Long-term strategic plans released for Pyramid State Park and Sparta
A special task force of lawmakers, state officials and other stakeholders has released strategic plans for Pyramid State Park and the World Shooting and Recreation Complex in Sparta. The studies were facilitated by Southern Illinois University-Carbondale’s Innovation and Economic Development office and presented to the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at a ceremony at the Sparta complex on Aug. 5.
The reports focus on the current and future needs of the two facilities and how to best manage and grow them for the future.
Pyramid State Park, with a total of 19,701 acres, is the largest state park in Illinois. It was built on reclaimed surface mine land and is popular for a number of activities, including fishing, hunting, sporting dog events, 4-H programs, and re-enactments. The World Shooting and Recreational Complex is a 1,600 acre world-class shooting and recreational facility that welcomes thousands of people per year.
The planning reports can be viewed at https://econdev.siu.edu/.
State launches property tax relief task force
Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed legislation creating the bipartisan Property Tax Relief Task Force into law. The panel will be made up of lawmakers appointed by the four legislative leaders, along with individuals appointed by the governor.
The Task Force has been charged with identifying the causes of increasingly burdensome property taxes across Illinois. Members will review successful public policy strategies from throughout the nation that create short-term and long-term property tax relief for homeowners, and make recommendations about what steps Illinois could take to provide property tax relief.
An initial report is due within 90 days, and the task force will submit a final report by Dec. 31.
According to investment site SmartAsset.com, Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the country, with an average effective rate of nearly double the national average.
New law to protect animals in kennels
On Aug. 6, Gov. Pritzker signed a new law aimed at making sure pets are safe from fires while staying at a kennel. The new law requires that kennels either have to be staffed at all times or install a fire alarm or sprinkler system that notifies local fire departments.
The legislation was inspired by a fire earlier this year at a Chicago-area kennel where 31 dogs were killed.
New protections for coal ash storage
Also signed into law recently are new protections from pollution caused by coal ash. Senate Bill 9 creates new controls for where coal ash sites can be located and how they are run, to prevent issues and pollution from these sites.
The new law requires permits for both the operation and closure of CCR Surface Impoundments, otherwise known as coal ash disposal sites. It also creates fees for the operation and closure of the sites. The fees range from $15,000 to $75,000, depending on the closure status of the site.
State Fair kicks off
Corn dogs, concerts, and cows are taking center stage in Springfield as the 2019 Illinois State Fair is officially under way, running through Aug. 18. The annual tradition kicked off Aug. 8 with the Twilight Parade led by Olympic Gold Medal winner and East St. Louis native Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the Grand Marshall. After the parade, country act Montgomery Gentry performed a free concert on the Grandstand stage.
The Grandstand is also hosting concerts covering a number of different musical genres from Snoop Dogg, to Bad Company and Old Dominion, along with a number of free shows held at a dozen locations throughout the grounds. Fair staples such as rides, livestock shows, and harness racing will take place throughout the Fair.
Admission to the Fair for Fridays and Saturdays remains $10 for adults (13 and up), but it has been dropped to just $5 for all other days. Seniors (60+) are $3 and children 12 and under are free.
You can find out more information at https://www2.illinois.gov/statefair.