Illinois Newspapers Launch New, Free Public Notice Website
The Illinois Press Association has created and launched a new statewide public notice website site that provides the public with the ability to view public notices from newspapers across the state of Illinois.
PublicNoticeIllinois.com is a public service made financially possible by the newspapers of Illinois at no additional cost to local or state government. This website assists citizens who want to know more about the actions of local, county and state government as well as events occurring in the local and state court system. The IPA-sponsored public notice website is the only central Internet location for searching, viewing and printing of an aggregation of Illinois public notices.
PublicNoticeIllinois.com has been specifically designed to promote the importance of public notices and the role that they play in the daily lives of the Illinois citizens. The website ensures that public notices are accessible beyond the date of original publication while increasing public awareness about the workings of government.
“Public Notices are vital to open government,” said Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the IPA. “Just as important is the independent, third-party verification of notices that newspapers provide in the public notice process. This website is an extension of services already provided by newspapers, and we’ve been able to do this for the public at no cost to taxpayers.”
The public notices that appear on this website will have been originally published in Illinois newspapers, the source for all community information, and will be available to users at no charge. According to a state law that took effect at the end of 2012, all public notices must be uploaded to the website after they are published in local newspapers.
DeRossett reiterated that the website is in addition to publication in newspapers, which is required by state statute. The printed notice in newspapers, he explained, serves to authenticate, certify and archive all public notices.
“While many of us take the Internet access for granted, there is still a great digital divide geographically, economically and educationally. Those who do not have access to high-speed Internet will continue to have access to public notices through newspapers,” DeRossett said. “With the combination of print and online, the availability and access of all public notices is greatly enhanced.”
For example, the Prairie Advocate News, for the past 14 years, has offered public notices in their print version, as well as on their web site at www.pacc-news.com.
“We have always taken ‘Freedom of the Press’ to a higher level,” said Tom Kocal, publisher of the Prairie Advocate News, currently with a circulation of over 16,000 homes and businesses in Northwest Illinois. “Not only has the newspaper always been a freely-distributed community newspaper, but so has our web site. Legal Notice access to the most citizens possible has always been our goal.”
All visitors to PublicNoticeIllinois.com will be able to search notices by community, by newspaper or by keyword, and all for free. The Illinois public notice website is already being used as a model for other states, including Ohio and California.
A public notice, also sometimes defined as a legal notice, is anything that is required by law or the judiciary to be published in the newspaper. These include foreclosure notices, assumed name notices for new businesses, municipal budgets and zoning changes, notice of meetings and property assessments, just to name a few.
“Every Public Notice is like a window into the workings of government,” DeRossett said. “This website opens a new window and lets even more light in. A true democracy depends on such transparency. It is critical to have transparency and accountability by all government entities and the public notice website is an important new tool for citizen access to this important information.”