Chemtool makes $20K donation to Old Settlers Days organization

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ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Chemtool said Thursday it made a $20,000 donation to the Rockton Lions Club ahead of the Old Settlers Days festival this weekend.

The Rockton Lions Club is the organization that runs the annual festival, which takes place this weekend, June 17-20th at Settlers Park.

The company regularly makes annual donations to the Lions Club, but this year a spokesperson says they doubled that contribution amount.

Rockton Mayor John Peterson says Chemtool made the largest donation to the Lions Club this year.

Chemtool also announced that it had also made donations to the Red Cross and the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

Organizers of the festival said the aftermath of the Chemtool factory fire is not stopping them from setting up for this weekend.

The chemical lubricant manufacturing facility, at 1165 Prairie Hill Road, exploded around 7 a.m. Monday morning and fire suppression efforts have been ongoing.

A massive dark plume of smoke from the fire could be seen for several days, and debris was found in residential yards as far away as DeKalb.

The Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) gave the event the green light to be held this weekend.

“The event organizers have been working diligently with the Emergency Operations Center to prepare for the event, so it can be held safely,” said WCHD director, Dr. Sandra Martell. “So, it’s outside of the [one-mile evacuation zone]. The masking recommendation has been lifted, but if you’re an individual with underlying respiratory conditions, you should continue to wear a mask.”

Old Settlers Days media spokesperson, Carol Wright said any debris from the Chemtool explosion will be cleaned up before the gates open, and say Old Settlers Days will be safe for people to attend.

“We’re several miles away from the evacuation area, so we’re in a good place. And, with the cleaner air and the smoke settling down, I think that part is behind us, and won’t effect us at all,” Wright said. “So, come on out and enjoy being with people! Enjoy some great music! Enjoy some wonderful food. Ride the rides and have a great time! Come out and support the community and support the Rockton Lions.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that, at the request of Rockton Mayor John Peterson, it would be operating an air monitoring network during the Old Settlers Days festival.

“The agency has set up fixed monitors in and around the area to monitor for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxygen (O2), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon monoxide (CO), lower explosive limit (LEL), and particulates. U.S. EPA will provide the data in real-time to village and county health officials so they can make any decisions necessary to protect the health of festival-goers,” the EPA said in a statement.

Old Settlers Days says it is not issuing refunds at this time. Money raised from the event will go toward the Rockton Lions Club, which uses the funds to support local needy organizations.

Old Settlers Days runs June 17-20th, and features headlining performances from Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles, Jr, Jimmie Allen, Riley Green, and Gabby Barrett.

Chemtool is giving residents until October 31st, 2021, to file claims for personal expenses related to the fire.

A claim form can be found here for reimbursement for personal expenses tied to the evacuation related to the plant fire that occurred on Monday, June 14th.

Rockton Police say residents can call 877-552-8942 to arrange to have the fire-related debris removed for them, rather that removing it themselves. A contactor, Clean Harbors, has been arranged by Lubrizol to assist the residents in removing fire-related debris from residential homes and businesses in the area.

The company said in a press release Thursday morning, “We are confident that the materials burned in the fire pose no health risk in the short or long-term, other than the short-term irritation one would normally experience in the presence of smoke.”

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