Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters

Board of Commissioners Minutes February 19

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District


District Headquarters

February 19, 2014


PRESENT                                                                 STAFF

Judy Barnard                                                              Mike Holan, Executive Director

Mike Eickman                                                             Steve Chapman, Finance

Audrey Johnson                                                          Vaughn Stamm, Preserve Operations

Gloria Lind                                                                 Tom Hartley, Land and Development

Cheryl Maggio                                                            Mike Durand, Golf Operations

Mary McNamara Bernsten                                          Jamie Johannsen, Marketing

Randy Olson                                                              Lori McGirk, Attorney



Lee Johnson


The meeting was called to order at 5:35 PM, by President Barnard.  Recording secretary Ronelle Johnson called the roll.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE     Audrey Johnson read the poem “The Peace of Wild Things”, then led the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA and MINUTES      Minutes for January 15, 2014 were approved.  No changes to the agenda were made.


Bills for February – Mike Eickman made a motion, Gloria Lind and Mary McNamara Bernsten seconded, to authorize the payment of the February 2014 bills totaling $461,359.71 to be paid by the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District.  Motion passed unanimously.


Vehicle lease proposal –As part of the 2014 budget process last fall, the staff identified vehicles and maintenance equipment that were in need of replacement.  Vaughn advised that the 10 yard dump truck, that has been allotted for in the budget for the last 3 years, is 21 years old, pushing 200,000 miles, and the mechanic manager has recommended that the District needs to get out from underneath that liability due to risks.  Vaughn explored the options, and with the help of Sally from the County, received proposals.  The best program found is a lease to own option.  It is a 5 year fixed rate program at 3.2%.  The overall cost over the 5 years would be $155,892.75.  At the end of the 5 years, there is a balloon payment of $1, at which time the District would own the vehicle.  Vaughn and the staff like this program because this piece of equipment will last the District probably 15 or 20 years.  Randy Olson moved, and Gloria Lind seconded, to approve the 5 year lease with purchase option of the 10-yard tandem axle dump truck through Cat Financial Services for Municipalities.  Vaughn then advised that because this dump truck is tailored to the needs of the District, and will have to be fabricated, the vehicle will not be received for about six months, and the old one will be used until that time.  Once the new truck is received, the old truck will be put into the municipal auction in the spring of 2015.  Motion passed unanimously.

Budget amendment – Land Acquisition – The District has purchased 525.27 acres of land from David and Kathleen Winters, as approved by the Board at its December 18, 2013 meeting.  The funds available to purchase this land came from the Illinois Clean Energy grant and a donation from Charlotte and Ray Ferguson, a total of $1,001,000.  After the price for the purchase of the property was finalized, the Fergusons’ anticipated donation was increased by $35,000 to enable the District to acquire this large tract.  Therefore, additional appropriations in the Land Acquisition Fund are necessary.  Tom Hartley advised that there is no change in the budget for this request, but it is transferring money from the Corporate Fund to the Land Acquistion Fund.  Mary McNamara Bernsten moved, Audrey Johnson seconded, to approve the transfer of $36,200 from the Corporate Fund to the Land Acquisition Fund.  Motion passed.  6-1.

Cheryl Maggio opposes. 

Strategic plan – Mary mentioned that the committee met and finished the Strategic Plan.  The Strategic Plan goals were distributed to all Commissioners.  Mike has gone through the goals with the staff.  Mary thinks this is a complete “publishable” document that can be shared with the public.  Mike will create a quarterly report plan so progress on activities can be followed up on.  Judy Barnard reminded the Commissioners that the two most important things a board can do is to set policy and plan for the future.  This strategic plan makes for good progress.  Mary moved, seconded by Gloria to adopt the Strategic Plan of the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District.  Motion passed unanimously.



Rebranding/logo change – Mike Holan updated the Commissioners on the rebranding/logo change marketing proposals. The proposals were due on February 17, and staff will look them all over.  Mike advised that the name needs to be decided upon before any next steps are taken.  The marketing agencies indicated that the name dictates the logo, and that is the most important step at this point.  The suggested name changes were as follows:  Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, Forest Preserve District of Winnebago County, Winnebago County Forest Preserves, Four Rivers Forest Preserves, and Four River Forest Preserves of Winnebago County. Cheryl Maggio and Mike Eickman both feel that Winnebago County needs to be in the name.  Mary wanted to know if agencies ever involve the public to come up with a new logo.  Mike Holan indicated he did some research on this and one agency told him it is a very cumbersome process and takes a very long time.  Steve Chapman asked if there were legal ramifications if name is changed.  Lori McGirk advised that there are legal steps and filings to be done.  Judi asked Lori to get cost estimates on the legal costs.  The Commissioners agreed the name should be changed to Forest Preserves of Winnebago County.  Audrey moved, seconded by Mary, to accept the name change of Forest Preserves of Winnebago County. Motion passed unanimously.

Fiscal Year 2015 Budget – Judy Barnard and Steve Chapman met regarding the upcoming fiscal year 2015.  The County is projecting a 5% loss in the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of Winnebago County, which means for the District, in the coming year, there could potentially be approximately $110,000 less in the budget that would impact the Corporate Fund.  She wanted the board to be aware, as there will be more budget tightening ahead, and the District needs to seek more revenue streams and continually be looking for ways to cut expenses.



New website – Jamie Johannsen did a power point presentation as to the new website.  It will be launched as soon as possible, hopefully by April 1.

2014 Resource Management Plan – Tom Hartley presented an overview of the prairie restoration plan, trees planting plan (the million trees planted program will place 100 trees in the preserve), the prescribed burn plan, and the vegetation plans that are continually refined and updated for each preserve.   Mike Holan then mentioned that he, Tom and Vaughn are going to host an open house to the public, possibly mid-March, that lays out the Resource Management Plans.  The staff will be there and will be able to answer any questions the public may have.


Grants – Judi Barnard passed around the Carl & Myrna Nygren Wetland Preserves booklet that is a compilation of all the interpretive signs on the Nygren trail that educates the public.  Judy suggests the District create something like it for the Winters property.  She then mentioned there is a ComEd grant that is available that is specifically designed for education, restoration and involving the public in nature.  She would like the District to apply for that grant.   This grant is due March 14, and Judy Roby can work on this for the District.  Mike and Judy are meeting with Judy Roby to finalize some details on the grants that she has identified that the District wants her to work on.  Judi would also like the District to consider doing a Legislative Reception in the fall.



Preserve Operations – Vaughn Stamm submitted a written report.


Land and Development – Tom Hartley submitted a written report.

Golf Operations – Mike Durand submitted a written report.  Mike gave an update the affect the snow has on the golf courses.  He will keep the board up to date on any issues.

Marketing and Community Relations – Jamie Johannsen submitted a written report.

Education – Don Miller submitted a written report.

Law Enforcement – Terry Nordberg submitted written report.


Audrey made a motion to go into closed session at 6:56 PM.  At 7:24 PM, the meeting returned to open session. No action was taken while in closed session.


Judi announced that each commissioner should have received a copy of the Kishwaukee River Corridor Green Infrastructure Plan.

The March Board meeting will be at District Headquarters, not at Severson Dells as previously scheduled.

The April Board meeting will be at Klehm Arboretum on April 17.

The June board meeting will be at Severson Dells on June 18.  The Nature Play Center will be open by then.

Randy Olson inquired as to the District’s position on concealed carry and indicated that the Board needs to discuss the policy and how it impacts the forest preserves and golf courses.  Mike Holan mentioned that if an organization posts that they are prohibiting concealed carry, there are certain size limits for signage.  The District would have to post signs on all outhouses, shelters, and at Headquarters.  The way the law is written, firearms can be carried on trails, so there are a lot of questions and things to think about.  Judi said she would like to do some research and this issue will be talked about in the future.  Judi also asked Mike to check with other forest preserves to see what they are doing about the issue.


Meeting adjourned at 7:30  PM.

Next board meeting 5:30 PM, Wednesday, March 19, District Headquarters


Respectfully Submitted,

Ronelle Johnson

Recording Secretary