Thumbs-up: To the distribution of the Valley Hi Nursing Home property tax refund, with refund checks hitting the mail Friday. The final numbers showed that 52,807 applications to claim about $9.27 million were received during the process. In all, about 60% of homeowners eligible to claim a portion of a $15 million rebate of surplus funds from Valley Hi, which was approved by the McHenry County Board in April, submitted application forms.
Thumbs-down: To a growing crisis at Starved Rock State Park. The president of the Starved Rock Foundation has been sounding the alarm about the declining condition of the trails in Illinois’ busiest state park, which set a record in 2017 with 2.8 million visitors.
As more people flock to the park along the Illinois River in LaSalle County, the trails that take them across the unique terrain are falling apart, and the backlog of deferred maintenance is approaching $6 million. Lawmakers and Illinois Department of Natural Resources leaders should work together to provide the necessary funding and attention to one of Illinois’ most popular natural resources. It truly is a great natural resource.
Thumbs-up: To Sue Maness, widow of fallen McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Maness, who is working with Knights of Columbus Council No. 8473 to raffle off the couple’s four-bedroom, three-bathroom home in McHenry’s Liberty Trails subdivision.
The Knights of Columbus will pay the luxury taxes and cover homeowners’ insurance for a year. Proceeds from the raffle will pay off the home, and the nonprofit will donate the rest. It’s great to see Maness’ continued involvement in the community after her husband’s death caused by injuries suffered in the line of duty.
Thumbs-down: To maneuvering to minimize public participation on important public questions. This week, a group of pro-township advocates submitted petitions to place a question on the March primary ballot about whether McHenry Township should be eliminated.
Their reason for doing so was so it could appear on the ballot in March, when they expect a lower turnout, rather than in November, when turnout likely will be in the 70% to 80% range.
Township backers know that if that many people show up to vote, they could lose because most people don’t derive much value from township government.
But in a smaller election where they can mobilize their supporters – and those who have a financial stake in keeping the township alive – they’ll have a better chance of winning. Time will tell if their calculations are correct.