BCR News Feed

27 June 2019

  • Fair will be full of old traditions, new additions
    PRINCETON — Final preparations for the 164th annual Bureau County Fair are underway, as the fair’s kickoff is now less than two months away. This year’s fair runs from Wednesday, Aug. 21, to Sunday, Aug. 25, at the fairgrounds in Prince­ton.

    Fair goers will be pleased to see some of the old fair traditions, such as the livestock shows, evening cake walk and exhibitor displays. But, they should also be on the lookout for a few new additions that are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

    Kyle Burrows of Princeton is especially looking forward to this year’s event in his new role as fair board president. Burrows has been active with the fair for a decade now. He’s served in numerous capacities, working his way from a high school volunteer to serving on the board, holding the position of vice president, and now leading the 25-member board.

    One thing Burrows is big on is community. He has stressed the importance of reaching out to the local businesses and the community to involve them in the fair as much as possible to ensure a well-rounded event.

    One new addition to the fair Burrows recently announced is the launch of the Bureau County Fair Foundation, which will now give sponsors and donors the 501(c) tax advantages.

    “The fair board will now be able to expand into more opportunities for grants and programs moving forward financially,” he said.

    “It’s another branch of what the fair is going to be able to do moving forward.”

    Burrows said about 25 percent of the fair’s operating revenue comes from sponsorships and donations, which the board is truly grateful for as it allows them to continue to put on successful fair year after year.

    The fair board has also taken steps this year toward a goal to attract more area youths interested in getting to know the planning and operations of the fair.

    “We’re looking at how we can better engage youth to ensure our programming meets their needs,” Burrows said.

    With the formation of the Junior Fair Board, youths will be able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the event that keeps them coming back each summer. The hope is that the young people will stay involved and one day carry on duties for the regular fair board.

    One of the most popular attractions of the fair is the livestock shows. Burrows said the building and grounds committee is currently managing facility projects to be completed prior to the fair.

    The fair board was a recent recipient of the Compeer Financial Facility Grant, which has helped the committee strategize ways to update facilities to keep them lasting into the future.

    This year’s fair schedule is full of free daily events. The Bear Hollow Chainsaw Artist will be back, along with the Wild World of Animals, the Farmer For the Day event, which the fair board partners with Bureau County Farm Bureau to put on for the youths. Nightmare on Fairgrounds Road will showcase scenes from their haunted barn, and there will be plenty of entertainment to see at the hospitality building.

    New this year to kick off fair week, a free community movie night featuring “Charlotte’s Web” will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, at the Apollo Theater in Princeton.

    Highlights of the 164th Bureau County Fair's grandstand events

    Wednesday, Aug. 21

    This year’s event will kick off with the second annual talent show provided by Second Story teens. The show starts at 5:30 p.m.

    “This has been an opportunity for the fair to partner with a local organization that we couldn’t be prouder to support. Last year’s talent show was a great success,” Kyle Burrows, fair board president, said.

    Following the talent show, back by popular demand, Rockland Road will perform at 7:30 p.m. Folks will remember them from two years ago as the Martin Family Circus.

    Thursday, Aug. 22

    Country music performer Gary Allen will take center stage in the grandstand at 7:30 p.m.

    “I think this is going to be a larger scale show than what we’ve done in the past,” Burrows said.

    “It’s a high-energy show, and I think it will be something all ages will definitely enjoy.”

    Ticket sales have been steady. Burrows said the pit section is sold out, but there’s plenty of track, box and grandstand tickets left to sell.

    Friday, Aug. 23

    The annual truck and tractor pull will rev its engines at 5:30 p.m.

    “Folks always look forward to this tradition. We don’t move it around a whole lot, because of that,” Burrows said.

    Saturday, Aug. 24

    The demolition derby will be back with 80-plus cars. The event begins at 5 p.m.

    Sunday, Aug. 25

    Sunday at the fair will look a lot different this year. The fair board has made the decision to do a Salute to Veterans event and has partnered with Flags of Freedom and Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor to create a program that honors veterans —past, present and future.

    Flags of Freedom will give a presentation on the four flags that fly out by Interstate 80, Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor will be presenting quilts to area veterans, and local dignitaries have been invited to speak.

    The fair is also honoring veterans by allowing free admission into the fair. Burrows said the fair board wanted to take a step further in recognizing the sacrifices they have made for their country.

    A new Quilts of Valor category has also been added to the fair exhibitor entries. Those interested in entering or donating a quilt for presentation to a veteran can contact Terry Johnson at 815-866-3534.

    For a full list of fair events, visit

  • PES sends second mailing of community survey
    PRINCETON — The Princeton Elementary School District initially mailed 1,200 community surveys to random voters in an attempt to understand how to best proceed with the future of the district’s multiple buildings.

    After receiving only 320 responses, the district has recently mailed it again to those who didn’t respond the first time.

    PES Board President Steve Bouslog and Superintendent Tim Smith explained the process during Monday’s school board meeting.

    Smith said the trend for such surveys is that roughly one-third of them will be returned. The district has approximately 8,400 registered voters, so 1,200 surveys were mailed, with the expectation that 400 responses would return. To randomize the mailings, one was sent to every seventh voter on the register.

    “Being randomly selected was the key to this survey being as accurate as we can get it,” Bouslog said.

    For those who haven’t received a survey in the mail, but would like to complete one, they can be obtained by contacting the district office.

    Smith also explained the differences in the mailed and requested surveys. The random surveys are numbered and on white paper, while requested surveys are on yellow paper. He said the numbering is for the survey organizers to track the randomization of the survey, and offered assurance that it’s not being used as any kind of identification.

    The results will help the board learn which aspects of the $35 million consolidation referendum were problematic for voters, and caused it to be narrowly defeated in the November 2018 election.

    Many voters are known to have had issues with the overall cost of the project and the associated impact on their property tax bills, while others were against the site chosen for the new school and the purchase of land for it.

    The board could retool the referendum to make it more appealing to voters in a future election, or learn that the community wants to keep the current buildings and work with the costs of upkeep.

    Principal postings at Lincoln and Douglas schools

    The board approved posting for the position of principal at Lincoln and Douglas Schools. Smith said Principal Robert Bima’s duty is currently split between both schools and that he’ll soon be retiring. He said having Bima work at both schools has limited his effectiveness and placed too much responsibility on staff when he’s not present.

    Smith said the community is changing and that there’s been an increased need for specialized social and emotional educational instruction. This increased workload for the district’s social workers is complicated when administrators aren’t present.

    “We have social workers who are sometimes having to act as an administrator with parents, rather than as a social worker. Posting these positions at both schools will free them up to do what they need to be doing,” Smith said.

    Superintendent search

    The board announced Thomas Lahey, of the Illinois Association of School Boards, will make a presentation at the July 22 meeting to explain the steps in the process to fill the role of superintendent after Smith retires in 2021. Smith later added that Jefferson Principal J.D. Orwig is a candidate for the position.


    Smith reported that at the end of May, there was a balance of $4.17 million across all PES funds. At 93 percent of the way through the fiscal year, the district had received approximately 97 percent of its funding. The district had expended about 84 percent of its budgeted costs.

    He attributed the improvement in the district’s financial reports to the more timely payments from the state, which are the result of the evidence-based funding formula.

    In other news

    • The board learned PES students raised more than $7,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital during their “Laps for Life” fundraising events held at the district’s schools. The funds will be added into the area’s totals, which will be presented during the hospital’s telethon in August. Last year, these groups raised a total of more than $450,000 for St. Jude.

    • The board approved salary increases, not to exceed 3 percent, for Bureau Educational Support Team (BEST) members, and licensed and non-licensed district personnel.

    • The board approved the milk and bread bids with Prairie Farms and Bimbo Bakeries.

    • The board rejected the received bids for masonry restoration and associated repairs at Logan Junior High after they came in at more than $34,000 above district estimates. The work requires the tuck-pointing repair of winter-damaged masonry on the northwest corner of the building’s parapet wall. Smith said there’s also some related roof work involved in the project and that it has allowed for some water infiltration.

    • The board delayed action on the agenda’s transportation leases and purchases until more board members were present. Board member Mark Frank will abstain from action because he’s employed by Midwest Bus Sales Inc. The board will vote on leasing four used buses for five years at a cost of approximately $127,000.

    The next school board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on July 22.

  • Looking back at the Beef and Ag Festival
    This year's Beef and Ag Festival was held June 22 in Princeton.

Reuters National News

27 June 2019

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