Friday, March 29, 2013

Bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Open House

The U.S. Forest Service will be holding an Open House on Wednesday April 3, 2013 for community members to come and learn more about the proposal to establish a bison herd on Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.  Staff and partners from the National Forest Foundation will be available to explain more about the proposal, the environmental assessment process, and answer questions.  The Open House will be held between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. at the Midewin Welcome Center--30239 S. State Route Illinois 53, Wilmington, IL.

The Forest Service at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (Midewin) is proposing to establish a small herd of bison on the Prairie and will be preparing an environmental assessment for Bison Herd Establishment in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  In partnership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF), Midewin is proposing to develop a bison grazing area on approximately 1,200 acres.  A herd of bison would be established and allowed to graze on an experimental basis, to determine the success of prairie ecosystem restoration using bison grazing practices.  Midewin officials believe establishing a herd of bison on Midewin would bring more visitors to Midewin. The proposed project site is located east of Illinois 53, in the pastures south of the Iron Bridge Trailhead and north of Prairie Creek.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

"No Illiana Expressway" Group Forms--"From Lowell to Wilmington"

On February 25th, 2013, people living in and near the proposed path of the Illiana Expressway B3 met in the Will Town Hall to form a new group which hopes to draw members from Lowell, Indiana to Wilmington, Illinois and beyond.  The new group--No Illiana 4 Us--has a wide range of concerns about the proposed tollway: sprawl, pollution and lowered air quality, land taken off local tax roles, quick take eminent domain, how the tollway will affect North-South travel, what roads will be closed, school bus routes, and more.

Before the meeting started, people milled about and shared concerns: "Have you heard when they're going to start buying?"  "Have they been to your farm?"  When asked if he would "buy a farm down south" if the State took his land for the Illiana, one farmer replied: "if I go down south, they want $3,000 more an acre than what I'll get for my farm, I'll just quit."

Group Outreach Coordinator Anthony Rayson stated the group seeks to "coalesce pockets of resistance" along the B3 corridor into a bigger, more united group.

Virginia Hamann--who understands her 10 acre dairy farm would lose 7 acres and agricultural zoning based on the latest B3 alignment--stated: "Just because it doesn't go through your property doesn't mean  it won't affect your quality of roads will be closed and north-south travel will be affected."  Hamann stated that after speaking with Illinois Department of Transportation representatives she felt, "they have no regard for our zoning."  Hamann says her house was built in 1890 and she likes the character.    Asking whether her house could be saved,  Hamann stated she was told she could "buy it back at auction and have it moved."

The group then went on to discuss ways to include those worried about the State of Illinois' finances into the fight against the Illiana.  One audience member suggested advocating for a "No build option until the state has pensions and finances under control."  Another stated: "IDOT is telling a lot of lies just like they did with the airport, we need to band together."

Bruce Hamann, Will Township Supervisor, suggested the group challenge the claim that the Illiana will bring economic development to the region.  Hamann stated the "I-355 extension was not the economic boom everyone was told it would be.  Now Elwood is suing CenterPoint for it's failure to bring about things it promised, the hotels, the restaurants, the good jobs."  Hamann predicts that if the Illiana is built, a few people will get paid good money for the "prime spots" while everyone else will suffer a huge loss of value on their homes and land.  Hamann fears for farmers and homeowners who may have taken out mortgages based on values from a few years ago.  If the Illiana negatively affects values, farmers and homeowners could potentially owe more than they could sell for, depending on how the land was valued at the time the mortgage was signed.

Two Wilmington alders--Darla Neises and John Persic were at the meeting, saying they "support you" and "the city council voted to back the No Build option." Persic stated he "gets calls all the time" from constituents saying "there's a truck with a red stripe taking pictures of my house."  The Illiana Corridor Planning Team has stated in the past that all consultants and contractors working on the project are supposed to knock on doors to let residents know study team members will be surveying or taking pictures for the purpose of the study.

Neises stated that in her ward, "most of the people don't want it, there's a tone that it will affect their way of life."  Furthermore, Neises said, "We are keeping an eye on Ridgeport--the end point of the Illiana--and keeping an eye on their promise to bring us jobs and revenue."

The next meeting of "No Illiana For Us" is Monday, March 11th at 7 p.m. at the Peotone Township Office Building, 8212 W Kennedy Road, Peotone, IL, 60468.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Group Against For Profit Immigrant Prison in Joliet Hosting Fundraiser

A group opposed to a possible for-profit immigrant detention center in Joliet, Illinois is hosting a fundraiser Friday, March 8th in Joliet.  The event held by the "Concerned Citizens of Joliet" will be held at Azteca de Oro Hall, 1013 Collins Street in Joliet and will go from 6 p.m. to midnight.  ICE--U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement--wants to build an immigrant detention center for illegal immigrants awaiting deportation near Chicago, Illinois and Joliet has been mentioned as a possible location.  The private corporation--Corrections Corporation of America, CCA--would build and manage the facility under a government contract.  Tickets are $5 per person and $15 per family.

Co-Sponsors and Supporters of the event include:

ICIRR (Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights)(La Coalición para los Derechos de Inmigrantes y Refugiados Del Estado de Illinois)

Diocese of Joliet Office For Human Dignity (La oficina “Por La Dignidad Humana” de la Diócesis de Joliet)

Collins Street Neighborhood Council (El concejo de la comunidad de la Calle Collins)

Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (Proyecto de Inmigración Suburbana Del Suroeste)

Mt. Carmel Church of Joliet (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Monte Carmel y Grupo Nuevos Horizontes de Joliet)

Sacred Heart Church (Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón)

Mt. Zion Tabernacle

MAC ‐Mexican American Coalition of Will County    

FEDECMI ‐ Casa Michoacán

Spanish Community Center (El Centro Español Comunitario)  

Pax Christ ‐ Illinois, USA and Seed Planters
Families United for Education (Familias Unidas por la Educación)

The Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet

St. Patrick Church of Joliet (Iglesia San Patricio de Joliet)  

St. Johns Church of Joliet (Iglesia San Juan de Joliet)

Monday, March 4, 2013

American Pickers in Joliet!!

Be sure to tune in to American Pickers tonight--March 4, 2012---at 8 P.M..  The pickers will be searching for antique treasures in Picker Mike Wolfe's hometown of Joliet, Illinois.  Mike is from Joliet and got his start picking and learning about bikes and other antiques in Joliet where he picked items and resold them.