Archive for the ‘Topics Of Interest’ Category

Illinois residents with licenses or ID cards that have expired or will in October, November, December or January now have through Feb. 1 to renew.

Drivers with expiring licenses will get another reprieve through Feb. 1, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Wednesday.

It’s the latest of several driving-related deadlines White has extended related to the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to prevent crowds at facilities.

The previous extension stretched to Nov. 1, but now Illinois residents with licenses or ID cards that expired or will expire in October, November, December or January have extra time to renew.

The deadline to renew vehicle stickers, which was extended through Nov. 1, remains firm since Illinoisans can do that task online at cyberdriveillinois.com.

Read more here.

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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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A crowd gathered at a D300 reopen rally Tuesday to have children return to in-person school at the Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 Central Office on Harnish Road in Algonquin. Ryan (Rayburn/Shaw Media)

While Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300’s board approved bringing kindergarten through third grade students to a hybrid learning model as soon as it is safely possible, grades four through 12 will be remote until their second semester in January.

A specific date for kindergarten through third grade students to go to this hybrid model was not set at the school board meeting Tuesday.

The decision to bring younger students to a hybrid model earlier is because kindergarten through third-graders are at what board members say is a “pivotal” time in their education, and it is the age group that is struggling with remote learning the most.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, District 300 schools have been learning and teaching remotely since the beginning of the year.

At the meeting, a couple of hybrid models were proposed for kindergarten through high school students in October, although some school board members took issue with making this transition in the middle of the semester.

Read more here.

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Katie Myers teaches English on Thursday at Butler Junior High School in Oak Brook. Brian Hill (Staff Photographer)

It took all summer for Butler Elementary District 53 in Oak Brook to get ready for students to return to the classroom this fall.

Some students opted for remote learning, but about 60% of them returned to the schools. They started with half days, and more than a week ago began all-day in-person learning. The district has been able to avoid any cases of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff, something Superintendent Paul O’Malley chalks up to the summerlong preparations.

“Overall, to date, it’s been pretty successful,” he said.

District 53 is one of nine suburban public school districts that started the school year with in-person learning. Administrators in several of the nine, which tend to have smaller student populations than many in the suburbs, report their districts remain free of COVID-19. One, Itasca Elementary District 10, is reporting four staff members and as many as five students have contracted the disease since school started Aug. 20. All the cases were contracted out of school, administrators said.

Northbrook Elementary District 28 officials notified parents Tuesday that one person at Greenbriar Elementary has tested positive.

When that happens, state guidelines require that anyone who is within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes must quarantine for 14 days or until medically cleared. Rooms have to be deep-cleaned and health departments are also notified.

“Yes, we have received reports of COVID-19 cases associated with schools — several individual cases and some clusters. Although this is unfortunate, it is not a surprise due to the high levels of community transmission,” said Karen Ayala, director of the DuPage County Health Department, which is not making that data public.

Read more here.

Related:Some elementary students are back in class, and suburban districts are weighing what can come next

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Dr. Brian Harris

A week ago today hundreds of parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 gathered at a rally in Citizens Park to ask the district to allow in-person schooling to resume.

Some spoke while others displayed signs such as, “Open our schools for in-person learning,” or “Face 2 Face learning is essential” (see “I am asking for a choice’: Barrington 220 parents, students rally for in-person learning” and “Hundreds turn out for Barrington rally calling for end to remote learning, restart of student sports”).

A day later on the heals of this assembly of taxpayers, the 220 Board of Education held their last scheduled meeting in September. Some attended to reiterate their concerns during public comment while others objected to the board’s decision to postpone refunding fees taxpayers paid in advance for items such as registration fees, etc (see “District 220 postpones to next year decision on refunding school fees”).

After the public comment, Dr. Brian Harris spoke at length on some new metrics that needed to to be studied and tracked before even considering returning students to classrooms. After he completed his presentation (summarized including a video recording here), he asked the board members for their comments, some of which included:

“Board Secretary Angela Wilcox cited information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on higher suicide rates among young people and the need for social-emotional learning. She joined other board members expressing frustration over what was described as a slow schedule for getting kids back into school buildings.

‘You should have had a plan long ago,’ board member Gavin Newman told Harris.”

There were many more questions and comments directed at Harris. In our opinion, though, the board was going out of there way to be politic with him given their, parents, students and sometimes teachers ever mounting frustration with his handling of the schools situation. But we don’t feel the need to politic with him, so given the mounting frustration most parties have now, we have a suggestion.

Until such time as 220 classrooms reopen to at least hybrid leaning combining classroom and in-person learning, the Board of Education should schedule weekly public meetings with Harris providing timely updates on all progress toward that end. If they need to be Zoom meetings, so be it, but they must happen, because the next scheduled board meeting isn’t until October 6th, and no stakeholder should have to wait that long to discover what new information Harris has then.

If anyone thinks this suggestion is unreasonable, then perhaps they should ask themselves why St. Anne Parish School opened their doors to students late last month as did Saint Viator High School. It’s not divine intervention that opened those schools, just qualified non-union teachers, staff and management (something 220 seems to be lacking).

Finally, a reader wrote, “Maybe the school superintendent should be worried more about the students and their isolated unsafe lock-down than the pampered union teachers, ‘afraid for the unsafe work environment.’” We agree.

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We wanted to post a special reminder to attend “The Hills are Alive Fall Festival” tomorrow between noon and 4 PM.

After holding this event for seven years at the Barrington Hills Park District, it appears some creative and hard working folks have managed to make the 8th year of the festival work very well at Village Hall (as can be seen above).

A full list of frolic and food events for young and old can be viewed here, and make sure to thank those working at the fest tomorrow for doing their best to make our Village a special place again this year!

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Goebbert’s Fall Festival starts tomorrow through Halloween

“Goebbert’s Fall Festival starts September 19th, 2020 and runs through Halloween. We are a great place for families to come and have a great fall day. Come enjoy the animals, watch a pig race, see our famous Pumpkin Eating Dinosaur, have some lunch and pick out a pumpkin. We have plenty of fun attractions for the whole family! Also make sure to stop by the Red Barn Cafe & Bakery for some tasty treats, including our famous Apple Cider Donuts and Pumpkin cookies. Don’t delay; our festival is only 6 weeks long!”

For more information, visit Goebbert’s Farm & Garden Center here.

The 8th annual The Hills Are Alive Festival starts at noon Sunday

“Welcome and thank you for visiting the 8th Annual The Hills Are Alive Fall Festival Webpage.  This is a no-charge event featuring family-friendly activities for all ages! We’re looking forward to sharing a fun-filled event with YOU–our friends and neighbors!”

Visit the Village website here for more information.

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A great way to see the fall colors is to ride your bike, which allows you to be outside and travel a good distance to catch a lot of scenery. So where should you go? Options abound in the suburbs.

Poplar Creek Trail link to Elgin: The Poplar Creek Trail between Hoffman Estates and Streamwood, and between Barrington Road and the west side of Route 59, will show some fall colors in spots, and now the trail links to Elgin via a new connection down forested Shoe Factory Road. That extends from Route 59 to the CN railroad tracks, at which point you could ride west through Elgin to the Fox River Trail (below).

Moraine Hills State Park: In this forested state park along River Road just east of the Fox River in McHenry and west of Island Lake, you’ll find a collection of trails, and the paved bike trail seen just off River Road is being extended to connect to Lily Lake Road. Ride this trail or the roads within the park surrounded by trees and their fall colors.

Raceway Woods: The Chicago Area Mountain Bikers organization has developed mountain biking trails in Kane County’s portion of this forest preserve by the old Meadowsdale Speedway in Carpentersville. In 2019, the group reached an agreement with Dundee Township to expand the trails. Now there are about 5 miles in this pretty preserve between the Fox River and Route 31. More at cambr.org.

Barrington Hills: A tree and biking-road paradise. Check out Spring Creek Road. Getting there is wonderful, too, but residents ask that you stay single file, please.

Read more here.

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Following is an email message sent yesterday afternoon from District 220:

“At the Sept. 15 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Harris shared a presentation on the metrics which will be used to determine when large groups of students can return to in-person learning. Based on recommendations from a district committee which consulted with medical and public health professionals, Barrington 220 will use five metrics. Each metric will help determine which of the above four steps the district is currently in. The five metrics include the following:

In order to determine the district’s current step, all metrics must be met for a minimum of 10 days, following the trends over that period of time.

  • Example 1: All metrics are in Step 3 for 10 days: the district is in Step 3
  • Example 2: Most metrics are in Step 3 for 10 days, except for one metric in Step 2: the district is in Step 2

The metrics status will be updated every week on Monday afternoon. You will be able to view the updated metrics by visiting this dedicated webpage. Keep in mind, all families will receive notice well in advance of any shift in steps.

Please watch the video seen here as Dr. Harris explain the metrics in depth at the Board meeting.


  • Next two weeks: Finalize Hybrid plan for each level.
  • Oct. 6 Board meeting: share district’s metric status and Hybrid plans
  • Oct. 7-Oct. 20: Conduct family survey (Distance Learning or Hybrid)
  • Resolve operational and staffing issues
  • Oct. 20 Board meeting: verify metrics
  • Oct. 26: “Target” Hybrid start date for all levels

*Please note, this timeline may be accelerated if possible.”

Editorial note: It would be wise to have the teacher’s union sign off on this timeline before any student or parent expectations are mismanaged (again).


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Picture yourself on the Metra train heading south from Barrington into the city. There’s a lady reading the new James Patterson novel. A guy flipping through the Chicago Tribune. Another guy reading, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan.

The train pulls into Ogilvie and the three people grab their bags, head to the station. They make their way to three different office buildings downtown.

For all three of them, this morning is about to be jam-packed with emails and meetings. Conference calls and deadlines. A month from now, the James Patterson lady has a two-week vacation. The newspaper guy is about to become a granddad.

The guy reading Michael Pollan’s book? He’s about to purchase four Angus beef calves, 25 laying hens, and 25 broiler chickens to raise in his backyard. 

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” was a Christmas present Cliff received from his left-wing sister out in California. Cliff devoured the book in a week and especially connected with the middle section of the book where Pollan spends a week at Joel Salatin’s grass-based livestock farm in Virginia.

“I started doing some research on Salatin and discovered that he had written a number of books on livestock farming, including a book titled You Can Farm,'” Cliff writes in his origin story blog. “At that time we were doing pretty well and had purchased a large house on almost 9 acres of open land in suburban Barrington Hills. However, in spring 2011, I started a new insurance job from my home office, which saved me 3 hours per day of time commuting. With a head full of ideas picked up from the You Can Farm book, I decided to use that time to start raising food for my family and friends on our acreage.”

You know when a neighbor comes by asks for a cup of sugar? Cliff’s version: Neighbors were placing orders for beef, eggs, and chicken – all from his backyard.

Read more in Chicago Now here.

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