April 2021
Next Police Chief Named
A deputy director of the Illinois State Police who embraces community engagement has been selected as the City of DeKalb’s next Chief of Police.

David Byrd, a Colonel with the Illinois State Police and the agency’s Deputy Director of the Division of Patrol, was recommended as DeKalb’s next police chief by a Community Search Committee. Their recommendation was strongly supported by City Manager Bill Nicklas, and Byrd’s hiring received the unanimous consent of the DeKalb City Council on March 8.

In introducing Byrd, Nicklas said the next police chief is a dynamic leader with a remarkable depth in law enforcement as well as community involvement.

“Our background work has revealed that he is a hands-on leader who prefers to meet and engage the communities he serves face-to-face, and in the locations and spaces where residents are most comfortable,” said Nicklas. “We have learned many things in the past year and we are still learning about what connects us and separates us in this City. Building bridges is the order of the day, and that begins with familiarity which can invite trust and, if we are fortunate, mutual respect.”

Byrd, who spent time in DeKalb working with DeKalb and NIU Police during homecoming, says he jumped at the chance to put in his application for police chief.

“I think DeKalb, right now, is doing an amazing job with the programs they have in place to engage the community. I’m here to act as a force multiplier for that,” said Byrd. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the community and being invested in whatever I can do as the head of the Police Department to make life better for the community and all of the officers of the DeKalb Police Department.”

A 31-year veteran of the Illinois State Police, Byrd was appointed as Deputy Director of the Division of Patrol on Aug. 1, 2020. Before his latest appointment, Byrd was a Lieutenant Colonel, serving as the Assistant Deputy Director for the Office of the Director; a Major, serving as the Northern Region Commander; and a Captain, serving as the Commander of District Chicago. Byrd was born and raised on the southside of Chicago. He attended Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, where he majored in Criminal Justice.

Byrd was chosen as DeKalb’s next police chief following a rigorous selection process that was temporarily halted by COVID-19 and then restarted in November so it could reflect significant policing reforms adopted by the City Council, including creation of a Community Support Services Division within the Police Department.

The seven-member Community Search Committee narrowed 27 applicants to six candidates for initial interviews. Two candidates then took part in an intense day of final interviews on Thursday, March 3.

The two finalists were first interviewed by two panels. One panel was made up of local law enforcement leaders from DeKalb County, Sycamore and NIU along with Third Ward Alderman Tracy Smith. City employees comprised the second panel, including representatives from the City’s three collective bargaining groups and management.

Each candidate then had an hour-long interview with City Manager Nicklas before being interviewed by the Community Search Committee

That was followed by back-to-back hour-long sessions at the Egyptian Theatre where the finalists addressed the members of the DeKalb Police Department. Each candidate gave a brief presentation followed by an unscripted question-and-answer session for the remainder of the hour.

Byrd was the unanimous recommendation of the Community Search Committee in a final meeting on March 3.

Committee member Earnell Brown, a local Black Lives Matter organizer and the Executive Director of the Sir Donald Foundation, says Byrd’s name continued to rise to the top during the search process.

“We chose who we believe is the right man for the job here in DeKalb. We didn’t choose a police chief. We chose who we needed for DeKalb’s police chief,” said Brown.

During the search, the Police Department has been led by Acting Chief Bob Redel. Nicklas says the City has been very fortunate to have Redel serving in this role.

“His knowledge of our community, the department, and the times helped him guide the department through ten months of sweeping institutional reform, from the department’s essential operating procedures, to body cams, to new training goals, and to the reconfiguration of department divisions to bring more resources to community engagement, community policing, behavioral health, and community wellness calls for service,” said Nicklas. “Dave Byrd will find Bob to be a creative and earnest partner as he takes the reins.”

The City of DeKalb also thanks the members of the Community Search Committee, listed below, for their contributions to this important process.

• Earnell Brown, Founder and Executive Director of the Sir Donald Foundation, Black Lives Matter organizer
• John Walker, youth mentor and long-time resident, DeKalb Human Relations Commission member
• Glenn Roby, Phi Sigma Kappa NIU Chapter Advisor, Annie Glidden North Board member
• Monique Bernoudy, NIU Assistant Vice President of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
• Lisa King, Interim Co-director of the NIU CHANCE program, DeKalb Township Trustee, DeKalb Human Relations Commission member
• Will Heinisch, DeKalb Area Rental Association President
• Mike Pittsley, owner, Pittsley Realty; Annie Glidden North Board member
• Don Thomas, retired Sycamore Police Chief

Byrd officially starts May 1.
David Byrd receives a hug from John Walker while City Manager Bill Nicklas looks on. Walker served on the Community Search Committee that recommended Byrd’s hiring.
In This Issue
Next Police Chief Named

Seeds for Seniors

Portions of 1st & Taylor Streets Being Resurfaced

Job Openings

DeKalb Business Expanding

Curbside Yard Waste Pickup Resumes

Fire Safety Tips for Warmer Months

DeKalb Police: Drop It & Drive

Exhibits & Conversation Promote Belonging in DeKalb
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Seeds for Seniors
DeKalb County TRIAD is collecting flower seeds to brighten the days of homebound seniors. Drop off a package or two of flower seeds in the bucket in the lobby of City Hall at 164 East Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

After seeds are collected, TRIAD will create “Grow Your Own” flower kits for delivery to Meals-on-Wheels recipients to celebrate May Day.

The City of DeKalb and DeKalb Police Department are partners in TRIAD. The organization is made up of law enforcement, community organizations, and individuals, who work together to improve the quality of life for older adults in DeKalb County.

The goal of the “Grow Your Own” flower kits is to address the ongoing isolation experienced by seniors as a result of the pandemic. Let our local seniors know you are thinking of them as we all look forward to Spring and better days ahead.
Portions of First & Taylor Streets Being Resurfaced
Two roads in the heart of DeKalb will be resurfaced this year.

Large parts of First Street and Taylor Street will be redone as part of $1.25 million in street repairs approved unanimously by the DeKalb City Council on March 22.

First Street will be resurfaced from Augusta Avenue south to Taylor Street. The work will then go west on Taylor to around Lions Park.

City Manager Bill Nicklas says it is an aggressive project.

“If you’ve driven these areas, it looks like the coat of many colors. Lots of patches, lots of bad road on the curb lines and there’s really not much to patch anymore. The patches aren’t going to hold,” says Nicklas. “I think residents who travel this, and quite a few do every day, will be very pleased.”

There will also be work on South Seventh and Sixth Streets. This portion of the project was delayed last year because of uncertainty in funding caused by COVID-19 but will now be done this year.
Employment
Visit the City's Employment Page to view and apply for open positions. For more info, contact Human Resources at 815-748-2398. 
Human Resources Opening
The City of DeKalb is currently accepting applications for the following positions:

Entry Level Police Officer - The City is currently accepting applications for Entry Level Police Officer to establish an eligibility list. Application and Testing Deadline: April 30, 2021.

Public Works Maintenance - Full-time Public Works Maintenance position in the Street Division. Performs manual work in the operation, repair, maintenance of municipal and public works equipment, physical and support systems. Initial Review of Applications: April 5, 2021.

Public Works Seasonal Maintenance - Temporary, summer position. Duration May to August (with flexible start and end date). Performs miscellaneous grounds maintenance on City property including mowing, trimming, weeding, flushing hydrants, minor painting, etc. Initial Review of Applications: April 6, 2021.

Telecommunicator - The City is accepting applications to create an applicant pool for the position of Telecommunicator. Responds to emergency and non-emergency calls. Operates a multi-channel computerized radio communication console to obtain, dispatch and transmit information and calls for service. Application Deadline: April 25, 2021.

To view the full job descriptions, hiring requirements and applications instructions, click here.
DeKalb Business Expanding
A company that started in a two-truck garage is breaking ground on a 112,000-square-foot facility in DeKalb to serve as its new home.

Wehrli Custom Fabrication, which specializes in High-Performance Diesel Truck upgrades, Off-road Side by Side Components, Custom Metal Fabrication, CNC Machining, and Powder Coating is building the new facility on a 11.5-acre site on the north side of Harvestore Drive, across from Corporate Drive.

The new building will be the fifth expansion for the company that started when CEO Jason Wehrli took his love of motorsports and opened the business in his parent’s garage.

“Our company has experienced rapid growth since our inception in 2010. We have been in 4 different locations since then and we hope that this move into our new facility in the end of 2021 to be our last,” said Wehrli. “We moved to DeKalb in 2018 and have had nothing but great experiences working with the city on anything from improvements to our current facility or holding our first event in DeKalb.”

Wehrli is a true family business with Jason working alongside his Wife Brittany and three brothers, Ryan, Mitch and Chad. The company employs 38 people, and the expansion will allow Wehrli to retain those employees in DeKalb while adding five to eight additional jobs over the next two years.

“We are happy to give back to the community. Our family is born and raised in DeKalb County!” said Wehrli. “We are glad to be a strong part of the local workforce, and we look forward to growing the team here at WCFAB.”

Wehrli will be relocating from a 35,000-square-foot facility in DeKalb. Their new building will give the business more than three times the space for R&D work, high-quality manufacturing, and powder coating.
A rendering shows the new 112,000-square-foot facility on Harvestore Drive in DeKalb that will be the new home of Wehrli Custom Fabrication.
Quick Links
Curbside Yard Waste Pickup Resumes
LRS resumes seasonal collection of landscape waste on regularly scheduled pickup days beginning April 1st.
 
Residents are reminded of general guidelines:
 
• Landscape waste must be placed in approved biodegradable landscape waste bags or open garbage cans not larger than 32-gallon capacity - no plastic bags or boxes.

• LRS also offers Yard Waste carts for an additional, small monthly fee. Please call (815) 770-7550 to request a Yard Waste cart.
 
• Brush must be cut to 4-foot lengths and bundled with string or baler’s twine, (no wire or plastic rope) not to exceed 50 pounds. 

Questions may be directed to the Public Works Operations Division at 815-748-2040.  
Fire Safety Tips for Warmer Months
It’s easy to associate at-home fire protection with the colder months with the use of space heaters, fireplaces, decorative candles, and tangled strings of holiday lights. But, just because we’re less inclined to turn the heat on doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be vigilant when it comes to protecting ourselves and our property from fire hazards.

As you transition from sweaters to shorts, deep fryers to grills, and indoor holiday parties to backyard barbecues, keep an eye on these areas:

Grills: Fire is unavoidable when it comes to preparing the perfect kabob or rack of ribs on the grill, which means you’ve got some inherent risks right from the get-go. In fact, the NFPA reports that an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling each year. Here are some fire safety tips for the grill:

• While the meat is marinating, be sure to check each potentially problematic point of the grill including the propane tank, the hose, and all connecting points.
• Charcoal should be soaked with charcoal starter fluid only, so don’t let the pyro-happy Boy Scout in your family go anywhere near the grill with a container of lighter fluid, no matter how cool he swears it will be!
• Make sure the grill is clean—failing to clean the grill before and after use is a contributing factor in nearly 20% of all grill structure fires.
• Make sure the grill is set up in an open, outdoor area with nothing flammable (plants, paper products, etc.) nearby.

Outdoor Fire Pits: The necessary safety precautions for an outdoor fire pit (s’mores, anybody?) are much the same as for a grill, plus a few others:

• Never leave young children unattended near a fire in the pit.
• Fill a bucket with water and set it next to the pit before you even begin building the fire.
Avoid throwing leaves, pine cones, pine needles and paper into the fire. They catch fire quickly and can result in dangerous floating embers.
• Unless there’s an emergency, avoid dumping the entire bucket of water on the fire to put it out. Instead, spread the pieces of fuel as far apart as possible and gently sprinkle water over them until there are no more glowing embers. This prevents the scatter of embers and a thick cloud of smoke.
• Toast your marshmallows over the embers rather than the flames. This not only gives them that perfect golden crust, but prevents them from catching on fire.

Chimneys: As cozy as it was in January and February, come April and May chances are you’ll be less inclined to build a fire in the living room fireplace. As easy as it is to just scoop out the ashes, close it up, and forget about it until November, go ahead and have the chimney inspected as part of your spring cleaning effort. The NFPA recommends having a chimney inspected and thoroughly cleaned at least once a year anyway, and getting it out of the way this time of year often means ridding it of buildup that would only cause more damage if it hung around until the fall. Plus, chimney technicians will be more likely to have flexible schedules in the springtime.

Smoke Alarms: You knew this one was coming, right? The batteries should be changed once a year anyway, so just go ahead and roll it into your spring cleaning ritual. As the spring and summer days progress, don’t forget to test the smoke alarms (there should be at least one on every floor of the house) each month.

Dryers: If you’re lucky enough to have the space for a clothesline, consider drying your clothes and linens outside during these lovely warm months—is there anything better than the smell of freshly-laundered sheets after they’ve been dried by a soft spring breeze? If that’s not an option, keep in mind that the leading cause of clothes dryer-related fires is a failure to keep them clean. Scooping out the lint basket takes all of about 12 seconds, so be sure to clear it out every time you throw a load in. The NFPA also recommends cleaning out the vent pipe at least once a year, so might as well add that to the spring cleaning list, too.

We hope that you found these tips helpful. Happy Spring!
ALERT DeKalb
Receive important notifications from the City by signing up for ALERT DeKalb. Text, email, and phone messages are used to alert the public to emergency situations, severe weather, and traffic disruptions.

Users can also text ALERTDEKALB to 67283 to report criminal or suspicious activity and quality of life concerns.
DeKalb Police: Drop It & Drive
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month across the nation, and the DeKalb Police Department is urging drivers to drop their phones and focus on the road with a not-so-subtle reminder: “Phone in One Hand? Ticket in the Other.”

“It has become all too common to see people driving down the road while looking at their phones,” said Commander Jason Leverton. “People know texting and driving is both dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, putting themselves and others at risk. During April, you will see increased law enforcement efforts as officers stop and ticket anyone who violates distracted driving and other Illinois motor vehicle laws.”

In support of this effort, the DeKalb Police Department is partnering with the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies around Illinois the entire month of April.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 26,004 people died in U.S. crashes involving a distracted driver between 2012 and 2019.

The distracted driving campaign is administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation with federal traffic safety funds.

In the recent St. Patrick’s Day safety campaign, DeKalb Police issued 13 traffic citations for violations including speeding, no seatbelt, and no insurance. One driver was arrested for driving with a suspended license.
Exhibits & Conversation Promote Belonging in DeKalb
While the pandemic has been keeping people apart, the City of DeKalb, Northern Illinois University and a collection of local agencies have been working to bring the DeKalb community closer together through the Belonging initiative.

The initiative to develop a belonging community was sparked by a virtual conversation in October 2020, led by Dr. john a. powell, who leads the Belonging Institution at U.C. Berkley. Joining the city and the university in the effort are Family Service Agency, the Ellwood Museum and the DeKalb County History Center.

Aided by a $30,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in January 2021, and a $5,000 donation from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, those organizations have been working on a variety of public art and engagement activities designed to examine issues around race in the community. The goal is to make DeKalb a more welcoming, inclusive place that embraces diversity.

“We are delighted to be in partnership with the City of Dekalb and our community partners on such an important endeavor,” said Vernese Edghill-Walden, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion/Chief Diversity Officer and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer at NIU. “The positive support received from the entire community has been wonderful. We look forward to co-creating a community where all members are seen, valued and respected is a community where all members can live and more importantly can thrive.”

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas is equally enthused about the program.

“The social justice movement that has positively energized the dialogue about racism in our country and in this community since May 2020 has also helped us engage one another in finding what unites and humanizes us,” Nicklas said of the project. “It is our hope that this initiative will encourage our diverse community in the further exploration of how we can better embrace one another as we work, learn and live together.”

Projects funded by the IDHS grant have come to fruition this month, creating opportunities for members of the community to explore issues that create division and potentially motivating them to find ways to tear down those barriers and make DeKalb a place where all can feel they belong.

The image above is "American Gothic_Breaking Ground" by Terrance Gray, and it is part of the initiative's exhibits.

View all of the Belonging projects by clicking here.
DeKalb Police Officer Jonathan Bell is part of the Faces of Belonging exhibit, one of the projects in the Belonging initiative
Upcoming Meetings
Please note that due to ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, meetings are subject to cancellation. Check the City of DeKalb's Agenda Center for the most up to date information.
Citizens' Environmental Commission
April 1, 4 p.m. in the 1st Floor Conference Room at DeKalb City Hall

Planning and Zoning Commission
April 5, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Human Relations Commission
April 6, 6:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

City Council
April 12, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library


Planning and Zoning Commission
April 19, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Joint Review Board
April 23, 1 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

City Council
April 26, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Airport Advisory Board
April 27, 7 p.m. in the West Community Hanger at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport
To view agendas for City meetings, please go to the City's Agenda Center here.
To check for meeting cancellations and location updates, please check the City Website here.
Community Events
Downtown Merchants

What's Hatching in Downtown DeKalb

A petting zoo, pet adoptions, touch-a-truck and balloon animals are all planned for this community event in Van Buer Plaza.

Saturday, April 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Learn more about what's happening with the Downtown Merchants on their Facebook page.

DeKalb Public Library
309 Oak Street, DeKalb, IL

Virtual Event: Rainforests of the Caribbean

Kevin Adair, founder of social-eco enterprise FdS Haiti, discusses his mission to save the rainforests of the Caribbean through international social and ecological development

Saturday, April 3, 2 p.m.

Register for the event here, and see all of the library's programs on its calendar.
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb Campus

Northern Illinois University offers a variety of music, arts, and entertainment events that are open to the public. Check out NIU's Events Calendar for a full list of events.

Egyptian Theatre
135 North Second Street, DeKalb, IL

Ghost Yoga

Join a yoga session that will be positively paranormal with our new Ghost Yoga class. This will take place on the stage of the historic Egyptian Theatre under the glow of the Ghost Light. Bring your yoga mat to our stage for 30-minutes of ghost stories from Egyptian Theatre staff followed by an hour long yoga class

Wednesday, April 14, 5:30 p.m.

Learn more about this event here, and more on the Theatre's Events Schedule.

Send an e-mail to submit your event to possibly be included in our calendar!
Please note that due to the ongoing COVID-19 health concerns, these events are subject to cancellation.
City Officials
Jerry Smith, Mayor

Carolyn Morris, Alderman - 1st Ward

Bill Finucane, Alderman - 2nd Ward

Tracy Smith, Alderman - 3rd Ward

Greg Perkins, Alderman - 4th Ward
Scott McAdams, Alderman - 5th Ward

Mike Verbic, Alderman - 6th Ward

Anthony Faivre, Alderman - 7th Ward

Lynn Fazekas, City Clerk

Bill Nicklas, City Manager
Hours of Operation
City Phone Numbers
City Hall          
164 E. Lincoln Highway
Monday - Friday  
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Police Station
700 West Lincoln Highway
Monday - Friday   
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Public Works
1216 Market Street
Monday - Friday
7 a.m. - 4 p.m.

DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport    
3232 Pleasant Street  
Monday - Friday     
7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
City Clerk 815-748-2095 

City Manager's Office 815-748-2090

Community Development Department 815-748-2070

DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport 815-748-8102

Finance Department 815-748-2000

Fire/Police Emergency 911

Fire Non-Emergency 815-748-8460

Mayor's Office 815-748-2099

Police Non-Emergency 815-748-8400

Public Works Department 815-748-2040
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