 community groups. Board Changes Commissioners Michael Alvarez and David Walsh
completed their terms on the Board. Both were instrumental in guiding the vision of the MWRD during their tenure, and their presence will be missed. In 2017, we welcome two new commissioners, Josina Morita and Martin J. Durkan, to serve on the Board and look forward to their collaboration as we continue to work on behalf of the residents of Cook County. Looking Ahead to 2017 Next year we will continue working toward our ambitious goals of transforming water and recovering resources, all while continu¬ing to explore cost saving measures for the residents of Cook County. We have some exciting initiatives moving forward, from capturing energy from our renewable resources to promoting business opportunities for those who served through a vet¬eran’s preference policy. Our pledge to meet energy neutrality will have our engineers and scientists testing and applying the latest technologies, while our plant managers and treatment plant operators will continue to push for the best and most resourceful ways to treat water and keep operations running smoothly on a daily basis. Our team of stormwater experts will continue to develop community partnerships and find solutions that will continue to make the Chicago region a phenomenal place to call home. We realize we cannot protect our water en-vironment all by ourselves. The water quality we have worked so hard to attain in our waterways and Lake Michigan affords us this wonderful home, and through the MWRD and our various partners we aim to keep it that way for a long time to come.
School District FEBRUARY 2017
Community Development FEBRUARY 2017
Your Westchester Economic Development Committee (EDC) is now in its 4th phase of supporting business in our village. In the first phase, we met with key business leaders and community stakeholders in forums to identify key principles which led to our basic mission: To support and enhance existing businesses; to create a welcoming climate for new businesses, and to create networks between area businesses and existing village and community entities. Phase two was the identification and beginning “branding” of the 7 key business districts in town: th Addison Creek District (along Roosevelt Road from Westchester Boulevard to the 25 St. bridge); Historic District (the businesses on Westchester Boulevard from Cermak just past Canterbury); Fountain District (the businesses on Cermak from Mannheim west to Sunnyside & north to Canterbury); Municipal District (along Roosevelt Road from Westchester Blvd. to Mannheim & North to I-290; Highridge District (along Roosevelt Road from Wolf Rd. east); Tower District (from the corner of Wolf/Cermak westbound through Enterprise Drive); and st st Prairie District (from the medical buildings along Wolf southbound to 31 , and along 31 eastward). As part of this branding, we have placed business location signage throughout the village streets noting these districts. With thanks to our trustees, we secured funding grants for businesses to improve their individual business signs. Phase three was the meeting with, and getting key information from businesses within each district, identifying business needs and concerns. Also we began formal networking between businesses in these districts, alongside meeting with village trustees and the Westchester Chamber of Commerce. We created maps for each district, and have identified all businesses within each district. Phase four will continue this work, helping businesses identify ways to better network, consider larger district and community-wide business days/events, and better ways to help outside businesses know/locate property in Westchester to begin, expand, or move a business to Westchester. We meet the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month at the Community Room at Village Hall, 7:30 a.m. We welcome visitors, especially business owners, to come, give us information as to how to better support your business. We also are looking for up to 2 new members of the EDC. You must submit a letter of application to the committee for consideration. Please send this request to Joe Mills, Chair of the EDC at 1840 Westchester Blvd. Westchester, IL 60154 FOR THE ECONOMIC HEALTH AND BETTERMENT FOR OUR VILLAGE!!!
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