Today in Morton - Feb. 5

Nathan Domenighini

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Fire department receives $712,500 grant

On Wednesday, Morton Fire Department chief Joe Kelley announced the department will receive a $712,500 federal grant to go towards a new aerial unit.

The department's current aerial unit, which is about 30 years old, is currently undergoing maintenance. It would have been needed to extinguish yesterday's fire at the former Pioneer Seed building on Main Street.

"We've actually applied for this grant for the past three years," Kelley said. "This year, we used a grant writer out of Texas."

Kelley said the hired grant writer, who cost a couple hundred dollars, was pessimistic of the department's chances of receiving such a large federal grant.

"Even the grant writer said, 'You're not going to get this,'" Kelley said. "I have persisted, despite that.

"This is a huge amount and there are very few of them that come out," he said.

Congressman Aaron Schock's (R - 18th District) office notified Kelley of the news. The grant is the third largest awarded this year, Kelley said.

"There have been over 3,200 federal grants for fire department this fiscal federal year," he said. "To date, only two of those grants have exceeded the amount we are receiving. Two other match that amount. Those are all grants under the same program for fire department."

Two other local fire departments, Peoria Heights and Toluca, also received grants in smaller amounts.

The cost of a new aerial unit can reach upward of $900,000, Kelley said. The village will have to contribute the difference.

But, Kelley said, it will save the village a lot of money compared to purchasing a new chassis, which village officials anticipated costing about $900,000.

"We knew we were going to have to replace the apparatus," Kelley said. "The village will have to put in some money."

PRESS RELEASE FROM SCHOCK'S OFFICE

Washington, D.C.Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) announced today Toluca Fire Protection and Ambulance District, Peoria Heights Fire Department and Morton Fire Department will be receiving Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG).

Toluca Fire Protection and Ambulance District will receive a grant of $23,513 to be used to purchase new radios and other small equipment.  Peoria Heights Fire Department will receive a grant for $18,151 and they will use the funding to purchase firefighter training and an industrial gear washer.  Morton Fire Department will receive $712,500, which is one of the largest grants awarded this year.  They will use the funding to purchase an aerial truck.

This funding will help enable these departments to obtain the equipment they need to ensure that their firefighters can safely do their jobs,” said Schock.  “It will allow these agencies to better protect their firefighters and, in turn, our communities.”

“This funding will provide improved personal safety for our firefighters and allow us to improve our radio system,” said Toluca Fire Protection and Ambulance Chief Jerry Faw. “The federal funding provided through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program is an invaluable resource for local Departments and we are grateful for Congressman Schock’s support.”

“The Peoria Heights Fire Department is very grateful to be one of the recipients of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant,” said Norm Reichert, Fire Chief, Peoria Heights Fire Department.  “The funding will be used for firefighter training and an industrial gear washer for the station.”

“We’re incredibly excited to receive this funding and appreciate the hard work Congressman Schock does on behalf of firefighters,” stated Morton Fire Department Chief Joe Kelley.  “This new ladder truck will go a long way to helping keep Morton safe.”

 The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical services organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

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Christmas in the Pumpkin Patch

What do you think of the new theme?

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Yesterday's fire

Fire extinguished at former Pioneer Seed building (Feb. 4)

The Morton Fire Department responded to a fire at the former Pioneer Seed building located on South Main Street at about 11:30 a.m. today.

Workers were doing some cutting work on the second story of the building when sawdust caught fire, spreading quickly to the frame of the structure, MFD chief Joe Kelley said.

"It was contained to the upper exposed level," Kelley said. "It didn't leave that area.

Firefighters responded within 5 minutes and were able to distinguish the fire within 45 minutes.

An East Peoria unit was called in for assistance.

"We called in East Peoria because what we really needed for that operation was an aerial unit," Kelley said. Currently, the MFD's aerial unit is undergoing repairs.

The building, Kelley said, was in unfavorable shape before the fire, prompting him to keep firefighters on the outside.

"It's at risk of collapse," he said. "It is not stable. Even though it was accessible, we did not send any firefighters into that location.

"We stayed back away from (the building)," he added. "That's why the aerial unit was useful."

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Morton Tourism Association

The Morton Business Association will take on a new name and new goal — The Morton Tourism Association.

The organization's president, Susan Pyles, announced the change today at Morton Rotary.

Here is the press release:

The Morton Business Association has been in existence for the past 3 years and has made many changes in the Village of Morton, through the cooperative efforts of the businesses and a dedicated group of volunteers. In June, they kicked off the opening of the new community website, “mortonmagnet.com”.  This continues to be an asset to all of the community giving information about Morton events, news, and activities. We will be sending out new advertizing opportunities to all of Morton’s businesses for the site in the future.

 In the summer of 2008, with the help of the Morton Community Foundation and the Village of Morton, they placed flower pots and hanging baskets of flowers on Main, Jefferson, Adams and Washington streets in the downtown area. They organized a car show in July and August.

They coordinated the efforts of many who helped to make the Holidazzle weekend a huge success for the retailers in Morton.  They worked together with the Morton Community Foundation and Pure Essence Salon to bring about the 1st Annual Community Tree Lighting ceremony.  They succeeded in making the downtown area look very dressed up for the holidays for all the visitors and citizens of our wonderful town.  The holiday open houses that were held the following day brought many visitors to our town to shop and eat.  They held the first annual ‘Breakfast with Santa” which was a great hit with the kids and parents.

The question is asked of us on a regular basis “What is the difference between the MBA and the Chamber?” It is a bit confusing and we would like to remedy that and take care of another issue at the same time.  The vision of the MBA has been for the past 3 years to bring all retailers, hotels, and restaurants in the whole Village together to benefit from joint events and advertizing, but since this group started off as the Downtown Business Association, this has been a little difficult to overcome.  We think we have a plan.

Starting March 1st, there will be a new name given to this tireless group of volunteers, the “Morton Tourism Association” (MTA). All of the activities of this group have always had the potential to bring folks in to our town for entertainment, shopping and dining.  We will be expanding our efforts to do more of that. The group will be governed by a board of 6 members asked to volunteer their time to coordinate the committees for a variety of activities.  Village Trustee Betsy Yarcho will be overseeing the group and reporting to the Village board on their accomplishments.  The Morton Tourism Association will be an advisory group to assist me in the development of strategic plans and regular activities of the organization and the Morton Office of Tourism. 

The mission of the Morton Tourism Association (MTA) will be to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Morton and to increase the number of people who visit Morton through the development, promotion, and facilitation of local and regional events, attractions, facilities, and tours. We will accomplish this goal by working closely with retail businesses, restaurants, hotels and interested volunteers to make Morton the place to visit and live. While our goals of improving and increasing the business climate of the Village are similar to the goals of the Chamber, we will be taking a different but parallel path in cooperation with the Chamber to bring about the implementation of this plan.  We look forward to working with the new chamber leadership and the Morton business community in 2009 and beyond.   

- Susan Pyles

Director of Tourism

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