All posts by Susan ONeill

Christian singer to share message with UMC

Singer Virginia Hill takes the pulpit for Sunday services
by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove United Methodist Church will celebrate the first-of-the-season summer outdoor service with a musical “sermon” from pop-rock singer Virginia Hill.

Hill, whose sons Kenny and Kyle are members of the Sugar Grove Boy Scout Troop, attended Boy Scout Sunday with husband Ken earlier this year. She asked the Rev. Steve Good if there was any way she could share her musical gifts with the church.

Good quickly took her up on her offer, and is giving up the pulpit on Sunday, June 7, for Hill to share her message with worshippers at both services. The 8 a.m. service will take place at the church’s future site on Harter Road, under the new open-air pavilion built earlier this year. The 10:30 a.m. service will take place at the church’s current building on Main Street in Sugar Grove.

Hill, who performs frequently at Daniel’s Den in Plano, has two CDs to her credit. Two songs from her debut album, “LOL”, released in spring 2007, “I Want To Be Like You” and “I Believe,” made it to the indie Top Ten CRW Global AC charts. “I Am Here,” from her recent release, “Truth & Love,” debuted at No. 3 on the CRW Global Inspo chart.

According to Hill’s website, her “musical appeal lies in her boldly personal songs, delivered with a heartfelt fervency that reaches across the generation gap at every turn.”

“I’m an adapter,” she said with a laugh. “I’m comfortable in any setting, and can minister to any group.”

On tour, Hill plays at smaller events geared to women, youth, families, schools, or larger venues like the Muskegon 2007 Christian Unity Festival in Michigan, where she performed before 10,000 fans.

Good said he and the congregation are excited about Hill’s part in the worship services on Sunday. He said that she will not only sing, but will also share her life experiences and connect with the people in attendance.

“It will be something special,” he said.

Sugar Grove United
Methodist Church
Worship services featuring
Christian pop-rock singer
Virginia Hill
Sunday, June 7,

8 a.m. at future church site
at Harter Road west of Route 47
10:30 a.m. at 176 S. Main Street,
Sugar Grove

Grateful crowds welcome home soldiers

Unit completes tour of duty in Afghanistan
by Susan O’Neill
Dekalb County—Monday morning rain did not dampen the spirits of the crowds waiting to welcome home local soldiers returning from their tour in Afghanistan.

Groups of well-wishers and grateful citizens lined Main Street in Sycamore holding placards with the words “Welcome Home” and “Thank You” waved flags of all sizes and cheered as about 50 members of the Illinois Army National Guard Alpha Battery of the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Unit, arrived on buses and walked down the street.

Two Vietnam veterans, Stephen Ludwig from DeKalb, who served in the U.S. Navy during the war from 1970 to 1971, and Don Brown from Genoa, who served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970, held a large flag as they waited for the troops to arrive.

There was no welcome home for them when they came back from Vietnam more than 40 years ago, but they expressed no bitterness. The two men came out to welcome home fellow soldiers who had served their country as they had.

“We never want what happened to us to happen to another soldier again,” Brown said.
Kathy Stelford of Sycamore was literally draped in the flag, a shawl decorated with names of the people who died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I don’t support war,” she said as she touched her peace symbol necklace. “I’m of the ’60s generation. But I so appreciate the people that serve in the armed forces to protect our freedom. I’d love to see them all come home.”

Dorothy Hitzeroth and Patty Hamer of Sycamore had waited in the sometimes heavy rain for an hour or more to show their appreciation to the soldiers.

“We gave everybody a hug and a thank you,” Hitzeroth said. “They loved it.”

The soldiers deployed to Afghanistan June 15, 2008, to train and mentor the Afghan National Police. At the armory, a brief ceremony that was closed to the public took place after which the soldiers were reunited with their families.

Photo: Members of the Illinois Army National Guard Sycamore Armory received a warm welcome home on Monday. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Once not good enough

Aurora man arrested when he came back for more
by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—An Aurora man who got away with more than $300 worth of liquor from the Sugar Grove Jewel was arrested when he returned the following day for more.

Jewel employees saw Carlitos C. Figueroa, 50, of the 800 block of May Street, Aurora taking the liquor from the store at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19. The employees recognized Figueroa when he returned to the store on Wednesday, May 20, to take more liquor valued at $147.

The employees called 911 and a Sugar Grove police officer arrived before Figueroa reached his car. He attempted to run away and resisted arrest when the officer caught up with him, resulting in a physical altercation with the officer.

Figueroa was charged with felony retail theft and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. He was transported to the Kane County jail, where his bail was set at $50,000.

This is the third incident at the Sugar Grove Jewel on Route 47 and Galena Boulevard in which individuals were caught stealing liquor, resulting in felony charges. Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said he has had discussions with Jewel management about how they might minimize the possibility for future theft of liquor.

“They’re aware of the problem and will be trying to work with corporate (headquarters of Jewel) to change the layout of the liquor department or to increase security in the store,” Sizer said.

Sugar Grove village notes

by Susan O’Neill

New striping for police cars
The Village Board at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting discussed new striping for the police vehicles. The cost for the change in the graphic design is $75 per vehicle more than the current design because more reflective material is needed. The total cost for the new design would be $595 per vehicle. The Village Board will vote on the change at a future board meeting.

Division Drive extension
With the Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extension project nearing completion, the Village Board at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting discussed the extension of Division Drive to meet Galena Boulevard.

Village officials consider the connection an important link in preparing for future commercial growth, because it would allow additional access to future commercial properties along Galena Boulevard and Park Avenue.

The Prairie Grove Commons developer will pay for construction costs for the extension, according to the annexation agreement with the village. The total cost for the project is estimated at $193,929. Village staff recommended that bond money for the Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard project be used for the construction, with the developer reimbursing the village when development begins.

New Sugar Grove Library will have new schedule

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—When the new Sugar Grove Library opens later this summer, library patrons will have fewer hours to utilize the new building, but Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes said the new schedule should address several issues identified in the library’s recent community survey.

Hughes said the schedule offers a consistency of hours, 12 evening hours, and recognizes user patterns and patron preferences for future visits.

Library District residents approved a referendum in 2004 to issue bonds for a new building, but have since rejected nine referendums to increase operating funds with which to run the new building.

When the operating expenses referendum did not pass again in November 2006, library hours were cut from 58 to 47 hours per week. The library is currently closed Monday mornings, Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons. The proposed schedule is a further reduction to the library’s hours, down to 44 from the current 47.

Prior to the April 7 referendum, Hughes said that if it did not pass, the same dollars available to operate the current 6,000-square-foot building would not be sufficient to operate the new 27,430-square-foot building.

Without the additional funds to hire more staff, Hughes said further cuts in the hours would be necessary when the new building opened in August. For example, the new library will have three separate service desks to staff, compared to the one desk in the current library.

Hughes said the survey indicated that Sunday was not a high priority for patrons, as well as a preference for additional early morning hours and a preference for more consistency in hours.

The early morning hours will enable the library to offer children’s programs at a time convenient for the parents, as well as to work in conjunction with the hours for the new cafe within the library. The Book Nook cafe will be operated by Catering Gourmets and offer beverages, snacks and sandwiches.

The current library will close on July 13 to prepare for the move. The new library will open Aug. 8.

New library hours
Closed Sunday and Monday
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday and Saturday

KHS mourns loss of senior

by Susan O’Neill
Kaneland High School senior Andie Christoffel was to graduate on Sunday, his whole life ahead of him. Instead, the 18-year-old passed away on Monday afternoon in a hospital in Rockford, the result of injuries caused when a train hit him on Saturday night.

An employee of the Union Pacific Railroad called 911 at about 10:45 p.m. on Saturday to report the sighting of a figure on the tracks west of Somonauk Road in Cortland. When the Cortland police arrived at the scene, they found Christoffel, who was badly injured.

He was taken to Kishwaukee Hospital by the DeKalb City Fire Department, and then airlifted to a Rockford hospital, where he died on Monday.

Cortland police are working with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and Union Pacific Railroad police to investigate the incident.

“It’s a very, very unfortunate tragic incident,” Cortland Police Chief Russ Stokes said.

Kaneland School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick said a representative of the family informed the school of Christoffel’s condition on Sunday morning. A school official spoke to a member of his family on Monday.

Although the graduating seniors are officially finished with school, the school administration has invited them back to talk with other students, teachers and counselors as they feel the need. McCormick said that Christoffel also had a good mix of friends in the upper classes, as well as in his own class.

A staff person from Conley Outreach has been available at the school.

“We are most pleased to have a resource like that in the community,” McCormick said. “I’m saddened we use it as often as we do.”

In another Kaneland tragedy, high school seniors Blake Denton and Jeff Malewig, both from Sugar Grove, died in a car crash in December 2008 while on their way to the high school.

Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarland remembered Christoffel on Wednesday.

“Andie was artistic, creative, compassionate and smart,” she said.

After the Northern Illinois University tragedy last year, McFarland said Christoffel was one of the students who spearheaded putting together a memorial poster for the students.

“He was incredibly compassionate and had an amazing gentle spirit,” McFarland said. “His incredible sense of humor and style will be missed.”

Andie attended the Fox Valley Career Center, where he took graphic arts and high-level computer classes.

Nikki Larsen, the Graphics Communications teacher, was one of his teachers at the career center.

She has been working with the students this week to create a T-shirt and a memorial poster for him.

“She has been a haven for a lot of his friends,” McFarland said.

Ice cream man sentenced for child sexual exploitation

by Susan O’Neill
A former ordained Presbyterian minister and substitute high school teacher has been sentenced to a jail term and ordered to undergo specialized sex offender probation for displaying his genitals in the presence of a small child in 2007.

Douglas R. Jones, 48, of the 100 block of Middle Avenue, Aurora, was driving an ice cream truck for an Aurora-based company in the Walnut Woods Subdivision in Sugar Grove in July 2007 when a resident, the father of a 3-year-old boy, said he saw Jones expose himself. The father said his son was walking toward the ice cream truck parked at the end of his driveway.

Jones was arrested minutes later near a swimming pool in the Prestbury Subdivision.

Jones was sentenced last week by Kane County Circuit Judge Robert B. Spence to 30 months of sex offender probation and a term of 15 days in the Kane County Jail for his conviction of sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony. Jones will serve his jail term over a number of weekends.

Jones was convicted on Jan. 13 by a Kane County jury.

He had no prior record and had been a substitute teacher in the East Aurora School District.

Under the terms of his probation, Jones is required to participate in individual and group counseling and is prohibited from being in possession of pornography or accessing Internet sites containing pornography and being in or near adult bookstores.

He is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with any children, as well as from living, working or loitering near a school, park, playground, library or any other place primarily used by children under age 18. He must maintain a daily activity log of his whereabouts at all times.

Jones must register as a convicted sex offender for the next 10 years, and the state will seek to have Jones’ teaching certification revoked.

According to a press release from the State’s Attorney’s Office, Judge Spence stated he was troubled that the offense was against a stranger and a very young child. He said he believed Jones was a moderate risk to re-offend and that the jail term was necessary to remind Jones that he must “fully participate and cooperate” with the terms of the probation.

“He can’t have contact with kids anymore,” Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said. “That was what we wanted.”

Assistant State’s Attorneys Danielle Bechtold and Pam Monaco prosecuted the case.

Werdins share World War II memories of Kaneville

by Susan O’Neill
On Sunday afternoon, Dec. 7, 1941, Kaneville resident Lynette Werdin was helping with lunch dishes and listening to music on the radio.

“The music stopped and said that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor,” she said. “Where’s Pearl Harbor, we wondered.”

Werdin and her husband Dave told the audience gathered for the Memorial Day services at the Community Center on Monday what it was like to live in Kaneville during World War II.

“It was all really scary,” she said. “We had been feeling secure with the Atlantic Ocean between us and the war. We didn’t feel threatened until Dec. 7.”

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor took place in 1941, Hawaii was not yet a state. For all four years of the war, Werdin said she was a teenager in high school. She was about to get a geography lesson every day as a result of the war.

Werdin’s grandmother lived with them, and she would listen to news of the war on the radio every night. In the morning, she would show the rest of the family all the places on the map where the war had taken place the night before.

There were places Werdin had never heard of before, such as the Solomon Islands, the Coral Sea and Midway, Okinawa and New Guinea. Werdin still has the maps, with all the arrows and other markings on them.

“There was such rotten news every day,” Werdin said.

She recalled when rationing began in Kaneville, with items such as dairy products and cheese, meat, coffee, sugar and chocolate. She said her mother used to save little bits of sugar to make birthday cakes for her and her siblings. They were only allowed one pair of leather shoes a year.

Gasoline and tires were the worst things, she said. There were ration cards and stamps. They were limited to just a few gallons a week. As a teenager, she was disappointed when they didn’t have enough gas to get to Sandwich to go roller skating.

With four years during which no tires were made, she said they would often see people on the side of the road fixing flat tires.

Women came out of the kitchens, put on their hard hats and went to work in the war plants. At 16 years old, Lynette went to work on Saturdays and Sundays at Burgess-Norton Manufacturing Company in Geneva. She made 35 cents an hour, $3 for an eight-hour day.

Kaneville residents who were not working would go to Troxel every day and watch for airplanes. They were the air patrol, and protected Chicago from air strikes.

Werdin said that for all four years, no one knew if the United States would win the war. The rumor was that if Japan and Germany won, they would split the U.S. down the middle at the Mississippi River. Japan would take one side and Germany the other.

“We were so relieved when we got word that the war was over,” she said.

Dave Werdin’s job started with the end of the war. Dave spent a year in Japan after the war, helping to rebuild the cities that had been destroyed there.

“Everyone was so sick of killing and destroying,” he said. “World War I taught us a lesson. It bred hatred and this gave us Hitler. The troops weren’t done when the war was over. There was a peace to win.”

PHOTO: A World War II cannon with replica shells was decorated with flowers for the Memorial Service at the Kanevile Cementery on Monday in honor of the day’s events. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Park District wants feedback on 10-year plan

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove Township Park District residents will have a chance to comment on the Park District’s 10-year master plan before it is approved at the next District Board meeting on Monday, June 8.

The plan includes evaluations and suggestions for improvements of each park and its existing structures and suggestions for standards for future parks. Improvements to current programs and recommendations for future programming are also included.

Last year, the Park District Board hired an outside firm, Leisure Vision, to find out what residents wanted from their Park District and what recreational opportunities were important to them.

Responses from a survey sent to district residents, input from community members and staff in a number of focus groups, as well as an independent evaluation of the condition of the parks was used to create the plan.

Residents said that biking and walking trails were the most important to them, with an indoor fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, golf course and driving range and playgrounds also among the most-desired recreation facilities. Adult fitness and youth sports programs, swimming and golf lessons, and leagues and special events, were the programs chosen most important.

Park District Director Greg Repede said that early childhood programming is also a growth area for the district. While there is no funding currently to build a recreational facility there is no need for one at this point, he said. Sugar Grove Park District residents enjoy resident-level fees at Fox Valley Park District facilities such as the Vaughan Center.

“The consultants said that based on the resources, we’re doing extremely well with what we have,” Repede said.

Repede said the next step would be for the board to go through the plan to prioritize what can be done. He emphasized that residents should not consider the plan a springboard for a referendum.

“We’re not proposing anything except to approve the plan,” Repede said. “It’s a blueprint for the future.”

A copy of the plan is available for public vieweing at the Park District office on Main Street.

Long-time SG resident, naturalist will serve on Park District Board

by Susan O’Neill
Former St. Charles Park District naturalist and Kane County Plan Commission Chairman Mary Ochsenschlager will join the Sugar Grove Park District Board in June. Ochsenschlager, who has lived in Sugar Grove for 34 years, said she looks forward to being able to contribute in her own community.

Ochsenschlager, who retired two years ago, said she joined the Kane County Plan Commission in 1980 because she came to realize how important land use decisions were to the environment, and how important the people who make those decisions are.

“It gave me a chance to learn and perhaps to have some sort of an impact, to help both land protection and development be more compatible,” she said.

Although her work on the Plan Commission came to an end in 2007, Ochsenschlager continued her stewardship of the land through serving on the Kane-DuPage Soil and Water Conservation District Board, an entity involved in erosion control and helping to set policy for the district.

She teaches classes for Master Naturalist certification in a program co-sponsored by the St. Charles and Geneva Park districts, the Kane County Forest Preserve and the Fox Valley Park District.

Closer to home, she became a volunteer steward for Bliss Woods Forest Preserve, heading up monthly work days to clear out invasive plants and brush.

“I’m interested in open space issues, parks and recreation,” she said. “I am interested in environmental issues, but I don’t have a specific agenda. I’d like to see where I can contribute.”

Sugar Grove Park District Director Greg Repede said he and the other board members were impressed with Ochsenschlager’s sincerity and her expertise. They interviewed her and one other candidate before appointing Ochsenschlager.

“I’m also impressed with her knowledge of Park District operations, her contacts in the community and the extensive work she’s done in the county,” he said.

Ochelschlager will be sworn in at the Park District Board’s June 8 meeting.

Food pantry will open in Sugar Grove

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove residents were so generous with donations when their neighbor Melisa Taylor asked them to “Fill up Their Doorstep” last December that she decided to take it one step further. With so many people finding it hard to make ends meet in today’s economy, Taylor decided to start up a food pantry in Sugar Grove.

“There’s no reason in today’s society that people should go to bed hungry,” she said.

Taylor and a crew of children and other parents collected hundreds of pounds of food, warm clothing and pet supplies before the Christmas holidays to contribute to the community Holiday Spirit program. She said the number of people who donated inspired them to continue.

Once again, people have stepped forward to help. The first contribution came from an unlikely source—the old Kane County jail. Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez donated about 1,000 feet of shelving that might have otherwise been destroyed when the old building is torn down.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. donated space in a back corner of its building to house the operation. Volunteers, including Sugar Grove resident Jim Eckert, are currently cleaning out the space, painting the floors and the walls and working out the logistics.

Taylor has also made an initial contact with the churches in the area, where she hopes to find people willing to volunteer their time once the pantry opens.

According to Kaneland Food Pantry President Rita Burnham, there is a great need in this area. Burnham said two years ago, the Kaneland Food Pantry, located in Elburn, serviced 10 to 12 families a week. That number is currently up to an average of 40 families per week.

Taylor said the need is so great everywhere that she does not see the Sugar Grove Food Pantry in competition with the Kaneland location or others in the area.

Visitors to the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market, which begins Saturday, June 6, are encouraged to bring non-perishable donations for the new food pantry. Taylor said she hopes to have the pantry up-and-running a few months from now.

County to facilitate solution to village flooding

by Susan O’Neill
A meeting about the flooding in Mallard Point scheduled for the beginning of June cannot come soon enough for resident Mike Schoenberger. Schoenberger described himself as the “latest casualty in Mallard Point” during a Village Board meeting on Tuesday.

Schoenberger, who lives on Brook-haven in the subdivision, told board members that in the past week and a half, he has been pumping 150,000 gallons of water a day in a futile attempt to keep his finished basement dry.

During previous meetings with the village, Mallard Point residents have complained of standing water, flooded basements and excessive electric bills to continually run two and sometimes three sump pumps.

During the construction of Mallard Point Subdivision in the early 1990s, the developer improved an existing wetland for use as a storm water management facility. A developer bankruptcy, the lack of a homeowners association and other problems continued to plague the subdivision.

The recent heavy rains have brought the situation to a head.

Earlier this year, the village hired Trotter & Associates to conduct a study of the problem. Engineer Mark Bushnell found mud and overgrown vegetation blocking the water flow from the subdivision, causing the neighborhood’s drainage problems and flooding. Bushnell estimated the area has 17 acres of excess storm water.

The village has removed a large amount of the vegetation to allow the water to drain slowly to the south. However, the spring’s heavy rains have worsened the problem, creating more flooding and rendering useless the acres of farm land to the south.

Paul Schuch, Kane County’s Director of Water Resources, will facilitate the discussion during the Wednesday, June 3, meeting of village officials, the Rob Roy Drainage District Board, Trotter & Associates and Tom Huddleston, an expert on drain tiles, to try to find a solution to the problems.

“The county deals with this issue on a county-wide basis,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said.

Karen Romero, a neighbor of Schoenberger, said she is becoming more and more frustrated with the situation.

“It’s a health issue,” she said on Tuesday. “I’m at the point where I’m going to call the Health Department.”

Preschool students give Brightest Stars an A+

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove resident Linda Ray may be only 3 years old, but she knows what she likes. Linda started classes at the Brightest Stars Preschool in March.

“There isn’t a day that my daughter doesn’t come home raving about Miss Amy,” Jan Ray said.

“Miss Amy” is Amy Peters, educator and owner of the Brightest Stars Preschool, located in Sugar Grove. The preschool opened in September 2008 with morning and afternoon classes.

While some other preschools and day care centers are seeing a recent drop in their enrollment, Peters said that if anything, she is gaining students. She said she thinks it is because her classes are educational.

“Parents will give up other things to continue with their child’s education,” she said.

Peters’ goals for the children are to help them gain the skills, confidence and independence that will prepare them for kindergarten, and supplement the learning experience of half-day kindergartners.

Although the parents like Brightest Stars because the children are learning, the children like it because they are having fun.

Peters sings and plays the guitar and other instruments, and incorporates music and movement, as well as puppets and sign language, into many of the activities she does with the children.

“I love seeing them light up and they don’t even realize they’re going to learn,” she said.

Interspersed with the music, the children have opportunities to explore the computer, learn basic math skills, create art projects and practice writing.

Parents may choose the combination of days their child attends the school, as well as how many days per week, based on availability.

Linda recently attended a session Peters offered free of charge at the Sugar Grove Public Library. The theme was spring, and focused on birds and flowers and rain.

Youth services manager Sarah Barbel said Peters added two sessions so everyone could participate.

“There’s always a big waiting list (for her programs),” Barbel said.

Peters said she will offer monthly programs once the new library is open, and has scheduled two summer sessions through the Sugar Grove Park District as part of her community outreach.

“I always say after each session, ‘I don’t know who had more fun—me or the kids,’” Peters said.

Brightest Stars Preschool
474 Division Drive
Sugar Grove
Sessions are Monday – Friday
9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. or 12:30 – 3 p.m.
For more information, call 466-8668 or visit

Miss Amy combines music and movement for preschoolers at Brightest Stars Preschool in Sugar Grove. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Village grants Catholic church temporary use extension

by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday extended a temporary-use permit granted to the St. Katharine-Drexel Catholic Church for its parish office and weekday morning worship facility at 264 S. Main St.

The original permit, granted in December 2008, required that the church reapply by the end of April.

Approximately 15 to 20 parishioners attend weekday morning services and about 40 to 60 attend occasional weekday night services. This is more than the 10 and 40 initially estimated when the original temporary use was requested.

However, since there is adequate parking for now at the vacant restaurant site and its parking lot down the street, the village granted the extension until April 30, 2011, or when the church moves to another site. If parking becomes no longer available at the vacant restaurant site or parking lot, the church will either have to find alternative parking or relocate to another site.

The church continues to use Kaneland John Shields Elementary School for weekend services on Saturdays and Sundays under a separate special-use permit. Approximately 250 people attend weekend services each week.

The Archdiocese anticipates completing construction of the new facility in unincorporated Sugar Grove Township in 2010.

Village passes new cable ordinance

Staff to meet with MediaCom to discuss problems
by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday approved a cable franchise ordinance for new cable companies wishing to locate in Sugar Grove.

Separate from the agreement the village currently has with MediaCom, the village’s main cable provider, the ordinance spells out standards for current and anticipated technical, facility, procedural and operational, franchise and customer service issues.

Also included in the ordinance are recommendations gathered from a customer survey and a community-wide village meeting regarding services that MediaCom provides.

“The survey showed that people are not happy with their MediaCom service,” Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren said during the discussion of the ordinance at the May 5 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Village staff will meet with Media Com representatives on Thursday, May 21, to discuss problems and issues residents would like to have resolved prior to the renewal of the Media Com’s contract with the village later this year.

“We’ll use the ordinance as a starting point,” VanVooren said.

Hot dog!

sg_hotdogIn a clear sign of the coming summer, Sugar Grove resident Mychelle Prichard, a.k.a. The Hot Dog Lady, sells hot dogs six days a week, weather permitting, in the Chase Bank parking lot on Route 47, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as well as at Volunteer Park and the Sugar Grove Sports Complex during Park District games. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Pipe bomb explodes near SG railroad

FBI takes lead on investigation; $5K reward offered
by Susan O’Neill
A pipe bomb dropped into the signal house near the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroad tracks in Sugar Grove exploded Tuesday morning, causing $20,000 worth of damage to the equipment and disrupting service for about five hours.

Sugar Grove police investigator John Sizer said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the lead on the investigation and the Bureau will work with Burlington Northern police and local law enforcement to try and determine who was responsible. There were no leads as of Wednesday morning.

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information regarding the incident. Anyone with information should call 1-800-832-5452.

According to a spokesperson for the Burlington Northern Police Department, a dispatcher noticed a problem with the signal system and sent an employee there to check it out. Kane County Lt. Pat Gengler said the Kane County bomb squad received the call at 2:45 a.m., and technicians were sent to the scene to gather evidence until well into the morning.

The signal house is located in unincorporated Sugar Grove in the area of 41W950 Prairie Street, Gengler said. The route is strictly used by freight trains.

BNSF freight train service disrupted for five hours

$20K worth of damage done
FBI offers $5K reward
for information

Call 1-800-832-5452

Teacher, preacher guilty of sexual exploitation

by Susan O’Neill
Douglas R. Jones, 48, of the 100 block of Middle Ave in Aurora, awaits sentencing on a charge of sexual exploitation of a child, a class 4 felony. A jury found Jones guilty earlier this year.

Sugar Grove police arrested Jones in July 2007 based on a report filed by a Walnut Woods resident, the father of the 3-year-old boy. The father said his son was walking toward the ice cream truck parked at the end of his driveway when the father saw Jones expose himself.

According to Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer, Jones also had a permit to work in Elburn, and had worked there the previous summer. Jones had also been a substitute teacher in the East Aurora school system, and was on the Kane County Regional Board of Education.

Sizer said that when he looked into Jones’ background, Jones had no prior convictions for sexual-related offenses nor was he a registered sex offender. However, Sizer said there were a number of things that were in Jones’ background that raised red flags, although the information was not allowed to be divulged during the trial.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this guy is a pedophile,” Sizer said. “He’s just never been caught.”

He said that Jones had been an ordained Presbyterian minister with the Blackhawk Presbytery, where he was relieved of each of his church assignments after a very short tenure.

“I don’t think he lasted more than a year in any of them,” Sizer said.

Sizer said that during his investigation, although people were very reluctant to talk to him about specifics, the parishioners of the churches voiced concerns about what they said was inappropriate behavior with members of the youth groups.

“There were rumors and speculation that I couldn’t substantiate, but there was so much of it that you’ve got to believe there’s some truth to it,” Sizer said.

Jones’ sentencing hearing is set for Thursday, May 21.

SG woman charged in lottery ticket theft

Amount taken worth more than $100,000
by Susan O’Neill

Martha M. Ybarra, 52, of Terry Drive, Sugar Grove, was taken into custody and charged with theft of more than $100,000 on May 7. Police said that Ybarra, a Sugar Grove BP Amoco employee, is charged with printing out lottery tickets for herself over a 14-month period from Dec. 2007 to Jan. 2009.

Ybarra was booked at the Sugar Grove police station and transported to Kane County Adult Corrections, where her bail was set at $70,000. Ybarra paid the $7,000 and was released. She has a court date of Friday, May 15.

The owner first suspected something was amiss during the business’s 2007 tax process when the dollar amount in commission sales did not match the number the accountant reported.

“Initially, they thought it was their mistake,” Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said. “When the lottery did their own audit in September or October, they realized there was a discrepancy every month.”

According to Sizer, the investigation is ongoing and may lead to additional arrests or charges.

“So much money has been taken, there may have been other people involved,” he said.

When a lottery ticket is purchased, an electronic transfer of the money is automatically sent to the state, so the state receives its money,” said Sizer.

The food store and gas station is out the amount of the tickets, as well as commission it would have earned on the tickets.

Sizer said police do not yet know whether any of the tickets were winners.

Ybarra could receive a maximum of up to 15 years in prison for the charge, a class one felony.

SG man charged with sexual assault

by Susan O’Neill
Bryan J. Banbury, 28, of the 100 block of Meadows Drive, Sugar Grove, was charged last weekend with aggravated criminal sexual assault, a class X felony that could land him in jail for up to 30 years. Banbury was also charged with unlawful restraint and other related charges.

According to Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer, the police received a 911 call about an aggravated battery at 1:26 a.m. on Saturday. Sizer said that when the police arrived about five minutes later, the offender had already fled the scene.

The victim, who police said Banbury knew, was taken to Provena Mercy Medical Center in Aurora for treatment.

Banbury turned himself into the Sugar Grove police on Saturday afternoon for questioning. Police then charged him and took him into custody to Kane County Corrections.

His bond was set at $500,000. As of Tuesday, Banbury was still in custody. If he posts bail and is released, he will be fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitter on his ankle. His court date is Thursday, May 21.

New cable ordinance lays down rules

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove Trustee Kevin Geary wants to make sure that any new cable ordinance includes strong remedial measures should the cable company not meet the village’s requirements.

“Our residents are tired of being jerked around by the cable company,” Geary said.

The Village Board at the May 5 Committee of the Whole meeting reviewed a cable franchise ordinance for new cable companies wishing to locate in Sugar Grove.

Separate from the agreement the village negotiated with Mediacom, the village’s main cable provider, the ordinance spells out standards for current and anticipated technical, facility, procedural and operational, franchise and customer service issues. Also included in the ordinance are recommendations gathered from a customer survey and a community-wide village meeting regarding Mediacom services.

“The survey showed that people are not happy with their Mediacom service,” Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren said.

Village staff will meet with Media Com representatives on Thursday, May 21, to discuss problems and issues residents would like to have resolved prior to the renewal of the Mediacom’s contract with the village later this year.

The village has been working with Municipal Services Associates (MSA) to create the ordinance, as well as to draft the new agreement with Mediacom.

MSA Stuart Chapman assured Geary that the ordinance included stiff fines for unresolved issues and a process to deal with unresolved violations.

Family physician settling in on Main Street

Dr. Sean Rardin says patient interaction is best part of medicine
by Susan O’Neill
Dr. Sean Rardin a family practice doctor who recently opened a practice in Sugar Grove, said his patients can expect him to be thorough and to spend a lot of time with them.

“The patient interaction is the most exciting part to me,” he said. “I hear a lot from patients, ‘You’re the first person who’s explained that to me,’” he said.

Rardin said he also incorporates recommendations for nutrition and exercise into his medical treatment with patients. In the year between college and medical school, he worked as a personal trainer at a fitness center, where he learned a great deal about the impact both nutrition and fitness can have on one’s health.

He is also comfortable with alternative treatments, and enjoys working in conjunction with non-traditional healers, such as chiropractors, herbalists and acupuncturists. He said that although there is much that traditional medicine can offer, there are some cases in which a more non-traditional approach may be warranted.

For example, if patients suffer from a back problems, they may find relief with adjustments from a chiropractor before they consider what is likely to be a major surgery.

“My generation is the first one in medicine that’s been open to working with alternative health care practitioners,” he said. “My brother is a chiropractor, and we’ve learned a lot from each other.”

Rardin, 34, received his medical degree from Loyola University of Chicago-Stritch School of Medicine and completed his internship and residency at Rush Copley Family Practice Center in Aurora.

He has been in private practice for four years. His first office was in Warrenville, and he moved his practice to Sugar Grove two months ago. His hospital affiliation is with Proven-Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.

He said he likes that Sugar Grove is making the transition from a farming town to a suburb.

“I wanted to be part of a growing community,” he said.

More residents seek flooding solutions

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove residents along Maple and Snow streets are among the latest group looking to the village to resolve flooding and drainage issues in their neighborhood.

Cliff Dryer was among about a dozen residents who attended Tuesday night’s board meeting to ask for the board’s help.

Dwyer said he has raised his basement two inches to help prevent flooding in his home, yet he still has three sump pumps operating non-stop.

“My electric bill is almost double,” he said. “We need some action from the village.”

Residents noted that their problems have gotten worse since the Prairie Glen development broke ground.

When grading began for the Prairie Glen Subdivision and commercial property along Route 30, the Windham Group removed a berm and a temporary pond to the west of Dwyer’s neighborhood. Residents on Tuesday said these actions coincided with their flooding problems.

Sugar Grove Community Development Director Rich Young said the village has been working with Engineering Enterprises, Inc. to determine what Prairie Glen can do to improve the situation.

EEI’s Dave Burroughs said that his company will work with the Windham Group to remove ponding surface water on its property, which will likely help. However, he said the residents’ problems are more a result of the unusually high water table, which is a separate issue.

According to local weather reports, this has been the wettest spring in the area in more than 80 years, Burroughs said.

“This is not just an isolated situation,” Young said. “The water table is just extremely high everywhere. We get three to four calls a day.”

Mallard Point residents also have sought village help with flooding issues.

Village formalizes ID theft policy

by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday approved an identity theft prevention policy, but Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren said it simply puts in writing what the village has already been doing.

The “red flag” rules, outline a number of requirements for monitoring accounts for personal or household goods or services.

Since Sugar Grove residents pay for water already used, these accounts are covered by the policy. As a precaution against identity theft, village staff would follow up with a customer when a red flag showed up on their account.

Police search for accomplice in Jewel robbery

by Susan O’Neill
An attempt by the Elburn police to arrest Elburn resident Cheryl A. Ginley for her part in the recent Sugar Grove Jewel robbery has so far been unsuccessful, confirmed a department representative on Wednesday.

Ginley, 48, whose last known address was in the 400 block of W. Shannon St., Elburn, was described as a white woman with gray hair who fled in her vehicle when Sugar Grove police captured Timothy M. Fredericksen several blocks from the store on April 14.

According to store employees, Frederickson, 40, of the 2400 Block of N. Farnsworth, walked out of the store pushing a cart containing beer and vodka worth more than $300. As employees followed him from the store, a female accomplice later identified as Ginley fled in her vehicle, leaving Fredericksen standing in the parking lot.

There are currently two outstanding warrants for Ginley’s arrest, Sugar Grove police investigator John Sizer explained. One warrant is from DeKalb County for failing to show up to serve a sentence, and the other is for felony retail theft of the Jewel Food Store.

“At this point, she’s a fugitive,” Sizer said.

Police impersonator story a hoax

by Susan O’Neill
The woman who claimed to be a victim of a robbery conducted by a man impersonating a police officer has confessed that the incident never took place.

Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said they brought the 32-year-old Yorkville resident in on Wednesday night for further questioning when the investigation revealed inconsistencies in her story.

She was charged on Thursday afternoon with disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony, for filing a false police report.

“It may just be a sign of the times,” Sizer said.

The woman and her husband had both recently lost their jobs. With a family of three children including a new baby, the woman sold her jewelry for money to pay her bills. She made up the story about the robbery to cover up her plight.

“It was more of a crime of desperation,” he said. “I don’t think she had any idea it would attract this much attention.”

Sizer said if there is something good that came of this, it is that the system worked well to get the word out.

“The media response was phenomenal,” he said. “The public response was overwhelming. We had calls from all over the place. Virtually everyone we talked to was aware of it.”

Sizer said they received dozens of leads and the department followed up on them. The down side was the number of man hours spent following this complaint.

“We were taking this thing very seriously,” he said.

SG budget shows deficit

Other cuts possible; police increases off-limits
by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on April 21 approved the coming fiscal year’s $4.3 million budget that includes a $37,000 deficit despite staff cuts.

The board and other village officials have made substantial cuts to expenses in an attempt to balance the general fund budget, including letting three village employees go and freezing any raises for non-union employees this year.

The village has also asked the Sugar Grove police union to waive the two raises it negotiated for officers at the beginning of this year. The first annual raise, to take effect Friday, May 1, is a 3.25 percent increase for the 12 covered patrol officers. A second increase, set to go into effect on Aug. 1, is for $2,589 for each individual, which will vary by percent based on the current annual salary of the officer.

The union contract was the first between the police officers and the village.

The two increases will total approximately 8 percent per officer, said Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger. The total amount comes to the approximate amount of the deficit, $37,000. According to Eichelberger, at the time the village was still holding out hope that it would receive the concession from the union.

As of press time, the village had not received a response.

“We’re here at April 29, and it’s fair to say they’re not interested in that proposition,” Eichelberger said.

Keith Karlson, the attorney for the Metropolitan Association of Police, the union representing the Sugar Grove police officers, pointed out that Village President Sean Michels said during his campaign for re-election that the village was running at a surplus, and was doing well.

“The MAP expects the village to uphold its end of the bargain that it negotiated less than six months ago,” Karlson said.

The board has tentatively scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, May 12, to discuss further potential cuts in order to balance the budget. Eichelberger said it will be up to the board to decide whether or not to balance the budget, and if so, what cuts will be made to accomplish it.

He said that so far, the village has not come up with options that do not involve some impact on other personnel. This may or may not include additional layoffs, he said.

Rainforest assembly delights, educates students

View Slideshow >>

by Susan O’Neill
A Macaw that plays jokes on its caretaker; a python that rests quietly across seven pairs of arms; two baby alligators that seem to enjoy being petted—these are just a few of the animals Kaneland John Shields Elementary School students experienced during last Thursday’s rainforest assembly.

“I think it’s safe to say I have seven of the bravest people in the room up here,” Mike Kohlrieser said as the children held the python.

The Macaw flew over the crowd and swoops down to grab a dollar bill out of an audience member’s mouth. The python playfully pokes his tail out from behind the leg of his assistant to wave to the audience.

“He’s so charismatic and so good with the kids,” Parent Teacher Organization member Carolynn Abruzzo said of Kohlrieser.

Abruzzo, who arranged for the traveling show to perform at the school, said the rainforest assembly was probably the most well-attended family night the school has had. She estimated that about 700 children and parents came to the two showings.

“I think everybody had a blast,” she said.

But more importantly, she said the message made an impact on the children. Abruzzo said that ever since the assembly, her 5-year-old daughter Sammie has been reminding family members to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

She said Sammie recently learned about conserving energy in her kindergarten class. But when Kohlrieser spoke about conservation in relation to the future of the animals, the connection hit home.

Kolhrieser’s Ohio-based company, Understanding Wildlife, books assemblies in schools across the country, bringing his menagerie to delight and educate the students and their parents about the vanishing rainforest.

He alternated his antics with the animals with facts about the rainforests and how cutting them down is hurting the animals that call them home, depleting the medicines found there, the ozone, the air and the water supply of the earth.

“It’s really up to you and me and how we live our lives as to how much longer these animals will be around,” he told the students. “Together we are going to make a difference.”

For more information about Understanding Wildlife, visit

Photo: Isabella Gartside, of Elburn, called this python a ‘good snake.’ She held it with help from her father during the Understanding Wildlife assembly at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove. Photo by Mary Herra

Ride in Kane begins May 1 in Sugar Grove

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove’s participation in the Ride in Kane program begins Friday, May 1. The program will provide inexpensive curb-to-curb transportation to work, health care visits and daycare for eligible elderly and disabled residents.

“Without it, these people are trapped at home,” said former trustee Joe Wolf, the Sugar Grove representative on the Paratransit Council. “It’s a growing problem. By and large, it’s something every community needs.”

Sugar Grove joins the county-wide transit program in operation since February 2008 in municipalities such as Batavia, Elgin, Geneva, Hampshire, St. Charles and Aurora, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva and Dundee townships.

To schedule a ride, participants contact a centralized call center that dispatches taxis, Pace lift-equipped buses or other service providers to the individual’s home. Riders will pay $3 for the first 10 miles of their trip and $1.50 for each additional mile.

Residents who wish to access the service are asked to complete an application through the Sugar Grove Library District, which will determine their eligibility for the program.

Ride in Kane began with approximately $2.4 million in New Freedom Initiative and Job Access Reverse Commute federal funding awarded from the Regional Transportation Authority, plus $1.7 million in a local match from the participating entities.

Sugar Grove has committed $4,000 in funding for its first year in conjunction with the Sugar Grove Park District, Public Library District and Township. If the allotted $4,000 is used up before the end of the year, the entities can decide not to contribute additional funding and withdraw from Ride in Kane.

Qualifications for eligibility
• Inability to obtain a
driver’s license due to
age or disability
• Low income residents
with no other available
• Riders pay $3 for first 10
miles and $1.50 for each
additional mile

Used for
• Work
• Health care visits
• Dialysis
• Rehabilitation
• Adult or child daycare
Call (630) 466-4507,
ext. 24.

Utility bill increases in June

by Susan O’Neill
The village increased its water and sewer rates for the first time in six years in 2008. At that time, Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren said additional increases of that size would be necessary this year and next year.

According to VanVooren, fixed costs, money owed for capital projects such as wells number 8 and number 9, and the water treatment system to eliminate radium from the water supply, is the primary reason for the need for the increases.

The village is currently repaying low-interest loans from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for these projects, as well as money borrowed when the village hooked on with the Fox Metro system in 1998.

The village’s refuse contract will experience a higher-than-expected annual increase this fiscal year of 3.8 percent versus the budgeted 3 percent. According to VanVooren, even with the increase, the residents’ rates will still be less than the village actually pays per household.

The board also approved several increases in the water meter permit and inspection fees and to a number of fines for compliance tickets.

Heads up
Sugar Grove residents will see increases in their utility rates with their June 1 bill from the village. The rates go into effect with the beginning of the new fiscal year on May 1.

Resident utility rates
Current fee New Fee
Water rates
$6.92 $7.40
+$2.57 per +$2.75 per
1,000 gals 1,000 gals

Sewer rates
$7.57 $8.10
+$2.58 per +$2.76 per
1,000 gals 1,000 gals

Refuse rates
$17.75 $18.75

Man arrested for water theft

Squatter stayed in Prestbury home for eight months
by Susan O’Neill
The Kane County Sheriff’s Department evicted Steven Hathorne from a home in Prestbury on Wednesday, and charged him with stealing Sugar Grove water.

According to Sugar Grove Police Department investigator John Sizer, Hathorne had been living in the home in unincorporated Sugar Grove Township since August 2008. The former owner moved out when the house was foreclosed early last year. The house had been listed for sale at $780,000.

“He’s basically just a squatter,” Sizer said. “He had no legal authority to be there.”

Sizer said he spent months contacting various branches of the national banking company holding the mortgage to obtain authorization to evict the man.

“No one would take the responsibility,” he said.

Hathorne cut two village locks off of the water valve and installed his own to gain access to the water. He then modified the water meter to prevent the village from determining how much water he was using.

Sugar Grove police found on April 15 that Hathorne had used approximately $1,400 in village water since he moved in eight months ago.

Sugar Grove police arrested Hathorne on two felony charges, one for criminal damage to state-supported property and another for theft of government property.

Hathorne was taken into custody to the Kane County jail, where a judge set his bail at $250,000.

“The courts are taking this pretty seriously,” Sizer said.

Sizer said that the number of vacant or foreclosed homes is becoming a big problem in the area, with as many as 60 empty homes in Sugar Grove alone at any given time (see related story on this page). Police officers check the homes on a regular basis, in an attempt to prevent damage to the homes or someone from gaining access.

Short-term pain, long-term gain

Sugar Grove prepares for more road construction than usual
by Susan O’Neill
Village President Sean Michels said that travelers in and around Sugar Grove may encounter more construction than usual this year, thanks to government and grant money from the Kane County Transportation (KDOT) Impact Fee Program, Local Agency Pavement Preservation (LAPP) awards and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) stimulus package.

Michels asks residents for their patience throughout this year’s construction season.

“Many road improvement projects are ready to begin not only in Sugar Grove but throughout Illinois,” Michels said. “Keep in mind that these improvements will eventually make your motoring experience safer as well as bring the infrastructure needed to aid economic development. However, for now these projects may necessitate finding alternate routes, watching for detours and allowing additional travel time to reach your destination.”

The project long-awaited by local residents to improve visibility and motorist safety at the Bliss and Merrill road intersection began Monday. The start date for the project funded by KDOT impact fees is somewhat sooner than originally anticipated.

The improvements involve lowering the elevation or hill area approaching the intersection and straightening out the curve at the intersection. Two left turn lanes will be added, one to turn left onto Merrill when traveling northeast on Bliss and the other to turn left onto Bliss when traveling south on Merrill.

According to a written release from KDOT Director of Transportation Carl Schoedel, Bliss Road at the intersection of Merrill Road will be closed for approximately four months while KDOT crews reconstruct the intersection.

KDOT will post signage prior to the road closure to alert area motorists of the upcoming closure and to redirect motorists to a marked detour route around the construction site. The detour route will use Route 47 and Main Street Road.

KDOT anticipates completion of the project by November 2009. For additional information about the project and detours, residents may visit or call (630) 816-9671.

Michels said the village will also be performing normal maintenance to village streets in the coming months, in addition to the several projects funded through LAPP awards. While this routine maintenance should not have a major impact on residents and others traveling in and through the community, the LAPP projects may cause short-term lane closures.

The village received LAPP funding for three road projects, which provides approximately 75 percent of the cost of the project. Local funds provide the rest. The Prairie Street project is also being supplemented by ARRA funds, reducing the local share to approximately 20 percent. The scope of work for these three projects is surface removal and resurfacing including patching, shoulders, striping, reflective crack control and restoration.

Other project information is available at