May 2023

Serious Crime Down in DeKalb

DeKalb Police officers can devote more time to proactive policing, such as speed enforcement in neighborhoods, following a drop in serious crime last year.

The DeKalb Police Department’s annual report shows Group A offenses against people, which are 11 of the offenses categorized as the most significant by the FBI’s National Incident Based Report System, dropped 10.5 percent in 2022 from the previous year. Crimes against property were down 10.8 percent; those classified as crimes against society, including drug offenses, were up 10.1 percent; while Group B offenses, classified as less serious, fell by 20 percent.

Delivering the annual report to the City Council on April 10, Police Chief David Byrd (shown in photo) credited the Department’s quality personnel, technology and community cooperation for the overall reduction. With less calls for service, Byrd said officers are able to make more proactive traffic stops to respond to concerns raised frequently by residents about speeding and other traffic offenses.

“Since January, officers have been very proactive,” said Byrd. “That’s a real strong indicator of less crime. Because if it wasn’t true, we would have to have more calls for service. We wouldn’t have time to be as proactive as the officers are now.”

Mayor Cohen Barnes commended the Police Department and extended his appreciation to all of its personnel. He said creating a safe environment is a top priority for the City Council, noting its support for economic development and an incentive for the sale of three large apartment buildings with a high number of calls in the Annie Glidden North neighborhood.

“We’re seeing it firsthand that all of us working collectively and collaboratively is leading to a safer environment for everyone that lives in the City of DeKalb,” said Barnes.

Statistics show the incentive has been a success in reducing the number of calls at the three buildings. From a high of more than 800 calls in the fourth quarter of 2020, total calls at the three buildings fell to 100 in the fourth quarter of 2022.

In the 2023 City budget, the Council approved increasing the total number of sworn officers to 70. As those positions are filled, Chief Byrd said they are making sure the recruits meet the department’s high standards.

“We expect integrity. Those are the type of individuals we’re looking for to be police officers in the City of DeKalb,” said Byrd. “We’re also looking for officers who have their moral compass pointing in the right direction.”

Byrd also thanked the community for its cooperation, encouraging residents to call the Police if they see something that does not look right.

The full annual report can be viewed here.

In This Issue

$12 Million in Local Road Repairs Planned Over Next Five Years

Peace Road Widening Begins this Week

New Hotel Proposed for Peace Road 

Key Findings Shared from First Phases of Metra Extension Study 

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Tugs Event Returns to Greek Row

Mayor Cohen Barnes congratulated Sigma Nu team captain Raaif Majeed following the fraternity’s first place finish on April 22 in the NIU Interfraternity Council men’s Tugs competition.

The event returned to Greek Row this year. Held on the City-owned lot at 912 Edgebrook Dr., students were able to walk to and from the event from the neighboring fraternity and sorority houses.

2023 Street Repairs Include Bethany Road

A bumpy stretch of Bethany Road will be resurfaced as part of the City of DeKalb’s annual street repairs.

The City Council April 10 approved up to $2.56 million for this year’s Street Maintenance Program. The work includes resurfacing Bethany Road from North First Street towards Sangamon Road. 

City Manager Bill Nicklas said this will be the City’s largest street repair program since at least 2019.

“This is a very important program,” said Nicklas. “We can never do all that we want to do but (City Engineer Zac Gill) has very dutifully tried to stretch the dollar.”

The program also includes resurfacing Greenwood Acres Drive from Route 23 to Bethany Road, and the resurfacing of the Knolls neighborhood will continue. The main ring through the Knolls was resurfaced last year, and the side streets in the northern third of the neighborhood will be done this year.

Segments of East Locust and Oak Street will also be redone as part of development agreements with Nehring Electric and American Marketing.

$12 Million in Local Road Repairs Planned Over Next Five Years

The City of DeKalb plans to continue its accelerated Street Maintenance Program by investing $12 million into local roads over the next five years.

The City Council April 24 supported a five-year program to resurface 26 miles of local roads between 2024 and 2028.

A pavement rating study funded by the DeKalb-Sycamore Area Transportation Study was used to decide which streets would be resurfaced. The plan targets streets rated failing or poor in the study and in immediate need of attention.

The plan continues the aggressive street repair strategy started in 2019. Before this, City spending on streets had average just $860,000 annually over the previous 25 years. That amount has grown to more than $2 million annually, including $2.56 million in resurfacing approved for this year.

The list of streets scheduled to be repaired is included in the Five-Year Program, which can be viewed here.

This map shows the areas that are targeted for repairs in the proposed five-year Street Maintenance Program. These areas have streets that have been rated in poor or failing condition.

Peace Road Widening Begins this Week

The widening of Peace Road north of the tollway will begin the week of May 1. 

This year’s work will widen Peace Road to four lanes from the tollway through the Fairview Drive intersection. This includes a safety upgrade to the intersection at Fairview Drive and the resurfacing of Peace Road to Route 38.

The work will be completed this construction season. No permanent road closures are planned for the project but there may be temporary lane closures. 

The project is part of a larger multi-year plan to widen Peace Road from the tollway to the railroad overpass.

Questions can be directed to City Engineer Zac Gill at [email protected].

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 Openings

The City is currently accepting applications for Entry Level and Lateral Police Officers to create eligibility lists.  

• Entry Level Police Officer - Application and Testing Deadline: Sunday, June 4, 2023

• Lateral Police Officer - Application Deadline: Sunday, June 4, 2023 

The recruitment brochure, hiring requirements and applications instructions can be viewed here.

New Hotel Proposed for Peace Road

The DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a rezoning request for a new hotel on Peace Road at its May 1 meeting.

A public hearing will be held on the proposal for a 121-room Marriott-branded hotel at 902 Peace Road between the Bumper to Bumper auto parts store and Fast Stop Express. EO5 Hotels has requested a rezoning from Heavy Industrial to Planned Development Industrial for the project.

60 rooms of the four-story hotel would be branded as Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, which are standard stay rooms, while the other 61 rooms would be branded as TownePlace Suites by Marriott, which are extended stay rooms.

The public hearing will be held at the Commission’s meeting at 6 p.m. May 1 in the Yusunas Meeting Room at the DeKalb Public Library. The meeting agenda can be found here.

A rendering shows the design for a proposed Marriott-branded hotel on Peace Road.

Key Findings Shared from First Phases of Metra Extension Study

A feasibility study on a possible extension of Metra service to the City of DeKalb has found potential riders include more than 10,000 people who travel daily between DeKalb County and communities along the UP-West rail line.

The data is among the key findings of the first two phases of the feasibility study being created in partnership between the City and Northern Illinois University.

These approximately 10,800 people traveling daily from DeKalb County along the Union Pacific West Line are part of the potential ridership for an extension of commuter rail service from Elburn to DeKalb.

“We are very excited to see such a large number of people already traveling in the UP-West corridor,” said City Manager Bill Nicklas. “A commuter rail extension would provide these commuters with a safe, reliable option for traveling to employment, entertainment and higher education destinations, including those here in DeKalb.”

A significant source for ridership would come from Northern Illinois University. The feasibility study has found 64 percent of NIU students come from the six-county Chicago Metropolitan Area, including 14 percent from communities along the UP-West line. Additionally, 17 percent of NIU employees live along this line.

Despite many of its students and employees traveling in the UP-West corridor, NIU is the largest university in the state without passenger rail service. In fact, the top five Amtrak stations in the state each connect to a nearby university.

“Northern Illinois University students, faculty and staff would make up a substantial share of the potential ridership for the service extension,” said Nicklas. “And the existing stations serving college towns demonstrate the mutually beneficial relationship between passenger rail and higher education facilities.”

Capital needs and operational costs are being explored and will be detailed when the third and final phase of the study is complete.

It is known the project will require construction and use of 15 miles of third track along with other infrastructure upgrades. There are federal and state grants available to help fund these improvements, and the study will identify those programs.

Also, several models for operating revenue are being analyzed, and a range of scheduling options for the commuter service are being considered, from four to 16 round trips each weekday, along with the potential for weekend service. 

Since January, a working team representing the City, NIU and Sam Schwartz Consulting, which is creating the study, has been meeting every two weeks to compare and discuss data as it is collected. Meetings have been held with representatives from Metra and Union Pacific, and community input has been gathered through a survey of large employers and two informational booths were held in the community in April.

In May, a public meeting will be held on the completed feasibility study to share its findings with the community.

More information on the fesability study can be found here.

Alderman Faivre Recognized

Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre is being honored for his thoughtful leadership while serving the City of DeKalb.

Faivre was recognized at the April 24 City Council meeting, his final meeting following seven-and-a-half years of service under three Mayors. During that time, City Manager Bill Nicklas said Faivre’s kind nature and innovative thinking brought much value to the Council’s discourse.

“You’ve been very instrumental in promoting fiscal responsibility, that has been one of your keystones, as well as a very responsive government,” said Nicklas. “Public safety has been high on your list, and you’ve been instrumental with other members of the Council in transforming our local economy.”

Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams said he could always turn to Faivre for the best possible solution.

“He’s the first one that explained to me that there’s no such thing as problems,” said McAdams. “They’re all about possibilities.”

Mayor Cohen Barnes called Faivre the epitome of an alderperson who carefully chose his words but always spoke on an agenda item no matter how contentious.

“Every decision and every comment that he ever made, I believe, was fully weighed and was thoughtful on that particular item, and you always expressed where you stood for your constituents,” said Barnes. “That is absolutely true leadership.”

Alderman Faivre, who did not seek reelection, said it has been an honor to serve the residents of the Seventh Ward and the City of DeKalb.

“We have made transformational changes to create a business-friendly climate, more efficient City operations and an attractive downtown,” said Faivre. “I feel I am leaving DeKalb in a better position than when I attended my first Council meeting.”

The new Seventh Ward Alderman, John Walker, will be sworn in at the Council meeting on May 8.

Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre was joined by Mayor Cohen Barnes, the City Council and City staff on April 24 as he was presented with an honorary street sign recognizing his seven and a half years of service on the Council.

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Water Quality Report Available

The City of DeKalb’s annual Water Quality Report is now available. It can be viewed here.

The report reflects the commitment and dedication of the City’s employees to provide you with the safest and most reliable water supply. We are pleased to inform you that the City of DeKalb’s drinking water meets or surpasses all Federal and State drinking water standards.

DeKalb Fire's Tips for Safe Grilling

May is the time of year when we fire up those grills as the weather gets warmer. DeKalb Fire wants you to grill safely... here are some great tips!

Grill fire statistics

According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 10,600 home structure and outdoor fires involving grills per year during 2014–2018. Of those, over half (5,700 - 54%) were related to the use of grills. These grill fires caused an average of 60 civilian injuries and $14 million in direct property damage.

Some of the leading causes of grilling related fires are:

  • Failure to clean grills
  • Placing the grill too close to a structure
  • Leaving the grill unattended
  • Gas leaks or breaks

Tips for maintaining your grill

  • Check the gas lines. The leading cause of gas grill fires is a fuel line leak or break.
  • Inspect the lines for cracking, sharp bends and brittleness. Checking and maintaining your grill is important. Rub soapy water on the line and look for bubbling to test for leaks.
  • Clean your grill. Stuck-on char can increase your risk of cancer if consumed. 
  • Clean grates and grease pans to prevent flare-ups.
  • Wait 48 hours before disposing of charcoal ashes.

Tips for grilling safely

  • Grill in well-ventilated areas. Carbon monoxide related fatalities can be prevented by never grilling inside a home, tent, vehicle or camper.
  • Wear proper clothing. 
  • Don't wear loose clothing.
  • Roll up your sleeves.
  • Pull your hair back.
  • Tie and secure apron strings.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within close reach. Have a fire extinguisher close by and know how to use it.
  • Use combustibles cautiously. Prevent fires by keeping combustibles a safe distance from the grill. 
  • Keep lighter fluids capped and a safe distance away from the grill.
  • Never add lighter fluid to hot coals.
  • Never use gasoline or kerosene as a starter fluid.
  • Create a safe zone around the grill. Young children account for many visits to the emergency room resulting from grill contact burns. 
  • Keep children, pets and play areas away from grills.
  • Mark a 3-Foot "No Kids Zone" around your grill.
  • Grill at least 10 feet away from buildings.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • Avoid grilling while intoxicated. It's tempting to partake for some but consuming alcohol while grilling can be dangerous and is a risk for accidents.

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 Attend Family Service Agency Training

Several DeKalb Police officers and telecommunicators had the privilege of attending a four-day advanced strangulation course right here in DeKalb.

This course teaches best practices in dealing with strangulation investigations so that we can better help victims of domestic violence in our community. Our officers had the chance to collaborate with advocates, medical professionals, prosecutors, and other community stakeholders to explore how a multidisciplinary team can make these investigations stronger and more effective.

We also had a moment of pride when Officer Pristave was asked to take the mic and explain how the DeKalb Police Department uses best practices to address these investigations.

Special thanks to Family Service Agency of DeKalb County for bringing this training to DeKalb and offering it at no cost. Your partnership is so important to us!

Van Buer Plaza Remains Open During Repairs

An entrance to Van Buer Plaza in downtown DeKalb will be closed for repairs, but the lot will remain available for parking.

The entrance from Locust Street will be closed for repairs beginning May 1. It will remain closed for up to 10 days.

Access to Van Buer Plaza from Palmer Court will remain available using Second Street.

Volunteer Work Sessions Underway for City Hall Mural

The DeKalb community is encouraged to come together to create a two-story mosaic mural on City Hall.

The design for the mural, which will be a blend of mosaic panels and painted imagery on the City Hall’s south exterior wall, received the support of the DeKalb City Council on April 10.

The design (shown in photo) was inspired by the community’s ideas gathered at a pair of workshops in February facilitated by the artist, Danielle Casali. Community members worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas for imagery, centered around the mural’s theme of belonging, to include in the design. Danielle also performed research with staff at the DeKalb County History Center and conducted online polls. The City’s Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission, which is made up of community volunteers, provided feedback on the design and recommended it receive City Council support.

Casali’s design began with a landscape composition suggesting agriculture and prairies, and she then incorporated DeKalb’s abundant community gardens.

“The diverse garden that is shown is well tended, the roots are strong and plants and pollinators have a vital, interdependent relationship,” said Casali. “DeKalb is not only a land of traditional agriculture, but also a diverse city where individuals tend to literal community gardens and contribute to the larger community.”

Other DeKalb imagery includes the Huskie pride hand sign, Kishwaukee River and flying geese.

Along with serving as the mural’s theme, belonging will be the spirit of the mural’s creation. 

In a partnership with the DeKalb Public Library, Casali is holding volunteer sessions for the next several months to create the mural in a workspace located at the library. Volunteers work directly with the artist, learning to use basic hand tools, cutting stained glass and ceramic, and laying tesserae for mosaic.  

“Danielle did a wonderful job integrating into her mural concept design ideas and suggestions that were generated through public workshops earlier this spring,” said Brad Hoey, chair of the Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission, which secured a T-Mobile Hometown Grant that will support the mural’s creation. “Our community now has the opportunity to actively participate in helping Danielle bring to life a work of art that highlights the history, culture, and people that make DeKalb a great place to live, work, learn, and play.” 

No experience is necessary to volunteer, and there is something to do for every age and ability. Along with individuals and families, groups formed by businesses, places of worship, nonprofits, clubs and other organizations can volunteer together. Children are welcome to attend with a caregiver and can lay pre-cut tiles or create their own mosaic honeybee or earthworm.

Volunteers need to sign up in advance to ensure there is enough space in the workshop. Signup can be done online here. Community support is vital to making the mural a reality, so volunteers are encouraged to attend multiple work sessions. The website also includes more information on the mural’s design.

World War II Aircraft Returns to the Skies

A World War II TMB Avenger housed at DeKalb Airport for nearly a year has made its first flight since making an emergency landing.

The pilot landed in a field near Malta last May after the plane experienced catastrophic engine failure. It was towed to DeKalb Airport’s Community Hangar where it was housed awaiting delivery of a new engine. The new engine was delivered and installed March 20.

After a few adjustments since the installation of the new engine, the Avenger returned to the skies on April 3. The pilot confirmed it arrived safely back home at Illinois Valley/LaSalle/Peru Airport.

Facebook Photos

View more photos of the TMB Avenger's first take off following its restoration on the DeKalb Airport Facebook page. Follow the page to learn about the airport.

Entries Sought for Memorial Day Parade

Community groups are encouraged to join the lineup for the Memorial Day parade in DeKalb.

Memorial Day activities on May 29 begin with the parade at 9 a.m. followed by a program on the Ellwood House lawn at 9:30.

Each year, new entries are invited to join the parade to strengthen this important community event honoring those military service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Veterans' organizations, youth sports teams, service groups, nonprofit organizations, clubs, and members of the faith community are just some of the groups that would make great additions to the parade. Since Memorial Day is a solemn holiday, participants are asked to refrain from displaying or carrying advertising materials and political banners.

The staging of parade entries begins at 8:30 a.m. at North Third and Locust Street. The parade steps off at 9 a.m. heading west on Locust Street, which was dedicated as DeKalb’s Honorary Veterans Way in 2020. The parade then goes north on Linden Place.

The procession is followed by a program on the Ellwood House lawn and then free first-floor tours of the Ellwood Mansion.

Groups interested in joining the parade can fill out the online form found here. There is no participation fee. It is asked that forms be submitted by Friday, May 12.

The Memorial Day events are a collaboration of the City of DeKalb, DeKalb Park District and Ellwood House Museum.

Questions may be directed to Scott Zak at [email protected] or 815-748-2396.

Upcoming Meetings

Planning & Zoning Commission

May 1, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Citizens' Environmental Commission

May 4, 4:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

City Council

May 8, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

DeKalb Public Library Board

May 10, 7 p.m. in the Bilder Family Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board

May 15, 9:30 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

Citizens' Community Enhancement Commission

May 15, 4 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

Planning & Zoning Commission

May 15, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

City Council

May 22, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Airport Advisory Board

May 23, 7 p.m. in the West Community Hangar at the DeKalb 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.

May Community Events

Downtown DeKalb

Back Alley Market

A multi-vendor event including vintage, retro and handcrafted products along with music, drinks, food and more

Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

North Second Street & Palmer Court

Find out more about the event here.

First Fridays-Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo as the new First Fridays series kicks off in downtown DeKalb. Enjoy live music, food trucks and fun activities for all ages with many businesses open extended hours.

Friday, May 5, 5-8 p.m.

Lincoln Highway from First to Fourth Street

Visit the event's Facebook page.

Stage Coach Players

126 S. 5th Street

Funny Money

This British farce is the Stage Coach Players’ summer season opening comedy. 

Continues May 5-May 7

Purchase tickets here, and visit the theater's full schedule.

DeKalb Public Library

309 Oak Street

After-hours Concert: The Pangelic Steelpan & Harp Duo

The Pangelic Harp and Steelpan Duo steps outside conventional boundaries, playing original compositions, jazz standards and classics with improvisation arranged to complement each instrument.

Saturday, May 6, 2023, 6:30 p.m.

Learn more about the program here, and view all of the library's programs on its calendar.

Egyptian Theatre

135 N. 2nd Street

The Pat Tomasulo Show

Pat Tomasulo is a Chicago-based stand-up comedian, TV host, actor and podcaster.

Friday, May 19, 8 p.m.

Purchase tickets here, and see the theater's full schedule on its Events calendar.

Memorial Day

Join the community for a parade and program honoring those military services members who gave their lives for our country.

Monday, May 29

The parade begins at 9 a.m. at North Third and Locust Street, heads west on Locust and then north on Linden Place.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. on the Ellwood House lawn and will be followed by free first-floor tours of the Ellwood Mansion.

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City Officials
Cohen Barnes, Mayor

Carolyn Morris, Alderwoman - 1st Ward

Barb Larson, Alderwoman - 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

Ruth Scott, Recording Secretary

Bill Nicklas, City Manager

Hours of Operation
City Phone Numbers

City Hall          

164 E. Lincoln Highway

Monday - Friday  

8 a.m. - 5 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     

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

City Clerk 815-748-2090 

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 815-758-1886

Police Non-Emergency 815-748-8400

Public Works Department 815-748-2040

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