Forest preserve site to host voyage into past
Friday, September 28, 2007
by Stanley Ziemba
Visitors to Columbia Woods near Willow Springs will be transported more than 200 years back in time over the weekend with the re-creation of the 18th Century French fur trade era along the Des Plaines River.
The setting for the history lesson is "A River Thru History, the Des Plaines Valley Rendezvous," sponsored by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor Civic Center Authority in cooperation with the Canal Corridor Association.
It revives the former "I&M Canal Rendezvous," which had been staged annually each fall in Columbia Woods for 17 years until dwindling interest led to its cancellation last year.
"After much renewed support from the community and the Forest Preserve District, a revised version of the event is back with several exciting new features, including an authentic Native American village to go along with re-enactors dressed as French voyageurs, a host of Native American craft demonstrations and an expanded lineup of food, music and other entertainment reminiscent of the fur trade era," said Stan Johnson, the rendezvous' director.
The main focus also has changed -- to the fur trade that flourished along the Des Plaines from about 1660 to 1848. The former rendezvous emphasized the I&M Canal, which was built between 1836 and 1848 and established a continuous water route between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, Johnson said.
"What we want to get across is that the Des Plaines is the river of history for the Chicago area, a major waterway that led French explorers like Pierre Marquette and Louis Joliet further into the continent, brought French fur traders to the area and eventually led to the construction of the I&M Canal and the growth of the city of Chicago," Johnson said.
The event will try to re-create what an actual rendezvous might have been like.
"It was the high point of the year for the traders who bartered supplies for furs with local Native American tribes," he said.
"Sometimes, for as long as two weeks, they would meet to trade, socialize, dance, sing, eat, drink, fight and race canoes before either returning with their cargoes to French Canada or settling down for the long winter in Illinois country."
In addition to re-enactors, several dozen storytellers, craft demonstrators, period food vendors, musicians and canoeists are expected to participate.
Admission to the rendezvous, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, will be $8 for adults, $3 for children and $4 for seniors. A $15 family pass is available. Columbia Woods is off Willow Springs Road north of Archer Avenue at the Des Plaines River. Free parking will be available in the UPS parking lot at Willow Springs Road and 75th Street, and a free shuttle will take visitors to the rendezvous site.
Cook County tax relief may end after this year
Homeowners could face bigger bills if lawmakers fail to pass new measure
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
The average homeowner in Northwest Cook County could be on the hook for $1,500 more in property taxes next year if lawmakers allow a relief measure to fail in the coming weeks, says county Assessor James Houlihan.
"It is unfortunate that this is part of the Springfield chaos," Houlihan told the Daily Herald editorial board Thursday.
Cook County tax bills for next year -- not the ones hitting mailboxes this fall -- hang in the balance of a showdown with Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Houlihan on one side and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan on the other.
Both sides favor some form of property tax relief that will stave off the jolting hikes in house values from the rising markets.
A relief measure meant to accomplish the same thing was approved three years ago and it protects homeowners in Northwest Cook County communities who are currently receiving reassessment increases of 26 percent or more. However, it expires when next year's bills come out.
But the battle for next year is over the details -- a disagreement that threatens to, as they say, throw the baby out with the bath water.
Blagojevich and Houlihan want a measure that will grant a $40,000 homestead exemption permanently as a way to equalize property taxes countywide and limit the amount of increases for homes with values that jump considerably over a short time period.
But Madigan and many other lawmakers favor a plan to phase out the exemption over the next three years because they argue the plan shifts the tax burden onto businesses and owners of lower-cost homes. Plus, they point to a cooling housing market as a sign relief won't be needed in the next few years.
Madigan's version of the plan was approved by lawmakers earlier this year, but Blagojevich nixed it and sent back another version that makes the higher exemptions permanent.
Madigan isn't going along with the new version and has vowed to fight it. And if the plan fails, no tax relief will be coming along with the tax bills next year.