Link: Waukegan Harbor cleanup successful

Published: Thursday, August 07, 2014 03:04 PM

Link-flagGood news for Waukegan residents: Waukegan Harbor is officially off of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The location has been on the list since 1987, but recent cleanup efforts have removed the dangerous contaminants from the harbor and that area of Lake Michigan.

“Waukegan Harbor should be a point of pride and beauty for residents, but unfortunately for a long time it has been riddled with waste that keeps people from enjoying it,” Link said. “I am proud that finally the harbor has been removed from the list of areas deemed concerning and can now be a source of fun and leisure for all area residents.”

Area dune and swale habitats have seen additional cleanup efforts since the early 1990s. The City of Waukegan has worked tirelessly in an effort to offer the best possible marina and beach areas for residents while removing sewer overflows from the area. State and federal agencies assisted in the removal of PCB-contaminants as well as additional toxic elements.

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Collins backs hard-hitting truancy task force report

Published: Thursday, August 07, 2014 01:47 PM

collins-truancy-report“Not enough has been done to keep our young people in the classroom learning. There are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem.” — State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th)

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins issued the following statement on the final report of the Truancy in Chicago Public Schools Task Force. Collins, concerned about the impact of widespread, chronic absenteeism throughout the state but particularly in CPS, sponsored legislation last year creating the task force and directing it to report back to the General Assembly with findings and recommendations. Senate President John Cullerton appointed Collins to serve on the task force, which held public hearings throughout the spring.

This is a bold, specific, hard-hitting report because it needed to be. Not enough has been done – either in the Chicago Public Schools or in districts throughout the state – to identify and address the root causes of truancy and keep our young people in the classroom learning.

Chronic absenteeism is caused by diverse factors: homelessness, lack of transportation, failure to engage the student, special needs that are not adequately addressed, disciplinary issues and more. A one-size-fits-all approach is simply not good enough. That is why I fully agree with the task force’s conclusion that a permanent statewide commission should be created to monitor progress and continue to address truancy and its causes both in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.

Attendance is central to education, and we have a moral (and often a legal) obligation to school-aged youth; we cannot give up on them simply because they are not present in the classroom. If there is one lesson we can take from today’s report, it’s that there are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem. I intend to stay engaged with CPS and with my colleagues on this task force so we see real changes made and real improvements in children’s lives and opportunities.

McGuire tours key area employer

Published: Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:44 AM


On a normal day, we turn on the clothes dryer, gas stove or furnace without giving it much thought. But the gas powering those essential appliances comes from a multi-billion dollar facility that makes its home right here in Illinois. That's just one of the things Senator Pat McGuire learned when he toured Aux Sable Liquid Products on August 4.

Aux Sable Liquids Products is one of the largest natural gas liquid extraction facilities in North America. It is located on Route 6, west of Channahon, about an hour south of Chicago. Aux Sable is the final stop of the 2,000-mile-long stretch of the Alliance Pipeline, which runs from western Canada through North Dakota and then directly into the Aux Sable facility. While the facility actually is in Grundy County outside the 43rd Senate District, it is integral to Will County and employs many of McGuire's constituents.

"I've known that one of Will County's economic advantages is its large number of transcontinental pipelines," McGuire said. "But it wasn't until Monday that I learned that's why Aux Sable is here."

auxsable2The difference between the natural gas Aux Sable receives and what's commonly called natural gas is something else he learned.

"I learned that natural gas is comprised of several gases," McGuire said. "Aux Sable separates natural gas into its constituent parts, such as propane and butane. What's left is methane. It's methane that's burning in our pilot lights at home."

Aux Sable uses the individual gases it separates from natural gas to supply major Will County employers. For instance, Aux Sable processes butane into isobutene, which it then sends via pipelines to the Citgo refinery in Romeoville and the Exxon Mobil refinery on the far east end of Channahon. The propane Aux Sable separates from natural gas winds up in small tanks under our barbecue grills and in big tanks at grain-drying operations. The nearly pure methane left at the end of Aux Sable's two extraction trains goes to utilities such as Nicor.

The 300-acre Aux Sable facility, which old-timers recall as the Northern Illinois Gas SNG plant, has processed over 7.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas since beginning operation in Channahon in 2000 and has sold over 13 billion gallons of product. In addition to the pipelines going in and out of the plant, Aux Sable has an active rail yard utilizing nearby Canadian National and CSX tracks.

Aux Sable Liquid Products in Channahon boasts nearly 300 employees, bringing both blue- and white-collar jobs to Will County. It also employs a large number of union laborers and contractors who perform regular maintenance at the facility.

McGuire says his visit to Aux Sable made him a better-informed senator.

"Now I understand how our area fits into the vast, complex North American energy economy," McGuire said. "I'm grateful to Aux Sable for showing me this. Moreover, I appreciate Aux Sable's investment, jobs, and charitable contributions to area non-profits and communities."


Manar and Scherer join Workforce Investment Solutions to highlight summer youth employment programs

Published: Tuesday, August 05, 2014 02:49 PM

Manar2014RDECATUR – For the second summer in row, local youth have benefited from summer employment programs overseen by Workforce Investment Solutions. The programs at Homework Hangout and Youth with a Positive Direction are funded by grants secured by State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) and Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur).

The grant awarded by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provides Decatur-area youth with summer employment opportunities that range from landscaping to food service to construction. Since 2013, more than 400 kids have found summer jobs through these programs.

“This year we’ve had 213 kids benefit from the programs offered through Homework Hangout and Youth with a Positive Direction,” said Robyn McCoy, director of Workforce Investment Solutions. “When school lets out for the summer, area youth need the opportunity to learn about different career paths and feel the personal reward of earning their own money.”

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