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Earth Day 2021Earth Day is Thursday, April 22, and there are plenty of local events — celebrations, concerts, educational programs, cleanups, workdays, recycling — to mark the occasion.  Here are a few dates and events to consider participating in:

Sunday, April 18

Waterfowl Nesting: 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, April 18, Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills. Pick up an informational guide to lead your own adventure and discover more about our feathery friends and their busy springtime activities. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing. For information, (847) 381-6592 or Crabtree.NatureCenter@cookcountyil.gov.

Thursday, April 22

Earth Day — Nature’s Heroes: Virtually at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 22, Facebook Live from Crabtree Nature Center, Barrington Hills. Join to learn a little about some the female pioneers in the environmental movement. Program is free. Visit Crabtree Nature Center on Facebook. For information, (847) 381-6592 or Crabtree.NatureCenter@cookcountyil.gov.

Earth Day at Pederson Preserve: 3:30-5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 22, Pederson Nature Preserve, Hart Road and West County Line Road, Barrington. #RestoreOurEarth. Join the Barrington Area Conservation Trust to plant. Dress for the weather, wear a mask and social distance. Advance registration required, visit bactrust.org.

Sunday, April 25

Celebrating Earth Day: Noon-3 p.m. Sunday, April 25, Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills. Create a cute native animal out of recycled materials, learn how to go greener in your cleaning, pick up supplies to clean up a preserve or neighborhood park or start a native plant to take home for your garden in the Mini Earth Day Celebration. All participants are required to wear masks and practice physical distancing. For information, (847) 381-6592 or Crabtree.NatureCenter@cookcountyil.gov.

Wildflower Walks: 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25, Stillman Nature Center, 33 W. Penny Road, South Barrington. Join and explore Stillman’s woodlands in search of ephemeral beauties such as white trillium, May-apple, Virginia bluebell and jack-in-the-pulpit. Bring your camera. For ages 10 and older. Also offered May 2. Free. For information and to register, (847) 428-6957 or Stillnc@wildblue.net.

For more ideas, click here.

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With so many candidates running for various offices, we’d like to remind readers of the candidates The Barrington Hills Observer wholeheartedly endorses:

Pres VBHTrustee VBH220 VBH 1HC VBHBAL VBHBHPD VBH

If you haven’t already, Please Vote tomorrow! 

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Spring just sprung, and many find ourselves in the biennial rite of Village elections season. It is recognizable from campaign signs dotting the countryside to complete strangers ringing the door or gate bell of our five-acre sanctuaries from masked humanity saying, “Howdy Neighbor,” causing you to wonder what unannounced circumstances you’re in for.

For the uninitiated, it will be an opportunity to meet a neighbor.  For others it represents something akin to an unsolicited sales pitch trying to convince you to vote a certain way.  If it’s the latter, you’re likely encountering a “special interest club” member.

Some of these club members can be the nicest people you’ll ever meet.  Others, however, might say anything to sway your vote, and we’ve heard a lot of the classics.  Either way, these club members manage to get eighty to ninety percent of their membership roster to the polls; thus, the reason for our request for all residents to take the time to vote. Here are our reasons:

  • Four years ago, at the height of the special interest club’s campaign frenzy, current Village President Marty McLaughlin tied for McHenry County votes against his competitor. His winning margin was only 65 votes.
  • In this same election, two special interest club members won by just three and four votes, and they’re both running again as a ticket, despite the fact one has missed a quarter of Board of Trustees meetings (a years’ worth).

Currently, the special interest club is fronting four of their Cook County members as candidates who would represent a majority of seats on our Village Board of Trustees.  We believe it important the county be mentioned since most of their interests in running is county centric, such as the revival of commercial horse boarding conflict and wanting to have more control of the Forest Preserve of Cook County’s Horizon Farms on top of the extensive trail system.

Leading this group is the current president of the Barrington Hills Park District who is running for Village President.  Transparency is not in his vocabulary, nor is fiscal responsibility or expense reduction.  In fact, our Park District has seen a 17% increase in levies under his watch, and three month ago he asked what the legal limit was for raising the 2021 levy prior to the required formal hearing – and he then approved that maximum raise.

Contrast that with the repeated seven levy decreases we’ve experienced along with many other financial benefits our village has experienced in eight years.  Benefits such as lower taxes, vastly improved roads, legal expenses that are a small fraction of what they were under the prior village president, just to name a few.

The way to continue the positive progress Barrington Hills has benefited from is to elect candidates with the values instilled by Martin McLaughlin and Colleen KonicekHannigan when they first took office eight years ago.

To accomplish that, all residents reading this need to make every effort possible to vote. We’re confident Brian Cecola is up for the challenge to serve as President as are David Riff, Tom Strauss and Laura Ekstrom to serve as Trustees. They not only have our endorsement, but also the endorsements of those with the highest regard of most residents; Marty McLaughlin and Colleen Konicek Hannigan.

So yes, if you want to continue the positive momentum we’ve enjoyed for eight years, please take the time to vote!

Early voting times and locations can be found here.

Related: We’ve Been Clubbed by Commercial Horse Boarding

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It seems that Barrington Hills Park District officials believe the less residents are informed, the better off they are.

The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening via Zoom at 7 PM.  A copy of their agenda can be viewed here, but just as we’ve cautioned repeatedly, don’t expect much information.  

There are no minutes available from the February meeting for the public to review online, nor is a recording of the Zoom meeting. The District WAS kind enough to include taxpayers with their 2019 Annual Financial Statement (found here) when we pointed out one of their lapses in transparency last month.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

We should also note that last week the District Advisory Committee met on March 2nd.  The notice can be found here, but there was no agenda posted nor any minutes. Even more disappointing, when searching the District website (found here), there’s no information to be found on this Committee. 

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No matter the season, the outdoors are calling. Some of the best Chicago-area hiking spots are a perfect way for outdoor enthusiasts to escape. Here’s what to expect from some of the top and most beautiful hiking trails for kids in the area.

Crabtree Nature Center

Photo Credit: Cheryl Eugenio

  • Address: 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills
  • COVID-19 updates: Nature Center exhibit buildings within Forest Preserve of Cook County are closed Parking limited. Grounds, trails and bathrooms are open. Guests are expected to maintain social distancing protocol and wear masks.

This Barrington Hills gem has 3 miles of trails through woodlands, wetlands and prairies for the family to explore. Looking for something short and sweet? Take the Giant’s Hollow Trail and you may spot some frogs in the frog ponds. Kids will adore the nature play area and the animals in the enclosure. Take the time to explore the nature play area, too. Want to try snowshoeing during the winter months? You can try it for free here!

Read about 12 others here.

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The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their, “Annual Budget and Appropriation Hearing,” via video conferencing this evening at 6:45 PM. A copy of the agenda can be viewed herebut don’t expect to see any more than that.

You will not find a, “budget and appropriation,” because clearly, the District doesn’t feel it important for taxpayers to review such trivial information prior to the public meeting. If you MUST review them, it is assumed one can obtain a copy from the District office (but there are no guarantees).

At 7:00 PM, the District will be conducting their regular monthly meeting. A copy of their typically boilerplate agenda can be viewed here.

Once again, minutes from the prior District meeting are not available for public review. If they were, residents might have questions, and the last thing commissioners want are questions.

The person responsible for this blatant lack of transparency is Dennis Kelly, President of the Barrington Hills Park Board. Word has it he is now running for President of Barrington Hills.

Given the way Kelly treats his responsibilities at the Park District, in the unlikely event he were elected Village President, the Village would likely return to what most residents remember as “The Dark Ages” we experienced prior to 2013.

Information on how to join the Zoom meetings tonight can be found here.

Related:Barrington Hills Park Board meeting tonight

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Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington Hills will be one of the locations for Forest Preserves of Cook County’s “Party in the Preserves” on Saturday, Sept. 26. From 9 AM to 1 PM visitors to Crabtree can help collect native seeds, view seed cleaning demonstrations, join in a scavenger hunt, and give back to nature by helping clean up the preserves.

Enjoy a number of self-guided activities and guided programs on September 26, 2020 from 9AM to 9PM at various Forest Preserves locations to celebrate National Public Lands Day.

The schedule at Crabtree Nature Center Saturday is:

Prairie Pickin’ (10AM & 11AM)*
Help us collect seeds of native Prairie Plants that will be used to restore areas of Crabtree. Long pants, long sleeves, closed-toe shoes and gloves recommended. Ages 10 & up with parent. *Pre-registration suggested as space is limited: Call 847-381-6592.

Seed Cleaning Demonstrations (9AM – 1PM)
View a demonstration of staff cleaning seeds, learn how seeds are prepped to be planted.

Self-Guided Scavenger Hunts (9AM – 1PM)
Pick up a scavenger hunt at the welcome table before your walk on the trail.

Select Organized Litter Obliterators (SOLO)
Help clean up the preserves as a way to give back and celebrate Nation Public Lands Day. Pick up Litter Obliterator supplies at the follow locations at any of our
 nature centers (9AM – 3PM); Bemis Woods-SouthKickapoo Woods and Forest Way Grove (2PM – 6PM).

Click here for other Forest Preserve locations.

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The Village Equestrian Commission will meet for the first time this year at 6:30 PM at Village Hall. A copy of their agenda and minutes from their last meeting on August 13, 2019 can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Raccoons frolic at Jarvis Bird Sanctuary. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune)

Say you were to visit the lakefront.

You can’t, of course; the mayor closed the Chicago lakefront on March 26 to recreation, to promote social distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus. But say you could go, right now. What would you see there? What are you missing? Well, I can tell you, and Tribune photographer Jason Wambsgans, he can show you. He got an OK from the city to shoot our beloved stretch of recently-abandoned Chicago. And here’s what’s there:

Nothing. No one.

Just animals, a lot of birds, flora in bloom. Just nature, unimpeded. A steady stillness, a compelling absence of pace. Robins are not playing cards, coyotes have not formed book clubs. Yet raccoons, some waddle up to you in the afternoon. I watched a fish leap high out of a canal, twice, as if delirious with freedom, then splash back, hard and loud.

Read reporter Christopher Borrelli’s accounts of what some of us take for granted here.

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As social distancing concerns grow with the rising temperatures this spring, suburban forest preserve officials say they continue to monitor the size of crowds at their facilities but intend to keep most open to the public.

That could change quickly depending on public behavior.

Despite social media initiatives, ample signage and rangers walking the grounds, there have been cases where crowds needed to be dispersed at preserves. In some instances — such as with Rocky Glen Waterfall near Lemont and the Swallow Cliff Stairs near Palos Hills — sites were closed because of overcrowding.

“We may close more sites,” said Carl Vogel, director of communications for the Cook County Forest Preserve. “That’s absolutely a possibility. But we want people to follow the guidelines and help us keep the forest preserves open.”

Read more here.

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