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!

Arnold WestArnold Engineering, Inc., and its property owner, 300 West LLC, have not complied with consent and legally binding stipulations in the matter of bringing potable water to Marengo residents with contaminated wells impacted by the company’s operations, and the state of Illinois Attorney General’s Office is seeking answers in putting the issue on center stage.

Arnold west

Jordan HillHate Crime Assailant Stole Marengo Resident’s Vehicle

Jordan Hill, 18, one of the four accused assailants in the alleged kidnapping and toruture of a Crystal Lake special needs teen last month, began a crime spree, several days before the Facebook livestream broadcast of the incident. It began with a red 2009 Chevrolet Impala, belonging to a Marengo woman, and used by her son, to go to the Hampshire Mc Donald’s Dec. 30, for his job.

Happy New Year from the Board of Commissioners and staff, we look forward to serving you by providing great programs and customer service every day of 2017. We have highlighted the challenges faced by the park district in previous columns but moving into 2017 we’d like to focus on the positive and be progressive even if it’s only one inch at a time. Come along with us and help make the park district a community based organization that we can all be proud of.

The playground initiative is moving along at a pace we hoped for; our businesses, elected officials, community organizations and residents have embraced this effort and the playground will be a reality in 2017. The up to date total of funds raised is approximately $27, 500. Along with the previously mentioned sponsors the park district would like to announce a sponsorship of $10,000 by INTREN, INTREN is located in Union, Illinois.

INTREN, founded by Loretta Rosenmayer, is well known for contributing to and assisting with community initiatives. We are overwhelmed by INTREN’s support and assistance. The park district would also like to thank 1st Ward Alderman Mike Miller for his assistance with establishing a relationship with INTREN as Alderman Miller is a former INTREN employee.

The park district through the cooperation of school district 165 was able to ask parents a series of survey questions and based on the feedback will offer new programs in 2017. In response we’ll be offering a year round art program starting at the end of January, a six week summer camp program with art, sports and nature specialty camps that can extend the camp experience for camp participants. In addition the district will offer spring break and winter break camps while kids are out of school as well as “When School’s Out We’re In” a one day program for individual holidays throughout the school year.

The park district would like to welcome Matt Lentine, Matt will be managing recreation and fitness programs as well as the fitness center. Matt comes to MPD with experience in parks and recreation programming and lives in the northwest suburbs. Please welcome Matt, he will be getting up to speed quickly familiarizing himself with our community and will work towards developing new opportunities for the residents.

Jack Frost has cast his spell upon us and sub-zero temperatures have found us. Make sure if you have to go outside that you dress with extra layers of clothing and don’t leave any of your extremities exposed to the elements; don’t stay outside for long periods of time. Remember, if the temperature is zero and the wind is blowing at 10 mph it really is -16 out. Frostbite and hypothermia can occur within 30 minutes in these types of conditions.

If you have to drive be sure that you have plenty of gas in the tank should you get stuck and have to wait to be pulled out. Some items you may want to put in your trunk during the winter season: a bag of ice melt, shovel, blanket, and a flash light. For those with smart phones there are plenty of flash light apps that can be down loaded to your phone. I caution drivers to be cognizant of many factors while driving during these weather elements, which include not only the snow or ice on the roadway, but the equipment out there trying to combat the weather-related problems.

Your public works, IDOT, townships and county snowplows are doing a great job of addressing the streets on a consistent basis, but please be mindful that by not paying extra attention accidents can happen.

I hope everyone’s Holiday season is going well. Stay warm and stay safe.

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