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Local Coalition Sending Support to Nepalposted April 28th, 2015
Aid workers in Nepal are pleading for food, shelter and medicine for survivors of a massive earthquake that erupted over the weekend. Countries have been sending medical and rescue teams along with basic supplies. But some airplanes bringing supplies have run into issues at the country’s small main airport, with some flights being turned away. Chicago resident Sharda Thapa is coordinating a local support effort. He tells WDCB News he’s looking at past disaster relief operations for guidance on what to do. The death toll is expected to rise significantly in the days and weeks to come as rescue workers struggle to reach remote mountain villages.
Opposition Grows To Cutting Local Share Of Income Taxposted April 28th, 2015
More and more municipal leaders are asking questions about one of Governor Bruce Rauner’s solutions for the state’s financial problems. He wants to cut the local share of the state income tax in half. Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully is President of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference. He says the Local Government Distributed Fund…or LGDF is an important revenue source for municipal governments. Tully tells WDCB News there is growing opposition to Rauner’s plan. He says more community leaders are getting involved across the state. Tully says more residents are also voicing opposition, which is something that carries a great deal of weight with members of the General Assembly. He says Rauner’s plan would cost his city about $2.4 million. Downers Grove has already postponed a construction project and is leaving positions vacant in anticipation of a funding cut. Tully says the only option for local governments is cut services or raise local taxes to fill the gap.
It's A Big Day At The Morton Arboretumposted April 24th, 2015
If you have questions about your backyard landscaping, the Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic experts will be at Chicago’s Millennium Park today. It’s just one of the ways the Lisle based tree museum is celebrating Arbor Day. The Arboretum’s celebration of trees continues all weekend with a variety of family friendly events. Kelly Regan tells WDCB News for the Morton Arboretum, Arbor Day isn’t just one day a year. She says from the classes it offers to the various programs it has during the year, for the Arboretum everyday is Arbor Day. She says the special events planned around the region today are a way to introduce people to the Morton Arboretum, especially for people who've never visited or in some cases never heard of it before. As part of the Arbor Day celebration, anyone who dresses like a tree today, gets into the Morton Arboretum free. Kelly says that includes anything from an elaborate costume to someone who shows up wearing brown pants and a green shirt.
Preservation Agency Identifies Most Endangered Placesposted April 24th, 2015
Each year for the past 20 years, a historic preservation group has identified the state’s most vulnerable buildings, homes, and other sites. This year Landmarks Illinois expanded the scope of its list to include a state agency. Bonnie McDonald is president of the organization. She says this year’s list includes the State Historic Preservation Office. It could face zero funding in the next state budget. McDonald tells WDCB News the ‘Endangered List’ has been very successful over the years. She says Landmark Illinois tends to be in the 80% range at preventing demolition. McDonald says the most famous save from the list is the Farnsworth House is Plano, but there is a long list of success stories from across Illinois. This year’s list also calls for the protection of an architectural style. McDonald says Mid-Century Modern houses are the new face of preservation in much the same way Victorian homes were the focus of efforts in the 1990s.
Garfield Park Conservatory Fern Room Reopensposted April 23rd, 2015
The Chicago Park District’s Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the country’s largest museums of its kind. In June 2011, hail stones smashed through more than 30,000 panes at the ‘Garden Under Glass.’ Wednesday, the last of the damaged greenhouses, the fern room reopened to the public. Mary Eysenbach is the Conservatory Director. She says replacing and upgrading all the broken glass has been a long and labor intensive project. But, Eysenbach tells WDCB News she doesn’t worry about thunderstorms anymore. She says the Conservatory knows the new double pane glass can withstand hail stones at least the size of a handball. Eysenbach says the historic buildings are good with the hail now and she admits she doesn't start hyperventalating now when she hears that a thunderstorm may include large hail because she knows the glass will withstand it. As part of the repair and replacement, workers also rehabbed the metal structure that supports each piece of glass. Eysenbach says doing the project in stages wasn’t the original plan, but ultimately it proved to be the best possible option.
Wheaton Ends RX Box Participationposted April 22nd, 2015
A community has opted out of DuPage County’s successful RX Box program. The Wheaton Police Department will no long participate in the prescription drug collection initiative. The DuPage County Health Department coordinates the program with 11 municipal partners and hopes to expand it later this year. The Department’s Dave Hass tells WDCB News Wheaton opted out because of some ongoing safety concerns. Despite Wheaton’s decision to end its participation, the health department plans on expanding the program later this year. Hass says as many as 12 ther municipalities are slated to set up RX Box collection sites.
Earth Day Focuses Risk Of Walking Or Biking To Schoolposted April 22nd, 2015
As communities celebrate Earth Day, many groups suggest using mass transit, walking, or riding a bike to get where you need to go. For young people in Illinois that can be a risky suggestion. The Active Transportation Alliance kicked off its ‘Safe Routes to School’ campaign recently with the goal of reducing the risk. Ron Burke is Executive Director of the Chicago based advocacy group. He tells WDCB News walking or riding a bike to school shouldn’t be a life or death decision. Burke says around the state about 10 kids are hit by cars, everyday; and about half the time those accidents happen within one block of a school. He says that statistic points to the need to make spaces around schools safer for kids. Burke says the overall number of traffic accidents involving pedestrians has been trending down, but clearly there is still work to do. The ‘Safe Routes’ campaign calls on state and local leaders to improve signage, crosswalks, and general traffic safety around schools.
Illinois' Private Colleges Watching MAP Grant Proposalsposted April 21st, 2015
Students and administrators from many of the Illinois’ private colleges and universities will be in Springfield tomorrow to talk to lawmakers about their legislative concerns. While the state’s private institutions don’t have to worry about potential across-the-board cuts facing publicly-funded schools, they are concerned about proposed changes to the Monetary Award Program. Dave Tretter is the president of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities. He tells WDCB News unfortunately there aren’t enough MAP grants for all students that need assistance. State lawmakers are considering a couple proposals that would impose additional criteria for MAP grant recipients. One bill would require a minimum ACT score to qualify and another would require recipients stay in Illinois for five years after graduation or have to pay back the grant.
Legislation Would Mandate Energy Efficiency Programsposted April 21st, 2015
Com-Ed already has a program in place to remove a consumer’s old inefficient freezer and another that offers discounts on efficient light bulbs. A measure under consideration at the state Capitol would require the state’s electric utilities increase energy efficiency programs for consumers. The Chicago based Citizens Utility Board’s Jim Chilsen says the ‘Clean Jobs Bill’ is a step forward for Illinois. He tells WDCB News CUB is confident the proposal would be good for consumers. Chilsen says the utility watchdog group took a very conservative look at the legislation, and found the cumulative savings for consumers would be about $1.6-billion. He says going forward that would save every consumer about $100 a year on their electric bill. Chilsen says the ‘Clean Jobs Bill’ is the only pending energy legislation in Springfield that will directly benefit consumers. He says energy efficiency measures could save residential customers about $100 a year and lead to a nearly eight percent reduction in electric bills.