All posts by Lynn Meredith

Doggie daycare business approved for Welch Creek

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The Elburn Village Board approved an application, with provisions, to allow a daycare facility for dogs in the Welch Creek Business Center at its meeting on Monday.

The business had previously been turned down by the Planning Commission on Feb. 8 on one finding of fact: the effects of possible noise and odor on neighboring properties. Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Metcalf said that while the commission voted not to recommend the plan’s passage, if the owners agreed to conditions, it could likely pass the Village Board.

The conditions require that there be no more than 40 dogs on site, that the facility be reviewed in one year’s time, that it follow the Elburn noise ordinance, and that appropriate shading and landscaping be put in as needed.

Business owner Sarah Smith explained to the board that dog daycare is different than a kennel.

“It’s cage-free. It’s actually baby-sitting dogs,” Smith said. “The dogs love to go there. They work off their energy. They are all running around together, with people constantly monitoring them.”

She said that it’s nothing like the image people have of pent-up dogs, frustrated and barking. She also added that cleanliness is what will make or break her business.

“It has to be really, really clean or people won’t want to take their dogs there,” Smith said.

She explained that while the concept is relatively new—coming into popularity in the last 12 to 15 years—it’s found in almost every community and is run like any other business.

Drew Frasz, who owns the vacant lot to the north, was at first neutral about the facility, but is now a supporter.

“My main concern was dogs outside at night in runs, barking. But that has been completely alleviated. I’m basically here to support it,” he said.

Last call for Girl Scout cookies

Elburn troop will be at Jewel-Osco Mar. 12
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Do you need one last fix of Girl Scout cookies before the drive is over? Don’t wait for a flyer to come out; look to your phone to keep you updated. Cookie lovers will soon be able to find the nearest cookie booth and a list of dates and times on a smart phone app.

Angelia Harris, 8, of Elburn, is one of the first to take part in this pilot program through the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. This council has been chosen as one of only 20 councils nationwide to pilot the new cookie locator smart phone app. She said the app can provide different kinds of information.

“It’s a cookie app where you can type in your zip code, and you go on and click on a cookie, and it tells you about it, the flavor,” Harris said. “You can also sell cookies on it.”

The app can also tell you about yourself based on your taste in cookies through a fun, interactive quiz.

“It tells you your cookie personality,” Harris said. “I’m strong and confidant. I like Thin Mints.”

The free application is available for iPhone and Android devices. It uses either GPS or manually entered zip codes, cities or states to find cookie booths and will map those locations and add the sale information to the calendar. In addition to locating the booths, customers can learn about their favorite cookies, including nutritional value and ingredients.

Harris’ mom is one of the troop moms and said that many of the girls have the app on their phones.

The troop will be at Jewel Foods in Elburn on Saturday, March 12. The drive wraps up March 20.

Rocking the Reading Cafe

by Lynn Meredith
Kaneland—Enter the Reading Cafe at Blackberry Creek Elementary School on the second floor overlooking the library, and you won’t see a typical classroom, or library for that matter. You’ll see a place where kids can kick back and get excited about reading.

Lime green shag rugs cover the floor, flanked by bright yellow cabinets and turquoise and lime green curtains. Paper lanterns hang from the ceiling, and artwork adorns the walls, along with posters of the Jonas Brothers and Tony Hawk. Bean bag chairs, a futon, pillows, stuffed animals, and, yes, books, contribute to the dorm-like atmosphere. And then there’s the bright orange leather couch.

“That orange couch was the piece de resistance,” Literacy Specialist Linda Zulkowski said.

Zulkowski, along with fellow teacher Terri Konen, brought the idea to the school after attending an inspiring professional development workshop.

The purpose of the reading cafe is to motivate kids to read inside and outside of school. By having an energizing and fun place to come for reading activities, kids associate reading with fun.

“The ultimate goal is to promote reading outside of school, to choose to do it out. We hope they will be engaging more here in school and getting hooked on books,” Zulkowski said.

The cafe opened in October. Each teacher has a designated time if they choose to use the room. They can also sign up for open times. They use the room to read aloud to the students, to give students independent reading time, or even to reward the kids.

“They love this room. It’s being used often by teachers as a reward. The reward is getting to read,” Zulkowski said. “ It’s so different. You don’t expect to see something like this in a school.”

After attending a workshop presentation by Steven Layne, a professor at Judson Univeristy who has written a book on motivating students to read, Konen and Zulkowski first thought of it as a professional development goal. It soon became a whole building and school improvement goal. They went to the PTO to see if it could help, perhaps by donating a couch or small items. Instead, the PTO gave them $2,000 to fund the entire room.

After a shopping trip to IKEA for the bright furnishings and cool outfitting, the plan was to keep the room a secret from the kids and give hints that something was coming.

“We had a huge kick-off,” said PTO President Kathy Webster. “We blacked out the windows of the room and had a countdown from 20 to zero of what is in the mystery room. We really pumped it.”

The unveiling was a ribbon-cutting, whole-school assembly. Music teacher Brandon Fox even wrote a song about it. Webster then had the idea to involve the community by having a month of community leaders come in to read to the students and talk about how they use reading on their jobs.

The month of February began with a Ronald McDonald assembly. Elburn Mayor Dave Anderson, Ben Conley of Conley Funeral Home, Dr. Wayne Larsen, a veterinarian from Kaneville, Pat Hill, owner of Hill’s Country Store, Pastor Lou Quetel from Geneva, Dwayne Nelson from the Town and Country Library and Bryan Janito all participated.

“It was a big deal for us,” Zulkowski said. “We had fun shopping for it, we had fun watching the kids when they first saw it, and we have fun seeing the kids actually reading.”

Finding funds for fun

Village considers how to update playground at community center
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The Village Board gave the OK for village officials to apply for an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in order to replace playground equipment at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center playground. The grant would reimburse the village 50 percent of what it spends on equipment.

“If we spend $100,000, we get $50,000,” said Jenna Cook, a Public Works Department employee who has been researching the grant.

Cook inspects all the equipment annually to appraise its condition. She said that the community center’s playground has been getting close to not passing the inspection. It is 25-year-old equipment that is outdated and rusting, she said.

Cook presented three options for replacing the equipment and removing the sand that has become infested with underground wasps. The first option, for $50,000, would make the playground half the size it is now. The second option would reduce its size by about a third and cost $70,000. The third option, for $100,000, would be a one-to-one replacement.

The playground is used by two classes of pre-school and day care in the summer. The wasps have stung the children, and there’s no way to get rid of the pests without removing the sand and replacing it with wood fiber or rubber chips.

“From the safety standpoint, we’ve got to do something,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “But to what extent do we want to commit funds?”

The Parks Fund currently has about $25,000 in it. Board members were in agreement that they wanted to look into the third option because it provides the best for the community.

“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it up right,” Trustee Jeff Walter said. “There are places (other funds) where we can get the money and get it done for the community.”

The grant is not due until July 1, giving the board time to consider how to find the funding it would need to purchase the playground equipment.

One tree at a time

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Elburn was awarded a $10,000 grant this week for the replacement of ash trees on public parkways throughout the village. This one-time grant provided by the 2008 Farm Bill Pest and Disease Revolving Loan Fund will allow the village to replace 38 more trees and bring the village half way to its goal of ridding Elburn of the ash borer-prone trees.

The grant requires that the village spend $15,000, of which $10,000 will be reimbursed. It must also purchase mulch and a gator bag for each new installation, keep to a weekly watering schedule and provide quarterly updates to the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus for three years.

So far, the village has taken down about 400 trees. This year alone, approximately 200 more need to be removed, according to Jenna Cook of the Public Works Department.

“In two to three years, we will not have a single ash tree left in town, except in private residences,“ Cook said.

The replacement trees are 2.5-inch caliber and about seven to eight feet tall. Replacements will start with areas of the village where some residences have lost up to seven trees on the parkway in front of their house.

“We’re starting with people who’ve had more than one tree removed,” Cook said. “We want to help ease the pain of residents who have absolutely no trees in their yards now.”

Village approves Elburn Station concept plan

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Elburn Village Board on Tuesday evening voted 5-1 to approve the Elburn station development’s concept plan. Jeff Walter was the sole vote opposing the plan.

Village Hall was filled with concerned citizens during the meeting in anticipation of the vote on whether to approve the concept plan for Elburn Station.

Sho-deen, Inc. of Geneva has been in talks with the village since 2005 about developing the land around the Metra station, north to Route 38 and south to Keslinger Road along an extended Anderson Road. The plan was originally approved in 2008, but when Sho-deen revised the plan to remove the commercial portion on Route 38 in October 2010, the Planning Commission voted not to recommend approval, and the resolution was tabled.

Citizens voiced concerns ranging from the impact on already devalued housing prices, to how the infrastructure can sustain the influx of new residents, to the intangibles that make a community unique.

“I purchased because of what Elburn is,” said resident Rocky Ruck. “If I wanted Naperville, I would have done that.”

Kane County Association of Realtors President-elect Christopher Tenggren said that housing inventory in Elburn is in the years, not the months, and that the community is still reeling from the Blackberry Creek project developed by B&B.

Others voiced concerns about rentals attracting more transient people to the community and burdening on already over-taxed school system.

“I’m concerned about the number of rentals and the impact on the schools,” said Bonnie White. “They are a financial burden that won’t be bringing in tax dollars.”

On the minds of Kane County and the village is $18 million in federal and state funds that are slated to be used to complete the Anderson Road overpass. Those funds could disappear, according to Catherine Hurlbut, chairman of the Kane County Division of Transportation, if progress is not shown in developing this area around Metra.

Approving the concept plan is step one. The next steps are to approve a preliminary plan and to annex the land surrounding the project. Currently, four property owners, including Sho-deen, would need to be annexed to the village before work on the bridge could continue.

“This concept plan is the bird’s eye view,” said Village Administrator Erin Willrett.

Dave Patzelt, Vice President of Development at Sho-deen, Inc., presented the changes that have been implemented in the plan since October.

“Even though the Planning Commission rejected a version, we took their comments as constructive criticism and made changes,” Patzelt said.

The changes to the original plan include lowering the density by reducing the number of multi-family houses originally proposed, adding additional green space, implementing a lift station, moving the fire station north, mirroring the townhomes on the west of Anderson south of Route 38 with townhomes to the east, changing multi-family houses to mixed-use spaces and providing vehicular access from Metra to downtown.

The number of housing units north of Metra has been reduced from 585 to 416. South of the tracks, the number has changed from 1,920 to 1,865. The increase in commercial space since October is now 70,000 square feet. Both village officials and Patzelt emphasized that the plan will change over the 20 years it will be in development.

“This is a concept plan. That’s all it is. It’s (the plan’s build-out is) 20 years, and it will change,” Anderson said. “We’ve talked to the (Elburn and Countryside) Fire District, the (Kaneland) School District, the (Town and Country Public) Library District, the Kane County Department of Transportation, the Kane County Development Department. Everybody, as of two weeks ago, has signed on.”

Officer on duty at Metra during morning commute

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Commuters have been seeing a friendly uniformed face during their morning commutes. From 6 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., an Elburn police officer has been on site since last Tuesday to help with problems people have been experiencing with the electronic meters.

“We’ve been experiencing continuing problems with the pay machines, more so lately,” Police Chief Steve Smith said. “We’re trying to get an idea of the problem.”

Some commuters have said that they have noticed that the machines have started to slow down. The prompts are taking more time than previously.

The machines are owned by the village. The parking fees are collected by the Police Department and used for maintenance, upkeep and enforcement. An electrical glitch that has not yet been identified is slowing down the machines and causing inconsistencies in the parking space print-outs the department uses to issue tickets.

“Nothing is more frustrating than to have a problem and have nobody to ask,” Smith said. “We’re there to help out as much as possible.”

Trustee Jeff Walter said that commuters who are having issues should feel free to talk to the officer.

“He is there to help and is very approachable,” Walter said.

Police sued for false arrest

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—A man who was arrested for driving on an expired driver’s license has filed suit against the Elburn Police for false arrest. Roger Gilbert, 27, who resides in South Korea where he teaches English, was pulled over for going 52 mph in a 30 mph zone on Dec. 22, 2010.

Gilbert produced an expired insurance card and a driver’s license from South Korea. The officer did not accept the license as valid in Illinois. He then checked on Gilbert’s Illinois license and found it to have expired.

Gilbert was arrested for speeding, driving without a valid driver’s license and given a written warning for operating an uninsured vehicle.

He was detained at the Elburn Police station for three hours. During that time, Gilbert’s uncle, who is a Wheaton police officer, called Elburn and explained that Gilbert’s South Korean license was valid under Illinois law. After a call to the State’s Attorney’s office, the officers released Gilbert and dropped the charge of driving without a valid license.

Gilbert had been living in South Korea for three years and was in town visiting family over Christmas.

Gilbert’s attorney, Larry Jackowiak of Chicago, did not return phone calls as of press time.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

History Detectives: Where is the body buried?

Pair try to unravel a century of history at Blackberry Cemetery
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—On any given day you’ll find real life History Detectives hard at work, looking for where the bodies are buried. From discovering that one woman was issued two burial certificates 10 years apart—only to uncover that one certificate was for her amputated leg—to finding records from early years of unidentified bodies being pushed out of the train and crushed, Fred Dornback and Helen Johnson find it all a great challenge.

“We took it on with the intention to bring order to the records. Our goal was to create a database and who was buried where,” said Dornback, sexton of Blackberry Cemetery in Elburn. “That’s the way it started, but it soon got a wee bit more complex. It got exciting and overwhelming.”

The confusion began with the way the records had been kept. From 1905 to 2007, when the Blackberry Cemetery Association surrendered responsibility to the township, the numbering and system of recording who is buried where varied by the person keeping the records.

“Sometimes they recorded who paid the bill. Sometimes it was who owned the grave site. Sometimes it was the name of the person who died,” Dornback said. “You don’t know.”

At present, Dornback and Johnson have 41 “unknowns.” One veteran of both World War I and II is known to be buried in the cemetery, but they cannot find a marker for him. Other people are listed on as being buried here, but someone with that name is not on any records.

“We start hunting down a name: ‘Do we have this person? ‘You get excited because it looks like you have them. The dates match. Then it says, ‘location unknown.’ This is the confusion we have. You don’t know until you match it with the obituary,” Dornback said.

Searching obituaries and genealogical resources isn’t the only way the pair have hunted down who’s buried where: they have walked the cemetery and taken a picture of each of the 2,700 graves.

“We used shaving cream when we were walking the cemetery. It would go in the creases and make the marker more readable,” Johnson said. “We had to remember to wash it off.”

Add to that the sorting-out process of old ledgers, envelopes, scraps of paper that fill several attache cases, along with three maps-each with different and conflicting information. They might work six months hunting down one name.

“We started to sort by decades—from 150 years-before we looked at individual stuff,” Dornback said. “We could have enjoyed ourselves, but we had to be prepared to sell grave sites in the meantime.”

Radar used by University of Illinois archeologists indicate that bodies may be buried underneath what are now paths. With not all graves marked, it’s not always clear what spots are safe to sell. On the site of the Memorial Day service, they think it is actually a “Potter’s Field” for the poor or those passing through who died.

Since 2010, the state of Illinois requires that 10 days after a person is buried, their name must be registered in the state database, including the location of the burial.

“We hope this will help future generations,” Dornback said.

Lessons of the past create the future

Photo: Helen Bauer, an experienced amateur archaeologist, coordinates the 5-year archaeology investigation at Garfield Farm Museum. Here she shows a large animal bone that was discovered. They are finding new items all the time including shell casings, glass, dinnerware and pipe stems. The excavations will help map out how the farm area was originally laid out. Photo by John DiDonna

by Lynn Meredith
Campton Twp.—Jerry Johnson has had a vision 30 years into the realizing: to create a living history farm from the 1840s on the Garfield farm in Campton Township. The germ of the idea began when Johnson’s mother, Evelyn Johnson, wrote the last surviving Garfield a letter with ideas about things that could be done with the property. She heard back from Elva Garfield—18 years later.

The Garfield house had been an inn and tavern for farmers hauling grain to Chicago for shipment out the Great Lakes, through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Atlantic. Johnson saw the value of keeping the house, barns and surrounding land for the future generations as a representation of that global expansion.

“Things had been relatively left in tact, a lot less had been done than you’d expect,” Johnson said. “It has the historic integrity (needed for a museum). Not many farms have so much still standing, especially from people who weren’t famous.”

Johnson also realized that the family had kept much of the documentation connected with farm over its history since it was purchased in the 1840s.

“We have good documentation as well as family history that the family wrote down. A sense of history and heritage was important to them,” Johnson said. “Even in the 1890s, Elva’s mother had the idea that someday the house would be a museum to honor settlers, so they were saving things even back then.”

When no governmental body expressed interest in taking on the project of preserving the farm, Johnson decided to take it on.

“We’ve had wonderful support to be able to do it. It’s not something you do lightly, but you don’t know how much you’ve really undertaken,” he said.

Johnson’s vision is to preserve the farm as close to its 1840s formation as possible, so that it may be interpreted, as all history is.

“We’re not just looking at the past because it’s different, but what are the lessons of the past, what are the relevancies of the past in parts of life today?” Johnson said. “We have examples to look at and perhaps see that not everything is new under the sun.”

Garfield Farm focuses on its strengths: history, farming and the environment. With development wiping out most of the farms in Campton Township and surrounding areas, preserving and protecting farms in their original state helps educate those who have lost connection with the land. Johnson explains that when you live on a farm you can’t separate the land and the weather or climate change. You deal with it every day.

The educational experience-for youth and adults alike—that the living farm provides is hand-on. People actually participate in events such as plowing the field with oxen or making butter. Currently, these are special events throughout the season from June to December, but the goal is to have a full educational program on a working 1840s farm.

The first phase of reaching this goal has been 23 years in the making, that of acquiring adjacent property to protect it from development.

“We wanted to make sure it still looked like a farm,” Johnson said.

The phase the museum is in now is restoring all the buildings to their original state. That requires conducting the proper research through archaeological excavation.

“We need the archaeological research to determine what things were actually like here. We have a lot of good clues that are just more information to build a case as to what it was really like. It’s not just the artifacts themselves. It’s what the whole story can add to our findings,” Johnson said.

Excavations have been underway for the past five years and have uncovered many artifacts and even the cellar of the original log home built on this land.

“We will complete the systematic opening up of the whole area,” Board Member Helen Bauer said. “The people living here had trash piles, probably pretty close to the log house. Then plowing scattered the trash. We explore what is the extent of the 19th century dispersal of that trash.”

The project has used over 1,400 hours of volunteer help, along with AmeriCorps workers, for two seasons. Money is raised by the museum without assistance from any taxing body. So far $8 million has been put into the museum over the 30 years since its inception. Restoration of the buildings will require $3 million more.

Johnson sees the farm museum as a way to educate people about the connection of land and our democratic form of government.

“The desire to have land—which is basically so you can farm—is not simply where our food comes from, but where our democratic freedoms come from. They evolved out of the tradition of wanting to own your own land,” Johnson said. “It was a nation of farmers in 1776. It was something so significant, yet today we make no connection to it. This farm represents all those prairie farms that were established here.”

To become a friend of Garfield Farm Museum, visit for more information.

Upcoming events

Feb. 19: Natural Area
Management Seminar
March 6: Antique Apple
Tree Grafting Seminar
March 12 and 13: Fox Valley
54th Annual Antique Show
April10: “Hands-on”
Dulcimer Workshop
April 30: Woodland
Wildflower Walk
May 7: Museum Awards Banquet
May TBA: 19th Century
Photography Lecture
May 22: Rare Breeds Show
June 8-12, 15-19:
Archaeological Excavation

For complete descriptionsand listings, visit

Merger keeps people reading

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Every day, three to five large canvas bags arrive at the Elburn Town and Country Library. They are filled with books that patrons have ordered through interlibrary loan. As part of the DuPage Library System, Elburn has access to many more books, videos and other materials than it could possible afford to stock on its own shelves.

As of July 1, 2011, the DuPage system will merge with four other northern and central Illinois library systems to form a single library system. The new system will provide services to more than 1,500 public, private, university and school library members. The consolidation of the five systems is hoped to reduce administrative costs, streamline operations and improve the coordination of resource sharing services.

“We don’t know right now what will happen,” said Mary Lynn Alms, Elburn Town and Country Library director. “We’re not sure how it will work.”

At this time, the DuPage system coordinates van delivery of books five days a week. According to a survey of member libraries, the number-one priority for the system is to coordinate the statewide delivery service. Since July 1 in Elburn, 8,838 books and materials have gone in and out of the library.

“The volume is huge,” said Circulation Manager Kathy Semrick. “We’ve had 6,300 requests (to borrow from other libraries) and 2,500 (requests to lend books to other libraries) that we have filled.”

The library system also provides consulting services for questions that come up regarding policy and procedures. They offered continuing education for the staff on topics such as interlibrary loan, customer service and reference.

“We’ve already seen some effect (of the impending merger). They have let a lot of staff go that provided us with consulting services,” Alms said. “They used to host a lot of free and low-cost classes, but now there are none at all.”

On June 30 the switch-over will take place. Everyone is counting on it being smooth.

“They say there will be no lag time; that it will be seamless. We’ll see,” Semrick said.

Above and beyond

Public service becomes priority during blizzard
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Elburn firefighters, police officers, snow plow drivers, neighbors, Good Samaritans and a guy on a snowmobile rose above and beyond the usual to help those in need during Tuesday’s blizzard. They rescued stranded travelers, responded to emergencies that may have saved lives and kept the roads passable as long as possible during Tuesday’s blizzard.

The snow started falling Tuesday around 2 p.m., and by 9:30 or 10 p.m., the roads were too dangerous even for the snowplows. But Metra was still running, and a late train was due to arrive.

“We knew we had to keep the roads open as long as possible,” Public Works Director John Nevenhoven said. “We stayed out longer than the county and the state because we knew people were coming home from work.”

When the plow tried to keep the Metra access road open, it itself got stuck with cars backed up behind.

“It became a bit of an ordeal. We couldn’t let people onto the access road, so what do you do with the people getting off the train? We opened up the emergency access off Kansas and escorted them to the warming station at the Fire Department,” Nevenhoven said.

He drove carefully up the hill at 10 mph, keeping from going off the embankment by the streetlights that shone through the winds and snow.

According to Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan, about 15 to 20 people took shelter at the station in town, and five to six people at Station 2. Many spent the night. One man was not able to leave until Wednesday afternoon, when his road was finally opened up. Jewel donated food to the warming station.

“I was one of a group of ‘refugees’ that were stranded after arriving late at the Metra or were simply forced to abandon their vehicles,” Sycamore resident Dennis O’Sullivan shared with the Elburn Herald via e-mail. “All of the firemen were extremely welcoming and helpful during the storm that required their full attention. I can only hope they know our appreciation for the use of their fire house, the food and the gallons of coffee.”

The firefighters not only warmed stranded travelers, one, with the help of a member of a local snowmobile club, rescued a couple in their home in the middle of the blizzard. Nick Webb and his fiance Courtney were awakened in the middle of the night by their Golden Retriever, Dusty, and discovered their house was filled with carbon monoxide gas. They quickly opened all the windows and called the Fire Department.

“I thought for sure we would never see the Fire Department, or at least not for a few hours or the next day. It was between three and four o’clock in the morning with windows open and the snow blowing through the screens into our home,” Webb said. “Then in less than half an hour an Elburn fireman named Joe-I believe a 24-year old on call-and a member of the Elburn snowmobilers club came racing down the middle of the street.”

The couple was told to leave the house because the levels of carbon monoxide were three times the acceptable level.

“We are so fortunate, and so grateful to the firefighter and the snowmobiler that came out immediately. Thanks again to everyone involved. I can’t say enough,” Webb said.

Another woman is grateful for the snowplow driver, Andrew Stratton, who came to her rescue when she fell down outside her home on Conley Drive as it was getting dark on Wednesday.

“He (Stratton) saw an elderly lady lying at the end of her drive and stopped the plow to come to her assistance,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “He put his jacket on her, got her into her house, called the paramedics and waited until they arrived. He may have saved that lady’s life. Their job is to drive the trucks and plow snow. That shows the character of our employees.”

Eventually that night, even the rescuers needed to be rescued when one of the fire trucks got stuck.

“People helped get us out. One guy plowed a path to get us back to the station,” Callaghan said.

Anderson attributes the efforts to the small-town values that Elburn is known for.

“The cooperation of the Fire Department, the Police Department, the village employees, those who ran the plows and those who didn’t was awesome. That’s the small-town feel. You can have a small town even in a large city. Small town is an attitude,” Anderson said.

Year-long celebration: St. Gall plans centennial events

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—When geneology and history buff Laura Chapman, who is director of liturgy at St. Gall Church, saw that the church would mark its 100th year as a parish, her mind started working on how the congregation could celebrate that anniversary. She came up with the idea of having an event each month that focused on history in some way.

“I love history. I love genealogy. That percolated into ‘Let’s do stuff on genealogy. Let’s do stuff on parish history,’” Chapman said. “These events highlight three levels of history and heritage: our own personal family history, parish history and overall church history.”

Chapman put together a committee of 35 volunteers who will choose various projects for their focus. Chapman and her husband, Deacon Mark Chapman, will chair the overall effort.

The personal and family history will be highlighted by two genealogy workshops in January and February. The first workshop trained participants in the basics of genealogical research methods so that they can help invest history as the year progresses.

These committee members will research early families whose names appear as memorials on the church’s stained glass windows. They will locate descendants of early parishioners and involve them in the events. An important project is to record the oral histories of long-time parish members. Also, they will transcribe parish sacramental records in need of preservation. The goal at the end of the centennial year is to publish a St. Gall parish history.

Parish heritage will be highlighted through a media presentation at Mass on the weekend of Apr. 9 and 10, where oral histories that have been collected will be presented, along with historic photos and a history of the church.

A guided tour of St. Gall Cemetery will take place on May 21, where participants will explore early parish history by learning about the lives of early parishioners.

The biggest effort of the year will be the parish picnic on Aug. 7, when, along with the parish potluck and an outdoor Mass, parishioners can take a history tour of the physical sites around Elburn that have been connected to parish history. They can tour the site of the first church on Keslinger Road, visit homestead farms of early Catholic settlers and learn about the stones in the shelter house at the Elburn Forest Preserve and their connection to St. Gall Church. Guides will conduct tours in each location to allow participants to travel around at their leisure during the event.

The centennial year will retain the well-established annual events such as the Turkey Dinner, in its 128th year in March, and the October Gala, an annual fundraiser that, in its third year last year, made $25,000.

“We’ll dream up ways to historicize regular events,” Chapman said. “We’re taking a teamwork approach. We’re blessed.”

The next event is a parish retreat for all ages on Feb. 27 from noon to 4 p.m. Participants will explore the parish family, the Holy Family and their own family through music, prayer and activities.

For a more complete listing of centennial events, call the parish office at (630) 365-6030.

Year at a glance
Feb. 19: Geneology Workshop No. 2
Feb. 27: All-ages parish retreat
Feb. 15-18 & March 2-5:
Parish directory photo appointments
Mar. 13: Centennial turkey dinner
April 9-10: Media presentation at Masses
May 21: Guided tour of St. Gall Cemetery
June: Historical bridal show (date TBA)
July 3: Memorial Mass at Cemetery,
honoring parish veterans
Aug. 7: Church picnic, outdoor Mass,
history tour
Sept.: Adult faith evening (date TBA)
Oct. 15: Centennial Gala
Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day Luminary Mass
Dec. 2-3: Nativity Display during
Elburn Christmas Stroll

History of THE CHURCH
1851: Forerunner of St. Gall Church is built,
at what is now Kuiper’s Farm, midway
between Blackberry Station (Elburn) and
Lodi (Maple Park). The church is
commonly called the “Hill Church,”
but is eventually named St. Mary’s.
1871: The First St. Gall Church is erected
on First Street at the end of Swain Street
in Elburn. The first Mass is
celebrated on New Year’s Day.
1872: St. Gall becomes a mission church.
1875: 40 families make up the parish.
1911: St. Gall becomes an
independent parish.
1925: A new St. Gall Church is erected on
its present site. The first Mass is
celebrated on Christmas Eve.
The old building is dismantled and its
stones used to construct
the shelter at the Elburn Forest Preserve
in 1934.
1930: The Depression leads the parish to
once again become a mission church.
The parish is served by the chaplain of
the Illinois Training School for Boys
in St. Charles.
1940: St. Gall once again becomes an
independent parish.
1960: 110 families make up the parish.
1970: The parish hall addition is
1978: The arch of the entryway of
the original “Church of St. Gal (sic),”
which was found in a backyard years
after the old church had been torn down,
is placed on the back wall
as a memorial to the original building.
2000: 687 families make up the parish.
30 acres of land is purchased at the
corner of Route 47 and Hughes Road for
the future St. Gall Parish.
2007: A capital campaign is undertaken
to raise money to build the new church.
2010: 736 families make up the parish.

Donations needed to help community center go green

[quote]by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The Elburn and Countryside Community Center received a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to help with the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system, but the grant is not large enough to cover the entire cost. So, the center is calling on the public to make donations.

“We applied for and were awarded a $90,000 grant, and we have one year to do it (install the system),” said Bill Brauer, a board member for the center.

The benefits of the geothermal system are that it lowers heating and cooling costs, sometimes up to 50 to 75 percent. Less energy is used, and fewer dollars are spent. It also produces lower emissions of all kinds, especially CO2.

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awards grant money to help local government organizations and non-profits purchase and install renewable energy technology. Their mission is to implement and improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution and energy costs to Illinois consumers.

“This grant will be instrumental in helping the center install a geothermal system for the building,” said Laura Stoddard, Elburn Community Center administrator. “We’re excited and proud to be able to install this ultimate energy system.”

Geothermal energy takes advantage of the Earth’s constant year-round temperature. In Illinois, the temperature range hovers around 50 degrees. Instead of burning a fuel, which produces emissions, geothermal uses the Earth’s free energy.

To heat a building, the system captures heat from the ground, and uses a circulation pump to move water through pipes and past a heat exchange. There, the heat is removed and distributed to the heating system.

In cooling a building the process is reversed. Excess heat is removed from the building by a heat pump and transferred to the ground loop heat exchange.

For more information, stop by the Community Center and pick up a brochure at the information desk or call (630) 365-6655.

Alaskan adventure

Photo: Elburn resident, Tyler Schmidt, trekked 135 miles in the Alaskan wilderness as part of his Outdoor Studies major at Alaska Pacific University. Courtesy Photo

Elburnite spends 23 days in the wild
by Lynn Meredith
ANCHORAGE—With a goal in life to become an expedition guide and years of backpacking and camping experience under his belt, where else would Tyler Schmidt of Elburn go to college than Alaska Pacific University? Set in Anchorage, Alaska, close to the Chugash Mountain range, the university offers a major in Outdoor Studies that provides students with real-life experience in the wilderness. Schmidt took a class in expedition leadership, whose classroom was a 23-day trek in the wildness.

“’Outdoor Studies’ is not your typical major. Most of my classes focus on active learning in the outdoors,” Schmidt said. “Instead of taking a whole bunch of science classes, I take rock climbing and expedition leadership. We actually go out and do stuff rather than take tests on it.”

As an Eagle Scout in Troop 7 in Elburn, Schmidt had the opportunity to develop his love of the outdoors. Along with camping and backpacking trips, Schmidt was twice chosen as crew leader at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, where the scouts would backpack 80 to 100 miles.

“He always was an outdoor kid,” Tyler’s father Chuck said. “We encouraged the adventurer spirit and to do your own passion. If you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.”

The 23-day expedition began with three days of planning and getting gear together. The students learned how to read the maps, how to ration out 24 days’ worth of food and decided what materials they would need for a class they each had to teach in the wild. For four credit hours, 18 students along with instructors would be dropped off in the wilderness with only 45 pounds on their backs to survive the 135-mile trek.

“We got dropped off at the side of the highway and picked up a trail for half a mile, and then just took a left turn off the trail into shoulder-high brush. We didn’t see a trail again for 23 days,” Tyler said. “We knew where we needed to be each night, we knew our trek, we knew which direction we were going, and we became expert map readers.”

With the aid of eight topographical maps, the group hiked through waist-high rushing creeks and through passes. They carried roughly seven days’ worth of food and their tents. A bush plane would twice drop off supplies, taking off and landing within a 50-foot strip.

Cold and hunger were constants on the trek, Tyler said. But with classes on foot care, bear safety and crossing rivers, the students were well-prepared when they had 14 days straight of rain, ice and snow—in August and September. They suffered cold feet from socks that would not dry out after crossing streams. Frosted-over conditions one day made it too dangerous to continue. The group sat huddled under a tarp with no floor and sipped hot liquids.

They ate rice, pasta, and even homemade pizza cooked over small MSR stoves. Since there were no trees to hang the food to keep bears away, they put the food 200 to 300 feet away from the campsite. Tyler lost 23 pounds, over the course of the trip.

“On the way back we stopped at a grocery where we could eat whatever we wanted. For my first meal I ate a gallon of mint brownie ice cream, two family-sized bags of Doritos, a box of cookies, a liter of soda, and I still wasn’t full,” Tyler said.

Through it all, Tyler saw some amazing sights: hundreds of caribou, the Northern Lights shooting above Denali and even some ill-fated planes that crashed in the wilderness.

Next on the agenda for Tyler is a course in “Glaciology,” the study of glaciers to see how fast they move and to record daily temperatures. From this 23-day trek, he now knows what he’d do different next time.

“For my future investments I’m going to get some in-camp shoes. I’m going to buy some seal-skin socks and a pair of crocs,” Tyler said.

On the cutting edge

Delnor Hospital’s da Vinci Robot improves outcomes
by Lynn Meredith
Geneva—“Scapel, please” is no longer the only word in surgical procedures. Until recently, surgery was performed either by drawing a long incision and exposing the organs, or it was performed laproscopically by drawing a small incision but using relatively rigid instruments. Now a third option is available: a surgeon-controlled robot that can perform complex surgery with great precision.

Members from the Elburn Chamber of Commerce toured Delnor Hospital in Geneva at an after-hours event on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Dr. Jonathan Song, chairman of the Delnor Robotics Committee, gave a presentation and showed a video on the da Vinci system.

“It was a great opportunity to show chamber members first hand what the da Vinci can do,” said Brian Griffin, director of marketing and public relations at Delnor. “We were trying to highlight how the da Vinici is bringing a whole new level of high-tech, minimally-invasive surgery to the area. People will not have to go to a major medical center. They can get it right here in the Elburn area.”

The da Vinci Robotic Surgical System performs minimally invasive surgery using three wristed arms that are fully controlled by the surgeon who is standing on a surgical platform right next to the patient. The fourth arm is a high-definition 3-D camera that magnifies the view of the surgical site 10-12 times. The incision created by the surgery is 1-2 cm long.

With wrists that rotate a full 360 degrees, the robot has increased range of motion, dexterity and access. The robot replicates the surgeon’s movements in real-time. It cannot be programmed to perform any procedures on its own, and view of the site is an actual image, not a virtual one.

Many more types of surgery can be performed using the robotic system than with laproscopy. The robot has performed hysterectomies and prostate surgeries, endometrical, throat and other cancer surgeries, uterine fibroid removals and mitral valve prolapse surgeries. It has even removed a kidney using this method. The benefits of this option have been clinically proven, Griffin said.

“It’s of great benefit to patients. There is less risk of infection, shorter recovery times and less pain. They can get back to day-to-day activities sooner. We’re talking about two days versus two weeks,” he said.

In the case of throat cancer, in particular, surgery may be able to be performed without an incision, thereby avoiding scarring and disfiguration and preserving the larynx.

This system gets its name from Leonardo da Vinci, the great artist who is known for his use of great anatomical accuracy and three-dimensional details in his paintings.

Photo: Elburn Chamber of Commerce members toured the new addition to Delnor
Community hospital and were shown a presentation of the Da Vinci Surgical robot. Talking after the presentation are (left to right) Chief Nursing Officer Lore Bogolin, Elburn Village President Dave Anderson and Delnor President Tom Wright. Photo by John DiDonna

Boy Scout Park: the orphan by the tracks

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Walk by the open lot northeast of the tracks on First Street, and you’ll see glimpses of a space that was once Boy Scout Park. It began as a project to beautify an empty space that the village didn’t need. Now the village is considering selling it.

“It’s sitting there as an orphan right along the railroad tracks,” Trustee Bill Grabarek said. “It was purchased as the cornerstone of a governmental campus. We wanted to enlarge the municipal campus, but that use turned out to not be viable.”

The village paid approximately $200,000 for the lot and house. The house was subsequently torn down when it was clear it couldn’t be used due to structural issues. The question then became what to do with this piece of land that could not be used as originally hoped.

“It’s not big enough for a parking lot. It’s not big enough for a skate park,” Grabarek said. “It’s right by the tracks. There’s issues of safety with the trains right there. It’s not attractive.”

The Village Board discussed the possibility of selling the property.

“It’s a piece of property that the village should not own, has no need for, has no reason for,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “Now’s as good a time as any (to sell). For the past year and a half that I’ve been in office, it has not been an asset to the taxpayers or the village of Elburn.”

Should the board decide to sell the property, it cannot set the price, according to state statutes, but it can set a minimum price. The village can either accept sealed bids, or it can have the land appraised by a state licensed appraiser and conduct a private sale or public auction.

New church comes to Elburn

Photo: Pastor David Jones and his wife.

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Variety is a luxury a growing population has when it comes, not only to restaurants and stores, but also to churches. Elburn is home to five churches with differing styles of practicing faith. Starting in February, a new church will open its doors. The Elburn Church of God will hold services at the Great Lakes Campus at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

“Elburn is a growing population, and people like to have a different kind of service,” Pastor David Jones said. “Our church is for people who want to learn about the Bible.”

Jones comes from evangelism and teaching at the West Aurora Church of God. He said that the Elburn church will be a brand new church but will have help getting started from a handful of members at the West Aurora church. He and his wife will be instrumental in attracting members. So far, they have been spreading the word by going through the community to let their presence be known.

The Church of God is a Pentecostal church, part of the international Church of God based in Cleveland, Tenn., started in 1886. It is an evangelical faith that takes its inspiration and authority from the Word of God as revealed in the Bible. It strives to communicate the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“You have the freedom to worship God the way you want to,” Jones said. “We raise hands and express feelings openly during the worship time with music and songs.”

Worship services will be held at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

“A lot of people work six days a week and prefer not to rush to get to church on their days off,” Jones said.

A Bible studies class will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

For more information, call David Jones at (815) 671-5925.

The Church of God came to be in the late 1880s, when a small group of people gathered in Tennessee and formed what was then called the Christian Union, with a shared desire to establish a new church to focus on Biblical teachings, encourage deeper consecration and promote evagelism.

“The Church of God subscribes to the following five foundational Christian doctrines:
1. The inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.
2. The virgin birth and complete deity of Christ.
3. The atoning sacrifice of Christ’s death for the sins of the world.
4. The literal resurrection of the body.
5. Christ’s second coming in bodily form to earth.”

Elburn approves revised IGA

Move extends agreement with Kaneland for 1 year
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—In October 2010, Elburn signed a three-year intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between local municipalities and the Kaneland School District that provided for land and cash dedications and school impact payments.

When Sugar Grove balked at signing the agreement, it was subsequently revised. On Tuesday, the Elburn Village Board voted to approve the revised, one-year agreement.

Sugar Grove negotiated with the district, arguing that the percentages developers would have to pay were based on tables that were outdated. Instead of the requested 60 percent in both land/cash and school impact fees, Sugar Grove called for 50 percent in land/cash and 0 percent in school impact fees.

Discussions ended when the district agreed to complete a new impact study headed by Roger Dahlstrom within one year and to change the length of the IGA to one year instead of three. Developers would be required to pay 60 percent in both land/cash and the school impact fees.

“The fees would be for buildings constructed this year only,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Elburn Village Board members agreed that the tables used to determine fees are outdated.

“One number used is $80,000 an acre. That’s dropped considerately. From that, everything else falls in place,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “The tables need to be updated, pure and simple. I think it’s a wise move (to sign this agreement).”

Leaders of tomorrow begin today

by Lynn Meredith
Geneva—Practicing leadership skills can never start too early. Annabelle Letizia, 7, of Geneva is off to a good start. As part of the Girls Scout Emissary Program, she is actively involved in promoting the project the Girl Scouts are most known for: selling their famous cookies.

Besides wanting to sell as many cookies as she can in order to win an iPod Touch and help her troop do fun things, Annabelle acts as a representative of the Girl Scouts when community groups and the media ask about the various projects that the Scouts are up to.

“It’s really a two-way street,” said Annabelle’s mom, Jeanne. “It’s a great experience for her, and it helps with the Girls Scouts’ biggest goal: turning girls into leaders in the community.”

Annabelle went through a training program that included young Scouts like her all the way up to high school aged scouts. She is very clear about the purpose of the Emissary Program.

“It’s to help us learn to be a leader. There are five things we should learn: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics,” Annabelle said.

Her mom said she’s just having fun with the whole experience and doesn’t necessarily realize what she’s learning from it.

“I thought (the program) would be perfect for Annabelle. She’s always been very good at speaking with adults. She may have had the jitters the first time she spoke with the media, but it’s been interesting,” Jeanne said.

For Jeanne, it’s been fun to relive her own days as a Scout in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when having two older sisters made it difficult to sell as many cookies as she’d have liked.

“But the cookies haven’t changed,” Jeanne said.

Thin Mints are the top seller according to Annabelle, but her favorite are Samoas. She’s quick to point out that while some of the money the troop raises goes to the Girl Scout Council of Illinois, the rest goes to troop #4057 (Geneva), which she hopes will be used for a sleep-over field trip at Brookfield Zoo.

Although Annabelle is well on her way to achieving those leadership skills the Girl Scouts aim for, her mom says it’s been fun to see her grow in the experience.

“It’s fun as a parent to see her use her communication skills and to gain self-confidence,” Jeanne said.

The deadline to place an order for cookies is Tuesday, Jan 25.

Public works budget laid out for review

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Public Works, like the other village of Elburn departments, presented to the board on Monday its proposals for spending in the coming year.

“We’re not voting. We’re just discussing at this point,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. “These are John (Nevenhoven)’s plans. We need to know if we’re on track or not, so we can find creative solutions.”

Many items were up for discussion as parts of $312,500 requested for water treatment upgrades. According to Nevenhoven, the most important project is to repair a well in the water system.

“Number one on my list to do for next year is for Well 3 to be pulled out, inspected and repaired,” Nevenhoven said. “It should be pulled out every six to seven years. It’s been nine years.”

The well is losing capacity where the water has worn it down, and sand and stone has clogged it. The cost for the project would run $65,000.

Also, the north water tower needs to be cleaned inside the stem and bulb at a cost of $121,500. The north tower and the First Street tower need to be repainted at a cost of $126,000.

“This is not a cheap item to do, but it’s part of the maintenance of the tower,” Nevenhoven said. “Does it need to be done this year? No, but it needs to stay on the radar. Otherwise, we’ve got a beautiful water tower that doesn’t function.”

‘Doc Hall’ building razed

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Drive through downtown Elburn, and you may notice something missing. An empty lot sits where the two-story building on the east corner of North and Main was demolished Monday. The building was owned by a long-time veterinarian in Elburn known as “Doc Hall,” who moved in 1979. The building sat vacant for several years. Recently, Hall passed away, and his estate put the building up for sale.

Elburn Building and Zoning Enforcement Officer Jim Stran said that the building was not in good repair. It was over 100 years old and had only surface repairs done to it at the request of the village in 2008.

“We’ve had a number of people who contacted the village to see about developing it, but when they got inside, they could see that it was not cost-effective to bring the building into compliance,” Stran said.

Stran said that Kevin Schmidt purchased the building and has done all the testing for asbestos removal and air sampling that were required. Stran said he believes the owner will fill in the hole created by the foundation.

Schmidt could not be reached for comment about what he intends to do with the downtown lot.

Photos: Standing for over 100 years, the old “Doc Hall” building, located on the corner of Route 47 and North Street in downtown Elburn, was torn down Monday, with cleanup on the property continuing through the week. Photos by Mary Herra and Ben Draper

Elburn Forest Preserve to have new entrance from within the village

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—To gain entrance to the Elburn Forest Preserve, you will no longer need to hop in your car and drive around to Route 38. Starting sometime this spring, you will be able to enter from within the village at the west end of North Street.

The new entrance will have a main drive into a parking lot, a shelter and restrooms. It will eventually hook into a system of bike trails.

According to Jerry Culp, the director of planning and development for the Kane County Forest Preserve, the project will be 80 percent paid for by a grant.

“It’s part of a long-term plan for a bike trail. It will provide access from downtown and will be a benefit to the people of the village,” Culp said. “It will be one part of a regional trail system.”

Kane County Forest Preserve first submitted to the village of Elburn a conceptual plan to relocate the entrance. After the village made some changes, a seller was found at an access point to the original part of the forest preserve.

The project will go out to bid this month. Culp said they hope to start construction in April.

What’s ahead for Elburn in 2011

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—2011 will be a year of progress for the village of Elburn as it continues projects begun in 2010 and looks to the future.

2010 Census Results
The results of the 2010 Census are in: Elburn now has 5,278 residents. That figure is up from an earlier census that numbered 4,696 residents. With the population over the 5,000 mark, state law requires that the village establish a police commission, hire an actuary, and go to an elected village clerk instead of an appointed one.

The police commission will be appointed by Village President Dave Anderson. It will take on the duties of hiring and firing of police staff, which is now undertaken by the police chief. The statute also calls for changes to the police pension. Anderson estimates a cost of $100,000 to the village.

“It will cost the village more money,” Anderson said. “How much, we don’t know. We will be getting money from the state, but as we know the state doesn’t have any money.”

Anderson Road bridge
Of the projects to get underway in 2011, the Anderson Road bridge and extension is at the top of the list. Anderson Road will be extended from Route 38 to Keslinger Road, creating a bypass and a bridge over the railroad tracks east of the Metra Station. The extension would go through the Elburn Station Development proposed by Sho-Deen, Inc.

The Sho-Deen development was first presented to the village in January 2007. It would cover the east side of the village from Route 38 to Keslinger Road. Earlier versions of the plan called for a commercial site north of Route 38. The village is continuing discussions with the developer.

“We are in discussions and progressing. Within the next three months, we’ll be ready for a decision,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of give and take as to right of way. There are a lot of engineering issues.”

Anderson said that the village, the county and the developer do not want to lose grant money that is out there for use in constructing the bridge.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll be in construction a year from January,” he said.

Ongoing services
Anderson plans to continue working on the four responsibilities the Village Board is charged with providing potable water, waste water treatment, street maintenance and police protection.

“These are our main focuses to make sure that we’re doing right. Any additional money left over, we can do other things with, like the ash tree replacements and the sidewalks,” Anderson said. “It’s not a question of not knowing what’s out there (to be done). It’s that we don’t have the funds (to do them).”

One convenience residents can look forward to in 2011 is being able to use credit cards to pay for tickets, water bills or any other fees owed to the village.

Economic development plan
“I’d like to work more closely with neighboring communities, along with the county, to look at an economic development plan, particularly for Elburn because we are the end of the line for the train station,” Anderson said. “I think there are several opportunities to expand on there.”

Chipping away at challenges

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The village of Elburn worked to meet the challenges of budget belt-tightening in ways large and small, and in the process completed ongoing projects during 2010.

Most obvious for residents who had been living with train whistles blaring at all times of the day and night, Elburn succeeded in getting two train horns installed at both the Route 47 crossing and the First Street crossing in August.

The board had decided in January 2008 to install the horns, which direct sound only toward the immediate area of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Elburn agreed to pay the Federal Railroad Administration $124,125 for horns rather than install center barriers at a cost of $400,000.

Village President Dave Anderson said that by putting the installation work out to bid, the board saved $70,000.

The quieter atmosphere of train horns also extended to public comments to the board on its decision.

“You know you’ve done your job when nobody says anything,” Anderson said.

The Village Board found another savings opportunity by investigating a different type of secondary power source for the wastewater treatment plant. Law requires that the system have a second source of power if the first one should go down.

Original estimates for a diesel generator ran $550,000, but by talking with Com Ed, Village Administrator Erin Willrett discovered that the power company would install an underground source for $128,000.

“That’s a savings of $300,000 to the taxpayer,” Anderson said.

To Anderson, this past year saw the Village Boarding working effectively to get things done.

“The best thing about the past year is the cooperation and input and involvement of the board of trustees,” Anderson said. “I feel grateful for their participation. They are elected like all of us, but we’re a family, so to speak.”

In 2010, the board took steps to cap its deficit in water and sewer services by raising rates. It raised the water rates in Elburn from $2 per 100 cubic feet to a $5 base plus $2.60 per cf for sewer, and from $2.69 for water to a $5 base plus $3.50. The effect was to double the bills of many residents but bring the village back from the red.

“We were losing $20,000 every month. Now we’re at the break-even point,” Anderson said.

Personnel cuts were also a part of dealing with 2010’s budget dilemmas. The board closed its Building Department, reducing an outlay of $2,600 in monthly rent and reducing its staff from three building inspectors and a secretary to one full-time and one half-time inspector and no secretary.

When Assistant Village Administrator and Director of Community Development David Morrison resigned, that position was not refilled.

Anderson said that he has been impressed with the board’s ability to find ways to cut costs as it faces budget restraints.

“There have been a lot of ideas coming out of the board; ways we can do things,” Anderson said. “The neat thing is that we’re all taxpayers ourselves, and we’re trying to do things that are most economical and effective for the community.”

Masons give back

Local fraternal organization promotes good works and good character
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Most of us have heard of the Shriners and their children’s hospitals that treat burn, spinal cord and orthopedic conditions free of charge for any child under the age of 18. What we may not realize is that all Shriners began first as Masons. The Masons are a fraternal organization that welcomes every race, religion, opinion or background. The mission is to promote friendship, morality and brotherly love among its members.

Blackberry Masonic Lodge in Elburn has been helping local charities throughout its 150-year history.

“The tradition of the Masonic lodge is more for local charities,” said Past Master Paul Thorn. “We have contributed to the food pantry, Conley Outreach, inner-community baseball and academic achievement award sponsorship.”

Blackberry Lodge also set up a trailer at Elburn Days to register kids for the Illinois Child Identification Program (IL CHIPS). Parents bring their kids in not only to have their picture taken, but also to record any identifying mannerisms or gestures that would help in their rescue should they go missing.

“We talk to the child and see what little characteristics they might have. We make a point of putting that on the disk,” Thorn said. “It really helps the police. We see if they have a tendency to look up or down, what their skin complexion is or if they have a tendency to shuffle their feet when they are standing or talking.”

With three million members nationwide, the Masons are the largest and oldest fraternal organization in the world. They were thought to have been started by stone masons who built the great cathedrals in the Middle Ages, but no one knows their origins for certain.

Some of their mystique comes from the secrets they keep, but in fact those secrets were made public centuries ago by London newspapers. Ben Franklin, a Mason, said that the Masons are a society with secrets, not a secret society.

Personal betterment is the goal of each member. The society uses metaphors and symbols from geometry and architecture to build character, one principle at a time.

“They join for the betterment of themselves. We look at not what you can gain from membership, but for what you can give, what makes you a better person,” Thorn said. “The more people look into themselves, the more they are willing to give. We want people to know you’re a Mason, not by what you wear, but by how you act.”

Fifty years ago in Elburn, the Masonic Lodge played a real social function for its members. With big dinners and card games following, it was an outing every two weeks for the men of the community, Thorn said. Today, it’s not the social function it once was. Fathers are busy taking kids to games and can’t make meetings as regularly.

Still, one of the goals of the Masons is to make good family men. Blackberry Lodge is starting a program to invite interested men for a casual meal at 6:30 p.m. before the second Tuesday of the month meeting. They will have a chance to meet the members and learn more about what the Masons do. Meetings take place at 121 Main St. on the third floor.

For more information, call Tim Ward at (630) 510-7663 or Paul Thorn at (630) 365-6217.

History of the
Blackberry Lodge

Nov. 5, 1859: The first meeting of the Masonic Lodge was held.

Oct. 3, 1860:
Blackberry Lodge #359 was officially named. The members voted to establish Blackberry Cemetery at the corner of Route 47 and Keslinger Road.

April 19, 1865: Members were invited at attend Memorial Services for Abraham Lincoln.

1909: Lodge meetings were held on the third floor at the location of the present building. The first floor, which currently houses the Elburn Herald, was then a pool room and barber shop.

1918: After a fire destroyed the building, the Masons raised $13,000 in three days and voted to build a new temple.

1919: The members held a celebration to lay the cornerstone of the new building. A band from Oak Park, Ill., presented a concert. Deposited in a copper box placed inside the cornerstone were several items from the times: a Holy Bible, copies of the Elburn Herald and the Aurora Beacon, a picture of the Elburn baseball team of 1912, a flag, a list of veterans from World War I, the names of the faculty and teachers of the Elburn Public School, and a list of officers and Past Masters, among other things.

1960: The lodge held its 100th Anniversary celebration. It listed 417 members.

2010: Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. Anyone interested in learning more about the lodge is invited to a casual meal held at 6:30 p.m. before the meeting. Call Tim Ward at (630) 510-7663 or Paul Thorn at (630) 365-6217 for more information.

Making a million meals in a weekend

by Lynn Meredith
St. Charles—Who said it can’t be done?

Christ Community Church (CCC), with campuses in St. Charles, Aurora and DeKalb, took a stab at packaging one million meals for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) on two weekends in December. It’s likely that they succeeded because they had 4,500 volunteers to help them do it.

With 17 shifts of approximately 180 packagers, CCC put into play a well-organized and executed packaging event that included church members, their friends and other organizations that wanted to help.

“It’s an opportunity for people to bring their friends and neighbors,” said Larry Stratton, director of Community Impact for CCC. “People want to serve, but they don’t always know what the opportunities might be. It’s my job to create an on-ramp for people to go into the community.”

Dave Young of St. Charles and 10 of his Sprint co-workers from Itasca, Ill., decided to package meals for FMSC for their office Christmas party instead of going out to celebrate. They teamed up to package the meals as a group.

“I take any opportunity to serve,” said Sprint employee Mark Adams of Bolingbrook, Ill.

Tanglewood neighbors Jennifer Pecor and Katy Balon from Batavia came out for a second year in a row, bringing kids and friends to work the two-hour shift.

“It’s a good bonding experience with the team,” Pecor said.

Dawn Stover from Elburn worked with her Bible study group from CCC for the second year. Working as a group with each team member having a job to do, they put together meals in plastic bags.

Each package consists of six meals made with four ingredients. The meals were designed by Cargill and the University of Minnesota to meet all the nutritional requirements for one day, so that children living in extreme poverty can continue to grow and develop.

Volunteers scooped cup servings of chicken flavoring, soy protein, dehydrated vegetables and white rice, and poured them down a funnel into a plastic bag. The bag is then weighed, sealed and boxed for secure shipment to places like Haiti, Uganda and the Phillipines.

“We partner with 67 countries that have specifically asked to receive food,” FMSC worker Bethany Schwartz told the assembled volunteers during the orientation. “This is part of a long-term solution to help train artisans and farmers, not a one-time fix. We don’t use machines. Machines aren’t going to change the world. You are.”

FMSC announced that it recently broke the 100 million meal mark for the fiscal year.

FMSC packages meals six days a week at their warehouses in Aurora and Schaumburg, Ill. Each month CCC sends a group of volunteers to package meals at the Aurora site.

“It’s a huge opportunity for people to be involved directly with helping the poor,” Stratton said.

Taking a first look at Elburn Police budget

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith presented the public safety budget to the Committee of the Whole in the first of at least two looks at department needs for the coming year. One need in particular is the staffing of officers in the Police Department.

With eight full-time and 12 part-time officers, plus one full-time slot to fill, trustees asked Smith how many officers are needed for a community the size of Elburn.

“The question is what a community of this size should have for a police department staff,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “Speaking for me, we need, from a comfort level standpoint, to know where we are. Should we have 58 police officers or eight officers?”

Smith said that complex formulas can be applied that look at the number of people in the city, the number of calls received, the types of crimes and the size of the area that is covered. He cited FBI standards as suggesting two officers for every 1,000 population. But in the end, it’s a judgment call.

“It’s not like factory work. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “It’s the best we can do for the safety of our officers and our citizens.”

The board also discussed with Smith the issue of whether to fill the full-time slot with part-time officers. Citing flexibility of staffing to cover sick days and vacation and the added expense of paying a full-time officer benefits and vacation leave, Smith gave his recommendation to stay with part-time staffing.

“We’re good with part-timers right now. With part-time, you’re not going to incur vacation and benefits that you pay to full-timers,” Smith said. “Full-time is best in the future, but we don’t need another full-time officer right now. On my wish-list, I would have one, but that’s several years out.”

Web of winter snowmobile trails

by Lynn Meredith
Regional—Little do we know when the weather is warm and the ground is clear that a web of trails surrounds the Kaneland community. The De-Kane Sno-Trackers, a club of about 45 snowmobile enthusiasts, mark and groom the 20 miles of snowmobile trails when the snow is deep enough.

Snowmobilers can ride on the Great Western bike path from Wasco to Sycamore, take some spur trails on Peplow near the Elburn Coo-op, ride through Maple Park and to the gas station in Cortland, and possibly end up at Mott’s in Hinckley.

“You can actually ride from here to Lake Superior, from Presque Isle to Hinckley,” said club member Jerry DeBruyne. “But there’s no trail into Elburn unless you ditch-ride on Route 47, and that’s illegal.”

As part of the Illinois Association of Snowmobilers, the local club is interested in promoting snowmobiling as a safe and family-friendly sport. Since DeBruyne joined in 1979, he has seen more kids getting involved. He wants to dispel misunderstandings of what it’s all about. He will join with other members to become part of the Forest Preserve’s safety patrol.

“They will provide us with a vest, and we’ll act as Forest Preserve officers. If we see somebody doing something wrong, we can pull them aside and explain how they might be giving snowmobiling a bad name with their actions,” De Bruyne said. “We can ask them to stop or call a Forest Preserve cop to help. Also, if we see someone in trouble, we can help them out.”

The club will also be allowed for the first time to mark the bike path. Two snowmobilers were killed a few years ago where the trail dips. Now, the club can put up signs indicating caution, speed limits and bridge ahead.

The De-Kane Sno-Trackers gather for meetings once a month to plan outings both locally, such as a Poker Run to raise money for needy families, or a three- to four-day overnight trip into Wisconsin.

“The advantages of being in the club are that you get to know the trails. You help put the trails in and mark them. You’re not just riding out in a field,” DeBruyne said. “Also, it’s family-oriented. You meet a lot of people, and there’s socializing.”

The trails open Wednesday, Dec. 15. The drag pulled by a tractor to groom the trails will be out as well as the truck track. The $40,000 truck track purchased in 1989 was paid for by state grants. The club receives occasional money, but it’s very sparse, according to DeBruyne.

The real appeal for club members is the things you see while you’re out on the trail.

“I like seeing the wildlife. I’ve seen wolves, bears, eagles, deer. Once I saw an albino deer. It’s spectacular the things you see late at night when it’s quiet and so clear,” DeBruyne said.

The DeKane Sno-Trackers

• Formed in 1972,
with 148 members at its peak

• Membership dues of $25 per year

• Meets the first Tuesday of every
month from September to April

• Any land owner who is willing
to let the club cross their
property, please call
(630) 303-8269

A Heart for medicine: Taking time to care

Elburn MD closes solo practice after 10 years
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—In this day of fast-paced, revolving-door medicine, the opportunity to spend time with your personal physician is almost non-existent—unless you were a patient of Dr. Tom Collinett of Elburn Health Associates. Collinett was known by his patients as a doctor with a big heart who took the time to care.

Elburn Health Associates closed on Nov 5. The doctor said he needed to cut back, because the pressures of running a solo practice were taking their toll.

“I spent so much time taking care of others that I neglected my family and my own health,” Collinett said. “I’m basically retired, but I will probably go back and do something part-time.”

Those who worked with Collinett testified to the care he gave his patients. His medical assistant, Sarah Lindeman, said that because of the time he took with patients, they were devoted to him.

“He spent a lot of time in the exam room—often 45 minutes. The patients felt like he was their doctor, but they also felt like he was their friend,” Lindeman said. “His elderly patients loved it because they got the respect they wanted and not just a 30-second visit. If they had questions, he would take the time to find out when the symptoms started and locate the cause. He would go above and beyond just writing out a prescription.”

Even though he says what he’ll miss most about leaving Elburn is the people, Collinett particularly enjoyed seeing older patients.

“I have a soft spot for my older population. I feel I deserted them. They will not get the same type of care,” Collinett said. “Some of the Medicare patients have five or six significant problems and are on various meds that they might not remember. You often have to get the families involved.”

So loyal were his patients that some followed him out to Elburn from Chicago, where he practiced more than a decade ago. Patients would wait for over an hour to see him when he was running late.

“Many patients, when I run into them at the store, keep asking about him,” Medical Assistant Sylwia Balaga said. “I’m so sad. I wish I could still work for him. I miss him and his daughter, Heather. I cried when I heard he was closing the office.”

Although he was raised in the city and practiced there, he always wanted to do small-town medicine and be the family doctor.

“I wanted to do more than just say, ‘Hello, how are you.’ I wanted to actually get to know people in the community,” Collinett said.

He said that medicine has changed over the years and that doctors are being asked to keep office visits short in order to keep their practices afloat.

“It’s sad that medicine has deteriorated to that point. I’m disheartened with the way things are. You should be able to practice medicine the way you want,” Collinett said. “But when it works, it’s very satisfying. I love what I do.”

Both Lindeman and Balaga had nothing but good things to say about their former employer, and they both would go back in a heartbeat.

“I know that his heart is medicine. It’s what he did to make himself happy. He would come in with his whole heart,” Lindeman said.

Wasco Diamonds fastpitch softball on way to Elburn

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The Wasco Diamonds Girls Fastpitch Softball club is well on its way to having its new practice and training home in Elburn. The Elburn Planning Commission approved the club’s application to use 707 Herra Street, Unit G, as a training facility.

The center would provide a full indoor astroturf infield and three enclosed batting cages for the 100 girls who play softball.

The Diamonds attracts girls ages 8 to 18 from as far west as Oregon, as far north as Waconda, Ill., but most centrally from Burlington, St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.

“We have a very dynamic group of girls,” Diamonds’ Board Secretary Pam Waslowski said. “We have some girls who can pitch over 60 miles an hour.”

The proof that this kind of training pays off is seen in the 14 girls currently playing for colleges such as University of Illinois, Northwestern, University of Wisconsin and DePaul. Twelve more girls have collegiate commitments for either 2010 or 2011.

The facility will be used primarily after school from 4 to 6 p.m. in two-hour intervals of 12 to 15 girls each. The teams have nine teams divided by age group and 15 coaches.

Besides practicing their sport, the girls also reach out to the community with different fundraisers during the year.

“They have given over 15,000 pounds of food to the Elburn Food Pantry over the years,” Waslowski said. “We focus on community service, the character of the girls and the quality of their play.”

The next step is final approval by the Village Board at its meeting on Dec 20. The Diamonds plan to start construction right away and be up and running by Jan 8.

For more information, visit

Lead on: NIU student teams up with a Leader Dog

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—For 10 years, Cory Lipsett, who is visually impaired, used a cane to help him find his way around obstacles that he encountered in his daily life. He also used a Treker GPS system to find locations. Neither of these options available to those whose vision is impaired could compare to his current companion, Ragin the guide dog.

“Basically, for 10 years, I used a piece of graphite. It keeps you safe to a point, but it’s not what you want. You’re thinking, ‘there’s got to be something better than this,’” Lipsett said. “A dog is the next step from a cane for more mobility purposes.”

Ragin is a two-year-old German Shepherd that has been trained by Leader Dogs for the Blind, a Michigan-based training program that matches and trains guide dogs for the visually impaired. Lipsett was recommended by the Elburn Lion’s Club and is their first recipient. Lipsett spoke to the club Monday at the monthly dinner and presentation.

He described, with a good dose of humor, that the process of getting a guide dog is not quick, mainly because recipients have to be at a level of independence where they can navigate for themselves. Being independent is something that Lipsett has been focused on all his life.

“It’s a long process. I started mine in fifth grade when I learned things like how to cross the street safely. Then in high school, I learned getting on the train and going into Chicago, taking CTA buses and cabs to get wherever,” Lipsett said. “I have to be able to travel safely. He (Ragin) is not a horse—I wish he were sometimes—but he isn’t. He won’t just take you where you want to go.”

As a sophomore at Northern Illinois University, Lipsett lives in the dormitory and has a roommate. Ragin lives in the room with them.

“The day-to-day life of a college student is simple. Ragin gets food and water first thing in the morning. After that it’s work time,” Lipsett said. “Then he’s on my time. He gets harnessed up, and we go to class. He knows which door I like to go in and even knows where I sit. It’s nice when they start to learn your schedule.”

When Ragin isn’t working, he is out of his harness, either sleeping on Lipsett’s roommate’s bed or chasing his tail. Lipsett hopes to procure a key to the tennis courts so he can throw the ball for Ragin and give him more play time. Ragin also enjoys observing the people around him.

“He likes to people watch. He stares at them. Then his ears go up and his nose goes down,” Lipsett said.

Jim Lipsett, Cory’s father, points out that a guide dog is not a pet. His job is to help Cory avoid obstacles in their path. Since Cory got Ragin six months ago, he has been able to travel at night, giving him more confidence.

“It’s peace of mind. Traveling at night was always a concern for me,” Cory said. “Last year I avoided night time travel. But this year (with Ragin), it’s no different than getting around during the day.”

Leader Dogs for the Blind has been around for 70 years. Each year, more than 270 students attend a 26-day residential training session to be paired with a guide dog. In Lipsett’s class, students ranged in age from 16 to 87 years old. The dogs they were paired with ranged in size from 40 to 70 pounds.

The puppies are raised in private homes from the time they are seven weeks old until they are over a year old. They are taught basic obedience and house manners. Also, they are exposed to a variety of public places with different types of people, animals and events.

When the dog is paired with a recipient, the two begin to learn about each other during training and at home.

“When you’re done with training, it’s really the half of it. The real work begins when you get home,” Lipsett said. “An effective guide dog team is when he knows what he needs to do all the time, and I know what I need to do all the time. This is when the dog can truly work: he’s in his groove and knows what’s going on.”

When Ragin is working, people are asked not to pet him.

“It distracts him and gets him unfocused. It changes his mindset from working to wanting to solicit attention,” Lipsett said.

Because they are together all the time, when they are not for some reason, Lipsett feels the loss.

“It feels weird not to have him with me,” he said. “It’s like something is supposed to be there and it’s not.”

Lions’ monthly dinners
The Elburn Lions Club hold monthly dinners and presentations on a variety of topics.

Wednesday, Dec. 29,
the director of Tails Humane Society
from DeKalb will speak.

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011,
a program on bullying will be presented by
the Center for Rural Psychology.

Cash bar opens at 6 p.m., and dinner is served at 6:45. Dinner reservations are required.

For more information and
to make dinner reservations, call (630) 365-6315.