By Bob Balgemann, REPORTER

 Village officials have begun accepting nominations for the Annual Holiday House Lighting Contest. Suggestions as to who has decorated their home in a most special way will be taken at Village Hall until 4:30 p.m., Dec. 16. The top three houses will be announced at the Dec. 19 Village Board Meeting, with special gifts going to each one. To nominate a house just call (815) 877-5432.

With the Village’s annual tree lighting just held in the parking lot at the Machesney Towne Center, along with the Parks Chamber of Commerce parade, another holiday season has officially begun. The toy drive put on by the Village, in conjunction with the North Park Church of Christ and Helping Hands Food Pantry, is winding down. It started eight years ago, during the administration of Mayor Tom Strickland, and has benefitted families served by the Food Pantry at 7620 Elm Ave. This year donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Village Hall, 300 Roosevelt Road. The gifts will be distributed the morning of Dec. 10 at the Church. Questions should be directed to Village Hall at the phone number listed above.  In other business at the Nov. 21 Village Board Meeting, Mayor Jerry Bolin read a letter he received from the Pastor of First Baptist Church, concerning the Village’s effort to abate blighted housing conditions, which was announced two weeks earlier.

That Church has had a similar program for a short time and is interested in working with the Village. Teenagers and adults at the Church have been tackling small renovations and right now are working on a house, owned by a single mother, hoping to weatherize it to combat the cold season that lies ahead. Last summer, First Baptist revitalized the garden area of the Parker Center.

Special invitation

Also, Nov. 21 Community Development Director James Richter II reported the Village had been invited to join the Creating Opportunities for Recruiting and Expansion (CORE) through the Illinois Department of Commerce. Membership does not cost anything, he said, adding that the purpose is to improve communication with the Department. He said there would be a meeting soon with Department officials to discuss incentives that are available through the State. He said he would keep the board and others up-to-date on what the Department is doing to benefit the Village. Village Engineer Chris Dopkins said he had seen numerous people using the new path along Alpine Road, from Lowe’s south to a point near Schnuck’s Grocery. That project has been in the works for several years and finally was completed earlier this fall. He called it “a highly successful project.”

Tambryn Hecox, student liaison from Harlem High School, said 150 signed up for the school’s semi-annual blood drive, with 98 of them being new donors. And, Sgt. Doug Bushman reported that between Nov. 4 and Nov. 17, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to 809 calls for service, wrote 243 reports and made 338 arrests. The Village receives law enforcement services through a yearly contract with the Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Bushman is the Supervisor. 

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