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Old Plank Trail Community Bank donates $10,000 to local food pantry

Old Plank Trail Community Bank set out to lend a helping hand to the New Lenox Food Pantry during a Jan. 23 presentation at the regular meeting for the New Lenox Village Board of Trustees.

“On behalf of the staff at Old Plank Trail Community Bank, I’m very happy to be able to present for the sixth year in a row a $10,000 check to Kathie Johnson and the New Lenox Food Pantry,” said Old Plank Trail Community Bank Chairman and CEO Paul Slade. “I could stand up here and make the presentation, but this is really a community-wide effort with not only our bankers but many, many, many volunteers.”

New Lenox Township Director of Family Services Kathie Johnson gave credit to the bank for its contributions to the food pantry.

“When you first started and you came to my office, it just kind of surprised me,” she said. “You came in and said this is what you wanted to do. I never imagined $60,000 later, six years later that this would still be happening.”

Mayor Tim Baldermann mirrored that sentiment.

“You are wonderful community partners certainly well beyond this,” he said. “You do an awfully lot for the village, as well. What you do for the food pantry is obviously amazing, but that’s just the tip of the ice burg. You are always involved; you are truly the last of the dying breed, the community banks. It’s unfortunate what’s happened there, but you haven’t forgotten what it’s all about. We’re lucky and fortunate here in New Lenox to have you.”

Johnson said she understands that times are tough for many, but it’s amazing to see the bank’s continued support.

“I know also this year was a little bit low, and I want to say a really deep thank you to the bank because they did not make $10,000,” she said. “There are some years they haven’t, but each time the bank itself has made the difference between what was raised and the $10,000 that you see on the check.”

Johnson said recipients are now able to receive more food for which the Township can be proud to offer.

Each week, the food pantry sees between 80 and 90 families who come in.

“It goes all long way as I’ve said on and on before,” she said. “We’re in the new pantry now so that money is even utilized more because we have so much more room.”

The Township makes purchases from the Northern Illinois Food Bank and every $1 dollar spent goes toward $8 worth of food.

Johnson said the Township receives a portion of its funding through taxes, but none of the money received can be allotted toward food.

“It’s either donations or food itself,” she said.

Johnson said though people might not depict New Lenox as a place where hunger exists, the issue hits closer to home than some people are willing to admit.

“There are lot of people—no matter what income—they can find themselves on the other side of that,” she said. “I’ve heard it said that it’s true you can’t see the face of hunger, just by riding through a town and seeing. It’s there and… it probably is lot worse especially in the bigger cities. Here, we can manage this and we do take care of each other here, no matter who you are.”

Johnson said the effort to help those in need is a community effort thanks to the “people who bring it in, all the food, the money. They’re the ones that do it, the volunteers.”

“It’s all part of the bigger picture that makes it run,” she said.

Baldermann discusses president’s inauguration, local politics

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Mayor Tim Baldermann hopes New Lenox can serve as a model for other communities across the nation.

Baldermann said putting aside politics to work for the good of the community has been key to the village’s success. .

“When we need to reach across whether it’s to a different governmental agency or a different political party—we don’t have that at our level but we have to deal with different political parties beyond here,” he said. “We put all that aside for the good of the people.”

Baldermann said it’s “disgusting” seeing the way the election has shaken the nation.

“I will just continue to have hope every time that I participate in an event like that that one of these days those people will get out their bubble and get back in touch with what our people are living with every single day,” he said. “Because I’m going to tell you, we are all in touch with our residents on a regular basis, whether it’s at the Jewel, at the baseball field, it doesn’t matter. We are in touch with our residents.”

Baldermann said somehow that message gets lost at the federal level.

“I see how the breakdown happens at the state and the federal level, how partisan everything’s become, how afraid everyone is to work together, how we have cast, aside the needs of the people that they serve to serve their own party interests,” he and it’s really disappointing,” Baldermann said. “As I sat there again this time 20 years after my first inauguration, I’m just in awe of what a great country we live in… It’s because of those people that have served our country, that continue to serve. Despite our disappointment in politics, despite our disappointment in the lack of government service at those levels of government, we still live in by far the greatest nation in the world.”

Baldermann said it is his hope that federal officials look at the lives they’re affecting.

“They need to come home and spend some at the baseball field, spend some time at the shopping malls, spend some time talking to the neighbors and find out just how disgusted we are with what’s happened,” he said. “But to end on a happy note, right back here we don’t have that problem. We may disagree, but we’re able to have conversation. At the end of the day, this community does pull together for everybody, in great times of celebration and horrific times when people are struggling. This community pulls together, and I couldn’t be prouder than to be the mayor.”

Village, school and county officials working to improve traffic at Laraway, Spencer roads

Village, school district and county officials have been working to address community concerns for traffic at the intersection of Laraway and Spencer roads for roughly the last year, and a solution was recently presented to the New Lenox Board of Trustees.

Will County Board Member Ray Tuminello said it’s a success story of local taxing district officials coming together to get work done.

“We put together a list of all the accidents and incidents that have happened at that intersection,” he said. “We knew that it was one of the intersections we wanted to work, we just couldn’t resolve some of the right-of-way issues. ..We upgraded our efforts to get our right-of-way negotiations solidified, and we were successful in doing that.”

Tuminello said that intersection is fully funded, engineered and shovel ready.

The project goes out to bid on Feb. 15 and the county will look to approve this measure at their meeting in March.

Tuminello said they should have full turn lanes and intersection improvements, just in time for fall classes.

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Jan. 23 meeting of the New Lenox Village Board of Trustees.

  • Garry Kraemer was honored with a plaque for his service on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

  • The Board of Trustees granted a special use permit to Alden Estates—Courts of New Lenox for a preliminary planned unit development. An approximately 6.64 acre site is currently zoned as C-7 and required village action to allow for future development.

  • New Lenox officials purchased surveillance cameras for a Metra lot. The Village will pay $12,119.44 to Current Technologies.

  • Village board action authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the Laraway Communications Center. The approved measure will help to reduce the number of public safety answer points within Will County to at least 50 percent and serve as a benefit to the community.