REALTOR® association helps Lockport with grant for pedestrian plan

(l to r) Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® CEO David McClintock, Renee Saban (Lockport city council), Joanne Bartelsen (Lockport city council), Three Rivers President Matt Persicketti, Steven Streit (Lockport Mayor) and Three Rivers Secretary-Treasurer Ken Pytlewski.

The Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® presented Lockport officials with a $5,000 donation last week to help the city’s pedestrians.

The local REALTOR® association secured the funds through the National Association of REALTORS®’ Smart Growth Action Grant program. Three Rivers’ President Matt Persicketti and Secretary/Treasurer Ken Pytlewski spoke during a Lockport City Council meeting.

“As part of our local community involvement, the Three Rivers Association of REALTORS® prides itself on securing National Association of REALTOR® grants for projects that line up with the vision local leaders have for their communities,” said Persicketti.

“Lockport has excellent transportation assets with a Metra stop, access to Interstate 355 and the I&M Canal Trail,” said Pytlewski. “The pedestrian plan update is a great way to add character and value to an already great town.”

Lockport boasts a network of bike trails and roadways and access to major tollways and commuter rail service. Recent growth and the potential for more development, however, uncovered the need for changes to the city’s pedestrian plan, which was last updated in 2003. The plan provides a guiding document that city officials and residents can use for future pedestrian infrastructure development. Pedestrian plans are crucial tools for creating desirable, livable communities that preserve historical elements while embracing growth. Pedestrian amenities can also improve property values.

The NAR Smart Growth Action Grants encourage REALTOR® participation in community and economic development. Three Rivers is a non-profit organization that represents more than 900 members in Will and Grundy counties dedicated to professional and ethical service to their real estate clients.

Solar eclipse Monday captures attention in Southern Illinois

First row (l to r): Charay Palmer, Mike McDonald, Bonnie Flynn, Ron Flynn. Second row: Connie Stellhorn, Paul Coons, Shawn Stanton. Third row (far back): Dan Hassard. (Christi Vineyard Photo)

Volunteers representing the Egyptian Board of REALTORS® in southern Illinois got a front row seat for the 2017 solar eclipse when they volunteered to help with parking and water distribution at Bald Knob Mountain, south of Carbondale along the path of totality.

At 1,034 feet above sea level, the mountain provided eclipse viewers a 360-degree unobstructed view of the event. The nonprofit organization, the Bald Knob Cross of Peace, rented of eclipse viewing space at the top of the mountain to eclipse enthusiasts.

“More than 730 people watched the eclipse at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace,” said Christi Vineyard, administrative assistant for the Egyptian Board of REALTORS®. “We saw license plates from California, Texas, New York, Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin. There was even a group from Australia. There were probably others, that is just what I witnessed while directing traffic early that morning for a couple of hours.”

EBOR also donated nearly 6,000 eclipse glasses to 13 area schools so that students could watch and learn about solar eclipses: County of Union School District No. 43; Anna Jonesboro CHSD 81 School District; Dongola School District 66; Shawnee Community Unit School District; Buncombe Grade School, Cypress School District 64; Goreville Community Union District 1; New Simpson Hill School District 32; Vienna School District 55; Carbondale Elementary School District 95; Giant City Community Consolidated School District; Elverado Community School District 196; and Desoto Consolidated School District. Three counties closed schools Monday for the eclipse: Johnson, Union and Jackson.

“Not only did we want to help with Bald Knob Cross of Peace’s (fundraising) efforts, we also wanted to provide area schools the tools allowing students to safely view this unforgettable event,” Egyptian Board of REALTORS® Association Executive, Charay Palmer said. “We want to show members of the community that we are not just interested in buying and selling real estate. We care about what’s going on in our communities.”

Volunteers included: Cindy Bevis, Teresa Camarato, Paul Coons, Bonnie Flynn, Ron Flynn, Dan Hassard, Marianne James, Mike McDonald, Shawn Stanton, Connie Stellhorn, Phil Chiles of Springfield, Peggy Chiles of Springfield, Palmer and Vineyard. Emma Davis of Farmers Bank, one of the EBOR affiliates, donated bottled water on behalf of the bank.

“I  thought the eclipse was awesome,” said Phil Chiles. “Day became night. What was amazing was how light it still was when only a small segment of the sun was visible.”

Impromptu plans work out

About 65 miles east, at the home of Egyptian REALTOR® Ayn Bartok, just outside of Eldorado, Illinois REALTORS® President-elect Matt Difanis was part of a group that enjoyed a great experience, too.

Ayn Bartok and Matt Difanis

“The whole trip was a last-minute thing. I had never seen anything like it,” said Difanis, president-elect, Illinois REALTORS®. “I was amazed by how well I could see it with no telescope and just solar glasses. I have heard many people from Central and Northern Illinois comment that it was not as impressive as they had hoped. My observation was that watching it get to 75 percent and then 90 percent – and even beyond – was still nowhere near as dramatic as that one to two minutes where the sun was 100 percent blocked. If you watched from anywhere outside the path of totality, it was a completely different – and much less dramatic – experience.”

Difanis said every member of his group thought the eclipse exceeded their expectations. In addition to the privacy of Bartok’s property, the cloudless skies made the experience even better.

“In addition to NOT being overrun with tourists in that spot, that location – quite a bit east of Carbondale – had no clouds obscuring the sun during the eclipse. We could see the sun during every second, whereas the tens of thousands of people gathered in Carbondale had clouds obscuring most of the action. . . . My 12-year-old son declared it one of the most amazing things he’s ever seen.”

Check out the photo gallery below, with contributions from Difanis, Vineyard and Illinois REALTORS® past president Phil Chiles.

Almost a decade later, REALTOR® effort has lasting effect

Howard Handler

In 2013, local Government Affairs Director Howard Handler described the domino effect of REALTOR® advocacy. Handler recounted how a successful REALTOR® effort from 2008, to beat back an illegal real estate transfer stamp program adopted by the city of Highwood, led to squashing a similar ordinance and proposal, respectively, in the villages of Golf and Riverwoods. Nearly a decade later, our advocacy still has legs.

When village of Deerfield staff, trying to tackle illegal sanitary sewer infiltration, toyed with the idea of requiring a village-issued transfer certificate prior to recording a deed, the North Shore-Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR) jumped in. NSBAR shared with Deerfield staff the written decision by the Lake County Recorder of Deeds to record deeds with or without Highwood’s faux-transfer stamp.

Deerfield staff in a memorandum to the Village Board wrote: “Upon reviewing the 2008 opinion issued by the Lake County Recorder’s Office… Village staff and the Village Attorney concluded that only non-compliance with a referendum approved transfer tax would be sufficient to prohibit real estate transfers in the Village.”

Deerfield village staff and Board of Trustees have instead decided to conduct an educational and incentive-based campaign to bring illegal sanitary sewer hookups into compliance.

“Deerfield staff were very receptive to our concerns that a transfer certificate requirement without voter approval was not only unlawful, but that it would unduly interfere with home sales,” said Handler.  “We recognize the problems caused by illegal sewer connections and look forward to working with the village on educating REALTORS® and property owners.”  Handler is also a Deerfield resident.

CCAR celebrates 100th anniversary

The Champaign County Association of REALTORS® celebrated its 100th anniversary of helping consumers Thursday with a party at its headquarters in Savoy and a video of past presidents.

More than 450 CCAR members work in the Champaign County area. Current officers include:

  • President Jim Waller of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group of Champaign,
  • President-elect Max McComb of RE/MAX Realty Associates of Champaign,
  • Secretary-Treasurer Eric W. Porter of RE/MAX Realty Associates of Champaign, and
  • Immediate Past President Stefanie Pratt of Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group of Champaign.

CCAR members celebrate their 100th anniversary on July 27 (l to r): Todd Salen, Alex Ruggieri, Bill Craig, Liz McDonald, Max McComb, CEO Linda Green, Jim Waller, Stefanie Pratt, Jayme Ahlden, P.J. Trautman and Kimberly Suzanne Clark. (Jayme Ahlden Photo)

The Association Executive is Linda Green.

The Board of Directors includes:

  • Jayme Ahlden of RE/MAX Realty Associates,
  • Scott Bechtel of Keller Williams Realty,
  • Kimberly Krisman of RE/MAX Realty Associates-Champaign,
  • Liz McDonald of the McDonald Group,
  • Alex Ruggieri of Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw Real Estate and
  • P.J. Trautman of Champaign County Realty.

See the photo gallery below:

KIFAR members share flood insurance concerns with U.S. Rep. Kinzinger in Watseka

Kinzinger

Neaves

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th Congressional District) provided updates on legislative issues like flood insurance, tax reform and housing and answered questions from 15 members of the Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford-Association of REALTORS® (KIFAR) Wednesday in Watseka.

Federal Political Coordinator Ed Neaves led the discussion, which also covered developments with the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Neaves and his fellow REALTORS® emphasized the importance of extending national flood insurance past the Sept. 30 expiration date, since Watseka is in a flood plain and the National Association of REALTORS® estimates that 40,000 real estate transactions could be affected.

Kinzinger is in his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives and his district covers 14 counties in northern Illinois.