Like many, I am shocked and saddened by the violence that has erupted in Illinois communities and across our country in the wake of yet another instance of police brutality against a black man. The lethal force used against George Floyd was despicable and inexcusable. The video footage depicting blatant disregard for a man’s life is haunting. They are images I will never forget.
When lawful protests turned to rioting and looting in Naperville on June 1, it was emotional for all of us. But when the dust settled, and without having to be asked, the Naperville community did what it does best. They stepped up and helped one another in a time of need. At the break of dawn on June 2, hundreds of residents flocked to the downtown area with brooms, shovels, garbage bags and a helping attitude, and they got to work. By 7:00 AM the streets were cleared of broken glass and garbage, and the new day started with a sense of resiliency I’ve seldom seen or experienced. It was humbling to witness this love of community. In Naperville we help each other. When there is a problem, we fix it.
If you walk through the downtown area now, you’ll see stores that are still boarded up. But you’ll also see colorful cut-out hearts filled with expressions of love, hope and support. Naperville is a special place and the community spirit I witnessed in the days that followed the vandalism and violence in our downtown area is a testament to our love of community.
Wehrli Joins Zoom Panel for Discussion of Racism, Community Violence and Inclusion
On Thursday, I had an opportunity to participate in a zoom meeting sponsored by Naperville Neighbors United, a local organization that promotes courageous conversations to help make Naperville inclusive and welcoming to all residents. It was primarily a listening session, and I was pleased to have an opportunity to listen as residents shared their stories, fears and frustrations as they relate to race, equity and inclusion. We must continue to have these conversations and I look forward to being a part of them. Change is needed on many levels, and substantive change begins with honest conversations. You can find Naperville Neighbors United on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NapervilleNeighborsUnited/
Rep. Wehrli Reminds Constituents that Video Conferencing is Available
While we continue to practice social distancing as we move through Illinois’ reopening plan, I want to remind residents of the 41st District that video conferencing is available through my office for individual and small group meetings.
I have had “Zoom” available as an office tool for quite a while, but I’m finding that during the COVID-19 pandemic we are using it more and more. Video conference meetings can be scheduled by calling my office at (630) 696-4160, or by emailing me at Wehrli@ilhousegop.org. Especially for small to medium sized groups during this time, Zoom meetings are an effective way for groups to exchange ideas and share opinions.
All Illinoisans Can Now Get Tested for COVID-19
The State of Illinois is opening its community-based testing sites for all Illinoisans to get tested, regardless of symptoms or other criteria. As we move through the state reopening plan, testing will be crucial to identifying new cases and taking immediate action to prevent additional spread. No appointment, doctor referral, or insurance is needed at state operated drive-thru sites, and testing is available at no cost to the individual.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recommending anyone who has recently been part of a mass gathering, including rallies and protests over the past week, get tested for COVID-19. The virus has been found to spread between people up to a couple days before people start showing symptoms. Because of this, the number of people an infected person could unknowingly expose can be exponential. A list of public and private testing sites can be found at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/testing.
DMV Facilities and Emissions Testing Stations Reopen
Secretary of State DMV offices reopened this week, and through July 31 employees will ONLY provide services for new drivers, those with expired driver’s licenses or ID cards, and vehicle transactions. Currently, there are more than 700,000 expired driver’s licenses/ID cards and 1.9 million expired vehicle registrations. This week the lines have been long!Keep in mind, there’s no need for everyone to flock to their nearest DMV right away, because expired licenses, ID cards and vehicle stickers will remain valid for 90 days following the expiration of the stay home order.For more information, click here.
Vehicle emissions testing also resumed June 1 at most Illinois Air Team testing locations. Again, vehicle registration expiration dates have been extended without penalty for at least 90 days. In order to manage traffic volume at stations and reduce motorist wait times, Illinois EPA is asking motorists to stagger their testing based on their registration expiration dates. Motorists with March or earlier registration expiration dates should test their vehicles in June. Motorists with other expiration dates will find a table of suggested testing dates on the Air Team webpage. To obtain additional information on precautions, testing, and answers to frequently asked questions, please go to the Air Team website or call the Air Team Call Center at 844-258-9071.
Every summer I offer an internship to a college student who is interested in public policy and government. My staff and I went through the interview process with several impressive applicants a few months ago before the COVID crisis hit, and I’m pleased to announce that Haley Cush of Naperville started her internship with our office this week. Haley is a 2020 graduate of Naperville North High School, and in the fall she will attend Duke University in North Carolina, where she will study Public Policy and Economics.
Haley will gain valuable experience with the inner-workings of a government office and will assist with a variety of projects. Be sure to say hello to Haley if you call or visit our office.
Small Business Development Center Receives $7.3 Million to Help Illinois Small Businesses
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has announced a new $7.3 million investment from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program – a statewide network focused solely on supporting Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs in starting, growing and maintaining their businesses. There is no cost to small business owners for SBDC services. In the wake of COVID-19, SBDCs have played a vital role in connecting businesses with support resources and assistance programs designed to help keep businesses afloat. New funding will bolster the SBDC network of 40 community-based teams to provide additional resources for education, training and professional business advising to small businesses that have experienced supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a decrease in gross receipts or customers, or a closure as a result of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of March, SBDCs have seen a 54% increase in businesses served through one-on-one sessions and trainings, relative to the same time frame last year. These efforts have helped approximately 182 unique businesses get access to an estimated $19 million in grants and loans from state and federal programs in recent weeks. These businesses employ a combined 34,000 workers throughout the state. Click here for more information and to see a list of statewide SBDC locations.
Metra Offers New Health & Safety Features as Service Resumes
Metra is taking several steps to ensure passengers will feel safe using its system. Metra will provide an opportunity for responsible physical distancing on its trains as much as and as long as possible. In general, Metra will aim for trains that are no more than about half full- one passenger per two-seater on the lower level and one passenger per every other seat on the upper level. (There will be exceptions for families or others travelling together.
Metra will continue to use the current alternate weekday schedules at the start of June but is adding cars to trains to make sure there is plenty of room for passengers to spread out. It will add more cars as needed. If Metra suspects there is potential for a train to become more crowded, it will try to operate an unscheduled train behind that one to aid with serving awaiting passengers, or it will start to add more scheduled trains to the line. Metra will continue to add cars and trains as ridership and travel patterns dictate. Click here to read more.
Public Invited to Participate in Adult-Use Cannabis Facilities Online Survey
The City of Naperville is seeking public input on potential adult-use cannabis zoning components via an online survey. The survey is part of the first step of a five-step roadmap that outlines the required steps, input process, and timing related to the creation of zoning regulations for adult-use recreational marijuana dispensaries in Naperville.
Under the first step in the roadmap process, City Council members will hold a City Council Workshop on Monday, June 22 at 7 p.m. using Zoom Webinar Technology to provide input and direction on possible zoning for dispensaries, parking requirements, business caps, and other requirements for cannabis businesses. City staff has prepared a video presentation to help members of the public understand the City’s existing medical cannabis zoning regulations, the new types of facilities that do not have an equivalent category in the existing regulations, and how this information will help guide regulations for recreational adult-use cannabis dispensaries. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to watch the video presentation before taking the survey.
The survey will close at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 12. Questions and comments may also be sent to email@example.com by 5 p.m. on June 12. Comments received by 5 p.m. on June 12 will be included in the June 22 City Council workshop packet, and a summary of the responses will be shared at the June 22 workshop. To watch the video and take the survey, visit www.naperville.il.us/cannabis-workshop-survey. For more information about adult-use recreational cannabis in the City of Naperville, visit www.naperville.il.us/cannabis.