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Hebron President John Jacobson signs grant application for homeless veterans shelter

HEBRON – Village President John Jacobson on Monday signed a grant application for a homeless veterans shelter in Hebron, but he defended his original decision to withhold his endorsement to try and have the shelter's owners fund water improvements.

He also used a former village president to help make his case during the Village Board meeting.

Addressing a room full of veterans, Jacobson and former Village President Frank Beatty detailed a long history of Transitional Living Services refusing to cooperate and build a larger water main underneath the New Horizons homeless shelter, despite a 14-year-old annexation agreement requiring one.

Jacobson said he added extra conditions to a water main project the board approved on Oct. 20 to try and secure a firmer commitment from Transitional Living Services.

One of those conditions involved TLS paying the owners of nearby Hoops Bar and Grill $5,000 to help them construct a new water well within the next two years, if the McHenry County Health Department required it. Hoops is located near the New Horizons shelter.

"Our board and our town need a commitment, and that's what I would like to get – a commitment," Jacobson said. "I want to sign [the application]. I have no problem with signing it. Just give our board a commitment."

Jacobson reiterated before he signed the group's grant application that he wanted the project completed by 2016.

As originally required by the village in the early 2000s, a larger main at the TLS property would have allowed Hoops Bar and Grill to connect to the village's water supply, Jacobson said. The move would create more revenue for Hebron and help officials pay off a sewer plant loan constraining Hebron's finances, he said.

But representatives from the veterans group said they already agreed to raise funds and secure grants to finance a larger water main that would have solved the past issues with the annexation agreement. The board went as far as approving a project timeline on Oct. 20, TLS attorney Steve Cuda said.

Transitional Living only objected to the water main project after Jacobson added extra conditions involving Hoops to the project, following the board's vote, Cuda said. Jacobson also leveraged the grant application to try and strong-arm the group into agreeing to the conditions, TLS representatives had said.

"All of this stuff about what happened years ago is not what we are here for," Cuda said. "We are here because we are committed to what was discussed and voted on that Oct. 20 meeting. We take a offense that less than 24 hours later the village reneged on its vote."

Despite the disagreement, Jacobson signed the grant application, while TLS representatives agreed they would do everything in their power to construct a new water main by 2016. The controversial Hoops provision was not a part of the discussion.

TLS Board Chairman Jim O'Malley emphasized before Jacobson signed the grant application that Transitional Living would need to raise the money through fundraising and grants since the non-profit doesn't have enough money.

Meanwhile, the owners of Hoops clarified that Jacobson approached them about connecting to the village's water supply after learning that the health department was requesting the bar to build a new well.

Owner Gus Kordopitoulas said that Hoops is content with building a new well, adding that the health department made the request because the bar's current well is aging. He said he was never aware that Jacobson attempted to have Transitional Living pay Hoops $5,000 to help construct a new well.

"We never would dream of that," Kordopitoulas said. "I don't know how that all came about."

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