All posts by Sandy Kaczmarski

Home rule referendum tabled—for now

See our Editorial: Change of course demonstrates effective governing

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board reversed last week’s Committee of the Whole recommendation by voting to postpone placing a home rule referendum on the March 20 primary ballot.

“I’ve received calls, and I have not received one supporting this issue,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “I have mixed emotions. I think it has a lot of positive attributes to it, but I would like to really spend more time as a taxpayer in learning what this means to all of us.”

Elburn resident Gene Taylor told the board that he worries about giving more power to local government.

“We’re being taxed to death,” Taylor said. “What scares me is the tax (powers). Everybody knows that once any governmental body gets the power to tax, tax, tax, it becomes abused. It’s getting to the point where enough is enough.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek, who ended up being the only one this week voting in favor of the referendum, said home rule would allow the board greater powers regarding zoning.

“You have greater zoning powers,” Grabarek said. “And yes, a greater authority on taxes, which scares the heck out of everyone.”

Grabarek added that the ability to have “more self-government within our own municipality gives us autonomy we just don’t have right now.” He said home rule would give the board options that need not be exercised, but would be available.

Anderson said he believed that the current board takes its responsibilities seriously, and no tax increase or fee increase would be done “from a frivolous nature.”

Christopher Tenggren, from ReMax Great American North in St. Charles, said Realtors pay particular attention whenever communities bring up the issue of home rule.

“We (Realtors) pay attention to this all across the state,” Tenggren said. “Home rule is usually passed for the wrong reasons. You said it, one of the biggest concerns that voters should have now is you have a great board right now who understands this power, but once you do it, you don’t go back.”

In Illinois, municipalities with populations under 25,000 may become home rule units by referendum. Communities with a population of 25,000 or greater automatically gain that status. Tenggren said the larger communities already have the infrastructure and staffing in place to be more responsible with the added power.

Trustee Ken Anderson said the issue of police pensions needs to be resolved first, and the home rule idea could be revisited later for the November general election, allowing the board and voters to become more educated on the issue.

Voters will decide whether to allow a new property tax levy to pay for police pensions. Anderson said if this referendum doesn’t pass, the money for the pensions has to come from somewhere.

“We’ve done our best to save dollars,” he said. “Right now our concern is we’re going to be cutting into things this village needs, i.e., streets, potable water, wastewater treatment, police protection.”

He warned that the village would have to look to reducing those basic services if the pension levy referendum fails to pass, because the village is mandated to fund it.

“We definitely have to do something,” he said. “Those four items will suffer.”

Taylor reminded the board that about 135 homes in Elburn are in foreclosure, “and it’s getting worse.”

“I don’t mind paying my fair share,” Taylor said. “If you’re hurting that bad, then you’re going to have to make cuts just like I do. I don’t have, nor do taxpayers have, an unlimited pot. It’s like I tell my kids, the well ran dry.”

Hydraulic repair shop mixes business, pleasure

Photo: Owner David Winkles stands behind the bar of his Bourbon Street-themed “man-cave,” a place where his customers can relax and talk business. Photo by Sand Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Tucked away in a corner of Elburn in one of the industrial areas, there are quite a few businesses that go unnoticed. These large, warehouse-type buildings are on a seldom-traveled street unless you have business there.

It’s the ideal location for a new business that’s been in town since June: Pumps Electric & Hydraulic Repair, located at 107 Paul St.

“I absolutely love it out here,” owner David Winkles said.

The company is a pump and electric rewind shop providing services for a number of municipalities such as Wasco, wastewater treatment plants, excavating companies and also some bigger clients that include work at O’Hare International Airport.

Winkles has been in sales and electric motor repair for more than 30 years. He also serves as a representative of a company in Manteno, Ill., Miller Hydraulics, whose owner helped Winkles with financing to open the business.

Winkles lives in Geneva and had a sales office in Chicago. So, how did he end up all the way out in Elburn?

“I met this woman named Kim,” he said.

Kim Schnizlein is now his fiance and also the chief operating officer and director of operations for the business.

He started getting some new business in the western suburbs, and was making sales calls in Elburn when he remembered there were some nice buildings here. He now leases the corner space from Gerry Snow, owner of G. Snow and Sons (, a sewer and water installation service.

Winkles spends a lot of time on sales calls, but also jumps in when something needs to get done.

“I just got an electric motor in here today, had to show the guys how to take a torch and cut the bearings off the shaft,” he said.

The company employs five people, and Winkles said he just hired a new employee.

His sales office is inside the shop, and since there was a large space above the office area, Winkles said he had a vision.

“I built a Bourbon Street, New Orleans theme over the office,” he said. “We call it the Old Bayou Saloon.”

Inside is a bar area with seating and a flat-screen TV, and a balcony overlooks the spotless repair shop. Winkles said it’s for clients to come by and visit, and he wanted to “make it exciting for people to come over and hang out with us.” He’s already planning a Friday night fish fry and Super Bowl party for his customers.

For more information, go to the website at or call (630) 365-5511.

I’ll be home for Christmas

Photo: Jessie Miles, a member of the 870th MP Company in Afghanistan, is scheduled to return home to Elburn by Christmas. Courtesy Photo

Elburn resident to return home for Christmas after first tour of duty in Afghanistan
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Marshall Miles said when his 22-year-old daughter Jessie comes home to Elburn in a few weeks, just in time for Christmas, there are no special plans.

“We’ll have a ‘Welcome Home Jessie’ party, but she just wants to be home and be with family,” he said.

Miles said his daughter, a 2008 Kaneland graduate, has been deployed in Afghanistan since last December. He’s been flying yellow ribbons for her since she left.

While he’s anxious for her to be home for Christmas, he said she is dealing with the loss of a close member of her combat unit. Sean Walsh, 21, of San Jose, Calif., was killed by a rocket shortly before the squad was to go on their last patrol.

“She’s heartbroken about that,” he said of Walsh’s death. “There are six people in a squad. He was her battle buddy. That’s the person that has your back.”

Miles said Jessie has seen a lot of combat, and has earned an active combat badge. Walsh was killed Nov. 18. The squad was to go on their last patrol Nov. 27.

“It’s a real tragedy; he was the only child and his mom was a single mom,” Miles said. “It’s really heart-wrenching.”

Jessie spent more than a year at Waubonsee Community College following high school graduation, then signed up for the National Guard. She moved to Hollister, Calif., and even worked on security for then-Governor Schwarzenegger. She was activated for duty last year.

He said it takes a while for the soldiers to actually make their way back home, and last he heard she was still in Baghran waiting to go back to Kuwait before heading stateside.

Miles said his daughter wants to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder on the G. I. Bill when she gets back home. He said she wants to learn to fly helicopters.

“She’s really a bright, talented girl,” he said. “She can do any job the Army has.”

When asked if he ever thought his daughter would become a soldier, he replied, “Never.”

“She’s been fearless,” he said. “She’s taken on every weapon. And she loves being on patrol, up on the truck.”

Voters to decide on home rule status with March referendum

ELBURN—Elburn voters will be asked whether to allow the village to become a home rule unit with a referendum on the March 20 primary ballot.

What that means is giving local officials the ability to make some decisions that directly affect the community, shifting the responsibility away from the county and even the state.

Municipalities may become home rule units by referendum. When a community reaches a population of 25,000, they automatically gain home rule status (Elburn’s population is just over 5,500). Illinois’ constitution describes home rule as “the power to regulate for the protection of the public health, safety, morals and welfare; to license; to tax; and to incur debt.”

Village President Dave Anderson said he originally discussed the possibility of the referendum with Village Administrator Erin Willrett.

“I’m not against it, per se, but I think it’s something I’d really like to spend some time on,” Anderson told the Committee of the Whole. “I don’t think we should rush it onto the March ballot. We can put it on (the ballot) in the fall.”

But Trustee Bill Grabarek said home rule would give the village greater control over issues such as apartment inspections requiring certain standards to be met, especially with the prospect of the ShoDeen development of Elburn Station.

“It would give us certain powers that we may sorely miss as we slog through this economy,” Grabarek said. “We would have certain ordinances that could address inspections of the (ShoDeen) apartments. We have nothing right now.”

Grabarek said he’s done some reading on the issue and that he hasn’t seen any “craziness” regarding taxing powers under home rule. However, Anderson expressed concern over the perception of home rule taxing powers.

“It (home rule) can very quickly come off smelling like that’s how the village is going to get more money,” he said.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he was more concerned with issues involving apartment inspections and being able to do some things on properties they can’t do now.

“It’s going to be a long time till we see these lots built out,” he said. “If we get another subdivision started with one-half done, who knows? There’s a lot of things that home rule makes sense for.”

But Anderson questioned the idea of building inspections.

“You’re gonna need bodies (to do the inspections),” Anderson said. “Where’s the money gonna come from?”

Grabarek said adopting home rule is something municipalities do as a self-protective measure.

“We’re kidding ourselves as to what amount of civilization we want,” he said. “All we’re gonna be faced with without home rule, and the powers that it gives us, is a slow decline until we get down to gravel seats and two people in public works, and one person here.

“It gives us options that we don’t have to exercise, but they are there if necessary,” he said.

Trustee Ken Anderson pointed out that more voters are likely to come out in November since it is a presidential election year.

There was a consensus to go forward with getting the referendum on the primary ballot. The committee agreed to a special Village Board meeting on Dec. 27 to formally approve the referendum to meet a Jan. 3, 2012 filing deadline.

It will be the second referendum on the March ballot put out to Elburn voters who will also decide whether to approve a new property tax to pay for police pensions.

More information on home rule can be found in an educational brochure by the Citizens Advocacy Center online at

Voters to decide on new tax to pay for police pensions

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Voters in Elburn will be asked to approve a new property tax levy to pay for pensions for police officers. If approved, the new tax would be a separate line item on property tax bills.

Previously, police pensions were paid out through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), but when the village population went over 5,000 residents (5,502 to be exact) after the 2010 census, an Illinois law went into effect, requiring the pensions be paid under the downstate pension system and forcing the formation of a police commission.

“We have four rates—insurance, IMRF, we have audit and we have corporate,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “The specific rate for IMRF may be used for nothing other than IMRF. It must be used for that purpose.”

Anderson said asking for the tax levy was “a bit of protection for the taxpayers” since the additional tax would be listed as a separate police pension line item on tax bills.

While taxpayers can vote against the levy, it would not eliminate the need for the new tax.

“It’s up to the taxpayers to make the decision, but if they should so decide that this referendum does not pass, it does not eliminate the liability for the village of Elburn,” Anderson said. “Then that money comes out of the corporate fund.”

Anderson said the village has to do this, “there’s no argument about paying it.”

If passed on the March 20, 2012 election, Anderson said the soonest property owners in the village would see the new tax on tax bills would be May 1, 2013.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said she would likely include information on the upcoming referendum in the February water bills sent to residents.

Residents review Elburn Station plans for 23-year project

Jan. 12, 2012 Update: On page 1A of the Dec. 8, 2011, edition of the Elburn Herald, Sho-deen representative David Patzelt’s name was spelled incorrectly.
We apologize for the error.
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
phone (630) 365-6446
fax: (630) 365-2251

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—An overflow crowd showed up at Tuesday night’s Planning Commission meeting, which included a public hearing on a tattoo parlor opening at 109 E. North St.—it passed—and a request for a sign variance for Napa Auto Parts—that was approved, too.

But the real reason the room was so crowded was a public hearing on the latest proposal by Shodeen for the Elburn Station development between Keslinger Road and Route 38.

Following a presentation by Shodeen representatives, the Planning Commission opened the public hearing.

Shodeen representative David Patzelt emphasized that the project is long-term and could take 23 years or longer to complete, depending on the economy.

“We’re certainly not going to build homes if there’s nobody to buy them,” Patzelt said.

The actual development won’t begin until the extension of Anderson Road is complete. The first phase is single-family homes along the unincorporated Still Meadows subdivision south of the tracks to Keslinger Road.

The preliminary plans revealed that some previous concerns were addressed as far as density and open space are concerned. About 35 percent of the development will be open space, and the density is now approximately 2,400 units, down from 3,257. It includes expanded commercial development at Anderson Road and Route 38, and south near Keslinger Road.

The plan includes about seven miles of recreational paths, bike paths and bus transportation throughout the development and the village.

Homeowners from Blackberry Creek and the adjacent Still Meadows subdivision asked questions about traffic patterns and expressed concerns about speeding commuters through what are now quiet streets.

The revised plan addressed stormwater issues and expanded a water retention area. All engineering aspects have been approved by village engineers.

Due to the volume of remaining residents with questions and comments relating to the project, the public hearing will be continued to Wednesday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m.

Elburn board approves tax levy increase

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board voted to approve a tax levy increase of 24.86 percent, which represents a 22.5 percent decrease from the amount requested last year.

Only Trustee Jerry Schmidt voted against the levy.

“I just believe that now is not a good time to raise taxes for the village of Elburn,” Schmidt said. “I believe there are other areas we could cut instead of raising taxes.”

The tax levy is the first step in a complicated process used to calculate how much each property owner owes in real estate taxes. The levy is the total amount of tax revenue a taxing body requests from Kane County.

“It’s a request by the village to the county for tax dollars needed to support the services provided by the village, such as potable water, wastewater treatment, police protection, streets, and insurance, pensions and audit,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

However, the amount actually disbursed from the county (also called the tax extension) is often less than the levy amount.

For example, the village’s tax levy last year was $939,718, but the actual extension made by the county was $659,933, or about 70 percent of the original request. Anderson said receipts to date show the village still has $700 of the money that was actually extended last year.

The amount to be levied for 2011 is $824,000, which Anderson said he doesn’t expect to receive.

“The bottom line … history has shown it’s not gonna happen, and I guarantee it will not happen,” he said. “If it did, the taxpayer owning a $250,000 real value home—their taxes for the village of Elburn would increase $108.”

Once the total tax extension is determined, that dollar amount is divided by the total equalized assessed valuation of all the property in the village. This then sets the tax rate, which is then applied to each individual property’s equalized assessed value to determine the property taxes owed on that property.

The board has cut more than $300,000 in salaries in the last two-and-a-half years and saved $60,000 by restructuring the health insurance program. Another $300,000 was sheared off the bottom line by negotiating with ComEd on the secondary power source for the wastewater treatment plant, something that is required by law.

Despite those cost-saving measures or Anderson’s assertion that the village will not receive its full levy amount, the potential increase in the village’s tax extension combined with a drop in its total equalized assessed valuation means that tax rates—and possibly total property tax dollars owed—may increase.

The Kane County Assessor’s office has numerous presentations available online to help explain the tax levy process at

Apron exhibit at 1840 Farley House

Christmas in Kaneville
The apron display is part of Christmas in Kaneville, also 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., which features a cookie walk at KUMC & KCCC raffle, crafters at the community center and crafts and music at the library. Santa will be at the firebarn and there’ll be customer appreciation at the Old Second Bank and Hill’s Country Store. Horse-drawn wagon rides will be available around town during the event.

by Sandy Kaczmarski
KANEVILLE—Not long ago, aprons were an everyday part of a woman’s apparel as she worked in the kitchen. It’s main purpose was to protect the dress she wore, since she didn’t have too many, and it was easier to wash.

An apron had a variety of uses: as a potholder for hot pans; for wiping off children’s faces; for carrying eggs, vegetables, baby chicks and wood for the stove. It was used as a quick dusting cloth and to be waved in the wind to flag down the men when it was suppertime.

The Kaneville Township Historical Society will exhibit a variety of aprons on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 1840 Farley House on Lovell Street, just across from the fire barn.

“We found several articles in magazines talking about aprons, and it was something to do that’s different,” Lynette Werdin of the Historical Society said of the exhibit.

She said an apron display seemed appropriate for this time of year with the cooking associated with the holidays.

“We decided with cooking and Christmas, we would do an apron display because we knew that some of us had a fancy apron or two lying around from our grandmother,” Werdin said.

She expects to have about 75 or more aprons on display, including “some really old ones and some fancy things you wouldn’t wear for any reason.”

Werdin said she has some aprons that were only worn in the garden.

“That’s where you’d put your tools and seeds, in the pockets of the apron,” she said.

The event is free and there will be small gifts for children. For more information, call (630) 557-2202.

Christmas Stroll to provide good cheer for downtown Elburn

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The folks in Elburn’s business district are busy as little elves getting ready to welcome visitors for the 17th Annual Elburn Christmas Stroll on Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The festivities begin with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be available for photographs at the Town and Country Public Library, and there are many other places to visit around town to get into the holiday spirit.

Holiday song will fill the air thanks to the Kaneland High School Madrigal Singers, who will provide a festive atmosphere to downtown Elburn.

New this year is a Holiday Bazaar at the Elburn & Countryside Community Center, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., for those who want to get in some early Christmas shopping. Many other Elburn Chamber business will have displays there as well, with ongoing activities that include martial arts demonstrations, cookie decorating, a silent auction, Santa train ride and a few more things.

Visit area businesses and drop off an initialed map at the community center or at the library for a chance to win gift cards provided by local businesses.

The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District will demonstrate how fast a Christmas tree can catch fire and will have the safety house on display at the firehouse.

The Great Lakes Leadership Campus will offer tours of the mansion, American Bank & Trust will provide balloon creations for kids, and the Elburn Hill Church will have a display of Christmas trees. Also participating are Amazing Grace Antiques and Reams Market who, like many of the downtown stores, will be open late on Friday and share refreshments with visitors.

And, of course, The Elburn Herald will again transform its offices into a life-sized Kandyland game, patterned after the popular children’s board game, Candyland. The Herald welcomes hundreds of children and parents each year, who arrive ready to play the game and leave with holiday treats.

Free shuttle service will be available continuously to the events throughout Elburn stopping at the Town and Country Public Library, the Elburn and Countryside Community Center and the downtown area, including Jewel.

Elburn mayor elected VP to area government council

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Elburn—Village President Dave Anderson has been elected vice president of the Metro West Council of Government for 2011-12.

“I was surprised I was elected, but was honored by it,” Anderson said.

The Metro West Council ( is made up of elected officials from municipalities in Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties. Anderson shares ideas with St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke, also members of the association.

The group meets to discuss areas of mutual concern such as managing growth issues, economic development, transportation and water conservation.

“I really just sit back and listen and get some ideas,” he said. “I try to absorb as much as I possibly can.”

Anderson said the main topic of discussion right now is the economy and figuring out “how to do more with less.”

As vice president, Anderson will take over as president of the association next year.

Headstones honor World War vets

Photos: Two of the recently installed tombstones on formerly unmarked graves at Blackberry Cemetery. All Photos by Sandy Kaczmarski

Graves of two veterans no longer unmarked after two-year effort
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—“I still have 42 people that I know are buried in the cemetery, but I don’t know where,” Fred Dornback said.

He ought to know. He’s the sexton of Blackberry Township Cemetery at the corner of Keslinger Road and Main Street.

As he put it, “that’s a story by itself.”

But Dornback was successful in locating two soldiers who were previously buried in unmarked graves and got headstones installed just in time for Veteran’s Day. The grave sites of military veterans Oscar E. Lundblad and Frank L. Wilson now are marked with white marble stones.

“They’re beautiful,” Dornback said of the stones that are similar to those at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He purposefully chose a little different marker since most of the military markers are bronzed.

“These stand out beautifully, just like I wanted them to,” Dornback said.

The search took nearly two years to complete.

“We had a (burial) permit for these two gentlemen from way back when, but didn’t know where they were buried at that time,” he said.

Dornback, with the help of local historian Helen Johnson, 83, poured through old issues of The Elburn Herald searching for some clues. They also worked closely with the Kane County Genealogical Society, and they even use a lot of online sources these days, too.

One obstacle was a major fire in 1973 at the National Archives and Records Administration in St. Louis, where all military records were stored. There were no duplicates, no microfilm copies, no indexes. About 80 percent of the information on veterans discharged between November 1912 and January 1960 were simply gone.

Dornback said he at least had the service numbers, which are equivalent to a military dog tag, so he was able to verify their service.

“I found his (Lundblad’s) obituary in the paper,” Johnson said. “I went through The Elburn Herald because we knew the year he died, but there was no family. He came from Sweden.”

Local historian Helen Johnson (right), joins friends at the Kountry Kettle every morning to catch up on news. This morning she chats with Bill Mack of Elburn (left to right), Cindy Clausen of Maple Park, Gene Godfrey of St. Charles, Fred Proctor and Lois Mack, both of Elburn.

With almost 3,000 people buried in the cemetery, Dornback and Johnson have been trying to categorize each grave since taking over in 2007. Dornback suggested they take photographs of each grave so they could continue their research using the computer when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but it also provides a visual record of each grave site.

The cemetery originally was established in 1860, but Johnson said some people were buried there before then. The earliest “born” date is 1772. Johnson said they have three veterans buried there listed as far back as the War of 1812.

Dornback is very pleased that the graves of veterans Lundblad and Wilson are finallly properly marked.

“They’re beautiful markers,” he said again. “I’m sure they’ll get a little more attention next Memorial Day when we have the ceremony at the cemetery.”

Elburn Fire Department taking donations to help area families

Photo: Lt. Sheri Nielsen checks a bag of food that was donated to help the Elburn Food Pantry this holiday season. Fire stations No. 1 and No. 2 are drop-off locations for donations. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Macaroni and cheese, canned and dry soups and personal toiletries such as deodorant and soap are needed for the Elburn Fire Department’s annual collection to help the Elburn Food Pantry.

“It sure seems like we all know people now that are struggling, so it’s an easy thing we can all do,” firefighter Matt Hanson said.

Donated items can be dropped off at either Station No. 1 at 210 E. North St. or at Station No. 2 at 39W950 Hughes Road. Hanson said donations have been coming in at a pretty good pace.

“We generally have a good response from the community,” he said.

In addition to the items listed above, the pantry also needs stuffing mix, canned vegetables and canned pasta meals. To find out other items that may be needed, call the Elburn Food Pantry, located at 525 N. Main St., at (630) 365-6655.

Hanson wanted to remind seniors, or anyone who is unable to get out to drop off a donation, to call the Elburn Fire Department at (630) 365-6855.

“We’ll make the time to get over and pick up their donation,” Hanson said.

Watershed meetings encourage involvement

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Conservation Foundation and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning met with area planners and interested members of the public at Blackberry Township on Tuesday for an informational meeting as part of a watershed planning effort for better water quality in Blackberry Creek.

The meetings are aimed at engaging stakeholders—anyone living in the area of the watershed—to actively engage in efforts to coordinate funding, grant management and education.

Blackberry Creek is a concern after a 2010 environmental study found the creek to be “impaired due to the presence of a bacteria called fecal coliform.” This type of bacteria causes illness in both people and animals. Blackberry Creek is a major tributary for the Fox River surrounded by highly developed areas that impact its integrity.

A watershed is any area of land from which precipitation—in the form of rain or snow—drains into a nearby waterway such as a river, lake or stream and also feeds into the groundwater. How that land is used, whether over-developed or allowed to erode, affects the overall water quality in the area. Water runoff from the landscape flows through yards, roads picking up pollutants. Anything that is picked up— fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, motor oil, road salt, toxic household chemicals and medications that were flushed—all end up in the bodies of water used for swimming, fishing and drinking.

Waubonsee Community College worked to enhance 32.5 acres of wet meadow along Blackberry Creek, which is used as a learning laboratory for public school science classes.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the WCC Sugar Grove campus at Bodie Hall, Room 150. Call Tara Neff at (630) 428-4500, ext. 23.

Stakeholder meetings are open to the public.

Train breakdown stops traffic for 90 minutes

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Elburn residents are used to hearing that train whistle blow and seeing those gates go down as one of the 90 or so trains passing on the Union Pacific line stops traffic. But on Thursday, Nov. 10, the gates were down for nearly 90 minutes, causing long backups and forcing many people to turn around and find another way across the tracks.

Police Chief Steve Smith confirmed that a train engine breakdown caused the delay.

“What are you gonna do? If an engine breaks down, you can’t just move it out of the way,” Smith said.

UP Public Relations representative Mark Davis was unable to access the company’s report, but said a mechanical breakdown was a likely cause of the problem. He said another reason trains get stuck for long periods is when there’s a problem with the air hose, which provides air from the locomotive to all the rail cars of the train. If air empties out of them, as a safety precaution Davis said the brakes apply and aren’t released until the leak is found and the air pump is back up and running.

Smith said this is the second time in the last few months a breakdown caused long delays. He said the last one stopped traffic for nearly six hours.

Union Pacific is not required to notify authorities when there are trains blocking crossings. Three years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that state laws and local ordinances can’t bar trains from stopping at road crossings for extended periods. The justices ruled that such restrictions interfered with federal law, which oversees train regulation.

Residents can get $50 for snow plow damaged mailboxes

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Committee of the Whole on Monday discussed a proposed ordinance that would allow residents whose mailboxes were damaged from a snow plow while streets are being cleared to be eligible for a $50 reimbursement.

Jenna Cook from the Public Works Department drafted the ordinance to clarify that the village is not responsible for poorly maintained or improperly installed mailboxes that are damaged from snow being pushed up against them.

“We’ll repair (damaged mailboxes) if we physically hit them with our snow plow equipment,” Cook said.

The ordinance was drafted following guidelines from the U. S. Postal Service and a similar ordinance in Geneva.

“The majority of the mailboxes that were damaged in past years were not maintained by the residents, with rotted posts or screws that were rotted out,” Cook said.

Public Works employee Bob Edwards admits he’s taken out a few mailboxes from time to time, not unlike the infamous Snowplow Man from the movie “Snow Day.” But Edwards says it’s rare when he’s plowing the streets of Elburn that he gets close enough to the curb to knock one down.

Cook added that a properly installed and maintained mailbox should withstand snow coming off the snow plow. She said if the village replaces a damaged box, residents will get a treated post and a standard metal mailbox. Any other type of mailbox can be replaced by the homeowner, who will be eligible for a $50 reimbursement in lieu of an insurance claim against the village.

Cook said if a mailbox is damaged and a resident reports it, someone from the Public Works Department will come to the home within 72 hours to inspect the damage to verify whether the mailbox was properly installed and if the village is at fault.

“The critical issue here is the mailboxes must be properly installed according to the U.S. Postal Service regulations,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “Chances are if they’re like that, the Postmaster wouldn’t approve delivering to them, either.”

The committee will discuss the ordinance’s language further before sending it to the Village Board for approval.

Science fiction a reality as Fermilab beams into the future

Photo: Fermi scientist Rob Roser at his Elburn home with hunting dogs Pete and Maggie. Roser and his wife Laurie spend their spare time bird hunting with the dogs. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
BATAVIA—The scene: Scientists from around the world wait as the particles are readied to be shot through the Earth at unbelievably high speeds. Their path deep inside the planet is to keep cosmic rays from the universe from impacting the detector.

Destination: The old Homestake gold mine in the hills of South Dakota, where the particles will be smashed into a target a mile into the ground. The reason for this scientific exercise is to try to understand why these particles, called neutrinos, break bad.

Neutrinos don’t follow the Laws of Nature.

While this sounds like the opening of a science fiction movie, it’s all part of what’s on the horizon for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia. Fermilab scientist Rob Roser, of Elburn, calls it “the intensity frontier.”

“Neutrinos are particles that don’t interact at all with matter. So you can literally make them and point them in the right direction and they will just keep going,” Roser said. “Neutrinos don’t follow our expectations with the Standard Model (of particle physics).”

Roser said a good way to try to understand the universe is to acknowledge that scientists don’t understand these particles.

“So let’s build experiments to really try to understand them; why they don’t follow the Laws of Nature that we expect them to follow,” he said.

Roser, 49, has been a staff scientist at Fermi since 1997. He grew up in New England, not far from Hartford, Conn., in what used to be a farming community, but what he says now is a “yuppie” haven.

Roser has been studying collisions of protons and anti-protons with the super-conductor Tevatron. He said the latest incarnation of these experiments were running the last 10 years “pretty much 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.”

“If something occurs one in a billion times, or one in a trillion times, you need an awful lot of trillions of collisions in order to see it,” Roser explained. “So discoveries we’ve made at Fermilab or in particle physics are not ‘eureka’ moments where all of a sudden you have a single collision and you produce your new found object and then you’ve got something. It’s a statistical process.”

Tevatron was shut down on Sept. 30, 2011, and Roser explained that its demise was inevitable.

“These machines always have a finite lifetime,” he said. “You plan them for a certain amount of time, but when the new machine comes along and can do more, the plan is to turn this one off. It was the world-class machine for 20 years.”

That new machine is the Large Hadron Collider ( which started operating in 2008 and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. Roser said it “actually blew up a piece of itself” shortly after it was activated and it took another year and a half to fix. But Roser said it’s a fancier version of the Tevatron, and instead of being four miles in circumference, it’s 18 miles in circumference.

Roser said about a third of Fermilab’s 300 scientists are engaged in the energy frontier and will continue their work at the LHC. Many of the remaining scientists will continue in the U.S. working on the intensity frontier or in particle astro physics, looking for dark energy and dark matter.

Roser also said there are actually five accelerators at Fermilab, all of which were needed to make the Tevatron work. The other four accelerators are still active on other experiments.

These days, that would include a quest to find and understand Higgs boson, which is described in a “Fermilab Today” article as a “key member of the particle zoo known as the Standard Model.”

“The most amazing thing is we’ve been doing this game for a long time and something as simple as mass, from a chemistry point of view, we understand,” Roser said. “But from a particle physicist’s point of view, we don’t understand it at all.”

There are six quarks in the Standard Model and each has a different mass. Roser says scientists don’t know why.

“The whole universe has a Higgs field that permeates it and how strongly each particle couples to that Higgs field is what gives it its mass,” he said. “The question is, is it right? Just because it’s a beautiful theory, doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Roser wanted to make clear that Fermilab has a very bright future ahead of itself. But he said within the next decade, the United States will have to make a decision to invest more in research and development. He points to a book called, “The Science and the Wealth of Nations,” that makes a strong case that if countries don’t invest in fundamental R&D, then the standard of living in those countries will fall.

“That’s where your real discoveries come from,” he said. “You don’t really know what they may be yet, but they will come if you do it.”

About fundamental research, he said, “all of it is important.”

Learn more about the neutrino experiment at and the CERN collider at

Public Works contract goes to Wisconsin company

Photo: The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 didn’t waste any time expressing their opinion on the decision by the Elburn Village Board to award a labor contract to a company located out of state. The huge inflatable rat is used as a visible display of the union’s solidarity against those not supporting local labor. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—In a 4-3 vote, the Elburn Village Board on Monday voted to award a public works contract to a company in Wisconsin after more debate on labor disputes and keeping the work closer to home.

Municipal Well & Pump bid $43,364.88 for repairs on Well No. 3 that include extensive work to repair and possibly replace the pump and motor. Village President Dave Anderson cast the deciding vote in favor of awarding the contract.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said he’d gone over all the material from a previous Committee of the Whole meeting in which questions were raised about labor disputes filed against Municipal, whose representative said all had been resolved. Grabarek recommended that the board award the contract to Municipal, the lowest bidder.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt said the board needs to set a firm starting and completion date.

“If it’s not completed on time, I think we should have a fine in place,” Schmidt said.

Craig Allen, representing Municipal, said liquidated damages are included in the contract at $500 a day for substantial completion and $250 a day for final completion. If the motor is sent out to another vendor, he said his company has no control over that, and his experience is that municipalities don’t hold the contractor responsible for outside vendor delays. Allen said depending on the extent of repairs needed once the well is inspected, the job could be finished in anywhere from three weeks to 10 weeks.

Trustee Jeff Walter said only one of the three companies can say they have factory-trained certifications to do the work, Layne Christensen Co., the highest bidder at $53,879. The company is headquartered in Kansas but has a local office in Aurora.

“We’ve had excellent experience with Layne Christensen,” Walter said. “I ask you guys (that) we think about that.”

Trustee Schmidt expressed his desire to award the bid to Water Well Solutions of Elburn.

“They’re the middle bid—I really feel that we should do business with a local company,” Schmidt said.

Village President Anderson reiterated his comment from two weeks ago that the board is fiscally responsible to the community and the taxpayers.

Trustee Ken Anderson agreed, saying the board is accountable to the residents and obligated to do all it can “with the limited amount of money that we have to make it go further.”

Trustees Anderson, Grabarek and Hastert voted in favor of awarding the contract to Municipal; Trustees Schmidt, Walter and Gualdoni voted no. Village President Anderson broke the tie with an affirmative vote.

Good deed, good food, good company

Photo: Co-owner Dale Pinion, with some of the gift baskets that will be raffled off on Saturday, Nov. 12, at T&D Northside Pub in downtown Elburn. The charity raffle starts at 3 p.m. with free food, and all proceeds will go to Conley Outreach to help area families. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

Northside Pub holds charity raffle Nov. 12
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—More than 17 area businesses have contributed various gift items, such as rib eye steaks, turkeys, restaurant certificates and Chicago Bears items for a raffle this Saturday, Nov. 12, at the T&D Northside Pub in Elburn that will benefit area families this holiday season.

“I want to make it successful for the first year,” said co-owner Tracey Jacobson, who wanted to do something to give back to the community.

Dale Pinion, the “D” in the pub’s name, will cook pulled pork to go with salads and other edibles that will be free during the event, which starts at 3 p.m. and ends whenever everybody goes home.

Tickets will be sold for $1 each or seven for $5 for a 50/50 raffle, and basket tickets range from $1 for the variety gift baskets to $5 each for more expensive gift items, such as a DVD player and a TV.

Tracey and Dale are working with Conley Outreach to help about 65 area families with a total of around 150 kids in need.

Northside Pub is at 117 N. Main St., and cash donations or other items are encouraged. A tent and heater will be out back for anyone wishing to sit outdoors.

Area families break bread together thanks to ‘the bread man’

Photo: Lee Newtson packs up his car with about 300 loaves of bread donated by The Breadsmith of St. Charles every two weeks. He makes more than 20 stops around the area delivering the loaves to families in need. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Every other Monday, Lee Newtson of Sycamore meets his friend Vic DuFour at Papa G’s Restaurant in Elburn. While coffee is usually involved, the purpose for the meetup is to load up Newtson’s car with about 300 loaves of day-old bread for delivery to area families who could use a little help.

For the last several months, Newtson has taken it upon himself to deliver these loaves of bread, making numerous stops from Kaneville to Cortland and back to Sycamore, to help struggling families.

It all started when Vic told him about picking up the bread in the back of The Breadsmith in St. Charles. Owner Guy Greenfield said all the bread is baked fresh daily, so anything not sold is discarded.

“At the end of the day, any remaining stock is made available to help the community,” Greenfield said.

“Vic does four or five runs a week, so I told him let’s try it out,” Newtson said. “We decided every other week. I give three to four loaves of bread to each family.”

Finding those in need wasn’t a problem. Newtson knows a lot of firefighters, and “they know families that need help.” His pastor at Grace Community Fellowship Church in Maple Park knows a few families as well.

“I’ve expanded it as I’ve found out the need for it,” he said.

That includes 17 stops in the trailer park in which he now lives. Newtson tells of a young woman there with three children and a husband working part-time as a bus driver. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Newtson said someone at his church drops off $100 Jewel gift cards in the collection plates. He said he worked it out that the woman with three children gets one and the pastor from his church gives one to another lady with kidney problems.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s something to go on,” Newtson said. “We don’t know who (provides the gift cards), and we’ve never really pursued it. We figure, OK, the Lord’s providing.”

Newtson’s own beginnings relied on the kindness of others. He was orphaned at age 9 months when his parents were killed in a traffic accident. He lived with his grandparents in Big Rock, then the Elburn/Sugar Grove area near Harter Road. His grandmother died while he was in grade school. A stroke took his grandfather when Newtson was just 15.

The Bunce family took him in while he worked various jobs during the day. In the evenings, he helped Chuck Conley run the local ambulance service.

Newtson said Pastor Harper has a little fun when passing out the bread, telling recipients, “the Lord says you can’t survive on bread alone, but here’s a start.” He said he had no idea there would be such a need for something as simple as a loaf of bread.

“I’m sure they can use it, especially if they’ve got kids,” Newtson said. “They meet me at the door and they’re so appreciative. Talk about getting a good feeling.”

Despite having had a five-way bypass, having a pacemaker and stent surgery, Newtson’s attitude remains optimistic, explaining “we’re only on this Earth a short time.”

He’d like to expand the route, but with gasoline costs and being on a fixed income, he’s keeping to his two-week schedule.

“If the Lord wants me to do it, he’ll show me the way,” he said.

Waiting game

Photo: Cassie Stanley and her dog Murphy. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

Elburn woman puts life on hold while waiting for second lung transplant
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Like many college graduates who still live at home, Cassie Stanley is looking forward to the day when she can get out on her own and move out of her parents’ Blackberry Creek home.

“I want to move out of my parents house,” she said. “I’m stable right now, waiting for that call so I can move on with my life.”

What she means by that statement is despite her body rejecting a lung transplant from four years ago, her condition is stable as she waits for a call from doctors for a second lung transplant.

The 26-year old was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis a week after she was born. With two uncles on her father’s side and a cousin on her mother’s side affected by the disease, it was no surprise that her mother, Rhonda May, was a carrier.

Cystic Fibrosis is hereditary. A defective gene causes thick mucus to build up in the lungs, making it one of the most common lung diseases in children and young people. Other areas of the body can be affected as well, particularly the pancreas. It is a life-threatening disease.

Cassie said because it was detected so early, she was fairly healthy growing up, but admits there were a few more doctor visits than the other kids. She would get treatments to loosen the congestion using a nebulizer, allowing a medicated mist to be inhaled deep into the lungs for relief.

Her disease makes it more difficult for her body to absorb calories, so she has to take five enzymes before she eats. That’s why a lot of CF patients have trouble gaining weight. She’s also on a regimen of antibiotics and goes in for chest physical therapy, which involves therapists “beating up on me pretty much” to loosen the mucus buildup.

“I didn’t really show symptoms when I was little, usually coughing a lot,” she said. “I was on the dance team all four years in high school, and that helped me out a lot. It kept me out of the hospital.”

As soon as she graduated, though, she stopped dancing and ended up with more hospital stays or “tune-ups.” She’d spend about two weeks on intravenous antibiotics and get the chest percussion treatments.

Following graduation, her health worsened and she started testing for a possible lung transplant while she attended college at Aurora University.

“My lung function was declining a lot,” Cassie said. “Once they noticed the constant decline which they can’t fix, they work you up for a lung transplant.”

Her health deteriorated in 2007 to the point where she couldn’t breathe, and doctors kept increasing her oxygen levels.

“I remember being in the hospital for two weeks,” she said. “The next ting I knew I was in ICU (intensive care) at Lutheran General.”

A tube was inserted so she could breathe. She was transferred to Loyola University Hospital in Maywood and immediately put on a donor list.

“The next day I got lungs. I was almost dead,” Cassie said.

She graduated college in 2009 with a degree in English and minor in psychology. She had plans to teach, but hasn’t been able to work yet. Her plans include returning to school for a dental hygiene license.

“I want to be healthy enough to go back to school and not have to worry about oxygen,” she said. “Right now, I worry about walking to my car, and getting dressed in the morning is so hard for me.”

And to make matters worse, she suffered a setback a few weeks ago in a car accident. A friend was driving, the car flipped and she was tossed out. She recently had surgery on a broken shoulder, and her fractured pelvis is a lot better.

Doctors aren’t sure why her body is rejecting the lungs. She’s been on a waiting list for a second transplant since 2009.

Like many young women her age, she likes to shop. She looks forward to finding a job and said she’d like to run in a 5K race eventually.

In the meantime, she waits for that phone call from her doctors.

“Hopefully, I’ll get those lungs soon,” she said.

Information on donating to help support those waiting for organ transplants can be found at

Bid dispute delays Well No. 3 repairs

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Committee of the Whole on Monday tabled a recommendation to award a public works contract to the lowest bidder after objections from a labor management organization and questions from the board on the vast difference in the bids.

“There’s too much disparity (in the bid amounts),” Trustee Jeff Walter said. “It sends a red flag.”

The Public Works Department went out for bids for work needed on Well No. 3 that includes pulling the existing pump and motor, bailing the well and testing and chlorination of the well. An alternate bid included replacing the pump or rebuilding the motor, depending on the amount of deterioration workers find.

Rempe-Sharpe & Associates, Inc., the Geneva consulting firm that helped coordinate the bids and will monitor the project, estimated the project would cost $80,660, and $44,580 for the alternate bid. After reviewing the bids, the firm recommended awarding the contract to Municipal Well & Pump, a Wisconsin company it has worked with before, saying it found no reason not to recommend them.

Municipal bid $43,364.88 for the job with $26,600 for the alternate work. Water Well Solutions of Elburn bid $49,809 and $47,339 for the alternate. Layne Christensen Co. of Kansas bid $53,879 with $64,655 for the alternate. Representatives from all three bidders were at the meeting.

But Michael Lingl, a field supervisor for Indiana/Illinois/Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting, did find a reason to disagree with that recommendation. Lingl handed each of the trustees a packet containing letters from recent decisions reportedly made by other area municipalities, showing contracts went to the second lowest bidder instead of to Municipal, which came in as the lowest.

Lingl also referred to letters of complaint that allegedly were filed against Municipal for failure to pay prevailing wages in 2006 and 2008, saying the company is under investigation by the Department of Labor.

“We’re contending there’s a non-responsible bidder among the people (bidding),” Lingl said.

Municipal’s project manager, Craig Allen, responded to the allegations, saying the answers to all of the questions pertaining to any violation issues already were sent to Rempe-Sharpe.

Mayor Dave Anderson said he would much rather work with a local business such as Water Well Solutions, but saving money has to be considered.

“We’re spending taxpayer dollars,” Anderson said. “We are responsible for every penny of taxpayer dollars that come to us.

“I would love to do it here in town, but I can’t advocate that.”

With that, Anderson called for a motion to put the recommendation on the next Village Board consent agenda to award the bid to Municipal as the low bidder. But Walter again questioned the disparity in the figures.

“I’m still not getting my head around some of these figures,” Walter said. “Some of these numbers are way out of line for me.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek agreed, and said with the dispute presented to the board, no one has had a chance to examine the information.

“I sure don’t want to spend taxpayer money until I get my head wrapped around what is an objection on what was the low bid,” he said.

With that, the board voted to put the item on the agenda at the next Village Board meeting on Monday, Nov. 7, for further discussion and a final decision, so work can begin without any further delay.

Village gets $100,000 grant for land use updates

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—After initially being approved to receive a $15,000 grant to update the village’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the Chicago Metroplitan Agency for Planning decided that wasn’t enough, and awarded the village of Elburn a full grant in the amount of $100,000.

“I think it’s marvelous,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The village started talking about updating the plan two years ago. Village Administrator Erin Willrett went to work trying to secure grants to fund any proposed changes and got approval for the smaller amount. Anderson said the board now is in the process of establishing the intergovernmental agreement with CMAP and is talking about planning firms that will help in the process.

Anderson mentioned he’s heard some comments around town from taxpayers letting him know they don’t believe in grants.

“From my seat, these grants are our money, the taxpayers of Elburn,” he said. “(It’s) our money coming back to us. I think this is a tremendous benefit to the village.”

Satisfy your ‘sweet tooth’

Photo: Made from Scratch owner Valerie McGrath prides herself on her pastry creations, which she creates only with fresh ingredients. Photos by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Nearly every week last summer, Village Administrator Erin Willrett was asked the same question: when will the bakery open on Main Street? And nearly every week, the answer was the same: she didn’t know and hadn’t heard anything. That is, until last month when Made from Scratch quietly opened, selling homemade pastries and coffee six days a week.

“We opened inauspiciously,” owner Valerie McGrath, said. “I didn’t want a big splash.”

McGrath said it was “kind of a funny opening” anyway. On the eve of opening, one of her bakers was cleaning the dough roller and pinched his fingers in it.

“We had to go to the emergency room at 10:30 that night,” she said. “I didn’t open the next day, because I was like, what do I do now? It’s down to me.”

She took an extra day and quickly revamped the menu, making it very simple: two or three cupcakes, four cookies and some breakfast pastries.

McGrath moved to Elburn about seven years ago, so when she decided she wanted to open a new shop, she thought she’d cut her commute time. She had lived in Hinsdale, Ill., while co-owning Bar Italia in Geneva with her husband for about five years, and was tired of the long commute every day. When he became ill and died shortly after, she closed down.

“It’s a difficult business to be in without a partner and another set of eyes,” McGrath said.

When considering a location, she pointed out that Geneva and St. Charles are saturated with pastry shops and bakeries. She figured, why not in her own back yard?

“Wouldn’t that be nice just to have a pastry shop in downtown Elburn?” she said. “They (Elburn) need this. There’s nothing around here.”

McGrath attended Cordon Bleu in Chicago and also is certified in pastries. Her experience includes working at some high-end restaurants in Naperville and Oak Brook in the pastry department. It’s something she specializes in, using only natural ingredients like real butter and eggs. Fruit products will be available when they are in season, so they are always fresh.

“I don’t use any food coloring,” McGrath said. “If you want something pink, it’s gonna be flavored with either strawberry or raspberry.”

Her favorite pastry to make is cake, which she said a lot of people have gotten away from.

“I really do love layer cakes—Bavarian creams and Genoise sponge cakes,” she said.

Her plans include doing more of the “savory” things, such as a quiche of the day and pastry tarts. She’d also like to expand to serve a light lunch with soup, quiche or some other type of vegetable and cheese dish, and sandwiches.

“It’s amazing how many people come in for quiche—a lot of men,” she said. “We change the flavors and use lots of eggs.”

A basic quiche lorraine is with bacon and Swiss cheese, but she’ll also vary it with broccoli and cheddar or wild mushrooms, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes.

One item in particular has proven itself to be the most popular.

“I’ve got this one cookie,” she said, with a slight smile. “This thing is called the Chocolate Chubby. They’re 95 percent chocolate.”

She admits it’s a very expensive cookie, but that doesn’t seem to diminish its popularity. She said there’s one guy who works down the street who always buys one for his wife when he comes in for a coffee.

“It’s hysterical. He says she’s addicted to it,” she said.

The corner shop at 2 S. Main St. is bright and cheery, decorated in the black and white checkerboard style of her favorite designer, MacKenzie Childs. The shop is open six days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. She also serves coffee, hot tea, milk, orange juice and bottled water and is looking into getting an expresso machine.

Her goal is to keep the menu changing so customers can always expect something new.

“This is a baby that needs to grow,” she said.

Made From Scratch Pastry Shop
2 S. Main St., Elburn
(corner of Route 47 & North St.)

The shop is open six days a week, Tuesday through Friday:
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The shop is bright and cheery, decorated in the black and white checkerboard style

Regardless of life’s journey, Elburn is always home

Photo: Larry Martin, who turned 90 last month, holds a key to the city given to him by former mayor Jim Willey. With him is wife Beatrice, 86. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—No matter where life took him, Larry Martin always ended up back in Elburn.

Martin celebrated his 90th birthday last month. He was born in Hinckley in 1921 when horses were the mode of transportation and Main Street was nothing more than an unpaved, muddy road. He became an Elburn resident only a few months after entering the world, living in a house on North and Gates streets. It was the first of several addresses he would have around town, and the world.

His father, Claude, was a barber with a shop in the building on Main Street that is now home to The Elburn Herald. He also had a pool hall.

“He (his father) had a woman working with him as a hairdresser,” Martin said. “Later on, we moved across the street to where Dave’s barbershop is now, and lived upstairs.”

His mother was a housewife tasked with raising Martin and his three brothers.

Martin’s wife Beatrice, 86, recalls that each of the area’s small towns were fairly self-sufficient. Elburn had three grocery stores, a clothing store and a hardware store.

“I can remember on Saturday night, the barber shop would be filled with people,” Larry said. “It was probably the only free time they had.”

Larry recalls the elementary school on the northwest corner of South Street. He graduated in 1939 from Elburn High School, built in 1929, which is now the Elburn Community Center. There were 10 people in his class.

After graduating from Northern Illinois University, he studied for a master’s degree in history at the University of Wisconsin and taught history at Greenwood High School in Wisconsin. And that’s when he met Beatrice, who was working as a nurse.

One of her friends was married to a teacher who worked with Larry. They dated for about a year, until Larry got a letter from the superintendent at Elburn High School asking him to come back. Larry and Bea corresponded for a while, but then life took each of them in opposite directions.

“I was the first principal that had graduated from Elburn High School,” Larry said. “But that didn’t work out very well. You had to have a master’s degree in education.”

His degree was in history. So when an opportunity came up for him to teach in France at a school for children of servicemen, he went abroad and stayed for two years. By that time there was an opening at the high school, and Larry came back to Elburn—again.

Meanwhile, Beatrice went to Denver and then to Minneapolis at a clinic. The two had not heard from each other in five years.

Larry had some friends in St. Paul, so a year after returning from France, he visited them. But he hadn’t forgotten about Beatrice, and after a few inquiries, he stopped by the clinic where she worked. They started a long-distance relationship and were married the next summer, in 1958, the same year the old high school closed down and Kaneland opened.

Both were “late bloomers”—being in their 30s, considered rather old for the time—and they had a family right away. Larry was 39 when Bea gave birth to daughter Sarah, now 52. Their son Jay arrived 15 months later.

“Just look, here he’s 90 now and I still have him,” Bea said.

By this time, Larry had yet another Elburn address, this one at 420 N. Main St., where they lived for about three years before building a house at 410 Reader St. They stayed there for 11 years, until Larry heard that a house he’d always admired was for sale on Pierce Street.

So they moved again, to 220 E. Pierce, which was built in 1890.

Larry went back to NIU for a master’s degree in education and helped create Kaneland’s guidance department, where he worked for the next 20 years. He was also the first director of athletics.

“When I was growing up, Elburn had about 550 people, mostly farmers,” Larry said. “On Saturday night, it was a big night, because the farmers all came to town. There was a place out in Kaneville called Long’s Barn, a dance hall. That’s where a lot of people would go.”

Bea said there’s no resemblance now to the old Elburn.

“When the kids were small, we could buy everything in Elburn,” she said. “You could get everything here in town.”

Larry said he’s seen Elburn grow to about 1,200 people, and then the north and south parts of town were developed. The 2010 census shows the population over 5,000.

“Main Street was gravel until I was about 10 or 12 years old,” he said.

Larry never fully recovered from a fall a few years ago, and uses a walker to get around yet another Elburn address, this time on west South Street. The bookcases contain numerous awards he’s received over the years. He was village treasurer under two mayors and was on the library board for 13 years. He also received a key to the city from former mayor Jim Willey.

Larry remembers playing pick up games as a kid, growing up on the streets of Elburn. It’s a place he’s called home, again and again.

New bike trails, picnic shelter at Elburn Forest Preserve

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Elburn Forest Preserve has been expanded to include 168 acres and has seen some new improvements that are receiving kudos from users.

“While the eastern part of the preserve isn’t officially open to the public, we’ve had quite a bit of positive feeback from preserve users and neighbors who’ve seen the improvements,” said Laurie Metanchuk, director of community affairs and environmental education.

Some of the improvements include:
• more than a mile of paved trail,
bringing the trail total to 2.21 miles
• a new picnic shelter
• new restrooms
• bike rack
• informational kiosk
• interpretive signage
• access to adjacent residential streets
off Shannon and North

Metanchuk said there will be an official grand opening celebration next year, possibly in May.

Elburn Forest Preserve is known as the “squirrel preserve,” being home to Fox, Gray and Flying squirrels. The Fox Valley Wildlife Center ( is located there, providing care for orphaned and injured wildlife. The FVWC is not for profit and is the only licensed wildlife rehab center in the county.

The preserve is one of the oldest in the county, and according to the Kane FPD website, the old stone shelter was built from salvage taken from a Depression-era Elburn church.

An historical marker at the entrance indicates the location of the Oregon Trail. Visitors will find Trillium, Buttercups and Violets, and White, Black and Bur Oaks. Also found in the preserve is the county’s oldest Shagbark Hickory tree.

You can find more information at the Kane County Forest Preserve website at

Village says goodbye, wishes Nevenhoven safe trip to Afghanistan

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday took a moment to recognize Superintendent of Public Works John Nevenhoven, who attended his last board meeting before leaving for active duty in Afghanistan.

Village President Dave Anderson read an open letter addressed to Nevenhoven which began, “Dear John,” causing the room to erupt with laughter as Nevenhoven himself quipped, “I’ve gotten those all my life.”

But the mood soon turned somber, as an emotional Anderson, on behalf of the entire board, wished him a safe journey as he begins a new tour of duty as Navy Lt. Nevenhoven, “an esteemed member of the United States Navy.”

The letter expressed the board’s appreciation to Nevenhoven’s sacrifice and also that of his family on his second trip to the Middle East.

“Please know that while your efforts will undoubtedly help those in Afghanistan, the impact of your valiant service will also be felt right here at home,” Anderson read, “as your work will ensure that we in the great United States of America, retain the freedoms we so often take for granted each day, and at the same time hold so dear to our hearts.”

Anderson commended Nevenhoven’s talent, drive and motivation as the village’s public works superintendent. He finished with a quote from Mark Twain: “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away, from the safe harbor and catch the trade winds in your sails.”

“I wish you Godspeed for a safe trip, and a most successful endeavor,” he concluded.

Anderson promised to offer any assistance to Nevenhoven and also to his family during his absence.

Nevenhoven expects to be away for about 13 months and will be reporting for duty on Oct. 21.

Beer boot, pumpkin races new for annual Aleburn

by Sandy Kaczmarski

ELBURN—The third annual Aleburn beer and wine event on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 1 to 6 p.m. will offer some new events this year for all ages. Sponsored by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce and Elburn American Legion and held in the Legion’s parking lot, Chamber President Leslie Flint said visitors will find this year’s event “pretty awesome.”

Flint, who is also the Elburn Herald Design Director, said that this year, Beer Boots will be available as a keepsake—$7 for the boot or $10 for boot and beer. A complimentary passport sticker will be available to place on the mug to be added each year.

Flint emphasized that Aleburn is for the entire family, with live entertainment, touch-a-truck and more.

“We like to think of this as a whole family event, not just a beer garden,“ she said.

German beer and wine will be available, and food includes German meats and a German platter with sauerkraut by Ream’s Meat Market, pizza and soft pretzels by Paisano’s Pizza, and a dessert table sponsored by the chamber. Pre-registration is suggested for the bags tournament and the pumpkin car contest. Cost for the bags tournament is $30 for a two-person team,

and there is no age limit. Check- in is at 2 p.m. The pumpkin car contest—build and decorate a pumpkin car for racing—is free; rules are on the registration form. Forms available online at Rain date is Sunday, Oct. 9, same times.

Elburn liquor sales may begin earlier

by Sandy Kaczmarski

ELBURN—A request by Jewel/Osco to begin selling liquor earlier in the day was approved by the Elburn Committee of the Whole and is head- ed to the Village Board next week for approval.

Surrounding areas begin selling alcohol earli- er than the Elburn Jewel’s 10 a.m. daily starting time. Patrons at Jewel stores in Aurora, DeKalb, Elgin and Sycamore can buy alcohol beginning as early as 6 a.m. during the week. Sunday liquor sales vary from 8 a.m. in Sugar Grove to 11 a.m. in DeKalb.

“I’m curious to see the demographics on how many sales really happen between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.,” Trustee Ken Anderson said. “I can’t see a lot of people going to the Jewel at 6 a.m. in Elburn.”

Trustee Ethan Hastert said for health and safe-

ty issues, how late alcohol sales continue is more important. The request by Jewel was to open ear- lier to be able to compete with area stores.

“Whatever we choose, I’d like to see it the same for every day of the week for consistency,” he said.

Village President Dave Anderson suggested an 8 a.m. start time to match Sugar Grove’s dai- ly opening hours for alcohol sales.

The revised ordinance will be put on next week’s Village Board agenda and will be open for more discussion by the full board. Trustees Jerry Schmidt and Jeff Walter were not present at the meeting. Any changes to the ordinance would apply to all package liquor sales including at Jewel and area liquor stores.

‘Ink’-ling of change

by Sandy Kaczmarski

ELBURN—The Elburn Committee of the Whole agreed to send a request for a downtown tattoo parlor to the Village Board for approval.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said the petitioners were about to challenge the village’s present ordinance for tattoo parlors, which required a licensed physician only to perform body piercing. The ordinance was reviewed by Village Attorney Bob Britz, who revised it to reflect Illinois Department of Public Health Code and included references to all the new defini- tions and any new practices.

The business owner is a former police officer operating a parlor in St. Charles, whose only clients are police and fire department employees. The proposed establishment in Elburn would cater exclusively to veterans and municipal workers, Willrett said.

Trustee Bill Grabarek said he was surprised this type of business fell under B-1 Special Use permits, and expressed some concern about the village’s image.

“There can be two thoughts about this, hav- ing kind of like a Dodge City or Deadwood type of village,” Grabarek said, to which Trustee Ken Anderson said, “You thinking of Sturgis, or what?”

Anderson was referring to Sturgis, S.D., which attracts thousands of motorcyclists each year and is known for its bawdy image of bik- ers, bars and tattoo parlors.

Village President Dave Anderson said he was concerned about health issues and sanitation. “These are needles, they are being subcutaneously inserted, and I am very deeply con- cerned about the health aspect,” he said.

But he added that if IDPH rules and guide- lines are applied, “I guess that’s all we can do.” Those guidelines include a requirement that a physician must be on-call in case of a med- ical emergency.

The conversation then turned to whether or not a license was required by the state for tattoo artists.

“They require a license to cut hair, to do nails,” Ken Anderson said. “So do you have to go to school to get whatever license to be able to do this?”

The state of Illinois does require a license for tattoo artists and body piercers, which is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Testing is available twice a year and does not involve competency. Rather, it focuses on state health and safety requirements, which include knowledge of sanitation, safety and hygiene, as well as familiarity with the state’s tattoo laws.

Grabarek was the only no vote. Trustees Jerry Schmidt and Jeff Walter were not present at the Committee of the Whole meeting.

Grabarek said his only concern was having this type of establishment in the central busi- ness district and felt it would be more appropri- ate on North Street across from Knuckleheads, which is considered a biker bar.

“I’m not against tattoo parlors, but if somebody wants to come in and put an art gallery, or an upscale restaurant, are they going to want to move next to a tattoo parlor?” he asked.

He said his adult daughters have tattoos and that he doesn’t mind having a tattoo parlor in the community.

“I just don’t want to have them as the land- mark of the town,” he said.

Last downtown lot still on the market

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Advertised as the “last buildable lot on Main Street in Elburn,” the parking lot at Shannon and Main is getting a few nibbles, but so far, no buyers.

“I’ve had two or three calls and there’s one party in particular that seems to be interested,” said Marvin Vestuto, owner of Vestuto Real Estate Corporation, the property’s broker. “It’s a nice corner, a very attractive corner, one of the last ones I know of in the area.”

The vacant lot, which has been owned by Community Congregational Church for about 10 years, mostly has been used by employees in the area and some shoppers. Listed for $249,900, the property has been on the market since July.

Church moderator Sharon Lackey said it was put up for sale because it was time-consuming to maintain, especially in winter with snow removal.

“It took a lot of time and effort into clearing it off appropriately for public safety,” she said. “We just decided that we would rather spend our time on mission work for the community.”

Vestuto, who lives in unincorporated St. Charles and is a 30-year member of St. Gall Catholic Church, which is located kitty-corner from the lot, said he’d like to see the city make an offer.

“My personal feeling is it would be an ideal piece of property for the city,” he said. “If somebody else bought this thing, then the parking goes away, and then where are you going to park?”

But Village President Dave Anderson said he hates to see an empty lot right on Main Street, and would prefer to see another business to expand the downtown district. He mentioned the success of Geneva’s Third Street, which has a thriving business district.

“You can’t find a parking place; they’re busy,” Anderson said. “That’s what we want.”

Anderson said there is parking in the area to accommodate the Main Street businesses.

“We’ve got both sides going north and south on Main Street,” he said. “We’ve got tons of parking. You’ve got to walk a little bit.”

The Village Board is not all in agreement. Trustee Jeff Walter said the village should look into parking possibilities downtown.

“We really need to look at all that parking, which is private property,” Walter said. “It could very easily become private and then you’re not going to be able to park on it.”

While the matter has been discussed informally, the Village Board has yet to take any action to address downtown parking.

The lot is listed as nearly 17,700 square feet and zoned B-1 for commercial use. The village’s building code describes the B-1 zoning to include “the most desirable use of land” to protect and strengthen the economic base of the village.

While Lackey is hopeful the property will sell, she’s being cautiously optimistic.

“We’re kind of waiting for an actual offer,” she said. “We’re not getting too excited about anything when people just ask about it.”

Blackberry Creek to get crosswalks, signage to slow down motorists

Photo: Crosswalk striping is planned at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Blackberry Creek Drive in Elburn, to slow down motorists entering from busy Hughes Road. Photo by Sandy Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Motorists traveling through Blackberry Creek in Elburn will need to pay more attention when passing through the subdivision as the village takes some cautionary measures to alert drivers of pedestrian and bike traffic.

The Village Board approved a request to add “Children Playing” signs in both directions on Liberty Drive at Stoffa Avenue where the bike path exits leading to a playground. Crosswalk stripings also will be added at the intersection, as well as on Blackberry Creek Drive just south of Independence Avenue.

“These are pedestrian crossings,” Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said. “We got a request from a resident who was concerned traffic may be traveling too fast.”

The new stripings on Blackberry and Independence are just north of the heavily used entrance off Hughes Road.

Nevenhoven said with a bike path exiting right at the intersection of Liberty and Stoffa, the signage and striping provides motorists with a “heads up” to pay more attention to kids in the area.