All posts by Martha Quetsch

4 percent more in total taxes expected for Elburn

Village portion of individual property bills could drop
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Because of minimal expected property growth, Elburn’s total 2009 property taxes likely will be less than the village is requesting in its proposed levy.

The village of Elburn is proposing a levy of $742,317. That amount is 18.12 percent higher than the total 2008 Elburn property taxes.

“The village intentionally sets its annual levy requests on the high side to make sure it captures all new property growth,” Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison said during Monday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Because of the state’s tax cap, if the village did not propose a levy high enough to capture all new construction, the growth would not be added to the tax rolls.

“We have to ask for the max to cover ourselves,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Currently, the village’s equalized assessed valuation with growth from new construction is uncertain. The final levy approved this spring by the county will be based on actual new growth and total EAV. Last year’s EAV growth was 7.62 percent, and village officials said it likely will be lower for 2009.

“We will probably get about $654,000 (as a final levy amount),” Morrison said.

That sum is about 4 percent more than total village taxes in 2008.

Under that scenario, village’s tax rate would drop to .30 from .31, Morrison said. The lower rate would result in a $9 reduction in village property taxes for the owner of home with an EAV of $83,250 (from $261 to $252).

The Village Board will discuss the levy request at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16, and hold a public hearing on the proposed levy at 6:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7.

Following the hearing, the board will forward the levy request to county.

Veterans Day salute

(Right) Veterans from the Elburn American Legion Post 630 marched to Memorial Park on North Street in Elburn. Waubonsee Community College hosted a Veterans Day Observance (below) that featured the East Aurora High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and a placing of a wreath by Aurora Armed Forces recruiters.
Photos by
Martha Quetsch and Ben Draper

Mike Stoffa honors fallen firefighters at national event

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—Mike Stoffa knows how risky the work of a firefighter can be, having been one for many years, along with other family members. So he was honored to take part in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend Oct. 3-4.

“It’s some great recognition for people who have given so much,” said Stoffa, of Elburn.

The event, for families and co-workers of firefighters nationwide who lost their lives in the line of duty, takes place annually at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsville, Md.
This year, the event honored 122 firefighters who died from injuries on the job. The weekend included special programs and ceremonies for survivors, including one accompanied by 100 bagpipers.

“It was quite a touching thing,” Stoffa said.

Stoffa was a firefighter for the Elburn Fire Department for more than three decades, retiring as a lieutenant. Currently, he volunteers for the Cortland Fire Department. Stoffa also is a member of the Illinois Firefighters Association board of directors.

He was among 172 firefighters selected to escort and represent families of fallen firefighters during the memorial weekend.

Stoffa has wanted to be a volunteer and finally was invited to take part in this year’s ceremony.

“I’ve been putting in my name for the past eight years,” he said.

He was among several hundred firefighters from throughout the country who asked to participate.

Stoffa’s father, George, was with the Elburn Fire Department for 35 years. His son, Todd, has been a DeKalb firefighter for 11 years; and his brother, John, was a lieutenant with the Geneva Fire Department. Stoffa’s daughter, Sarah, is an emergency medical technician who worked for Rescue Angels and now is with TriCom.

Stoffa said he remembers several times his dad’s life was endangered in the line of duty, and is thankful that he and the rest of his family of firefighters have never suffered a loss like those experienced by people attending the memorial weekend.

Some of the deceased firefighters’ survivors cannot attend the event for various reasons. Stoffa represented one of them.

“The family I was selected for was unable to make it,” Stoffa said. “For some, it’s just too emotional.”

The fallen firefighter was Robert Roland, a volunteer with the Anderson Valley Fire Department. Roland died July 3, 2008, after experiencing respiratory distress the previous day while serving as a lookout on the Oso fire near Boonville, Calif.

In his firefighter dress uniform, he carried a folded American flag and a rose to place in a nearby chapel for the family. Each firefighter’s family was given one of the flags, all previously flown over the White House and over the National Fire Academy.

Photo: Mike Stoffa carried a flag and a rose for a surviving family during the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in Maryland. Courtesy Photo

‘High-priority’ street work planned

[quote]by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn soon will resurface several stretches of road that the public works superintendent said are in dire need of repair.

“We have some streets that need some real attention out there,” Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

Those roadways include South First, Reader, Prairie Valley, Filmore, Swain and East Pierce streets.

Nevenhoven said the Public Works Department identified 800 square yards of these roads that need asphalt replacement because of large potholes and weathering.

In some areas, the original roadway no longer exists, and the street is just a series of patches, such as Reader west of Read Street, he said.

“It’s really been beat up over the years,” he added.

The village will inform residents in those areas about when the work will take place.

Curran Contracting Company of DeKalb will do the work for $28,000, under a contract the Village Board approved Monday.

The village budgeted $35,000 for road improvements this year. Nevenhoven said the remaining funds will be used for unforeseen street repairs.

Curran will charge $34.95 per square yard to remove and replace the asphalt, the lowest quote the village received for the work from the three companies it asked for estimates. Each company reviewed what Nevenhoven called the high-priority areas on streets in the village.

Stormwater flooding culprits cleared at last

Severe blockages cleaned out of
Cambridge sewer pipe

by Martha Quetsch

ELBURN—Severe blockages in a storm sewer line that led to street and property flooding in the Cambridge subdivision finally have been cleared, a job that took a lot of time and work, Elburn Public Works Director John Nevenhoven said.

The stormwater flow through the pipe is now unimpeded, he said.

Sewer specialists hired by the village were able to clear the blockages using a powerful jet rodder equipped with a cutting head.

“It took a number of times,” Nevenhoven said.

The blockages were within a 700-foot stretch of the pipe on Cambridge Avenue north of Stetzer Street. Nevenhoven said trees near the sewer line were the culprits.

“Roots of trees in the easement bullied their way inside the pipe,” Nevenhoven said.

He said dirt and debris entered the pipe through the holes and collected around the roots over time, causing the blockages.

Nevenhoven does not know yet how much the bill will be from companies that unblocked the line, but estimated it will be more than $10,000.

Although the blockages are gone, parts of the sewer line will have to be replaced because of damage identified by televising the pipe. But that cannot happen until the village designates funds in its next fiscal budget next summer for the project, Nevenhoven said.

Crews during the summer used various methods to try to clear the pipe, including placing organic chemical solutions into it, with no success.

Proposed tax levy limited by state cap

Homeowners’ village property taxes may be lower
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Homeowners could see a slight drop in the village portion of their property tax bills in May, even though assessed valuations have risen 6.14 percent.

The Maple Park Village Board approved a proposed 2009 property tax levy on Tuesday totaling just $2,944 more than village property taxes in 2008.

The proposed levy, which village officials will submit to the county, is $276,887 compared to $273,943 in total village property taxes for 2008.

Under the property tax cap, that 1.1 percent increase is all the state will allow for 2009, based on the Consumer Price Index.

“Unfortunately, this is just the state of affairs,” trustee Mark Delaney said Tuesday. “It just emphasizes that things are tight for the village.”

Higher assessed valuations and the low levy hike will lead to a decrease in the village tax rate, Village Accountant David Jepson said. The village tax rate determines the amount each homeowner must pay in village taxes.

For 2008, the village tax rate was 78 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For 2009, Jepson estimates that the rate will be 73 cents.
That rate decrease translates into a $498 village property tax bill for a home assessed at $68,458 in 2009, Jepson said. That same home would have been assessed at $64,500 in 2008, and its owner would have been billed $500 in village property taxes.

The total property tax bill for a homeowner includes not only the village portion, but school district and township taxes, as well.

A few dollars less
The village portion of the 2008 property tax bill for a home assessed at $68,458 in 2009 will be approximately $498. That same home would have been assessed at $64,500 in 2008, and its owner would have been billed $500 in
village property taxes.

Village seeks $14 million for plant expansion

Application under way for state loan of stimulus funds
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—Additional residential developments in Elburn will require a larger wastewater treatment plant, village officials said.

Although they do not anticipate development soon because of the building slow-down, they expect it to occur someday and want to be prepared.

“We have to have the plant online before the development occurs,” Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said.

The planned expansion would double the plant’s wastewater capacity at a cost of $14 million.

The village is seeking financing for the project, which developer impact fees will help pay off later.

Village officials hope that the financing will come from a zero-interest, long-term loan, and a possibly a grant, from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). The IEPA is funding the loan program for public works projects statewide with money from the federal economic stimulus program.

The village is in the process of completing IEPA requirements for the funding application, including engineering plans, Nevenhoven said. Because so many communities are seeking the federally funded state loans for public works projects, obtaining the money could be a long process, he said.

Meantime, the wastewater treatment plant has enough capacity for the village’s current and projected population if existing subdivisions such as Blackberry Creek are fully built, Nevenhoven said.

Completing the requirements for the IEPA application will prepare the village to seek other sources of funding, if necessary, for the plant expansion.

“We will have the engineering plans so that we can build it when we find financing,” Nevenhoven said.

Driving school closes unexpectedly

Students must complete instruction somewhere else
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—When Fox Valley Driving School closed unexpectedly earlier this month, the parents of some students whose classes were suspended wondered where to turn.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said one parent, Ilene. She asked to keep her last name private to protect her child’s privacy.
Ilene paid more than $300 early this year for her daughter to take the driving program at the school. The student finished the classroom portion last spring, and expected to take behind-the-wheel instruction this fall. When she went online to register recently, the facility’s website contained an announcement that the school had closed because of the owner’s medical condition and financial constraints.

“We didn’t receive any notification,” the parent said.

She called the school and heard a message stating that the facility closed in early October and that the Secretary of State would transfer students to another driving school to complete their instruction. However, when the parent called the Secretary of State driver’s license facility in Elgin, she was told that was not true, she said.

Carol Denofrio, of Green Light Driving School, 135 S. Main St., Elburn, said that students must find another school at which to complete the driving program. However, before they can sign up, they need to provide verification from the Secretary of State of the instructional hours they already have completed, Denofrio said.

Denofrio has received several calls from local residents who were students at Fox Valley Driving School asking if and how they could complete their instruction at Green Light.

Those who want to finish their driver’s program at Green Light may inquire at the school about how to obtain the Secretary of State verification of completed hours, Denofrio said.

“We would be happy to take care of these students in finishing their driving program,” Denofrio said.

Fox Valley Driving School owner Rob Swartz did not respond to inquiries from the Elburn Herald about the school’s closure. Swartz opened the business in May 2008.

Since Swartz is no longer renting the building at 130 Gates St. that formerly housed his driving school, its owner put the structure up for sale or lease, said Realtor John Hoshaw of Coldwell Banker in St. Charles.

Photo: The former location of the now-defunct Fox Valley Driving School is up for sale or lease. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Fire department upgrades life-support technology

Ambulance now has cardiac monitor
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Fire Department’s latest improvement is the addition of advanced life support (ALS) technology to one of its two ambulances.

Until recently, the department’s vehicles, including the ambulances, a rescue squad car and a fire engine, were only equipped with basic life support equipment, including an automated extended defibrillator.
“The biggest difference is, we’ll be carrying an actual cardiac monitor, along with (ALS) medications and IV’s,” Assistant Fire Chief Rod Johnson said. “We have a lot more equipment to deal with medical emergencies. Basically, we’re providing the highest level of care in the field.”

The defibrillator only indicates whether a medical technician should apply shock or not in cases of possible heart failure, Johnson said. A cardiac monitor, however, provides more specific information to enhance lifesaving procedures.

“If you have a lethal (heart) rhythm, with the monitor, we can detect and treat it,” Maple Park Paramedic Ted Peterson said.

Previously, if the Fire Department responded to a call that required advanced life support, it would have to call the Elburn or Sycamore fire departments to bring their ALS-equipped ambulance to the scene, Johnson said.

The Maple Park Fire Department was able to purchase the new ALS equipment through funding approved by voters in a 2004 referendum for improvements, including hiring paramedics. Now, the department has 11 part-time paramedics who are qualified to use the ALS equipment.

With the additional staff and the increasing number of calls for service and mutual aid, it was time for the department to upgrade to the higher level of life-support service, Johnson said.

The ALS-equipped ambulance will have three department employees on board for every call: the driver, a paramedic and an emergency medical technician.

Photo: Maple Park Fire Department Paramedic Ted Peterson, (right), instructed Mel Needham (center) in the use of the department’s new cardiac monitor. Needham, an emergency medical technician with the department, learned how to attach monitors to a patient and assess his heart rhythms using the equipment. During the training exercise, Fire Chief Kevin Peterson served as the patient. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Meadows honors ‘those who have passed this way’

Apartment complex seniors remembers former residents
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Diane Burkhart and other The Meadows Apartments residents are like family. They spend a lot of time together—evenings chatting in the library, afternoons playing cards in the community room, and weekends walking to parks and events in downtown Elburn.

So when one of them passes away or must move to a healthcare facility, the sadness is great, Burkhart said. After several such losses this year, she and her neighbors recently decided to remember those former residents in a special way.

In mid-October, Burkhart coordinated a memorial project including the installation of a tree and a rock bearing a memorial plaque with the following words:
“To those who have passed this way, thanks for the memories.”

The Meadows has 52 apartments for seniors and has more than 70 residents. Because its tenants are up to 94 years old, the Meadows often experiences deaths, particularly in the cold months, building manager Debbie Lechelt said.

This year was no exception, with the passing of several longtime tenants with local ties, including Ozie Brown, Earl Clements, Jeanette Hager, and Burkhart’s next door neighbor, Ann Christian.

Clements, who was in his 80s and still worked at NAPA in Elburn, passed away unexpectedly in August.

“When Earl passed away, we all took it real hard,” Burkhart said.

Meadows resident Don Mulligan said Earl’s death, plus the loss of several other people within just a few months, prompted him and Diane, along with other residents, to establish a memorial for all those who lived at The Meadows since it was built 13 years ago.

They came up with the idea for the plant-ings and the plaque, and Kane County Landscape Materials & Supplies donated a large rock for the display on The Meadows grounds at 318 N. Dempsey Drive.

The Meadows held a memorial event on Oct. 14 after the installation, attended by family members of former residents.

Photos: The Farrell
family of Elburn attended a memorial ceremony for former residents of The Meadows Apartments on Oct. 14. Their
relative, Ozie Brown, lived at The Meadows and passed away in August. Brown’s friends and neighbors at the senior apartment complex in Elburn installed landscaping and a memorial plaque with lighting on the facility’s grounds for her and others who once lived there. Courtesy Photo

Children’s musical producer relishes new role

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—For Stephanie Kleba of Elburn, balancing her roles as a working mother of two and a children’s musical producer has been challenging but well worth it, she said.

“It’s been a juggling act,” Kleba said.

In early September, Kleba became the producer of the Children’s Theatre of Elgin’s production of “The Music Man Jr.”

For the past month and a half, she has been at rehearsals in Elgin four nights a week, after working during the day as a music therapist at Delnor-Community Hospital.

As the musical’s producer, Kleba said she is basically in charge of the show, which features 76 child actors including her daughter, Madison, 11. Kleba not only has taken care of its business side—hiring a director and a choreographer, and monitoring the budget—she also has been responsible for keeping order during practices and will continue being the behind-the-scenes monitor at performances this weekend.

With the show’s large cast of children, that is no easy task, but Kleba is just the person for the job, said production director Jen Prise.

Prise said even though Kleba sometimes has to be the “bad guy” when the young actors become too rowdy backstage, they like and respect her.

“I have never heard her raise her voice, but when she speaks, the kids stop whatever they’re doing and listen,” Prise said.

Kleba said she could not have taken on the producer role without the support she has received from her husband and her parents, who traveled from Ohio to stay with the family part of the time.

A member of the theater’s board of directors, Kleba said producing a show periodically is part of that position. Although the additional responsibility has made her life more hectic, it has been personally rewarding, she said.

“The kids make it worth it; when I see how they develop, and how the experience boosts their self esteem,” Kleba said. “They are amazing—what they conquer and accomplish.”

‘The Music Man Jr.’ Oct. 22-24
The Children’s Theatre of Elgin production of “The Music Man, Jr.” will feature dozens of young actors, including two 11-year-olds from Elburn, Tracy Suppes and Madison Kleba.

The musical will be performed Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way, downtown Elgin.

This school adaptation of the 1959 hit musical, “The Music Man,” includes most of the original songs, such as “76 Trombones,” “Goodnight My Someone,” “Good Night, Ladies,” “Gary, Indiana,” and “Til There Was You.”

Performances will take place at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25.

“The Music Man, Jr.” is directed by Jen Prise of Elgin and produced by Stephanie Kleba of Elburn.

Tickets cost $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact the Hemmens Box Office at 847-931-5900. For more information, go to

Photo: Tracy Suppes and Madison Kleba, both 11, of Elburn, are among the 76 cast members in the Children’s Theatre of Elgin’s ‘The Music Man, Jr.,’ produced by Stephanie Kleba (center), also of Elburn. Courtesy Photo

Outlook grim for village’s finances, accountant says

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park’s financial consultant warned the Maple Park Village Board that the village faces a financial crunch because of limited property taxes for 2009.

Under the state’s property tax cap law, the village may increase property taxes this year by just one tenth of one percent, the same as the 2008 Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“That’s a serious revenue concern for Maple Park, since property taxes are the village’s prime source of revenue,” said David Jepson CPA, of Financial Advisory Services, during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

In addition, Jepson expects Maple Park’s state-income tax revenue to be $19,000 less for 2009, and that motor-fuel tax will drop significantly, based on estimates from the Illinois Municipal League.

A further revenue decline will result from less sales tax generated in the village. Jepson said sales tax for the village was $26,800 for May through October 2009, compared to $35,710 for the same period in 2008.

“Unfortunately, when you put all those things together, it does not look very good for revenue for Maple Park,” Jepson said.

Because of that financial forecast, Jepson recommended that Maple Park officials look closely at ways to cut village expenses in the next fiscal budget and find other sources of revenue.

Village President Kathy Curtis said that when the Village Board developed the last annual budget, it was very conservative.

“There were no employee raises for fiscal 2009-10, and we have drastically cut our engineering and lawyer expenses,” Curtis said.

The village also has been applying for grant and stimulus monies, Curtis said.

State law limits property tax increases for non-home-rule municipalities to the CPI amount for the previous year, or 5 percent, whichever is lower, plus new-property taxes. Maple Park did not have any new-property growth for 2009, village officials said.

Elburn crafting new cable franchise contract for Mediacom

Company is village’s only option
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—A village survey indicated many residents are unhappy with their cable service from Mediacom. Village officials said they plan to renew the company’s franchise contract, however, because they have no other option.

Village officials would like other cable providers to seek the franchise, but so far, none have.

“We would welcome any other company to come in … there is really not another choice,” Planning Commissioner Paul Molitor said.

It is too expensive for other companies to start up cable service in the village, Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison said.

For the past 10 years, Mediacom has provided cable service under its contract with Elburn, which expires next year.

In recent years, some residents have chosen to obtain cable through a satellite dish rather than from Mediacom. Chapman said about 45 percent of Elburn households currently are Mediacom subscribers.

Along with establishing a new franchise contract, the village is revising its cable ordinance. The new ordinance will require the village cable provider to offer service throughout Elburn, including less populated areas.

Mediacom currently does not provide service to some areas of the village, including Blackberry Creek.

“Those residents have had no choice. They had to get satellite,” village cable consultant Stu Chapman said.

The new ordinance also will require the cable provider to offer community and educational access channels.

In addition, the ordinance will allow the village to fine its cable provider if the company does not meet customer service standards stated in the contract.

Any company providing cable service in Elburn must be franchised by the state or the village.

AT&T has the state franchise for providing cable, but does not offer cable service in Elburn.

Under a new law designed to boost competition in the industry, AT&T may offer cable and Internet service to any community, without requiring the municipality’s approval.

Annexation denied for development south of Elburn

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn village officials on Monday turned down a developer’s request to annex property for a residential subdivision south of the village.

“The property is too far from the village to be considered for an annexation agreement at this time,” Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison said.

Naperville-based Oliver-Hoffman recently requested that the Village Board review the conceptual plan for the development proposed for a 400-acre site east of Green Road and south of Main Street between Elburn and Sugar Grove.

The plan includes 163 large single-family-home lots, horse stables and pastures, and an equestrian trail.

During Monday’s Village Board meeting, village officials suggested that the developers seek approval from Kane County for their proposal instead.

Without an annexation to a municipality, the developer must obtain approval from Kane County for the subdivision.

However, trustee Ken Anderson said the property is designated as agricultural in the Kane County land use plan.

The developer could not be reached for comment.

Consultant tasked with creating updated employee handbook

by Martha Quetsch
The village of Elburn will pay a consultant $6,000 to create an updated employee handbook.

The Village Board decided on Monday to hire Aurora-based consulting firm Sikich to create the handbook, which will incorporate new workplace legislation. After creating the new handbook, Sikich will train village department supervisors about how to use it properly and know how to proceed when an employee has a workplace concern.

Employee compensation, compensation time, sexual harassment and drug testing are among issues that will be addressed in the new handbook.

Village may adopt drug testing policy

by Martha Quetsch
Drug screens will be required of all new hires before they officially can be employed by the village of Maple Park if the Village Board approves a new policy with that requirement.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, trustee Debra Armstrong outlined the proposed drug testing policy.

The policy also will prohibit all staff members from consuming alcohol or illegal drugs during the work day, or drugs that would impair them in any way, and from having a blood alcohol level of more than .02 percent when they arrive at work.

In addition, under the policy, the village could require an immediate drug and alcohol screening of an employee they believe is under the influence during work hours.

The Village Board will decide at a future meeting whether to adopt the policy.

Blackberry Elementary wants more crossing guards

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Kaneland Blackberry Elementary School officials recently asked the village of Elburn to post two more crossing guards near the school to ensure students’ safety.

“The possible new positions came from a discussion of the pedestrian and traffic flow that we have seen develop since we have opened and attempting to be proactive in providing safe routes to and from school,” Blackberry Principal Kyle Kyhns said.

Elburn Public Safety Committee members on Oct. 13 asked village Police Chief Steve Smith whether the need is critical. Smith said the school’s request has merit.

“If you sit by the grade school during the morning, you’d see how crazy things can get,” Smith said.

Currently, only one crossing guard is posted near the school, at the intersection of Patriot Parkway and South Anderson Road.

Smith said many children cross South Anderson before they get to Patriot, which poses safety hazards because of the high traffic from people going to work or dropping off their children.

It would be more logical and convenient for students who live east of South Anderson or south of Patriot to cross instead at Griffith Avenue, Smith said.

If the village agrees to add the two new guards, one would be posted at that intersection and another at Patriot Parkway and Liberty Avenue.

The Police Department would train the new crossing guards in basic vehicle and pedestrian traffic direction, and provide each with a hand-held stop sign and vest.

The village also supplies a crossing guard near John Stewart Elementary School.

The village splits the cost for the existing guards at the schools with Kaneland. For the two guards, the total cost is approximately $10,400. They work for 169 days annually and each recieve $36.96 per day.

Camera a ‘pre-emptive’ measure against crime

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Local police said crime at the Metra commuter station in Elburn is not a major issue, but occasionally people commit offenses there, from burglaries to theft to vagrancy. To discourage crime at the train station in the future, Elburn officials plan to install a camera system to record activity at the warming house, platform and parking lot.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith recommended the camera system as a pre-emptive measure to discourage crime at the station, particularly as more people commute.

Metra plans to double the size of the station parking lot by next year because of the increasing number of people taking the train from Elburn.

“We felt with the expansion of the lot, now is the time to put this (the camera) in,” Smith said during the Elburn Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday.

The committee agreed, and approved Smith’s proposal for purchasing and installing the camera, for $8,590. A Public Education and Enforcement Research Study (PEERS) grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission will cover the cost, Smith said.

The camera will digitally record activity at the train station and police can review the recordings afterward to identify offenders.

Elburn village notes Oct. 16

by Martha Quetsch
Village serves as policing authority for cemetery
Elburn Police Department now has police powers in and around Blackberry Township Cemetery, under an intergovernmental agreement Elburn has with Blackberry Township and the Kane County Sheriff.

The Elburn Village Board on Oct. 5 approved an intergovernmental agreement among the village, Blackberry Township and the Kane County Sheriff.

Under the agreement, Elburn police may enforce all state laws relating to cemeteries and state traffic and criminal ordinances, in and around Blackberry Township Cemetery.

Homeowner obtains setback variance for porch
The village of Elburn will permit a shorter setback for Eileen Owczarak’s backyard at 408 Saratoga Drive in Elburn, allowing her to have a screened porch installed there.

Owczarak recently petitioned the village for the setback variance, which the Village Board approved Monday. The variance changes the rear-yard setback for the property from 30 to 24 feet.

MP has history of top-cop turnover

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials plan to hire a new police chief by early December, after not having one for a year and a half.

The village Personnel Committee will spend the coming weeks reviewing the more than 10 applications it received for the position, and will recommend several to the Village Board to interview.

This is not the first time the village Police Department has been without a chief. Following is the history of police chiefs in Maple Park since 2003.

• February 2003: Police Chief Claude Oesterreicher resigned, and village officials appointed Officer Leonard Stover as acting police chief.

• March 2003: The village hired Chester Morris as police chief. Afterward, Stover, who had vied for the position, resigned from the Police Department.

• June 2004: Morris was indicted on illegal gambling charges related to an Illinois State Police raid in May at D.J.’s Tavern in Maple Park.

• March 2005: Morris was acquitted of the illegal gambling charge.

• November 2005: The village fired Morris. Village officials said the dismissal was related to Morris’ performance as police chief.

• June 2006: The village hired Steven Yahnke as village police chief.

• June 2008: Village officials decided against renewing Yahnke’s contract and named Chuck Slater as officer in charge. They said the reason for their decision was that Yahnke’s other employer, Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, would not allow Yahnke to work for the sheriff while also working for the Maple Park Police Department.

• Sept. 2009: Slater resigned. Village officials declined to confirm Slater’s claim that the Village Board asked him to resign. Trustee Debra Armstrong, chairman of the village Personnel Committee, became supervisor of the Police Department.

Current Village President Kathy Curtis said when she took office in May that putting a police chief in place was her top priority, in order to bring stability to a police department that needs leadership. As a village trustee, Curtis had voted against firing former Maple Park Police Chief Chester Morris.

Elburn police chief named to TriCity Family Services board

Steve Smith previously served as intern at the Geneva agency
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—TriCity Family Services has appointed two new board members with strong ties to Elburn, including village Police Chief Steve Smith.

“We were looking for more representation on the board from the Elburn area, and always want more representation from law enforcement,” TriCity Family Services (TCFS) Executive Director Jim Otepka said.

TCFS provides affordable counseling and intervention services to residents throughout central Kane County.

Smith has been Elburn police chief since May, having previously served as commander. In the past, he was an officer for the Geneva Police Department and served as deputy chief in St. Charles.

While with St. Charles, Smith obtained a master’s degree in social work. As part of his graduate school training, he served as an intern at TCFS. After completing his master’s, Smith worked as a part-time psychological counselor at the agency. Otepka said Smith’s background made him an ideal candidate for the TCFS board.

“He brings a unique blend of law enforcement and clinical experience to the board,” Otepka said. “He has a lot of affinity for the agency and the kind of work we do.”

Smith said he will serve on the TCFS board’s personnel committee. He is the only police representative on the board and looks forward to bringing his perspective to the agency.

“I will do anything I can to provide a solid relationship between TCFS and the law enforcement community, using my experience and knowledge,” Smith said.

TCFS appointed Smith to its board of directors, along with Elburn Herald editor Ryan Wells, on Oct. 9. Smith is a resident of Geneva and Wells lives in Plano, Ill.

Otepka said TCFS strives to make sure its board represents sectors of the community with which its clients have contact. Board members’ backgrounds also include, health care, business, education, volunteerism, religion and communications.

Village considers consultant for new employee handbook

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn village officials are considering paying a consultant $6,000 to create an updated employee handbook.

Village President Dave Anderson said he proposed the new handbook because after he took office in May, he read the existing employee manual and found it to be antiquated.

Anderson said the village’s current negotiations with the new police union for a contract make the handbook revision particularly necessary.

“It’s very much time to bring it up to date,” Anderson said during the Elburn Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

Village officials decided that Village Administrator Erin Willrett and Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison and other employees could not update the handbook.

“We thought, there are so many implications in federal and state regulations that we did not have the expertise on staff, and we should go with a consultant,” Finance Committee Chairman Jeff Walter said.

Aurora-based consulting firm Sikich provided the committee with an estimate for the employee handbook, which would incorporate new workplace legislation. After creating the new handbook, Sikich would train village department supervisors about how to use it properly and know how to proceed when an employee has a workplace concern, said a Sikich representative.
At Finance Committee members’ request, the consultant will provide samples of other employee handbooks the company has done, so that the Village Board can review them and offer feedback and suggestions for the new manual.
Employee compensation, compensation time, sexual harassment and drug testing are among issues that will be addressed in the new handbook, which village officials want to be user friendly.
“It has to be readable; it has to be understandable,” Morrison said.

New American-style pub also is a wee bit Irish

Riley’s opens in downtown Elburn
ELBURN—Downtown Elburn’s flavor is changing, Riley’s Classic American Bar & Grill, opening this weekend at 117 Main St., as well as another pub that will open soon.

Riley’s owners, Michael and Cheryl Rafferty, remodeled the space that was formerly occupied by Emma’s Pub and Cantina.

The Raffertys are not new to the bar business, having operated the Dog & Duck Inn, a tavern in downtown St. Charles, for three years before selling it last December. Cheryl said they decided Elburn would be a good place to open a similar business, with the addition of food.

“There are not a lot of bars in Elburn; we will be just one of three,” she said. “We wanted to give people another choice of a place to go so they don’t have to drive to Geneva or St. Charles.”

Riley’s features a wide variety of classic American fare, from sandwiches to prime rib, as well as a shepherd’s pie, a traditional Irish favorite, and an all-day-every-day Irish breakfast including bangers (Irish sausages).

“We’re not going to push it, but I can’t hide the fact that I’m Irish,” said Michael, a former Dubliner with a pronounced Irish brogue.

Riley’s offers beers ranging from domestic to Irish brews such as Guinness, Newcastle and Bodington.
Seating is available for 15 people at the bar, and 25 at several tables.

In the same block as Riley’s, Kevin Schmidt of Elburn is renovating the space formerly occupied by The Grocery Store, for a bar and grill to open later in the fall.

Photo: Riley’s Classic American Bar & Grill is set to open this weekend at 117 Main St. Riley’s features a variety of American fare, from sandwiches to prime rib. Photo by Ben Draper

Trustees to prioritize infrastructure needs

by Martha Quetsch
Maple Park’s next Committee of the Whole meeting will be a workshop during which trustees will develop a list of infrastructure project priorities. The meeting will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Maple Park Civic Center.

The infrastructure project list will be the only item on the meeting agenda. Trustees will evaluate Maple Park’s infrastructure needs, including future streets and sidewalk repairs, to determine which projects the village should address and when.

No officer in charge while chief sought

Village also plans to hire five more part-time police
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials soon will interview police chief candidates, and hope to fill the long-vacant position by early December. Meantime, the Police Department is operating without an officer in charge, following Officer Chuck Slater’s resignation in September.

The village has received 11 applications for the full-time police chief position, which will pay an annual salary of no more than $48,800.

“We don’t have any flexibility on the salary amount,” Village Personnel Committee Chairman Debra Armstrong said. “We don’t have the financial resources.”

The position also offers a $600 medical stipend per month.

Police chief candidates must have seven years of full-time experience in law enforcement, with at least three years in a supervisory position.

The deadline for police chief applications is Friday, Oct. 9, after which the personnel committee will review the candidates’ qualifications and recommend approximately five people for the Village Board to interview. The village also will conduct background checks of the candidates and require them to have drug screenings.

Maple Park has been without a police chief since June 2008, when village officials decided against renewing former Chief Steve Yahnke’s contract.

In addition to hiring a new police chief, the village of Maple Park plans to employ up to four more part-time officers.

Currently, the village Police Department has five part-time officers. With that staffing, the Police Department can only provide law enforcement in Maple Park for about eight hours per each 24-hour day. Village officials want to improve that situation by adding officers.

“We want to make sure all shifts are covered,” Armstrong said.

The Personnel Committee recently interviewed four candidates for police officer, but discontinued interviewing this week.

“We decided to wait until the police chief is hired and let him hire his team,” Armstrong said.

The hours that the Police Department currently covers depend upon what is going on in the village, but patrolling the streets during busy traffic hours and maintaining safety at school bus stops are priorities, Armstrong said.

During times when Maple Park police are not on duty, the Kane County Sherrif’s Department responds to emergencies in the village.

Police officer candidates must have three years of law enforcement experience. The wage for a part-time police officer is $16.50 per hour.

Lead MP officer said he resigned at board’s request

MAPLE PARK—Former Maple Park Police Officer Chuck Slater said Wednesday he resigned from the Police Department in early September at the Village Board’s request.

He said the board did not give him a reason for wanting him to leave the department, where he had been officer in charge for the past 16 months.

Village Personnel Committee Chairman Debra Armstrong would not disclose whether or not the board asked Slater to resign, since the issue is personnel related.

“All that I can say is that he submitted his resignation, and we accepted it,” Armstrong said.

While the Police Department does not have an officer in charge, Armstrong said she has that role.

Slater worked for the Maple Park Police Department for 6-1/2 years, he said.

The village of Maple Park did not make a public announcement about Slater’s resignation.

Former Maple Park Village President Ross Deuringer said he believes Slater was a valuable employee.

“I don’t know why he was fired,” Deuringer said.

Developer mum about Keslinger Plaza’s future

Commercial property for sale, escrow account still delinquent
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn officials are uncertain about whether a proposed commercial center at Route 47 and Keslinger Road they hoped would bring more retail stores and tax dollars to the village will ever be built, since the developer isn’t saying.

Developer Grobmar Investments President Ken Marino on Friday said, “I don’t want to comment,” when the Elburn Herald asked why the Keslinger Plaza property on the northwest corner is now for sale and whether the company still intended to develop it.

The Village Board last November approved Grobmar’s final plan for three of its four commercial lots at the corner, which included a bank facility and retail space. However, village officials told Marino that the company would have to maintain a $20,000 escrow account to proceed with the Keslinger Plaza development, to make sure village costs related to the project were covered.

In January, Marino indicated in a voicemail to the village that he did not intend to make the escrow payment, Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison said.

A few months ago, Grobmar posted a for-sale sign on the property.

If Grobmar wants to proceed with Keslinger Plaza, it first must bring its escrow account balance up to the $20,000 amount required by village ordinance. The village previously required Grobmar to maintain a $10,000 balance, but doubled it last fall because the account was seriously delinquent, Morrison said.

When the Elburn Herald asked Marino Friday whether the company planned to submit the escrow money to the village in the future, he said, “I’m not going to get into it.”

Village officials notified Grobmar in a letter in May about escrow delinquency and the violation, encouraging the developer to comply with municipal ordinances so that Keslinger Plaza can be developed.

“We have heard nothing further,” Morrison said.

No tenants ever named for retail center
Since Grobmar Investments approached the village with its proposal for Keslinger Plaza more than two years ago, the company never identified any retail tenants that had signed on for the commercial center.

Grobmar negotiated unsuccessfully in 2007 with Castle Bank to open a facility at Keslinger Plaza; Castle officials instead plan to open a branch next to the new Walgreen’s in Elburn, at the northeast corner of Route 47 and Route 38. (See related story about the Walgreen’s complex)

No neighbors named yet for new Walgreens

Developer seeks other businesses for commercial corner
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—Walgreens, which opened this month in Elburn, is the anchor store for the Prairie Valley North Commercial Center at the northeast corner of Routes 38 and 47, but so far, it’s not anchoring anything.

The commercial complex offers more than 15,000 square feet of additional available retail space. However, village officials do not know what retail tenants the developer has found for the complex, if any.

Assistant Village Administrator David Morrison has not been able to reach the developer, National Shopping Plazas this week, as he had hoped, to inquire about the commercial center’s progress.

The Elburn Herald contacted the developer’s leasing office on Tuesday to ask whether the company had found any additional retail tenants for the Walgreens complex.

Leasing agent Carol Cutler said, “There are possibilities. I am waiting for signed leases,” but she declined to name any potential future tenants.

Prairie Valley North Commercial Center is bordered by Route 47 on the west, First Street on the east, Walker Drive on the north and Route 38 on the south.

Photo: Walgreens is open in Elburn, the anchor store for the Prairie Valley North Commercial Center at the northeast corner of Routes 38 and 47. Walgreens is adjacent to more than 15,000 square feet of available retail space in buildings under construction to the north and the east of the pharmacy. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Bank planned for complex wants more time

by Martha Quetsch
DeKalb-based Castle Bank, which plans to build a branch next to the new Walgreens in Elburn, asked the village to allow up to two more years for the company to pursue the project.

The Elburn Planning Commission reviewed Castle’s request on Tuesday and recommended that the Village Board approve it.

Castle representatives did not give a reason for wanting the extension.

This is the second extension Castle has requested. Last fall, the village granted Castle a one-year extension, permitting the bank to start construction by Dec. 31, 2009. The village’s original approval in 2007 required Castle to start building by Dec. 31, 2008.

Fair games

Parent volunteer Karen Gagne paints pink swirls on 3-year-old Brooklynn Mondroski’s cheeks during the Blackberry Creek Elementary School Fun Fair Oct. 2 in Elburn. Hundreds of people attended the event, which featured a host of games and other activities for children. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Oct. 8 police blotter

The following reports were obtained from local police departments. The individuals charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

• Victor M. Sallee, 60, of the 100 block of Hero Street in Silvis, Ill., was arrested at 1:33 a.m. Oct. 4 for driving while his license was revoked. Police stopped him for speeding, on Route 47 south of Keslinger Road in Elburn.

• Natasha R. Graham, 32, of the 1000 block of Meadow Lane in Rochelle, was arrested at 5 p.m. Sept. 21 on an outstanding warrant from DeKalb County for failure to appear in court. Police stopped her in the Metra station parking lot after she disobeyed a stop sign at Keslinger Road and Railroad Avenue in Elburn.

• Someone broke into a vehicle parked in front of a residence in the 800 block of Independence Avenue in Elburn and stole a radar detector valued at $180. The burglary took place sometime between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

• Matthew J. Dennis, 20, of the 100 block of East St. Louis Avenue in East Alton, Ill., was arrested at 2:14 a.m. Sept. 26 for driving while his license was suspended. Police stopped him on Keslinger Road west of Anderson Road in Elburn, for having only one headlight.

• Jon D. Gustafson, 24, of the 600 block of Stetzer Avenue in Elburn, was arrested at 12:40 a.m. Sept. 26, for driving under the influence of alcohol. Police stopped him as he was southbound on Route 47 near Reader Street in Elburn, because his rear license plate light was out.

• Someone made a 4-foot-long scratch on the hood of a 2007 Volvo parked in the Jewel-Osco lot at 800 N. Main Street in Elburn sometime between midnight and 12:15 a.m. Sept. 26.

• Two stacks of wooden pallets were stolen from the rear of a property in the 600 block of East north Street in Elburn, sometime between Sept. 18 and 21. The stolen items were valued at $300.

• A La Fox woman has been convicted of stealing $137,000 from her St. Charles law firm in 2004.
Ann M. Day, 52, of the 1N6 block of Harley Road, La Fox, was convicted Oct. 2, by Circuit Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon of 12 counts of theft, four a Class 1 felony and eight Class 2 felony, and 16 counts of forgery, each a Class 3 felony. Judge Sheldon heard the case May 11, 12 and 14, 2009. Day had waived her right to a jury trial.

From January to October 2004, Day operated a scheme in which she intentionally deprived her law firm of funds, instead pocketing the money for her personal use. Day would:
• Deposit checks made to the firm into her personal account
• Forge her partner’s name on checks written to the firm and then deposit the money into her personal account
• Write to herself checks from the firm’s checking account and then alter the firm’s ledger to misrepresent the purpose of the reimbursement.

As a result of Day’s actions, the law firm was deprived of $137,237.27.

Judge Sheldon issued his verdict in writing. The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will request a sentencing hearing. Day faces a sentence of probation or between four and 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Day remains free on $2,500 bond.

Day served as the Elburn village prosecutor from 193 to 1997, a position that no longer exists.

Community comes through for couple with quadruplets

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Michelle and Matthew Krol, of Elburn, have been blessed with five children, including quadruplets born in August. With those blessings, however, have come unusual challenges, which the community has helped the couple meet.

Early this year, the Krols learned Michelle was pregnant with quadruplets, and at about the same time, Matthew was laid off from his job.

“Difficulties and joys—they always come together,” Michelle said.

When the Krols had their first baby, Ethan, in 2005, their excitement about his birth was followed by fear a few months later, when they found out he had a rare and serious form of cancer.

Since having surgery and treatment at Children’s Memorial Hospital at 10 months of age, Ethan has been cancer-free and is now a healthy 4-year-old, Michelle said.

“He’s doing fantastic,” she said.

Ethan’s four new baby brothers are doing well, too, and all will be released soon from the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush Medical Center.

Michelle said Ethan is thrilled about the new babies. Michelle and Matthew are ecstatic, too, but also are concerned about meeting the bills and additional household expenses that four additional children will bring. One of their needs now is a car large enough to hold the entire family, Michelle said.

Thankfully, many of the Krols’ concerns have been alleviated by an outpouring of community support, she said.

Their neighbors recently held a diaper drive for the babies. Members of St. Peter Church in Geneva, which the family attends, have offered prayers and given them baby clothes, cradles and car seats. Parishioners also organized a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 8, to benefit the Krol family. Chris Propheter of Geneva, who heard about the family’s situation, is organizing the event.

“I felt so moved by their plight that I felt compelled to do something for the family,” Propheter said.

Propheter also coordinated a youth group effort at a recent St. Peter picnic to raise money for the Krols.

Michelle has been impressed by how many people, including those she and Matthew do not know, have wanted to help. Michelle said even those who do not have much to give have found a way to help them.

“It’s really been very special,” Michelle said. “Nine months ago, we were asking ourselves how it could all come together, how we would make it work.”

The Krols also are thankful for the medical care and compassion they received from other other cancer parents during Ethan’s ordeal. To show their appreciation, the Krols have taken part in the annual Kane County Relay for Life in Geneva for the past several years. In 2007, Ethan was the Kane County Relay for Life Junior Grand Marshal, at age 2.

Krol family fundraiser
All-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner
Hosted by Knights of Columbus
5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8
Riverview Banquets
1117 N. Washington Ave., Batavia
Admission is $10 for adults and children 10 and older;
$5 for children ages 3-10;
and free for younger children
Will hold tickets at the door

To reserve tickets, call
Chris Propheter at (630) 208-6750 or e-mail her at

Photo: Matthew and Michelle Krol of Elburn, with their sons, Ethan, 4, and the new quadruplets, Aiden, Beckham, Liam and Griffin, assembled recently for the first photograph of the entire family together, in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rush Medical Center in Chicago. Courtesy Photo