Lake County News: June 2019


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Sandy Hart 2019

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June 14, 2019

Dear Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you well and you are enjoying the warmer weather. We have had a busy six months since the new County Board was seated, focusing on good government, collaboration, and transparency. We now film all standing committees, enabling you to watch how your money is spent on your time and how your board member is representing you. Contractors now disclose family relationships with county board employees when they submit bids. We've taken away board member procurement cards, tightening controls and oversight. We've created a new committee focused on consolidating and/or dissolving government entities to save taxpayers money and improve efficiencies.

I am also very pleased that the State Senate and House overwhelmingly approved an issue that I requested to be added to our Lake County Legislative Agenda which provides the ability for the Board to remove the County Board Chair. As the current Chairwoman, I advocated for this authority, as it is a basic tenet of good government to allow my (or subsequent Chair) removal if my colleagues are unhappy with my performance. 

I continue to work toward an alternative to incarceration or Emergency Rooms for people in crisis as a result of living with serious mental illness. I am honored to partner with an outstanding group of dedicated people - social workers, judges, law enforcement, and just people who care to evaluate best practices to find one that will work for Lake County.

This month we kick off our working group to begin to tackle the recommendations from our Paratransit Report. We know there is a better way to provide transportation for our seniors and disabled residents, and I am grateful to this group of elected officials and experts for volunteering their time. 

Our board recently completed sessions to discuss the County Board’s Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan, which is updated every two years, is the road map for our County government, which influences how we prioritize and invest our resources. Main goal topics included public safety, advancing economic opportunity, transportation and other infrastructure, a sustainable environment, and expanding and improving social services. Our staff is currently compiling the results of our consensus-based goals and strategies and is drafting measurable actions to implement each one. After we complete discussion on the Strategic Plan draft, the document will move forward for County Board adoption, currently scheduled for July.

I had the honor to meet with Governor Pritzker to discuss Lake County’s infrastructure needs, and I joined Lake County leaders to present these needs in the areas of transportation, stormwater, affordable housing and mental health services before the Illinois Senate Subcommittee on Capital hearing that was held here in Lake County. I am pleased to report that the Illinois General Assembly recently approved a $45 billion statewide construction program. This new funding will enable the Illinois Department of Transportation to implement projects on Lake County's State Highway Consensus Plan, which has a backlog of over $1 billion worth of projects on state routes in Lake County.

I also recently spoke at Lake County Partners’ Big Event, which brought together hundreds of business and civic leaders to focus on continued collaboration and business growth. Lake County's economy is booming, and our workforce is growing in a way that we aren't seeing elsewhere in the region. I encourage you to check out Lake County Partners' Annual Report to find out more. I was happy to use a portion of my speech to thank our outstanding employees for their hard work and expertise that they bring to work every day on your behalf.

The Lake County Board also approved its Rules of Order and Operational Procedures in May. I’m proud to report that the new rules address a number of transparency measures, which includes posting board member expenses on the County website.

Every month I report to my colleagues on my previous month's work. I've included the May and  June Report for your reference. I hope you will take a moment to read about some of things we are working toward to improve the quality of life in Lake County.

As always, it is an honor to serve you on the Lake County Board and the Forest Preserve Board. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Thank you,

Hart signature


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County Board News

Update on Lake County Administrator Search
I recently announced that Lake County will enter into contract negotiations with William T. Panos to become Lake County’s next County Administrator. Panos has experience in both the private and public sector, most recently serving as the Director of the State of Wyoming Department of Transportation, an organization with 2,000 employees and a budget of $640 million. Panos is expected to begin his new role in July 2019, pending approval by the board. Learn more.

Addressing the Mental Health Crisis
There is a growing need for crisis/wellness drop-off resources in Lake County for people struggling to manage their mental health. The Lake County Board recently acted to initiate a study for a Lake County Wellness Care and Drop Off Center. In late April, Vice-Chair Mary Ross Cunningham and I hosted a full-day workshop to bring community members together to discuss a Lake County Crisis Care Model. 

Crisis care workshop

The vision of a crisis center in Lake County is shared by many people in the criminal justice system who see people cycle in and out of our jail due to their battle living with serious mental illness. It is imperative that we address this critical issue and provide an alternative to incarceration and a place for people to get the help they need. Watch this video to learn more.

Finance Committee
We had a very interesting discussion regarding Video Gambling and it's impact on people who are addicted to gambling and on the social service agencies that support them. This topic will be up for further discussion at our next Financial and Administrative Committee meeting on June 27th at 8:30 a.m. 

I would very much like to hear your thoughts on video gambling terminals, especially in unincorporated Lake County. Watch the discussion.

Committee F&A

Health & Community Services Committee
Authorized $25,000 in additional grant funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery, which will be used to purchase Naloxone and a $220,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which will purchase vaccines. Watch the discussion.

Health & Community Services Committee

Law & Judicial Committee
Approved a grant of $250,000 for the Lake County Crisis Intervention Team Program, which will help train 395 police officers, corrections officers and dispatchers throughout Lake County. In addition, the State’s Attorney’s Office provided a presentation on the Children’s Advocacy Center. Watch the discussion.


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Watch All County Board Meetings
Keep informed about Lake County government! Watch County Board meetings live at 9 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. You can watch meetings live online or on Comcast channels 18 and 30, or AT&T channel 99. You can also view archived board meetings and standing committee meetings anytime.


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Property News

Your Property Tax Distribution
While taxpayers pay their property taxes to the Lake County Treasurer, Lake County government receives only about 7% of the average tax bill payment. School districts get the biggest portion (about 69%). See how your individual property taxes are distributed (for any parcel) and how to contact those taxing bodies by visiting Lake County’s Tax Distribution website.

Property tax distribution

Apply for Homestead Exemptions
Lake County property owners can now apply online for certain homestead exemptions using the new Smartfile E-filing Portal. Homestead exemptions can provide tax relief to eligible homeowners, as it exempts taxable value prior to the calculation of property taxes.

Smartfile E-filing portal

In Illinois, exemptions are available for a general homestead, senior, disabled person, disabled veteran, returning veteran (within the last two years), and for home improvements. 

Reminder: Make sure your property is being accurately assessed. Once you receive your assessment notice later this year, review your property's information at

Protect Your Home with Property Check
The Lake County Recorder of Deeds Office provides Property Check for homeowners to help protect their home from identity theft and mortgage fraud. It’s a free, easy-to-use, 24/7 online service that will alert you, via email and/or text message, whenever a document is recorded against their name and/or property. Learn more.


Solicitors’ Rules - Unincorporated Lake County
Door-to-door salespeople working in unincorporated Lake County must register with the Lake County Clerk's office and carry a solicitor’s certificate while on the job. When a solicitor comes to your home, ask to see the certificate before conducting any business. Report any violations to the Lake County Sheriff’s office at 847-549-5200 where fines and penalties can be enforced.

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The ordinance applies only to unincorporated Lake County and provides exemptions to religious groups, candidates, and minors under age 18 who participate in fundraising activities. If you live in a municipality or village, check with your local officials for your specific ordinances. Learn more


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Health News

Crisis Care and Mental Health Services
Lake County is committed to supporting programs that help people living with mental illness. There are a variety of support services available. This includes the 24/7 Crisis Care Program, Text-A-Tip, A Way Out program, and prescription drug collection boxes across Lake County.

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Learn more about these mental health and crisis care services in Lake County by viewing this interactive story map!


Avoid Ticks and Lyme Disease
It’s the time of year to take precautions against ticks, which can be most active during the warmer weather and can carry diseases such as Lyme disease. In 2018, over 35 percent of deer ticks submitted for testing by the Health Department carried the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.  


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Sheriff's Office News 

Jail Pilot Program Aims to Reduce Recidivism While Providing Path to Employment

Lake County Jail inmates participated in a new Pilot Program giving successful participants a culinary certification. The Jail is working toward making this a permanent program so this opportunity can be offered to additional inmates as a path to employment upon their release. Learn more

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Environmental News

Lake County is Committed to Solar Power
Lake County recently earned the highly coveted SolSmart Bronze Designation, furthering Lake County’s commitment to solar power growth in the community. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, SolSmart recognizes local governments who take keys steps to reduce barriers to solar energy growth and makes it easier for homes and businesses to go solar.

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The County was awarded this designation by increasing transparency for community members and solar installers through an online permitting checklist and identifying restrictions that limited solar development.

Are you interested in installing solar power for your home or business? Learn more by visiting the County’s Solar Energy web page.


Ethylene Oxide Update
Outdoor air monitoring has begun near Vantage Specialty Chemicals in Gurnee and Medline Industries in Waukegan. In partnership with the Lake County Health Department, the Village of Gurnee and City of Waukegan have hired GHD Services, Inc. to conduct the air monitoring to help officials better understand the levels of ethylene oxide (EtO) in the air.  Following the recommendations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ten air monitors are being placed in the county. Samples will be collected every third day for 30 days, with additional samples being collected on random dates. Monitoring canisters will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, and the first results are expected within a few weeks. Learn more about Health Department activities related to EtO emissions


Lake County Experiencing More Rainfall
Rainfall and flooding affects all Lake County residents regardless of whether or not you live in a floodplain. Over the last few years, Lake County has been experiencing more frequent and stronger rainfall events, and as a result, the precipitation has broken records, caused millions of dollars in damage to properties, and obstructed the lives of Lake County residents and visitors.

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The July 2017 flood led to flash flooding that impacted roads, homes, parks, and businesses. In 2018, the county hit a new record when it went above flood stage during six separate storm events. With current rainfall trends, Lake County could be on track to break 2018's flood stage exceedance in 2019. Read more.  

Provide Input: In response to the increase in rainfall and its affects to the county, and based on data from a recently released water survey, SMC opened a 30-day public comment period to collect feedback from residents, business owners, and all those who are affected. All perspectives, ideas, and concerns are welcome. Comments may be submitted to Kurt Woolford at until July 6, 2019. More information.

What You Should Throw in and Keep Out of Your Recycling Bin
A recent audit showed that one in four items placed in recycling bins are not recyclable. To help reduce contamination, a statewide task force created new local recycling guidelines. As not everything can go in recycling containers, these guidelines help determine what you should and shouldn’t recycle curbside. Watch this video to see how easy recycling is if you do it right.  


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Drop Off Items for Recycling In Your Area

Did you know there are local drop-off locations for unwanted new, gently-used, and used shoes, clothing, and textiles?  Instead of throwing these items away, make sure they are recycled or reused! You also can safely dispose of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs and other locations throughout the county. Find local drop-off sites. 

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Job News

Part-time, Temporary Positions Available
Looking to spend the summer outdoors in a beautiful, natural setting? The Lake County Forest Preserves is in the process of hiring an array of temporary and part-time positions, from lifeguards to golf course attendants. "We offer a wide variety of seasonal employment opportunities with immediate openings available," said Forest Preserve Human Resources and Risk Manager Laurel Diver. Learn more »

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Workforce Ecosystem Preparing Next Generation for In-Demand Jobs
Watch this video to learn how Lake County works to prepare young people with the education and training needed for in-demand industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, IT, transportation, and logistics. Workforce DevelopmentTech Campus and other community organizations provide hands-on experience to residents who want to join the workforce in Lake County. For information on job opportunities or internships, visit the Lake County Job Center.


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Transportation News

Signal Study Leads to Getting You To Work and Home Faster
The Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) reviews signals and enhances technology on county streets, which not only helps reduce delays but also can reduce CO2 emissions, which means you save money on fuel.

Recently LCDOT conducted a Signal Coordination and Timing Study on Lewis Avenue from Sunset Avenue to IL 173. 

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By adjusting signal timing, enhancing technology, and coordinating signals through Lake County PASSAGE, we were able to decrease vehicle delay time to 403 hours per day and reduce fuel consumption by 4,380 gallons per year.


Expanded Schedule for Reverse Metra Commuters
I am thrilled to see the launch of the MetraMore project, which is making it easier for reverse commuters to travel between Chicago and Lake County on Metra's Milwaukee District North Line. This project was thanks to the successful partnership of Lake County businesses, local governments, and partner agencies. Watch this video to find out more.


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Forest Preserve News

Forest Preserves Look to Provide Added Protection for Rare Natural Areas
The Lake County Forest Preserves is looking to permanently protect some of its highest-quality natural areas that have rare plants, animals and other unique natural features by registering them into the Illinois Nature Preserves System. As a dedicated nature preserve, these remnant natural areas receive an added level of conservation protection by the District and the state to keep them ecologically sustainable. Learn more »


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More Than A Map
There was a time when the glove compartment of every car was crammed with tattered maps used to plan and trace routes during a trip. Now, most people rely on their phones and GPS navigation apps, such as Google Maps or Waze, to help them find their destination. Similarly, the Lake County Forest Preserves has switched from using paper maps to a mapping technique that involves technology much like a phone's navigation app. The digital mapping method, known as geographic information system, or GIS, provides a way to capture, store and present spatial or geographic data. Learn more »


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Ray Lake Features Panoramic Views and History
Of the 65 properties owned and managed by the Lake County Forest Preserves, Ray Lake in Wauconda ranks sixth in terms of size. Ray Lake visitors can hike, ride bikes or horses, and cross-country ski on a 2.3-mile gravel trail that loops around wetlands and open prairies. The trail also has three boardwalks and a scenic overlook. Learn more »

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Community Events and News

Concerts in the Plaza

Concerts in the Plaza 
Music lovers, dance lovers, outdoor lovers, get ready for award-winning performers playing under the stars at the annual Concerts in the Plaza music series. Eight concerts will be held at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, June 18 through Aug. 6. From Beatles to the blues, from rock and bluegrass to swing and jazz, there's something for just about any music taste in this season's entertainment lineup. Learn more »


Ruck March of Lake County
Help raise awareness of the growing number of veteran suicides and honor all veterans and service members lost to suicide by participating in the Ruck March of Lake County. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. Sept. 7 as the march will begin at Daisy's Artish Cafe, 216 North Milwaukee, Number 1, Lake Villa. Learn more

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Discover the Farmers Markets
Warm weather means it’s time to visit the farmers markets! Shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, baked treats and more while supporting local businesses at one of Lake County’s farmers markets. The Grayslake, CLC and Lake Bluff Farmers Markets are now open on select days, and the East Grand Avenue Farmers & Artisans Market returns for the season on July 21. Check out our Farmers Market Finder to find a farmers market near you.

University Center Open House
Learn about more than 120 academic options available in Lake County from 17 colleges and universities as the University Center of Lake County hosts an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 26.  Representatives can answer questions about curriculum, admission, financial aid, and transferring credits from a prior institution. Register to attend.