Howard, Ogalla talk district issues with state pols

Judy Ogalla. Will County board photo.

Judy Ogalla. Will County board photo.

Robert Howard. Will County board photo

Robert Howard. Will County board photo

by Dennis Sullivan
March 28, 2014

[Revised & updated as of 02:30 p.m. 03-28-14]

In February, Crete-area resident Zachary Nelson notified Eastern Will County News that a train had been blocking Elmscourt Lane southwest of Balmoral Racing Park since 10 the previous evening.

That train continued blocking the crossing “for over two days,” says Will County board member Bob Howard, who attributes the stop-over to increased rail traffic on the Union-Pacific line.

Earlier this week, Howard and fellow county board member Judy Ogalla each raised the issue with state legislators — many of whom are new to the area due to redistricting.

Ogalla, a Monee-area Republican, said, “The trains just sit there,” The accompanying noise and fumes wouldn’t be as much of a problem “if the trains stopped 600 feet further south,” she said.

Howard, a Beecher-area Democrat, blamed increased train traffic on the line, saying it has also meant “an increase of whistles” as train engines approach at-grade crossings.

Different lobbying approaches
Howard was part of the Will County board’s lobbying group, while Ogalla visited legislators as part of her role on the Will County Farm Bureau. He communicated Thursday from Springfield via Facebook; she discussed activities today in a telephone interview. (The original version of this story didn’t include Ogalla’s comments.)

Howard, a former Washington Township supervisor, said the group’s lobbying effort in Springfield was a valuable opportunity to educate legislators now representing Eastern Will County in the wake of redistricting about the needs and concerns of Will County residents in Beecher, Crete, Monee, Park Forest, Peotone, Sauk Village, Steger and University Park in a “one-on-one setting.”

Howard didn’t directly address Kankakee-based Aqua Illinois’ interest in expanding further into unincorporated Will County, but did say, “Many of our residents who live in the unincorporated areas have sewer and water providers that have little-to-no cost controls.”

Other area issues Howard identified include:

Illinois Route 1, which “becomes a virtual parking lot during inclement weather,”
State legislation intended to protect seniors living in a manufactured-home community from being forced to move “if the property owner decided to sell” and
The rights and concerns of property owners affected by the proposed Illiana Tollway and Airport.

He said the Will County delegation “was well-received.”

Farm flooding, instant millionaires
Ogalla agreed, saying at least one legislator apparently contacted the Illinois Department of Transportation about ensuring that farm field tiles — used to control flooding — remain intact if an when construction begins on the proposed Illiana Tollway and regional airport.

Illinois Transportation Director Ann Schneider told Romeoville’s Don Moran, a member of the Will County board Airport Committee, the state agency was taking steps to safeguard surrounding farmland.

Ogalla said she also questioned how a proposed 3 percent state tax on income over $1 million a year might affect farmers whose lands was taken via eminent domain.

Original material copyright 2014 Eastern Will County News; all rights reserved.

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