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Village earns budgeting recognition award for the 25th straight year

     The Village of Villa Park has received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its fiscal year 2017 annual budget. This is the 25th consecutive year that Villa Park has achieved this recognition.
According to GFOA, the award “…represents a significant achievement by the Village, and reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.”
The Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation was presented to Villa Park Finance Director Kevin Wachtel.
“I commend Kevin and the finance department for their hard work in ensuring our budgeting process always runs smoothly and effectively,” stated Villa Park Village President Albert Bulthuis in a release issued by the village. “We are one of only 133 government entities in Illinois—out of over 7,000—to achieve this recognition annually. Additionally, the village annually receives GFOA’s Audit award. Only 110 Illinois governments won both awards this past year.”
In winning the awards, the Village had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communications device. Villa Park’s budget documents were rated “proficient” in all four of these categories, and within fourteen mandatory criteria within the categories.
There are over 1,600 participants in GFOA’s Budget Awards Program. The most recent Budget Award recipients, along with their corresponding budget documents, are posted quarterly at www.gfoa.org. GFOA notes that “…award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.”

New arch marks beginning of the Great Western Trail

The Great Western Trail begins on the west side of Villa Avenue in Villa Park. The Village of Villa Park recently erected an arch—the Gateway to the Great Western Trail.
The arch is located just north of Pioneer Garden and Feed, 118 S. Villa Ave.
“When I first started working in Villa Park four years ago, I couldn’t find the beginning of the Great Western Trail that everyone told me started right on South Villa Avenue,” said Jan Fiola, Villa Park’s director of economic development. “Once I realized it wasn’t the alley next to Pioneer Garden and Feed, I was amazed that Villa Park hadn’t celebrated the beginning of this awesome 12-mile recreational trail.”
Fiola discussed the issue with Villa Park Village Manager Rich Keehner, who suggested that she come up with a design and work to build a gateway to the trail. Fiola worked with Eagle Scouts to raise money. She also reached out to contractors to volunteer their time, supplies and equipment. Phil Greco—owner of the Odeum, Bruce Campbell with PEP Industries and Joe and Julie with Area Equipment were prominent contributors to the project, said Fiola.
The steel and brick columns with an ironwork archway were completed in the last month. Benches, garbage cans and bike racks have also been added to the area, which is near five new butterfly way stations that were recently planted along the trail. Another Eagle Scout is completing the priming of the 450-foot wall that will have a mural painted on it next spring.
“This area has been totally transformed and become a major hub and activities and events for Villa Park,” said Fiola. “I am proud of the results and how everyone came together to make this project a success.”

District 45 Foundation announces fundraising totals from first 45Fest

The District 45 Foundation announced that its inaugural 45Fest, which was held in October, netted a total profit of over $37,000, with $20,000 of that total collected prior to the event in the form of sponsorships and donations. These funds will be put to good use by the Foundation next spring when grants are awarded.
The District 45 Foundation for Excellence is a non-profit organization that raises funds to support the enrichment of the educational opportunities for the students in District 45. Last spring, seven grants were awarded for the 2017-18 school year and the Foundation provided generous funding for two 21st century learning classrooms.
The seven grants awarded by the foundation included:
• Utilizing Technology in Music—Connect+ Pro headphones will extend the use of music in the Schafer School General Music classroom.
• You Can Do the Cube—Rubik’s Cubes with 40 STEM/STEAM lessons and curriculum will engage Schafer students in solving problems through puzzles.
• Makerspace Club—A Place to Explore, Create and Collaborate—Makerspace Club will meet weekly to expand student creativity and problem solving skills in the Makerspace at North School.
• Awesome Author Study of Bruce Hale—Award-winning children’s book author Bruce Hale will Skype with Schafer second graders to increase writing and reading engagement. Each student receives a book and authors a book.
• Experiences to develop language and background knowledge—Trips to the Kohl’s Children’s Museum and the Lincoln Marsh will build background knowledge, vocabulary and hands-on play experiences while incorporating common core standards as well as the next generation science standards for Stevenson School first graders.
• Summer Reading-Lunch Bunch—Schafer second-, third- and fourth-grade students will develop a love of reading by having books and fun literacy activities put in their hands to read and then meet at the park for sharing their reads.
• Jefferson Middle School PE Choice Program/Heart Rate Monitors—The most efficient and up-to- date heart rate monitors, will allow the Jefferson Physical Education (PE) teachers to implement the “My PE Choice” program, which helps students to lead physically active lifestyles.
District 45 staff members will be invited to apply for the 2018-19 Foundation grants next spring. The grants will be awarded prior to the end of the current school year, so planning can be done over the summer.
The success of 45Fest gives the foundation the opportunity to greatly enrich the education programming in the District 45.

Veterans can get free legal support services

To better serve Illinois heroes, the state has formed the first-ever statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinated network of legal support services for military personnel, veterans and their families.
State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is helping spread the word about the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) to ensure DuPage County residents take advantage of free legal services.
“Our nation’s heroes have served our country with honor and dignity, and it is now our time to ensure they have access to the necessary resources to be successful,” Cullerton said. “Our veterans and service men and women should not have to jump through hoops to receive assistance. This one-stop hotline will offer them direct support and point them to attorneys in their area who will provide comprehensive and free legal assistance to give them better access to services and benefits for which they qualify.”
The free services will be readily available for military members and families who need assistance with free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems as well as possible discharge upgrades and benefit appeals.
“Illinois is home to nearly one million veterans and active duty service members. We have a responsibility to protect their rights much like they have fought to protect our rights,” said Trish McGill, U.S. Army veteran and chair of the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council. “The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network will help our veterans and service members resolve their legal problems and preserve their health, safety and financial independence.”
Cullerton advocated for House Bill HB 3933 in 2015, which created the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council, whose first duty was to create and develop a statewide military personnel and veteran legal assistance network.
The free hotline number is 855-452-3526 or 855-IL-AFLAN. The hotline is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and serves as the starting point to connect to IL-AFLAN’s network. The network will offer legal advice and brief services and then help connect veterans and military members to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations across the state have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN.
While a few other states have veterans legal aid initiatives, Illinois is the largest state to combine a hotline with a legal help provider network.
Cullerton urges local attorneys looking to offer pro bono assistance to contact any of the nine organizations that are part of the network and say that they want to help with IL-AFLAN.
Area residents can visit www.SenatorTomCullerton.com or call his Villa Park Office at 630-903-6662 for more information on IL-AFLAN.

Seth Lewis announces run for Senate in District 23, challenging Cullerton

Bartlett resident Seth Lewis has filed nominating petitions and has announced his candidacy to become Illinois’ next state senator in the 23rd district. Seth is an engineer, small business owner, husband and father.
Lewis and his wife, Dr. Bhavna Sharma-Lewis, have been married since 1997 and have two boys who will be the fifth generation in their family to live in Illinois.
A news release states he is “highly motivated and interested in pursuing this opportunity to represent the citizens of the 23rd State Senate District. Through his personal and professional experiences he has built trust, strengthened relationships and fostered collaboration.
“He leads with a strong moral compass, and a high level of integrity and diplomacy. Seth has a fiscally conservative perspective on the issues the state of Illinois is challenged with, and believes that he is aligned with the majority of voters within the 23rd Senate District.
“It is the change in Illinois that motivates Seth to run for the state senate position. “25 years ago, Illinois was a place of opportunity, where people wanted to move to. Now, Illinois is a place where the next generation is having trouble finding opportunity, it is getting expensive for families to stay, and people want to leave.”
Lewis said he believes that it is time to engineer some real change, take on career politicians such as his opponent Tom Cullerton, and make Illinois a place where people and families want to live again.
“The Cullerton family has been elected in Illinois since the late 1800s either in the city of Chicago or the state of Illinois. This is one family business I would like to see shut down,” Lewis stated.
For more information you may visit www.VoteSethLewis.com or on Facebook: Seth Lewis for State Senate.

Cullerton opposes elimination of SALT

State Sen. Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is urging his colleagues in the Illinois Senate to strongly oppose any and all efforts by the Trump Administration and Congress to eliminate the state and local tax deduction (SALT).
Changes being proposed by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress would benefit millionaires and billionaires at the expense of hardworking families, said Cullerton.
“This proposal primarily uses Illinois as the piggy bank to make it possible for the federal government to cut taxes for other states and the wealthy,” Cullerton said. “By eliminating or even rolling back state and local tax deductibility, Washington is sending a slap in the face to DuPage County’s middle-class families and our economy.”
Under the current law, taxpayers can deduct their state income taxes and local property taxes. This deduction prevents families from being double taxed, once by the federal government and again by the state.
Last year, nearly 2 million Illinoisans—roughly one-third of all taxpayers in the state—claimed more than $24 billion in state and local tax deductions. In DuPage County alone, 206,000 taxpayers claimed more than $3 billion in SALT dedications and of those, about 80 percent earned less than $200,000 that year.
Under Congress’ plan, a family of four in Bloomingdale making around $84,300 annually would pay around $500 more in taxes each year. In Wayne, a family of four making between $50,000 and $75,000 would see their taxes increase around $1,100 every year.
Cullerton is co-sponsoring Senate Resolution 1067 to forcefully oppose President Trump’s and the Congressional Republican tax plan to gut the state and local tax deduction, which would consequently raise taxes on many Illinois families. The resolution passed the Senate earlier in November.
“I will not allow Washington to double-tax residents of the 23rd district,” Cullerton said. “Eliminating the state and local tax deduction to fund tax breaks for hedge fund managers and corporate CEOs is absolutely unacceptable.”

Linda Davenport to seek election for judge in 18th Circuit

A new candidate for judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit has emerged. Judge Linda E. Davenport, a Democrat and a resident of Wheaton, has announced that she is seeking election to the seat recently vacated by retiring Chief Judge Kathryn E. Creswell.
Davenport currently serves as an appointed associate judge in the Domestic Relations Division of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court, a position she has held for more than 10 years.
“A strong, independent judiciary is important to the people of DuPage County” Davenport said in her announcement. “I plan to serve the people as a circuit judge with the same diligence and devotion that I’ve shown as an appointed judge. I invite DuPage citizens to learn about my candidacy, ask me questions and become involved in deciding who becomes a judge. I believe I have the most experience and best qualifications for this job.”
Born in Muscatine, Iowa, Davenport’s family moved to La Grange, Ill., in 1958. After graduating from Lyons Township High School in 1971, she received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Colorado in 1975. In 1978, Davenport received her Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law, and immediately went into private practice in DuPage County. Her law firm eventually became known as Fortunato, Farrell, Davenport & Arnold, located in Westmont.
From 1993 to 2000, Davenport served on the Wheaton City Council, having first been appointed by Mayor James Carr, then elected in her own right, serving the residents of the East District. In 1995, she became the first woman to be elected president of the DuPage County Bar Association in its 117-year history. Presiding over her swearing-in was former Illinois Governor James Thompson.
Since being appointed an associate judge in 2006, Davenport has taught at the Education Conference for Judges and been a frequent lecturer to practicing attorneys and paralegals.
She received the Inspirational Woman of the Year Award from the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers in 2016.
Davenport lives in Wheaton with Joseph Fortunato, her husband of 38 years. She is the mother of three adult children, and grandmother of three. Davenport is an active member of First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, where she is site coordinator for DuPage PADS every week. She teaches genealogy research in her free time. She enjoys traveling and is fluent in Italian.

Villa Park briefs

Concerts at Willowbrook next week
Willowbrook High School’s music department will hold two holiday concerts next week. Both concerts will begin at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. The concert on Tuesday, Dec. 12, will feature pieces performed by Percussion Methods, Freshmen Band, Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. The concert on Thursday, Dec. 14, will include performances from Beginning Choir, Guitar Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Beginning Mixed Chorus, Treble Choir and Concert Choir. Tickets for each concert are $3 for adults, $2 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free to residents with a Senior Gold Card, and to children 12 and younger who are accompanied by an adult.

Willowbrook students’ art on display
at Funky Java from Dec. 13-20

Artwork created by Willowbrook High School students will be displayed from Dec. 13-20 at The Funky Java Coffee House, 40 S. Villa Ave., Villa Park. An opening reception will be held at Funky Java from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Police announce Thanksgiving enforcement numbers
The Villa Park Police Department conducted seat belt enforcement from Nov. 17-27 as part of the nationwide “Click It or Ticket” mobilization. Villa Park police joined other state and local law enforcement agencies across Illinois to issue citations to unbuckled motorists in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities. During the 10-day period, the Villa Park Police Department issued five seat belt citations, 38 cell phone citations and nine speeding citations. Additionally, the department issued 10 uninsured motorist citations and arrested six drivers with suspended or revoked licenses. Police also made one drug-related arrest and issued one citation for illegal transportation of alcohol. While the “Click It or Ticket” mobilization period has ended, police will continue to look for unbuckled motorists. “If you or your passengers are caught not wearing a seat belt, you will be cited for the violation,” said Villa Park Police Sgt. James Cihak. The “Click It or Ticket” mobilization was made possible with federal highway safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Youth theater group performs
holiday production Dec. 16-17

The Saint Genesius Productions youth theater group will perform “The Story of Holly and Ivy” on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17, at Montini Catholic High School. Saturday’s show times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday’s performance begins at 2 p.m.
Twenty-five students from local Catholic grade schools and religious education programs have joined together to create this holiday performance.
“The Story of Holly and Ivy” is about wishing. Ivy, Holly, and Mrs. Jones each have one powerful Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. Mrs. Jones wishes more than anything for a child. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is filled with the warm glow of Christmas spirit. The play has been adapted by Saint Genesius alumna Emily O’Brochta and Saint Genesius Artistic Director Sara Corkery from Rumer Godden’s classic children’s book by the same name.
Tickets cost $8 and can be purchased at the door, or ordered online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3172246.
To learn more, visit stgenesiusproductions.com.
Saint Genesius Productions, founded in 2010, was created to bring the experience of professionally produced children’s theater to Catholic grade school students throughout DuPage County. This volunteer-run youth theater group provides students in fourth through eighth grade with a performing arts education and the opportunity to appear in plays and musicals.