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Stew Cohen

    News of the Fox Valley is my focus in the morning on 103.9 The Fox. I’ll give you a comprehensive look at Chicagoland’s top stories, Illinois news, top national stories, sports, traffic, and weather. All of this information in a couple of minutes each hour on the morning show. Just as The Fox keeps you entertained with great rock music and his funny comments, I’ll keep you in touch with what’s going on. Stew’s News on 103.9 The Fox Monday through Friday from 6:50am to 9am.

    I’ve been finding important issues and events to expand our focus from the shorter newscast length to the longer form public affairs show. The program is called Northwest Spectrum, airing every Sunday 6am for 15-minutes. Northwest Spectrum allows for more time to open up an issue and examine it thoroughly.

    I’m in my fifth decade of providing news in the morning, public affairs and public service. Thank you for listening to me.

     


    — A double-decker bus built by The Walt Disney Co. that was undergoing maintenance in an area marked “Do Not Enter – Restricted Area” at the Volo Auto Museum took an unexpected trip across the grounds after two young children climbed behind the wheel.

    No one was injured. But the bus — circa 1956 and valued at $450,000 — was damaged Monday, July 16, after one of the grammar-school-aged children took the vehicle out of park, sending it rolling 80 feet into a tree, said Brian Grams, director of the museum at 27582 Volo Village Road.

    The incident reminded Grams of the recent news account of a 5-year-old boy that climbed up and toppled a glass sculpture in an Overland Park, Kansas, community center. The child’s parents received a $132,000 bill for the damage, sparking a national debate over who’s to blame in such a case — the venue or the parents.

    Grams said he was thankful that no one was injured and the only damage suffered was that of the bus. “There couldn’t have been a better outcome to a bad situation,” he said. “The bus hit the tree straight on at its sturdiest point. The damage would have been much greater had it been just a few inches to the left or right.”

    Nonetheless, the vintage vehicle’s frame is bent and its steering wheel is broken. A one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable brass radiator shell also was mangled. Grams has filed an insurance claim, and the museum’s insurer has been in touch with the parents’ insurance provider.

    “Unlike the Overland Park sculpture incident, we did have signs posted saying ‘Restricted Area’ ‘Do Not Enter’ and ‘Do Not Touch,’” Grams said. “This is a perfect example of why it is important that people do not ignore the warnings.

    “Some people remarking on the sculpture incident have said the piece should have been roped off or otherwise secured, while most have said parents need to better supervise their children,” he continued. “It’s impossible to put everything behind a partition, so where does a venue draw the line?”

    The bus debuted in Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in 1956, and in 1982 was put to use at Epcot Center in Disney World, Florida. The Volo Auto Museum acquired and restored the exceptionally rare vehicle in 2014. The omnibus has not been used to offer rides since it was retired from Disney World in the 2000s. A 62nd anniversary-of-debut event, including rides with costumed characters, is planned at the Volo Auto Museum Aug. 11, which is why the bus was out of its usual indoor display space for maintenance.

    The Volo Auto Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It features roughly 400 classic, muscle and Hollywood cars and more. Regular admission is $15 for adults, $9 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children 4 and younger. For other information, call 815-385-3644, find Volo Auto Museum on Facebook or visit volocars.com.


    The Board of Directors for The Literacy Connection announces David Zimmerman as its new Executive Director.  Zimmerman replaces Karen Oswald, former Executive Director who resigned this past February.

    Zimmerman brings experience in non-profit organizations as well as community business collaboration, board governance and organizational change management to The Literacy Connection.

    Zimmerman has served previously as the Employment Opportunities Manager for the Center for Enriched Living and was the Employment Coordinator for New Foundation Center (now Thresholds).  Zimmerman is also a Veteran of the United States Navy.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Affairs (Management) from Indiana University, as well as a Master of Arts in Public Administration (Nonprofit Management) from University of Colorado and a Master of Business Administration (Management) from Roosevelt University.

    Zimmerman says, “I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to lead this organization. The mission of The Literacy Connection is such a needed resource in the communities we serve as I have encountered several clients at my previous positions that had severe deficits in basic literacy fundamentals, in addition to other barriers in their own lives.  Reading your schedule at work, filling out job applications, or just being able to write about what you enjoy doing in life; literacy in our communities is so essential towards the inclusion and prosperity for our readers.   Providing opportunities for those who need help is a great passion of mine and having a career that aligns with this is truly a blessing. The Literacy Connection is a public nonprofit organization and I plan on continuing to build new bridges with the communities and reaching out to new learners who may have been hesitant or unaware of our services.”

    Board President Jay Robinson stated, “We are confident that David’s experience, knowledge, and integrity are a great match for the work, staff, and friends of The Literacy Connection. Together with the staff and the Board of Directors, we will continue to advance our mission by helping adults in the northwest suburbs reach their literacy goals through one-on-one volunteer tutoring and small group instruction.”

    The Literacy Connection serves 16 northwest suburban Chicago communities including Algonquin, Bartlett, Carpentersville, Cary, Elgin, South Elgin, East Dundee, West Dundee, Gilberts, Hanover Park, Hampshire, Hoffman Estates, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Streamwood, and Schaumburg. The agency provides customized one-on-one and small group adult tutoring, citizenship conversation groups, English conversation groups, and family literacy programs.


    Carl Buddig & Co. will be expanding their operations within Illinois with the purchase of the former Butterball facility in Montgomery. The facility has been vacant since prior operations ended in July 2017. Buddig will use the 280,000 sq ft facility to grow its manufacturing footprint for lunch meats and specialty meats production. Governor Bruce Rauner said, “Since the old operation ceased, my administration has been working tirelessly to get this facility up and running again for the great folks of Montgomery. I am thrilled to have a homegrown Illinois company like Buddig expanding within our state and bringing this facility back to life.”
    “With our customers’ demand for great-tasting Buddig products, it was vital that we increase our manufacturing facilities,” said Bob Buddig, CEO of Carl Buddig and Company. “The Montgomery facility is our fourth manufacturing facility in Illinois, and we look forward to starting production there this Spring.”
    Due to the similarity of the two companies’ operations, Buddig is an ideal new tenant for the facility and will benefit greatly from the availability of trained workers in the area. The project will create 250 jobs within the first two years of operations and then ramp up to 350 jobs by year five. Buddig has more than 1,200 people working within Illinois. Their most recent purchase of Rupari Food Services kept 200 jobs in Illinois.
    Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy says, “It is victories like this that happen when all parties come together and work towards a common goal. Illinois is slowly but surely coming back. We’re beginning to see real results from investing and marketing our assets, like our world-class workforce, while fostering an environment that is supportive to businesses at all levels.”
    The Governor, the Department of Commerce and Intersect Illinois worked with State Senator Jim Oberweis, State Representative Keith Wheeler, local government officials, local economic development organizations and other key stakeholders to ensure this project’s success.
    Dan Wynn, Buddig’s Chief Operating Officer commented: “It was an easy decision to expand in Montgomery after learning about the assistance and support we would receive from the State of Illinois, the Village of Montgomery, Montgomery’s Economic Development Corporation, and Kane County’s Workforce Development Division. We look forward to working with all of these agencies and bringing 250 to 300 new jobs to Montgomery over the next year.”
    “Manufacturing, especially food processing, remains a staple of the Illinois economy,” said Senator Oberweis. “It was essential to get this facility back in operation for the people of Montgomery, and I look forward to supporting Buddig’s success.”
    Representative Wheeler says, “This is a great day for the Village of Montgomery. An investment of this magnitude will offer not only relief for this resilient community, but tremendous opportunity in the years to come. I am thrilled to welcome Buddig into the 50th District and look forward to seeing this facility filled once again.”
    “We have a very solid manufacturing core as well as a strong workforce here in the Village of Montgomery,” said Village President Matt Brolley. “The plant has always been used for meat processing, which makes it an ideal facility for Buddig’s operations. On behalf of the Village Board and community, I want to thank Carl Buddig & Co for expanding their business into Montgomery. We are thrilled to welcome them into our community.”
    Illinois was in tight competition with Indiana to win this project. Indiana had previously won Buddig’s 2013 project in a similar face off, citing the proximity to their existing South Holland, IL plant but with lower property taxes and affordable cost of doing business within Indiana.
    Intersect Illinois President & CEO Mark Peterson says, “Buddig’s decision to invest and expand within Illinois is a testament to the hard work that is being done by all of us, as a team, to attract investment and create a business environment that is competitive with our neighbors. We will continue to build upon this success and bring more opportunity to every corner of the state.”
    “Any time an Illinois manufacturer is able to expand, especially within our borders, is a case for celebration,” said Mark Denzler, Vice President and COO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “Buddig is a manufacturing success story and we look forward to supporting their newest venture in Montgomery.”
    Karen Noble, Executive Vice President of Human Resources added, “We have already posted open job positions for the new Montgomery location on the Careers page of our Buddig.com website. We encourage anyone interested in working at the new Montgomery location to apply.”

     

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    The Literacy Connection Board of Directors says Karen Oswald has resigned from her 20 year post as the Executive Director of The Literacy Connection, effective February 15, 2018.  Oswald has accepted a position as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Manager of the Township

    During Oswald’s tenure, The Literacy Connection has provided an average of 8,750 hours of instruction to 312 adult learners each year. The agency has averaged 175 active volunteer tutors, and operated with grant and fundraising revenues of $282,500. The organization has offered Adult Volunteer Literacy Programs for adults in need of English as a second language and basic literacy skills, drop-in English conversation groups, citizenship conversation groups, Family Literacy Programs at local elementary schools, and Workplace Literacy Programs at local businesses.

    The agency has had partnerships with Gail Borden Public Library, Fox River Valley Public Library, School District U-46, School District 300, YWCA Elgin, Elgin Community College, Community Crisis Center, Centro de Información, Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley, Literacy DuPage, and Literacy Volunteers of Western Cook County.

    Oswald served as the coordinator of the Elgin Human Service Council last year and received the YWCA Elgin’s Leader Luncheon Marie Grolich Award for social services in 2016.  The Business Ledger honored the Literacy Connection with the Annual  Award for Business Excellence: Notable Non-Profit in 2009.

    Oswald said, “I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead this agency and provide life-changing educational opportunities to thousands of adults in the communities we serve. I am grateful to all those who have shared my journey and supported the organization. I know our great work will continue under new leadership with the dedication of so many who are devoted to the causes of literacy, English proficiency and citizenship.”

    The Board of Directors of The Literacy Connection will be interviewing candidates to fill Oswald’s position in the near future. Make inquiries to Jay Robinson, Board President, through the Literacy Connection office 847-742-6565. Visit www.elginliteracy.org to learn more about the organization.  Jay Robinson stated, “It is the Board’s priority to find the best individual to lead and maintain a stable and effective organization. We will share the job announcement soon and work to identify candidates who will guide the organization to continued success in the future.”

    “We deeply appreciate the dedication, passion and enthusiasm Karen has brought to the organization over the past twenty years. She will be greatly missed by the staff, Board, volunteers and community partners. We look forward to the next phase of The Literacy Connection’s development,” said Jay Robinson.

    The Literacy Connection serves 16 northwest suburban Chicago communities including Algonquin, Bartlett, Carpentersville, Cary, Elgin, South Elgin, East Dundee, West Dundee, Gilberts, Hanover Park, Hampshire, Hoffman Estates, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Streamwood, and Schaumburg. The agency provides customized one-on-one and small group adult tutoring, citizenship conversation groups, English conversation groups, and family literacy programs.


    Under legislation recently filed by State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), motorists would have the option to register their vehicles for more than one year at a time. Although McConchie’s and Batinick’s bills differ slightly, the underlying concept remains the same.

    Sen. McConchie’s legislation, Senate Bill 2293, would allow motorists, beginning in 2020, to register their vehicles for one or two years. It would also allow those who purchase a new vehicle to register their vehicle for one, two, or five years. The price per year would be the same but an individual would be able to pay it up front and not have to change their sticker every year.

    Rep. Batinick’s legislation (House Bill 4259) differs somewhat. Under HB 4259, and beginning with the 2019 registration year, motorists would have the option to register their vehicles anywhere between one to five years at a time. If a vehicle owner chooses between two to five years, there would be an additional $10 fee for every registration year that is more than one year. The money from that fee would be deposited directly to the Road Fund. Likewise, trailer owners would also have an option to register their trailer for one, two, three, four, five, or ten years.

    Although the versions of the two bills differ, both legislators agree that the concept of the legislation is a good idea, and that they just have different ideas on how to implement it. Both McConchie and Batinick say they look forward to having a constructive debate on the specifics.

    “Both pieces of legislation provide a convenience to those who are able to pay more than one year at a time, and alleviates the burden of renewing it year after year.” said Sen. McConchie. “I look forward to hashing out our differences and coming up with a uniform bill that makes life easier for Illinoisans.”

    “There’s no good reason not to do some version of this. My plan allows taxpayers to keep the status quo. Or, they can simply pay a small convenience fee to receive multi-year registration,” Batinick stated. “I’ve spoken to businesses that would love the ability to buy a 10 year plate for their utility trailers. It’s efficient for them and should save the state money too.”

    Currently, ten states give individuals the option to register their vehicle for longer than one year.

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    Lake in the Hills Sanitary District officials agreed to cease their attempt to annex land across the Kane County line in an effort to halt discussion of potentially consolidating the taxing body into village government, County Board Chairman Jack D. Franks and State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally announced Thursday.

    Sanitary district officials dropped their claim that the annexation makes the district a multi-county entity, and therefore takes away the County Board’s authority under state law to appoint its trustees. This means the County Board’s appointments in June of new trustees Eric Hansen and Kyle Kane stand, as does their July vote to undo the annexation. Former sanitary district president Shelby Key has stepped down, and is no longer in office. The sanitary district’s effort to buy 13 acres of Kane County farmland for $950,000 was halted last week in a ruling by McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer.

    “This entire frivolous legal sideshow, instigated by a handful of insiders who resorted to dirty tricks to protect their special interests by squashing even the discussion of consolidation, is Exhibit A for why I, as a state lawmaker, got this consolidation law passed. Having said that, I am happy that the sanitary district officials who brought this challenge forward have decided, in the best interests of the taxpayers, to end it,” Franks, D-Marengo, said. Franks thanked Kenneally and his office for their invaluable help. The trial had been set for Sept. 19. “We were forced to take action after the sanitary district’s former majority took extraordinary steps with the goal of stopping a discussion on reducing taxpayer costs and increasing efficiencies from moving forward. I pledged when I ran for this office to help protect McHenry County’s taxpayers from wasteful government spending, and I am happy to announce this victory on their behalf,” Kenneally said. A law Franks wrote as a state representative gives the County Board the power to eliminate certain unnecessary or duplicative units of government, provided their boundaries lie entirely within McHenry County, and the County Board appoints a majority of its trustees. However, legal discovery in this case revealed that the sanitary district began a mad dash in recent months to buy any land it could in Kane County, once talk of consolidation began in earnest, for the sole purpose of eliminating the County Board’s consolidation authority. Sanitary district officials pondered offering Kane County homeowners between $25,000 and $30,000 apiece to annex into the district, and seriously considered spending up to $1.9 million for land they had no need for and no intention of using. In one outrageous instance, the sanitary district told one prospective seller that it only needed one acre – officials proposed buying five acres to avoid local subdivision ordinances and selling back four. What’s more, the sanitary district assured the seller that any plans for the land were at least a decade away.

    “Consolidating the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District is far from a done deal, and it’s an issue that the county and the village have to agree is in taxpayers’ best interests. Fortunately, that discussion can now begin, honestly and earnestly, without distraction,” Franks said. In its misguided quest to become a multi-county entity, sanitary district counsel reached out to influence local state lawmakers, who under state law appoint the trustees of sanitary districts with boundaries that cross county lines. Franks thanked those Republican lawmakers – Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, Allen Skillicorn, R-East Dundee, Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, and Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods – for siding with taxpayers and not entertaining the sanitary district’s request.

     

     

    Podcasts

    News of the Fox Valley is my focus in the morning on 103.9 The Fox. I’ll give you a comprehensive look at Chicagoland’s top stories, Illinois news, top national stories, sports, traffic, and weather. All of this information in a couple of minutes each hour on the morning show. Just as The Fox keeps you entertained with great rock music and his funny comments, I’ll keep you in touch with what’s going on. Stew’s News on 103.9 The Fox Monday through Friday from 6:50am to 9am. I’ve been finding important issues and events to expand our focus from the shorter newscast length to the longer form public affairs show. The program is called Northwest Spectrum, airing every Sunday 6am for 15-minutes. Northwest Spectrum allows for more time to open up an issue and examine it thoroughly. I’m in my fifth decade of providing news in the morning, public affairs and public service. Thank you for listening to me.
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