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updated: 8/14/2012 3:27 PM

Tractor lease to save DuPage Forest Preserve District money

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DuPage forest preserve officials Tuesday approved an agreement with agricultural-machinery manufacturer Case IH to lease roughly $200,000 worth of equipment for $1 a year for the next decade.

The machines will be used at St. James Farm Forest Preserve near Warrenville, including for events such as its Family Field Day in May, officials said. The agreement is part of a corporate outreach effort by Case IH, since the company's history connects to St. James Farm.

Under the agreement, Case IH will lease tractors, mowers and utility vehicles to the forest preserve, which will pay for insurance and routine maintenance. If the district runs a piece of equipment for more than 250 hours annually, the company will replace it and then sell the used equipment to farmers at a reduced cost.

"We're all very proud of (the agreement) and we look forward to growing this relationship," Case IH North America government sales manager Patti Lardie said. "It continues forever as long as it's working for all of us."

The connection between St. James and Case IH officially started in 1985, when the company acquired part of International Harvester. But the relationship really began in 1902, when International Harvester was formed after Cyrus McCormick's McCormick Harvesting Machine Company merged with four other manufacturers. McCormick's great-nephew, Chauncey, an International Harvester board member, purchased St. James Farm in 1920. His son Brooks, an International Harvester CEO, took over the farm in the 1950s.

Brooks McCormick sold St. James to the forest preserve in 2000 and the district took possession of it in 2007.

Forest preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr. said the agreement not only helps save the taxpayers money on St. James grounds maintenance, but "gives the public a tangible way to better understand the forest preserve's agricultural traditions."

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