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Archive for the ‘Cook’ Category

Suburban voters already have reportedly cast more than 266,000 early or mail-in ballots ahead of the Nov. 3rd presidential election, with early voting slated to expand across the region starting today.

County clerks are ramping up early voting today, with 17 sites available in Lake County, 11 in McHenry and more than 50 in suburban Cook. Kane County offers seven permanent early voting sites, eight alternative sites and various mobile locations starting today through Oct. 28th.

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Virtual programming. Scaled-back events. Socially distanced hikes.

Planning for fall has been an unusual process for suburban nature centers amid the restrictions and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. But as they navigate social distancing regulations, programming and facility leaders say they have one key advantage: Many of their best and most educational autumn activities take place outdoors.

Some organizers have opted to transition entirely to online or take-home formats. Others are offering a blend of in-person and remote options while using the natural environment as their greatest resource. And they all recognize their plans can change rapidly as COVID-19 case numbers and state guidelines evolve.

Here are the plans nine suburban nature centers have in place for this fall:

Forest Preserves of Cook County

Forest preserve leaders have been working out the details of in-person and virtual programming for the fall — a slower planning process than normal due to the coronavirus, said Jacqui Ulrich, deputy director of conservation and experiential programming. Topics will likely include the fall foliage, seasonal gardening, native plants and animals, hibernation and the county’s cultural history.

Regardless of how the schedule looks, Ulrich says, the grounds of facilities such as the Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington Hills and the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook remain open for visitors to explore the flora and fauna of Cook County.

Read more here.

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$1.7 million per patient!

(From left) Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, touring the $65.9 million emergency coronavirus hospital at McCormick Place on April 17 — the day Pritzker announced the first five patients had been transferred there. Only 33 more would follow. Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Taxpayers spent nearly $66 million fashioning McCormick Place into an emergency coronavirus hospital with 2,750 beds this past spring amid fears that COVID-19 patients would overwhelm hospitals in the Chicago area.

Those fears turned out to be unfounded. Just 38 patients were transferred to the sprawling convention center — meaning taxpayers’ cost for the makeshift hospital turned out to be more than $1.7 million per patient, on average.

But top aides to Mayor Lori Lightfoot say her decision to initiate the project with the federal government and the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority was an important “insurance policy” at a time of “immense emergency.”

“It’s something I’m incredibly proud of,” says Samir Mayekar, Lightfoot’s deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development who says the money was “not spent in vain.”

He also notes that the medical equipment is being stored and can be redeployed if needed.

To complete the McCormick Place project, the authority — a city-state governmental body known as McPier that runs the convention center and owns Navy Pier — tapped Walsh Construction, a politically connected Chicago company that’s built everything from highways to high-rises.

Read the full Sun*Times Watchdog report here.

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Cook County voters can receive important election information in their email inboxes directly from election authorities through a new tool established by the office county Clerk Karen Yarbrough.

The tool allows any registered suburban Cook County voter to sign up for various email notifications regarding general election information, polling place changes, Election Day information and more.

While convenient for voters, it also saves money for the taxpayer. By emailing official election mailers and polling place change postcards rather than using the U.S. Postal Service, every registration for the email signup tool will save residents’ tax dollars.

Registered voters can visit cookcountyclerk.com/email to register for the tool. After registering, voters simply have to choose which email updates they wish to receive.

Editorial note: This will be an interesting experiment. But given Cook County’s well known reputation, readers are advised to have backup sources of accurate and timely elections information.

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Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals members are expected to make a recommendation in September on whether Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District should be allowed to build a new station its leaders say is needed to improve service on the agency’s east side.

The zoning panel Wednesday concluded a two-session public hearing that featured testimony on the proposal, which calls for a 10,000-square-foot station on roughly 5 acres at 1004 S. Hough St. The land sits just outside the borders of Barrington Hills and Barrington in unincorporated Cook County.

The advisory panel is being asked to recommend a special-use permit allowing the station in a residential neighborhood zoned for single-family homes.

Barrington Hills resident Thomas McGrath, whose Hawthorne Road house is on the western border of the site, submitted a petition signed by fellow homeowners opposed to the proposal.

“Believe me, the 50 people who signed the petition who live in the exact location they want to put this fire station do not believe it will increase their happiness or their well-being, so (the district) does not meet that standard of (county) approval,” McGrath said.

Read more here.

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After complaints from some suburban and downstate officials seeking greater local control in fighting the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday said he would divide Illinois into smaller regions under his reopening plan, separating Chicago and suburban Cook County from other areas not hit as hard by the pandemic.

The governor’s move comes as the state reported another 1,187 coronavirus cases and eight additional deaths from COVID-19. It’s the fourth time this month that the daily caseload has topped the 1,000 mark. The rolling seven-day positivity rate – the percent of positive cases among those newly tested – also crept up to 3.1%, from 2.6% less than a week ago.

The newly reshuffled reopening plan is based on the 11 regions in the state’s Emergency Medical Service regions that are used by state public health officials. Chicago’s collar counties will also be divided into three separate regions under the governor’s updated plan.

The Chicago Democrat cast the retooling as part of a “a more granular approach in this phase of the response to COVID-19.”

Pritzker said the new, smaller regions will give the state more flexibility to combat coronavirus if a locality experiences an outbreak, “to carefully, but deliberately — depending on the severity of the situation — control the spread of the virus while continuing to allow a region to be open to the greatest extent possible.”

Read more here.

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Up for auction August 5th is +/- 34 acres currently owned by the South Barrington Park District. The property is located at South of the intersection of RT 59 (Sutton Rd. and Bartlett Rd., South Barrington, IL). The suggested opening bid is $500,000.

Ordinarily we don’t post real estate listings. However, given the proximity of the property to the Barrington Hills Village Hall, based on our experience we’re certain someone will have to voice their opinion on this matter.

Details on the property and auction terms can be viewed here.

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Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District officials want to build a new station on this unincorporated Cook County property at 1004 S. Hough St. It would be just outside Barrington and Barrington Hills village limits.

Citing concerns about increased noise and traffic, several homeowners are opposing Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District’s second attempt to build a new station.

Fire Chief James Kreher said the proposal is part of the district’s longtime desire for a third station that would improve response times for residents in Inverness and nearby areas.

However, Barrington Hills resident Thomas McGrath said about 50 village residents — representing nearly all homeowners living in the area immediately surrounding the site where the station would be built — have signed a petition against the fire district’s plan that will go before the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals.

“The 24-hour operations with increased noise, emergency vehicle traffic and 24-hour lighting is absolutely out of place for a residential area,” said McGrath, whose Hawthorne Road house is on the western border of where the fire district wants to build.

Before construction can occur, Barrington Countryside must start with an online public hearing before the zoning panel at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The district needs a special-use permit for the firehouse because the Hough Street land is zoned for single-family homes.

Read more here.

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The following notice now appears on the Crabtree web page:

“Starting July 6, Nature Center grounds trails and bathrooms will reopen seven days per week, from 8 am to 4 pm. Nature Center exhibit buildings remain closed. Parking will be limited to 50% capacity to help limit crowding.”

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The Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals has posted their July 8th meeting agenda, including the following:

SPECIAL USE

SU-20-01 Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District has petitioned the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals for a Special Use in the R-3 Single Family Residential District. The Special Use is requested to construct a Fire/EMS Station. The subject property is located within the 15th District, with the common address 1004 S. Hough Street, Lake Barrington, Illinois 60010.

The public hearing will be at 10:00 AM, and will be conducted remotely. A copy of the complete agenda can be accessed here.

Written public comments on this item will be accepted until 3:00 PM on July 6, 2020, at ZBA.Emails@cookcountyil.gov All comments will be read aloud at the meeting with three minutes allotted for each commenter, though every effort will be made to read statements in their entirety.

Related: Village posts unofficial notice of Cook County Zoning Board public hearing regarding proposed Hough Street fire station,” “Here we go again!, “New Fire Station to Help Save Lives, Protect Property

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