* GateHouse media…
Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Alexi Bladel of Rockford will complete her reign as queen without any restrictions after her dispute with the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs was settled this week, according to state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, who advocated for Bladel.
“I am pleased to share that Alexi Bladel will be permitted to complete her reign as Miss Illinois County Fair Queen without any restrictions after a positive discussion with the members of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF) over the past week. I would like to thank the IAAF for their determination to reach a solution to Alexi’s status that is acceptable to both sides,” Sosnowski said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
“I would also like to thank my colleagues, state Rep. Mike Marron, R-Fithian, and state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, for coming together in a bipartisan way to join me in advocating for Alexi. She will be permitted to participate in the January 2020 pageant to crown the next queen. We applaud Alexi’s commitment to serve our country as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
* McKinley Park News…
The U.S. flag flies once again at the veterans memorial on Western Boulevard at West 35th Street, thanks to the efforts of William McKinley American Legion Post 231 and Illinois 2nd District State Representative Theresa Mah. A Veterans Day ceremony on Monday, November 11, commemorated the service of U.S. armed forces members and raised the flag at the site, accompanied by the Pledge of Allegiance and a rifle salute.
The flag pole had been in disrepair for many years when American Legion Post members approached Mah last year about fixing it, she said. “No one was able to help them get it done,” Mah said.
An online search led Mah to the required flag pole part, which she then purchased. After checking with the Illinois Department of Transportation about access, “I enlisted the help of my friends from Operating Engineers Local 150, who brought a cherry picker truck,” she said.
* Southern Illinoisan…
After five years of planning, fundraising and hard work, officials gathered last week to officially dedicate the Shawnee Veterans Memorial Wall.
Charles Burdick described the years-long efforts that brought the wall to fruition as an “outstanding patriotic endeavor” by numerous people. The memorial was established to honor past, present and future veterans within the boundaries of Shawnee Unit School District 84. The school district is roughly 40 miles long, spanning from just north of Grand Tower on the northern edge to East Cape Girardeau on the southern end.
There are already hundreds of names on the memorial wall, with plans in place to update it with more annually.
On Friday, several hundred students, community members and public officials gathered in Wolf Lake for a Veterans Day ceremony that included the dedication of the wall located on the grounds of Shawnee High School. U.S. Rep. Mike Bost and state Reps. Patrick Windhorst and Terri Bryant were among those in attendance.
* Press release…
Following a $230 million investment in the Illinois Veterans’ Home through the historic bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan, the Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for teams interested in working on the project. Applications are due on December 11.
“I’m committed to ensuring that our nation’s heroes get the best care possible, and rebuilding the Quincy Veterans’ Home is a major step forward to ensure they’re being treated with dignity,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As the work of rebuilding continues, I look forward to seeing the progress of this state-of-the-art facility and regularly updating the community.”
“The Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy is the oldest and largest in the state and currently provides housing for 315 veterans. We look forward to receiving proposals and taking the next step to make this project a reality,” says Capital Development Board Executive Director Jim Underwood.
“Our veterans’ homes are proud to provide the highest quality of care for Illinois veterans,” said IDVA Director Linda Chapa LaVia. “We are excited that this investment by Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly will enable us to set a new bar for what that quality of care looks like.”
…Adding… Lake Forester…
On Nov. 11, veterans joined citizens and elected officials in the village’s annual Veteran’s Day ceremony. But this year’s commemoration relied on a group of determined Lake Forest High School students who organized the observance, not wanting to see a Lake Bluff ritual come to an end.
The 25-student Lake Bluff Veterans Day Ceremony Student Committee was led by its president, Lake Forest High School senior Mark Smirnov. He moved with his parents to Lake Bluff when he was 8 and said he wanted to do something for his adopted community.
“I’ve made a home here,” Smirnov said. “Although I wasn’t born here, Lake Bluff is my hometown. It is my senior year and I want to make it a memorable one as much as possible in my hometown.”
In years past, Lake Bluff American Legion Post 510 ran the event, but it merged with Lake Forest Post 264 last year due to declining membership. The Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day observances were left to the village with assistance provided by the Lake Bluff Historical Society, according to Village President Kathy O’Hara.
* But this story conflicts with the headline…
Iraq War veteran and Democratic Senator and Tammy Duckworth spent her Veterans Day across the border to be with veterans who have been deported to Mexico under the Trump administration.
Duckworth, who lost both of her legs in 2004 while serving in Iraq, said she had wanted to spend the day in Tijuana to honor the service of veterans who have been turned away from the U.S. despite serving for the country.
In a statement following her visit to The Bunker, a shelter for veterans who have been deported from the U.S., Duckworth said she was both “ashamed of and heartbroken by how our nation is treating the deported veterans I met with.”
“They are Americans all but on paper, many of whom enlisted after then-President George W. Bush signed an executive order fast-tracking citizenship for those willing to serve—but who, because of things like lost paperwork, fell through the cracks, never officially became citizens,” she said.