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CN1

Canadian National “is continuing to evaluate all options available to us,” said Jonathan Doorley, a spokesman for Canadian National.

Kansas City Southern said on Sunday that it had deemed an offer from Canadian Pacific superior to a bid from Canadian National, in the latest turn in a monthslong battle to become the first railroad to connect North America.

Canadian Pacific first put forward a roughly $29 billion bid for Kansas City Southern in March, before being topped by a $33.7 billion offer from its rival, Canadian National, in April. But the Canadian National deal hit a key regulatory challenge this month, sending Kansas City back to talks with Canadian Pacific. The talks proved fruitful.

The crown jewel in the deal is Mexico, as the railroads look to capitalize on trade flows across North America on the heels of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed into law last year.

Closing a deal could take time. It must be approved by shareholders of both companies, as well as approved by Mexican authorities and the Surface Transportation Board, the U.S. regulatory board that oversees rail deals.

Kansas City Southern has notified Canadian National of its intention to terminate that deal, both companies said on Sunday. Canadian National has five days to make a better offer. If Kansas City opts for Canadian Pacific, Canadian National will receive $700 million in breakup fees, according to the terms of their deal.

Read more here.

Related: “Feds reject initial CN plan for merger with Kansas City railroad that’s drawn ire from some suburbs,” “Suburbs wary of proposed railway merger that could mean more freight trains,” and “Could railroad merger lead to more freight trains in the suburbs?

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RCBH

The Riding Club of Barrington Hills (RCBH) recently released their September, 2021 newsletter. One of the sections provides an “update” on the August meeting of the Village Equestrian Commission regarding, Equestrian Trail Licenses:

“The Equestrian Commission met on the 19th of August to discuss the continued need for the Equestrian Trail Licenses issued by the Village for the purpose of riding on the Village deeded easement trails. 

By Ordinance in June in 2005, certain trails traversing private land in the Village exist as easements recorded in favor of the Village. The easements are generally in and around the newer subdivisions in the Village where the Village and the Equestrian Commission worked successfully with developers subdividing tracts of land to protect the continuity of the trail network and to maintain the unique character of the Village. Easement trails are maintained by the RCBH.  As set forth in Title 6 and Section 8-5 of the Village Code, equestrian use of easement trails is allowed solely by licenses issued by the Village of Barrington Hills. 

There is an ongoing discussion with a need for further information. As soon as the Equestrian Commission has that information a date will be determined for the next meeting.”

In other words, they’d rather not reveal anything that was discussed. No surprise.

A copy of the RCBH newsletter can be viewed and downloaded here.

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bhpd-logo-2-2021The Barrington Hills Park District Board will hold their regular monthly meeting this evening in-person and via Zoom at 7:00 PM.  Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • Outdoor arena bid status
  • Review of IGA/Horizon Farms status, and
  • Review final draft of Fox River Valley Hunt’s Cooperative Agreement with the Park District

A copy of their agenda can be viewed here. Instructions for accessing the meeting remotely can be found here.

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Labor Day

A new analysis puts Illinois near the bottom of the hardest working states in the country.

The personal finance website WalletHub looked at more than 10 indicators from average work week hours to the share of workers with multiple jobs to determine the rankings. Illinois was ranked as the 43rd hardest-working state in the nation. Alaska and North Dakota took the top two spots as the hardest working states. New Mexico came in at No. 50.

Analyst Jill Gonzalez said workers in downstate Illinois likely helped the state’s ranking.

“That is where we see a leveling of the work week,” Gonzalez said. “In Chicago, we typically are seeing a shorter work week, and places where they are heavily relying on agriculture, we see a longer work week.”

Americans put in an average of 1,767 hours per year as of 2021, according to the World Economic Forum. That is 435 hours per year more than Germans work, but 357 fewer than Mexicans do.

Alaska has the longest hours worked per week at 42, which is 14% longer than in Utah, the state with the shortest week at 37 hours.

The category that pushed Illinois down in the rankings was the lowest annual volunteer hours per resident, in which Illinois ranked 47th in the country.

Read on here.

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CNIt wasn’t a knockout punch, but federal regulators’ rejection of an important component of the Canadian National Railway’s bid to buy the Kansas City Southern Railway might signal good news for suburbs opposing the merger.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board on Monday nixed CN’s request to create a “voting trust” that would hold KCS’s stock until the merger is decided on by STB members.

“The board finds that the proposed use of a voting trust … would not be consistent with the public interest” and “would give rise to potential public interest harms relating to both competition and divestiture,” members wrote in a ruling announced Tuesday.

A number of municipalities from Bartlett to Barrington urged the STB to deny the plan, fearing a merger would add to freight train traffic and delays that surged when the board in 2008 approved CN’s purchase of the smaller EJ & E Railroad, which runs through multiple north, west, and south suburbs.

Also weighing in was the Canadian Pacific Railway, initially embraced by Kansas City Southern as a merger partner this spring, only to be dumped when CN moved in.

“The STB decision clearly shows that the CN-KCS merger proposal is illusory and not achievable,” Canadian Pacific President Keith Creel said in a statement. To Kansas City Southern’s board, he wrote, “CP has always maintained that the CN-KCS combination and the proposed CN voting trust is not in the public interest,” Creel said. “Hundreds of rail shippers, community leaders, elected officials and other stakeholders have voiced those same concerns and today the STB agreed.”

Read more here.

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(Note: It’s not too late to pre-order shrubs and trees from Citizens for Conservation during their Fall sale running through Tuesday. Click here for details.)

Root

When you plant a tree, make sure the root flare — the place where the stem or trunk flares out into the root — sits at or slightly above the level of the soil. That way, you’ll bury the roots, but not the stem.

Planting or transplanting a tree, shrub or perennial is all about giving its roots a good home in the soil.

“It’s the only time we see the roots and can focus on what they need,” said Sharon Yiesla, plant knowledge specialist in the Plant Clinic of The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “The rest of the time, we tend to forget them.” But a plant can only grow the parts we enjoy — the leaves and flowers and branches — if it has a healthy root system to supply water and nutrients.

Once a tree or shrub is planted, it will be very hard to tell if something has gone wrong with the roots, and it will be difficult, often impossible, to correct root problems that can stunt or even kill a plant.

“Taking care when planting is an investment toward avoiding problems,” she said.

Early fall is an excellent time to plant or transplant trees and shrubs, Yiesla said: “If you get the plant in the ground by early October and you keep it watered, it will have several weeks or more to get its roots established before the soil freezes.”

Most often, homeowners purchase trees and shrubs in large pots. Here are suggestions from Yiesla and the Plant Clinic for giving container-grown plants’ roots a good start.

Read more here or visit the Morton Arboretum website here.

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220 Admin“August 26, 2021

Dear Barrington 220 Community,

It has been wonderful to welcome students back into our school buildings over the past few days, and I am looking forward to the rest of the 2021-22 school year. In order to keep everyone informed, I wanted to share a few COVID-19 related updates.

Today Governor Pritzker held a press conference where he announced new mitigations for the state, as COVID-19 numbers increase and hospital capacities continue to be stretched statewide. First, a statewide indoor masking order will begin on Monday, August 30. In addition, beginning on September 5, all PK-12 educational employees in Illinois who are NOT fully vaccinated must submit to weekly testing (or more frequently if ordered by the local health department). We are working with our labor union leadership and Board of Education to address how weekly testing will be implemented among non-vaccinated staff members.

Mitigation Strategies

Our goal remains to do everything possible to continue to offer in-person learning for all of our students five days a week. In order to limit quarantines and transmission of COVID-19, we are currently working on ways to expand social distancing as much as possible in our cafeterias when students are not wearing masks. Any changes at our school buildings will be communicated by principals.

In the classroom setting a close contact is defined as a person who is less than 3 feet from a positive case for more than 15 minutes while wearing a mask. However in the lunchroom, when masks are not being worn, a close contact is defined as a person who is less than six feet from a positive case for more than 15 minutes.

In addition to expanding social distancing in our cafeterias, in order to reduce the number of students who are quarantined, the district is using the “Test to Stay” strategy. Test to Stay can be used when unvaccinated students are masked and have been identified as a close contact. They will be able to test on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 after exposure and will be able to remain in the classroom and participate in activities, as long as they continue testing negative for COVID-19 on those days. It is important to note that Test to Stay is not an option in any situation where an unvaccinated close contact or the positive case are NOT wearing masks. Please review this graphic below for more details about Test to Stay.

220 UpdateI appreciate your ongoing support and understanding as we work through these challenges.”

220 Superintendent Robert Hunt

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Home School

Jessica Clements helps her sons Gavin, 7, left, and Myles, 10, during a home-school session with learning materials from The Good and The Beautiful at home on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, in McHenry. This is the family’s first time trying home schooling. Myles is in fifth grade, Gavin is in second, and Dayne, 4, is in preschool. (Matthew Apgar/Shaw Media)

Despite past hassles of attending school during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Clements and Kalyn Macchia said they never seriously considered pulling their kids out of public education before this year.

But the two McHenry County mothers of school-aged children decided to take the leap, they said, in part because of the statewide school mask mandate Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed as mitigation effort to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

So far, with the first day of school in their respective local school districts having come and past, they said they have no regrets. Their kids are on board, too, Clements and Macchia said.

As COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant have mounted in the state and across the country this summer, the idea of whether students, faculty and staff should be required to wear masks in school has been a source of intense controversy in Illinois and elsewhere. Parents on both sides of the issue packed school boards and held rallies throughout the state as local education leaders were deciding whether to require masks in school buildings this academic year.

Faced with the mounting cases and varying local coronavirus mitigation policies, Pritzker announced in early August that he was imposing a school mask requirement when students returned to school because “far too few school districts” had imposed such requirements. Pritzker’s decision has been met with continued controversy as some parents throughout the state protested and have sued him over the policy.

Macchia said she was convinced to transition them into a home-schooling curriculum partially by hearing from Leslee Dirnberger, the founder and president of Aspire Educational Consultants based in Barrington Hills, at a meeting Dirnberger held with other local families in recent weeks to inform them of academic options outside public schools.

Read more here.

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Village Hall

The Village Equestrian Commission meets this evening at 6:30 PM.   Topics on their agenda include:

  • Equestrian Trail License
  • 9th Annual The Hills Are Alive Fall Festival

The chair has submitted her summary of the “Equestrian Trail License” topic beginning on page three of the agenda which can be found here.

We have our own perspective(s) on the license matter, but for now, we’ll sit back and observe.

Related:Riding Club August newsletter released

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JB Masks Christian Schools

Timothy Christian Schools planned to make masks optional, despite a statewide mandate Aug. 4 that both private and public schools had to enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s rule to mask students.

Superintendent Matt Davidson posted a video Aug. 11 explaining Timothy Christian in Elmhurst, Illinois, would exercise their own set of COVID-19 precautions. Those did not include enforcing Pritzker’s mask mandate.

“Our goal is to stick with the Timothy Health Plan, and thus, remain mask optional,” Davidson said in the video. “We’re not ramping up for some big fight. Speaking personally, I’m not comfortable with that approach and I wouldn’t support it. The issue of masks in schools is still, categorically, a recommendation, and not a requirement, from the CDC.”

The state quickly responded, with state Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala issuing a letter to school superintendents, threating the “force of law” regarding the Illinois school mask mandate. Ayala warned both public and private schools, “noncompliance is not an option.”

Defiant schools or school districts would become “unrecognized.” That’s what she did to Timothy Christian Schools.

Becoming “unrecognized” by the Illinois State Board of Education means the school’s low-income students cannot receive scholarships from the Invest in Kids program, that student athletes cannot compete in Illinois High School Association sports and that seniors will be at a disadvantage when applying to colleges. Colleges will likely penalize students for not having an accredited degree, college admissions expert Perry Kalmus said on Fox 32 Chicago.

The pressure ended Timothy Christian’s effort to let parents decide about masking their children.

Read more here.

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