MOREHere at the M.O.R.E. Center, we have an award that we give to individuals, groups and businesses called “Friend of MORE.” It’s a certificate indicating our appreciation for outstanding service to us and, over the years, we have given out over 50 of these. It would be nice for everyone to get one of these, but that isn’t practical. So, we look for those who shine a little brighter.

Mcgills changesResidents of Marengo may have noticed that there is now an empty lot where the one story portion of the McGills factory used to be.

“The one story section was razed,” says Pastor Doc of the Marengo United Methodist Church which owns the property. “We plan to install a parking lot. We are unsure when yet because we are still raising the funds. The goal is to put a parking lot there that the city can use as well as the parishioners.”

Boys BowlingThe Marengo boys basketball team (16-5 Overall, 4-1 Kishwaukee River Conference) showered the Harvard Hornets with a dozen three-pointers at home, en route to a 65-40 win. The Jan. 28 tilt had the three-point basket parade led by Michael Volkening (23 points) collecting four, Connor Wascher (10) picking up two, and Blaine Borhart (11) with three.

BumblebeeOver 75% of our crops and flowering plants must be pollinated. Yet, there is clear evidence that pollinators are in perilous decline. Among pollinators are hummingbirds, flies, bats, butterflies, beetles, bats, moths and bees. They all play an important role in flowering plant reproduction and production of most vegetables and fruits.

Boy collects coatsWhen 5-year-old Brayden Jenkins feels cold sitting in a car, he thinks about homeless people who have no car or home to sit in. Brayden worries people without coats will get sick. That’s why he started a coat drive in December. He partnered with Roc’s Barber Shop in DeKalb. Although Brayden lives in Marengo, he frequents Roc’s regularly.

City Hall 1Marengo’s first city hall was a very unassuming building located in the northwest portion of today’s Municipal Lot. In the history column Ruminations by Rudy, which appeared in the August 3, 1978, edition of the Marengo Beacon News, Rudy Husfeldt described this ancient center of Marengo’s seat of government as an “18 x 20 ft., two room, clapboard, unpainted, tinroofed structure sporting two small windows.” The location wasn’t that great either. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the years 1885, 1893, and 1905 place the building immediately adjacent to a railroad track siding and just west of the alley that runs along the west side of the Marengo Fire Protection District Station. This building was constructed sometime after 1859 when Marengo was first incorporated as a town.

Antiques appraisalEver wonder how much grandma’s old serving tray is worth? What about that heirloom oil painting or turn-ofthe- century shawl?

The McHenry County Historical Society & Museum will host its fifth annual Antique Appraisal Day from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the museum, 6422 Main St., Union. Reserve a 10-minute slot for your treasure by calling the museum at 815-923- 2267.

Modest as it was, during the last City Council meeting city staff reported some good news regarding Marengo’s two Tax Increment Financing Districts. Assistant City Administrator Josh Blakemore reported that the two districts are beginning to generate a little money. In the case of the Downtown TIF, we are talking very little money – about $3,000 per year. The East Side TIF is doing better; beginning with this most recent property tax disbursement – about $45,000 per year. This new East Side TIF money is primarily the result of the development of the new Dollar General. A small assessed property value increase to this East Side TIF total is expected to come on-line in two more years due to the recent mini-warehouse expansion at Highway 20 Self Storage.

Created in 2011, the two TIFs were established to offset development and redevelopment costs in the Downtown and on the East Side of the City along East Grant Highway. (The East Side District does not include areas north of the highway in and around Sullivan’s Grocery). This money comes from an increase in property tax collections in the TIF District, derived from increased property value normally caused by new development or redevelopment to that parcel. The money collected by the District is derived from the increment of taxation charged to property, resultant from the property’s value increase that would otherwise be sent to all property taxing bodies. Without the East Side TIF, the City of Marengo would get an extra $5,120 from Dollar General’s improvement; the two public school taxing bodies - Marengo District 154, Marengo District 165 - in combination would get about $24,920 divided about equally; McHenry County $4,090; the Marengo Park District $1,640; McHenry County College $1,600; and the six other property taxing bodies in combination would get about $7,630. (Compared to these government’s budgets, these increments are nominal.)

It was reported that the Districts need to spend money, even if it is a very small amount, for a capital improvement project by this time next year. If not, by law the Districts would be discontinued. If capital improvements are made, the districts’ life could be extended another 16 years. To date, no money has been spent in these Districts except for start-up costs and a small annual administration fee. The accrued cost for each District totals about $40,000 which is reimbursable to the City’s General Fund. (The General Fund has fronted this start-up/administration money.) Caused by very modest assessed property valuation increases during their initial life, the Districts’ budgets also have a small positive balance from the increments previously collected.

In the Downtown TID, a small sidewalk or parking lot improvement could be undertaken with the understanding that the start-up/ administration costs would also have to be covered within the next 16 years. In the East Side District, consideration can be given to undertake a larger capital improvement project that would either correct problems with existing infrastructure, or cut the cost of new development. The City Council will be making these decisions probably this spring.

It’s hard to believe that January is already over and we are moving into February. As we know February means Valentine’s Day and while we are picking out the perfect heart themed gift for our favorite valentine, we also need to remember to take care of our own hearts, and remember the month of February is heart disease awareness month. Every year heart attacks and heart disease are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. We can greatly reduce the risk of heart attack by attending regular physicals, and changing unhealthy habits. Identify the risks, such as high blood pressure which can be treated with medication and exercise. Heart disease can also be hereditary, so if you have a family history of heart disease it’s important to begin getting checkups at a younger age. So, for the month of February let’s keep those hearts healthy.

Union Fire DistrictHard to believe it is February 2017 - another month has flown by and another article. For the past 14 years I spent this time of the year preparing for the big Union Fireman's Dance, a tradition that has been ongoing for 22 years. There are even some people that can name off all the big winners from our $1000 drawings over the years. Sadly, there won't be a dance this year - however, we will still have the big drawing and will have an event at Clasen's in Union on Feb 18th. Please look for signs around town and info online!

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