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What's going on? Local officials provide updates : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
What's going on? Local officials provide updates
Reps from area governmental agencies gather at Oswego East

by Lyle R. Rolfe


Representatives of several local governmental agencies gathered this past week at Oswego East High School to share information on recent activities at their respective agencies.

Most of the 25 audience members in attendance for the session were representatives from the participating agencies.

Here's a re-cap of the presentations:

School district: no one in
danger during gun incident

Oswego School District Board President Bill Walsh reported the school district had an incident involving a handgun at Oswego East High School recently that was handled without incident by the school administrative staff and the Oswego Police Department.

He noted that a week earlier, Oswego Police Captain Jeff Burgner, and other police officials spoke to school district board members on how to handle such an incident using a program called ALICE.

ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lock-down, Inform, Counter when needed, and Evacuate.

When a handgun was found in a men's restroom at Oswego East, the administration put ALICE into effect before police arrived, according to Walsh.

He said school officials later learned an employee of a private contractor who had been working in the building had left the handgun in the bathroom.

No one was in danger at any time, he noted.

Walsh then noted that both of the district's high schools advanced to the second round of the state football playoffs for the first time last month.

"We also had nine girl swimmers who are going to state, so our athletics continues to improve," he added.

Walsh also noted that the board recently approved the district's annual property tax levy without any property tax increase. He said this was accomplished by district employees cutting expenses. He also noted that the state has been behind with its General State Aid payments to the district.

Walsh also reported that school board members recently spent six hours on a Saturday going over a list of 50 items, determining the priority of each one to help prepare their strategic plan for the future.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Wendt reported on his recent two-week trip to China with a delegation of several U.S. school officials. He said he is hoping the trip will result in a partnership between high schools in Oswego and China.

Wendt said two high schools in Tianjin China would like to develop a sister school program, with Oswego similar to the sister city programs.

He added he is hopeful they can some day have field trips for students between the district and China.

Police Capt. Burgner talked briefly on the ALICE program, noting that it helps train teachers what to do before police arrive in a possible shooting or other incident in a school. Because they are already on the scene, oftentimes incidents are over before police arrive, so knowing what to do and how is very important for school officials, he said.

The training program also can be presented to other government agencies, he added.

Oswego: 200 home building
permits issued this year

Oswego Village Administrator Steve Jones reported the village board earlier that evening that hired a consulting firm to update the village's comprehensive plan, unchanged since 2006. Updating was not needed during the recession that occurred a few years ago, but with new home construction increasing, updating is now necessary, Jones noted.

Jones said the village has learned Lowe's has sold their vacant building in the Prairie Market shopping center on Route 34 and the new owner is planning to divide it so multiple tenants can move in.

Jones added that a Pier One is set to open in the spring in the Prairie Market Center and Panera Bread will soon re-locate to a new building along Douglas Road..

A South Korean yogurt manufacturer will take over about 66,000 feet of warehouse space in the Kendall Point Business Center and could eventually employ up to 180 people, he said.

Jones said Dominick's Foods is taking bids for its Route 34 store to be closed at year-end. Although the closing will mean less jobs, most likely sales taxes will not be adversely affected because residents who now frequent the store will shop at other food stores in the village, he added.

Jones said he predicted early this year the village would issue about 200 residential building permits by year-end. He said they number 216 to date-117 single-family, 83 townhomes, and 16 for seniors, adding that they expect them to number 225-230 by year end.

Village President LeClercq noted that the various fees affected by recent residential development are all ones that were negotiated as long ago as 10 years, so there is no way they can be changed. He said the village has an ordinance that requires developers to pay land-cash, and other fees to government bodies to help offset expenses they have as a result of new homes and residents. Those fees come to the local agencies for their use, he said, and added that the agencies can ask the village to change any fees by contacting the village.

Park district: Winrock
Pool will re-open next May

Rich Zielke, Oswegoland Park District executive director, said the agency is making progress on the Winrock swimming pool renovation off Winrock Road in the Boulder Hill Subdivision. They are set for a Memorial Day opening, which should help relieve crowding at the Oswegoland Civic Center Aquatic Park in Oswego.

He also reported that 93 trees on the Fox Bend Golf Course have been removed because of the green ash borer. About 30 of them were in critical areas where they provided protection from stray golf balls along Route 34 and the course's parking lot, so they are being replaced first.

Zielke said the Briarcliff Park renovation at Route 30 and Briarcliff Road in Montgomery, is underway, and added that the present playground equipment is being replaced. The old equipment is being donated to Kids Around the World, an agency that renovates it and donates it to underdeveloped nations for children who do not have such equipment.

He talked about the success of two recent park district-sponsored races and noted that 1,100 people participated in the two combined.

District activities and programs continue with more of them being moved inside as the weather changes, Zielke said.

Signs will be placed along the Fox River designating canoe launches in Montgomery, Oswego and Yorkville, thanks to a state grant recently approved, he said.

Fire district: fill two
trailers for tornado victims

The highlight of the Oswego Fire Protection reported by Deputy Chief Mike Veseling was that the fire department recently teamed up with the Plainfield Fire Protection District to collect items for the tornado victims in Washington, Ill.

They filled two, 16-foot trailers, two pick-up trucks and a 53-foot semi trailer with food, clothing, water and other needed items for the victims and delivered them that morning. Stops also were made in communities along the route to pick up more items, Veseling said.

He said they collected items until early Monday morning and left town at 5 a.m., adding that extra help was provided to the families of seven Washington firefighters who lost their homes and belongings.

He said Oswego has been working with the Romeoville Fire Academy, the Illinois Fire Service Institute and other outside agencies to provide more training for their members and those of neighboring departments.

They also are reworking and updating their mutual aid agreements with area departments, he added.

The firefighters' union recently hosted its annual turkey raffle, the proceeds of which are used to help needy families in the area.

Oswego School District junior high students are now helping the department collect toys for needy children, and the school that collects the most will be treated to breakfast by the department on Dec. 19, Veseling said.

Library district: storyteller
will retire next month

Oswego Public Library District Board President Vernita Hettrich and several board members accompanied Sarah Skilton, library district director.

Skilton said Ruth Craver, 20-year-library employee and storyteller, will hold her final story telling session on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. before retiring.

She said the district checked out more than one million items during the past year and issued library cards to several hundred new patrons during the year.

They are planning their annual Christmas Walk for the downtown and will have two junior high choirs, folk music, and other musical groups including a bell choir participating. She noted that the winter reading program will be held early next year along with a space program where an astronaut will speak.

Skilton said the district received a $5,000 grant to be used for Spanish and bilingual materials for youths and adults.

Oswego Township: more
than 50,000 now live here

George Hettrich, Oswego Township Clerk noted that the township population is more than 50,000. The township maintains 70 miles of roads and provides general assistance for needy families and individuals.

He said the agency also is responsible for assessing the value of every parcel of property within the township. These values are used by the county to determine property tax bills that are sent out to every owner in the district.

Hettrich noted that the assessments were lower this year which resulted in many less calls coming into the assessors office. He said levies have gone up for some taxing bodies, which may result in calls from property owners, adding that the township has no control over these changes.

He said he was chairman of the building and zoning committee for the township board which initiated the first land-cash donations in Kendall County.

On the subject of growth, Hettrich said there were 120 students in Oswego High School when he graduated as one of 24 in his class. Today, two Oswego School District high schools have a capacity of more than 3,000 students each.

He said growth is starting to cause problems for the township infrastructure such as the roads that have gone over the years from gravel to being paved and are now in need of widening.

Kendall County: to start
year with balanced budget

The last speaker was Judy Gilmour, vice chairman of the Kendall County Board.

She said the county will end its fiscal year this month and for the first time in many years will start the new year with a balanced budget. They began work on the budget with a $4.7 million deficit, she noted.

She said the Kendall-Grundy Regional Office of Education has a new testing center in the basement of the historical house. Gilmour said they decided this year to offer GED computer based testing and it was approved by the county board.

The final result is a handicapped accessible area with nine computer stations. It was a shared cost project between the county and the ROE to serve the entire area by providing more than 90 industry related and educational exams.

She said a committee is reviewing the county's present solid waste plan, which will have to be updated in 2015. Several departments are represented in the update, she said.

She noted that several road and bridge improvement projects were completed this year and the board just approved its 20-year transportation plan.

The county this year approved new noise ordinance, a new website transparency policy, updated its nuisance ordinance and the board will soon be voting to place a referendum on the March ballot for electric aggregation for unincorporated areas of the county.

In closing, Gilmour noted that Kendall County's best kept secret is that it has more than 2,000 acres of forest preserve land, 10 preserves open to the public with facilities.

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