December 7, 2011

VIDEO: Elgin Snow Command ready for winter

By Ted Schnell • BocaJump | Dec. 7, 2011

When snow hits, whether it’s a light dusting that’s enough to make the roads slick or a monster storm like February’s blizzard, which left 18 inches or more of snow in its wake, people expect to be able to drive to work, go to the doctor’s office or head to the grocery store.

October 29, 2011

Prigge speaks out against racism allegations, innuendo

Councilman breaks council silence to defend police

John Prigge

By Ted Schnell • BocaJump | Oct. 28, 2011

Councilman John Prigge said Thursday he simply had had enough when he decided Wednesday night to break the Elgin City Council’s silence over “unfounded accusations and innuendo” about racism in the Elgin Police Department.

Stressing that he had been speaking on his own behalf Wednesday night and not on behalf of the council, Prigge said Thursday he had been biting his tongue each time the issue was raised publicly during recent City Council meetings.

The allegations erupted over the summer when Elgin police Lt. Sean Rafferty was suspended for five days without pay. The suspension order censured Rafferty over a 14-year-old photograph and over an incident in 2009 or 2010 when a “race-based joke” was sent as a text message to a black fellow officer. Rafferty is white.

August 13, 2011

Elgin seeks grant for Slade boat ramp

Looming budget woes cast shadow on project

A look at the approach to the Slade Avenue Park
boat ramp reveals cracked, crumbling asphalt.
(Ted Schnell • BocaJump)
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
A drive west down Slade Avenue in Elgin ends at a park laid out along the edge of the Fox River on the city’s East Side.

There is an area for parking to the right, and the driver brings his car to just a crawl as a couple of bicyclists slip out from a wooded trail to the left. They’re headed north on the Fox River Trail, a bike path that meanders through the area, following a shoreline made lush and verdant by this summer’s rains.

August 6, 2011

We asked, you answered:

What you #LikeMostAboutElgin
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
What a city we live in. Nestled along the Fox River, Elgin got its start as a rural town that grew into a center of commerce and industry, noted for its watches, for its dairies and long known as the City of Churches.

July 12, 2011

Illinois Supreme Court ruling renews hope for Riverside Drive Promenade

Published July 12, 2011
A court ruling Monday may free up funding for the Riverside Drive Promenade project. (Hitchcock Design Group)
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
The first thing you might notice while walking along the old Riverside Drive parking deck that juts out over the eastern shore of the Fox River in downtown Elgin is the element of decay.

Weeds have grown upward from cracks in the pavement. A concrete barrier bars vehicles from most of the deck’s former southbound lane, because the deck’s underpinnings have weakened with time and may not support a vehicle’s weight.

June 24, 2011

Tech shifts how city gets the word out

Published June 24, 2011
Getting the word out today involves more than a press
release, says Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall, who says
the city must look at multiple information platforms,
such as the Internet, as well as traditional media.
(Image by Stock.xchng vi)
First of two
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
The explosive growth of new media over the past 15 years has seen a correspondingly dramatic shift in the way people gather and share information – even how they communicate individually with each other.

“You can never communicate enough,” City Manager Sean Stegall said Wednesday afternoon.

More media vie for city ad dollars

Published June 24, 2011
Information is gathered today in far many more ways
than when it was delivered on your front porch.
(Image by Stock.xchng vi)
Second of two
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
The dominance of traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television once meant there were relatively few choices for “getting the word out” about anything.

For cities, government agencies, civic groups and businesses, press releases typically were the way to go, sometimes sparking enough interest that an editor would assign a reporter and photographer or cameraman to cover the story.

June 22, 2011

BocaJump: Live-blog council coverage

Published June 22, 2011 | BocaJump publishes a short council preview story that sits on top of the Cover It Live widget users will click on to follow the meeting. Beneath the widget is a rundown of the City Council agenda.
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
A day after flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder heralded a tornado warning amid heavy rains over Elgin, the City Council will be asked to approve spending $252,527 to add six new weather warning siren systems on the city’s Far-West Side.


Yes – the agenda was set last week, long before storms raked the city on Tuesday evening.

June 20, 2011

Is Prigge solo on downtown carnivals?

Published June 20, 2011
(Image by Stock.xchng vi)
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Downtown Neighborhood Association President Karin Jones admits that carnivals in Elgin’s Center City seem to have run their course as fundraisers for the organization.

But they remain a viable interest in the eyes of local nonprofits, Jones said Monday, and they help make the downtown a hub of activity when they operate, drawing residents into the area to walk around, perhaps visit a business or two while they’re out having fun.

Jones said she has worked as a volunteer at the carnivals, she has visited them with her family and has had fun doing so, all the while watching others have fun as well.

May 3, 2011

Court threat from downstate inmate

Published May 3, 2011
05-02-2011_HazMat_JJEmergency personnel stage near the MABAS decontamination unit, which has facilities for people to undress and shower as part of decontamination in hazardous materials incidents, outside the Second Appellate Courthouse in downtown Elgin on Monday afternoon. (James Jordan • BocaJump)By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
The police tape is gone and all was quiet Tuesday outside the Second Appellate Courthouse in downtown Elgin, but authorities say a threatening letter sent with suspicious white powder has been traced to a prison in southern Illinois.

Elgin Police Department spokeswoman Susan Olafson said Tuesday the letter containing the threat and the white powder has been traced to a downstate prison, although she did not have the name of the facility.

May 2, 2011

Powder threat sends 29 to hospitals

Published May 2, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Nearly 30 people were sent to three area hospitals on Monday afternoon after someone in the Second Appellate District Courthouse in downtown Elgin opened an envelope containing a threatening message and a suspicious white powder, Elgin authorities said.

April 22, 2011

Wowway: ‘We’re in compliance’ on 911

But company warns customers don’t dial 1 first
Published April 22, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
A representative of Wowway, which provides telephone, Internet and cable television service to some Elgin residents, says it is in compliance with the state’s regulations on 911 calls, even though one such call recently was routed to an Indiana sheriff’s office.

Spokesman Bill Wright, calling from the company’s offices in Colorado Springs, Colo., said Thursday afternoon the company had checked with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which oversees public utilities such as telephone service providers, and verified that its service is routing 911 calls correctly according to ICC standards, even though one such call in Elgin was routed to the sheriff’s office dispatch center 80 miles away in Lake County, Ind.

April 20, 2011

Wowway joins 911 call probe

Published Arpil 20, 2011
By Ted Schnell •
It appears that a technical glitch within phone service provider Wowway’s system may be to blame for rerouting an Elgin man’s 911 call to Lake County, Ind., on April 12.

Elgin police on Tuesday worked with the resident to see if they could repeat the rerouting glitch, something police Sgt. Dennis Hood initially had not been optimistic about being able to do, believing it likely it was rare and not likely to be repeated.

April 12, 2011

Elgin 911 call directed to Indiana

Published Arpil 12, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Elgin police and a sheriff's office in Indiana are looking into a potential glitch that misdirected an Elgin 911 call early Tuesday to a dispatch center in Crown Point, Ind.

The call was made about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday by an Elgin man reporting that he heard what he believed to have been five or more shotgun blasts in the area of his southwest-side home.

February 4, 2011

Elgin's post-blizzard dig continues

Published Feb. 4, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Elgin residents awoke to sunny skies that took a slight edge off the bitter cold on Friday, two days after the end of a blizzard that dumped about 18 inches of snow on the area. City roadways were clearer than they had been since the massive snowstorm hit Tuesday, as Public Works Department crews continued efforts to widen the paths through snow-clogged side streets that just days earlier had been limited in some cases to just one lane.

February 2, 2011

Crews work all night to dig out Elgin

citySchools, government offices and even some businesses closed earlier than usual on Tuesday afternoon as they buckled down in preparation for a monster snowstorm that one city official described as potentially extraordinary. City plows were out in force as the snowfall intensified.
Early Friday evening, Mayor Ed Schock declared a state of emergency, setting the framework for city officials to do what is needed to combat the storm.
Forecasters say the massive storm system is expected to leave a blanket snow 12 to 24 inches deep stretching from Texas to Maine. Locally, officials expect Elgin will receive 12 inches of snow; forecasters say accumulations will be greater closer to Lake Michigan.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for northern Illinois at 3 p.m. Tuesday that was set to expire at 3 p.m. Wednesday. Blizzard warnings also were issued for parts of eight other states.
In declaring the state of emergency, Mayor Schock conferred authority to City Manager Sean Stegall to do what is deemed critical to support the city's emergency response effort.
We may proactively close roads depending upon conditions and circumstances,” Stegall said. “We may need to barricade streets and prohibit cars and pedestrian traffic in certain areas.”
According to a city release, the city manager is also authorized to procure goods, services and equipment needed to facilitate the city’s emergency response.
A limited activation of the city of Elgin’s Emergency Operations Center also has been initiated, the city release stated. This limited activation allows for public works, police and fire to immediately respond to the weather emergency in the best interests of Elgin residents.
Public Works Department crews were out in force trying to clear streets, and as city officials promised Monday night, the city's emergency snow routes were activated Tuesday, requiring residents to move their vehicles off those streets or have them towed.
But city officials also were asking residents to avoid parking along all city streets while the blizzard warning was in effect.
Earlier Tuesday, the blizzard warning had not even taken effect when area school districts began announcing the cancellation of the day's after-school programs and the closure of schools on Wednesday.
Elgin School District U-46 made its announcement late Tuesday morning via an e-mail and robo-call blitz to parents of schoolchildren.
Nearby Community Unit School District 300 issued its notice about within the hour via its Facebook page. The district also canceled Dual Language Orientations scheduled Tuesday evening and Wednesday. The cancellation of after-school activities was left to be decided by each school's principal.
Institutions of higher learning also issued announcements.
Elgin Community College shut down about 2 p.m. Tuesday and was not planning to reopen until Thursday morning, college officials said.
Judson College, issuing its announcement via Twitter and its Facebook page, shut down at mid-afternoon Tuesday, discontinuing classes through Wednesday morning and afternoon. The university, however, had not yet made a decision about its Wednesday evening classes. That decision is expected by 3 p.m. Wednesday. Judson officials urged residential students to remain on campus until the storm passes.
Elgin Water Department operator Kevin Kujak sits inside
the city plow truck he drives during bad weather.
(Ted Schnell • BocaJump)
Published Feb. 2, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
As Elgin residents slept Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, a fleet of trucks driven by guys like Kevin Kujak rumbled up and down the city's streets in an intense, sometimes frustrating effort to unclog a road system mired in the wake of a blizzard that dropped about 18 inches of snow and whipped up drifts as much as 3 feet deep.

February 1, 2011

City manager on road with plow crews

City Manager Sean Stegall posted this image
of city plows to Facebook while on the job
with city snow command crews late Tuesday.
Published Feb. 1, 2011
This first story was updated more than 30 times over the course of its first 12 hours online. In large part, the number of updates reflects the ingenuity of the city manager, who used his smartphones and computer tablet to update residents via city Facebook and Twitter accounts, demonstrating the relevance and effectiveness of social media when news is developing.

By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Schools, government offices and even some businesses closed earlier than usual on Tuesday afternoon as they buckled down in preparation for a monster snowstorm that one city official described as potentially extraordinary.

City plows were out in force as the snowfall intensified.

January 19, 2011

Huge Route 20-McLean project on way

Published Jan. 19, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
If you've driven through the McLean Boulevard and Route 20 intersection during the busier times of day, you know how congested traffic can get there.

Vehicles exiting Route 20 from the east and west try to mix in with north and south traffic on McLean, even as some of those drivers are trying to get onto the highway themselves. The intersections at this crossroads involves two sets of traffic lights – one at Weld Road, immediately south of 20, and at the westbound 20 exit ramp just north of the highway overpass.

Throw in another set of traffic lights to the north, at Lillian Street, and yet another to the south at Fleetwood Drive, and you have set the stage for a perfect storm of sorts in terms of a rush-hour bottleneck.

Elgin plans for largest roundabout

Published Jan. 19, 2011
By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
Dundee-Summit-01192011The city is moving ahead with plans to build Elgin's largest roundabout to ease East-Side traffic congestion at Summit Street and Dundee Avenue, despite criticism raised before the City Council on Jan. 12.
Some questioned the safety of the project and its impact on surrounding businesses when the council met that evening.

City Manager Sean Stegall said last week that the Illinois Department of Transportation first fingered the intersection for improvements in 2001-02, when a more traditional approach was outlined.