February 2023

DeKalb Studying Possible Commuter Rail Extension

A comprehensive public transportation study will explore extending commuter rail service to DeKalb, increasing access to jobs and Northern Illinois University.

The DeKalb City Council voted unanimously on Jan. 9 to create the study. It will analyze potential ridership, collect data on the need for a more diversified public transportation system and provide the potential capital and operating costs.

An action plan is also a part of the study. The final report will include a recommended five-year plan and implementation strategy. This will detail how to fund the extension and address logistics.

Mayor Cohen Barnes (center in photo) said the extension would bring equity to Illinois’ universities, noting NIU is the only large state university not served by commuter rail.

“It’s great that we can actually start this particular process and be the founders of a story that I hope generations are going to tell about what a great thing it is to live in the City of DeKalb, hop on a train and get to downtown Chicago,” said Barnes.

Public involvement is a crucial component of the study. The preliminary findings will be presented to regional stakeholders on the public transportation needs in the Elburn to DeKalb corridor, across the County of DeKalb, and among stakeholders throughout northern Illinois who are interested in public transit to and from higher education and jobs in the DeKalb County region.

Along with job and educational opportunities, Andrew Tillotson of the environmental group Sunrise DeKalb spoke before the Council to note the environmental benefits of rail service.

“I wanted to express my support for the research that you all are doing in regards to public transportation,” said Tillotson. “More public transportation ultimately leads to less emissions.”

An aggressive timeline has been set for the study. A plan has been created to complete the work in four months.

The study, being done in partnership with NIU, is being created by Sam Schwartz Consulting, which has deep credentials and experience in preparing this type of transportation report.

In This Issue

Elburn Train Shuttle Service Increased

Proposals Requested for AGN Property

Over $1M Secured for DeKalb Airport

Architectural Improvement Program Expanded for E. Lincoln Highway, S. Fourth Street

Community to Inspire City Hall Mural Design

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Keeping DeKalb Clean

DeKalb Public Works took advantage of the unseasonably mild weather last month to help keep the City clean.

The Street Division ran the street sweeper when temperatures were above freezing, removing debris from main thoroughfares.

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Elburn Train Shuttle Service Increased; Fares Being Lowered

City of DeKalb Transit is increasing service on its Route 12 schedule to and from NIU and the Metra station in Elburn. Fares for the route will also be lowered.


The Route 12 Regular Service has been increased from two to five trips each morning and from one trip to five trips each evening Monday through Friday. 

There has also been an increase in service levels during the Break Service times. Instead of one trip in the AM and one trip in the PM, there will now be three trips for both AM and PM. Saturday and Sunday frequency has not changed but the times may have been adjusted to get closer to the Metra schedule.

The departure times of the trips have changed to adapt to the service times change Metra introduced on Dec. 5, 2022. The number of trips that are run on Saturday and Sunday (AM and PM) will not change, but the times may have been adjusted.

View the Route 12 schedule here.

Additionally, DeKalb Transit, after consideration of public input, is announcing that the fare structure for the Route 12 will be reduced. 

Starting on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, the fare for a rider on the Route 12 bus will be lowered from $8 for the general public and $4.00 for NIU students and staff with a ONE card to $2.00 for the general public and $1 for NIU students and staff with a ONE card.  

Tickets can still be paid for online on the NIU website or by paying cash when boarding the bus.


Passengers who ride the Elburn bus between NIU and Cortland will still pay the local fare of $0.50 for adults and $0.25 for Seniors/Disabled, and K-12 students and NIU ONE card holders still ride for free. If passengers continue past Cortland to the Metra station, they will be required to pay the remainder of the fare.

Public Input Included in Proposal Request for AGN Property

Potential purchasers of a large vacant property in the Annie Glidden North neighborhood will see a list of uses the community would like to see incorporated in the redevelopment.

The DeKalb City Council Jan. 23 approved releasing a request for proposal for the 4.9-acre City-owned property at West Hillcrest Drive and Blackhawk Road.

The request lists 12 commercial, service and recreational uses developed with public input received through two listening sessions held by the Council and four focus group meetings organized by Opportunity DeKalb. The uses range from several food options, nonprofit space to recreational or learning space for neighborhood children. The full list is included with the Request for Proposals.

“I really appreciate how this was written,” said Sixth Ward Alderman Mike Verbic. “It really addresses the listening sessions that we participated in and was very reflective of what we have been asked to seek out.”

As part of their proposals, potential developers will be required to define how community objectives will be achieved through the project. Mayor Cohen Barnes said the proposals that are received will be carefully considered by the Council, which can decide to reject all proposals if necessary.

“The impact of whatever development happens there can be absolutely significant for the community of Annie Glidden North,” said Barnes. “It’s going to have to be the right solution for not just Annie Glidden North, but the entirety of DeKalb. So, I’m really looking forward to seeing what proposals come forward.”

The City has invested $2.5 million in preparing the site for redevelopment, including the demolition of the Hunter Hillcrest shopping center and Campus Cinemas buildings.

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

Looking for a new career? The City is currently accepting applications for the following positions:

  • Entry Level Police Officer
  • Public Works Maintenance
  • Telecommunicator
  • Transit Grants Assistant – Part-Time
  • Unpaid Police Department Intern – Spring 2023 

Positions will remain open until filled. Please click here to view the full job description, hiring requirements, and application instructions. 

Over $1 Million in Federal Funds Secured for DeKalb Airport

Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14) visited DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport Jan. 20 to celebrate $1,125,000 in federal funding, which Underwood secured for the airport. This funding will be used to replace the airport’s perimeter fencing, the first phase of a security upgrade that is critical to maintaining the airport as a regional economic development engine.

"I am proud to deliver over $20 million to fund 15 projects across our community, including over $1 million for DeKalb Airport,” said Underwood. “Ensuring that we are making proper federal investments in our local infrastructure is a top priority of mine. I secured this funding to ensure that the airport can continue to serve as a transportation and economic hub for our community for years to come." 

DeKalb Airport has helped attract several large employers to our region, and the enhanced perimeter fencing, which will be supported by the funding secured by Rep. Underwood, will maintain and grow the airport as an economic development asset. 

The fencing, which will greatly improve security, is a requirement for the airport to reach a higher FAA status and service larger jet aircraft. This new market for the airport will strengthen its financial position as arrivals and departures increase. At the same time, the upgraded status will help the region attract new types of businesses seeking an airport with the capacity for larger aircrafts.

"We are proud to serve as a transportation and economic hub for the region, and federal investments like this one, which Rep. Underwood worked to secure, will enable us to continue serving the community,” said DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes. “We can’t wait to get started on this project!"

This funding was submitted by Underwood through the Community Project Funding initiative, through which Members can help direct federal funding to projects that address the most pressing needs throughout northern Illinois. In 2022, Underwood selected 14 other projects that will directly benefit the 14th district. Learn more about the additional projects here.

Representative Lauren Underwood visited DeKalb Airport Jan. 20 to celebrate over $1 million in federal funding she has secured for the first phase of a perimeter fence security upgrade. She was joined by (from left to right) DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas, Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre, DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Borek, Mayor Cohen Barnes and Airport Manager Renee Riani.

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DeKalb Transit Awarded $4.9 Million in State Funding

The City of DeKalb Transit division received news that IDOT will be awarding DeKalb Public Transit $4.968 million in funding through Round 3 of the Rebuild Illinois capital improvements program.

The grant is awarded in two parts, with $4.2 million for purchase of fixed route buses and $768,000 for purchase of bus routing software.  

It is expected for IDOT to issue contracts on this award around this summer. 

Fire Safety for Valentine's Day

February is here, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

If you are planning a romantic night with your significant other at home, then we imagine you are determined to impress. There are plenty of things to prepare for: a candlelit dinner, snuggling up by the fireplace and exchanging gifts. You might not even think about it, but there can be some fire safety hazards within your home this Valentine’s Day if you don’t take the proper precautions beforehand.

Here are some of the best fire safety tips that will keep the spark alive, and your night with your love from fizzling out.

Candles: Candles are excellent for setting the mood for dinner, but they cannot be left unattended. Make sure to blow them out when leaving the room or going to sleep. Keep any lit candles at least 12 or so inches from anything flammable. Three out of every five fire candle fires begin from combustible items being a bit too close to a flame. Place them in a durable metal, glass, or ceramic candle holder in a spot where they can’t be knocked over. Candles should never be used inside homes where oxygen tanks are used either. If either of you begin to drink, blow out the candles right away – you’ll be less likely to remember those candles are lit later on. Don’t forget to keep them out of any sleeping areas too, despite how moody they can be in the bedroom.

Fireplaces: Make sure that your fireplace has been scrubbed, cleaned and professionally inspected within the last year. Use a screen that can block rolling logs and any flying sparks. Put ashes inside a non-combustible covered container and cover them with some water. Make sure to check they are 100% cooled off before hitting the hay.

Cooking: The number one cause of house fires is keeping an active cook or stovetop unattended. It takes less than a minute for any smoke to become a fire. Make sure your frozen foods are defrosted before adding it to the hot oil – as ice can expand and create steam within a few seconds, resulting in splatters flying all over the kitchen.

Balloons: Some decorative heart-shaped helium balloons come in many different sizes and colors, and their outer coating conducts electricity. Make sure the balloons stay inside your home, if they escape and float into an electrical line outside, they’ll explode and cause a power outage.


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Leoni Retires After Four Decades of Service

After his remarkable 43-year career with the City of DeKalb, Carl Leoni bid his final farewell with his retirement on Jan. 5.

Leoni (left in photo with Deputy Police Chief Jason Leverton) started with the Police Department in 1979 as a Patrol Officer. He was later promoted to Sergeant and then Lieutenant, where he commanded the Patrol Division until his retirement in 2012. 

Leoni was instrumental in helping initiate and supervise various programs in the Police Department, such as the Field Training Program, Bicycle Patrol Program, and Community Service Officer Program, among others. 

Upon his initial retirement, he became the Crime Free Housing Coordinator for the City of DeKalb, which was a brand-new program at the time. Over the past decade, Leoni guided various enhancements and changes to the Crime Free Housing program, which will continue under the leadership of Bob Redel.

The City of DeKalb and DeKalb Police Department congratulate Carl and wishing him the best in retirement!

Expanded Program Aims to Help E. Lincoln Highway, S. Fourth St.

The DeKalb City Council is helping a longtime local business make building improvements with an expanded program to help revitalize buildings in the East Lincoln Highway and South Fourth Street corridors.

Sullivan’s Tavern on East Lincoln Highway was awarded a $25,000 Architectural Improvement Program incentive by the Council on Jan. 9. City Manager Bill Nicklas says the funding will reimburse a portion of the cost to enlarge and update the bathrooms in the building and upgrade the heating/air conditioning system and electrical system.

“The Sullivan family has been at their current location for over 70 years, but has actually been in business in this area for a lot longer, since 1927, almost 100 years. But they moved to DeKalb and located where they are now,” said Nicklas. “They have had a very successful family business at that location on East Lincoln Highway all that time, lifelong committed customers, and making new customers all the time.”

The incentive will come from the new Fund 400 program, which is an expansion of the existing Architectural Improvement Program. The aim of the new program is to help owners improve commercial buildings on DeKalb’s east side and in the South Fourth Street corridor.

The eligibility guidelines for the new Fund 400 program mirror those of the existing program except the businesses do not need to be located within the Tax Increment Financing District.

DeKalb Community to Inspire City Hall Mural Design

Artist Danielle Casali engaged with community members to complete a mural in Hinckley. This panel is one of several that make up the mural on the South Moon BBQ building.

DeKalb community members are encouraged to help inspire the design for a new City Hall mural.

Two workshops are being held where the community will brainstorm on the themes that should be represented in the mosaic mural, which will be created on the south exterior wall of City Hall. Everyone is invited. The workshops will mirror one another, so participants only need to attend one.

The artist for the mural, Danielle Casali, who received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Northern Illinois University and has completed public murals across northern Illinois, will lead the meetings. Those attending will work in small groups to discuss the history and culture of DeKalb with a focus on belonging, and participants will be asked to draw and write their ideas. 

Casali will use the recurring ideas from the brainstorming sessions to determine the main motifs and imagery for the mural design.

The City’s Community Enhancement Commission is overseeing the project and secured the T-Mobile Hometown Grant which is helping fund the mural. The Commission’s Chair, Brad Hoey, said the community’s input and involvement will be crucial to the mural’s creation.

“We are very fortunate to have a renowned artist with local ties in Danielle leading the City Hall mural project,” said Hoey. “Danielle embraces community input and participation in much of her work, and these workshops are a great opportunity for local residents to contribute in concept and execution of this latest public art project in DeKalb.”

The brainstorming workshops will be held in the Yusunas Meeting Room on the lower level of the DeKalb Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. and Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. No registration required.

These sessions are just the beginning of the community’s involvement in the mural project. Once the design is complete, a series of workshops will be held for community members to help create the mural by tiling the mosaic panels. More information on these volunteering opportunities will be released as this next phase of the project approaches.

NIU Choirs to Join Legendary Singer at Egyptian Theatre

The Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb is excited to welcome singer Mavis Staples to their stage on Friday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. in partnership with Northern Illinois University.

Hailed by NPR as “one of America’s defining voices of freedom and peace,” Mavis Staples is the kind of once-in-a-generation artist whose impact on music and culture would be difficult to overstate. She’s both a Blues and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; a civil rights icon; a GRAMMY Award-winner; a chart-topping soul/gospel/R&B pioneer; a National Arts Awards Lifetime Achievement recipient; and a Kennedy Center honoree.

She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., performed at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and sang in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s collaborated with everyone from Prince and Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire and Hozier, blown away countless festival goers from Newport Folk and Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, performed with The Band at The Last Waltz, and graced the airwaves on Fallon, Colbert, Ellen, Austin City Limits, Jools Holland, the GRAMMYs, and more.

The concert will begin with the Northern Illinois University Black Choir and Concert Choir as they join together for the first time ever.

“The Egyptian Theatre is thrilled to have the support of NIU in bringing Mavis Staples to DeKalb and providing this incredible opportunity for the students,” said Alex Nerad Egyptian Theatre Executive Director.

Tickets have been selling fast, but some great seats are still available and start at $45. Tickets can be purchased at the Egyptian Theatre box office during box office hours

(Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 3-6 PM), online or by calling the box office at 815-758-1225.

The Egyptian Theatre located at 135 N. 2nd Street in Downtown DeKalb, IL is owned and

operated by Preservation of Egyptian Theatre, Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Annual support provided by FNBO, Northwestern Medicine, Shaw Media, and Tapa La Luna.

Free, Family Fun at Polarpalooza

The DeKalb Park District is hosting its annual Polarpalooza Winter Festival on Saturday, Feb. 4 from noon to 3 p.m., at Hopkins Park, located at 1403 Sycamore Road.

There will be festive fun for the entire family, snow or shine. This free family-oriented event includes outdoor activities such as ice skating, hayrides, bubble mania, a snowman scavenger hunt, and a snowman head-building contest. 

Festival attendees will enjoy free hot chocolate and s’mores while warming up next to one of the community fires. Sweet Butts Cotton Candy will be at the festival, sharing free bags of their delicious spun sugar treats. Free Spirit Siberian Rescue will also be on-site with sled dog demonstrations and dog meet’n’greets with their rescued pups. 

From noon to 3 p.m., there will be Open Skate at the Ice Rink, as well as Hockey Stick Broomball in the parking lot (no skates required) and equipment demonstrations from NIU Outdoor Adventures. The DeKalb Park District will have a small variety of ice skate sizes available to rent for free, however, attendees are encouraged to bring their own skates. 

Indoors at Hopkins Community Center, there will be winter-themed crafts and activities, as well as toss games with Kishwaukee Special Recreation Association and a book walk with Basics DeKalb County. 

A handful of activities are weather and snow condition-dependent, so be sure to check the Park District website for a full festival schedule, park map, and Ice Rink and Sled Hill rules, or call (815) 758-6663.

City Hall Closures

DeKalb municipal offices will be closed the following days:

  • Monday, Feb. 20, Presidents Day
Upcoming Meetings

Citizens' Environmental Commission

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

Planning & Zoning Commission

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

Board of Fire and Police Commissioners

Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Conference Room at the DeKalb City Hall

DeKalb Public Library Board

Feb. 8, 7 p.m. in the Bilder Family Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Foreign Fire Insurance Tax Board

Feb. 13., 9:30 a.m. in the 2nd Floor Training Room at the DeKalb Police Department

City Council

Feb. 13, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Planning & Zoning Commission

Feb. 21, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

City Council

Feb. 27, 6 p.m. in the Yusunas Room at the DeKalb Public Library

Airport Advisory Board

Feb. 28, 7 p.m. in the West Community Hangar at the DeKalb Airport

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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.

February Community Events

Downtown Merchants

Downtown DeKalb Sweet Stroll

Sweet Stroll is the perfect opportunity to sip, shop and meet sweet treat vendors along Lincoln Highway! Several downtown shops will host a variety of specialty sweets vendors in their stores.

Saturday, Feb. 11, 1-4 p.m.

Find more information on the Downtown Merchants' Facebook page.

DeKalb Park District


Free family-friendly activities include chocolate & s'mores roasting, winter crafts, sled dog demonstrations with Free Spirit Siberian Rescue, winter hayrides, bubble mania, snowman scavenger hunt, snowman building contest, ice skating, sports demonstrations, sledding and more. 

Saturday, Feb. 4, 12-3 p.m.

Hopkins Park

1403 Sycamore Road

Find more Park District events on its calendar.

Egyptian Theatre

135 N. 2nd Street

Children's Community Theatre presents Newsies

This Disney film turned Tony-winning Broadway hit inspires everyone to fight for what's right and seize the day.

Feb. 10-12

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

Northern Illinois University

STEM Café: The Science Behind Flirting

Hear from communication scientist David Henningsen about the scientific research on flirting. Learn about the six motivations people principally have when flirting and how the nature of flirting creates the potential for miscommunication.

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.

Fatty’s Pub and Grille

1312 West Lincoln Highway

Registration for the free program is encouraged and can be done here.

DeKalb Public Library

309 Oak Street

After-Hours Concert: Jazz in Progress

Jazz in Progress will feature different styles of big band and modern jazz music in the library’s main lobby!.

Saturday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m.

See all of the library's programs on its calendar.

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 815-748-2095 

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 815-758-1886

Police Non-Emergency 815-748-8400

Public Works Department 815-748-2040
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