Lake County News: January 2018

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January 17, 2018

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Dear Neighbor,

It's been almost ten years since Lake County voters overwhelmingly approved a Lake County Forest Preserves referendum to purchase and restore land. So how were your monies spent? Extremely well! On average, every referendum dollar was matched with outside funding, allowing your investment to go twice as far.  Here's a brief recap, but I encourage you to view the Progress Update for more details.

  • Purchased 4,015 acres for a total acreage of 30,856. The remaining $4.4 million will allow us to strategically purchase more. 
  • Built an additional 14 miles of trails, for a total of 205 miles, including the completion of the Des Plaines River trail, which spans the entire length of the county.
  • Constructed the Middlefork Bridge with several partners, which will ultimately connect Midddlefork Savanna to the Des Plaines River Trail.
  • Opened Hastings Lake (Lake Villa) and Pine Dunes (Antioch) to the public.
  • Restored hundreds of acres of land throughout Lake County:

○3,670 acres of invasive plants cleared.
○Controlled burns on 24,760 acres
○31,200 native trees planted
○2,440 acres sown with native seed

I am so grateful to our residents for their forethought to protect this precious space for generations to come.

Tax Credit for Victims of July 2017 Flood
Many residents in my district sustained massive flood damage as a result of the July 2017 flood.  You may be eligible to claim an income tax credit worth up to $750 under a new law recently sponsored by two Lake County legislators, State Senator Melinda Bush and State Rep. Sam Yingling. You can apply by contacting your Township Assessor. If eligible, the income tax credit may be applied to the resident’s 2017 Illinois income taxes. . Learn more

flood insurance

Point in time

Volunteer for the 2018 Point-In-Time Homeless Count
For the last few years I have jointed volunteers from across Lake County to participate in a Point-In-Time Homeless Count to search for, interview, and offer help to unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in Lake County. We need volunteers to help document the need in our communities and serve as the “boots on the ground” to connect individuals with the resources they need.

Date: January 24
Time: 10 p.m.  - into the early morning hours

Register as a Volunteer

If you can't join us but would like to volunteer elsewhere, we have opportunities for you! More than 300 people serve on various County Board appointed boards, commissions, and other special purpose units of government, ranging from drainage and fire districts to the transportation service boards, human services boards and the Board of Review. These dedicated volunteers make decisions and deliver services that our families and businesses depend on every day. Visit this webpage; if no vacancy exists, you can still apply for an upcoming vacancy.  

Community Meetings for Paratransit
Please join us for the second round of community meetings for the Paratransit Market Study to evaluate transportation options for seniors, people with disabilities, and the general public with a goal of the creation of an implementation plan to improve service. At the community meetings, we will provide an overview of the draft analysis of existing conditions and draft recommendations for service implementation. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback and comments on these findings to help shape public transportation in Lake County.

Tuesday, Jan. 23:
9 - 11 am:  Barrington Park District
1 - 3 pm: Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 5 – 7 p.m.
Warren Township Senior Center, 17801 W. Washington St., Gurnee

Thursday, Jan. 25, 9 – 11 a.m.
Highland Park Police Department, 1677 Old Deerfield Road, Highland Park

The meetings will be conducted in an informal, open house format so feel free to attend at any time during a session. The same information will be provided at all meetings.

healthcare job fair

Healthcare Job Fair on February 1
Meet with healthcare employers and training professionals at the Job Center of Lake County’s and Lake County Health Department’s Healthcare Job Fair! The event will run from 3 to 7 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Lake County Health Department, 3010 Grand Ave., Waukegan. Watch this video to learn more, and RSVP for the job fair.  

Who's Hiring in Lake County 
There are many other job opportunities across Lake County, including several in our area. Visit the Job Center of Lake County's website to learn about upcoming recruitment events.

crisis call

Mental Health Crisis 
Over the last year, the Mental Health Coalition has been studying the programs-and gaps-that exist in Lake County to help those living with mental illness. Last week US HealthVest received approval for 146 beds in their recently purchased Waukegan's Vista West Medical Center. This is an enormous win for Lake County, as many residents had to travel long distances for treatment due to our lack of capacity.  I have long advocated for the creation of a Crisis Center, where law enforcement can bring people who are in a mental health crisis instead of taking them to the emergency room or the jail. Many thanks to Lake County United for their unwavering support and outstanding advocacy for people living with mental illness.

We do have many services available for those experiencing a mental health crisis:

  • Crisis Phone Counseling: 847-377-8088. 24 hours a day. You do not have to give your name when you call. 
  • Crisis Counseling at Our Office: People frequently show up in person (no appointment necessary) when they don’t feel comfortable talking by phone
  • Respite: People in crisis come and stay at our program for 1 -2 weeks. Attend daily groups to help you find more effective ways to cope with your symptoms or situation, and recover from your crisis. You will be seen by our psychiatrist, and treated with medication if appropriate. To be admitted, you must be a Lake County resident, age 18 or over, and be experiencing a mental health crisis.

2018 Budget
In November, the $512 million 2018 budget was approved by a vote of 14-7.  I voted against the budget and the $3.3 million property tax levy increase.  Part of the rationale for raising the levy was, among other things, that the state may take action to freeze property taxes. This was a difficult vote and one I did not take lightly. A large percentage of our monies flow through the state coffers, and legislative action can have immediate effects to our budget .For 2018, Lake County faces a total $1.6 million in state cuts. However, I do believe that there are areas within our budget where $3.3 million could be “found” to keep our property tax levy flat, or to only accept new revenues which comes from new development, both commercial and residential, to offset the expected $1.6 million cut. I believe that the County budget should not contribute to our rising property taxes unless absolutely necessary. It will be interesting to see our actualized 2017 budget in April/May and how we track for 2018. I am happy to answer any questions you have about the budget and my vote. Learn more by visiting our online Budget Story.


Reducing Transparency in Lake County
I am disappointed to report that the Finance & Administrative Committee voted to end the video recording of their meetings on November 1 because not enough people watch the videos. I contend that the issue is transparency, and I firmly believe that it is in the best interests of the taxpayers to have ready access to the deliberations that occur when their tax dollars are being spent.  Providing this access --for $6,000 per year--should be a given, since all our meetings take place during the work day. The committee voted to provide audio of all committee meetings, but this offer pales in comparison. The conversation starts at 1:20; I'm at 1:32 and 1:40.

Here's a synopsis of recent meetings we had. While it provides a summary of a fraction of what was approved in our meetings, this six-minute, edited wrap-up cannot possibly cover the hours of conversation, close votes, and decisions that impact the taxpayers.

2017 County Board Wrap-Up

Fort Sheridan Update
Construction of public access improvements at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is going well and we are on schedule to reopen a portion of the preserve this summer. Working with the City of Lake Forest, Lake Forest Open Lands and Openlands, we leveraged $12 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration, with projects in several states.  We are very fortunate to receive funds that are being used to restore four ravines; 40 acres of bluff; and about 1.5 miles of coastal lake and dune habitat. The goal is to stabilize coastal communities and restore historical native plant communities along Lake Michigan.

Much of the preserve is closed; please respect all safety blockades and closure signage by not moving blockades or attempting to access closed areas. This will keep work moving and potentially allow the site to be reopened sooner. View closure map »

Dispose Unwanted, Expired Prescriptions Safely
Dispose your unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs properly at disposal boxes across Lake County. The service is free! Find a drug disposal box near you, and learn what is not accepted.

drug disposal

Profiles in Excellence
Join the Lake County Forest Preserves for an inspiring afternoon in honor of Black History Month at the 35th annual Profiles in Excellence on Feb. 11 at the Greenbelt Cultural Center. This year’s theme focuses on the Illinois Bicentennial (1818–2018) and features the important role of African Americans in Lake County’s history. The event is free and open to all ages. There will be presenters and musical entertainment.

2018 profiles in excellence

New LCFPD museum

New Museum Opens March 24
We’re entering the final phase of construction and the installation of exhibitions at the new Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, set to open to the public on March 24. The new Collections Care and Storage Facility in the lower level of the Dunn Museum is complete. It offers stable environmental conditions suitable for protecting the Museum’s irreplaceable historic collections. To date we have moved the entire Lake County History Archives and a significant portion of the object collections. Work will continue over the coming months to complete the move. 

The Lake County History Archives includes a new public research center, which is almost complete. Installation of a commissioned life-sized Dryptosaurus dinosaur is also nearly complete. With guidance from Native American tribe members on authenticity, the build-out of the wigwam is moving along. The wigwam will serve as an in-gallery teaching space for programs and an interactive space for visitors. Learn more

radon test kits play button

Test Your Home for Radon Gas This Winter. Kits Are Available
Lake County homeowners are urged to test radon levels in their homes and apartments during the winter months, when indoor radon levels are at their highest.

Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that naturally occurs in rock and soil. It can seep into homes from the soil through cracks in the basement floors and foundations, crawl spaces, poorly sealed sump pumps, porous cinder block walls and other foundation floor and wall penetrations.  

To purchase a radon testing kit, please call 847-377-8020. Learn more about radon.

dog park

2018 Annual Permits
Annual permits for dog parks, horse trails and more are now on sale. Find information and purchase permits online or call 847–367–6640. 

Documenting species

Documenting Species in Lake County
In order to document the richness and diversity of species present in the Lake County Forest Preserves, our wildlife biologists began a formal wildlife monitoring program. Since the late 2000s, the biologists—with the help of trained wildlife technicians—have monitored the presence and abundance of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. They have already collected more than 200,000 wildlife records. Data collection methods target each animal group to inform natural resource management decisions. Visit the Forest Preserves’ blog to learn more!

lcfpd winter beauty

Experience Winter’s Beauty
Hiking across the snow. Tracing figure eights on the ice. Feeling the tug of a fish below the frozen water. Zooming downhill on a snow-packed surface. These experiences and more await winter outdoor enthusiasts at your Lake County Forest Preserves, where breathtaking scenery goes hand-in-hand with exercise and fun. Before heading out, check online for current trail, snow and ice conditions for sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.


Take an Evening Hike on Solar-Lit Trails
With small solar lights to guide the way, hikers, skiers and snowshoers can get some evening exercise along the 1.3-mile fitness trail at Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville, and along a 1.65-mile hilly section of the Millennium Trail adjacent to the Winter Sports Area at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Though regular preserve hours are 6:30 a.m. to sunset, the illuminated trails and adjacent parking lots will remain open after sunset until 9 p.m., daily, through March 11.  Learn more

LCFPD 2018 summer camp

2018 Camp Registration is Now Open
Research has proven that time spent in nature fosters the healthy development of children. Most of our camps are held completely outdoors, and those that aren’t have components outside. Outdoor play helps children manage stress and become resilient. Natural spaces stimulate children’s limitless imaginations and foster creativity. Camp provides children with a safe, positive environment that helps children grow. Our wide variety of topics allows your camper to attend camps from ages 4 through 14 without repeating a topic. Register today!

Do You Have Unclaimed Funds Held by the State?
The Illinois State Treasurer is holding $2.5 billion in unclaimed funds for Illinois residents. The State holds these lost funds until they are claimed by either the original owner or their heirs. Property is returned at no cost with the proper identification. Find out if you have unclaimed funds.


Become election judge play button

Give Back! Become an Election Judge
There’s no better way to support the election process than by being an election judge. Election judges are responsible for administering the proper and lawful conduct of all elections by serving in local voting sites. Watch this video as election judges share why they love the job, and learn how you can join them.

I hope you found this newsletter informative! It is an honor to represent Lake Bluff and areas in North Chicago, Waukegan, Libertyville, Gurnee, and unincorporated Grayslake.  As always, please don't hesitate to contact me at with any questions or concerns.

Sandy Hart Signature



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