Saturday, March 28, 2015

How to Find Mayor of Naperville Election Results

To see results from the race for Mayor of Naperville among Douglas P. "Doug" Krause, Martin R. Walker, Jim Haselhorst, and Steve Chirico after polls close on April 7, 2015, go here for DuPage County and 
go here for Will County.  

Election results will begin to post after polls close.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

White Oak Growers asks court for review of Will County marijuana growing license

By Mary Baskerville

MANHATTAN--When Peter Ford, Ken Salamone, and Steve Maslak of White Oak Growers sought a license to grow medical marijuana on a 34-acre farm in Wilton Center, the men said their background in energy development on the East Coast gave them experience in understanding how to follow government regulations and confidence that their Illinois application met all the requirements.

Earlier this year, the award went to Cresco Labs of Chicago. Cresco also was named to receive the license in two other districts, including Kankakee County.
In a suit filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, White Oak Growers is seeking an injunction to prohibit the Illinois Department of Agriculture from issuing the cultivation center license, and is seeking a court review of the scoring.

Ford said Wednesday that the injunction will allow the courts to “examine the decision making process.”

“There was an expectation that the law—the law of the land would be followed,” Ford said. “The suit claims Illinois set out very specific rules….that were not followed.”

The suit alleges, among other issues, that when the department moved away from scoring security measures on a point basis to a pass/fail basis, the final scores may have been impacted.

White Oak Growers alleges that the Department of Agriculture failed to follow the guidelines it created in granting the license for the three county district formed by Will, Kendall, and Grundy Counties.

Ford said today that the Department of Agriculture has had zero communication with White Oak Growers since the beginning of the year. He said the state did not inform them that the award had gone to another firm.

White Oak Growers’ proposal called for a 40,000 square foot, one-story indoor greenhouse and 30,000 square feet of processing and offices for an $8 to $9 million dollar facility. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Illinois Commerce Commission Orders Rail Crossing at Walter Strawn in Elwood Closed

The Illinois Commerce Commission ruled today that the rail crossing at Walter Strawn Road and Route 53 must be closed.

Video of closed Walter Strawn Drive in Elwood:
The Village of Elwood released the following press release after the ruling:

"After a year-long battle, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) unanimously ruled today that the state’s most dangerous rail crossing, located at Route 53 and Walter Strawn Drive in the Village of Elwood, must be closed within two weeks, no later than January 28th, 2015.

Joining the Village in support of closing the crossing have been the Illinois Department of Transportation, Union Pacific Railroad, and staff at the Illinois Commerce Commission – the agency that governs rail crossing safety across Illinois. The decision came despite the efforts of intermodal facility owner CenterPoint Properties, which argued to keep the crossing open despite the myriad of safety concerns.

“Despite the special interests and clout, justice has finally prevailed today,” said Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes. “We are pleased that the ICC Board agrees with the Village of Elwood, the railroad companies and transportation authorities that safety is Priority #1. This ruling will help us keep our residents, commuters, and truckers safe on our streets and shows respect to our fallen heroes. Ultimately, this decision will save lives.”

Due to the 8,000 trucks that pass through the area each day, the troubled crossing has been the site of several accidents and near-misses in recent years, with more than 50 crossing gates smashed by semi-tractor trailer trucks in 2013 alone. In June, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also decried the crossing, noting that the heavy truck traffic on Route 53 consistently cuts off the 15 to 20 funeral processions of deceased veterans en route to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery each day. The practice leads to frequent separations of mourning parties from the procession and, in some cases, causing loved ones to miss the interment of those who have honorably served our nation.

In June 2014, the Chicago Tribune profiled the issue as part of a front-page story entitled: “Small town fights big time truck traffic.”

Elwood, which began requesting that the rail crossing close since the ICC opened the investigation in November 2013, had been involved in an evidentiary hearing in front of an administrative law judge for several months before today’s decision was handed down. At the close of the hearing in December, Chief Administrative Law Judge Latrice Kirkland-Montague issued a recommendation to the full ICC to close the crossing despite vehement objections from CenterPoint Properties, calling it an “immediate safety concern.”

CenterPoint argued that closing the crossing would disrupt commerce and negatively impact the corporation’s bottom line and only offered short-term solutions.

“This ruling proves that, despite the enormous financial resources they put forward, CenterPoint could not hide the fact that this crossing posed a real and immediate danger, not only to the people of Elwood, but to the truckers that CenterPoint employs and Amtrak passengers who ride the train,” continued Hayes. “We are proud to have fought to protect our residents and ensure that those who are mourning the loss of our beloved veterans can safely and simply travel to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.”

While some safety improvements had been implemented during the past year, including slowing the closing of crossing gates and adding part-time police officers to monitor traffic at the crossing, the ICC determined efforts to mitigate danger fell short.

“No evidence was introduced by any party [during the hearings] as to traffic signal changes, traffic management revisions or railroad warning device changes or additions that would eliminate the safety concerns as between rail traffic, vehicular traffic, and the funeral processions,” Kirkland-Montague wrote in the order. “The conflict between vehicle traffic at and near the Strawn Road Crossing with funeral processions creates an immediate safety concern. In order to remedy this immediate safety concern, temporary closure of the crossing is necessary.”

In addition to the shattered crossing gates, an 8-year-old girl was killed after a collision with a truck nearby, which also left her sister seriously injured. In 2012, an Amtrak passenger train nearly collided with a stalled semi-truck.

Last spring, the Village released a police squad camera video that captured a truck crashing through rail crossing gates at Walter Strawn Drive. Watch the video here:"

Will County News spoke with Chief Hayes regarding traffic near Elwood in the summer of 2014:

CenterPoint released the following statement following the ruling:

"OAK BROOK, IL – Today the Illinois Commerce Commission voted to close the rail crossing at Route 53 and Walter Strawn Drive on an interim basis due to safety concerns. The ICC ruling calls for the crossing to be closed no later than January 28. While we respect the ICC’s decision, we will continue to evaluate the intersection at Strawn and Route 53, as well as other intersections in and around the CenterPoint Intermodal Center (CIC), to ensure the continued safety of the park as it continues to develop.

The Illinois Department of Transportation shares our concern and filed a letter on December 23, 2014 to the Administrative Law Judge expressing belief that “the alternates to the closure of the Walter Strawn Drive railroad crossing are viable and worth reconsideration” and calling for an impact study prior to the closure of the crossing.

CenterPoint’s primary concern, along with the other parties represented, has always been safety. The Village of Elwood has repeatedly attempted to portray CenterPoint as an obstacle in the effort to develop a safe, long-term solution to the traffic issues at the CIC, and particularly at Walter Strawn Drive. This is patently false.

CenterPoint continues to believe that closing Walter Strawn Drive will create hazardous conditions in areas not currently suited to handle the capacity of industrial traffic.  Without conducting a regional traffic impact study to consider the effects of displaced traffic, we are convinced the displacement of thousands of vehicles each day from the closed crossing, without a defined route in place to access the Intermodal Center, will cause more damage and harm on regional traffic, resulting in unwanted and potentially hazardous situations.

During the ICC hearings, CenterPoint defended continued access to Walter Strawn Drive with the inclusion of several features and upgrades to improve the crossing in order to ensure regional safety. In her recommendation to the ICC, the Administrative Law Judge Latrice Kirkland-Montague noted that CenterPoint has made efforts to increase safety at the crossing, including:
·       Posting billboards encouraging the use of I-55 and Arsenal Road as a primary entrance to the CenterPoint Intermodal Center
·       Initiating efforts to station Will County Sherriff escorts for funeral processions
·       Meeting with tenants and issuing letters to encourage the use of I-55 and Arsenal Road
·       Coordinating with traffic experts and the director of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in an attempt to develop an alternate funeral procession route

CenterPoint believes it is imprudent to close the crossing without studying the implications of displaced traffic from Walter Strawn Drive, the safety issues that could impact surrounding local and regional thoroughfares, and the impact on the businesses who have spent millions establishing operations within the Village of Elwood and the City of Joliet.

Therefore, CenterPoint continues to recommend that the most sensible course of action to ensure public safety is to carry on the ICC’s process and allow for traffic safety experts to evaluate both short-term and long-term alternatives. The docket on the ICC case remains open, and CenterPoint will continue work with all appropriate parties to analyze and evaluate traffic safety improvements, such as alternate routes and other technologies. Safety has always been the highest priority in the development of the CIC. We remain committed to being a good corporate neighbor and protecting our investment in the economy and infrastructure of the region.

The CIC-Joliet/Elwood, located on more than 6,500 acres stretching from Elwood to Joliet, is the largest and one of the most successful inland ports in North America. Located 40 miles southwest of Chicago, the facility is strategically positioned at the epicenter of the region’s immense transportation infrastructure.

Over the past 15 years, CenterPoint has invested more than $1.5 billion in the CIC-Joliet/Elwood, resulting in job creation and tax support for the community. The development has resulted in more than $7 million per year in new property taxes for the Village and a total investment in the Village of Elwood of more than $800 million. Direct benefits to the community, worth tens of millions of dollars, funded primarily by CenterPoint, include road improvements; support for police and fire services; expansion of public utilities, including a new water and wastewater treatment plant; a Village water tower and a Village park.

Statement attributable to Michael Murphy, Chief Development Officer, CenterPoint Properties

About CenterPoint Properties
CenterPoint Properties is focused on the development, acquisition and management of industrial property and transportation infrastructure that enhances business and government supply chain efficiency. The company invests in major coastal and inland port logistics markets anchoring North America’s principal freight lanes. CenterPoint‘s portfolio includes 45.5 million square feet and 6,000 acres under development in the company’s integrated intermodal industrial parks. For more information on CenterPoint Properties, visit or follow @centerpointprop on Twitter." 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wilmington Lighted Holiday Parade 2014

Wilmington's downtown merchants' windows are filled with holiday scenes, creating a festive backdrop for Wilmington's annual lighted Holiday parade.  This year's parade is Saturday, November 29th, 2014 at 5:00 p.m..  The tree lighting ceremony is at 6:15 p.m..

Antique store window in downtown Wilmington, Illinois 
Antique store window in downtown Wilmington, Illinois 
Antique store window in downtown Wilmington, Illinois
Christmas decorations on display at The Flower Loft in downtown Wilmington

Friday, September 12, 2014 Hosting Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting in Joliet

The South Suburban Council of is hosting an educational forum regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the Black Road Branch of the Joliet Public Library.  The forum will be led by Carson Starkey of the Illinois Fair Trade Coalition.

Flyer of event made by
Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting in Joliet

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Public Meeting on Medical Cannibus Cultivation Center in Manhattan

A public meeting was held Monday, September 8, 2014 at the Manhattan Village Hall to discuss plans for a possible Medical Cannibus Cultivation Center at Offner and Cedar Roads in Wilton Township.  Since the land sits outside the Village of Manhattan City Limits, the Village has no authority over the site.  The meeting was hosted by White Oak Growers, the business--owned by investors from New York and Connecticut--seeking to operate the cultivation center. 

White Oak Growers is seeking one of twenty-one medical cannibus cultivation center permits to be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture under the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannibus Pilate Program Act.  The Act was signed by Governor Quinn on August 1, 2013 and went into effect January 1, 2014.

White Oak Growers stated they will pay above the minimum wage and will seek to employ veterans and people with disabilities.  White Oak Growers stated processing the marijuana plants for wholesale sale creates jobs that requiring sitting while cutting and packaging the product.  When a member of the audience asked White Oak Growers to specify what wage they will pay, White Oak Growers did not state a number.

A farmer with land near the proposed site stated that while he is not opposed to the sale of medical marijuana, he does not agree that the Medical Cannibas Cultivation Center will be zoned agricultural.  He stated soybean fields do not have security systems and fence around them, so it seems obvious that there is a difference between corn and soybean fields and a medical cannibas facility. 

The site is at Offner and Cedar Roads, near a former farmhouse site.  The crib remains:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

O'Dekirk Advocates Truck Bridge Over Des Plaines from CenterPoint to I-80

August 6, 2014

Joliet mayoral candidate and current City Councilman Bob O'Dekirk released a press release yesterday regarding a bridge over the Des Plaines River to relieve traffic on local roads such as Route 53 in Joliet.  O'Dekirk states he was contacted by union officials claiming to have a plan and private money to build a toll bridge over the Des Plaines to connect CenterPoint with I-80 at Houboult Road.  Full press release from O'Dekirk:

"On the heels of yet another semitrailer rollover on I-55 Monday afternoon, Joliet District 2 Councilman, Bob O’Dekirk is calling for an expedited plan to build a proposed truck bypass bridge from CenterPoint to I-80 at Houbolt Rd.

"The horrific traffic accident on I-55 last week is a call to action” O’Dekirk said, “these types of accidents and numerous rollovers on both I-55 and I-80 won’t stop until we solve the truck congestion problem plaguing Joliet and the surrounding area.”   O'Dekirk would like to move a proposed project forward that has private financing and will not cost the city. 

Last fall, O’Dekirk was contacted by several union officials who shared a preliminary plan for a truck toll bridge from the CenterPoint intermodal to the interstate.  The plan was specific in detail and included proposed private sources of money, which would be used to pay for the project.  A toll would be paid by trucks, while allowing regular, non-commercial traffic to access it for free.  Private investment and toll revenue would pay for the project.  Ultimately, Joliet would take ownership of the toll bridge and all revenues would go to city coffers.

“While this plan has languished, the area around CenterPoint Intermodal has continued to be plagued by numerous traffic accidents involving trucks accessing the facility causing numerous fatalities,” O’Dekirk explained, “and I’m willing to lead the way in forging a partnership with this private group to get it done and get it done now.”

O’Dekirk also said the historic Rt. 66 corridor would benefit from this project and that would be an economic gain for the region.  Recently, a Rt. 66 Association of Illinois preservation committee member and historian, John Weiss, warned that the ongoing glut of truck traffic will discourage tourists and motorists from visiting the Rt. 66 historic area.  He said tourist dollars will continue to be lost if nothing is done.

O'Dekirk joins other elected officials, notably State Rep Larry Walsh Jr., in citing the need to relieve the congestion caused by the influx of trucks on local roads. He invites Walsh and other area elected officials and community leaders to join his team to move this project forward. " 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stephens Raises Money for the Wounded Warrior Project

By Mary Baskerville

ELWOOD—Ron Stephens recently walked from Manhattan, Illinois to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery as part of his 350 mile walk to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Stephens, a 66-year old Vietnam Army Veteran, has walked about 20 intermittent days since Memorial Day.

Ron Stephens and his wife, Lisa, at the point along Hoff Road where the Elwood’s escort met the Manhattan escort. 

Manhattan and Elwood’s emergency services, police, and fire escorts were exceptional, he said. “These guys have been so helpful.” When he expressed his thanks, he said that they simply responded, “It’s our flag too.

“God Bless them. The simple faith that people have. It’s symbolic: It’s our country; it’s our flag. And what more worthy cause than to take care of our wounded soldiers?”

As he walked along Hoff Road, he learned the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery had been carved out of the old Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. “It’s beautiful, beautiful country.”

He is the son of a sailor who served in World War II, “and my mother was a riveter for McDonnell Aircraft.” He still has her small certification card showing her hours of training. His father wanted to join the war effort. When he was 32, he tried to volunteer, but was told that as the father of three young children he should stay home. When he was 33, he was told “Earl, we won’t take you.” But, when he was 34, he was told, “Earl, we need you.”

He saw “fighting in the Pacific, and my mother, in the meantime, was a riveter.”   

Stephens most often walks alone.  “I’m usually out here by myself, and understand, first of all, the beauty and honor of living in the America, and I have thoughts from my past.
I walk with memories.”

He recalls those he served with, and those that died. The corporal in his unit was killed in the same battle that he was in. “My radio man . . . was killed by the same bullet that hit me.”

“So, I think about those guys. It can be a very emotional and somber occasion walking out here.”

He was combat wounded in 1970 and spent 18-months in military hospitals recovering from the shots, first at Scott Air Force Base in St. Claire County and later at the Brooke Army Hospital. 

His son, a West Point graduate, was wounded in Iraq where he served for 40 months. His son-in-law served 12 months in Afghanistan.

The number of veterans needing help is why he walks, he said. “The young men and women—and there are a lot---serving their country proudly and quietly."

0n Memorial Day, Stephens began his walks, pledging to walk one mile for every $100 dollars raised by 16 Doc’s Pharmacy stores and Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy in Decatur, where Stephens works on weekends. Cardinal Health Foundation, a pharmaceutical distributor, is matching every dollar.

At the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood he logged in with 293 miles.  With $35,000 raised, Stephens will walk the remaining 57 miles of his 350 mile commitment near his home in Greenville.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Working and Learning Laboratory this Summer at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

By Ann Baskerville

Federal Legislation transferring land that was the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant from the Department of the Army to the National Forest Service in 1995 outlined scientific, environmental and land use education and research as founding purposes for Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  Midewin is fulfilling its mission this summer, partnering with colleges, high schools, and conservation groups to bring together young people from diverse backgrounds for a common purpose: restoring the native prairie at Midewin.

North Lawndale College Prep and YCC students remove invasive species at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

High School Programs
Midewin hosts two summer work programs for high school students, the Youth Conservation Corps and the National Forest Foundation North Lawndale College Prep High School Program.

The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is made up of six high students from communities near Midewin, including Wilmington, Kankakee, Braidwood, Coal City, Essex, and Minooka.   YCC is a federal program that provides summer employment for youths ages 15-18.  YCC is an eight-week program and the students are paid minimum wage.

During their first week of work, YCC students learned what lay beyond the imposing Arsenal fence. One YCC student said that although she had driven past Midewin on Route 53, she didn't know what the land behind the huge fence was or why it was fenced off.  Another YCC student from Wilmington had gained a basic understanding of Midewin from school field trips and hearing about the "Old Joliet Arsenal."

Students learned the Arsenal was now the Nation's first tallgrass prairie, and that they would be working to restore native prairie plants.   Although students said they did not know what an invasive plant was prior to working at Midewin, they saw first-hand how invasives quickly reproduce and crowd out native plants.  Students pulled invasives such as sweet white clover, amur honeysuckle, and autumn olive. Students also collected seeds from Midewin's native seed beds, planted native plants in restoration areas, and cut shrubs. A student from Kankakee said she is learning "team-building, communication skills, and how to work with others."  Another student said this job "was more than I expected, in a good way, Midewin staff don't just teach us what to do, they teach us why we are doing what we do to eventually restore the prairie."
Putting invasive species in vehicle for disposal at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The North Lawndale College Prep High School Program consists of 16 students from the public charter school in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood.  The North Lawndale Program is funded through the National Forest Foundation, which secured financing to pay the North Lawndale students from Exelon.  Students are paid by the National Forest Foundation at the rate of $10.50 an hour and the program runs for six weeks. The National Forest Foundation's partnership with North Lawndale College Prep led to the first crew working at Midewin in 2012.

Two North Lawndale College Prep science teachers drive the students to Midewin each day, and, along with Midewin staff, teach and lead the work crews.  Teacher Kiel Smith said that upon first viewing Midewin, one student said, "it looks like we are driving into Jurassic Park." Jurassic Park is a pretty apt comparison, since, Smith said, there are spots in Midewin where students can turn around 360 degrees and see nothing built by humans.  Viewing a landscape that contrasts so sharply with the urban streetscape they routinely see is especially meaningful, Smith said, considering that some of the students, although living a few miles from the lakeshore, have never seen Lake Michigan. 

The program also provides students with an opportunity to gain marketable work skills and interact with scientists and students from more rural backgrounds.  Smith said the youth unemployment rate for kids in the North Lawndale area is near 100%, and those that do find work typically work in restaurants.  The program allows both YCC and North Lawndale students to gain skills such as identifying plants, working with Midewin scientists, seeing a task through to completion, and helping to carry out a restoration plan, skills that will likely help the students' resumes stand out.  Smith and his fellow teacher Luke McShane also use the van rides from Chicago to Midewin and back to discuss professional conduct and to reflect on each day's accomplishments and challenges.  Students board the van at 6:00 a.m. in North Lawndale to reach Midewin by 7:30 a.m..  Since North Lawndale College Prep is a charter school and students attend from throughout the city, some students wake up at 4:00 a.m. to travel from 63rd and the Dan Ryan to meet the van at their school.

Beyond gaining skills for a resume, Smith says, although apprehensive at first about the bugs and cows--asking, just to be safe, "will the cows try to eat us?"--- the students are now taking ownership of the restoration project.  Smith related that by the last few weeks of the program, the students were ending breaks on their own and continuing on with the day's plan rather than waiting for an adult to prompt them.  Smith reminds students they are building a prairie that can be enjoyed by all Midewin visitors.  Smith tells students: "you can take your kids out here 50 years from now, and no one will remember your names, but they will see the work that you did."

Tania Tribble graduated from North Lawndale College Prep and is working at Midewin during her summer break from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio.  Tribble worked at Midewin last year as well and came back because she enjoyed working on the prairie.  Tribble said her first thought when arriving at Midewin was, "wow, this is a very big prairie."  Tribble stated: "Open land where I come from is not that big, maybe a block or two, this is a much larger area of open space and I feel like when I work here I am doing something for the environment."  Tribble said working at Midewin "teaches you leadership, how to take charge of a project, encouraging other people and saying 'let's go, let's get this,' and listening to everyone as well."

In addition to learning the science of restoration, Tibble is fascinated by Midewin's history.  Tibble thinks the remnants of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant--bunkers, ammunition warehouses--are "amazing, every time we drive back by the bunkers, I can imagine the bunkers full of ammunition and the trains" that ran through the arsenal to transport the ammunition for the war effort. Tibble and all of the students toured the bunkers and viewed graffiti on the inside of the bunkers, where workers signed their names with dates from the 1940s.

Joliet Army Ammunition Bunkers in Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie:

Antonio is currently a junior at North Lawndale College Prep and plans to pursue pre-med studies in college.  Antonio said he enjoys learning about the science of plants, and that before working at Midewin and learning to differentiate species of prairie plants, "I would have assumed it was all just grass."  Antonio said he enjoys working with the Midewin staff because "they are nice and helpful, and they care about people and not just the job."  Antonio said his favorite part of working at Midewin this summer is meeting new people, "people from different parts of Illinois and not just Chicago."

Students from YCC and North Lawndale both stated that at the start of the summer, the two groups were separated and both groups felt a little awkward around the "new kids."  After some team-building activities and working on projects, however, students said it didn't even seem like they were two different groups.  In addition, the students make connections during educational field trips every Friday.  Students said they were fossil hunting---finding part of a jelly fish---in Braidwood and also visited a reptile museum.

In addition to the high school programs, Midewin is hosting two college students through a partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA).  SCA supplies the students with housing in Wilmington, which was a familiar setting for Iowa State University student Erica Anderson since she is originally from a small town in Iowa.  Anderson is majoring in animal ecology and said she is "learning a lot about plants, the ecosystem, and wildlife in the Midwest."  Anderson said her best memory from her summer at Midewin is bird watching and interacting with Midewin scientists such as botanist Jennifer Durkin.  Finally, three students from Northeastern Illinois are working on restoration projects.  Two of those students are particpating through a partnership between Midewin and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.   Pedro Solis is studying Earth Science at Northeastern and learned of the summer internship at Midewin through a professor who is also a United States Deparment of Agriculture Regional Coordinator.   Solis said faculty do a good job letting students know about internship and job opportunities.

Rick Short, Midewin's Public Services Team Leader, said the Midewin staff greatly enjoys having the students at Midewin for the summer.  Short said the students bring an enthusiastic desire to work and learn and that students are making a difference with tasks day in and day out.  Short said the students help Midewin fulfill its mission of restoration and education and will hopefully spread the word about Midewin to friends and family seeking educational and recreational opportunities.  For more info on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, go here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Elwood Semi-Truck Traffic and Road Restrictions

The Village of Elwood, Illinois held a special meeting July 23, 2014 at 7 p.m. to discuss "AN ORDINANCE REPEALING ORDINANCE NO. 1027 ENTITLED “AN

Elwood had passed an ordinance in May restricting truck traffic on certain Village of Elwood roads in an attempt to reduce the number of trucks driving through Elwood and using U.S. Route 53.  Because trucks can currently only enter CenterPoint-Joliet from the south, trucks were getting off I80, coming south on 53, and then going through Elwood to reach the South Entrance to CenterPoint-Joliet. Elwood's May '14 ordinance restricted trucks from using CenterPoint Drive as a through street, among other restrictions. CenterPoint, Union Pacific,and APL Logistics brought a federal suit to remove the road restrictions, arguing they violated interstate commerce laws.

At the July 23, '14 meeting, the Village passed an ordinance repealing Ordinance 1027.   Elwood said now that it has repealed the ordinance, instead of spending hundreds of thousands it would have likely cost to argue against CenterPoint et al in court, the Village will focus its efforts on an August 20, 2014 meeting of the Illinois Commerce Commission.  There an administrative law judge will make recommendations for improving safety at the Walter Strawn Railroad Crossing.

The Village of Elwood posted a video to YouTube showing a truck breaking through the railroad gate.  According to the Village of Elwood, trucks broke the railroad gates at Walter Strawn 47 times in 2013.

Will County News spoke with Elwood Police Chief Fred Hayes regarding truck traffic in and around Elwood: