All posts by Elizabeth Rago

Elizabeth Rago is a freelance reporter for the Elburn Herald. You can reach her at

KUMC welcomes new secretary

KANEVILLE—For years, Katee Werrline was a member of Kaneville United Methodist Church in Kaneville, attending services and socializing with parishoners, never knowing that one day, she would be the church secretary.

After her mother received the church’s monthly newsletter, which announced an opening for the secretary position, she forwarded the information over to Katee.

Werrline started supporting staff and church community members on Aug. 20 and has been fervently working with leaders of the church and collaborating with Rev. Avani-Cosset Christian. Also a newcomer to Kaneville United Methodist, Christian and Werrline are an energetic combination to execute new ideas, like an updated and fine-tuned website.

“Working at Kaneville United Methodist Church is a great opportunity for me,” Werrline said. “Not only am I able to see the inner workings of the church and be a support to our community, they have been extremely flexible with my schedule so I can continue my education.”

Werrline this fall will spend time between working at Kaneville United Methodist and attending her second year of classes at Waubonsee Community College. While her physical time at the church has increased, so has the spiritual aspect of her faith walk. Werrline is more excited about her faith in God than ever before as a result of this new position.

“I don’t feel like I am going to work,” she said. “The church is such a different environment, where people are constantly helping others. In fact, I am not only helping the church—they are helping me.”

The presence that Werrline feels mirrors the intent of United Methodist Church founder John Welsey. Today, with 11-million members globally, Werrline joins members at the Kaneville church who believe in an emphasis on Christian living, specifically putting faith and love into action.

Committed to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, Kaneville United Methodist practices hospitality, sharing, fellowship and serving others. A focus on bringing glory to God by impacting the lives of others and reaching out to the community and the world is the forefront and core beliefs of the church.

For more information about Kaneville United Methodist Church, visit its website at, or call Katee at (630) 557-2353. Sunday school is offered for children at 8:30 a.m., followed by a 9:30 a.m. church service. The church is located at 46W764 Main Street Road, between Harter and Dauberman roads, in Kaneville.

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Dierschows celebrate 62nd wedding anniversary

Gordon Dierschow is happy to show off his brand new Chevy Equinox that he purchased from Bob Jass Chevrolet in Elburn. Courtesy Photo

ELBURN—Oct. 6 marked Elburn residents Gordon and Eleanor “Linn” Dierschow’s 62nd wedding anniversary. Married while stationed in Missouri in the United States Army in 1951, the couple stayed down south for four months together.

Returning to St. Charles where Eleanor worked as a registered nurse at the Delnor Hospital, the couple raised two children after Gordon finished his time in the service.

In celebration of their 62-year marriage, the couple recently ordered themselves a Chevy Equinox from Bob Jass Chevrolet on Main Street in Elburn, to be delivered shortly after their anniversary. Lifelong Ford owners, Gordon explained he wanted to buy Chevy this time because of convenience and the fact that he wanted to support a local business.

“I picked the car and Linn picked the color,” said Gordon. “It’s called ‘Silver Ice.’”

His loyalty and dedication far surpasses just buying a car from a local automotive dealer. Gordon has been spending his time between the West Chicago American Legion Post 300, acting as a co-chair of New Year’s Eve parties; coordinator of the Elburn Road Race and Scavenger Hunt; and the Elburn Lions. In fact, 2013 marks Gordon’s 46th year with the Lions.

The Lions Club of Elburn is a part of the worldwide organization of groups of individuals who aid the blind and visually impaired.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with the Lions Club, mowed a lot of lawns at Lions Park, and been to a lot of Elburn Days,” Gordon said. He also installed the first water pipes buried into the Lions Park’s North Pavilion.

In 1994, Dierschow was awarded the prestigious Melvin Jones award, which is the highest form of recognition that a Lion can receive, and named a Lifetime Award recipient.

The Dierschows have been thriving since 1951, and while life has changed, Gordon has some marital advice for young couples today.

“As one of five children, I was raised in a very conservative family,” he said. “My mother used to say, ‘If you don’t have the money, you don’t need it.’”

Gordon and Linn have two grandchildren, and anticipate driving them around town in their new Chevy Equinox.

Now that’s a way to celebrate 62 years together.


MP farm welcomes Illinois Farm Families ‘Field Moms’ program

MAPLE PARK—Today’s mother is not only insistent about making make sure she is providing nutritious options for her children to eat, she is starting to take a “peek inside the barn,” so to speak, with the Illinois Farm Families’ “Field Moms” program.

The Field Moms group is scheduled to tour six Illinois farms this year for a behind-the-scenes look at what farmers do every day. Last Saturday, the group descended upon Larson Farms in Maple Park with questions about farming, antibiotics, and the organic approach to agriculture. A cattle processing and crop enterprise, Larson Farms is a three-generation partnership that uses modern advancements to farm 6,500 acres of crop and turn out 8,000 head of finished cattle a year.

“We are committed to having conversations with consumers, answering their questions about food, farmers and farming, and sharing what really happens on today’s Illinois family farms,” said Linda Olson, Illinois Farm Bureau’s Consumer Communications manager. “More than 94 percent of Illinois farms are family owned and operated. We are passionate about showing consumers how we grow safe, healthy food for their families and ours.”

The Illinois Farm Families are Illinois farmers who support the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, and Illinois Beef Association.

Seeking to find out if recent hype in the media about the misuse of hormones in cattle and concerns that using GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism) in food is safe for consumption, the Field Mom group did not hold back in questioning Mike Martz (partner at Larson Farms) and were impressed with his knowledge and candid approach to comparing Larson Farms traditional approach to that of organic farming.

“Clearly cattle steering is not an easy way to earn a living,” said Renee Keats, a Field Moms member, mother to one daughter, and resident of Highland Park, Ill. “I was impressed with Mike’s candor and openness when faced with tough questions. Whether a family chooses to buy conventional versus organic, is up to that family. What impressed me about Mike was his willingness to admit that either method of farming has its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it’s the market that will drive how agriculture evolves in the future.”

Beyond learning about cattle processing, Martz gave the Field Moms group tips on selecting steak at the market (choosing cuts with lots of flecks of flavor that contain monounsaturated fat) and encouraged consumers to “know your butcher.” Committed to providing safe and quality beef to consumers, Larson Farms knows moms are looking out for the best interest of their loved ones health, as they too shop at local markets for their beef.

The Martz family farming philosophy is to “provide safe, nutritious, wholesome beef products to consumers with humane treatment of each animal and production practices that are environmentally friendly.”

For more information about the Illinois Farm Families Field Moms program, visit


New waxing studio opens in Elburn

ELBURN—Focal Pointe Waxing Studio opened its doors on Aug. 15 at 119 1/2 N. Main St. in Elburn, with owner Kara Coyle prepared to offer not only a polished finish to your everyday look, but a convenient in-town option for waxing services. Coyle chose to open her European-esque, vintage-styled-feel business in Elburn because she felt the village was a fantastic location.

“I love the small town feel of Elburn,” Coyle said. “It has such personality and warmth”

Bringing an intense love of fine-tuning esthetics to the Kaneland area, Focal Pointe Waxing Studio exclusively offers waxing services. From your basic lip and eyebrow wax to the more detailed back and Brazillian varieties, Coyle looks to not only make her clients look great, but feel great, as well.

In the beauty and cosmetic industry for the past five years, Coyle found her love of esthetics and trained at the Naperville Skin & Beauty Institute. There, she learned the techniques of waxing with hands-on training. Licensed in esthiology, Kara found her connection to the client was really what drove her to open her business.

“I enjoy waxing, and love offering services that complement what is trending and fashionable in the industry, but what I really love is getting to know my clients,” Coyle said.

Kara Coyle, owner
Kara Coyle, owner

A specialist in the field of waxing and hair removal, Coyle explained that her goal is to provide great service and personalize the experience at Focal Pointe Waxing Studio to reflect the uniqueness of each client.

“I have always wanted to open my own studio and everything fell into place at the right time,” she said. “I am excited to start my business in such a great community.”

In addition to waxing services, Focal Pointe Waxing Studio also offers brow and lash tinting.

Focal Pointe Waxing Studio is open Tuesday through Friday by appointment, with walk-in services available on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The studio is closed Sundays and Mondays.

For more information or to schedule an appointment at Focal Pointe Waxing Studio, visit, email or call her directly at (630) 272-7320. Focal Pointe Waxing Studio can also be found on Facebook.

New Scouts Roundup meeting set for Sept. 9

ELBURN—For over 80 years, the Cub Scouts have been creating fellowship and fostering personal development in the lives of young boys as a part of the Boy Scouts of America Organization. The Elburn Cub Scouts Pack 107 will join in a new year of celebrating leadership, community and adventure with a New Scouts Roundup meeting on Monday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. at the Community Congregational Church on E. Shannon St. in Elburn.

A family-oriented program, the Cub Scouts objective is to encourage young boys in a friendly and positive environment, help them make new friends, provide adventure, acquire new skills, and discover the responsibility of community and conservation.

And these are only a few benefits of being a Scout.

“Scouting today is so much more dynamic than when I was a boy,” said Chuck Miller, Den Leader of Pack 107. “It’s great to see these boys grow not only academically over the years, but stronger scholastically and athletically.”

The Roundup meeting is meant to answer any questions about Scouting and introduce students in grades 1-5 at John Stewart and Blackberry Creek Elementary Schools to the Cub Scout Organization. Adult leaders will speak to parents and talk about the volunteer association that is locally and actively thriving in Elburn. While the parents chat, the boys will have a chance to meet other Scouts and participate in group games.

Miller shared how his time spent as a Scout as a young boy made him compelled to get involved when his son started in Pack 107 five years ago.

“I was in Pack 3490 in Hickory Hills (Ill.),” he said. “And I am having a great time not only watching but being a part of my son’s involvement in Pack 107.”

Volunteers are an integral part of the Cub Scouts, making the need for positive role models a crucial element of the success of every Pack. From cubmaster and public relations chair to assistant popcorn kernel and Day Camp coordinator, Pack 107 will certainly be a positive experience for not only participants but the volunteers. Outings and events for the 2013-14 year include the Fall Campout at Johnson’s Mound, and trips to the Richardson Farm Corn Maze in Spring Grove, Ill., and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

For more information about the Elburn Cub Scouts Pack 107 Roundup meeting or to become a Pack volunteer, visit


Striking out epilepsy

Photo: Allison Rowland, a KHS graduate and Elburn resident, threw out the first pitch at the Kane County Cougars baseball game on Aug. 8 as a way to help promote epilepsy awareness. Allison’s mom, Cindy, also does epilepsy advocacy work. Photo by Lynn Logan

Kaneland grad represents epilepsy awareness at KC Cougars game
ELBURN—Alli Rowland, a Kaneland High School graduate and Elburn resident, got the chance to throw out the first pitch at the Kane County Cougars game on Aug. 8 and represent the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago (EFGC) in order to bring epilepsy awareness to the Kane County area.

“It’s kind of exciting to see how it feels and what the pros experience,” Rowland said of her appearance.

Rowland, too, suffers from epilepsy, and said that after going through a few local doctors, she went to Rush University Medical Center and met Dr. Antoaneta Balabanov, M.D., who really helped her pursue a “better quality of life.”

Alli’s mom, Cindy, is an epilepsy advocate.

“Being an advocate is just a way of giving, back; I truly believe in service for others,especially helping the less fortunate,” Cindy said.

Alli said that her mom inspires her because she pushes her to have an independent lifestyle and be self-sufficient, and learn how to be an advocate for herself.

Alli hasn’t ever been able to drive an automobile, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her dreams. She has attended a few semesters of college and currently works with the elderly in a nursing home.

Over two million people in the United States have epilepsy, and the EFGC offers counseling, advocacy and educational services to individuals with epilepsy. In addition to personal services and support, the EFGC brings awareness to the communities in which they live, like partnering with organizations like the Kane County Cougars.

Motivating her to spread the word about epilepsy and the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Alli said, “Just talking to people helps bring a better understanding and acceptance. The Foundation is a great connection with services. A lot of people are affected, either themselves or someone they know.”

One hundred and fifty thousand new cases of epilepsy are discovered in the United States every year, and with over two million people diagnosed with epilepsy, the odds of knowing someone with the condition are considerable.

The importance of supporting individuals with epilepsy is crucial, as Alli’s mother admires that her daughter isn’t negative about her illness.

“Many who suffer from limiting illnesses get really down. I’m so glad she isn’t like that,” Cindy said.

But what is a seizure and what can you do to help if you are with someone who is having a seizure?

According to the EFGC, “Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy. A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. One in 10 adults will have a seizure sometime during their life.

Further, the EFGC states that “seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. They can have many symptoms, from convulsions and loss of consciousness to some that are not always recognized as seizures by the person experiencing them or by health care professionals: blank staring, lip smacking, or jerking movements of arms and legs.”

The most important thing to remember about helping someone who is having a seizure is to keep calm and make sure the person is safe from harm. Events where the EFGC is present (like the Cougars game) and able to share information about epilepsy brings awareness and helps dispel misconceptions about the disease.

“EFGC have a lot of different people there with different services they manage,” Cindy said. “Look up the website and there is a CAB (Commitunity Awareness Board) in a lot of the suburbs. We have one in the tri-city area, which meets and helps with support, community activities, fundraisers, etc.”

Maple Park Library 50th anniversary celebration

MAPLE PARK—Serving a community for 50 years can be exhausting. It’s a good thing that hitting the 50-year milestone calls for a celebration.

The Maple Park Library is pleased to invite residents to their anniversary celebration, which will take place on Thursday, Aug. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. The event is free and will include hot dogs, cake, a craft for kids and balloon animals provided by Andrew Noysweski of KIDZMAGIC.

Library director Kimberly Martin is proud to showcase the new flooring in the library’s Adult Fiction Reading Room, made possible by a grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation.

“We have been fortunate to receive over $4,000 in the last five years from the foundation,” Martin said.

The DeKalb County Community Foundation’s mission is to “enhance the quality of life in DeKalb county by proactively addressing community needs and expanding, managing, and distributing philanthropic resources.”

Established in the village of Maple Park in 1963, the Maple Park Public Library started serving residents in the Legion Hall, and is currently located at 302 Willow St., in the lower level of the Maple Park Community Center.

“Even though we have a smaller budget, we can still offer residents plenty of literature and resources,” Martin said of the library’s online catalog, downloadable books and book exchange partnership with area libraries.

The library also features weekly story time for children and a summer reading program. Continuing to grow and be a better resource for the community, the Maple Park Library continues to thrive since Martin stepped in as director in 2009.

For more information about the library’s 50th anniversary celebration, call (815) 827-3362.

Local chefs get ‘Chopped’ at Corn Boil

SUGAR GROVE—Area residents gathered at John Shields Elementary School during Corn Boil festivities on Saturday for the announcement of the first annual “Chopped Competition.”

Putting their knowledge of cooking to the test, 13 contestants took on the challenge of taking five ingredients and creating a unique and tasty dish to impress three local judges.

The preselected “basket” items consisted of skirt steak, oranges, elephant garlic, Yukon potatoes and beets, leaving the contestants with nothing more than their imagination to fuel their culinary fire. Participants were required to use each item but were allowed to use any other spice or ingredient to maximize the flavor of their dishes. The judging was based on flavor, creativity and presentation.

Each contestant was given his/her ingredients at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Jewel food store in Sugar Grove, with a 2:30 p.m. deadline to bring their completed dishes to the Corn Boil.

Judges for the event were Rick Artman, a home cook of 20 years who made it to the second round of FOX television’s “Master Chef” series in 2013; Steve Spizz, a chef at Bickford Senior Living Center and owner of the Twisted Fork catering company; and Goldie Tarr Shaw, a professional chef who lost her vision and use of her right arm, and now teaches blind children and adults to cook with

Local businesses sponsored the cost of the food for the contestants.

The contest winner, Barrett Ekle of Hinckley, presented a skirt steak marinated in a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and fresh squeezed orange juice over fresh sweet corn and jalapeno salsa.

Ekle’s side dish was a combination of Yukon gold and Idaho potatoes mixed with red onion, elephant garlic, bacon, celery and Ekle’s own “Bear Sauce.” Dessert was a red velvet cupcake in which Ekle used the beets as coloring for the cake. The cupcake was topped with a cream cheese and coconut frosting.

As the victor, Ekle received a $100 Jewel Gift Card, a Master Chef Cook Book, trophy and a gold “Chopped Competition” medal shaped into a cluster of corn.

The second-place winner was Laura Perry of Aurora, who was presented with a $50 Jewel Gift Card. The third place finisher was Sugar Grove resident Mary Elliot and her brother Doug Nerge (visiting from Texas), who received a $25 Jewel Gift Card.

This is the first year that contest organizers Dave Ritchey and Darren Staub have hosted the Chopped Competition, and they are already planning for 2014.

“Next year, we are planning to have two levels: amateur and pro,” Ritchey said. “Darren and I have had this idea for a while, and it’s really awesome to see it become a reality.”


KHS’ Taylor marches in Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps

KHS student Carter Taylor is spending his summer playing with the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps. The drum corps kicked off its 2013 season on June 21 and will conclude on Aug. 10 in Indianapolis. Courtesy Photo

KANELAND—Seventeen-year-old Carter Taylor feels very fortunate to be a part of the fine arts programs offered to him at Kaneland High School. Participating in band, jazz band and madrigals has prepared Carter for the next step in his music career: taking on the competitive process of auditioning for the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps.

A fan of the drum corps since middle school, Carter auditioned last year and received a call back audition, but did not make the corps when he was 16 years old. The second time was the charm.

“He worked very hard throughout the year on the judges’ suggestions and won a spot this summer,” said Carter’s mom, Jodi Taylor.

Founded in 1948 as the drum and bugle corps for Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood Boy Scout Troop, the Cavaliers quickly established themselves as one of the best drum corps, resulting in the reorganization as a stand alone non-profit organization. This world-class, championship corps celebrates its 65th year in 2013, and Taylor is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this unique and intense program.

Carter was fortunate to take his finals at Kaneland High School early in order to accommodate the vigorous pre-tour rehearsal period.

May 17 marked the first day of joining the Cavaliers at Benedictine University in west suburban Lisle, Ill. The corps then moved to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill., to finish pre-tour.

Learning and mastering the drill for the team show, in addition to perfecting the moves from auditions last November, has been on the rehearsal schedule since May. Pre-tour ended with the corps first competition on June 21. The chemistry between these performers takes time, dedication and a good attitude to develop as they become a stellar and fluid corps. The all-male community of 150 participants ranges from 16 to 22 years of age and is sponsored by the city of Rosemont, Ill.

Due to the intense rehearsal schedule, the Cavaliers participate in a regimented fitness program that keeps them healthy and injury free.

“During pre-tour, most days begin with breakfast around 7:30 a.m. and rehearsals beginning at 8 or 8:30 a.m.,” Jodi said. “Rehearsals run until 9 or 10 p.m.”

The tour includes 35-40 shows, with travel to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and New Jersey. The Caveliers tour officially began on June 21 and finishes with finals in Indianapolis on Aug. 10

“The biggest opportunity for the corps members is getting to work with a talented and dedicated staff of musicians from all over the country,” said Jodi of her son’s involvement with the Caveliers Drum and Bugle Corps. “This organization strives for excellence and works at a very high and concentrated level.”

Carter plays trombone in Kaneland High School’s band and orchestra and marches in the Cavaliers with a euphonium. He has also studied piano for seven years, sings, and is a member of the Elgin Youth Symphony. Future plans for Carter include majoring in music education and earning a performance masters degree.


SG Bike Parade to take place despite absence of Jo-Jo the Clown

[colored_box color=”blue”]Residents are invited to march, walk, or ride in the parade, which will begin at John Shields Elementary School, 85 Main St. in Sugar Grove. Line up is at 12:30 p.m., and the parade will begin at 1 p.m.[/colored_box]

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Independence Day Bike Parade will miss Jo-Jo the Clown (Karen McCannon) this year, but backing her up will be a fellow clown who is no stranger to the annual Bike Parade and celebration: Calico Rose.

McCannon will miss the gala due to a personal issue.

Cruising around in the “Clown Victoria,” a modified golf cart accessorized with a rubber nose and eye lashes, Calico Rose anticipates the range in age of participants. From small children to “big kids” in their 80s, the bike parade is always a fiesta of fun.

“The bike parade is Sugar Grove at its finest,” Rose said. “I am always so excited to see the reaction of the kids when we first arrive. We have small children to women in their 80s riding bikes out there.”

In addition to kicking off the 4th of July festivities, Jo-Jo is asking participants of the parade to bring a jar of peanut butter, spaghetti sauce or one dollar to donate to the Sugar Grove Between Friends Food Pantry. A member of the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Between Friends Food Pantry helps support hungry neighbors by way of food, sundries and household items. Partnering with food manufacturers, farmers and businesses to aid network partners like the Sugar Grove Food Pantry, the Northern Illinois Food Bank is committed to solving the hunger problem for the last 30 years.

Besides raising food for Between Friends Food Pantry, Jo-Jo formed HOPE (Humor Opens Possibilities Everywhere) Clown Ministry with fellow clown friends Calico Rose, Tiny T. and Mr. Mumbles at the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church.

“The parade has a little bit of everything for everybody,” Rose said. “We all need a little fun and to celebrate our patriotism.”

Residents are invited to march, walk, or ride in the parade, which will begin at John Shields Elementary School, 85 Main St. in Sugar Grove. Line up is at 12:30 p.m., and the parade will begin at 1 p.m.

Community, Lions come through

Update reveals positive improvements for 13-year-old Virgil resident
ELBURN—Forty club members at the Elburn Lions monthly board meeting on June 13 were brought up-to-date on the progress of Virgil resident, 13-year-old Kara Peters, who was born with Down syndrome.

At the age of four, Kara was diagnosed with PDDNOS, an autism spectrum disorder, as well as anxiety and sleep disorders. A multipurpose service dog was desperately needed to assist and support Kara with her daily challenges.

A fundraiser was held in June of 2012 to rally funds, resulting in $6,400 collected to help offset the expense of the service dog purchased from non-profit organization, 4 Paws for Ability. The partnership between children with disabilities and service dogs increases independence for children like Kara and provides ongoing assistance to her family.

Private donations from generous community members in the amount of $13,000 covered the rest of the expense to purchase the canine.

After Georgie, Kara’s service dog, spent time in training, the Peters family traveled to 4 Paws for Ability for a two-week training session. The Elburn Leo Club also donated funds to assist in the family’s traveling expenses.

The Peters attended the June 13 club meeting to explain the process, talk about their experience, introduce Georgie to the membership and express their gratitude.

“The presentation was a glimpse into the lives of a family that has been trying to assist their daughter over the years to have a good life that all parents wish for their child,” said Pam Hall, president of the Elburn Lions Club Chapter. “They can see some positive improvements and have high hopes for a better future with the assistance of the service dog.”

The Illinois Eye-Bank was also present at the meeting to speak about the restoration of sight and new technology in the field. Founded in 1947 and housed in a small space at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, The Illinois Eye-Bank helps preserve and restore sight to thousands of cornea transplant recipients each year, vigorously supporting eye and vision research.

A 15-minute presentation explained how the charitable, not-for-profit organization assists individuals that are visually impaired through transplantation, research and education.

“The local businesses and caring community members supported our cause, and we cannot express how grateful we are to have such tremendous community support,” Hall said of the 2012 fundraiser.

The Lions Club International Foundation is the world’s largest community service organization with an emphasis on supporting the blind and visually impaired. For more information about joining the Elburn Lions, visit or contact the Lions at (630) 365-6315 or


Kaneland 2013 grad earns pilots license

Photos: 2013 Kaneland grad Alec Koczka of Elburn took his first step toward a career in aviation by earning his private pilot certificate in May. Courtesy Photos

ELBURN—Who knew the most exciting part of an 18-year-old’s day would be landing a plane with crosswinds in excess of 25 knots?

Alec Koczka, an Elburn resident and 2013 Kaneland High School graduate, took the first step in moving toward a career in aviation by earning his private pilot certificate in May. Taking Alec a little under a year to complete the ground school and flight time program, he studied the mechanics of flying, airport operations, and federal regulations, in addition to one-on-one instruction in the air. Flight instructor David Gillingham of Fly America in DeKalb said Alec is one of the best students he has seen in years in regard to focus and good judgment.

“The best quality about Alec is that he consistently pays attention to what is going on in the air and has excellent focus,” Gillingham said. “I have no doubt about his ability to command an aircraft.”
Rich Koczka, Alec’s father, remembers his son always looking up at the sky, even as a young boy. The natural response as a parent of a child who is intrigued about something is to encourage that fascination.

“You end up investing (financially) in your child now or later, so we just decided to start with Alec from a young age,” Rich said in reference to Alec’s involvement in electrician classes at the Fox Valley Career Center, and recent achievement of earning his private pilot license.

The next step to becoming a skilled pilot is to take the necessary training to become instrument rated. Taking additional classes and extensive training in flying an aircraft in harsh weather conditions will require Alec to fly safely by referencing only instruments and taking cues from the aircraft.

Beginning in August, Alec will attend Lewis University in southwest suburban Romeoville, Ill., with a double major in aviation maintenance management that gives students the skills and technical training needed to become a certified aviation maintenance technician. The oldest aviation program in Illinois, Lewis University is also the only college in the state with an on-site airport for hands-on training.

“Along with that, I will be flying and continuing my training towards becoming an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot),” Alec said.

When asked who has supported him on his journey to the skies Alec replied that his dad and grandpa have been a big influence by getting him into the art of flying.

“My parents support me 110 percent the whole way. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Alec said.

Sugar Grove awarded $400k grant

SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Park District was recently awarded a $400k grant via the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant to create a project which will provide recreational opportunities for the Sugar Grove community.

A cooperative recreational project started by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in 1986, the OSLAD grant has been an integral part of maintaining and restoring worn recreational facilities and creating new opportunities like the space set aside for development at Kaneland Harter Middle School. The development and need for open space was anticipated as the School District set aside land years ago, just ready to one day be transformed into Harter Community Park.

“The Park District has been saving our operating surplus over the years, and the OSLAD grant is a great support to aid our community in this cooperative project,” said Greg Repede, executive director at Sugar Grove Park District, of the matching grant program set up by the Department of Natural Resources.

The OSLAD grant is a competitive process based on written applications and is awarding the Sugar Grove Park District funds to create three ball fields, multi-sports courts, inline hockey area, a small playground and a baggo court.

In addition to the recreation-specific space, the park will include a paved pathway for residents to use, the appropriate signage for the park and natural upgrades.

“The partnership between the School District, the Park District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is working together to provide our community with recreational opportunities that we have never been able to offer before,” Repede said.

The OSLAD grant, received on May 22, will be put to use as the Sugar Grove Park District breaks ground on the project Nov. 1 of this year. But first, development specifications have to be finalized and the project bid out to area contractors. The anticipated date of completion of the park is October 2014. In addition to community members taking advantage of the park, Kaneland Harter Middle School students can look forward to future outdoor fun.