Support for veterans, Justice data dashboard, Fall fun, and More


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Sandy Hart 2019

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September 22, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you are enjoying these beautiful fall days and staying healthy! I am so pleased that after several years of study and collaboration, Lake County will soon have a countywide paratransit system, providing a seamless, low-cost option for seniors and disabled residents to get to medical appointments, work, shopping, and other important destinations. Lake County Government worked closely with Pace, township supervisors, and the Lake County Coordinated Transportation Services Committee to transition from a multi-township based system to one that is countywide. Service is expected to begin in early 2022. 

As you have almost certainly learned over the years, Illinois has more layers of government than any other state. A few years ago, Illinois counties received statutory authority to begin to dissolve local units of government that provide services that could more efficiently be delivered through other means, or are no longer necessary. After extensive discussions with the volunteers who have served on the Lake Bluff Mosquito Abatement Board (LBMAD), the Lake County Board and LBMAD voted to eliminate this taxing body. Services will now be provided through the different entities that made up the district-Lake Bluff, North Chicago, Shields Township, and Green Oaks. We continue to look at those units of government over which we have appointing authority to determine if consolidation or dissolution is possible.

Flooding continues to be of great concern in Lake County, and while we have had an absolutely beautiful spring and summer, the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) has been working on many projects across our county to protect properties from flooding. One of the highest priorities is the "Regional Floodplain Enhancement Project" in the Skokie River sub-watershed. Two tremendous storms in the last seven years resulted in road closures and significant flood damage to homes and businesses. SMC, in collaboration with the Naval Base, the City of North Chicago, Illinois Dept. of Transportation, and many other jurisdictions, have been working together to make the necessary improvements to stop this from happening again. While much work has been done, more is needed, and I look forward to continuing to work on this flooding issue that negatively impacts residents, public safety, and our local economy.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the Chair of the Lake County Board, and to represent District 13. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

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Lake County Government News  

Living Room Wellness Center Expands Support Center Operations

Living Room Wellness Center

Since joining the board in late 2012, I have learned about the crisis of people who live with serious mental illness (SMI) winding up in our jails and criminal courts system. Lake County was one of the first counties in the country to pass a resolution in support of NACO's Stepping Up initiative to combat this issue, and we've worked tirelessly over several years to find ways to divert people from jail and provide them with the care they need and deserve. I am so grateful to the Independence Center for the work they do to help people with live with SMI get on a path to recovery, and for their collaboration with Lake County Government to expand their Living Room program. The newly named Living Room Wellness Center has expanded its operations and is now open seven days a week all year for anyone in Lake County experiencing increased mental health symptoms or near-crisis due to emotional distress.  The center offers free crisis intervention, peer counseling, person-centered safety and crisis planning, as well as basic needs like healthy food, clean showers, and transportation.  

Through the partnership with the Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Lake County State's Attorney Office, law enforcement will now have the option of bringing people to the Living Room Wellness Center for treatment and care rather than to jail.  People in need of care will have the opportunity to have access to safe and professional services centered toward their needs, versus going to jail. Certainly there is much more work to be done to support people who live with SMI, and the first step is reducing the stigma that surrounds it. Thank you to all the people who are bravely speaking about this issue, and to all the volunteers and peer support counselors who advocate for them. Learn more

Youth Gain Meaningful Experience In Summer Youth Employment Program

2021 summer youth employment program

The Summer Youth Employment Program wrapped up another exciting summer as more than 191 youth gained meaningful work experience while earning a paycheck. Funded by the Lake County Board, this program offers low-income teens an opportunity to receive life skills and work readiness training while working. Learn more

County Board Appoints Members to New Independent Ethics Commission

I am really pleased that Lake County's first Independent Ethics Commission has now been formed! We received over one hundred applications, and after a number of interviews, five members were appointed: Deborah Balma, Patrick “Sean” Ginty, Andrea Hess, Helen Redding and Harold Wallin. Members will serve staggered first terms with all subsequent terms being three years. Thank you to these volunteers!

The newly formed commission is part of a comprehensive update to the County’s Ethics and Conduct Code. Commission members will be tasked to review, investigate, hear, and act on ethics complaints and will meet two times per year and as needed to review complaints. This is an important step, and I want to thank my colleague Jessica Vealitzek for her work on this important initiative. Learn more

Winchester House Farewell Event Celebrates 150 Years of Care in Lake County 

Winchester House play button

I was honored to join fellow members of the Lake County Board, Winchester House Advisory Board, local officials and members of the community gathered at Winchester House in Libertyville to say farewell to the beloved skilled nursing care facility, which served the vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals in Lake County for more than 150 years. Winchester House is scheduled to be taken down this fall. The Lake County Board will consider future use for the property at a later date. Watch this video to see the farewell ceremony.  

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Lake County COVID-19 Update  

Understand the Different Quarantine Options for Unvaccinated Students, Staff

COVID update

Providing students with in-person learning opportunities in a healthy and safe environment remains the highest priority.  The Lake County Health Department explains there are different quarantine options for unvaccinated students and staff who are exposed to COVID-19.   

Students and staff who are fully vaccinated with no symptoms do not need to quarantine or be restricted from school or extracurricular activities. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that fully vaccinated individuals test three to five days after an exposure to a positive case. However, if an individual becomes symptomatic, they will need to isolate immediately.   
Quarantine Guidelines for Students and Staff in English  
Quarantine Guidelines for Students and Staff in Spanish 

COVID-19 Helpful Links

Find a Vaccine
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Get Help 


Call 211 to Get Connected to the Help You Need  

If you need help finding food, shelter, rent or utility assistance, or other essential services, call 211 or TEXT your zip code to 898211 to speak with someone who can help 24/7. Speak to a live person in English or Spanish when you call. The 211 team will also interpret more than 150 other languages. Learn more 

food pantry

Other Resources for Help

Many individuals and businesses continue to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic. Here are some additional resources: 

  • Rental Assistance: Lake County’s program for renters provides needed relief to those who need help making past-due or current rent and utility payments. Learn more 
  • Back to Business (B2B) Grant ProgramB2B grants of $5,000 to $150,000 are available to small businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants can cover operational losses, staff and more. Apply for the program. 
  • Food for Families in Need: Northern Illinois Food Bank operates a traveling food pantry that delivers nutritious food directly to those in need and coordinates pop-up food markets across Lake CountyFind food 
  • Mental Health Support: The Lake County Health Department offers a free, 24/7 confidential hotline for those experiencing a mental health crisis or substance use issue. Call 847-377-8088 any time. Learn more 
  • Mental Health First Aid Training: The Lake County Health Department offers free Mental Health First Aid training classes. Register here.


Do You Need Help or Know Someone Who Does? Support Is Available

Suicide affects every race and ethnicity, all socioeconomic groups, and all ages from youths to seniorsBut suicide can be preventable by raising awareness. As Lake County recognizes Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, it is important to know there are places to seek help. Many organizations offer services at little or no cost. Learn about these support services if you need help. 

Suicide Prevention
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Veterans News

Veterans Sought for Veterans History Project


Veterans who served in any capacity from World War II to the present as well as people who worked as civilian defense workers supporting war efforts, are invited to register to participate in the Veterans History Project on Nov. 11 at the Lake County Courthouse. Applications are due October 15. 

Volunteers from the Lake County legal community will interview participants about their wartime experiences, which will be transcribed by licensed court reporters and archived at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The mission of the Veteran’s History Project is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations and researchers may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Learn more


Services for Veterans in Crisis


The current events in Afghanistan can have an emotional toll on veterans who served or continue to serve in that region. Please know that there are resources available for any Afghan veteran and their families who may be experiencing a crisis: 

  • National Veterans Crisis Line: The crisis hotline is available to all veterans 24/7 at 800-273-8255. The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, anonymous, confidential resource. A trained responder will answer your call.
  • Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County: The VAC supports all Lake County veterans and their families. Call 847-377-3344 to speak with a member of the team. This is a tough time for everyone, and the VAC is here to talk with all veterans and their families over the phone or in person.


Incarcerated Veterans Can Now Virtually Connect with the VA

Incarcerated veterans at the Lake County Jail will now have an opportunity to speak to U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) social workers to help gain information and additional opportunities to give them a head start as they reenter society.

Following an agreement between the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Captain James Lovell Federal Healthcare Center (FHCC), the FHCC provided the Lake County Jail an iPad that will allow veterans the opportunity to be connected face-to-face to social workers and other crucial personnel at the VA. Learn more

Governor Passes Legislation to Assist Veterans

New veteran legislation

New legislation was signed into law that will honor and assist veterans, among these an amendment expanding the state definition of honorable discharge to include veterans who were discharged due to sexuality or gender identity. This allows LGBTQ+ individuals who received other than honorable discharges on paper due to their sexual orientation, preference or gender be considered honorably discharged and able to receive Illinois veteran services. Learn more

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State's Attorney's Office News

New Data Dashboard Gives Better Understanding of Justice System Process

The public can now explore data trends within the State’s Attorney’s Office and the County’s criminal justice system using a new data dashboard, allowing a better understanding of the criminal justice system process and exposing possible inequities and inefficiencies. Data will include criminal case filings, arrest and charging information, jail admissions, and employee demographics of the State’s Attorney’s office. The dashboard will be updated and expanded as additional data becomes available. Learn more

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Transportation News

Portion of 14th Street Renamed to Audrey Nixon Boulevard

The Lake County Board approved at its recent meeting to rename 14th Street from Victoria Avenue to Sheridan Road to Audrey Nixon Boulevard, recognizing the former long-time Lake County Board Member. Ms. Nixon served on the Lake County Board from 1982 to 2017 and was the long-time distinguished Chair of the County Board’s Law and Judicial Committee. I feel very fortunate to have served with her; she was a wonderful, kind, and caring person. The ceremony will be at 1pm on October 1st near the intersection of 14th St. and Lewis Ave. in North Chicago.

The renaming is in conjunction with Lake County’s reconstruction project on 14th Street that used a “road diet” concept, where four lanes were reduced to three, providing one lane in each direction and a center turn lane. This made room available to build non-motorized facilities such as a sidewalk on the south side and a bike path on the north side. The road project is expected to be completed this fall. View the project website to learn more.

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Forest Preserves Logo 2020 Redesign

Forest Preserves News 

Hike Lake County Begins

Hike Lake County

Grab your walking shoes and head to the trails to participate in the Hike Lake County program while enjoying fall breezes and autumn colors. Medical research shows that being outdoors in nature has many wellness benefits. Hike Lake County provides a way to get a dose of wellness while walking in a beautiful preserve.

Complete seven of 12 designated walks before Nov. 30 and you'll earn a free commemorative shield for your walking stick, a dog tag for furry companions, or a zipper pull. Learn more »

Beer Garden Expands Hours  

2021 beer garden Independence Grove

The Beer Garden at Independence Grove, highlighting craft brews and scenic views, expanded its hours in September and October. The popular venue, at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville, is open with special hours from 4 to 9 p.m. on Thursday evenings through Oct. 28.   

Nightly entertainment will vary every Thursday, weather permitting. Fire pits and free firewood are available on a first-come, first-served basis for use along the lakefront. S'mores kits are also available for purchase. In addition, the Beer Garden is open 1 to 9 p.m. Fridays, and 12 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Learn more»  

Farm Stand Offers Fresh Produce

Each year, fresh organic produce is grown and sold by high school students employed at a 1.25-acre sustainable farm located within Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago. Herbs, honey, flowers, fresh vegetables and fruit are available for purchase weekly at discount prices. The farm stand is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 14. 

Green Youth Farm

It's located at the Greenbelt Cultural Center, 1215 N. Green Bay Road, across the street from the farm. As the farm stand operates this summer, there may be safety protocols in place due to COVID-19 concerns. Before heading out, check for updates. 

The Green Youth Farm program is a partnership between the Lake County Forest Preserves, its charitable partner the Preservation Foundation, and the Chicago Botanic Garden. The program provides teens with a paid summer job working on an urban farm. The Green Youth Farm is made possible by donors from across the region. Learn how you can help support a student crew member. A gift of any amount helps grow stronger students. Visit for details.

Birding Hot Spots

If you enjoy bird watching, you won’t want to miss this upcoming program. “Birdwatching Hot Spots” takes place 12 to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25 at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in Lake Forest. All ages are welcome to attend and look for waterfowl, raptors and other migratory species. This event is free. 


Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available. Registration is not required. Park in the main lot and follow signs to the bird watching observation location. Learn more»  


Fall migration

Rare Hummingbird Spotted 


A rare hummingbird, reportedly seen only once before in Illinois, was spotted at the backyard bird feeder of Jeanna Cristino, graphic designer and editor of Horizons magazine for the Forest Preserves. Word got out among the birding community that a Mexican violetear (Colibri thalassinus) was hanging out in Cristino’s Mundelein yard.  

About 100 avid birders went to see the emerald green hummingbird, previously known as a green violetear. The species is most often found in areas from Mexico to NicaraguaIn an effort to promote the mission of the Forest Preserves, Cristino collected donations for the Preservation Foundation, the charitable partner of the Lake County Forest Preserves. Learn more»  

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Environmental News

Learn the Latest Scoop on Food Scraps, Waste and Composting

Last year, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) was awarded the Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction pilot project grant from the USDA. The primary goal of the grant is to assist local government with projects that develop a stronger, more vibrant circular economy for managing food scraps and other organic material.  

Food waste

SWALCO and collaborators have reached the halfway mark of this two-year project with work being done on several levels. The project is multi-tiered and is focusing on a compost to farmland/garden, demonstration studies, development of educational programs, workshops, and creation of a stronger community gardening network and market development for final compost product, and enhanced education efforts to increase participation rates for food scrap collection programs in the commercial and residential sectors.

Learn about Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Project Learn more about SWALCO residential food scrap composting program

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Community Events and News

Virtual Walk Planned for Suicide Awareness and Prevention Sept. 25 

suicide prevention walk

Join the ninth annual 5K Walk for Awareness and Suicide Prevention, hosted by the Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 25. Held virtually this year, the goal of the walk is to support the task force’s mission to prevent suicide and promote mental health awareness through outreach events, professional training and community education. Learn more

Explore Fall Colors and Cooler Weather in Lake County 

Fall is the best time of year to explore Lake County. No matter what you like to do outdoors, there are many places to see fall colors on full display. Check Visit Lake County’s Fall Outdoor Guide and plan your fall adventure.  


Visit County's Dog Parks to Pamper Four-Legged Family Members

Every day is a good day to embrace our little buddy that gives us companionship, safety and is a piece of our family. Treat our four-legged family members by taking them to the dog park to play. Not sure where to go? Check out Visit Lake County’s list of dog parks across the County.

Dog parks
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Prepare to Protect. Here’s Steps to Follow 

Severe weather can approach quickly. As Lake County recognizes September as National  Preparedness Month, remember these steps that you can do now to keep you and your family safe.

National Preparedness Month 2021


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Watch All County Board and Committee Meetings 


All Lake County board and committee meetings can be viewed on and on cable television (Comcast channels 18 or 30, depending on where you live, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99). The public also is welcome to attend all meetings in person at the Lake County Administrative Tower, 18 N. County Street, Waukegan or may attend meetings remotely using the registration link on the front page of each meeting’s agenda.

Individuals attending meetings in person or remotely may present their public comments during the meeting. Those not in attendance may provide written public comment via email or by mail. View the current meeting schedule.

All meetings are recorded, and are posted on the Lake County website.

Here are links to the most recent board and committee meetings, including the video recordings and agendas: