| May 2021 Mayor, Senior Alderman Say Farewell |
DeKalb’s mayor and senior alderman are encouraging public service and perseverance as they say farewell to Council service.
April 26 was the final City Council meeting for Jerry Smith, who has served four years as mayor, and Bill Finucane (right in photo), who served eight years as Second Ward alderman.
Finucane worked alongside two mayors, 16 aldermen and three city managers as wells as the City’s police officers, firefighters and employees. He says he did so not as an individual, but as part of a team, and he encouraged more people to do so.
“Everybody in the public ought to take part in public service of one kind or another, whether it is as an elected official or on one of our commissions,” said Finucane. “There are so many things that can be done.”
In his remarks, Mayor Smith told the Council that “I know all of you will do your very best,” and called it a privilege to work alongside them.
He also shared some of the hundreds of notes he has received during his time as mayor. His full remarks can be viewed below.
Smith closed with an edited quote attributed to Mother Teresa, urging good service even when it goes unnoticed.
“The good you do today, and even tonight, will often be forgotten. But do good anyway,” said Smith. “Give the best you have. It’ll never be enough but give your best anyway.”
City Manager Bill Nicklas presented both Smith and Finucane with plaques recognizing their service. City Clerk Lynn Fazekas, who was not at the April 26 meeting, will also receive a plaque recognizing her nearly three years of service to the City.
At the City Council meeting on May 10, Cohen Barnes will be sworn in as mayor, Sasha Cohen as city clerk and Barb Larson as Second Ward alderwoman. Fourth Ward Alderman Gregory Perkins and Sixth Ward Alderman Mike Verbic will start new terms.
Click on the YouTube video above to see all of Mayor Jerry Smith’s farewell remarks from the April 26 DeKalb City Council meeting.
In This Issue
Mayor, Senior Alderman Say Farewell
Thank You, Trash Squirrels!
Hunter Properties Agreement Approved
Community Remains Committed to Building unity
New Police Chief Attending Sixth Ward Meeting
Backyard Fire Pit Safety Tips
DeKalb Police Launch New Website
Offered Get DeKalb e-News delivered straight to your inbox! Sign Up Thank you, Trash Squirrels!
A new volunteer group called the Trash Squirrels has picked up 2,400 pounds of trash in DeKalb this spring. The City’s Public Works crews then remove the bags of garbage that the Trash Squirrels have filled.
The quick-growing group has 350 volunteers and has had around 40 members at each of their clean-up events held over the past six weeks.
You can learn about the group’s upcoming clean-up days on their Facebook page, which can be viewed here.
Get community news from the City of DeKalb all month long by following us on social media.
Hunter Properties Agreement Approved
DeKalb is taking more action to improve conditions at apartment complexes owned by Hunter Properties.
The DeKalb City Council voted unanimously on April 24 to approve a settlement agreement requiring Hunter Properties to sell its Hunter Ridgebrook, Hunter Tri-Frat, Lincoln Tower and Hunter Hillcrest apartment complexes in 42 months. The agreement has been signed by the company.
Several residents urged action at the Council meeting.
“I never thought the living conditions could be that way,” said Yolanda Arrington, who lives in a Hunter Property building. “I pay our rent on that first floor every month, on time. I am a firm believer in the rules, and I don’t know what else to do at this point.”
The settlement comes after three years of trying to improve conditions at Hunter Properties through citations and court action. City Manager Bill Nicklas says that pattern has been unsuccessful and new ownership is needed.
“This is a first-of-its-kind settlement, I believe, in DeKalb,” said Nicklas. “The settlement covers a lot of property and a lot of units.”
Even with the settlement, Nicklas stresses that Hunter will still have to make repairs and security improvements, and the City can still write new citations if conditions do not improve.
The settlement requires Hunter to put $150,000 into escrow and pay the City $37,500 for each property it does not sell after 42 months. The City also has the option to buy any of the properties.
First Ward Alderwoman Carolyn Morris (center) talks with residents of Hunter Properties following the City Council meeting on April 24. Employment Visit the City’s Employment Page to view and apply for open positions. For more info, contact Human Resources at 815-748-2398.
Are you looking for a summer job? The City of DeKalb may have the position for you!
We are seeking individuals to join our team as Seasonal Public Works Maintenance Staff for the duration of May to August. These roles will be involved in mowing, maintaining grounds, painting and maintaining hydrants. To view the full job description and application instructions, click here.
Community Remains Committed to Building Unity
DeKalb, NIU and social justice leaders are committed to continuing the progress that has been made since last summer to build unity in the community.
That commitment was renewed at a conference held April 13 at the NIU Center for Black Studies following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright in Minnesota. DeKalb and NIU leaders were joined by the leadership of the Sir Donald Foundation in pledging action to promote accountability and a sense of belonging.
“The statements that will be made today will not be enough to ensure that this will never happen again without action and strong conviction,” said Trinity Alexander (left in photo above), Chief Operations Officer for the Sir Donald Foundation, which provides mentoring to those with criminal justice system involvement. “It must also come hand in hand with policy to ensure that DeKalb is safe for everybody.”
While there is more to do, action has been taken since last summer’s social justice demonstrations. DeKalb Police officers are wearing body cameras and procedures have been changed, including a new agreement that has officers working with social workers from the Northwestern Medicine Ben Gordon Center. DeKalb Mayor-elect Cohen Barnes says that progress will continue when he takes office in May.
“Everyone who lives here is DeKalb,” said Barnes. “Everyone that lives here should feel safe here, feel that they belong here. I absolutely, positively believe that.”
Community leaders were joined at the conference by DeKalb Acting Police Chief Bob Redel, NIU Acting Police Chief Darren Mitchell and officers from each department. DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas says change has been embraced by both police agencies.
“The people in the room today join us, I am convinced, in wanting to do the right thing, wanting to engage you, wanting to serve and protect you,” said Nicklas. “I think it’s very important to know that they are here because they are allies.”
One of the groups that will lead inclusion initiatives going forward is the Belonging Council, which is made up of members of the DeKalb and NIU community. Vernese Edghill-Walden, NIU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer, says the Council has brought everyone to the table.
“I think it is important to hear people, to see people, and to really have hard conversations about race and racism,” said Edghill-Walden. “We’ve been looking at the systemic barriers to education, healthcare, and access to food. All of those things are really important and monumental in our community.”
You can learn more about the Belonging Council here. DeKalb Mayor-elect Cohen Barnes said at the April 13 conference that progress on social justice will continue when he takes office in May. Quick Links
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New Police Chief Attending Sixth Ward Meeting DeKalb’s new Chief of Police will attend the next Sixth Ward meeting hosted by Alderman Mike Verbic (in photo) on Wednesday, May 12 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
David Byrd, who will be sworn-in on May 3, will be welcomed at the meeting, and there will also be a review of ongoing Ward 6 initiatives. The public is invited to discuss their concerns and issues.
The meeting will be held in the Community Room on the second floor of the DeKalb Police Department at 700 W. Lincoln Highway. Masks will be required.
Backyard Fire Pit Safety Tips Backyard fire pits can be a great way to enjoy these early summer evenings with family and friends, but there are some things to consider in order you have a safe time outside:
• Do not place any foreign items in the pit such as plastics, etc.
• Don’t use flammable fluids (gasoline, lighter fluid, etc.) to light or relight fires.
• Don’t wear flammable clothing (like nylon) or any loose-fitting clothing.
• Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the fire.
• Avoid using soft woods like pine or cedar, because they can throw sparks.
• Be aware of the wind conditions to avoid any flare-ups or smoke blowing into your neighbor’s home.
• Keep a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket of water nearby.
• Always have a phone on you to call 911 in case it gets out of control.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at DeKalb Fire Department at 815-748-8460. ALERT DeKalb Receive important notifications from the City by signing up for ALERT DeKalb. Text, email, and phone messages are used to alert the public to emergency situations, severe weather, and traffic disruptions.
Users can also text ALERTDEKALB to 67283 to report criminal or suspicious activity and quality of life concerns. DeKalb Police Launch New Website The City of DeKalb Police Department has launched a new police website; www.dekalbcitypolicedepartment.com.
“We are extremely excited to launch this new website so residents and visitors can learn more about the DeKalb Police Department and what it has to offer,” stated Interim Chief Robert Redel.
The website was also designed to enhance recruitment for potential police officer candidates. Those interested in becoming a DeKalb Police Officer will be able to find information on the application process and learn more about our community.
Visitors to the site can click on the “Behind the Badge” section of the website to learn fun facts about our officers. This section will be updated regularly with new officers.
Visitors can also visit the “What’s New” section of the website to read about events and news happening in the community that may not be law enforcement related.
The website also has a “Services” tab that links residents to specific items on the City website.
DeKalb Business Adds Incentive to Paint-A-Plug
A DeKalb business is stepping forward to offer an incentive to community members who want to help beautify the City by taking part in the Paint-A-Plug program.
The DeKalb Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission (CCEC) is pleased to announce another year of the Paint-A-Plug initiative, where the community is encouraged to adopt a fire hydrant and turn it into a work of art.
There is no specific theme for the fire hydrants, but artists are encouraged to incorporate different elements of the community or their neighborhood into their art. You may have seen some of the previous creations including an ear of corn, a dairy cow and a pharaoh across from the Egyptian Theatre.
While no fee is required to participate in the Paint-A-Plug program, approved artists are responsible for providing their own materials for painting, and that’s where OC Creative comes in.
OC Creative has pledged to donate $50 to each of this year’s Paint-A-Plug artists to help defray some of the cost of materials.
“The Paint-A-Plug program has grown in popularity among DeKalb and area residents every year,” said Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission Chair, Brad Hoey. “I applaud the generous donation by OC Creative, as it shows appreciation for the artists’ work and their contributions to the community.”
Paint-A-Plug is not limited to only DeKalb residents. The CCEC encourages NIU students and alumni, DeKalb School District students and faculty, employees of DeKalb businesses and area artists to participate.
Applications can be found at here. Submitted applications will be reviewed by the Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission, and once their design is approved, artists will have until November 1, 2021 to paint their hydrant.
Questions on the program can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Holiday Closure DeKalb City Hall will be closed on Monday, May 31 for Memorial Day. Offices will re-open on June 1 at 8 a.m. Upcoming Meetings Please note that due to ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, meetings are subject to cancellation. Check the City of DeKalb’s Agenda Center for the most up to date information.
Human Relations Commission May 4, 6:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department
Citizens’ Environmental Commission May 6, 4 p.m. in the 1st Floor Conference Room at DeKalb City Hall
Economic Development Commission May 7, 8:30 a.m. at the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation
Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board May 10, 8 a.m. in the in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department
City Council May 10, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission May 17, 4 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department
Planning and Zoning Commission May 17, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library
City Council May 24, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library
Airport Advisory Board May 25, 7 p.m. in the West Community Hanger at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport To view agendas for City meetings, please go to the City’s Agenda Center here. To check for meeting cancellations and location updates, please check the City Website here.
Back Alley Market
More than 40 booths featuring antique and vintage items, makers and bakers and more will be spaced for social distancing in Palmer Court, Second Street and the Egyptian Theatre.
Saturday, May 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Learn more about what’s happening with the Downtown Merchants on their Facebook page.
Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country will be honored with a program presented by the City of DeKalb featuring speakers and music on the Ellwood House lawn.
Monday, May 31, 10 a.m.
Send an e-mail to submit your event to possibly be included in our calendar! Northern Illinois University DeKalb Campus
Northern Illinois University offers a variety of music, arts, and entertainment events that are open to the public. Check out NIU’s Events Calendar for a full list of events.
Egyptian Theatre 135 North Second Street, DeKalb, IL
Back to the Future
The DeKalb Rotary Club, celebrating its centennial year, has selected as its centennial project the restoration of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial clock to working order. This fundraiser for the clock project promises to be a fun night out. In addition to the movie there will be a costume contest, trivia contest, and 50/50 drawing. So find your Doc or Marty costume and join DeKalb Rotary for a great night out!
Saturday, May 15, 7 p.m.
Learn more about this event here, and more on the Theatre’s Events Schedule.
DeKalb Public Library 309 Oak Street, DeKalb, IL
Virtual Event: The 1918 Spanish Flu Epidemic, World War I, and Wilson
Historian Jim Gibbons will take you on the roller coaster ride of your life: the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, the decade of the 1910’s and World War I.
Thursday, May 13, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Register for the event here, and see all of the library’s programs on its calendar. Please note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, these events are subject to cancellation. City Officials Jerry Smith, Mayor
Carolyn Morris, Alderman – 1st Ward
Bill Finucane, Alderman – 2nd Ward
Tracy Smith, Alderman – 3rd Ward
Greg Perkins, Alderman – 4th Ward Scott McAdams, Alderman – 5th Ward
Mike Verbic, Alderman – 6th Ward
Anthony Faivre, Alderman – 7th Ward
Lynn Fazekas, City Clerk
Bill Nicklas, City Manager Hours of Operation City Phone Numbers
City Hall 164 E. Lincoln Highway Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Police Station 700 West Lincoln Highway Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Public Works 1216 Market Street Monday – Friday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.
DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport 3232 Pleasant Street Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
City Clerk 815-748-2095
City Manager’s Office 815-748-2090
Community Development Department 815-748-2070
DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport 815-748-8102
Finance Department 815-748-2000
Fire/Police Emergency 911
Fire Non-Emergency 815-748-8460
Mayor’s Office 815-748-2099
Police Non-Emergency 815-748-8400