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Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush, speaks Saturday at the Barrington “Town-Warming” via Zoom. (Courtesy of Village of Barrington)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the star attraction at the Barrington’s Cultural Commission’s 4th annual “Town-Warming,” conducted for more than 200 people over Zoom on Saturday.

Rice, who was in office during the presidency of George W. Bush, chatted with Motorola Chairman and CEO Greg Brown, on relations with China and Russia, the political climate, and her interest in music, ice skating, golf and football.

“We must re-dedicate ourselves to a common American purpose,” she said.

Brown also spoke with former U.S. Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, who served under President Bill Clinton, about the tumultuous events of the past several months and how the country might move forward.

Barrington historian Barbara Benson provided a historical perspective on the role that Barrington’s White House played during the previous pandemic in 1917-18.

Barrington village President Karen Darch said that while the event was different this year because of the pandemic, “it was extraordinary just the same.”

Source

Faced with an unexpected surplus after schools shut down last spring, Naperville Unit District 203 plans to repay taxpayers a total of $10 million to help ease the financial burden of the COVID-19 crisis.

The statewide stay-at-home order halted in-person operations from March through the end of the 2019-20 academic year, saving the district money in areas of utilities, transportation, food service and staffing, Chief Financial Officer Michael Frances said.

The reduced expenses resulted in an unplanned budget surplus of about $14 million, he said. The school board this week unanimously approved allocating $10 million of those funds toward providing property owners with a one-time reimbursement.

“I think this is something the board has set as a high priority, looking at just being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Vice President Donna Wandke said. “This is something that almost no other school district in the state, or at least the area, has done. It’s really exciting that we have the opportunity to do this.”

Read on here.

Editorial note: District 203 can’t be the only district that saved on utilities, transportation and other costs, so when will CUSD 220 report theirs?  Don’t hold your breath.   

“Dear Barrington 220 Community: 

First, I want to thank you for your cooperation and patience this week as we successfully implemented Hybrid 2.0. It has been wonderful to see students and staff back together in our school buildings. I also want to acknowledge those families who have chosen to continue with Distance Learning full time, specifically the families and staff at the elementary level, some of whom have successfully navigated new classroom assignments as well as other adjustments. 

As long as we continue wearing our maskswashing our hands, and watching our distance I am confident that the second half of this school year will look much different than the last few months. We are constantly considering opportunities for students to be in our buildings more often. In fact, beginning on Monday, Jan. 25 Barrington High School is ready to invite ALL SENIORS who wish to attend school in person, for five days a week for a full day.

This change at BHS comes after a significant number of high school students and families recently shifted their learning selection from in-person to Distance Learning. These shifts have created the opportunity to allow in-person students to attend more regularly. The high school and other schools in the district will continue monitoring attendance numbers to pursue additional opportunities in the coming weeks and months to get students back in our buildings more often.

Finally, we will continue to advocate with the IDPH and the IHSA to allow co-curricular activities to resume. At this time all low and medium-risk IHSA sports have been approved to resume. We will continue to maximize our students’ participation in co-curricular activities as the situation evolves.  

Have a good weekend!” 

State officials have said the rise in unemployment fraud is likely due to large corporate data breaches, such as one in 2017 involving Equifax that exposed the personal data of millions of people.”

State and federal officials are encouraging Illinoisans to stay vigilant as reports of unemployment insurance fraud swell.

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, fraudulent claims have been an issue as a record number of Illinois residents file for benefits and Congress provides additional jobless aid. Illinois has stopped more than 350,000 fraudulent claims since March 1, according to the state’s Department of Employment Security.

Reports of fraud have been so widespread — often inundating local police departments — that the FBI, IRS and several state agencies launched a task force to tackle the problem.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office has received more than 1,400 complaints since June from people who allege someone else filed an unemployment insurance claim in their name, spokeswoman Tori Joseph said.

Here’s what to be on the lookout for and what steps to take.

  • How do I know if I’m a victim of fraud?
  • Why did I receive a debit card?
  • What steps should I take to protect myself?
  • How do I avoid becoming a victim of fraud?
  • Am I responsible for funds paid to fraudsters?
  • What if I need to file for benefits?

Read the answers to these question in the Chicago Tribune here.

The plywood over the windows, which cost taxpayers $30,000, was starting to come down Thursday. That’s after nearly a week of a heightened security presence based on a threat that never materialized.

Last week, images of construction crews putting plywood over the windows of the Illinois State Capitol were mixed with images of armed Illinois National Guard soldiers blocking streets and creating a perimeter around the complex.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered 250 soldiers from the Illinois National Guard to support security at the capitol and other state government buildings in Springfield. The move was in response to a threat the FBI said involved possible armed protests at the state capitals of every state leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden Wednesday.

Such protests never materialized in Illinois.

Read on here.

Related:Now-closed McCormick Place COVID-19 hospital cost taxpayers $15M to staff, run

The Spring Creek Stewards are back to doing what they do best – protecting and preserving our favorite forest preserve!

Nature Photography with Ken DeMuth

Many volunteers know Ken as a knowledgeable, dedicated naturalist with the Spring Creek Stewards. What you may not know, is that when Ken isn’t lopping buckthorn or pulling sweet clover, he’s busy honing his photography skills while hiking through Spring Creek Forest Preserve.

OK, his photos are regularly featured in this newsletter, so if you read the fine print this may not be news to you. As a recently certified IL Master Naturalist, Ken will be joined by his peers in leading a nature photography webinar next month. Get some insight on how to capture photos like the one below, featuring Healy Savanna on a Winter’s day. Spots are limited, so reserve yours today!

Nature’s Pixels, February 8th 6-7 PM on Zoom

Photography is both an art and an important tool for connecting with the natural world. Learn a few tricks of the trade from Illinois Extension Master Naturalists Marnie Baker, Kathy Branigan, and Ken DeMuth as they discuss mastering picture taking in Cook County’s nature. Register here.

Read more from This Week in Spring Creek here.

“For billions of years all Life has relied on the Earth’s rhythm of Day & Night. Humans have radically changed this cycle by lighting up the night. The benefits are obvious, while the dangers go unmentioned.

Darkness interruption has a long list of dangerous negative impact. Declining insect populations, disrupted bird migration patterns, wildlife survival behavior, and even the life cycles of plants & trees are severely affected. Light pollution is also linked to Human diseases such as diabetes,  depression, obesity and cancer. 

Action you can take:  turn off lights when not needed, use soft yellow lights when possible and point them downward, keep lights away from habitats and DO NOT install lights in trees!  Get educated, raise awareness and share knowledge.

There is a lot more to this issue – and a lot that can be done by each of us to make good changes. (see CFC post here)”

Editorial note: For many of our readers this is déjà vu (all over again).  For those who weren’t around or have forgotten, our posting of, “Everything Is Deluminated,” from a November 2009 Wall Street Journal article might “shed some light” on what we mean.

Nonetheless, as light has crept back in to some properties in our Village, we applaud CFC for their message.

195 South Sutton Road

The Zoning Board of Appeals meets this evening at 6:30 PM. Their agenda includes,

  • Special Use Application – Christ the Rock Church: 195 S. Sutton Road
  • Proposed ZBA Text Amendment – Special Use: Place of Assembly

A copy of the agenda can be viewed here.

Related: ZBA public hearing scheduled for January 19

Ice Castles said it will open on at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22 at the Geneva National Resort & Club. Tickets are available for purchase starting Tuesday.

Ice Castles, the seasonal entertainment company based in Utah, is known to create elaborate castles built entirely from ice in several cities across North America. Last winter, Ice Castles at Lake Geneva drew in thousands of people.

COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including mandatory masks, limited capacity, increased sanitation of high touch surfaces, and one-way markings on tunnels and crawl spaces, according to Ice Castles.Professional ice artisans grow, harvest and hand-place up to 10,000 icicles each day to create the outdoor attraction. The experience features ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, crawl spaces and slot canyons, which are illuminated at night with color-changing LED lights.

This year, Ice Castles partner Destination Geneva National will have new features including a sledding hill, ice skating, a lantern-lit snowshoeing trail, igloo dining, and an Ice Princess Brunch.

Source

Nate Rouse, director of equity, race and culture diversity initiatives for Barrington Area Unit District 220, listens with his son to the famed “I Have a Dream” speech every year. (John Starks | Staff Photographer)

Every year, Nate Rouse and his 12-year-old son observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day by listening to the civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech and thinking about how to keep that legacy alive.

This year, Rouse said, he hopes the holiday will take on even greater significance for people in light of the nationwide conversations on race and equity sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement in the last year.

“One of (King’s) most poignant lines was that he hoped his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin,” said Rouse, who in August became the first director of equity, race, and cultural diversity initiatives for Barrington Area Unit District 220. “Connecting that vision to the events that have taken place this past year in our country, we have been reminded again in Black, Indigenous and people of color communities that we are not there.”

Other suburban residents echoed that, saying MLK Day should spark reflection but also action.

Read more here.

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