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Crews wrapped up their work earlier than advertised today, but they seem to have left themselves enough traffic barriers for single lane closures.  Nonetheless, the “Barrington Bypass” is once again open.

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Cook County intends to keep most of its forest preserves open during the state’s stay-at-home order, but that could change quickly if visitors don’t abide by safe distancing and other public health guidelines, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Sunday.

The majority of the county’s 70,000 acres of preserves remain accessible, though all public buildings, restrooms, visitor centers and campgrounds are closed. All programming and permitted events have been canceled through May 11, and the forest preserve district’s five nature centers have been temporarily shuttered, officials said.

Preckwinkle said forest preserve staff and police are keeping a close eye on the preserves to make sure people aren’t gathering in groups.

Read more here.

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Park districts and forest preserves are facing a coronavirus quandary: They’ve touted the outdoors as a mental boost and antidote to cabin fever, but crowds are still failing to heed public health warnings to practice social distancing.

Those failures have brought more restrictions to outdoor gathering spaces, a crackdown gaining traction after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed the city’s lakefront, 606 trail and Riverwalk.

The Lake County Forest Preserve District is installing more signs with a plea to adhere to social distancing so its properties can stay open.

“Right now, it seems to be OK, but we’re watching it very closely,” Executive Director Ty Kovach said.

Read more here.

Related: Cook County closes Crabtree Nature Center, Horizon Farms

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(Click on image to enlarge)

This morning workmen with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County were busy locking gates and placing signs such as the one pictured above at Crabtree Nature Center. The signs read:

“To follow public health guidelines for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) the nature center bulding & grounds are closed until further notice. “

What’s ironic is the signs read, “feel free,” at the bottom.  Though no signs were present, all entrances to Horizon Farms were closed as well.

Kevin B. Morrison is our Commissioner in Cook County, and his contact information can be viewed here.  “Feel free” to contact him.

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On second thought, Illinois’ golf courses are closed

The opening of Chicago area golf courses was short-lived.

“No recreational sports businesses, including golf courses, are considered essential businesses under the executive order.”

Read more here.

Related:Illinois golf courses are allowed to open ­­– with restrictions

How recreational weed went from illegal to essential in 3 months

Throngs of high-minded shoppers started flooding pot dispensaries when sales of recreational weed kicked off in Illinois at the start of the year.

Less than three months later, that type of mass clamoring is strictly forbidden as social distancing measures have been put in place to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the uncertain age of COVID-19, when news and information travels almost as fast as the virus itself, Jan. 1 likely seems like a lifetime ago to many cannabis users.

Unlike thousands of businesses, however, pot stores have been able to keep their doors open under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order, which labeled all dispensaries and cultivation centers “essential businesses.” The decision to allow the high times to keep rolling amid the rising public health crisis is an acknowledgment that, for many Illinoisans, buying weed is as vital as doing laundry or grocery shopping.

“People all over the nation are running to cannabis right now,” said Margo Vesely, executive of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the country’s oldest weed advocacy group.

Read more from the Sun-Times here.

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Is it a “fair tax” or a “blank check?” Those will be two of the opposing messages Illinois voters will hear between now and November over the governor’s proposal to flip the state from a flat income tax rate to a graduated one.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already poured $5 million of his own money into a political action committee that will be advocating in favor of changing the state constitution to replace the flat income tax rate with a graduated income tax rate.

The  presidential election will be the marquee race on the ballot this November but in Illinois the most expensive and noisy campaign likely will center on the battle to overhaul the state income tax and require the rich to pay more every year.

By this fall, following what promises to be months of fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, deciding whether to change the Illinois Constitution to replace the current flat-rate income tax with a graduated levy might not seem like the highest priority.

One business group on Thursday even tried to use the pandemic as a reason to pull the measure from the ballot. Whether that effort proves successful or not remains to be seen but in the meantime the issue is expected to result in relentless TV ads, political spin and distortions that hit all of the incendiary themes that have dominated political discourse for years — greed, corruption and incompetence; taxes driving businesses and residents out of the state; the rich not paying their fair share.

The stakes are high.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who stressed the need for the amendment during both his budget and State of the State addresses, has put a $5 million down payment of his own money into a political action committee promoting it. Pritzker is betting the future of his first-term agenda and possible re-election on passage of the amendment, which he predicts will generate an additional $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion a year in revenue while lowering or maintaining the tax burden for 97 percent of Illinois residents.

Read more from the Better Government Association here.

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Sean Patton Jr., 28, was shot and killed March 7, 2020 at a party held at a rental home in the 300 block of Old Sutton Road in Barrington Hills. – Original Credit: Family of Seah Patton Jr.(Family of Sean Patton Jr. / HANDOUT)

When Litita Herrod’s daughter woke her up in the early morning hours of March 7, she said she just knew something bad had happened.

But soon she learned her worst fear had come true. Her son, Sean Patton Jr., 28, had been shot and killed hours earlier at what authorities called a “large party” held at a big, ranch-style rental home in Barrington Hills.

According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Patton’s death was determined to be a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Barrington Hills Police Department spokesman William Walsh said Wednesday no arrests have been made. He said investigators are following leads but have not publicly identified any suspects.

Walsh also said that multiple people were shot during the incident. He said authorities are working to identify the others who were shot.

Read the full story here.

 

 

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