All posts by Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells is the owner and publisher of the Elburn Herald. You can reach him at RyanWells@elburnherald.com, or by calling (630) 703-9201, ext. 107.

Editorial: Government must slash budgets, not services

Read through our paper this week, and you will see that just like the vast majority of businesses and families, governmental bodies are also looking at how to tighten their budgetary belts.

Virtually everyone is in a situation in which they must figure out how to do the same or more with less.

On the homefront, people are simply looking at every possible way to spend less money. The first things to go are things considered unnecessary expenses, and if that is not enough, then families are forced to determine what things are less necessary than others—and then those are the things to go next.

Among businesses, a similar thing has occurred. Companies are cutting out every expense that does not impact their ability to serve their customers. If that is not enough, then a combination of salary and/or staff cuts are next, and they are forced to try and find a way to still serve their customers with less resources to do so.

Among governmental bodies at the federal level, they just run up deficits; and at the state level, they simply fail to pay on their vendors in any form of timely fashion.

However, municipalities do not have the same luxuries, as they cannot run up massive debt, and essential functions—like schools, police and fire—will cease to function if no money is available.

Therefore, without the ability to spend money it does not have, or to pay people it owes with IOUs, municipalities must treat their budgets similar to families and companies. If a family does not have access to enough money, there is simply no option when a bill comes due. If a business has no cash on hand and a vendor chooses to call in a debt or a payroll is due, that company may fail.

Each of our local units of government is facing these challenges, and they all have expressed a desire to meet the challenge without negatively affecting their ability to provide the services they are responsible for providing.

We hope that since these local taxing bodies are facing challenges that are similar to those faced by local families and businesses, that their responses and decisions are also similar. Anything not considered a necessary expenditure should be delayed.

Prior to making changes that harm a governmental body’s ability to serve the taxpayers—such as eliminating positions or cutting back on services, we hope to see the types of cost-cutting measures that occur every day in the private sector.

Salaries should be looked at and cut or renegotiated. For example, the recent pay raises for Kaneland educators accounts for a $1.2 million budget item, and the district’s entire deficit is $761,000. Salaries for the department heads at each municipality should not be safe from a decrease either.

Families have to make do with less income; business owners and employees are facing cutbacks, before services are harmed, it is time to take a look at the pay of those in the public sector.

Editorial: Kaneland makes reasonable decision in midst of controversy

The controversy surrounding President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren on Tuesday provides a good lesson in the difference between constructive public discourse and debate that serves no purpose.

Ultimately, the speech was made available in text format ahead of time, and the speech itself proved to be a non-political discussion focusing on inspiring children to take responsibility for their own education.

The fears that many people had—that the speech was designed to indoctrinate children with a particular political philosophy—proved unfounded, yet those who had concerns about their children watching the speech in school and taking part in the post-speech teachable moment should not be discounted.

Those on both sides of the controversy should take a step back, take a deep breath, and look at the situation logically and think through a number of questions before one side begins attacking the other side.

• Is it a bad thing for the President of the United States to try and inspire schoolchildren?

• Is it a bad thing for parents and schools to want to screen the speech prior to showing it to their children and students?

• Is it necessary to immediately assume all communications from any politician are political in nature, but at the same time is it OK, and even healthy, to remain skeptical of all politicians?

Locally, the Kaneland administration faced two problems in reaching a decision whether or not to broadcast the speech. The primary reason was the logistical and technological issues raised by trying to ensure that every student had access to the speech at the same time. The secondary reason was that the majority of feedback from parents indicated they were philosophically against the idea of the district broadcasting the speech live to all students.

So what Kaneland did was elect not to broadcast the speech, but make it available for teachers and parents in order to share parts or all of it with their students or children in the best manner that they see fit.

This seems like a reasonable decision; it is far more reasonable than to require that it be viewed by all students, as well as the opposite side, which would be to not allow teachers to use the speech in the classroom should it coincide with the students’ studies.

These types of decisions are best made at the most local level possible. In this case, that is between parents and their families, and between families and their children’s teachers.

Many parents may feel it is perfectly appropriate and worthwhile to use the speech during a school unit focusing on civics or communication that involves middle or high schoolers, but may not feel it is appropriate or worthwhile for their 5-year-old to listen to instead of story time.

Regardless of what anyone else thinks, it is what each parent feels is appropriate and worthwhile for their child that is most important. Even if Kaneland had the logistical and technological means to broadcast the speech simultaneously to every student at Kaneland, the decision not to broadcast the speech live but make it available to individual families and teachers would still be reasonable.

Editorial: Close out the summer festival season in Maple Park

School has begun, the days are getting shorter, and we have reached the final week of local festivals.

Summer is a busy time for community volunteers, since each town has its own summer festival. The Sugar Grove Corn Boil was in July, Elburn Days and Kaneville Fest were in August, and now Maple Park’s Fun Fest is set to run from Friday through Monday, Sept. 4-7 (see Maple Park Fun Fest coverage in this week’s edition).

The festival that began as a Labor Day weekend softball tournament has evolved, grown, shrunk, and regrown over the years, and this year is promising to be more than worth attending.

The Maple Park Fun Fest begins Friday evening with performances on the main stage from a pair of area bands, CAOZZ and Red Woody. Saturday features a run/walk, the beginning of the softball tournament, a craft show, the annual toilet bowl races, parade, and more live performances from area bands. Sunday features a buffet breakfast and day two of the softball tournament, and concludes with fireworks at night.

Sunday closes out the festival with a breakfast and the culmination of the softball tournament.

As we have stated throughout the summer, our local community festivals are perfect ways to either connect, or re-connect, with your fellow community members.

The summer festival circuit is nearly over, and soon there will be no more chances to get outside, gather with your neighbors, and take part in a community-wide, multi-day festival. We hope you take this last opportunity of the year.

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Editorial: Kaneville Fest—a celebration of community

Residents of the village of Kaneville have long considered themselves a community, long before the village was recognized as such by the state, complete with official borders and a government entity.

We recall that for years before the village’s incorporation in 2006, we would often receive news items, letters to the editor, and other communications signed by residents, complete with “of the village of Kaneville.”

They are a perfect example of how a community does not need official designation to be one. They have long recognized that the word community means far more than what can be defined by a unit of government.

In fact, nine years ago and for several years before that, the community of Kaneville held a festival each summer to create an opportunity for residents to get together and have fun.

However, for the past eight years, there has been no summer community event that has drawn community members together. And yet their sense of community continued and even strengthened; culminating with their decision to pursue incorporation as an official village.

And now that they are a community in both spirit and law, members of the community are bringing back that annual summer festival.

Kaneville Fest will run from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 28-30, complete with book sales, volleyball games, picnics, an outdoor movie, and much more.

If you have lived in Kaneville for long, you know about the strong sense of community that thrives there. For you, this event will be a celebration of that.

If you are new to Kaneville or live in a different village, then you are invited to visit the festival and become a part of that community.

The long-term residents of the village of Kaneville and the pre-2006 community of Kaneville are proof that borders do not define communities, people do.

Therefore, if you are reading this, you are a member of the community, and we hope to see you there.

Editorial: Have a ‘totally rad’ Elburn Days weekend

Get out your hair spray and acid-washed jeans, the 1980s’-themes Elburn Days festival is upon us.

The theme of the entire event is “Celebrating 80 Years of Family Fun in the Community,” but we all know that the place to be when it kicks off is along Route 47 in Elburn for the annual parade. This year, the parade theme is “Celebrating 80 Years of Fun, 80’s Style.”

Following the parade is a full weekend of fun events and opportunities to get out and meet your follow community members. Read through either of our Elburn Days special sections, and it becomes clear that there is more than enough to entertain people of all ages and interests.

Community events like Elburn Days, Sugar Grove’s Corn Boil, and the upcoming, new Kaneville Fest set for the following week, are examples of opportunities to connect with your community—whether that is to strengthen bonds that already exist, reconnect with those you may have lost touch with, or create new friendships.

The strength of a community lies in its people and their relationships with each other. It is these relationships that help turn a place where people live into their hometown, and it is a strong hometown that gives people security and improves their quality of life.

Knowing that a neighbor will be there when you find yourself facing a difficult time (and you know this because you would be there for them), knowing the people you see around town by name, knowing the people behind the organizations trying to help out others in need—these are what some may call “little things,” but it is these “little things” that can make all the difference in someone’s daily life.

In general, times may be hard, finances are tight, stress may be on the rise, but more and more, people are finding out that it is the strength of their communities that make those difficulties easier to handle.

With that in mind, we hope to see you at Elburn Days, at Kaneville Fest, and at as many of the other smaller community events that occur throughout the year. You may find that they are just what you need.

Editorial—Community in the face of personal crisis: You can help

The weeks leading up to the start of school are hectic for any family. Supplies, clothes, registration forms, books, etc., have to be purchased, organized and ready to go by the start of school.

It can be enough for anyone to feel a bit overwhelmed; and we are sure there plenty of Kaneland-area families feeling that way right now, as the district gears up for the 2009-10 school year.

Now, take all of that progress amidst the chaos and throw it out the window. Imagine not only having to start that process over, but start everything—literally everything—over.

No home, no possessions, no warning.

That is precisely what happened to the Lawrence family Aug. 5 when their town home in Sugar Grove caught fire, leaving the family homeless just weeks before the family’s two children were set to start the year at Kaneland High School.

According to Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel, it took firefighters an hour to get the fire under control, and the family’s home was a complete loss.

Thankfully, the Lawrence family can take solace in the fact that they live in the Kaneland community. In fact, according to Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s story, the community has already begun to step up and help out.

If you have lived or worked in our Kaneland communities for any length of time, you will know that these types of tragic circumstances fortunately happen infrequently. Yet, when they do, community members have a tendency to come together and help out. It is but one more example of the difference between a place where people live and their hometown.

While the community involvement that has occurred thus far is no doubt appreciated, the family remains without a home and in need. The Sugar Grove Castle Bank has established the Lawrence Family Benefit Fund account for donations. Deposits will be accepted at the Castle Bank at 36 E. Galena Boulevard, Sugar Grove or any Castle Bank branch. Gift cards for local department stores that will allow the family to purchase clothes and other needed items may be dropped off at the bank, as well.

Editorial: Libraries far more than just a place to check out books

A public goal nearly five years in the making will be officially realized on Saturday, Aug. 8, when the new Sugar Grove Public Library building, opens at 9 a.m.

In November 2004, the community voted in support of an $8 million building bond project for a new library facility, and construction began in May 2008.

Officials representing the library and the village of Sugar Grove have a full morning of events planned, concluding at 1 p.m.

Following the welcome message by the day’s master of ceremonies, Perry Clark, at 9 a.m., the morning will be packed with food, children’s activities ranging from face painting to story time to coloring activities, sit-downs with authors, demonstrations and tours, and more.

Libraries are far more than places to merely check out books, they can serve as a vital community center, strengthening the connections of those who share a hometown. The town came together to support, with their vote and tax dollars, to have a larger building with more potential for materials and programming offerings. Without the passage of the operating funds referendum, much of that potential cannot be realized, but until then, the new library building will still provide a much improved experience and opportunity for those in the Sugar Grove Public Library District.

Just a few things the library offers include:
• Youth Services
There are a variety of collections and offerings for families. Materials specific to parenting, and youth and children’s audio, movies, items for toddlers, picture books, etc. A family room enables patrons to move around and not feel cramped or have to sit in one spot perfectly quiet.

Early education programs feature story times, music programs and other activities for children of all ages.

The TeenZone is a dedicated space that allows for web-surfing, chatting, texting, games and more.

• The Book Nook Cafe
This area offers coffee and other beverages, as well as a variety of food. Another part of the area is dedicated as a gift shop provided by the Library Friends group.

• Reader Services and Ask Me Desk
There are a variety of reader services and offerings available for patrons. There are many areas for study, including a quiet reading room and an all-season porch, outdoor patio and small-group meeting room.

Home delivery is available for cardholders restricted from travel due to health reasons.

Proctor Exams are offered for those involved in long-distance learning programs and professions that provide independent studies relying on proctored and certified exams.

• Volunteerism
Volunteers of age 14 and older can offer their assistance to the library, either as a one-time service or on an ongoing basis. According to the library, the move to the new building will provide the opportunity for volunteer greeters and tour guides. This volunteer service will require keeping a schedule, making a time commitment, and training.

• Technology Center
The library features a computer lab with 17 computers, as well as classes and tutorials provided by staff.

• Community Services
The library has large meeting rooms, study rooms, WiFi access, as well as a variety of other services.

This is just an overview of what the library offers, and it is clear that there is far more to it than just checking out that new novel.

To help visualize this description, we urge you to visit the open house on Saturday; and if you can’t make it then, make sure you see the new library building soon at 125 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove.

Editorial: Newspapers’ job not to serve as PR firm

We received some interesting feedback due to a story published on page 8A of the July 23 edition of the Elburn Herald, “Code change allows liquor license for space village president owns.”

What made it interesting was that for some, the feedback demonstrated a lack of understanding of the purpose of a community newspaper and the facts relative to this situation, or a perception of some of those involved that we have a bias that led us to write the story in the first place.

We feel that it is important for our readers to understand not only why we do what we do, but to understand how our community journalism mission applies to this specific situation.

First, our job as a community newspaper is to report what happens in our community. It can consist of stories that may be heart warming or heart wrenching. It may be an edition full of arrests and crime, or of fundraisers and examples of residents helping each other. We are not here to make anyone look good or look bad, it is the situation itself that determines that.

If those involved in the situation reported in both the July 23 and July 30 editions feel that the act of reporting what happened is inherently biased, then you do not understand the purpose of a community newspaper. We are not here to be the village’s, or anyone’s, public relations firm; and we are not here to make anyone or any group look good or bad. We are here to let our readers know what is happening in their communities

The average reader could conclude that the officials involved tried their best to avoid a conflict of interest and acted in a manner to remain beyond reproach. Likewise, the average reader could also conclude that officials used their positions for personal gain; that the building would not have sold when it did if it were not for the influence inherent in officials’ positions. The fact that the average reader could read the same set of facts and reach different conclusions means there is the existence of gray area in this situation.

One of the individuals providing feedback argued that if one were to remove the names and titles of those involved, the same result would occur, that everything would have happened in the same way and in the same timeframe as happened in this situation.

While that may arguably be true, it is also irrelevant to our coverage.

It is irrelevant because stating what, how and when something happened does not change the what, how or when something happens.

It is not the act of reporting that created a possible negative perception of what occurred, it is the event or situation being reported on.

If you do not want a negative perception to occur, you should act in a manner that does not allow for a gray area to exist.

Editorial: Kaneville adds community festival to summer calendar

We are glad to see residents in the village of Kaneville planning for a community festival for the end of this summer.

According to Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s story on page 1A, Kaneville Fest will run from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 27-29, and include a variety of activities ranging from a used book sale at the library on Friday to a softball game on Sunday.

These are the kinds of events that bring communities together, that help turn people who happen to live next to each other into true neighbors.

Kaneville has long had a history of viewing itself as a distinct community, even before the legal designation of being a “village” was made in 2007. In our communications with many then-unincorporated Kaneville Township people, they often referred to themselves as residents of the village of Kaneville.

So, their decision to incorporate merely added a legal designation and official boundary to an area within which the residents already felt that sense of belonging to the community.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the community is now coming together to celebrate that identity. We hope to see residents of Kaneville, as well as residents of the broader Kaneland community, at the event to show their support and celebrate community.

Editorial: Corvette show is a vehicle for hunger relief

Car enthusiasts, those interested in helping create a hunger-free northern Illinois, or those just interested in a nice day in the country are invited to the fourth annual Country Car Show at 2 S. Green Road, Elburn, on Saturday, July 18 (rain date is Sunday, July 19).

The event, featuring more than 30 sponsors, is put on by the Fox Valley Corvette Club in cooperation with the Miller Family and will benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB), a nonprofit organization working to create a hunger-free northern Illinois.

The show features cars of all makes, models and years, including works in progress. First, second and third prizes will be awarded in 30 classes. To show your car, just pay a $15 registration fee on the day of the show. Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by public voting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and awards beginning at 3 p.m.

The event ends when participants and members of the public decide they’ve had enough viewing of cars, spending time with each other, and eating picnic-style. For information, and updates, visit www.countrycarshow.com or call at (630) 715-9062.

The 2008 show raised $9,000 for the NIFB on a rain day, and organizers hope this year will surpass that number.

NIFB obtains donated food and financial support from a variety of sources, ranging from businesses to community groups and individuals. Food is distributed to its 13-county region through a network of 520 nonprofit food pantries, shelters and other assistance locations.

According to the NIFB website, www.northernilfoodbank.org, it distributed 22 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available. Even more striking are the results of its Hunger in America 2006 study, which found that:
• 33 percent of those served by NIFB are children, and 7 percent are between 0 and 5 years of age.
• 38 percent of households served include at least one employed adult.
• More than a third have to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heat.

Times are tough; there’s no discounting that. But chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re not choosing between food and heat.

So, if you’re into cars or just want to have a picnic in the country surrounded by car enthusiasts and people who want to raise funds for those falling through the economic cracks, plan on spending July 18 at the Country Car Show in rural Elburn.

Editorial: Make a difference for our soldiers serving overseas

As belts continue to tighten in the midst of a struggling economy, the level of philanthropy is suffering along with budgets.

Yet, for many, the things that can make the most difference cost little, if anything.

For example, Fox Valley Troop Support, based in St. Charles, offers support to U.S. military service members deployed overseas by sending care packages and letters to them.

The organization offers a program to help families learn how, with just the time spent to write a handwritten letter, they can make an immeasurable impact on the days of our troops serving overseas.

The program, set for Tuesday, July 14, at 7 p.m., “will guide participants on how to write a heartfelt message to brighten a soldier’s day and will provide information on how citizens/students can help prepare care packages to troops stationed overseas.”

The event will be led by the organization’s co-founder, Sarah Giachino. According to the group’s website, www.fvts.org, Giachino became active in supporting our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after discovering the impact letters from home had on her father as he served in WWII. The site says that in 2001, she discovered hundreds of love letters between her parents throughout her father’s deployment from D-Day through the Battle of the Bulge. Recognizing the impact remaining connected to home had on her father, she began sending hundreds of letters and care packages to the veterans currently serving overseas.

The group’s other co-founder, Kathy Tobusch, became active in her support of our troops after her sons were deployed to Iraq. She regularly sent them letters and care packages, and through them, learned about the many soldiers serving our nation that never received anything from home.

Once the two women learned of each other, Fox Valley Troop Support was born.

Visit the site, and it will take but a minute to realize how little has to be spent to make a tremendous difference in the lives of those willing to make the greatest sacrifice on our behalf. A few extra items thrown in the shopping cart, a few minutes to write a letter, and you have made a difference in someone’s life.

Making a difference does not have to require a budget-breaking donation or a time commitment beyond what you are able to make. Oftentimes, literally a few dollars and a few moments of time—and the act of spending that time telling someone, “I’m thinking of you, and wanted to say thank you” can have an impact that goes beyond dollar amounts and formal volunteer activities.

For information about the July 14 event held in the Community Room at the Geneva History Center, 113 S. 3rd Street, Geneva, call (630) 232-4951. For information about the group itself, other volunteer opportunities, or how you can turn just a few dollars and a few moments of time into a soldier’s brighter day, visit www.fvts.org.

Editorial: Kane County focuses on fighting drunk driving during holiday weekend

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time during the weekend of the Fourth of July. For many, that involves get-togethers, cookouts, picnics and other outdoor activities; and for many of those, they will add a few drinks to the mix.

While there is nothing wrong with having a few drinks, there is something extremely wrong if those who do drink then choose to get behind the wheel of an automobile.

To that end, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday a collaborative effort between the State’s Attorney’s Office and local police to deter drinking and driving July 3 and 4.

The effort, called a “No Refusal Operation,” means that suspected drunken drivers will not be able to avoid prosecution by refusing to submit to a requested blood alcohol content test.

The operation is multi-faceted. Additional patrol officers will be out, specifically looking for erratic drivers who may be intoxicated. Additionally, there will be a streamlined process in place to allow law enforcement personnel to more quickly obtain a search warrant for a blood sample for those who refuse a breath test.

According to a press release from his office, Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti will not reveal the location or locations of this weekend’s operation in an attempt to deter holiday revelers county-wide from drinking and then driving.

“It is our primary objective that the “No Refusal Weekend” stings serve as a deterrent to drunken driving,” Barsanti said in the release. “If we charge zero DUIs in the targeted areas this weekend, we will consider the operation a success. Our message is simple: If you drink alcohol, please get a safe ride home.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office also shared a number of eye-opening statistics about drinking, driving and accidents during the July 4th holiday.

In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 34 percent of all drivers involved in traffic-related crashes during the Fourth of July holiday possessed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

During the same time period, a total of 200 traffic-related fatalities were reported. Of those, 44 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

In 2007, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those, 12,998 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

Those numbers are expected to be higher this year because July 4 is on a Saturday and is part of a three-day weekend for many people, the State’s Attorney’s Office said.

The best way to ensure the safety of yourself, your loved ones and others on the roadway is simple: If you drink, don’t even think about getting behind the wheel; and if you don’t, then make sure that if you know someone is, you help ensure they have a safe ride home.

Politics of fear: Springfield uses citizens at risk as political pawn

Editorial
What is more sickening than a sitting Illinois governor indicted on charges that he tried to sell a U.S. Senate appointment to the highest bidder? A sitting Illinois governor who puts a political gun to the heads of the state’s citizens most at risk, threatening their state assistance if the legislature fails to approve a 50 percent income tax increase.

After the state legislature recently failed to pass a fully-funded budget, social service agencies under the control of Gov. Pat Quinn began sending letters to providers that receive funding from the state, informing them of what is being referred to as the “Doomsday Budget.”

Essentially, Quinn is threatening to cut human-service funding by between 50 and 100 percent if the state fails to increase taxes to cover the state’s massive deficit. What this will do is eliminate or vastly reduce the services received by victims of domestic violence, children in need, individuals with developmental disabilities—in other words, those most in need and those who tend to have the least political clout in Springfield will end up entirely on their own or at the mercy of the goodwill of their respective communities.

To use those citizens most in need as a political pawn is possibly the only conceivable thing more disgusting than the behavior of our previous governor.

Gov. Quinn, your politics of fear has created a false choice. The intent is to strike a deep-seated and real fear in the citizens of Illinois, in the hopes that the response is a knee-jerk reaction to urge their representatives to pass a 50 percent income tax increase.

While the fear is real, the choice is not. Until you eliminate all patronage jobs, all the pork, waste and corruption in the state’s budget, all the inefficiencies, unnecessary and redundant programs, you have not even begun to do your job.

Rather than do the real, hard work your office requires, you have chosen to take the lazy way out and set up a straw man; and that straw man has a political gun pointed at every citizen who has a legitimate need for state funding.

The problem is not that the state’s citizens do not pay enough in taxes. The problem is that so much overspending on unnecessary programs, inefficiencies and corruption has ballooned the state’s budget to a state of insolvency.

You are part of the problem. However, there is still time to be part of the solution.

That solution will require leaders who are willing to shut up, sit down and get to work on transforming the state from one that rewards political power and connections and pays for those rewards on the backs of its citizens who do not have the clout, the ability or the energy to fight big, corrupt government.

There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of the political aisle. There are very few, if any, true reformers in state government that have not been attacked and undermined by the power brokers in their respective parties.

It is clear that some in the state government are focused on obtaining and retaining political power, as opposed to actually solving the problems that need resolution and reforming the corrupt and wasteful practices that have made our state the laughingstock of the nation.

It is time to stand up and demand reform and fight against the politics of fear that Gov. Quinn and the political party brokers engage in.

In Aurora, a rally Friday, June 19, at 10 a.m. will highlight the impacts the threatened cuts will have on local residents. The rally will be held at Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, Inc., 400 Mercy Lane, Aurora, on the Mercy Hospital campus.

We hope the public shows up in force and demands that not only the “Doomsday Budget” cuts be taken off the table, but that until the state budget eliminates all waste and corruption, an income tax increase also remain off the table.

The “Doomsday” cuts are supposedly going into effect July 1, so it is time for the public to stand up and refuse the false choice that unless its citizens pay 50 percent more in income taxes, the failures of the state government should be paid for on the backs of our citizens most in need and most at risk.

Contact our local representatives and demand they be part of the solution. Our state Senator is Chris Lauzen (25th District) and can be reached by phone at (630) 264-2334 or e-mail at admin@lauzen.com. Our state Representative is Kay Hatcher (50th District), and she can be reached by phone at (630) 553-3223 or e-mail at kay@kayhatcher.us.

Editorial: Finally, observable progress in Maple Park

Kudos to Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis, who made the selection of a police chief the No. 1 priority for the new Personnel and Communications Committee (see related story).

The Police Department has not had a chief in over a year, and no observable progress has been made until Curtis took over as village president. Now, virtually starting the process from scratch, Curtis set a goal of having a chief in place within three months.

“(It) is a lot of work for a short time frame, but we can not continue to operate without a chief, so we set high expectations on ourselves,” Curtis said.

How a village government failed to recognize the importance of having someone oversee a police department and be the one accountable for it and its actions is beyond us; let alone how the “search” for a replacement for former Police Chief Steve languished for 13 months with no observable progress.

Thankfully, Curtis recognized this failure of leadership and emphasized that issue during the spring 2009 campaign for village president. During the campaign, she stated that it was a lack of leadership in the Police Committee.

Once she took office, one of the first things she did was take care of that problem, among other areas of lacking leadership. She overhauled the village’s committee structure, and now there are three: Personnel and Communications; Infrastructure; and Finance, Public Relations and Development.

These are all necessary changes to help a village that has suffered from a severe lack of leadership, as evidenced by a full calendar year of having no police chief or observable plan to pick one.

Thankfully, the village is now run by a village president willing to set defined goals and put accountability measures in place to help ensure that they are achieved. For the police chief search, Curtis tapped Village Board member Deb Armstrong and gave a deadline.

Curtis provided the Elburn Herald with a larger list of goals and deadlines, as well as who she picked as being accountable for each.

Committees/Projects >>

This is how things get done, and we are glad to see the leadership in Maple Park actually act like, well, leaders.

Editorial: Shedding light on some changes in the Elburn Herald

Regular readers of the Elburn Herald will likely notice some changes in this week’s paper edition.

Some of them are obvious, some are more subtle—yet all of them are designed with you, our reader, in mind.

The most obvious change is the elimination of village-specific pages. In the past, there would be a varying number for each village in our primary coverage area—Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Kaneville, usually in that order.

However, we are just as much Sugar Grove’s hometown newspaper as Elburn’s, as well as Kaneville’s and Maple Park’s. So why isolate their news items when we all are part of the same Kaneland community?

Beginning this week, the local, community news is combined on what are now called “Our Villages.” Placement of each item is now dictated by its news value, and not its geography.

Most importantly, the fact that each village’s news is treated equally, in terms of placement, is a physical demonstration of our philosophical belief that each of our core towns as important as the others.

This shift in presentation necessitated changing how local, upcoming events are published. Previously, the list of upcoming events was placed on their respective pages. However, now that the pages are shared, the upcoming events have now been combined and placed on a unified community calendar. That way, readers looking for a particular event or looking for something to do on a particular day can find what they are looking for much more easily.

We also moved one of the highest-read portions of the paper—the sports section—to a more prominent location, the front of section B. Now, our award-winning sports section will be as prominently displayed as it deserves to be.

We also eliminated the “Area Happenings” page—which consisted of more regional-based entertainment options—and the rotating subject-based features; and replaced them with a weekly health section that provides information on relevant health topics and upcoming events.

Finally, a more subtle—yet important—change is that the Elburn Herald adjusted all of its typestyles within the paper. We slightly increased the size of the type in many instances, and adjusted the styles and settings to make things easier to read and navigate. While it may not be as obvious or noticeable, it will significantly add to the paper’s readability; and if we can pick type that is easier on your eyes, that’s a big win for both you and us.

The purpose of all of these changes, and any changes we may make in the future, is to better serve you, our reader, by providing you more locally focused coverage than anyone else, in as pleasing a presentation as possible.

There are countless places you can go to find out what is going on in the nation and the world, but there is no one else as focused on you and your communities as we are.

We look forward to receiving any feedback you have about the changes we have already made or the changes you think we should make in the future. Everything we do is with you in mind, so all feedback—positive and negative—is helpful.

Email Ryan Wells—info@elburnherald.com

Editorial: How much is a victory worth?

Four years ago, the Kaneland School District was on the verge of losing all extra-curricular activities, including athletics, due to lack of funding.

Voters passed a referendum to preserve athletics and clubs, as well as a large number of academic programs not considered part of the core curriculum.

Voters again passed a referendum in February 2008, this time for construction costs for a new middle school, work on the existing middle school, and other improvements throughout the district.

Fast forward to today, and the Kaneland School District just voted to leave the Western Sun Conference following the 2009-2010 school year and join a new conference consisting of several current WSC schools, as well as schools farther to the west and south (see related story), the farthest of which is 112 miles away.

It is clear that there was not enough support from WSC schools for the conference to remain, making the district’s decision to formally announce its pending departure from the conference one of obvious necessity.

However, the choice of a new conference seems odd when budgets are so tight that staff has to be reduced, field trips have to be cut, the current middle school will not remain open as the new one opens its doors for the 2009-10 school year, and general cost-cutting must occur throughout the district.

It seems odd that there was not more consideration given to the increase in costs when Kaneland athletics teams will add six teams to the conference that are more than 50 miles away.

Based on the comments we have printed in our stories about the switch, the decision was largely based on the fact that Kaneland will face more equitable competition because the new conference will consist of schools closer to Kaneland’s enrollment than the WSC. With similar enrollment numbers, Kaneland will have an easier time facing competition more at its level.

No one can deny that this is a good thing for Kaneland athletics, at least in terms of wins and losses.

However, is this good for the district’s financial picture?

School Board member Cheryl Krauspe, who voted in favor of the move to leave the WSC but was the only dissenting vote to join the new conference, said she was told the increased cost would be between $400 and $800 per sport. With 16 sports, that means the estimated annual cost increase is between $6,400 and $12,800. Certainly, when talking about total budgets in the millions of dollars, a few thousand is really a negligable amount.

Yet, was there any discussion as to how many field trips could be reinstated with around $10,000; or if the money could instead be used to prevent a reduction in materials for any number of programs negatively impacted by the district’s financial situation? Was there significant discussion on the impacts of traveling upwards of two hours to, and two hours from, a sporting event? Athletic events less than a half hour away can sometimes last late into the evening. Now imagine a two-hour return drive.

On the surface, it seems there is a small increase in the expenses, and the traveling impacts may be negligable; but at the same time it would be nice to know that officials are consistently looking for ways to reduce costs, not increase them—at least until Kaneland’s finances are sound enough that it can afford to use the new middle school as a second school, not merely to replace the old one. To paraphrase a famous saying, a few thousand here and a few thousand there, and pretty soon we are talking about real money.

We are glad disbanding the WSC did not leave Kaneland twisting in the wind on its own; and we are glad Kaneland will face equal competition, which will naturally lead to more victories.

Yet, there is something off-putting when academics take a financial hit while an increase in athletics is justified because it will translate into more victories.

We were glad to see Krauspe question the costs of the decision, if for nothing else than to ensure that the questions were raised, the information shared, and the district moving forward after being reminded that even a few thousand dollars can have a large impact; whether on the playing field or in the classroom.

Editorial: Robbery hoax led to cooperative effort

When we first learned of the report that a woman was pulled over on Bliss Road in Sugar Grove by someone impersonating a cop, robbed and threatened, we felt we needed to act fast to inform our readers and web viewers.

We put up preliminary info on our website and Twitter feed quickly, hoping that either people traveling along that roadway would find out about it quickly and report what they saw to the police; as well as to let other drivers know of what went on so they could be prepared if they felt something similar was happening to them.

The police moved even more quickly, informing us and other media outlets as soon as humanly possible, and passing out flyers and soliciting information from the public; again, both in order to find the perpetrator as well as to protect members of the public from a future similar incident.

Furthermore, the public acted quickly as well. According to Sugar Grove police investigator John Sizer (see story, page 1A), “The public response was overwhelming. We had calls from all over the place. Virtually everyone we talked to was aware of it.”

The public heard about it, informed their fellow community members, and those who felt they had possibly useful information relayed it to the public.

We appreciate the speed with which the police and the public acted after the alleged incident.

Fortunately, the crime never took place—it was a hoax perpetrated by the “victim,” Danielle L. Hechenbach, 32, of Yorkville. Based on the circumstances described in Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s story, it is pretty obvious that one of two things occurred: Either she did not think the truth would be discovered, or she did not realize the damage that her false report could cause.

In addition to the general fear and concern that spread throughout the community, one must factor in the time and money spent looking for someone that does not exist. In addition, that time and money could have been spent on other things, looking for other criminals or preventing other crimes. Finally, the hoax also risks lessening the impact should something similar—and real—happen in the future, as people may be more likely to view such a report with a measure of cynicism.

Obviously, the bright side is that the robbery never occurred; and the department, local media and public were able to see how well they can work together when a perceived safety-related issue occurs.

Editorial: Goodbye, Dr. Willey

There is not a current employee of the Elburn Herald who worked here when anyone other than Elburn Village President Jim Willey served in his office.

Through the growth, and then the lack of it; through the radium, and then its removal; through all of the ups and downs of small-town governance, Jim Willey was a vital go-to person for information and insight about the community.

He coined the phrase “Better, not just bigger,” and agree or disagree with any of his decisions, no one can argue he didn’t try and live up to that phrase.

Look at some of the decisions and projects worked on during his tenure, and it is clear that Willey does not lack in persistence. Bringing Metra service to the village took years; the Anderson Road bridge project is still on the to-do list; and there is finally, after years, light at the end of the tunnel with the train whistle project.

These are just a few examples of how ideas or projects—once placed on his project list—eacremain there until completed or all options are exhausted.

It is logical to assume that his persistence is what led him to a career path from an Elburn dentist to the director of the Council on Dental Practice at the American Dental Association, which is also the career advancement that heavily influenced his decision not to run to retain his seat this year.

We, at the Elburn Herald, wish Willey the best of luck in the future.

And to incoming Village President Dave Anderson, prepare to be inundated with regular phone calls and visits.

Help children in those moments following a crisis

On the front page of this week’s edition of the Elburn Herald, reporter Lynn Meredith came across a Maple Park Police Department project that we feel is so worthwhile that we want to emphasize it in this space as well.

The department is participating in the With Wings and a Halo-R.E.A.C.H a Child program, in which police officers, ambulances and other crisis responders are supplied with children’s books to give to children during moments of crisis.

The idea is to give children something positive to focus on, other than the trauma they are facing. If children can be distracted, their minds occupied with something good, they may be able to cope with the immediate situation.

According to the organization’s website, www.withwingsandahalo.org, the idea for the project was born when author Paul Scott Gilbertson and his wife visited Ground Zero in May 2007. The website said the couple was impacted by the tragedy of Ground Zero and the inherent sadness of the crisis that led to the idea of creating a program to help children in those first moments after they face their own traumas.

Maple Park Community Relations Officer Buz Hodges said that each squad car will contain 12 to 15 books for children ages 3 to 15.

“Books will be the new tool the Maple Park Police Department will use to communicate with children in crisis situations,” Hodges said to Meredith. “The department’s and the organization’s mission is to ‘put a smile on the face of a child in the time of crisis.'”

The organization is based in Wisconsin and is attempting to expand throughout the Midwest. Currently, the organization is partnered with more than 60 communities in Illinois, and we hope to see that number increase, specifically in our readership area.

The group is actively seeking new volunteers to help spread awareness and get more communities involved. We urge you to visit www.withwingsandahalo.org and get involved. If you are an emergency first responder and your organization does not participate, we urge you to do so.

We would like to see all of our area police and fire departments follow Maple Park’s lead and help children in those crucial moments directly following a crisis or trauma.

CORRECTION:
On page 11A of the April 9 edition of the Elburn Herald, the day for the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival was incorrect. The event is Sunday, April 19.

The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:

Ryan Wells, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com
phone (630) 365-6446

Change in leadership for Elburn, MP; SG re-elects Michels

The villages of Elburn and Maple Park will soon see a new face in the village president’s chair; while Sugar Grove will continue under the leadership of re-elected Village President Sean Michels.

In Elburn, no matter who the voters supported, the top spot would be someone new. Longtime Village President Jim Willey announced last fall he would not seek re-election, and Village Board member Patricia Romke and Blackberry Township Supervisor David Anderson ran to replace him.

Not only did voters overwhelmingly support Anderson—he won with nearly 80 percent of the vote—they supported the concept of overall change by voting in three new Village Board members: Kenneth Anderson, Joseph (Jerry) Schmidt and Jeffrey Walter. Incumbents Tom Burgholzer and Jeff Humm were both defeated, while Craig Swan, who held the third open seat, chose not to run for re-election.

According to Anderson’s statement to Elburn Herald reporter Martha Quetsch, he intends to hit the ground running after he is sworn in later this month, with plans to do “a lot of little things that will add up to major changes.”

We are interested to see what those little things will be—he wouldn’t tell us—but we are glad to hear that the Anderson Road bridge and extension is considered a top priority.

Based on the voting results in Maple Park, it appears as if the village is pretty evenly split. The Kane County side of the village voted for the incumbent, Ross Dueringer, 107-84; while the DeKalb County side backed challenger Kathleen Curtis by a 92-51 margin. The difference gave Curtis the victory by a slim, 18-vote margin.

With newcomers Debra Armstrong and Suzanne Fahnestock joining the Village Board, Curtis told Elburn Herald reporter Lynn Meredith that she intends to begin by reorganizing the committees and coming up with a process to address the various issues facing the village.

We hope that the Police Department, which has no police chief and no articulated plan to deal with its staffing issues, rises to the top of that list of issues.

Voters in Sugar Grove chose to retain Village President Sean Michels by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. His clear-cut victory, combined with the fact that two of the Village Board candidates, Robert Bohler and Tom Renk, were re-elected, gives a clear indication that the voters believe the current Sugar Grove leadership is doing a good job in their roles.

Michels told Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill that he intends to see the village remain active during the current housing and economic slowdown, focusing on improving the village’s infrastructure and adjusting growth projections and existing fees—all with an eye on working to draw economic development.

“We just need to get out and sell Sugar Grove over the next four years,” Michels told O’Neill.

We hope that effort pays off, because bringing commercial and industrial development into the village will be vital to advancing the quality of life in the community.

We applaud everyone who ran for office—win or lose—because a strong desire to help improve your community will only help as everyone struggles with tightening budgets and the additional strains caused by our current economic climate.

We also applaud everyone who took the time to get to know the issues and candidates, and turned that information into a well-informed vote.

To help each community navigate the challenges of economic stagnation, on the heels of the challenges of unprecedented growth, it will take a growing number of people willing to give their time and effort, for little monetary return, to pitch in and help. Whether that comes in the form or running for office, volunteering, attending meetings or just staying informed, strong, successful communities are truly a group effort.

Editorial: Empower yourself, make an informed vote

We are devoting, both in this and the April 2 edition, a large amount of space to ensuring we can provide our readers with full coverage of the candidates and issues they feel are important in the April 7 election.

Despite the increase of attention on the most recent presidential election, the fact of the matter is that the results from local elections have a more direct impact on individuals’ lives than a state or federal one.

These are the people who make decisions about policing, what your local library does or does not do, what streets are worked on and on the pace and configuration of growth and development; in addition to countless other aspects that dictate the future of your hometown.

We also urge you to consider our election coverage as one piece of your information pie. We urge you to look deeper into the issues facing our communities and the candidates trying to earn your vote. View their websites, read letters to the editor and the comments on our website at www.elburnherald.com, contact them directly if you can; the more information you can obtain, the more informed your vote will be, and the greater ownership you can take in the direction of your community.

Far too often while discussing politics and policy—local, state or federal—the discussion turns into a combination of complaints and a desire for real change by real people who want to make a real difference. Yet, these discussions also tend to include the hopelessness that these things are not attainable; that those types of candidates do not exist; or that there is no way to tell those who “get it” and those who do not.

In terms of this election cycle, the first step is to find out as much as you can about each issue and each candidate, in order to help determine who “gets it” as well as to begin transforming that sense of political helplessness into a sense of empowerment.

In terms of future elections, if you feel that your representatives—local, state or federal—are not living up to the responsibilities they were given by the people, then we urge you to overcome that sense of helplessness by either running for office yourself, or by finding someone who “gets” it and convincing them to run.

On April 7, you have an opportunity to help shape the way your local communities are run and will change and grow in the next several years. It is a right, as well as a responsibility, to vote; and you owe it to yourselves, and your fellow citizens, to make that vote an informed one.

Let our Hometown Heroes inspire

If you read page 1A of this week’s Elburn Herald, you will learn about two Elburn residents named Hometown Heroes by the Fox River Chapter of the Red Cross. These are two oustanding individuals who performed significant feats in the face of danger (Cpl. Kevin Lamb) and a medical emergency (Dr. Laura Lemke).

As proud as everyone in our communities must be of these two individuals, we hope their stories inspire others to engage in their communities and serve as everyday “hometown heroes.”

One way is to take part in an upcoming training series called the Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), held in Elburn on Thursdays from March 26 to April 30 at Village Hall, 301 E. North St., Elburn.

For emergency responders, such as police, firefighters and EMTs, there may be no bigger fear than the idea of an incident so severe that they are unable to meet the demand of a public in need.

Whether it is due to the sheer magnitude of the incident and victims, or due to reasons like blocked roadways or failing communications, emergency providers have learned from past disasters regular citizens are often more than willing to help when emergency responders are unable to.

With that in mind, emergency responders throughout the nation offer a series of training events to help citizens learn how to prepare for, and react to, such a disaster. This series takes citizens through a variety of topics, ranging from preparing for disasters to fire suppression to emergency medical activities.

Having just a little bit of training can help citizens help each other in those critical moments right after disaster strikes.

We urge everyone in the Elburn community who is available during those training hours to attend, and we hope that you will never need to put the information into practice.

To register for the C.E.R.T. training, visit www.elburn.il.us, click on Police, and then click on Cert. For more information, call Sgt. Ron Brandenburg, (630) 387-8743 or e-mail him at rbrandenburg@elburn.il.us.

Editorial: Elburn Herald recognized for advertising excellence

Each year, Illinois newspapers compete in the Illinois Press Association’s Newspaper Advertising and Marketing Contest.

This year, reflecting on the advertising and marketing efforts made in 2008, the Elburn Herald had its best year at the annual conference.

Under the direction of Design Director Leslie Flint, the Elburn Herald’s two-person ad design department earned 10 awards in total. Newspapers compete against their fellow papers within their division, broken down by frequency of distribution and circulation.

The Elburn Herald competed in Division A, earning three first-place awards, four second-place awards, one third-place award, and two honorable mention. Overall, the Elburn Herald earned 31 points, just two shy of overall division winner, The Village Voices.

Flint earned first place in the most important award given to an individual, Best Ad Designer. The judges comment, “Solid design work; nice commercial print jobs.”

She and photographer/ad designer John DiDonna combined to earn first place in the most importment award granted to a design staff, Advertising Excellence. “A very clean, neat product. All ads were sharp and easy to read. Good use of color and good registration,” the judges commented.

Flint also garnered first-place honors in the Best Small Ad category, for a happy second birthday ad. “Great use of the whole picture; very readable, very creative,” read the judges’ comments.

Flint earned second-place honors for a Dynamic Tanning ad in the Best Full Color Ad category, as well as third place in the Best Small Ad category for a Trim Craft ad, and an honorable mention in the Best Ad Less Than a Full Page category for Dynamic Tanning.

The staff of the Elburn Herald worked together to earn second-place awards in Best Shared/Signature Page, for its Inside/Outside promotion. In addition, the staff earned second for Best Classified Section, as well as Best Community Focus Special Section for its 100-year anniversary commemorative section. The staff also earned an honorable mention in the Best Community Focus Special Section category for its Summer Guide section.

All in all, we at the Elburn Herald are both happy and proud of everyone involved in the advertising, marketing and printing processes. Because the newspaper is predominantly funded through advertising revenue, it is essential that the product looks clean, that the ads are creative, inviting and readable, and that both the reader and the advertising partner are satisfied with the product at the end of the day.

Because of people like Design Director Leslie Flint, we are able to not only meet those goals, but exceed them.

There are few people who can combine a high level of skill both in terms of efficiency and creativity; people who can overachieve in terms of the quantity and quality of their work are rare and highly valuable.

That is why the Elburn Herald is lucky to have such dedicated members of the team like Leslie Flint and John DiDonna.

Thank you for serving the Elburn Herald and our communities so well.

Lions form a dual opportunity for residents

Like virtually every person, family and business, nonprofit community organizations are suffering financial woes due to the general economy’s struggles.

The reason is simple: People have less, and therefore can donate less.

Elburn is not immune, and the Elburn Lions Club is offering a way for residents to give while getting more engaged in how their community is run.

On Sunday, March 1, from noon to 2 p.m., the Lions are offering a spaghetti dinner and Meet the Candidates event that will give attendees an opportunity to hear from the candidates running for Elburn village president and trustee in the April 7 election. The cost is $6 per person.

Rather than follow a debate or panel discussion format, each candidate will be given five minutes to speak to those in attendance. The Lions also said they will allow for a question-and-answer session after each candidate speaks.

There are a total of nine candidates seeking four positions—Elburn village president and three open trustee positions. This will be one of the best, and likely only, ways to get all—or at least a significant majority—of the candidates in the same place and at the same time to discuss their plans for the community.

For $6, not only can attendees learn about those who will directly impact the future of their community, they get an opportunity to have a dinner and help an organization dedicated to helping others.

Sounds like a win-win-win to us. The candidates win by having a forum to share their views, the public wins by having a chance to interact with those who will impact their communities, and the Lions win by helping facilitate the politician/ public interaction while raising some funds at the same time.

To make a reservation, call (630) 365-6315.

Editorial: It’s time to take back our state

On Dec. 11, we asked that the Illinois General Assembly call for a special election to fill the senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

Our position was that the state was on the verge of bankruptcy, both financially and morally, and the only way to begin moving into a new phase of legitimate government in Illinois was to allow the people to elect the replacement.

The alternative was to allow then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint the replacement, a move we feared would be rife with backroom deals and corrupt practices—and our fears have been proven real.

The Illinois legislature demonstrated a lack of political will and courage and decided not to decide, giving Blagojevich the opportunity to create yet another cloud over the state.

It only took the appointee, Roland Burris, about a month to create a controversy of corruption and bring even more shame to Illinois and its politics.

When interviewed under oath by the state House panel that recommended the impeachment of Blagojevich, Burris testified that he could recall speaking to just one aide of the governor and did not discuss raising funds for him.

Then, Burris filed an affidavit changing his story, saying he was contacted by multiple people from Blagojevich’s office, and was asked by Blagojevich’s brother to raise funds for him.

Then, following a Democratic dinner in Peoria, Ill., on Monday, he spoke with reporters. According to a partially edited transcript of Burris’s exchange with reporters, published online by the Chicago Tribune, Burris admitted not only to having had many more conversations with people representing the governor, he also said he tried to raise funds for him based on one of those conversations.

In effect, what has transpired is that Burris was less-than-truthful with the Illinois legislature, less-than-truthful in his filed affidavits, and then has the gall to ask why the public is questioning his honesty.

Roland Burris should resign, and the Illinois public should begin letting their feelings be known now. Call his Chicago Senate Office at (312) 886-3506, or e-mail him at Senator_RolandBurris@Burris.Senate.Gov, and politely demand his resignation.

He represents us yet no one voted for him, and the only reason he is in office is due to an appointment made by a now-impeached governor and a state legislature unwilling to stand on principle.

The inability to be forthcoming and truthful, and the lack of desire to act on behalf of the public good, has become such an ingrained part of Illinois politics that it is the public’s responsibility to right the ship. It is not enough to merely vote on election day and then wait years until the next opportunity to step into the voting booth.

The public must contact their representatives and demand a change in the way government functions, and if that change does not happen, then members of the public must be prepared to step up and throw the corrupt out of office by demanding their resignations or defeating them on election day. If that means running yourself, then get out the campaign signs, get your petitions ready, and run.

When will enough be enough? It is time for the public to take their state back.

Corrections:
An Elburn Village Note in the Feb. 12 issue of the Elburn Herald incorrectly stated that under the current municipal garbage ordinance, residents must remove the empty trash receptacles from the curb by 11 a.m. the day of pickup. The deadline for removing garbage containers from the curb is 11 p.m. the day of pickup.
A photo on page 3 of the Feb. 12 Progress Edition was misidentified. The photo labelled Julie Bauman of Maple Park is actually Janelle Schuppner of Kaneville.
The Elburn Herald regrets the errors.
The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:
Ryan Wells, Editor
123 N. Main St.,
Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com
phone (630) 365-6446
fax: (630) 365-2251

Editorial: Finally! The state is doing something worthwhile

After a significant period of time in which Illinois government has been more focused on lying, cheating and stealing, the state is actually doing work that will help the public.

On Friday, the Illinois Press Association (IPA) announced that it has been working with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on creating an overhaul of the Freedom of Information Act. According to the announcement, the reforms will be introduced during this legislative session, and will amend “virtually every aspect of the FOI (Freedom of Information) process.”

Madigan has long been a proponent of free access to information. In 2004, she created a position within her office called the Public Access Counselor. According to the IPA, she spoke with various newspaper editors and publishers and committed to reforming current access laws.

We applaud the work of Madigan and those in her office, as well as those in and representing the IPA. It is due to their many hours of hard, frustrating work, just to get the current level of access to information the public “enjoys,” so the nticipation that their work will lead to even more access is a wonderful thing.

For those who wonder what is wrong with current “sunshine” laws, or why it is important for the public to have full access to the documents and information they need to observe the government, we invite you to visit illinoispress.org. There, you will find their annual awards known as the “Worsty Awards.”

The list is just a small sample of the ways in which all levels of government in Illinois, both at the state and local levels, either outright violate the existing laws or try to justify their actions by utilizing any of the vast number of loopholes and vagueness in the current Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act.

Some of the examples are literally funny due to the ignorance of those supposedly in charge of government entities; some are sad that so much can happen behind closed doors when those doors should remain open; but most are simply outrageous examples of why the law needs to be reformed.

We look forward to seeing the result of all this hard work; especially when in the past, this amount of hard work often would go to circumventing the law, not trying to make it better.

CORRECTION:
On page 7A of the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of the Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove resident Tom Scales’s comments were misconstrued. The flooding he referred to while describing children losing their shoes while walking on the grass was on the local baseball field, not in the yard of his home.

On page 9A of the Feb. 5 edition of the Elburn Herald, both basketball photos were taken by Mary Herra.

The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:

Ryan Wells, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
e-mail: info@elburnherald.com
phone (630) 365-6446

You are invited to the new www.elburnherald.com

Regular viewers of our website, www.elburnherald.com, noticed that following a brief “beta” period, the upgraded version of our website went live on Jan. 29.

Now that we have had a full week to work on the site, we are excited to hear the feedback from our readers.

The focus of the changes were to improve the site’s functionality and design while streamlining its navigation. In other words, we hope our website users notice that it is more attractive to look at, easier to use, with more ways to use and interact with it.

We invite the community to take an active part in adding content to www.elburnherald.com. In the past, the process for public comment was time consuming and indirect-the Elburn Herald would publish a story, the reader would read it, and he or she would have the opportunity to submit a letter to the editor for publication in a future edition. Now, users of www.elburnherald.com can comment directly on each individual story, and have their comments posted within minutes of hitting “submit.”

We look forward to seeing our website users become an active part of the community discussion. It is a wonderful addition to our website to be able to turn a largely one-sided communication process into a multiple-party conversation.

Additionally, we have vastly improved the www.elburnherald.com’s search and archiving features. Content can be more easily found with our robust search feature, and past stories can be accessed in any number of ways, from viewing all stories written by a specific staff member to all stories referencing a certain individual or subject matter. Content can be sorted based on what is the most popular, what has the most user comments, among other types of search/sorting features.

Not only is it easier to find the specific content you want to see, but we are able to publish even more of our content online as well.

You will see updates more often and more rapidly, as the navigation improvements occurred on our end as well; those make it much easier, and therefore more timely, for us to publish content online.

Now that we have gone live with the new site, we invite you to visit www.elburnherald.com, navigate around and let us know what you think. Feel free to comment directly on any story you see while you are there.

The overall purpose of the site, and its continued upgrades over the past several years, is to continually try to bring you an improved, easier-to-use product that helps build on your connection with our community.

Now that the foundation of our new site is fully built, we will be able to make changes and add features easily. We invite the public to help us continue to improve and add to the site.

Please provide your feedback to web@ elburnherald.com.

Most importantly, we hope you enjoy the new www.elburnherald.com, because we enjoyed making it for you.

Help make the increasing public interest in politics continue

Based on the ratings from the various candidate debates and televised speeches leading up to the November presidential election, combined with the increased voter turnout on election day, and general raised political awareness of the public; and it is safe to say that the public has become more intuned and informed of national issues than in the recent past.

A more informed and engaged public can only be a positive thing, and we hope the increased attention on public issues remains as a long-term trend.

Locally, the next opportunity for the public to remain informed and engaged will be April 7, when local elections are held.

While it is important for the public to be active and informed when selecting their national leaders and representatives, it is at least as important for the public to be the same when selecting their local public officials. As much impact as national decisions may have on each citizen’s life, the decisions made at the local level have a much more immediate, direct impact on one’s day-to-day life.

Your local elected officials are the ones who decide the location, amount and type of growth that occurs—or if any growth at all occurs. They put in the sidewalks in your neighborhood; they make sure your communities are safe and clean; they try to address the concerns raised by the public.

Because of their influence on your day-to-day life, becoming informed about local issues and candidates and then making a wise decision on election day will have more direct impact on your life than any vote you cast for candidates at the federal level.

Because of this, we hope to see the increasing awareness and involvement leading up to the November federal election continue into April and beyond. No one can deny that times are tough at all levels of society, and the public must take the responsibility for the actions of the people they put into office.

It is not enough for people to merely complain about the government and how officials “don’t get it” or that they are “all corrupt anyway,” and then do nothing more. The public must begin to share some of the responsibility for the ineffectiveness and corruption of the elected officials they send to office.

The fact that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was re-elected in 1996 while under investigation for corruption is just the most obvious, and disheartening, example of the public not taking their responsibility seriously.

If you want real people making real decisions to benefit the public and not themselves, either vote the right people into office or run yourselves.

In April, you get the chance to pick the elected officials who will have the most direct impact on your lives.

We ask that you do your best to find out as much as you can about the candidates and their positions; then choose wisely.

But the public’s responsibility doesn’t stop there. It must continue to remain informed and engaged, and hold those officials accountable. Because if they do not do the job effectively, you get the opportunity to replace them with someone who will.