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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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“Dear Barrington 220 Community:

This afternoon Governor Pritzker issued a “stay at home” order for all residents in Illinois, beginning at 5pm on Saturday, March 20, through Tuesday, April 7.

This means that all Barrington 220 school buildings will remain closed to students through at least Tuesday, April 7. This is subject to change as the situation continues to develop.

At the moment, we plan to implement our Distance Learning plan on weekdays beginning on Monday, March 30 through Tuesday, April 7. Governor Pritzker did not indicate these will be considered “Act of God” days and we anticipate further guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education in the next few days. It is clear that these days will not have to be made up at the end of the school year.

Spring break will continue as scheduled through Friday, March 27. There will be no Distance Learning for students during this time off.

During spring break, on Thursday, March 26, Barrington Children’s Charities graciously offered to provide meals for our students in need. All meals will be delivered to the students’ homes between 2pm and 5pm, via Barrington Transportation (school buses). Families who would like meals dropped off at their homes need to complete this survey by Sunday, March 22 at 10pm.

If you would like to help, please click here to donate to Barrington Children’s Charities.

The district also plans to continue providing meals to students in need the weeks of March 30 and April 6. We will provide more details next week.

I understand this extended closure will be hard on many families. Please know that the Barrington 220 staff will be doing everything we can in order to fully ensure our students continue engaging and learning during this time.”

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The Village of Barrington Hills would like to make you aware of the recent ‘shelter-in-place’ or ‘stay at home’ order just enacted by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, taking effect at 5 PM on Saturday, March 21st through April 7th.

To slow the spread of the corona virus, residents are advised to stay in their homes and ‘shelter-in-place’. Public health officials have recommended residents avoid gatherings and maintain a distance of at least six feet apart. The idea of shelter-in-place is to ensure residents are following the social distancing recommendations.

During this time, Village Hall will be closed to visitors, but staff will continue to be available by email (village@vbhil.gov) and by phone 847-551-3000 during our regular business hours of 9 AM to 5 PM.

The Village’s Police Force will continue to serve residents without interruption and may be contacted 24/7 via Dispatch by calling 9 1 1 or 847-428-8784.  The Police Department Lobby will be closed to walk-ins but can be reached at 847-551-3006 during their regular hours of 8 AM to 4 PM.

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“Dear Barrington 220 Community,

First and foremost, I want to say thank you. On Tuesday, March 17 registered voters in the Barrington 220 community overwhelmingly passed a $147 million bond referendum, which will greatly impact the future of our schools.

According to preliminary results, the question was approved by voters with 63% yes votes and 37% no votes.

Especially at a time like this, when our nation and our community are facing unprecedented challenges, it is amazing to see the Barrington area stand behind our schools. Together we will get through this pandemic challenge and our community will be stronger than ever before.

This vote is the culmination of a three year community engagement process, which involved collaboration and feedback from parents, students, teachers, administrators, Board of Education members, community members, and architects, about the future of our schools. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, along with your community support at the polls, Barrington 220 will be able to:

  • Significantly enhance safety and security at every school
  • Better prepare our students for a successful future
  • Protect the community’s investment in our school buildings by repairing things like roofs, windows, electrical systems, plumbing systems, heating and air conditioning

We will soon begin working with our architects and engineers to develop detailed project plans and drawings. Construction will likely begin in Spring 2021 and will happen in phases over several years.

Thank you again for your support in making sure Barrington 220 remains a destination school district in the years to come.”

The 220 email can be viewed here.

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