Top 10 Village News Stories of 2013

With 2013 officially at an end, the Village has compiled the top 10 news stories of the last year in Gurnee.  For more facts, figures and info on each story, visit the links at the bottom of each story or see the Village's Twitter account.

10. Police Department Partners with School Districts to Create Two New School Resource Officer (SRO) Positions: Over the past year, the Police Department worked with School Districts 50, 56 and 121 to add two new SRO positions. SROs are full-time police officers who are specifically trained as juvenile officers specializing in school safety. While primarily law enforcement officers, SROs will also serve as a liaison with the district staff and as a resource to both the faculty and students. The SROs will be assigned full-time to their assigned school district or school during the academic year and will serve in the Visitor Oriented Policing (VOP) unit over the summer. For more information, see the Village's July 2013 Monthly Report.

9. Fire and Public Works Departments Launch Adopt-A-Hydrant Program: In July, the Gurnee Fire Department partnered with the Public Works Department to launch a new “Adopt-A-Hydrant” program for residents.  Working, reliable and accessible hydrants are a core component of a successful fire department, and this program allows residents to contribute to the Department's mission by taking ownership of a fire hydrant in their neighborhood.  To learn more about the program, see this page on the Village's website.

8. Public Works Department Begins Transition to LED Streetlights: On Monday, September 9th, the Village Board approved a contract with LEDCo Inc. to purchase 434 light emitting diode (LED) streetlight lamps, which will be installed in the community by the Public Works Department’s Lights & Signs section. These lamps will begin revolutionizing the Gurnee nightscape by replacing traditional high pressure sodium lightbulbs with lamps that not only burn longer and brighter but are simultaneously more cost-efficient.  For more information, see the Village's September 2013 Monthly Report.

7. Economic Development Committee Identifies Six Work Points for Economic Development Plan: The Economic Development Committee, or EDC, is one of the newest additions to the Village government. Formed at the end of 2011, the goal of the EDC is to maintain the Village’s current business community as well as encourage the growth of new businesses in the area. In working towards this goal, the EDC will focus on creating and recommending economic development policies and assessing the Village’s development potential. The Committee is made up of business people and other stakeholders from the community whose goal is to preserve and expand opportunities for the area’s businesses.  With the support of Community Development staff from Building Safety, Planning and Zoning and Engineering, the EDC has made progress on its goal of creating six work points for economic development policies and recommendations. To learn more about the Committee's work, see the Village's July 2013 Monthly Report.

6. Fire Department Partners with School Districts to Create Fire Safety Corners: In October, the Fire Department Department formally unveiled its new Fire Safety Corners program with School Districts 50 and 56.  This program, funded through federal grants, provides fire safety educational materials (including books, DVDs and other items) that students can view and check out from their school library.  To learn more about this program as well as the Department's other education programs, see the Village's October 2013 Monthly Report.  You can also see the Lake County News-Sun's feature here.

5. Macy's and New Full-Line Wing Open at Gurnee Mills: In one of the most anticipated events of the year, Macy's formally opened at Gurnee Mills in July.  It was joined shortly by a number of new full-line stores in the neighboring wing including Charming Charlie, RUUM, Loft and LEGO among others.  Not only did the addition of Macy's and the new full-line wing transform Gurnee Mills into one of the first examples of a true hybrid shopping center offering both full retail and outlet options, it also promises to help sustain the Village's sales tax.  As the Village is one of only five municipalities in Illinois without a property tax, Macy's and the upgraded wing were welcome additions.  To learn more about the project, see this article from the Daily Herald. To learn more about the project and the Community Development Department's role in bringing it about, see the Village's June 2013 Monthly Report.

4. Village Launches Partnership with Nextdoor.com: On Monday, July 1st, the Village became the first municipality in Illinois to officially partner with Nextdoor.com to introduce a new neighborhood social media program to residents. Nextdoor uses geographic neighborhoods to create private social networks for residents to communicate with their neighbors and share information. Nextdoor is completely free and open to all residents of the Village. For more information, see this page on the Village's website or visit Nextdoor.com.

3. Police Department and Woodland District 50 Produce Popular School Safety Video: In the spring, the Police Department and Woodland District 50 partnered with the Columbia College School of Television to produce "Attention Staff and Students," a training tool designed to give educators the knowledge and skills to respond to an active shooter situation.  Since its production, it has been distributed to over 1,000 school districts and police departments in the United States and Canada.  To see a preview of the video, visit the Village's YouTube account. For more information, see the Village's June 2013 Monthly Report.

2. Gurnee Grade School Demolished: On Monday, September 30th, the official demolishing of Gurnee Grade School began following a formal ceremony recognizing the history of the school as well as the extensive intergovernmental cooperation that allowed for the school to finally be removed.  The school, located immediately adjacent to the Des Plaines River, was one of the first structures impacted during any major flooding event and consumed a considerable amount of resources to protect (estimated at close to $300,000 per event).  Following the flood of 2004, several serious discussions began about the school’s removal.  Finally, after District 56 was able to secure funding to build Prairie Trail School in Wadsworth, the Village and Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) learned that federal funding had been awarded to demolish Gurnee Grade.  As part of the deal, the land transferred to SMC and will become home to a new park and rain garden constructed and managed by Gurnee Park District so that the property may continue to be a valuable part of the Gurnee community. To learn more about this project, see the Village's September 2013 Monthly Report.

1. April 2013 Floods Bring Entire Community Together: On Wednesday, April 17th, a "river of rain" hit the Chicagoland area.  In addition to localized flooding, the rain caused the Des Plaines River to swell to a crest of 11.31 feet, impacting up to 40 structures and shutting down a number of local roads and major thoroughfares, including Grand Avenue.  Through the diligent work of the Village and the many contributions of local volunteers and aid from Naval Station Great Lakes, a minimal amount of damage was done.  To learn more about the flood and the Village's work during it, see the May 2013 Monthly Report. To see an in depth discussion of the flood and future responses, see the Village Board's review at this link.

The Village wishes everyone a safe and happy new year and looks forward to a number of new projects in 2014.