City council accepts grant to include hard-to-count populations in the 2020 Census

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — DeKalb City Council members passed a resolution at Monday night’s meeting to accept a grant of $73,930 from the Illinois Department of Human Services to help include the city’s hard-to-count populations for the 2020 Census. 

Hard-to-count populations include children under five, low-income households, homeless people, college students, senior citizens and individuals who do not trust the government, according to the agenda. The grant covers advertisements for the census throughout the city as well as census events in the community to inform the public about the 2020 U.S. Census.

Mayor Jerry Smith said he recently met with regional executives from the Census Bureau. He said the executives were appreciative of the city’s efforts to prepare for the 2020 Census.  

“Our hard-to-count committee and Complete Count Committee started late last summer, in the fall, and we are really moving forward,” Smith said. 

The northeastern part of Illinois was awarded $253,637 in total, and NIU received $82,577 from that grant as well, according to the agenda. 

Without the grant, the city had less than $1,000 allocated to advertising for the U.S. Census, according to the agenda. 

Ferrara Candy Company

DeKalb residents and city council members expressed their excitement for the city’s new development of a distribution center for Ferrara Candy Company, owners of SweeTARTS, Fun Dip, Nerds and more. 

DeKalb resident Dwayne Brown thanked city staff during Monday night’s meeting for accomplishing the new development. 

“The city needs to use this as a template to attract more industries and businesses to DeKalb,” Brown said. “Thanks to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development also. Many times I stand up here and criticize the city; you did it right this time. Let’s continue this.” 

The candy company plans to construct a 1.6 million square foot distribution complex in DeKalb and is expected to be operational in 2021. The company is expected to bring an estimated 500 jobs to the area. 

Council members had candy and beverages on display at Monday night’s meeting to express their enthusiasm for Ferrara. 

Second Ward Alderperson Bill Finucane said he’s glad the city’s new development has turned out to be successful so far. 

“We’re very excited to have you, you can see with the display across the counter here tonight, that we’re glad to have you,” Finucane said. 

Cannabis Municipal Code Revision

Council members also passed an ordinance on second reading to amend Chapter 64 of the Municipal Code to comply with the state’s cannabis laws. 

The revisions to the municipal code allow the use of cannabis on the same terms as the use of tobacco under the City’s smoke-free ordinance. This would allow the use of cannabis in smoke shops and smoking rooms in hotels or nursing homes, while the smoking of cannabis is still not allowed in public places per the state law, according to the agenda. The owners of smoke shops, hotels and nursing homes would retain the right to privately prohibit the smoking of cannabis in their establishments.

All council members except Second Ward Alderperson Bill Finucane supported the amendment. Finucane tried to amend the ordinance to remove the use of cannabis in smoke shops, but didn’t get any support from other council members. 

 Community Development Block Grant 

A resolution to approve one year of funds for a Community Development Block Grant and annual action plan was also unanimously passed at Monday night’s meeting. 

The Community Development Block Grant is a federally funded program aiming to increase housing, community and economic opportunities for low-income and moderate-income residents in the city, according to the agenda. The 2020 allocation is estimated to be approximately $400,000, according to the agenda

At the beginning of the meeting, there was a chance for residents to give their opinions on the five-year grant during a public hearing but no residents participated.

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris called the grant funding amazing and said it’ll help improve resources in her ward such as streetlights.