All posts by Martha Quetsch

Sho-Deen, village renew commitment to development

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Now that Sho-Deen Inc. has sold most of its Mill Creek homesites in Geneva, it is ready to pursue the Elburn Station development. If fully built and occupied, the proposed development on Elburn’s east side could double the current village population.

“We’re running out of inventory (in Mill Creek),” Sho-Deen representative David Patzelt told the Elburn Committee of the Whole on Monday.

“We want to move forward in this corridor into Elburn as soon as possible. We are anxious and ready to move forward,” Patzelt said.

The Elburn Village Board approved Sho-Deen’s basic concept plan two years ago for a 681-acre residential and commercial development from just north of Route 38 at Anderson Road and south to Keslinger Road. Sho-Deen’s Mill Creek subdivision is directly east along Keslinger.

Since 2008, Sho-Deen had not pursued the Elburn Station development as actively as it did before the housing market slowed that year.

The village president and trustees, who comprise the Committee of the Whole, said Monday that they also want the project to move forward.

“From my seat, Elburn really needs this project,” trustee Jerry Schmidt said. “I am looking forward to working with you.”

Although Sho-Deen now wants to move quickly toward final village approval of the project, trustee Bill Grabarek cautioned village officials on Monday not to hurry the development approval process.

“It is the biggest thing that will have come to Elburn … and it will be here forever,” Grabarek said. “I don’t want to make any hasty decisions.”

Sho-Deen and the village agreed Monday to begin talking in more detail about the development, from the company’s financial contribution to the wastewater treatment plant expansion to bicycle paths and street lighting placement.

In addition to pursuing the development plan with the village, Sho-Deen is negotiating with the Kane County Department of Transportation on the amount of right-of-way the company will provide for the extension of Anderson Road south to Keslinger, and building an overpass at the Anderson rail crossing. Federal funds are available for those projects.

Sho-Deen first presented the Elburn Station proposal to the village in January 2007. Plans feature single-family homes on lots ranging in width from 30 to 80 feet; multi-family housing within a half-mile around the Metra station with density up to 12 units per acre; and commercial areas on the north and south sides of the development. The total number of planned residences is 3,009, including up to 1,000 multi-family units.

If the Village Board approves final plans for Elburn Station, building could take up to 20 years to complete.

Village will keep developer informed about consultant needs

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Sho-Deen Inc. representative David Patzelt told Elburn officials Monday that he would like the village to curtail its use of consultants in the development planning and approval process for the proposed Elburn Station development.

Patzelt said Geneva-based Sho-Deen already has paid more than $100,000 in fees to consultants engaged by the village in relation to Elburn Station project planning.

The village does not have the expertise to conduct some of the engineering planning required for the project and would still have to rely on some consultants, village officials said.

“None of us on this board are planners or engineers,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “We do need the expertise of those people (consultants) in order to do what is right for the village.”

Village administrator Erin Willrett said that in the future, the village will work with Sho-deen to determine how much time a consultant will work on the project.

Thus far, the village has used engineering and planning consultant services for wastewater planning, stormwater planning, design guidelines and other aspects of Elburn Station.

Insect-ravaged ash trees removed

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Any local ash tree that currently is healthy in the village probably will not remain so because of the increasing presence of the emerald ash borer, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

“It’s pushing its way (west) through Kane County,” he said.

Elburn Public Works Department employees so far this year have removed 35 ash trees from parkways in the village, because they were infested with the emerald ash borer.

This is the time of year when adult emerald ash borers start to fly to find egg-laying sites, according to the University of Illinois Extension office. The small metallic-green insect lays eggs in the bark of the tree. When the borer hatches, it tunnels under the bark and starts feeding on the sapwood of the tree, causing leaves to thin and yellow and limbs to eventually die.

Nevenhoven said during Monday’s Elburn Committee of the Whole meeting that he is preparing a report about replacement trees that will be planted in the village as the municipal budget permits.

Best face forward

Elburn trustee Jerry Schmidt spent the afternoon of May 19 planting geraniums and several other varieties of flowers in a concrete planter recently installed in front of Village Hall. Schmidt volunteered to buy and plant the flowers because he wanted to improve the appearance of Village Hall, 301 E. North St., often the first place a visitor goes in Elburn, he said. American Bank & Trust in downtown Elburn donated the planter, which it no longer used, and Blackberry Township employees helped transport it to Village Hall. Photo by Martha Quetsch

What his future holds

by Martha Quetsch
KANELAND—Even though he has always been a planner, Charlie McCormick, Kaneland District superintendent for the past 12 years, said when he retires in June, he has no set agenda for the future. When asked what he might do, he answered, “What I want to do.”

McCormick is looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, doing genealogy research—his favorite hobby—and fishing in Wisconsin from a sit-on-top kayak he intends to buy.

He also wants to spend time with friends.

“Frankly, my job has not given me a whole lot of time to do that,” McCormick said. “So, going someplace for a cup of coffee some morning and just chit-chatting with people is not anything I’ve had much opportunity to do.”

McCormick said it was not unusual for him to have to attend as many as eight night meetings a month—staff and board and community and committees—after working during the day.

He will miss the general activity level of his job and camaraderie of what he calls his “work family,” but won’t miss those night meetings, he said.

McCormick doesn’t think retirement will be much of an adjustment for him, except in one regard.

“As of 3 p.m. June 11, my opinion won’t matter anymore,” McCormick said. “I will have to get used to that.”

McCormick looks back, ahead

After 16 years planning Kaneland’s future, superintendent prepares for his own
by Martha Quetsch
KANELAND—If one word could be used to describe Kaneland School District during Superintendent Charlie McCormick’s 16 years with it, that word would be “growing.” One word best describes how McCormick dealt with that issue, “planning.”

“I have tried to think ahead, always anticipating several years in advance what things could be so that we don’t paint ourselves into a corner and so that we give ourselves some flexibility for the future,” McCormick said.

McCormick, who is retiring in June, came to the district in 1994, and since then the number of students and staff has more than doubled. Sixteen years ago, the district had 147 teachers and administrators, and now has 382.

At the beginning of 1994 school year, the district had 2,149 students, compared to the estimated 2010-11 enrollment of 4,674.

Intergovernmental agreement
One of the first tasks he tackled to prepare for additional expected growth was pursuing intergovernmental agreements with district municipalities to ensure developer impact fees for the schools.

“When I became superintendent (in 1998) I sort of took that on and really, what I thought what had to happen was that it’s not just the municipalities talking to us—they need to be talking to one another.”

Now, when a municipality wants to attract a developer, everything is open to negotiation except school fees.

“Those are not negotiable,’ McCormick said. “They can’t be traded off.”

Establishing the intergovernmental agreement was not easy, he said.

“It took a lot of meetings with municipalities,” McCormick said.

At two or three of those meetings, all of the trustees from all the villages were all in one room, the high school library.

Citizen advisory committees
Trying to get the word out about district issues over 142 square miles and nine communities was among McCormick’s challenges over the years, especially when referendums were at stake, he said. The district made great strides in that communication effort by establishing the citizen advisory committees, he said.

McCormick proposed the citizen advisory committees to the School Board about 10 years ago.

“I said, as long as we’re going to keep growing here, you really are going to need to have ongoing communications with the community in some form, some way,” he said.

The district created a citizens advisory committee, a facilities planning committee and finance advisory committee, all composed mostly of citizens appointed by the School Board.

“I think that structure has served the board well, because it has provided for them an ongoing entity that when we start seeing a need in a change for a facility, or a new facility, we start right there with the citizens, early,” McCormick said.

Some CAC members have served for nearly 10 years, bringing district information to the community and bringing residents’ feedback to district officials.

The advisory committees have helped inform district residents about the need for several school referendums for new buildings, McCormick said.

District growth
McCormick, of Sycamore, started as Kaneland’s assistant superintendent for business 16 years ago and became superintendent four years later in place of Dennis Dunton.

Kaneland Assistant Superintendent Jeff Schuler will take the superintendent seat this summer.

When McCormick came to Kaneland, the district had just two schools, at Meredith and Keslinger roads in Maple Park. Others throughout the district had been closed over the years as enrollment tapered off and old buildings needed costly asbestos removal.

However, by 1994, enrollment had increased at the seventh through 12 grades, housed in what is now the high school, and K-sixth at the other building.

“That’s what I walked into … growth was now happening,” McCormick said. “The district was getting bigger and bigger, swelling up against the walls.

“Part of what happens with growth, is that everything has to grow. You have to have more buildings, more lights, more teachers, more administrators, more buses-the whole thing just grows.”

School Board member Cheryl Krauspe said McCormick was a deft leader who was invaluable in a time of great change in the district.

“Charlie provided important direction in our times of managing rapid growth and due diligence in our times of economic distress,” Krauspe said. “He led with respectfulness, thoughtfulness, finesse, and the wisdom that comes from valuable experience. Kaneland is a better, much improved, more solid place because of his dedication and his distinguished career of service and leadership with us.”

Nashville country star coming to MP

Lindsay Lawler will play May 28 at H.D. Rockers
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Country-music recording artist and Nashville headliner Lindsay Lawler will perform at H.D. Rockers in Maple Park on Friday, May 28.

The 5-foot 3-inch singer is known for her strong voice and energetic stage presence.

“She’s a real performer,” H.D. Rockers owner Wally Elliott said.

Elliott met Lawler through friends, and while they visited with her in December in Nashville, she promised to perform at H.D. Rockers, which opened recently in the American Legion Hall in Maple Park.

Lawler is making the Maple Park stop during a trip north to Minnesota for another engagement on Saturday.

Admission to Lawler’s H.D. Rockers event is free, Elliott said. A local band, Field Day, will open the concert at 6:30 p.m., and Lawler will take the stage at 8:30.

She will perform several sets until 1:30 a.m., mingling with the crowd before the show and during breaks, Elliott said.

Elliott expects a large crowd at H.D. Rockers on Friday night, but said that all in attendance would be able to enjoy Lawler’s show.

“We’ll keep rolling people through so everyone has a chance to see her,” he said.

Lawler has musical roots in country, gospel and Broadway styles. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Dallas, she attended University of Oklahoma, where she was music chairman in her sorority and lead singer for a rock band.

After college she moved to Los Angeles and fronted another rock band, performing at the Viper Room, Whisky A Go-Go and The Roxy. Lawler was then discovered in LA by producers Marshall and London Jones, for whom she recorded several songs that received airplay across the country.

Lawler decided to return to her country roots, and moved to Nashville, where she performs regularly at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville. Among her most popular songs are “Truckers and Rodeo Crowds,” “Cowgirl Fairytale” and ”High-Tech Redneck.”

Teacher spearheaded Young Authors

by Martha Quetsch
KANELAND—The longstanding Young Authors program for K-8 Kaneland students owed its start to teacher Barb Romack, who is retiring after 37 years with the district.

Romack has been a fourth-grade teacher at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn for more than 10 years, and is one of 12 district teachers who are retiring in June.

Through the Young Authors program, Romack encouraged hundreds of Kaneland students to write their own books.

“At one time, she had all of the sixth grade writing,” said Barb Landis, who teaches sixth grade at Harter Middle School.

Romack read every one of the books students wrote, choosing the winning works each year and awarding ribbons to all participants.

“I look for original, quality work,” said Romack.

Romack said she was pleased that one student actually wrote a book each year from kindergarten through eighth grade. She added another past participant now is a published author, and many others have continued to write.

Reading is Romack’s passion, and she plans to spend more time doing it after retiring from teaching.

“I have a lot to catch up on,” Romack said.

She also will spend some time visiting her grandsons in Utah, and will continue working for the Education Department at Fermilab, where she co-teaches a class in particle physics for middle school teachers each summer.

Romack began work in Kaneland in 1973, teaching third grade at Kaneville Elementary School. About 10 years later she became gifted-program teacher and coordinator for K-12. Seven years later, she returned to the regular classroom, teaching fourth grade for the next two decades.

What she expects to miss most about her teaching years with Kaneland are the “Oh, I get it now” or “Oh, yeah” moments from students, as well as the time with her former colleagues.

“I’m sure there will be a period of adjustment since I won’t be planning everything else in my life around teaching,” Romack said. “I think I’m ready to begin a new phase in my life-who knows where it will lead.”

More than 30 years at Kaneland
Following are the employees who have been with the Kaneland the longest from among this year’s 12 retiring district teachers:
Barb Romack 4th grade John Stewart 37 yrs.
Patrick Sheetz 7th grade science 35 yrs.
Suzanne Girsch 4th grade John Stewart 34 yrs.
Rick Dalton middle school P.E. 33 yrs.

Photo: Retiring John Stewart Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Barb Romack has served in many roles during her more than three decades with the Kaneland School District. Those included coordinating the Young Authors program, after-school science programs and Starlab presentations. Photo by Martha Quetsch

DUI offender tries to flee police

ELBURN—Local police pursued a driver through residential streets off Route 47 in Elburn Saturday for several minutes before arresting him for driving under the influence of alcohol, attempting to elude police, and several other offenses.

The chase started after Elburn police checked on a 2000 GMC van at 1:30 a.m. that was stopped on Route 47 north of Hughes Road. At that time, police approached the driver, Daniel E. Minor, 44, of the 1200 block of Twelfth Street in Bloomington, Ill. When Minor opened the driver’s door, a beer bottle fell out of the vehicle. Minor then drove away from the officer, fleeing north on Route 47 toward downtown Elburn. Elburn officers were assisted by Kane County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

Police pursued Minor through streets both east and west of Route 47, south of the railroad tracks. The pursuit then continued south on Route 47 and ended when Minor stopped south of Main Street Road and surrendered to police.

Minor was transported to Elburn Police Department, where he refused to submit to an alcohol breath test. Minor was charged with DUI, driving while his license was revoked, illegal transportation of alcohol, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, improper lane usage, disobeying a stop sign, aggravated fleeing to elude police (a felony), aggravated DUI (a felony), unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Trustee believes village staff is top-heavy

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn had three top staffers—an administrator, a police chief and a public works superintendent until 2008, when it created another position—community development director, a job that later was renamed assistant village administrator.

Two years ago, village trustee Gordon Dierschow was hesitant to create the position, but he decided the village should give it a try. He voted with other trustees in favor of it because of the many development proposals the village had at that time.

On Wednesday, he said that if the economic downturn and slowed housing market that happened since then continues, the village should consider reductions in higher-paid administrative staff, whether in hours, wages or positions.

“We’re a little heavy on the administration side,” he said. “I think we are overstaffed at this time.”

The Village Board on Monday renewed the annual appointments of Village Administrator Erin Willrett, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven and Police Chief Steve Smith. Village President Dave Anderson made the appointments with the consent of the Village Board.

Assistant Village Administrator Dave Morrison’s position does not require an annual appointment. After taking office in May 2009, Anderson named Morrison community development director, and two weeks later changed his title to assistant village administrator. Anderson said the title more accurately reflected the position, which included administrative and committee duties as well as economic development.

Also in May 2009, Anderson named Willrett village administrator. She had been community development director for 16 months before landing the village’s top job, which Morrison had held for more than a decade.

When Anderson reversed the roles of Willrett and Morrison in 2009, he raised Willrett’s salary by nearly $20,000 and lowered Morrison’s salary by about the same amount. However, as assistant administrator, Morrison’s new salary was $93,343 compared to Willrett’s former salary of $79,000.

“We felt that because of the experience he had, he merited a higher salary,” Anderson said Wednesday. “We would not offer a starting (administrative position) salary that high.”

2010-11 top staff salaries
Village Administrator $97,788.58
Asst. Village Administrator $93,343.64
Public Works Superintendent $78,500
Police Chief $80,817

Tight budget has MP seeking grants, loans

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials continue to seek loans and grants to pay for public works projects that are unaffordable under the village budget.

The Village Board approved the 2010-11 fiscal-year budget on Monday, with $1.5 million in expenses and $1.4 million in revenue. The village will have to use part of its $740,000 reserve fund to cover the shortfall.

A proposed reduction in state income taxes disbursed to municipalities would cause more financial challenges for the revenue-strapped village. Under Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal, Maple Park’s revenue would drop by about $30,000. The Village Board on Monday approved a resolution opposing the proposed state decrease.

Another budget blow came this week when the village was notified that the federal government turned down a joint application by the villages of Maple Park, Cortland and Elburn for economic stimulus funds, trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

Maple Park sought $1.8 million to improve sections of the village’s aging stormwater sewers, which do not effectively mitigate water during heavy rains or when snow melts, Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Village officials are optimistic that Maple Park will receive a $5 million loan they applied for in March from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, funded by federal economic stimulus money, for a larger wastewater treatment plant.

“We hope to secure the stimulus loan in October 2011,” Curtis said. “No other thoughts have been discussed at this point.”

Curtis said the village’s next step will be to seek funding for village projects through a new grant program in Kane County.

Rash of burglaries in Kaneville

Investigation under way, tips welcome
by Martha Quetsch
(originally posed May 3, 2010; updated May 6, 2010)

KANEVILLE—Elio Rizzi, 4, recently spent about a week in the hospital, and his mom promised him he could ride his dirt bike after he got home. Unfortunately, the bike was stolen in one of 12 burglaries that took place in Kaneville at the end of April.

Excited to ride his bike, Elio went out to the backyard shed on April 30 where it was stored, but it wasn’t there, and neither were his two brothers’ dirt bikes.

“He came running back and said, ‘It’s gone. They’re all gone,’” said his mom, Tracy Rizzi.

Someone had broken into the shed and taken the dirt bikes, as well as several tools, during the night. Rizzi said she knows that is when the burglary took place, because the boys had washed their bikes the previous afternoon.

The Rizzis, who live at 2S368 Harter Road, found out from neighbors and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department that many other sheds and garages in the area had been burglarized around the same time.

“We were just disgusted,” Rizzi said.

Sheriff’s Department Lt. Pat Gengler said that 11 incidents of burglaries to private property in a Kaneville neighborhood were reported on April 30, all of them occurring sometime in the early morning hours before daylight. Another burglary was reported to have occurred between April 24 and 29 in the same area.

In addition, on Wednesday morning, a resident reported that someone stole a four-wheeler and a lawn sprayer from his garage in the 2S300 block of Locust Street. Gengler said investigators were trying to determine when this burglary occurred.

Sheriff’s investigators believe all 13 burglaries may have been committed by the same perpetrators.

“They are in the exact same geographical area, so we are definitely looking into them as possibly related,” Gengler said.

Four Kane County Sheriff’s Department officers responded to the residents reports on April 30, and officers have been interviewing each victim since then. Gengler said the officers who patrol that area of the county were alerted about the incidents and will step up their patrolling there as much as possible.

Following are the burglaries for which Gengler had reports as of the Elburn Herald’s press time on Wednesday.
• Two tires were stolen from a trailer parked in a driveway in the 46W600 block of Elm Street sometime between April 24 and 27.
• Someone broke the lock on the door of a shed in the 46W600 block of Elm Street sometime between 9 p.m. April 29 and 4 p.m. April 30. Nothing was taken.
• Someone broke into a home in the 2S200 block of Locust Court, an officer discovered when in Kaneville investigating the other burglaries on April 30. A resident told the officer that he saw a light on in the home, which was a foreclosed, vacant home. The officer went to the house and found a door open.
• A Moped was stolen from a shed in the 46W500 block of Locust Street, sometime between 10 p.m. April 29 and 8 a.m. April 30. Officers found no sign of forced entry.
• A Honda lawnmower and a go-cart were stolen from an unlocked shed in the 46W600 block of Locust Street sometime betweem 8 p.m. April 29 and 8 a.m. April 30.
• A Honda dirt bike was stolen from an unlocked shed in the 2S200 block of Elm Court sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. April 30. The burglary was reported on May 1.

Other burglaries were to sheds and garages at the following addresses: One incident each in the 46W800 block of Elm St., the 2S300 block of Elm Court, the 46W600 block of Harter Road, and the 2S300 block of Dauberman Road; and two incidents in the 2S200 block of Elm Court. Tools, machinery and other items were stolen.

Lt. Gengler said sheriff’s officers are investigating the burglaries but have made no arrests. He asked that anyone with information they believe is related to the burglaries call the Sheriff’s Department investigations office at (630) 208-2024 or the crime hotline in the evening at (630) 232-6840.

“Anything can be useful in these types of situations, even if you noticed something in the neighborhood a week ago that didn’t seem right,” Gengler said.

Photo: Elio (left) and Otto Rizzi no longer have dirt bikes, since someone stole them April 30 from their shed. Their dad, Brett, had this sign made for the family’s front yard on Harter Road, announcing a cash reward for information on who burglarized his and 12 other properties in Kaneville. Courtesy Photo

Elburn mission statement emphasizes ‘small-town values’

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Although a proposed mission statement for the village of Elburn emphasizes small-town values, it does not mean that the village’s philosophy is anti-growth, Village President Dave Anderson said.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt said during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting that he was concerned that “small-town” indicates that Elburn does not want to grow. But Anderson said it means that as growth occurs, the village will retain its small-town values.

“When we get to 15,000 people, hopefully we will have those same values,” Anderson said.

Anderson said small-town values “encompasses a lot of things … it’s like ‘Cheers’—everybody knows your name. To me that’s a small-town value, when you recognize people and say hello on the street.”

Trustee Jeff Walter said “everything in the mission statement should be definable.” He wants the board to talk further about what is meant by “small-town values” in the mission statement.

Walter said Wednesday that he interprets small-town values to mean “conservative, family-oriented, Christian, open and friendly.”

“That really is what we are,” said Walter.

However, he added that other people might not define small-town values in the same way.

The mission statement will be the philosophy behind every decision that village officials make in the future, said Anderson, who composed the statement with feedback from the Planning Commission.

The mission statement will be on the Village Board agenda on Monday, May 3, for further discussion and possible board approval.

Proposed mission statement for Elburn:
“We are and shall be an innovative community that maintains
small-town values while working to enhance the quality of life of our
residents; promote and support our businesses; and welcome
new opportunities which enable the Village of Elburn to be the ideal place
to live, work, worship and play.”

Accurate census makes sense for villages

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN, MP—Elburn and Maple Park officials want residents to stand up and be counted, by completing their 2010 U.S. Census forms.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said that the census is important locally for several reasons. One is that the village head count could require changes in village operations. Under state law, if Elburn has more than 5,000 residents, it will have to have an elected village clerk and establish a police commission.

In the past, the village president has appointed the village clerk annually, with the advice and consent of the board. For the past several years, Diane McQuilkin has held the position.

The three-member police commission would be appointed by the village president, with the advice and consent of the Village Board. The police commission would be responsible for hiring, promoting, disciplining and dismissing police officers. Currently, the Village Board makes those decisions.

The number of residents also determines state and federal government representation, Anderson said.

“Legislative districts (both federal and state) are set up, basically, by population,” he said.

An accurate count of village residents also is important to the village financially. Income- and sales-tax revenue that the village receives from the state is determined through an equation that factors in population established by the U.S. Census, Anderson said.

Accurate data reflecting changes in municipalities’ populations are crucial in deciding how more than $400 billion per year is allocated by the federal government for community projects such as roads and schools, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The last time a head count took place in Elburn was in 2006, when a U.S. special census determined the village’s population was 4,696. Anderson believes the census may show that the village has grown to nearly 5,000.

“I think we will be very close,” Anderson said.

Maple Park had a special census done in 2007, showing that the village’s population was approximately 1,100, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Curtis said each person counted represents approximately $100 in revenue per year for the village. She said it is crucial for Maple Park that its residents complete their census forms, because of the financial impact of a head count that is too low.

She said, for example, if Maple Park’s “population comes in at 1,000 with the 2010 census that is about $10,000 of lost revenue for the village.”

“We already know our population is marginally lower due to foreclosures in town,” Curtis said. “We can’t afford to forfeit revenue by not responding.”

On May 1, U.S. Census takers will begin going door-to-door to households that did not mail back their 2010 Census forms. They also will verify that housing units indicated as unoccupied by the postal service or other sources are indeed unoccupied and vacant.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census every 10 years.

Tree City USA status renewed

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn recently qualified again as a Tree City USA. To be eligible for this national honor, which Elburn has received for the past 11 years, the village hosts an annual Arbor Day Celebration, but that is not the only reason for this community event.

“We have a responsibility as stewards of God’s creation to recognize the importance of trees and to share that importance with our children,” Trustee Ken Anderson said.

Anderson said the celebration brings recognition to the value of trees and the role they play in our lives.

“They purify our air by removing CO2 and creating oxygen. They supply shade and reduce energy needs. They give us aesthetically pleasing views in our yards and parks,” said Anderson, who is a special projects manager with the Kane County Department of Environmental Management.

Anderson said trees also protect the soil and put nutrients back into it, and they enhance property values via the landscape.

After the Arbor Day Celebration Saturday morning at Liberty Park, Anderson will give a presentation on prairie and wetland plants at Prairie Park for village officials and the public. Prairie Park is located on East North Street in Elburn.

Anderson said his presentation will focus on the importance of prairie and wetland plants and how best to manage and maintain these natural systems.

Friday Knightlife ‘too cool’

Community Center will bring youth program back in fall
Story and photo gallery by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Friday Knightlife, a youth recreation program that started last fall at the Elburn & Countryside Community Center, was so popular that its organizers plan to offer it again.

The twice-monthly program for fourth- and fifth-graders started in early November and concluded April 23.

About 50 children signed up initially, and gradually, the program has gained many additional participants.

“As the word got out, more kids would sign up. Kids found out they had a good time, so more kids would come the next time,” said coordinator Bill Brauer. “There have been a lot more new faces in the last few months.”

“It’s kind of a fun night and we’d like to make it bigger,” Brauer said. “We’ll bring it back in October.

Last fall, he distributed flyers through the two Elburn elementary schools, John Stewart and Blackberry Creek, announcing the program that would meet every other Friday for six months, from 6 to 8:50 p.m., in the community center gymnasium.

“This is three hours of fun, do what you want,” he said. “It is an opportunity for them to get out and just be kids.”

Brauer is on the Community Center’s board of directors. He started the Friday Knightlife program because it would be good for the kids and would benefit the community center.

“When we were looking at things to do to keep the community center going, I noticed Friday night was a night when the gym sat vacant,” Brauer said.

He noted that other communities offer similar programs, such as North Aurora, where he lives.

“So I kicked it around at one of our board meetings, and said what if we do kind of a (pre)teen night, and everybody loved the idea,” he said.

Brauer said the program gives children something to do during the months when often the weather outside isn’t good, and it’s dark in early evening.

From the beginning, he and other program organizers made sure to offer recreation that participants were interested in.

“We kind of tailored it to what they want,” he said. “In the beginning they wanted to play a lot of Nerf touch football in the gym, so we let them do that.”

He said that early on, he held a couple of “pow-wows” with participants and asked them, ‘What do you guys like doing? What do you not want to do, because I’m not going to tell you what to do-you’re the ones that will be playing for three hours.’”

He did steer clear of offering many video games, because children can play those at home.

“We wanted to offer them something different,” Brauer said.

The fee was $45, or about $3 per program, which helped pay for games and other recreation-related expenses. Program activities have included floor hockey, basketball, Frisbee tosses, obstacle courses, air hockey, and the Guitar Hero game.

Refreshments also are part of every evening, such as Paisano’s pizza for a dollar a slice, plus soda or water.

James Leyden, 10, was at the Community Center every night the program was offered. He likes the chance to eat pizza and to play air hockey, pool and Guitar Hero, but most of all, to socialize.

“My favorite part is hanging with my friends,” said James, who attends John Stewart Elementary.

On Friday night, Alina O’Connor was sitting at a table making bracelets with her friends, one of the crafts she has enjoyed on program nights. She does not have any siblings at home, so the program is a chance for her to be with other kids after school.

Alina, a John Stewart student, has had so much fun that she hopes to join the program again this fall.

“It’s just too cool,” Alina said.

Parents helped make it successful

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Four to eight parents typically volunteered to help during each of the twice-monthly Friday Knightlife programs held at Elburn & Countryside Community Center since last fall.

“One of the requirements when we set up the program was that if you signed up your child you had to donate one week to volunteer,” program coordinator and Community Center Board member Bill Brauer said.

“Some parents have done three or four weeks, which has been very helpful,” he added.

On the last night of the program, parent Chris O’Connor was a volunteer. Her daughter Alina, a John Stewart student, participates in the Friday Knightlife regularly.

O’Connor’s role that evening was to check in the children and make sure the Community Center had an emergency contact number for them, then “send mom and dad off and let the kids have fun,” while she and other parents made sure everybody stayed safe.

She said the program has been a great opportunity for Alina.

“She’s really enjoyed it, so I hope it takes off,” O’Connor said.

State revenue cut would hit villages hard, officials say

Proposal would reduce municipalities’ income tax share
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN, MP—A proposed reduction in state income taxes disbursed to municipalities would cause more financial challenges for the revenue-strapped villages of Elburn and Maple Park.

The 2010-11 state budget draft proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn in March calls for cutting municipalities’ share of their residents’ state income tax from 10 to 7 percent.

Under Quinn’s proposal, Maple Park’s revenue would drop by about $30,000 and Elburn’s would decrease by an estimated $100,000, village officials said.

“This deep of a cut would put us into a situation potentially using reserve funds,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

To deal with its budget crunch, Maple Park already has frozen employee raises for the past two years and drastically cut its engineering and legal costs, Curtis said.

Elburn also has slashed its budget to cope with revenue constraints. The village did not give employee raises this year and reduced its staff. If the state income-tax disbursement drops, the village will have to look at other ways to reduce expenses, and also would likely have to dip into its reserve funds, Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said.

“We’re at the bare-bones end of things now,” he said.

The villages set money aside in reserve funds to use for emergency infrastructure projects and other unexpected expenses. Those funds currently total about $5 million in Elburn and $740,000 in Maple Park. Village officials are concerned that those monies could quickly be depleted if they have to use them for operating expenses. State income tax money benefits the villages’ general operating fund.

“God forbid that we have a catastrophe—where is the money going to come from?” Anderson said.

State lawmakers are expected to vote next month on a final budget following a legislative review including House and Senate appropriation committee meetings.

Hearings are in full swing in Springfield this week, said Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Dist. 50-Yorkville), who strongly opposes Quinn’s proposed cut in income tax disbursements to municipalities.

“It (the proposal) is really even more onerous than it seems at first sight,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher said that because of the economy, local funding already is down 40 percent.

“That is more than any municipality can handle,” Hatcher said.

For 2008-09, the village of Elburn received $437,931 in income taxes from the state; that represents 10 percent of income taxes collected by the state from Elburn residents. The 10-percent disbursement dropped to about $375,000 for 2009-10.

“And if they (state lawmakers) decide to diminish the 10 percent to 7 percent, that’s another whack,” Anderson said.

Hatcher does not believe the Senate and House will approve a budget that includes Quinn’s proposed cut in income taxes for municipalities.

“There are going to be a lot of negotiations going on,” Hatcher said. “The state can’t cut that (income tax to municipalities) without General Assembly approval, and I don’t see that happening,” Hatcher said.

Gov. Quinn’s

Under Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed state budget for 2010-11, the amount of state income tax that goes to local governments will decrease by 3 percentage points.

Currently, the state disburses to each municipality 10 percent of income taxes from its residents. Quinn proposed decreasing the disbursement to 7 percent. That represents a 30-percent reduction in local tax revenue.

Maple Park is receiving up to $101,000 in income taxes from the state for this fiscal year 2009-10, which ends April 30, said the village’s accounting clerk, Cheryl Aldridge. Under the proposed state cut, the village’s share next year would be about $70,000.

Elburn is receiving about $375,000 in state income taxes this fiscal year, and under the proposed cut would receive approximately $275,000 in 2010-11.

Curtis lauds board for year’s accomplishments

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board has made great strides during the past year to begin tackling the challenges it faced when members took office a year ago, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

“This board is committed, and we are trying our best to move this community forward,” Curtis said during a village meeting on April 6.

Curtis, who became village president in May 2009, created board committees at that time to focus on critical village projects, from improving the aging infrastructure to budgeting. The committees since then have met twice a month to study issues related to those projects and bring their findings to the board.

Trustees spent two Saturday mornings in intensive workshops with Curtis, reviewing and prioritizing the board’s critical issues list.

As a result of these efforts, the board has accomplished a lot, Curtis said. Among its achievements was a successful search for a police chief. The board interviewed candidates and hired former Kane County Sheriff’s officer Michael Acosta for the position last fall. The board also has worked with a developer toward bringing a strip mall with a restaurant and other businesses in the future to Route 38 and County Line Road.

Curtis lauded the work of individual trustees, including Suzanne Fahnestock, who helped the village obtain grant money and has implemented a computer network, updated the village website and advertised Maple Park’s commercial properties on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

Trustee Mark Delaney completed and submitted an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency loan application to help the village pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in water and sewer system improvements. Village officials hope to receive the funds in 2011.

Trustee Pat Lunardon cleaned and painted the interior of the Civic Center and hosted a Maple Park business owners meeting recently to promote downtown redevelopment.

Trustee Terry Borg has attended Kaneland School District meetings and has worked on the Cortland boundary agreement.

Trustee Debra Armstrong was instrumental in the recruitment of the police chief and Trustee Nick Moisa helped Curtis with several Police Department matters, Curtis said.

“All of these things are going on at the same time we are taking care of regular village business,” Curtis said.

The martial way

by Martha Quetsch
Karate a winning activity for Elburn youth, family
ELBURN—Lorie and Matt Gale of Elburn have unwaveringly supported their son Alex’s passion for karate during the past six years, leading to his success in the martial arts and a lot of fun for the family.

Both were highlights of the Gales’ recent trip to Las Vegas, where Alex won a bronze medal at the USA Open Karate Championships.

Alex is 11 years old and has studied karate since he was 5. He is a 1st Kyu Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate, a Japanese form of karate. He is a member of the Illinois Shotokan Karate Clubs (ISKC).

The Gales flew to Nevada to see Alex compete in both the 2010 Junior Olympics and the USA Open Karate Championships, held April 2-4. The tournaments were huge international events with more than 1,400 competitors and took place at Caesar’s Palace.

Alex’s family, including his sister, Sandra, 10, cheered on the ISKC athletes and the USA karate teams, met competitors from around the world and watched “some amazing world-class karate,” Lorie said.

For the Gales, the excitement surrounding the event was topped off by watching Alex reap the benefits of all his years of dedication to karate.

“He had strong performances throughout both tournaments, and seeing him win the Bronze Medal in Advanced Kata at the USA Open was a thrill,” Lorie said.

Alex trains year round and practices an average of eight hours a week. His parents take him to ISKC karate classes three times a week, in Woodridge, Geneva and Batavia. Periodically, Alex has special training at the main dojo (training facility) in Palatine, Ill.

He likes karate so much that he has continued doing it despite a full schedule of other activities, including the cross country team, chess club, student council and the jazz band at Kaneland Harter Middle School.

“I just have a great time doing it,” Alex said.

He remembers becoming interested in karate when he was about 3 years old, watching people practicing at a local park district. What Alex enjoys most about karate is that it always challenges him to do his best, he said.

His next goal is to place in the ISKC state tournament in Palatine on Sunday. If he does, he will be eligible to compete at the USA National Karate Federation tournament this summer in Greenville, S.C.

Alex’s parents have seen their son take part in 28 tournaments over the years, Lorie said. Among those have been the four annual tournaments hosted by the ISKC, including the Illinois State Championships. He participated in the USA National Karate Championships in Houston in 2008 and in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in 2009, and in the 2010 Junior Olympics and the USA Open Karate Championships in Las Vegas.

The Gales said they support Alex’s interest in karate because he enjoys it and because it provides excellent conditioning for both the mind and body.

“It improves fitness, builds confidence, strengthens self-discipline and is fun,” Lorie said.

Photo: Alex Gale (right) challenges his opponent during a USA Open Karate Championship in Las Vegas. Courtey Photo

Dewey Dash has strong turnout

Race profit will pay for library improvement
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Sunday’s Sixth Annual Dewey Dash in Elburn featured more participants than the event has had since its first year.

Two hundred and forty-one people crossed the finish line at Town & Country Public Library, sponsor of the 5K and one-mile run and walk.

Among them were the top finishers, Tyler Conklin, 7, of Maple Park, whose time for the mile was seven minutes, 48 seconds, and Dan Forde, 52, of Aurora, who finished the 5K in 19:33.

Unlike last year’s cold, rainy race day, Sunday was slightly cool and sunny for the Dewey Dash. The event’s turnout was the closest ever to that of the 2005 races, which featured 300 runners and walkers, library director Mary Lynn Alms said.

Although most of the participants were from Elburn and surrounding towns, some runners hailed from as far away as Round Lake and Schaumburg, Ill.

The Dewey Dash raised approximately $3,500 this year. The library will use the funds to buy two electronic bulletin boards to post programs and public announcements, Alms said.

Top finishers (male, female)
• Tyler Conklin, 7,
Maple Park with 7:48
• Holly Colingbourne, 11,
Elburn with 8:18
• Dan Forde, 52,
Aurora with 19:33
• Kris Leeseberg, 56,
Elburn with 21:45

Death certificate authorized for missing MP man

3-year investigation into Bradley Olsen’s disappearance continues
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—A judge this week ordered that a death certificate be issued for Bradley P. Olsen of Maple Park, a decision his mother, Susan, has hoped for since last fall. However, she and the police will not give up looking for her adult son, who has been missing for more than three years.

Susan Olsen in October 2009 asked the DeKalb County Circuit Court to declare Bradley deceased. She said the reason for her request was so that her son’s young daughter would be able to receive his social security benefits.

After several court proceedings since then, Judge Kurt P. Klein issued an order of the presumptive death of Bradley Olsen on March 31 and the issuance of a death certificate.

Under state statute, a missing person typically is presumed alive until seven years have passed since the individual’s disappearance. Susan Olsen said courts sometimes have waived that requirement in the past, and she is glad Judge Klein granted the exception for her son.

“The Illinois rule of seven years wasn’t going to serve her (Bradley’s daughter) as a young child,” Olsen said. “It was just something that needed to be done now, to take care of her present needs, not four years from now,” Olsen said.”

Bradley Olsen disappeared Jan. 20, 2007, after friends left him at Bar One on West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb at about 2:30 a.m.

Since then, the DeKalb Police Department and the DeKalb County sheriff’s office have been investigating the case, pursuing leads offered by the public and interviewing Olsen’s acquaintances, associates, and friends of friends, some of whom are not “society’s best,” DeKalb Police Lt. Gary Spangler said.

Spangler said tips are still coming in periodically and the investigation continues.

“It is still an open case,” Spangler said. “The (death certificate) doesn’t change anything as far as we (the police) are concerned. This was a civil case pursued by the family.”

Olsen said she has communicated regularly with police about the investigation, and that she appreciates how many tips they have gotten.

In recent months, she has helped comb various local areas with a group that uses dogs trained to find cadavers. She said even after the death certificate is issued, the family will not give up on their quest for closure.

“This is not ending. We’re going to continue pursuing this,” Olsen said.

On Easter Sunday, Bradley’s 30th birthday, the Rev. Mark Meyer offered a prayer for him during the church service at Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park, which the Olsen family attends.

The Olsens will not hold a funeral or memorial service unless they find Bradley’s remains, Susan Olsen said.

Private-property parking ordinance clarified

RVs, boats, trailers not allowed on front lawns, driveways
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—There are approximately 600 Maple Park violations of ordinances governing the maintenance, appearance and safety of private property in the village, President Kathy Curtis said during Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

The village will begin issuing notices, then warnings, then fines, to violators, focusing first on violations that are a health or safety concern, Curtis said.

“The building inspector will work with (property) owners,” Curtis said. “He’s not going straight to ticketing.”

The village-hired building inspector canvassed Maple Park in recent weeks to determine where violations were occurring. The Village Board requested the canvass after some residents expressed concerns about the unsightliness and safety issues posed by junk and inoperable vehicles on private property.

Because of the canvass, RV, boat and trailer owners wondered whether they would be able to continue parking their vehicles where they always have, but village officials and staff at first were uncertain about how to interpret the ordinance requirements. Curtis clarified the ordinance on Monday after recently consulting with the building inspector.

She said the code section that pertains to parking those vehicles reads, “Front-yard, off-street parking shall not be used for parking boats, recreational vehicles or trailers.” Since the ordinance does not mention a parking surface requirement, currently residents may park the vehicles on their lawns, with the exception of the front yards, Curtis said.

The building inspector interpreted the code to mean residents may not park these vehicles on front driveways, either, so although Curtis does not wholly agree, the village will enforce that rule for now, she said.

Village officials do not have a short-term plan to alter any of the village ordinances. However, as time permits, the board will assess the ordinances and determine if any changes are needed and devise equitable solutions, Curtis said.

Updated April 11, 2010 at 9:42 a.m. CST

Former planned development site on Rt. 38 in Elburn sold

Buyer has no plans yet for former Kirk Homes property
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—A trustee handling the Kirk Homes liquidation recently sold a 150-acre parcel on the village’s northwest side that would have been the site of a residential and commercial development if the company had not gone bankrupt. The site’s new owner, Joseph Valente, has no plans yet for the property.

“At this point, with the economy, it’s just up in the air,” said Valente’s attorney, Marvin Glick. “For the time being, it will remain farm land.”

Valente is not a builder or developer, but a private investor, Glick said.

The trustee handling the Kirk Homes Chapter liquidation, Richard Fogel, sold the property last month to Valente, he said.

The village several years ago approved Kirk Homes’ concept plan for the 950-unit residential and commercial project at the site, on Route 38 west of Route 47. But the Streamwood, Ill.,-based company put the project on hold after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in May 2009.

At that time, former Kirk Homes Chief Executive Officer John Carroll said that it could take a few months or longer before the company pursued the next step in the project, depending upon when the housing market improved. However, last fall, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court ordered a Chapter 7 liquidation of all of Kirk Homes’ assets.

Elburn officials had been holding $30,000 in escrow funds that Kirk Homes previously submitted for the development. The village returned the funds this month as required under the company’s Chapter 7 liquidation.

“We had a court order to return their escrow,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Small fire at school extinquished Thursday

by Martha Quetsch

Firefighters extinguished a fire at John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn the morning of April 1, after responding to an alarm set off by smoke at 10:42 a.m. Students were not present in the building that day, since they were on their spring break.

“They’ll be able to be back again in school Tuesday,” Elburn & Countryside Fire Department Assistant Chief Tate Haley said.

School is scheduled to resume April 6 following a previously scheduled school institute day on Monday.

Haley said the fire department is investigating the fire’s cause, which does not appear to be of suspicious origin.

The fire was small and not serious, Haley said. It started in the generator room at the school, 817 Prairie Valley St., and was contained to that room, he added. Firefighters put out the fire in about 20 minutes, and cleared the smoke from the building in an hour and a half.

Officials ponder employee-related budget cuts

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn officials are looking at employee-related expenses to see where cuts possibly can be made to reduce an expected $760,000 shortfall in the village’s next fiscal-year budget, which they plan to finalize during the next few weeks.

Salaries and employee benefits comprise approximately one third of the village’s 2010-11 tentative budget of $5.3 million.

Village officials recently cut one secretarial position that paid nearly $42,000 annually plus benefits. The position was one of two secretaries in the Public Works Department. In addition, last year, the village eliminated a part-time Police Department secretary salary and reduced an administrative assistant’s hours.

Village administrator Erin Willrett said if the village made any more staff cuts, a reduction in resident services would result.

Other options for reducing employee-related expenses were discussed during the March 22 meeting of the Committee of the Whole, which is composed of all Village Board members.

The committee talked about reducing support-staff hours permanently or during the summer months, and eliminating the life insurance premiums the village pays for employees. The latter cut would save $14,000 annually; however, several committee members opposed cutting that benefit, which provides employees with a $25,000 life insurance policy.

Another savings of $18,200 could come from eliminating the take-home vehicles the village provides for some employees. Currently, three department heads have that benefit. The village owns the three SUVs, and pays for all gasoline, insurance and maintenance for them.

Trustee Jeff Walter said only one department head should have a take-home vehicle.

“I think this (benefit) is something that should be eliminated, except for the chief of police,” Walter said. “We could talk about a vehicle stipend per month (for the other department heads).”

Committee members did not come to a consensus on any of the proposed cuts in employee-related expenses. They did decide that the village should retain one employee benefit, the annual staff party at a restaurant at a cost of approximately $2,700. About 62 village employees and public officials are invited to the holiday event.

Trustee Patricia Romke said that since the village is not giving raises, the party was the “one thing that (it was) able to do for employees.”

Village President Dave Anderson agreed.

“It’s a nice thank you from the Village Board to the employees,” Anderson said.

When asked later whether the village might choose to budget for an in-house village staff party that would be less costly in 2010, Anderson said, “I just never thought of it. That might be something we might want to consider.”

Staff cut will reduce village budget by $42,000

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn village officials’ latest step toward their goal of reducing an expected 2010-11 budget shortfall is cutting a position from the Public Works Department, which will save the village nearly $42,000 per year.

Village officials announced the staff cut during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday.

The village will eliminate a Public Works secretarial position that pays $41,834. The sole reason the position is being cut is to decrease village expenses, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

“It is a reduction in force,” Willrett said Tuesday.

The Public Works Department has another secretary, who will take up the duties of the eliminated employee.

Village officials started budget planning early this year to find ways to pare down an anticipated shortfall of nearly $2 million in the 2010-11 budget.

The Village Board is expected to approve the budget at its April 19 meeting.

“We are on track,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The fiscal year begins in May. Last year, the Village Board did not pass the annual budget until July.

“This will be the first time in a long time that we will start the fiscal year with a budget (in place),” Anderson said.

When budget planning started, projected revenue was $4.1 million, compared to expenses totaling $5.9 million.

Since January, trustees have reviewed budget requests from village department heads to determine where they could make cuts in expenses.

In addition to seeking ways to cut expenses, trustees in recent weeks have been looking for ways to boost revenue for 2010-11; they recently decided to increase water and sewer fees starting in May. Village officials expect that the fee increase will raise revenue by at least $450,000 annually.

H.D Rockers bar boasts biker theme

Everyone welcome to new tavern in Legion building
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—A new tavern at the Maple Park American Legion, H.D. Rockers, is not just a biker bar, although it does have a motorcycle theme.

Partners Wally Elliott and John Peloso previously shared an interest in motorcycles, and now they also share the business.

“We had talked about this for years, and when the opportunity came up, we thought, ‘Let’s do it,’” Elliott said.

The Legion earlier this year offered to rent its bar and kitchen facility to them for H.D. Rockers. The bar’s grand opening was March 20.

Elliott and Pelosi were familiar with the Legion through volunteering at its fish fries in the past. They opened their doors in late February, after cleaning and decorating the basement space, and lighting the back bar.

“It really didn’t have an identity before. It just was a place,” Elliott said. “We changed the decor. We went with a total motorcycle theme … nostalgic.”

Open to the public seven days a week, H.D. Rockers began serving dinner last week, including corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day.

Chef Karen Aiello made mostacolli and Italian sausage for the grand opening. On Wednesday, the bar featured Karen’s Bottomless Chili Pot, with all the fixin’s and dessert for $5.

Dinner is available several nights a week, sometimes buffet style. In the future, the bar will begin offering lunch. Customers may purchase Dough Brother’s Pizza at the bar anytime, to eat in or take out.

H.D. Rockers is open during the Legion’s monthly fish fries, which have drawn a lot more people recently, including motorcyclists from Downers Grove and other suburbs, Elliott said.

He and his partner do not want to compete with the other two taverns on the block, Big Dawgs and Maple Park Bar & Grill; they just wanted to provide another place for people to go, and to bring a new business to the village, Elliott said.

“We’re not the biggest bar. It is what it is,” Elliott said. “We’re just trying to have a little bit of fun, make a go of it.”

Elliott and Peloso plan to open up the bar for charitable fundraisers that motorcycle groups and other organizations want to hold.

“We want to work with them, provide a place for those kinds of events,” Elliott said. “They can have their party here, kick things off from here.”

H.D. Rockers can use a banquet room adjacent to the bar in the Legion for live entertainment. For the grand opening, Sycamore band Regal Force performed.

The bar will have entertainment on a regular basis, Elliott said. He and Peloso put the word out on Facebook and on the bar’s website,, that they were seeking musicians to play at the bar. The partners auditioned a local bluegrass group Sunday evening, Green Briar Mountain.

“We’ve had a lot of local bands come in (to audition),” Elliott said.

An entertainer of national note will perform at the bar on May 28—Lindsey Lawler, who was a headliner at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville for years.

Aside from the food and entertainment, what Elliott expects will draw people to H.S. Rockers is its theme and relaxing, Wisconsin-tavern style.

“It’s just a comfortable place to be, where everyone can have a good time,’ Elliott said.

Photo: Local
residents Wally Elliott (left) and John Peloso, who are motorcyle enthusiasts, gave their new tavern, H.D.
Rockers, their hobby’s theme. They are renting the Maple Park
American Legion bar and kitchen space for the business.
Photo by Martha Quetsch

Mothers’ club offers ‘time outs,’ community involvement

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—After Erin Schaefer moved to Elburn in 2005, she wanted to make new friends and become involved in the community. At a friend’s urging, she joined the St. Charles Mothers’ Club four years ago and found it to be just the right fit.

“It’s a really good blend of social and philanthropic,” said Schaefer, 32.

Schaefer has two young children, Grayson, 4, and Ainslie, 2.

Before becoming a mother, she worked full-time in advertising and never envisioned herself as a stay-at-home mom. When her employer downsized the company, that is just what she became, however.

“I guess it was kind of my fate,” she said.

She found that she enjoyed the new role, but was thankful to find a club that offered her a mom’s time out.

“I was looking for an outlet, something to do when my husband came home, and offer a break from the kids,” Schaefer said.

Since joining the club, Schaefer served as its treasurer and for the past year has been the organization’s president. When elected to that office, she decided to focus on increasing membership in the club.

Last year, the organization had 38 members, and now it has 49, an increase Schaefer attributes in part to changing the meeting location. The club lately has been meeting at area businesses, such as the Spice House in Geneva and others, places that provide a spot for members to get together to just “chill out a little bit,” Schaefer said.

Previously, the club met at a St. Charles church, which Schaefer believes may have deterred potential members from joining.

“I think some people hesitated to join, thinking we were a faith-based organization, which we are not,” she said.

The club offers social events and groups, from a monthly book club that meets at Barnes & Noble in Geneva, to an annual wine and cheese party to celebrate new members, to movie or dinner outings that sometimes include dads.

In addition, the club holds several fundraisers each year, such as a tea and fashion show coming up in April. These events are social opportunities that also raise several thousand dollars in scholarships for women and local charities.

Members in the 86-year-old club range in age from early 20s through their 60s.

Schaefer’s goal is for the club’s membership to total at least 60 members by the time her term as president ends this spring.

Seven club members currently are from Elburn, and Schaefer wants to spread the word that all area women, of any age, are welcome to join the club.

“You don’t have to live in St. Charles—you don’t necessarily have to be a mom,” Schaefer said.

Tea with fashion
St. Charles Mothers’ Club
Tea Luncheon &
Pajama Fashion Show

Sunday, April 11 • noon
St. Charles Country Club
1250 Country Club Road
St. Charles, IL 60174
$35 per person

The event includes a Unique
Boutique shopping experience with various goods for sale,
a light luncheon and pajama fashion show. A raffle of gift baskets also
will take place, with tickets
available at the event.

For registration information, e-mail
or visit

Fundraiser will benefit scholarships for women and local charities

Tree removal, replacement will continue this spring

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Arbor Day Foundation has designated Elburn as a Tree City USA for more than a decade, a recognition the village has earned, in part, by diligently maintaining its parkway trees.

This spring, the village is continuing a project started last year to remove 116 dead and dying trees on parkways in the village. In addition, a few replacement trees will be planted soon and the village will install more thereafter as it can afford them, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

“It’s all driven by budget,” Nevenhoven said.

Trees that were removed first will be replaced first, and priority will be given to replacement trees that property owners helped the village pay for through the 50-50 program, Nevenhoven said.

The village in 2009 created a list of the trees that needed removal, most having been infected by the emerald ash borer and primarily located in the Blackberry Creek and Prairie Valley subdivisions.

A village-hired contractor last year removed the larger trees, and its Public Works Department began pulling out the smaller affected trees last fall. The department soon will start removing the remaining ones, Nevenhoven said.

Replacement trees include linden, locust, various maples and others.

The reason most of the trees that were diseased by the emerald ash borer were in the village’s newer subdivisions was because younger trees are more vulnerable to the insect, which bore into the trunks, Nevenhoven said.

Arbor Day celebration
will highlight its
achievement as a
Tree City USA
during its annual
Arbor Day Celebration
Saturday morning, April 24.
Village officials have not decided
on a location yet, but possibly will hold the event at Liberty Park
and plant a tree there.

Officials resume consideration of pedestrian crossing for Metra

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn Planning Commissioners on Monday revisited a past proposal to construct a pedestrian crossing over the railroad tracks between the Metra station and the north side of the village.

They hope the village can pursue the project in the future to reduce risks for people walking across the railway to and from the station and their homes or downtown Elburn.

“It should be the town’s mandate to provide a safe way for people to cross the tracks,” Planning Commissioner John Krukoff said.

Village officials did not proceed with the project after a 2006 engineering study estimated the cost of a pedestrian overpass of bridge, and a pedestrian tunnel.

“Unfortunately, all the options were very expensive,” Planning Commission Chairman Jeff Metcalf said.

After some discussion Monday, Planning Commissioners ruled out the pedestrian tunnel as an option for a future pedestrian crossing.

“Tunnels end up being hidden crime areas, they are wet and smelly, and become rundown in a couple of years,” Commissioner Paul Molitor said.

The Planning Commission did not make a recommendation to the village on Monday, but will discuss the issue further at future meetings.

Krukoff suggested that the village could work with the county to try to obtain federal grants for a pedestrian overpass.

Possible sites, estimated costs
• Pedestrian overpass from southeast
corner of Village Hall property on North
Street, to the west side of the Metra
property, $1.2 million
• Overpass from vacant village lot on North
Street just north of the Metra station, to
the west end of the Metra platform,
• Overpass from the south side of North
Street near the Elburn Animal Hospital
to 100 feet west of the Metra platform,

Other villages’ rules clear regarding RVs

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN/SUGAR GROVE—The villages of Elburn and Sugar Grove allow residents to park their recreational vehicles and trailers on their private property, with some restrictions.

In Elburn, trailers, motor homes, boats and other RVs may only be parked on residential driveways with hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt or pavers, or on longstanding gravel driveways in older neighborhoods, said Jim Stran of the village’s building department. The village occasionally has granted variances to allow some homeowners to park RVs in their side yards on extended driveways.

According to Sugar Grove’s municipal code, RVs may be parked in the front driveway of a Sugar Grove residence only if the vehicle is used daily as the resident’s principal means of transportation, if the vehicle is no longer than 25 feet, and if the owner obtains a special parking permit from the village, according to the village code.

The village of Sugar Grove also allows residential property owners to park RVs in their side or rear yards, on an improved surface of concrete, blacktop or pavers. Parking of those vehicles is allowed in the rear or side yard on gravel surfaces that were installed before 1999.

Both the Elburn and Sugar Grove village codes prohibit extended parking of RVs on the street or parkway.