Salute to front-line workers: Elk Grove sending out 14,000 ribbons to tie around trees

As a way to show support for first responders and front-line medical workers while unifying residents stuck in their homes, Elk Grove Village officials on Tuesday announced a communitywide ribbon-tying campaign with a goal of marking some 14,000 trees with green stripes.

As soon as this weekend, all Elk Grove Village residential homes, condos and townhouses are due to receive 7-foot strands of ribbon in the mail along with a letter from village officials asking them to tie the ribbons around parkway and front-yard trees.

"We want to get these ribbons out on the trees as soon as you can so that every single day ... as someone drives to work at Alexian Brothers or one of our policemen drives on a call around the street or a fireman answering a call to someone's home, they'll see 'em," Mayor Craig Johnson said during a village board meeting Tuesday night. "You know how this town will show its unity for the people that are making it better for us, but more importantly it will bring this community together."

Johnson announced the initiative at the board's first meeting in more than a month and since the coronavirus outbreak began. The mayor and trustees, some wearing face masks, were seated six feet apart from each other on the dais, while village staff members sat apart in the audience.

Though many municipalities have conducted virtual meetings of their elected panels on videoconference, Johnson said he thought it was important for residents "to see their government is still moving."

During the meeting, trustees approved a 46-item consent agenda - the largest in the village's history, officials say - that included the $151 million budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year and a previously announced $2.8 million local coronavirus relief package to help residents and businesses.

Johnson signed a proclamation implementing the local stimulus during a March 23 social media video - at the time, unprecedented for a local community. It gives water bill credits to residents starting in May and waives various licensing fees for businesses beginning in June. The funds were officially appropriated by the board Tuesday night.

While the village is using a $3 million surplus from last year's budget to pay for the relief package, village officials have identified another $6 million that could be cut from the new budget if needed - such as delaying vehicle and equipment replacements - due to the effects of the coronavirus.

Johnson on Tuesday also said organizers will be making decisions soon about whether to cancel upcoming events, including the Memorial Day ceremony at the Pavilion in May, Rotary Fest in June and the village summer concert series in July.

Johnson said the popular summer concerts would be an ideal time for the community to get together. But until large-scale gatherings are permitted again, he said the ribbon-tying campaign is a way to bring people together.

"We were the first ones to come up with the relief package," Johnson said. "Let's be the first one truly to tie this community together as one, as we fight this pandemic."

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