Mar 06

National Groundwater Awareness Week

Posted on March 6, 2023 at 8:11 AM by Kiah Weston


The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health Division announces that March 5-11, 2023 has been designated National Groundwater Awareness Week.  This annual observance has been established to highlight the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater.  Life, as we know it, would be impossible without groundwater.  It is the world’s most extracted natural resource.  Don’t take groundwater for granted.  Therefore, this week is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance.

National Groundwater Awareness Week was designed to urge each of us to consider various ways to protect our most valuable natural resource.  So remember things like not running water while you brush your teeth; getting that leaking faucet fixed; and the farmers that rely on groundwater to grow the food we eat.  And remember to have your well inspected to protect your drinking water system.

The Health Department Environmental Health Services staff states, "Through National Groundwater Awareness Week, we would like to recommend to area residents that maybe it's time for your annual water well checkup!"

Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Why is it a good idea to have my water well checked annually?  "The truth is an annual checkup is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water," say Department officials.  "Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance, like good car maintenance, can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced."

Schedule your annual water well checkup.  Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order.

The Health Department also recommends that well owners:

    Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a "clean" zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.

    Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.

    Maintain your waste water systems.

    Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.

    Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.

    Make sure abandoned well are sealed properly within 30 days of abandonment.

For more information on the Health Departments' Water Program, water testing and sealing abandoned wells, contact the Environmental Health Division at or call (309) 852-0197 Extension 270.  You can also visit our website at or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us On Twitter and Instagram.

Sep 26

World Lung Day

Posted on September 26, 2022 at 12:26 PM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Department announces that September 26th is World Lung Day. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide. In fact, lung cancer is responsible for more deaths in this country than the next three most common causes of cancer death combined – colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. 

Smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer. Other risk factors for lung cancer include being exposed to secondhand smoke, having a family history of lung cancer, being treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest, exposure to asbestos, chromium, nickel, arsenic, soot, or tar in the workplace, and exposure to radon. When smoking is combined with other risk factors, the risk of lung cancer is increased.

Therefore, it’s always important to remind area residents about the Health Departments’ Illinois Tobacco-Free Communities Grant activities.  

In both Henry and Stark County our staff works continually to enforce, educate and encourage compliance with the Illinois Smoke-Free Act. The Smoke-free Illinois Act prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities.

The Smoke Free Illinois Act requires that all business owners:
*Do not permit smoking within 15 feet of entrances, exits, windows, that open and ventilation intakes.
*Post “No Smoking” signs at each entrance.
*Remove ashtrays from areas where smoking is prohibited.

The Health Department notes that failure to comply with the Smoke Free Illinois Act can result in fines.

Tucker notes, “The Health Department in coordination with the State of Illinois has taken these important steps to protect its residents, workers and visitors from the harmful and hazardous effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.”  

Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

For more information about the Health Department’s Illinois Tobacco-Free activities, or for “No Smoking” signs for your business,  call (309) 852-0197 Extension 249 or find Us On Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter.


Sep 22

September is Food Safety Education Month

Posted on September 22, 2022 at 2:26 PM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health Division announces that September has been designated National Food Safety Education Month.  National Food Safety Education Month focuses on new technologies, trends, and regulations that are changing the foodservice landscape and the steps everyone should take to ensure that food safety remains a top priority when dealing with these changes. 

Kaylee Halberg, Environmental Health Director with the Health Department states, “National Food Safety Education Month is the one month out of the year dedicated to food safety education.  This year we would like to remind the community to ensure you and your family are purchasing food from licensed, reputable businesses who follow health department guidelines.  We are back to conducting routine food inspections, and soon you will be able to view these inspections on our website and check if someone is indeed licensed.”

Halberg adds, “Food Safety Education Month also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about steps each of us can take to prevent food poisoning and show others how to keep food safe.  The first step to take is making sure the food you buy is safe. Therefore, we remind all area residents that we permit all businesses who sell food, whether brick and mortar or temporary setups.”

Every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food. Anyone can get sick from a foodborne illness (also called food poisoning). But some groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. These groups are:
    Adults aged 65 and older
    Children younger than 5
    People with health problems or who take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness
    Pregnant women

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. As you prepare and handle food, follow these four steps:
    Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often when you cook.
    Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs. Separate them from cooked food and fresh produce.
    Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.
    Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods and leftovers within two hours. Chill within one hour if it’s above 90°F.

Join us in sharing information about the four steps to food safety. Let’s make sure everyone knows how to protect themselves and their loved ones from food poisoning.

For more information on food safety contact the Health Department at (309) 852-0197 or email us or  find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.