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Rep. Yingling initiates effort to replace flood-destroyed books at Round Lake Park school

State Rep. Sam Yingling announced plans to initiate a book drive next week to help replace materials destroyed by flooding at W. J. Murphy Elementary School in Round Lake Park.

The school’s library was badly damaged by flooding this month.

Yingling, D-Grayslake, said Friday afternoon the drive is scheduled primarily for Monday through Friday of next week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but that his office will continue to accept donated books until the start of the school year.

Donations of new and gently used children’s books may be dropped off at Yingling’s constituent services office, 1919 Route 83, Round Lake Beach, during those days and times.

“Natural disasters are devastating to any community,” Yingling said in announcing the drive. “It is heartbreaking to see our neighbors suffer and lose property and personal items. Seeing the Murphy Elementary library completely underwater hit a nerve with me.”

Shelia Duhon, executive director of operations for Round Lake Community Unit School District 116, has described the estimated $2 million damage at Murphy School as devastating and said the library is “a total loss.”

“Libraries are the backbone of any community, and our children depend on their school libraries to explore, learn and expand their horizons,” Yingling said.

Yingling is requesting that no old encyclopedias, National Geographic or other magazines be donated.

All donations will be given to District 116’s administrative office, 884 Nippersink Road, Round Lake.

The district is partnering with Bernie’s Book Bank for help with sorting, collecting and distribution of books collected.

“I am confident that our neighbors will join together to rebuild the communities that we love and call home,” Yingling said.

He also said that if residents do not have books to donate but would like to donate personal care items, bottled water or other items in need by residents affected by the floods or volunteers, they may also drop those items off at his constituent services office.

“We will ensure that your donation goes to an organization helping residents of Lake County,” Yingling said.

More information on the book drive is available by calling Yingling’s office at 847-231-6262 or emailing [email protected].

School district officials have said they are on a fast track to open Murphy School on time Aug. 21.

Nonetheless, contingency plans are being lined up for possible mobile classrooms, absorbing some students into other District 116 schools or busing students to a nearby school district, officials said.

Yingling was touring the Gages Lake and Wildwood areas of his district Friday, talking to residents and business owners affected by recent flooding.

One of the hardest-hit businesses in the area was the C’mon Inn restaurant and bar located on Route 45 at Gages Lake Road. Water attacked the building from behind, first overcoming the rear parking lot and then pouring to the basement to heights of up to 6 feet.

“We hope to reopen soon,” said Efrain Ortiz, who operates the restaurant portion of the building. He said it has been closed for 10 days so far, as workers continue to pull debris from the basement.

Yingling told Ortiz and his partner, property owner Joseph Gajda, that his office can assist in getting power restored to the building, but said the basement must be dry first.

Yingling also said that once damage in Lake County is formally calculated to reach $18.3 million, it will free up emergency low-interest loan funding for businesses such as the C’mon Inn.

He urged residents and businesses to make formal damage reports to Lake County to help the county reach the level of calculated damage it will need to document to become eligible for the loans and potentially other forms of aid.