A look back at the top stories in Batavia in 2022 – Shaw Local

In 2022, Batavia residents voted down a proposed Batavia Public Schools referendum, city officials decided to rename the government center for longtime Mayor Jeffery Schielke and graffiti popped up throughout the city’s downtown.

Those were some of the stories the Kane County Chronicle reported on this year.

Here are the major stories in Batavia for 2022, in no particular order:

Batavia school district suspends mask mandate

In February, Batavia Public School District 101, like many other school districts across the state, suspended its mask mandate after Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow declared Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency rules for COVID-19 mitigations in schools “null and void.” The decision stopped the state’s mask mandate in about 140 school districts that were defendants in a lawsuit. BPS 101 was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but Superintendent Lisa Hichens said the district does not “have the ability to maintain universal masking in our schools.”

Batavia Police Department steps up patrols after rash of graffiti tagging in city

Batavia beefed up its police patrols throughout the downtown area in October after graffiti was found in several locations. Several areas in the 100 block of Shumway Avenue were defaced Oct. 5 – along the Batavia Bike Path including on light posts, the Linnea Miller Birdhouse, city utility boxes, a fence and doors – and a city utility box at 4 W. Wilson St. Five businesses on South Batavia Avenue also reported graffiti defacement overnight from Sept. 12-13.

Batavia renames government center in honor of Mayor Jeffery Schielke

The Batavia City Council voted Sept. 6 to rename the Batavia Municipal Government Center the Jeffery D. Schielke Government Center in honor of the longtime mayor. When he first took office on May 4, 1981, at age 32, Schielke was the youngest mayor in Batavia’s history. After winning his historic 11th term in 2021, Schielke became the second-longest serving mayor in Illinois and the 11th-longest serving mayor in the U.S.

Batavia City Council becomes first in the area to approve plastic bag fee

The Batavia City Council voted Nov. 21 to approve an ordinance for a 10-cent fee for single-use plastic bags at 17 businesses within the city. The fee will be in effect for 17 qualifying retailers starting July 1, 2023. It will apply to stores that are 5,000 square feet or larger, of which there are 17 in Batavia. That includes big-box retailers such as Walmart, Kohl’s and Target, as well as an independent grocery store and a large jewelry-and-wine store. Businesses will receive 4 cents of the 10-cent bag fee.

Shawn Mazza named new police chief; Craig Hanson named new fire chief

Veteran Batavia Police Department office Shawn Mazza was sworn in as the city’s new police chief Sept. 6 after former Chief Dan Eul retired. Mazza is a 23-year veteran of the Batavia Police Department and has served numerous roles during his tenure including patrol officer, field training officer, patrol officer-in-charge, detective, detective sergeant and deputy chief. The council approved the appointment of Craig Hanson as the new chief of the Batavia Fire Department at its May 16 meeting. Hanson had been the interim fire department chief since the January retirement of Chief Randy Deicke.

Protesters call on Batavia school district to speed up anti-discrimination, inclusivity work

Students, district staff and community gathered at a Batavia school board meeting in May to urge district officials to eliminate discrimination and bullying of marginalized students, including students of color and gay and transgender students. According to the group Batavia Parents for Equity and Justice, concerns were brought to the district in summer 2020. The district delayed addressing them because of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, and further postponed the matter until after the 2020 election. Parents and students continued to raise their concerns throughout 2021. In February, a district committee recommended the district establish an equity committee.

Batavia Public School District 101 referendum fails

A $140 million referendum, which was on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, failed by 24 votes. If passed, the referendum would have made changes across district facilities, including the demolition and replacement of H.C. Storm and Louise White elementary schools. The district now is seeking feedback from the community about why it failed. The district could put the referendum on the April 4, 2023 ballot. The school board has until Jan. 17 to make a decision.

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