Travel & Tourism
Runway Snow Removal In August? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Cathie Rochau   
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 12:01


Moline, Illinois - The Quad City International Airport is proud to unveil their newly expanded snow removal equipment building. Working closely with Valley Construction Company of Rock Island, IL, this building expansion and remodeling project will house the equipment that does nothing less than keep the airport up and running during winter snow events.

The existing snow removal equipment building, also known as the Airfield Maintenance Building, was formerly 32,000 sf.  With a 24,000 sf expansion, the building is now a total of 56,000 sf.  Local members of the design & construction team include  McClure Engineering, Dennis Kelly & Associates, and Valley Construction.  The project began in the Fall of 2012 and was completed within twelve months.  An IMPACT agreement was in place for the project which is a partnership between the Tri-City Building Trades, contractors, and owners that helps ensure the completion of a quality construction project in the most cost-efficient and timely basis.

Bruce Carter, Director of Aviation, says “We are very grateful to have a dedicated team of employees, some with decades of experience, who keep our runways clear under all forms of winter weather conditions.” Carter adds, “This new building provides state-of-the-art maintenance, storage, and training space to support their hard work-- and keep the equipment, which is critical to winter operations, ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

A grand opening event is planned for Tuesday, August 20th.

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Governor Quinn Appoints Independent Task Force to Restore Trust in Northeastern Illinois Public Transit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Friday, 16 August 2013 10:31

Task Force Will Issue Recommendations to Root Out Waste, Fraud and Abuse, and Overhaul Structure to Better Serve Transit Riders

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today issued an Executive Order creating the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force, an independent panel of transit, finance and good government leaders who will issue recommendations to reform the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois. The 15-member, blue-ribbon task force is charged with developing ways to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and streamline operations to ensure improved transit service for the millions of users each year.

The task force will issue recommendations to be considered by the General Assembly and Governor Quinn for both the veto and spring sessions.

Today’s Executive Order is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to strengthen oversight of mass transit in northeastern Illinois and restore commuters’ confidence. The governor’s move comes in the wake of recurring scandals at Metra and ongoing accountability problems over the last decade.

“It’s clear that the mass transit system in northeastern Illinois is not working for taxpayers,” Governor Quinn said. “This task force is a step forward to make our transit system worthy of the public’s trust. Their recommendations will be valuable as we work in both the veto and spring sessions to reform mass transit in northeastern Illinois.”

The task force will develop recommendations to revamp the oversight of mass transit in northeastern Illinois. The task force will work to provide initial recommendations to the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly prior to the fall veto session, and they will issue a final report by January 31, 2014.

The members of the Northeastern Illinois Public Transit Task Force include:

Co-Chair George Ranney Jr. is President and CEO of Metropolis Strategies. A graduate of Harvard College and the University of Chicago Law School, he served as Deputy State Budget Director under Governor Richard B. Ogilvie and was the chairman of the task force which led to the creation of the Regional Transportation Authority. A trustee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation from 1991 to 2005 and an emeritus trustee at the University of Chicago, George Ranney is the former Chair and Chief Executive of Prairie Holdings Corporation, the firm which developed Prairie Crossing, a nationally recognized conservation community in north suburban Grayslake. He has served in various capacities for Inland Steel Industries, include Vice President for Raw Materials and General Counsel. In addition, Mr. Ranney is senior counsel to Mayer Brown LLP. He has worked for a number of civic and non-profit organizations including Chicago Public Television (WTTW) and the Field Foundation of Illinois and lives in Grayslake.

Co-Chair Ann L. Schneider is Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. She has more than 25 years of service with the State of Illinois, including nearly eight with the Illinois Department of Transportation as its Chief Fiscal Officer and Chief Operating Officer. She is the chair of AASHTO’s Standing Committee on Rail Transportation (SCORT) and CMAP’s Policy Committee. She is a member of the AASHTO Sustainable Transportation: Energy, Infrastructure and Climate Solutions (STEICS) Steering Committee, and as Secretary, she sits on AASHTO’s Board of Directors.  In June 2013, she was named chair of the U.S. Department of Transportation National Freight Advisory Committee.  Secretary Schneider has a Master’s of Public Administration and has completed her coursework, all but dissertation, for a Doctorate of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She lives in Springfield.

Carole L. Brown is currently a Managing Director at Barclay’s Capital. For more than six years, Brown served as Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority Board, a position she held through September 2009. A native of Baltimore and a 1986 graduate of Harvard University, she went on to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where she received a Master’s in Management in 1989. She lives in Chicago.

Patrick Fitzgerald is the former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois whose impressive work prosecuting governmental corruption has protected the public interest. As a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates, he serves as an experienced investigator whose practice focuses on internal investigations, government enforcement matters and civil litigation. Fitzgerald has received numerous honors for his more than 20 years in public service including the Justice John Paul Stevens Award from the Chicago Bar Association. He was previously named “Lawyer of the Year” by The National Law Journal. A graduate of Amherst College, he holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He lives in Chicago.

Robert W. Guy is the Illinois State Legislative Director for the United Transportation Union (UTU). Guy graduated from Western Illinois University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism. In 1996 he was elected UTU #234’s Local Legislative Representative and was reelected in 1999 and 2003, becoming State Director in 2009, where he has focused on expanding Amtrak service, working on safety legislation, and other issues. He lives in Springfield.

Adrienne M. Holloway is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at DePaul University’s School of Public Service. She has more than 10 years of experience in the housing and community development industries. Dr. Holloway received her Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University, her Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York and her B.S. in Psychology from Fordham University. She serves on the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Board. She lives in Aurora.

Sylvia Jenkins is President of Moraine Valley Community College, the second largest community college in Illinois. She earned a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies specializing in Community College Leadership from Colorado State University, a Master’s of Library Science from State University of New York at Albany and a B.S. in English Education from Grambling State University. She lives in Chicago.

Nick Palmer is the Chief of Staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh and oversees all the departments under the executive branch of county government.  In one of the fastest growing counties in the state, Palmer has pushed for greater transparency of county government and greater accountability of taxpayer dollars. Palmer serves as chairman of the Will County Integrated Criminal Justice Ad-Hoc Committee and initiated a Coordinated Paratransit effort in eastern Will County.  He has advocated for expansion of transit services to underserved areas of Will County. He lives in Bolingbrook.

Tony Paulauski is the Executive Director of The Arc of Illinois, a grassroots organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families. Paulauski, a native Chicagoan, also serves on numerous boards and committees including the Governor’s Disability Services Committee. He was appointed Chairman of the Pace Blue Ribbon Committee on Paratransit. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where he majored in Special Education. He lives in Tinley Park.

Raul Raymundo is the Executive Director of the Resurrection Project, an organization dedicated to creating healthy communities through organizing, education and community development. He is currently a member of the Executive Council of Chicago’s Metropolis 2020. Raymundo also serves on several boards, including Chicago Metropolitan Development Association and WBEZ 91.5 FM Public Radio. He is a resident of Chicago.

Robert G. Reiter, Jr. is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL). He is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 and previously served as an organizer, business representative and field attorney responsible for negotiating collective bargaining agreements. He holds a juris doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is a resident of Orland Park.

Ashish Sen is a member of the Chicago Transit Authority Board of Directors and served as Director of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for the U.S. Department of Transportation. He served as Director of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he also held positions as Professor of Urban Planning, Professor of Mathematics, Professor of Statistics, and Professor of Computer Science. He is a resident of Chicago.

Don Tantillo is a retired high school teacher and debate coach who worked at Wheeling High School in Northwest Suburban District 214 for 30 years. He grew up in Chicago and earned an undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and a Master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. Tantillo was honored in 1992 at the White House as one of two outstanding teachers from Illinois. Tantillo drove a CTA bus while earning his college education. He lives in McHenry.

Kathryn Tholin is CEO of Center for Neighborhood Technology, where she directs and oversees CNT’s research, demonstration and policy development. Tholin has more than 25 years of experience in program management, policy development, and research on a wide range of community development, environmental and energy issues. She is also a founder and board member of the Chicago Community Loan Fund. She lives in Chicago.

Sonia Walwyn is a Vice President of Duff & Phelps, LLC, and a member of the tax services group with over 25 years experience assisting clients in maximizing their overall savings and business efficiency across all industry sectors. She earned an LLM in taxation from Villanova School of Law in 2000 and a J.D. from Dickinson School of Law in 1988, and holds a B.S. in accounting from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She lives in Naperville.

The Governor’s Office currently has no legal ability to intervene with the Metra board or the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) board unless the Office of the Executive Inspector General (OEIG) files a report alleging wrongdoing. According to recent media reports, the OEIG is currently investigating. Governor Quinn expanded the OEIG’s authority to include transit boards in 2011 and just this year re-appointed Ricardo Meza – who was one of the finalists for U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois – as the OEIG. The task force will conduct its work at the same time the Inspector General’s office continues to review any potential wrongdoing without compromising that investigation.


5 Reasons Why It’s Best to Keep Your Travels within U.S. Borders PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 12 August 2013 08:15
Closed Embassies Highlight the Safer, More Care Free
Travel Here at Home, Says Popular Travel Blogger

Citizens of the United States: exercise vigilance if you are out of the country – that’s the message from the Obama administration following the recent closings of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies on three continents. But that’s no reason to curtail your travel plans. Seeing America, especially with children in tow like blogger and domestic travel expert Alisa Abecassis, can give you a world of excitement.

“The world is an amazing place, but it’s not always a friendly one” says Abecassis who provides U.S. family travel resources at “There is so much to explore right here at home, and you don’t have to worry about terrorist attacks, political unrest, or losing your passport!

“Having traveled this country with my three children for the last 10 years in 14 trips covering 42 states on our way to 50, I can give you a million reasons why this is the best place to discover and explore. But I’ll start with just five.”

Abecassis discusses why American families are better off vacationing right here in the US of A:

? Safety: At the risk of sounding paranoid: Travel to Mexico and you run the risk of being kidnapped and held for ransom by a drug cartel. Travel to China and you run the risk of getting severe food poisoning. “And Europe? – Too many terrorist threats for my taste – train bombings in Spain, riots in France and the list goes on,” Abecassis says. “I am all about seeing the world and exploring new frontiers, but right now, too many parts of the world are just not safe if you are traveling with an American passport.”

? Money: Sure, places like Australia and New Zealand may be safer than others, but have you checked the prices? It’s ridiculously expensive! Despite the long and expensive airplane ride, Aussies come to the states in high numbers, in part, because it’s so much cheaper to vacation here. Why not feed your local or state economy? Have a taste for something different? – Travel to Honolulu, Anchorage, or the Florida Keys. When you stay within U.S. borders, you are contributing to the U.S. economy – and getting more bang for your buck.

? History: Consider all the turmoil happening around the globe and contrast it with the peace, stability, wealth and tolerance of America. We are so fortunate to enjoy freedom of speech, the liberation of women, religious tolerance and civil rights for all. Sadly, too many citizens don’t fully appreciate the historical forces that gave us these privileges because they just don’t know them. Brush up on your history, with a trip to Philadelphia, Gettysburg or Washington, D.C.

? Convenience: Let’s face it – Americans like convenience. Global travel not only poses lots of logistical challenges (visas, customs, etc) which can easily become a nightmare, but also some other challenges like currency changes and language barriers just to name a few. On the other hand, you can take a long weekend or an extended vacation and travel anywhere in the states without having to contend with language or major cultural differences.

? Global Influences Here at Home: If you still have a hankering for something with a global feel, you can find those influences all across the USA. We are a country of immigrants, right? It’s not just our history, but also our foods, architecture, accents, traditions … you name it. You can learn about Latin America in Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. You can learn about Scandinavia in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and about Europe in New York, Illinois and Louisiana, just to name a few. You won’t need your passport or the obligatory hassle from customs – just an open mind about your own country.

About Alisa Abecassis

Alisa Abecassis is the proud mother of three children – Lilia, 17; Isaac, 15; and Joel, 14. After her marriage ended, she decided it was time to strengthen her family’s bonds and personal history by traveling and gaining a better appreciation all 50 United States. Abecassis is a blogger and has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.. Contact her on Twitter, @ExploreAll50 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Galena's 35th annual Halloween Parade & Festival plans underway PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Celestino Ruffini   
Monday, 12 August 2013 07:53

October 26 event features one of the largest nighttime parades in the Midwest

GALENA, Ill. – Ghosts and goblins of all ages will converge on Galena, Illinois for the 35th annual Halloween Parade & Festival. The Galena Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the host of this one-day event in downtown Galena on Saturday, October 26, with festivities taking place from 2:00 - 8:30 p.m.

The nearly two-hour long Halloween parade literally lights up Galena’s historic Main Street. The popular event features spectacular floats, local marching bands, costumed participants and plenty of sweet treats. Making a return to this year’s parade will be several hot air balloons that will light up the night sky, as well as provide a fleeting moment of warmth, as they make their way through the parade. The parade begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Green and Main Streets and continues north until reaching the intersection of Franklin and Main Streets.

Again this year, the Halloween Festival will be taking place from 2:00 - 8:30 p.m. at Washington and Perry Streets. Swing by the festival for food and entertainment while you wait for the parade to get started. Local chamber members will be offering several tasty treats and goodies for visitors to enjoy.

To accommodate the high volume of parade goers, there will be three shuttle buses operating between 4:00 - 9:00 p.m., excluding parade times between 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Shuttle parking and pickup, all in Galena, will take place at Walmart (10000 Bartell Blvd.), Signcraft (100 A.J. Harle Dr.), Recreation Park (1801 Field St.) and at the Old Train Depot (99 Bouthillier St.) parking lots.

For further event information or to register an entry into the parade, visit, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 815.777.9050. Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at or by calling 877.464.2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. (corner of Park Avenue) for on-site assistance and countywide information.

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Governor Quinn Announces Next Step in Procuring High-Speed Locomotives PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Friday, 09 August 2013 13:43

Next-Generation Passenger Locomotives will be Built to Service Routes that are Already Experiencing a Surge in Ridership

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois has taken the next step to procure approximately 35 high-performance diesel-electric locomotives for several Midwestern and West Coast states, to be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is leading the multi-state locomotive procurement, with a notice of award expected by early 2014. Meanwhile, passenger rail ridership in Illinois has surged dramatically in the past several years, supporting Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase passenger traffic while the nation’s high speed rail system is developed.

“These new locomotives will put the ‘speed’ in high speed rail, and Illinois is ideally situated at the forefront of the national push for high speed rail service,” Governor Quinn said. “We are proud to lead the multi-state procurement effort for these state-of-the-art machines and look forward to the day when they will be pulling passenger trains through Illinois.”

“When we make smart investments in rail, we are investing in America,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.  “Our Buy America provisions ensure that the major components of these locomotives will be built with American hands and with American-produced steel, iron, and manufactured goods.”

“We are thrilled to have reached this very important juncture in this process,” said Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider.  “We are excited to have secured Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail and we look forward to working with our partners to help move this multi-state procurement forward.”

Today IDOT issued a Request for Proposals to procure approximately 35 high-speed locomotives for Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Washington and California. In March the Federal Railroad Administration recommended that Illinois lead this multi-state procurement of next-generation locomotives, part of the $808 million the FRA has allocated to manufacture the next generation of passenger rail equipment which also includes 130 bi-level rail cars.

Today’s rail procurement news comes as passenger rail ridership in Illinois is experiencing a tremendous upswing. Ridership on key Amtrak routes in the state has surged over the last seven years. Passenger volume on the Chicago to St. Louis route is up 225 percent; Chicago to Carbondale is up 154 percent; Chicago to Quincy is up 95 percent; and Chicago to Milwaukee is up 42 percent.

“Several years ago, with ridership on passenger trains continuing to climb in the U.S., I saw an opportunity to bring the rail car manufacturing industry back to the U.S. and back to Illinois,” U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin said. “I spearheaded an effort in Congress to repair Amtrak’s aging fleet of passenger cars, bring rehabilitated cars to Illinois and revive the train car industry in the United States. While a century ago the domestic railcar giant Pullman Company provided a strong manufacturing base in Illinois, today Illinois is home to the nation’s largest rail supply industry. I applaud FRA’s decision to name IDOT as the lead in the multi-state locomotive procurement process and to bring good paying jobs to the United States while advancing cleaner, cheaper, and greener transportation options.”

IDOT was involved last year in a multi-state procurement of the 130 next-generation bi-level rail cars for high-speed service, an effort led by California.  That procurement resulted in the selection of Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo, which is building the rail cars from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, including the 88 cars to be used on Midwest high-speed corridors.  The Rochelle plant opened in 2012 and has created more than 250 jobs in Illinois.

Illinois debuted 110-mph service on a segment of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Dwight to Pontiac in November 2012 and will expand 110-mph service to 75 percent of the route by 2015.  The FRA in December provided a Record of Decision on the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor, allowing Illinois to begin in-depth corridor segment studies and specific project studies to move toward high-speed service on the other 25 percent of the corridor as soon as possible, including segments from Joliet to Chicago and from Alton to St. Louis.  The segment from Dwight to Joliet is under development and is expected to offer 110-mph service in 2017.

Illinois also is working closely with the state of Michigan to establish 110-mph service from Chicago to Detroit as the next Midwest segment targeted to run at higher speeds.

Documents for those interested in submitting proposals for the high-speed locomotive procurement may be found at A vendor conference will take place on August 22, with proposals due in October and a notice of award by early 2014.

FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program and its Buy America plan implement America’s “Vision for High-Speed Rail in America,” which includes a goal to bolster American passenger rail expertise and resources.


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