All posts by Susan ONeill

Elburn man falls victim to IRS scam

ELBURN—An Elburn man was recently the victim of a scam by someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said on Tuesday.

The victim was a 33-year-old male who lives on the 700 block of N. First St., and the incident took place at 11:30 a.m. on July 3.

“This scam has been going on in the area for some time now, although this is the first report we’ve had in Elburn,” Smith said.

An individual called the victim at home, claiming to represent the IRS, and told him he owed $2,500 in back taxes. The individual told him to get the amount in cash and deposit it into a specific account at a Bank of America branch. The person also told the victim that the Elburn Police Department had a warrant for his arrest due to a charge of owing back taxes, and that he would need to deposit $2,800 into another specified account at the bank in order to avoid going to jail.

“We’re still working with bank security on this,” Smith said.

However, from cases like this that he has heard about from police officers in other departments, Smith said it is hard to track these things down.

“These people can make it look on your caller ID as though the phone calls were coming from for example, the police department,” he said. “Also, they use throw-away cell phones, so there’s no way to backtrack the original call.”

In addition, Smith said the bank accounts used are temporary ones, and opened using false information.

“The money is probably out of the country by now,” he said.

Police Chief views video of teen train death

Operation Lifesaver
Wednesday, July 9, 6 p.m.
Village Board Room, Maple Park Civic Center
302 Willow Street, Maple Park

For questions, contact Josh Salisbury or Kevin Brown at the
Maple Park Police Department, (815) 827-3286.
You may also e-mail them at

Village and Union Pacific to hold safety seminar
MAPLE PARK—When Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta viewed the Union Pacific’s video footage taken the night of May 31 at the Liberty Street train crossing in Maple Park, it confirmed the accounts of witnesses present at the time of Maple Park teenager Parker Wolfsmith’s death.

The 14-year-old Kaneland Harter Middle School student had been engaging in a practice called “breezing” when he was struck and killed by the westbound Union Pacific train.

Acosta viewed the video on June 18 with representatives from the Union Pacific Railroad and the Kane County Coroner’s Office.

Acosta said that according to Union Pacific representatives, the term “breezing” refers to when an individual gets close enough to a fast-moving train to feel the breeze. The video showed that Wolfsmith was initially near a tree in a neighboring yard near the tracks, and as the train approached, he ran up close to it, where Union Pacific representatives say he was struck by the train’s “cowcatcher,” a piece of equipment attached to the front of the train used to deflect objects on the track.

There were two other teens with Wolfsmith that night, but they were out of sight from the train’s camera.

Viewing the video was part of the investigation of the incident. During his investigation, Acosta said he learned that this was not the first time Wolfsmith had engaged in this activity. It had been a topic of conversation on the school bus, Acosta said.

“It’s been a very trying few weeks for the community,” Acosta said.

He explained that Wolfsmith’s death and the way that he died has affected a lot of people in the community—from the boy’s family and friends to the police officers and firefighters who arrived at the scene, as well as other parents, neighbors and the train operators who were working that night.

“It affects the entire community,” Acosta said.

There have been several memorial services, including a candle light service at the scene, as well as one at Conley Funeral Home in Elburn.

Acosta said that getting people to talk about it is the best way to deal with it, and the drop-in center at the Maple Park Community Center has provided one outlet for young people to do that.

In addition, the Maple Police Department, together with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, will hold a seminar on Wednesday, July 9 to discuss railway safety. Geared towards all youth and their parents, the seminar Operation Lifesaver will be presented by Union Pacific Railroad police officer Jim Magner.

“We strongly encourage our teen youth and their parents to attend,” Acosta said.

The biggest message Acosta would like to send young people in the area is to stay away from the trains.

“There is no winning against the train,” he said. “The train will win every time.”

Sirens not just for tornadoes anymore

ELBURN—The next time you hear a siren in Elburn, it may not be a tornado warning.

Earlier this year, village trustee Dave Gualdoni, who works with the village’s Community Emergency Response Team, and Police Chief Steve Smith, revised the village’s outdoor warning siren policy to include the siren’s use for severe thunderstorm warnings issued by the National Weather Service, with winds of at least 70 miles per hour or golf-ball-sized hail.

Gualdoni, who had come to Village Hall to set off the siren during a recent severe weather event, told Village Board members that he wanted to get the word out to residents about the change, as well as to answer any questions or concerns they had about the policy. Some residents had been confused about the use of the siren, when there had not been the possibility of a tornado.

Gualdoni said he was not only concerned about residents’ safety in the case of a tornado, but also that strong storms, especially those with lightening, high winds, and large hail, could pose a danger, especially for those out in an open ball field.

Board members were in general agreement about the policy change. Trustee Bill Grabarek asked if the siren might also be used for other emergencies, such as a derailed train and possible hazardous material spill.

Trustee Pat Schuberg said that, just as every family should have a plan for what to do and where to go in case of an emergency, it would also behoove the village to have a plan.

The siren is tested on the first Tuesday at 10 a.m. of each month to ensure that it continues to work properly.

updated Monday, June 30, 2014 @ 1:00 p.m.

Village clarifies parkway maintenance responsibilities

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved an ordinance that would require property owners to maintain village parkways adjacent to their property. This would include mowing the grass, keeping driveways in good repair, as well as keeping the frontage parkway free from weeds, rubbish and debris.

Building Commissioner Tom Brennan told board members at the June 2 Committee of the Whole meeting that the ordinance was necessary to clear up any ambiguity.

The maintenance of parkway trees is an exception to these requirements, and trustee Pat Schuberg asked that a cross reference be included to clarify that.

Village considers credit card convenience fee

ELBURN—Residents will soon be required to pay a convenience fee of $2 when they pay village bills and fees with their credit card.

Village Board members on Monday discussed the fee recommended by Village Finance Director Doug Elder to help cover the village’s cost of accepting credit.

Elder said that the village had 859 credit card transactions last year, which cost it an additional $2,153. The average cost to the village comes to approximately $2.51 for each time it has to process a credit card payment.

Elder said the proposed convenience fee won’t cover the entire cost to the village for processing such transactions, but “it will help to cover some of it.”

The village will only accept credit cards for transactions of a minimum of $15 and up to a maximum of $1,000.

The range will cover most village fees, such as water bills, parking tickets and permits. Since debit card transactions don’t cost the village anything, the fee will not apply to those.

The board will vote on the fee at its June 16 meeting.

Village grants Community Center’s bill request

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday heard the Elburn and Countryside Community Center’s request to assist with costs associated with a broken water pipe in the building.

The board granted an adjustment to the Community Center’s bill, waiving the $383.52 sewer charge portion of the bill, and giving the Community Center 12 months to pay off the remaining balance $531.80.

A letter to the village from Elburn and Countryside Community Center President Pat Leyden stated that last winter’s extreme temperature fluctuations led to a broken water pipe in a rarely-used portion of the building.

According to Leyden, by the time the burst pipe was discovered, several days had passed, ultimately resulting in a village water/sewer bill of $914, which typically would be closer to $100.

The Community Center is run by a small nonprofit organization, whose mission is to provide activities and programs for various entities in the area, as well as reduced-rate rental space for fellow nonprofit organizations and standard-rate rental space for local businesses.

Leyden said that the building, formerly a community school, requires a large amount of work to be done to upgrade the building and grounds to allow for more such programming, activities and events, and “every dollar is vital.”

“The Village Board realizes that the Community Center is a non-profit group and is willing to give them some time to pay off the account,” Finance Director Doug Elder said.

Alternative to Elburn baseball request

ELBURN—Village officials on Monday declined a request from Elburn Youth Baseball and Softball League (EYBSL) that the village help to pay to move gates located in the Blackberry retention fields, instead making a suggestion for a less-costly solution.

The village currently leases these fields, located along Keslinger Road near the water tower, to the EYBSL. According to EYBSL President Ron Vohs, the current positioning of the gates on the west side of the fields does not allow access to the infields for semi-trucks carrying limestone and other material needed to make the fields playable. The league wanted to move the gates from the west side to the east side of the fields in the Blackberry subdivision.

Vohs made the request to the Village Board on Monday, presenting trustees with the $1,033 estimate for the work.

Vohs told the board that the league is currently using league funds, from sponsors and fundraisers, to improve the infields.

“Any help would be greatly appreciated,” Vohs said.

The village recommended that the league leave the gates where they are for now, and instead make an opening in the fencing on the east side. This would allow the trucks access, while reducing the cost of the project significantly. Once the season is over, the league can revisit the situation, and determine whether to do anything differently at that time.

Parker Wolfsmith

Kaneland teen killed by train in Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Harter Middle School student Parker Wolfsmith was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train in Maple Park on Saturday night. Wolfsmith lived in an unincorporated area of Kane County outside of Maple Park.

The 14-year-old Wolfsmith, who was in the eighth grade, would have participated in a “promotion” ceremony on Tuesday, marking his move from middle school to high school.

According to Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta, Wolfsmith was on the east side of the railroad crossing at Liberty Street, and had gotten too close to the train when he was struck at 9:30 p.m. According to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis, the west-bound train traveling from Joliet, Ill., to Wyoming consisted of 135 empty coal cars.

A few of Wolfsmith’s friends were at the scene when Acosta arrived. He was pronounced deceased at 10:01 p.m., according to the Kane County Coroner’s office.

Acosta said the Maple Park Police Department is in the process of trying to piece together what happened. He said it has not yet determined if a game in which a person stands as close to a train as possible when it comes by was involved in the incident.

“They like to feel the power of the train and the wind rushing by,” he said.

Acosta said it’s a very dangerous game. When the young person gets too close to the train, the wind from the train can pull them under it.

Acosta is not sure whether or not this was the case on Saturday night. He said they have ruled out suicide and there is no evidence of foul play.

According to Acosta, it could take a week for the Union Pacific to make available to the Police Department video footage that will show what took place at the front of the train that night.

Acosta said that Wolfsmith had moved to the Maple Park area last August to live with his father. The police chief said residents have told him that Wolfsmith and his friends were at the Saturday night Drop-in Center at the Maple Park Community Center earlier in the evening, but he has not yet been able to confirm this.

In a release issued from the Kaneland School District on Sunday, Superintendent Jeff Schuler said district staff wanted to “extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Parker’s family and friends,” and asked that the community “keep Parker’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”

The School District on Monday provided students the opportunity to meet with counselors at Kaneland Harter Middle School. Schuler said that teachers who had worked with Wolfsmith on a daily basis described him as a “fun-loving, bright kid,” a “great friend” and “someone who could always make you laugh with his witty sense of humor.”

Acosta was also at the school on Monday to talk to the students in Wolfsmith’s class about the incident.

According to Acosta, some of the students were having a difficult time with what had happened. This is the same class that, as seventh-graders last year, experienced the sudden death of another classmate, Caitlyn Phillips, who was hit by a car when she rollerbladed into the street.

Schuler said the eighth-grade promotion ceremony and the dance following was held as scheduled.

Acosta said the students with whom Wolfsmith typically ate lunch left an empty chair at their table on Monday.

Acosta said he went to sit in the chair and the students said, “No, no, that’s Parker’s.”

Storage facility to move forward

Village to work with owners on road improvement requirement
ELBURN—Elburn residents Laura and Brent Dempsey will move forward with their plans for a storage facility, now that the village has agreed to work with them on road improvement requirements. The village owns the other side of the road.

The Dempseys plan to open a storage facility on 6.5 acres at South and Thryselius streets that will eventually include 14 buildings with 32 to 36 storage units per facility. The Dempsey’s initial plans are for two buildings, and to continue to build two buildings a year until the project is complete.

They estimate that full build-out would take eight years, based on occupancy and economic considerations.

But Laura told the Village Board on Monday night that they would not be able to move forward with the business if they have to pay for the road improvements required in the village’s subdivision ordinance.

“It doubles our project,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to afford both.”

The village’s subdivision ordinance requires a developer to fully improve the road that provides frontage for the development. Since the current road is gravel, the improvements would be extensive and would include curbs and storm sewers. The cost would be approximately $1 million.

“It’s cost-prohibitive,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Laura said that when they purchased the lot two years ago, they were not aware of the ordinance’s requirement. She said she did not believe their business would increase the traffic or use of the road; since once tenants store their belongings, they rarely return.

The couple had gone before the Plan Commission to ask for the variance. Although Plan Commissioners were generally sympathetic, they did not recommend the variance, leaving the decision to the Village Board.

The board said the village would be willing to work out an agreement with the business owners that would not involve a variance, and would leave it to village staff to work out the details.

The name of the business is South Street Storage. Laura said their buildings will be unique, in that the internal walls would be moveable, allowing them to make the units smaller or larger, depending on the customer’s needs.

“Ultimately, this is where we want to be,” she said. “The facility is 7 minutes from our house. Also, it’s important to us to be part of the community.”

She said there are three other storage companies in town, and they are almost all full.

“The number one thing that people store is exercise equipment,” she said.


Library’s plant sale most successful to date

The 11th annual Elburn Town and Country Public Library’s Plant Fundraiser was held Mothers Day weekend May 9-10. The fundraiser helps fund the youth reading programs. Aiden Goecker (right), 5, of Elburn, helps his mother pick out flowers. Joan Hanson (below, left) helps visitors select plants. Photos by Lynn Logan

Funds go to support Summer Reading program
ELBURN—The Elburn Town and Country Public Library’s annual plant sale is Library Friend Joan Hansen’s favorite fundraiser.

“Everybody loves flowers,” she said. “And since (the fundraiser is) always on Mother’s Day weekend, people either buy them for their mothers or for themselves.”

The Friends’ latest plant sale took place last weekend. Hansen, who has coordinated the spring plant sale for the past 11 years, said this was the first year that people had the opportunity to pre-order on the website.

“We’re trying to keep up with the technology,” she said.
According to Hansen, the library sold 1,449 plants this year, more than they’ve sold in any previous year. Last year was the next highest number of plants sold, at 102 dozen, compared to the more than 120 dozen this year.

Although the fundraiser has been taking place for a number of years, Hansen thinks the combination of the publicity and word of mouth has helped to increase community awareness. She said the cold winter might have had something to do with it, as well.

In addition to the sale of geraniums, Gerbera daisies, begonias and more, people also had the chance to win one of three donated prizes when they purchased raffle tickets.

Prizes included a large garden bucket, filled with gardening related items, a quilt made by librarian Liz Graves, and window art by local artist Val Pieroni.

The Library Friends purchased the plants from G&E Greenhouse, a wholesale plant business located on Route 38 in Elburn. Hansen said that in addition to G&E’s tradition of quality product, she likes the idea of supporting the local businesses.

The more than $2,000 net proceeds from the sale and the $2,500 from the raffle will go to support the library’s Summer Reading program for children, youth and adults. The money will be used to purchase incentives and prizes, as well as for the end-of-summer event to acknowledge the participants.

The theme for this year’s program, which begins June 2 and runs for eight weeks, is Paws to Read. There will be books about animals, as well as prizes related to animals.

Hansen said that typically about 1,000 children and 400 adults participate in the Summer Reading program.


Play on at McNair Field

BLACKBERRY TWP.—Mya McIntire’s team, the Blue Sox, played their first game of the season at McNair Field on Sunday, thanks to the efforts of Blackberry Township to renew the lease on the field.

Mya and her father, Steve McIntire, vice president of the Elburn Youth Baseball and Softball League (EYBSL), and other league representatives attended Tuesday’s township meeting to thank township trustees for their support of the league.

The previous lease, negotiated 10 years ago between Blackberry Township and the landowner Transmission Relay Corporation, had granted local athletic leagues the use of five of the corporation’s 20 acres south and east of the intersection of Bateman and Rowe roads in exchange for a fee of $1 a year. According to township officials, the checks were never cashed.

Elburn Youth Baseball volunteers during the past 10 years had made a number of improvements to the property. Last year, they had begun the process of expanding the field’s parking lot when they received a call telling them to hold off on the expansion. It was then that the baseball organization members realized the lease had expired on April 30, 2013.

Since November of last year, township trustees have been attempting to renegotiate the lease with TRC so that the youth organization could continue using the field. The meetings were cordial, and according to Township Road Commissioner Rod Feece, landowner Lynn Limanowski was receptive to the baseball organization continuing to use the field. However, he said she was not open to the property being used for football activities.

Township Commissioner Jim Michels said they were finally able to come to terms on a one-year lease, which will expire at the end of November 2014. The agreement allows for baseball and softball, but not football, and requires the township to pay $2,600 for the use of the field for this year, which includes attorney’s fees.

Michels said that the township will begin negotiations this summer for future use of the field.


Elburn Fire District celebrates groundbreaking for new station

The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District on Monday afternoon held the groundbreaking ceremony for its new fire station, located at the northeast corner of Route 38 and First Street in Elburn. Those wielding shovels include FGM Architects of Oak Brook Jason Estes (left to right), Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley, Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan and Board of Trustees President Thomas Reynolds. Photo by Lynn Logan

ELBURN—Kelly Callaghan, chief of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, presided over a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for the district’s new station, which will be built north of Route 38 and east of First Street in Elburn. Callaghan said the new station will open in August 2015.

The three-story building will be 41,930 square feet, more than twice as large as the current building on North Street. Fire officials have said the cost of the station is estimated to be between $8 million and $10 million. The cost will be fully funded by the department without any additional taxes, as the department has anticipated the need for the new station for some time.

The North Street station will be sold, and the satellite station located at 39W950 Hughes Road, immediately outside the Mill Creek subdivision, will remain at that location.

Elburn Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley said that the construction fence for the new building will go up next week.

Haley said the first floor will house the administration, and will also serve as a “museum” where artifacts and photos of the history of the 133-year-old district will be on display for the public to view.

The basement will include a training and meeting room that will be available to the public for its use, if necessary, as well as a fitness room.
All operations, including the ambulance station, will be centralized at the new location, with everything under one roof.

The second floor will be the residence area, with a kitchen and bunks for firefighters on duty. The department currently has six full-time firefighters during the day at Station 1 on North Street. Although there are no current plans to add people, the residence area will have the potential to house up to 15 firefighters.

Barring any unforeseen problems, the new station should have full occupancy by Sept. 15, 2015, with an open house set for Fire Protection Week in October.

Haley said the new location is more centrally located, allowing the department to better serve the municipalities in the 75-square-mile district, which includes Virgil, Lily Lake, Wasco, Campton Hills and almost all of Mill Creek, in addition to the Elburn area.

Fire equipment and vehicles will exit out onto Route 38 and return on First Street.

Board gives cautious ‘thumbs up’ on development proposal

ELBURN—Elburn Village Board members on Monday gave a general nod of agreement on a pre-annexation proposal for a 137-acre plot of land west of Route 47 south of Hughes Road, and north of Kenmar Drive, although they did express some concerns about the property.

Developer Art Zwemke of Robert Arthur Land Company presented a general plan for the property, which would include approximately 150 single family homes, 120 townhomes, 10 acres of commercial property adjacent to Route 47, and 55 acres of open space, for an average density of two units per acre. He asked for more flexibility in keeping the plan looser, and letting the market help to determine the specifics.

“This recovery has been excruciatingly slow,” he said. “But it is coming back.”

The main concerns, which Zwemke acknowledged, were the cost of providing water and sewer services to the property, as well as its proximity to the St. Charles Sportsmen Club. Zwemke presented information based on a study conducted on the site, which he said showed that it is feasible, both physically and fiscally, to put in water and sewer services.

Zwemke addressed the shared border with the gun club by saying that no homes would be located directly along the border, and that language disclosing the existence and operation of the club would be included in each purchase contract and deed, to ensure that prospective buyers would be fully aware of the facility.

Village President Dave Anderson also brought up his concern about the existence of wetlands on the property.

“Since I was a kid, that land has always been wet,” Anderson said. “Once you start putting impermeable surfaces on it …”

Trustee Ken Anderson suggested that Zwemke create for the board a diagram of the property that would show all of the unbuildable space, and then draw in a bubble plan that would demonstrate the usability of the property.

Trustee Pat Schuberg said that she would like to see the 40 percent open space exclusive of the detention and retention areas and flood plains, so that the space could actually be used.

Although the board members had concerns about the property, they were interested in seeing it go forward.

“It’s an opportunity for us,” Dave Anderson said.


Elburn Station feature topic at Chamber meeting

ELBURN—Shodeen developer Dave Patzelt said he is happy to see progress taking place on the Elburn Station development after years of talking about it.

Patzelt was the guest speaker at the May Elburn Chamber of Commerce meeting on May 1, where he gave an overview of the mixed-use development surrounding the Elburn Metra train station, as well as work currently being done to move the project forward.

Patzelt said the current task involves relocating two miles of fiberoptic cable—something he calls the “non-glamorous work” of the project.

The Elburn Station development could add another 2,200 new homes to the village, essentially doubling the size of Elburn. The first milestones for the project are to extend Anderson Road and build a bridge over the railroad tracks.

The extension of Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road is expected to be completed in the fall of 2015, with home construction beginning in spring 2015, although Shodeen cannot close on a home until the road is open. Patzelt said the extension of Hicks Road to meet Anderson Road will be done early this summer, and steel beams for the bridge will be set this winter.

In addition to the 2,200 residential units, the mixed-use development bordered on the north by Route 38 and the south by Keslinger Road will consist of 200,000 square feet of commercial space. Patzelt said he has already received inquiries about the possibilities for a church, a gas station and a flooring retailer in the area of Keslinger Road, which he said is a good sign.

Patzelt said plans are also in place for a variety of large parks and smaller, pocket parks, and an extensive network of recreational paths that will eventually link the neighborhoods together.

The housing will be a mix of single family homes, townhouses and apartments, to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of ages, economic classes and family sizes, Patzelt said.

Elburn Hill Church minister Gary Augustine asked Patzelt at the meeting how long he thought it would be before the development was completely built out. Patzelt said that a good estimate for completion would be 20 years.

“We’ll see what happens over time,” Patzelt said, adding that there are likely to be “peaks and valleys” in growth.

Patzelt said he envisions the commercial development being a combination of single-story retail or office and one or two floors of residential units above one floor of commercial building. The tallest buildings will be located around the Metra station, and will be a maximum of four stories and a pitched roof.

Although the past winter presented some challenges to the initial progress of the development, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said she didn’t think the major milestones would change.

“I don’t see that wavering,” she said.

Future plans for the development leave room for expansion, Patzelt said. As an example, he said that Mill Creek in Geneva, also a Shodeen development, broke ground in 1994 with a plan for 1,800 residential units, and currently includes 2,400 units.

Patzelt said he thought that Mill Creek is done expanding, but that in the past 20 years, the development has seen 36 changes and three additions.

Photo by Susan O’Neill

Elburn approves landscape contract

ELBURN—The Village Board on Monday approved a landscape maintenance services contract with Schollmeyer Landscaping of Big Rock for Prairie Valley and Prairie Valley North Special Services Area and the Metra parking area.

The contract, not to exceed $23,490, is for approximately 30 weeks, beginning in early May and running through November, with an option to extend it for two one-year periods.

Schollmeyer Landscaping was one of only two bidders for the contract, with Whites Land Management, Inc. of Burlington coming in at $89,184.

Services covered in the contract include weekly maintenance of flower beds, trees and shrubs, as well as weekly mowing of specified turf areas. The Prairie Valley and Prairie Valley North Subdivisions are located in the northerly section of the village, east of Route 47 and bisected by Route 38.

Several trustees wondered about the large difference in the amount submitted by the two companies. Village Administrator Erin Willrett said that since Whites Land Management did not attend the bidder’s meeting, she could not comment on the reason.

Board greenlights IEPA loan

ELBURN—The Village Board at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting gave the greenlight for the village to obtain a low-interest loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the wastewater treatment plant improvement project. The amount, $7.6 million, will be paid back over the course of the next 20 years.

“This is just the next step in the process,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “It’s just more paperwork.”

The board will vote to approve the ordinance authorizing the loan at the next regularly-scheduled board meeting on Monday, May 19.


Teamwork turns discovery of books into opportunity

Photos: Elburn Lions Club members, community supporter Melisa Taylor and surrounding school district (including Kaneland and West Aurora) and community members recently collaborated to compile a large assortment of books for the Elburn Lions for Literacy program to donate. Over 2,000 brand-new books were distributed to surrounding schools and families, including the Guerreros (right), and Julio and Erik Gallegos (below, left to right) of Sugar Grove. Photos by Lynn Logan

ELBURN—Elburn Lion Joe Kryszak said he’s good at making pork chops and raising money. That’s why, when Lion Brooke Kelley’s husband Vince and his brother Gene came upon a motherlode of beautiful, brand new books in a repossessed warehouse in early January, Kryszak called on the people who were experts on books.

The Kelley brothers were cleaning out the warehouse when they found about 4,000 mostly elementary-level children’s books. Many of the books were bilingual, with Spanish words alongside the English translation.
Vince knew that Kryszak was in charge of the Elburn Lions for Literacy program, so the brothers contacted him. The mission of the Lions program is to get age and gender-specific books into the hands of needy children within the Kaneland School District.

Kryszak enlisted the help of local librarians, as well as Dr. Sarah Mumm, Kaneland School District’s director of Educational Services for grades K-5. They were able to help sort the books by age and gender.

Representatives from Westside Services, the Maple Park Family Fund, Between Friends Food Pantry in Sugar Grove, as well as area churches, provided anonymous lists of children to receive the books.

“Everybody got involved,” Kryszak said. “The sorting process took well over a month, with various members of the community helping.”

Members of the Literacy Committee, including Lions Pam Hall, Bob Burkholder, Mary Gustafson and Hilda Meyer, helped sort, as did Town and Country Public Library employee Ben Brown and Friends of the Library members Al Guthke and Sharon Kryszak.

Lions Ron Algrim and Tom Mahan made sure that the driveway to the garage was continuously plowed so the volunteers could get into the building to sort, and Lions J.D. Lamb and Tommy McCartney gave up a Sunday afternoon of watching football for moving cases upon cases of books from one area to another.

Melisa Taylor, director of the Between Friends Food Pantry Director in Sugar Grove, received some of the books from Kryszak to distribute to the Food Pantry’s clients for their children and grandchildren.

Taylor, who also collects and distributes coats to families in need each year, contacted the West Aurora School District with coats beyond what was needed in Kaneland. When Laurie Klomhaus, principal of Aurora-based Todd Early Childhood Center, came to the food pantry to pick up the coats, Kryszak was there volunteering.

Kryszak found that Klomhaus was interested in the collection of bilingual books for her families, and he was glad to find a home for them.

“They are absolutely gorgeous books,” Klomhaus said.

They are called board books, as they are made with a hard, stiff cardboard, she said. They are smaller and thicker, making it easier for little hands to manipulate them, and they’re great for parents to read with their children.

“I was just at the right place at the right time,” Klomhaus said. “It’s neat how it all worked out.”

Klomhaus said she has begun to distribute the books to the families in her program, which includes 380 3- to 5-year-olds who are all at-risk for one reason or another. The Early Childhood Center gives these children a leg-up to get ready for kindergarten, she said.

The next distribution of books in the Kaneland District will take place during the Easter holiday, Kryszak said. It’s the literacy program’s second year.

“From two brothers standing in a warehouse to kids getting new books. Isn’t it surprising what can happen when a community chips in to help those less fortunate?” Kryszak said.

Kryszak said that the Elburn Lions for Literacy will host a book drive in May, and will gladly accept new or gently-used book donations. He said a good test for what “gently used” means is that they are good enough to give to his grandchildren.

“We asked the librarians, ‘Where do we start with kids?’,” Kryszak said. “They told us, ‘As soon as they can hold a book.’”

For information on how to participate and assist in combatting illiteracy in our community, visit the Elburn Lions website,


Dewey Dash to celebrate 10th anniversary

Town and Country Public Library 10th annual Dewey Dash
Sunday, April 13, at 7:30 a.m.
320 E. North St., Elburn
(630) 365-2244 •
Fees for 1-mile walk/run: $22 ($25 on race day) for adults,
$12 ($15 on race day) for ages 12 and under
Fees for 5k: $22 ($25 on race day) for all entrants
USATF Certified 5k Course

ELBURN—This Sunday, April 13, will mark the date of the 10th annual Dewey Dash, the Town and Country Public Library’s spring run/walk and 5k race.

Same-day registration will begin at 7:30 a.m., with the 1-mile walk/run commencing at 8:30 a.m., followed by the 5k at 9 a.m.

Registration forms and more information are also available ahead of time at the library and on its website,, under “Dewey Dash.” Participants may re-register by clicking on the “” or “” links.

The theme of the 2014 Dewey Dash is “From Pooh to Who,” with guests of honor Winnie the Pooh and Dr. Who.

“Don’t ask why—just enjoy the quotations along the way,” Library Director Lynn Alms said of this year’s theme.

Alms said that dash participants are free to dress in costume to fit the theme, and prizes will be awarded for the best ones. She said she’s looking forward to seeing what people come up with for this interesting juxtaposition of characters.

This is the second year the race will have a theme. Last year’s theme was fairy tales. At least 150 participants ran and walked in the 2013 race, but Alms said she has seen as many as 300 in some years, depending on the weather.

Funds from the race will go toward the library’s technology needs, with this year’s proceeds going to increase the speed of the public computers’ internet connection, and to purchase three new computers to replace three of the library’s public machines.

Last year the event raised $5,000, which comes from registration fees and donations from local businesses.

All 5k participants will receive a goody bag, and refreshments will be provided to all runners and walkers of both races.


Village’s tentative budget available for public inspection

“We won’t get to any of these projects unless we put it out in front of us and start saving for it. That’s budgeting 101.” Jeff Walter (right) Elburn Village Board trustee

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved a tentative budget that will be available for public viewing at Village Hall through Monday, April 21.

The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed $6.2 million 2014-15 fiscal year budget at its April 21 meeting, after which the final budget could be approved. The fiscal year begins May 1.

Some discussion took place among the trustees regarding the recreation fund, which they had voted at the last board meeting to keep as a separate fund, distinct from the general operating fund.

Trustees also asked that $11,400 in revenues from Elburn gaming establishments be placed into that fund, to pay for necessary park maintenance. But trustee Ethan Hastert, who had voted against the separate fund in earlier meetings, said he had concerns about putting additional money into the account, without anything specific in mind to spend it on.

Last year’s budget set aside $8,000 for maintenance; this year’s proposed budget sets aside $55,000.

Trustee Dave Gualdoni expressed his concern over the village’s liability with its current parks and equipment, which is out of compliance, as well as having some safety issues.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he was concerned that, unless the village has a vision for its parks and recreation, nothing will happen.

“We won’t get to any of these projects unless we put it out in front of us and start saving for it,” he said. “That’s budgeting 101.”

Trustee Pat Schuberg agreed, saying she would like to see a punch list of maintenance items that were needed for the parks and equipment.

Trustee Ken Anderson said he would rather leave the budget as it was, keeping the gaming income in the recreation fund.

Byerhof resigns after 55 years of service

ELBURN—Wayne Byerhof recently announced his resignation from the Elburn Police Commission upon the end of his three-year term , which will conclude on April 30 of this year.

“I have served the village of Elburn and the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District since March 13, 1959,” Village President Dave Anderson said, reading from Byerhof’s letter of resignation. “After 55 years, it’s time.”

Byerhof was a member of the Elburn police force for 52 years prior to becoming a police commissioner in 2011.

“Thanks is a small word,” Anderson said. “But I think it means a lot to a gentleman like Wayne Byerhof. Elburn would not be Elburn without Wayne. We thank you.”

Board members and audience members alike applauded Byerhof’s service.

Byerhof asked that there be no awards or ceremonies.
“I would like to just quietly fade away,” he said.


Elburn poised for steady growth

The Elburn Herald’s three-part series detailing the
evolution of Elburn ends
this week with a look at the
village’s future plans

ELBURN—The village of Elburn is poised for a resurgence in growth, with requests for residential building permits picking up and a number of new businesses locating in town, as well as the build-out of a new mixed-use development in its future.

In the discussion stage for more than five years, the Village Board in 2013 approved the plan for the Shodeen, Inc. Elburn Station development.

The 484-acre development, situated around the Elburn Metra train station, will bring a mix of 2,215 single-family homes, townhouses, apartments and age-targeted housing, as well as a potential 200,000 square feet of commercial development to the village.

The build-out is expected to take place over the next 20 years, and will effectively double Elburn’s current population of 5,000.

According to Shodeen developer Dave Patzelt, the development will allow for a wide range of residential living for individuals, families, empty nesters and retirees.

Construction on the development will begin once the Anderson Road extension and bridge project is completed. The bridge project, which will extend Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road and provide a bridge over the Union Pacific railroad tracks, began in earnest at the beginning of 2014 and is expected to be finished by spring 2015.

The bridge will provide an alternative to motorists, as well as for emergency vehicles that need to get through town.

The village, with input from a number of individuals and groups, revised the comprehensive land use plan in 2013, which provides guidelines for growth and development for the next 20 to 30 years.

A common theme of the input was current residents’ desire to keep what they consider to be valuable about the village as it currently exists. Its rural identity, small-town feel and friendly atmosphere were values that came up again and again.

One of the groups that provided feedback on the village’s plan consisted of eight Kaneland High School students.

“I’d like to keep the small-town feel, but to add more things to draw people—something that connects the people,” said Jeremy Faletto, one of the students.

Faletto and his classmates said they would like to see Elburn grow, but they would like to see it expand outward around the downtown area instead of being too spread out.

They said they would also like more green space and more trees, especially in the downtown area. They agreed that it would be great to have a place in town where they could hang out, such as a coffee shop or something similar.

The students also know what they don’t want, namely another Randall Road. And they also want to avoid “a lot of townhouses and suburban pop-ups,” and more disconnected subdivisions such as Blackberry Creek.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said that Elburn’s Land Use Plan calls for growth to take place within the confines of the village’s current planning boundaries.

She said the guidelines of the village’s Land Use Plan, as well as the village’s zoning codes and ordinances, will help to make sure that new growth does not sprawl. It will stay within the designated corridor, as well as helping to preserve the small-town feel that residents want to maintain.

Willrett said she anticipates that Elburn will continue to be a thriving community, with the population growth taking place at a modest rate.

“It won’t be like the growth we saw between 2001 and 2008,” she said.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said that future growth in Elburn will be dependent on a stable economy. He said that although villages don’t control growth, they can mold it into what will appeal to the lifestyles and desires of their residents.

Anderson said that Elburn should expect a good mix of land uses, with business and light manufacturing, as well as the increase in population.

Elburn in 2013 welcomed a number of businesses to the village, including the Lighthouse Academy child care facility, Accelerated Rehabilitation, Brianna’s Pancake House and Eddie Gaedel’s Grill and Pub, and the way was paved for a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant and drive-through to open in 2014.

Anderson said he sees the Chamber working to bring more ancillary businesses to town. The Village Board in 2013 also appointed a group of business owners and other stakeholders to form an Economic Development Commission for Elburn, with Willrett as the moderator.

Anderson said the goal of the group is to advance economic development for Elburn, whether that is working to enhance current businesses or to motivate new businesses to come to town.

“We’ve got some things that businesses would want, a good customer base and a per capita income,” Anderson said.

In the meantime, the village continues to invest in its current downtown area. Village trustee Ken Anderson said the village is fortunate to still have some of the old structures in the downtown area, and said it will be important to continue to invest in upgrading and modernizing the streetscape along Main Street.

The village’s Facade Improvement Program is a fund with money set aside to assist in paying for improvements made to the exterior of commercial establishments within the Old Town Elburn Business District. The village will provide up to a maximum of one-half of the cost of improvements up to $5,000 and up to 20 percent of the facade reimbursement or $1,000 for architectural services.

Eddie Gaedel’s, because the owners of the building and the business are the same, received a total of $10,000 to upgrade the front of its business in 2013.

Willrett plans to apply for $100,000 in Kane County Riverboat Funds in 2014 to finance a central business streetscape project, which would be used for new street lamps, benches, planters and trash receptacles for the downtown Main Street area.

Willrett said that this remodeling effort, together with new sidewalks planned for both Main and First streets, would go a long way to create a renewed and welcoming look to the downtown business district.

According to Willrett, the village is committed to its central business district on Main Street. Although there will be pockets of commercial development within Elburn Station, there is not a Main Street within the Shodeen development, and Elburn’s central business district will always remain on Main Street, she said.

Village trustee Ken Anderson said that trees and green infrastructure are critical parts of what continues to make Elburn a desirable place to live. Best management practices, including narrower roads and more permeable surfaces, as well as streetscapes lined with trees, will be long-lasting assets to the village.

According to Patzelt, 160 trees were planted this past fall within the Elburn Station development, which contains over 110 acres of parks and green open space with miles of recreational paths.

Village President Anderson said he recognizes that transit is an issue, and he is looking to bring a pedestrian bridge to town that will connect the train station and the surrounding development with the village’s downtown area. Shodeen developer Patzelt has agreed to a financial contribution for the pedestrian-only overpass over the railroad tracks along the westerly edge of the Elburn Station Development.

Patzelt said that the proposed pedway would be a vital link between the old and the new of Elburn Station to Elburn’s downtown, as well as Village Hall, the Town and Country Public Library in Elburn and Public Works.

Dave said that Elburn will also benefit from the planned full interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 88, which should bring commerce and people to the village. East-west roads such as Route 38, 64 and Keslinger provide viable transportation to and from the village.

In addition, he said, Elburn has a great opportunity with the Metra station locating within the village. The Union Pacific has also petitioned for a third rail that would go through Elburn, from Chicago to Omaha.

The wild card may be Route 47, a state highway over which the village doesn’t have any control. IDOT has begun widening Route 47 south of town, as well as north of town, around Huntley, Ill.

Dave said he doesn’t see how IDOT would be able to widen Route 47 through Elburn, especially with the at-grade railroad crossing.

“I’m not as clear on that as I’d like to be,” Dave said. “IDOT will have to make that decision. They are tearing half the town down in Yorkville.”

Business owners along Main Street would be impacted should Route 47 (Main Street) be widened through town.

Ream’s Elburn Market owner Randy Ream, who purchased the parking lot across the street from his store with the possibility that the market could expand on that property, said he is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Route 47.

“Will they take away the parking like they did in Huntley?” he said. “That’s way out of my control. At least now I have parking.”

The Elburn and Countryside Fire District has plans for a new fire station on the north side of Route 38, providing better access to Route 38, 47 and Anderson Road, as well as more room in which to grow.

Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan hopes to break ground on the new station in the spring of 2014. It will replace the current building, which the district has outgrown.

Callaghan said that the district, which not only covers Elburn, but also Campton Hills, parts of Virgil, Lily Lake and Wasco, will do its best to stay ahead of growth, and provide the best service for its constituents.

“We’ve got some challenges, mostly financial issues and needs that have to be met,” Village President Anderson said. “We’ve got to pay for them.”

The current big-ticket item, not related to future growth, is the upgrade to the village’s wastewater treatment plant. The village will pay off the cost of the project, $7.5 million, over the next 20 years.

Anderson said that the new people moving in to the village seem to be pretty nice, and they are working hard to fit in. The new residents he has met through the Elburn Lions Club are anxious and willing to help out.

In addition to the very active Lions Club, which contributes greatly to the village and beyond, Dave said that the biggest thing that Elburn has going for it is the parental involvement with their children’s activities.

“That’s what makes Elburn Elburn,” he said. “In other towns, mom and dad drop their kids off at activities and drive away; in Elburn, the parents coach, they teach, they’re involved. We’ve got tremendous baseball, football and soccer programs. In the Elburn Days Parade, there’s as many parents as there are kids.”

Anderson said that the excellent school system is another plus for the village.

“Our kids do well at college and beyond,” he said. “Also, the number of kids that graduate and come back to live here—that says a lot about the community. I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else.”

“We’ll still be a viable community 20 to 30 years from now,” he said.

PART ONE: Memories of Elburn past

PART TWO: Elburn grows up


Memories of Elburn past

Long-term Elburnites share memories of village

The Elburn Herald’s three-part series detailing the evolution of Elburn begins this week with a look at the village’s past.

Imagine a Route 47 with so little traffic that young people could safely roller skate through the middle of Elburn all the way to Blackberry Inn (Bar & Grill) at Main Street Road. Then imagine nothing but farmland once you traveled north of the Elburn and Countryside Community Center and a town where you knew everyone and they knew you.

That’s the Elburn that existed when Hilma (Tillie) Henderson was born. Henderson was born in 1920 when Dr. Taylor came to her home in Elburn to deliver her. At 93 years old, Henderson is believed to be the oldest person alive who was born and raised in Elburn.

Several other long-time Elburnites recently shared their memories about what it was like to grow up in Elburn.

One thing they all agreed on: as a kid, you could never get away with anything.

“Everybody knew who you were, so if you were misbehaving, your folks knew about it before you got home,” long-time resident and Village President Dave Anderson said. “It was always in a positive manner.”

Anderson said he raised his three boys the same way. He recalled when his son Ryan got a speeding ticket and the officer who gave it to him put a call in to Dave. When Ryan got home, Dave asked his son about his lead foot.

“His eyes were as big as dinner plates,” Anderson said with a laugh.

Opportunities for entertainment for young people in Elburn included free movies in town. Helen (Gould) Johnson, who grew up outside of town near her family’s Gould Cider Mill, said that on Saturdays, the farmers would come to town to buy groceries, and the kids would watch the show.

Johnson said she and her sister would meet up with their friends from school. The movies were shown where the old post office used to be, at Shannon and Gates streets, as well as at the Stover Brothers office. The seats were planks placed across tiles.

She remembers the cowboy movies, and Anderson said he recalls seeing “Ma & Pa Kettle” and “Francis, the Talking Mule.”

Anderson said that when he was a boy, the Elburn Lions Club paid for two school buses to take a group of grade school students swimming at Pottawottamie Park in St. Charles on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer.

Ralph Conley, born in 1925, is the younger son of Burdette Hale Conley, who owned and operated the funeral home in town. Ralph said that he and his brother Chuck and sister Eloise grew up during the depression. Their family didn’t have a lot of money, but they made their own fun.

He and the other kids in the neighborhood would meet under the street light, and from there, go off and play games, such as Run, Sheep, Run, and others that they made up. He said that, although times were tough, he and his friends didn’t realize it.

“Everybody was in the same boat,” he said.

For a time, the Greyhound bus stopped in town, and there was a passenger train from Chicago that dropped people off at the depot in town, as well. The local teenage girls would take the train to DeKalb to attend the dances there on Saturday night.

At first, the funeral chapel was located in the south half of the old drug store on Main Street. Later, the Conley family moved the funeral home to its current location at the corner of Main and Pierce streets, the house where Ralph and his family had grown up.

Larry Martin was born in 1921 in Hinckley, but his family moved to Elburn a few months later. Martin’s dad Claude (Red) Martin was a barber. His shop on Main Street was the same barber shop that Dave Risman currently owns.

Martin said the population at that time was 500.

He graduated in 1939 from Elburn High School, in the building now known as the Elburn and Countryside Community Center. He was one of only 10 people in his class.

The grade school was at the south end of town, with the lower grades meeting in the basement and the first floor. The fifth, sixth and seventh grades met on the second floor, and according to Anderson, the students could only go up the stairs one at a time, because the building would shake.

Martin obtained several advanced degrees and taught in Wisconsin, as well as at a school for children of servicemen in France, but he always came back to Elburn.

According to Martin, Elburn at that time had a variety of businesses. Those in town included a grocery store, a meat market, a second barber, a dime store, a hardware store, two veterinarians, a small factory, a restaurant, hotel, a garage where Ford automobiles were sold, a plumber and a bank, among others.

“You could get everything you needed in town,” he said.

The railroad had a big impact on business in the area. There were quite a few cattle farmers in the area who received large shipments of cows from ranches in the west.

Cattle farmers brought their grain to the mill in town to be ground into feed for their cows. Once they fattened them up, they took them to the packing house. Martin said you could look out a window on Main Street, and see the cattle being led to the packing house.

When the packing house opened, it was the largest employer in town. Henderson said that people came to Elburn from out of town, such as Iowa, to work there, which increased the population a bit.

When Henderson was in high school, she and her friends would go down to the packing house and watch them slaughter the cows. She said she guesses it sounds awful, but she and her friends understood that they were going to be used for food. They would slaughter more than 100 cows at one time.

“It was an all-day operation,” she said.

The local dairy farmers would bring their milk to the Bowman Dairy, located near the railroad tracks in town. Bowman processed the milk and packed it in 5-gallon containers to take to Chicago on the train.

Beginning in 1946, currency was brought out to Elburn from Chicago on the train. Johnson was working at the bank in town at the time, and she and the other employees would receive bags of loose nickels, dimes and quarters to sort through and count.

Johnson was working at the bank when an infamous bank robbery took place there on Feb. 11, 1949.

She said two men came into the bank, and she saw everyone’s hands go up. They were all made to lie down on the floor, and she remembers smelling the horse manure on the floor, where customers had walked with their dirty boots.

The robbers locked them all in the vault, and walked out with $4,000 in cash. She and the other girls she worked with had to go into Chicago for a line-up. Each of the three girls had a different description of the men. They were never caught.

Mary Gustafson, who was born in 1947, said her dad, Almer Gliddon, bought the drug store in town in 1946. There was a housing shortage in the 1950s, so initially the family lived in an apartment in the back part of the store.

Mary remembers working in the store’s soda fountain after school when she was 12, which she thought was great, because she got to interact with kids of all ages.

She remembers the mail was brought out to Elburn on the train, where it was thrown off the train in a mail bag. The outgoing mail was hung on a hook on the train.

Phyllis Ream and her husband Bob moved to Elburn and opened Ream’s Meat Market in 1954. She said the first week they were open, they took in $112.89. At first, she sat down and cried, and then she went to work, helping to make the business successful.

She said Bob would cut the meat and she would package it, with their two sons, Randy and Jim, in a playpen in the back of the store. She set up the books, and even though she went back to college and got a job teaching in Batavia, she would come back to the store after school and work until late at night.

She and Bob still found time for community involvement. Bob was on the Village Board for 15 years, and Phyllis served on the Library Board for 12 years. She recalls making a trip to Villa Park, Ill., to retrieve some shelves from a library there that was moving.

“I took my screwdriver and took them down and brought them back,” she said proudly.

Although Randy was the son who first took an interest in the business, learning how to make award-winning sausage and other meats, everyone in the family eventually became involved.

Dave Anderson’s dad, Leonard, was a dairy farmer before he moved his family to town in 1953. After managing the Elburn Co-op for a decade, he bought the grocery store in town in 1964.

Leonard would deliver groceries, and check on the senior citizens in town on his rounds. He always made sure that people had food, and would often let them run a monthly tab.

Dave had a 15-year career with Jewel-Osco, where he was a butcher and manager, after which he took over running the store. He said he was able to make a good living at it, and raised three children before he closed the business a few years before Jewel came to town. He sold the building to Kevin Schmidt, who opened Schmidt’s Towne Tap in that spot.

By 1958, Elburn’s population had grown to 1,200. When the individual towns’ high schools were closed and consolidated into the Kaneland High School in 1958, Martin helped create the guidance department, where he worked for the next 20 years. He was also the first director of athletics.

Gustafson and her husband, Ken, took over the pharmacy in 1982, and took care of Elburn’s medical needs for 25 years. They had close relationships with their customers, and she would come out from behind the counter and give someone a hug when they needed it.

Although they loved their work there, they happily began working in the Jewel-Osco Pharmacy when it opened in 2007, where now they can take vacations together.

By the 2010 census, Elburn’s population had grown to more than 5,000.

Anderson said that growing up in Elburn was a wonderful experience, and he compares his childhood to a Norman Rockwell painting.

“I’m extremely grateful that I was brought up in Elburn,” he said.

Henderson, who went to school with Anderson’s dad, holds the same affection in her heart for the town where she was born.

“It was home,” she said.

PART TWO: Elburn grows up

PART THREE: Elburn poised for steady growth


Lions come from near and far for Halsey

ELBURN—Lions Club members came from close by and far away to roast—and to honor —Chris Halsey, who will soon become the first Elburn Lions Club member to be chosen district governor.

The event, a Comedy Central-style roast—or “ROAR,” as the Lions Club calls it—took place on the evening of March 12 at Lions Park in Elburn.

The fundraiser, at $25 donation per person, raised money to help with expenses for the extensive travel Halsey will be doing during his term as district governor.

Lions were there from Elgin, Bartlett, Ill., Sycamore and DeKalb, as well as those from the Elburn Club, for the evening of entertainment, raffles, drinks and dinner.

Elburn Lion Cliff Johnson, who at 98 years old is the club’s oldest living member, was on-hand for the festivities. Johnson stopped counting how many years he’s been a Lion after he received his 60-year pin.

“I was a member when we bought the land for the park,” he said.

Johnson, who currently lives in Oak Crest in DeKalb, said he was “very happy to be at the doings.”

“I’m real proud of him getting to be governor,” Johnson said of Halsey.

One Elburn Club member had the distinction of attending via speaker phone from Arizona: Elburn Village President Dave Anderson.

Anderson, who’s been a friend of Halsey’s since the two were young boys, regaled the audience with stories of Halsey’s youth.

Additional roasters imparted their own humorous stories about Halsey throughout the night.

Some common themes were “liquid refreshment” and his life “BC,” or “Before Cindy.”

Halsey’s wife Cindy took all the joking about how many wives Chris has had in stride, and also had her turn at the microphone.

“Chris gives his heart to the club,” she said. “He will do the district and the club proud.”

As the governor of one of eleven districts in the state, Halsey will provide mentoring and leadership for the 63 clubs located in the district. He will travel approximately 30,000 miles during his year-long term, visiting clubs and attending club events, as well as the international convention in Toronto.

Halsey has been in training for this position for the last 14 years, when he became Elburn Lions Club president. Since then, he has taken on roles of more and higher responsibility within the Lions International organization.

Most importantly, Halsey said that the Lions Club has given him the opportunity to continue to do what he considers to be the greatest thing in the world: “to help somebody less fortunate than you.”

The Lions Club’s primary mission is to help the blind and visually impaired, locally through providing service dogs to individuals, as well as internationally through providing vision screening and glasses to people around the world.

The Lions are also involved in a variety of other activities to improve their communities and help people in need, such as assisting the hearing impaired, and working with diabetes awareness and education, environmental projects and youth programs.

With 185 members, the Elburn club is the largest in the state, as well as the most active. The club also has an active Leos Club, made up of young people with a desire to help.

When children even younger than the required age to become a Leo showed interest in participating, Halsey was instrumental in creating the Jr. Leos, getting the children started in service at an early age.

Halsey wrapped up the evening with his own words to the group.

“Next year, I will be representing District 1J and the village of Elburn, and I promise you I’ll work hard and I’ll be the best governor I can possibly be,” he said.

Fire chiefs update Elburn on new station

ELBURN—Elburn Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan and Assistant Chief of Fire Operations Tate Haley attended the Village Board meeting on Monday to update the board on plans and progress regarding the new fire building.

The Elburn and Countryside Fire District will build a new main fire station on the corner of Route 38 and N. First St. The three-story building will be 40,000 square feet, giving the district the room it needs for updated equipment and staffing levels.

There will be six full-time staff on duty on site during the daytime hours.

The new location will also give the fire station good access in all directions. The main discharge of emergency vehicles will be from the Route 38 exit, with the secondary discharge on First Street. There will be signs alerting motorists of the emergency egress.

Bids for the construction will go out next week, and the district hopes to break ground in May.

The building will maximize the space and should adequately accommodate current and future growth, Tate explained.

The cost of the project will be between $8 and $10 million, and the district already has the necessary funding.

The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District’s service area, which spans 75 square miles, includes the village of Elburn, Lily Lake, Virgil, Campton Hills and Mill Creek subdivisions. The boundary on the north is Ramm Road and the southern boundary is Scott Road, with the eastern and western boundaries fluctuating.

The current main station is located at 210 E. North Street, with a satellite station located at 39W950 Hughes Road, immediately outside the Mill Creek subdivision.

Residents will see rate increases for water, sewer

ELBURN—Next fiscal year’s budget will include several increases for Elburn residents, including a hike in the water and sewer rate.

The board voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to raise the rates, beginning with the May 1 bill.

Residents can expect to pay $8 more a month in their sewer bills to pay for the upgrade to the village’s wastewater treatment facility. Current sewer rates are $2.82 per 100 cubic feet of water used, and this year’s increase would take it to $3.82.

Bills for both water and sewer are based on water usage, and average water use per household is approximately 800 cubic feet per month.

The costs of the modernization project will come to approximately $7.5 million, including a low-interest 20-year loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven previously told the board that, in order to pay back the loan, the sewer rate will have to increase by about the same amount each year for the next four years.

By 2017, the rate would reach the recommended $7.10 per 100 cubic feet.

Modernization of the 30-year-old plant is necessary due to safety and efficiency concerns.

“We must meet our cost obligations, and set aside money for the larger items,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

“We need water and we need funding to pay for it,” trustee Bill Grabarek added.

Water rates will go up from $3.28 per 100 cubic feet to $3.88 per 100 cubic feet per month.

During the Committee of the Whole meeting, Finance Director Doug Elder reviewed the entire draft budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 with the board, noting that Elburn’s equalized assessed value is down 7 percent from last year.

“The decrease is slowing, and will likely hit bottom next year,” Elder said. “There are signs of building picking up.”

The revenue of $2.7 million in the general fund is down just a little from last year, but revenues are still more than expenses, he said.

Board members discussed the need for additional money for park maintenance. This year’s budget includes $47,000 for maintaining parks, compared with the estimated $8,000 for this year.

Trustee Bill Grabarek suggested using the village’s portion of video gaming revenues for that purpose. The village takes in approximately $1,000 as its share in the gaming operation at Schmidt’s Towne Tap and Knuckleheads Tavern.

But trustee Jeff Walter said that won’t be enough for what is needed to maintain the parks throughout the village.

Walter suggested that the village might have to go out to the residents for additional funding.

“We need to get serious about our parks thing,” Walter said. “We want to do more with parks in the village, especially with all the growth.”

The tentative budget will be available for the public to review between April 8 and April 21, with the Village Board voting on it at the April 21 meeting.

“It’s gotten simpler every year,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

photo 2

Dauberman Road closures for motorists’ safety

Photo: A backhoe last week sank into Welch Creek in Kaneville. The creek has flooded repeatedly this winter, forcing two separate closures of the stretch of Dauberman Road between Main Street and Scott roads. Courtesy Photo

KANEVILLE—The stretch of Dauberman Road between Main Street and Scott roads in Kaneville has been closed twice this year, due to Welch Creek flooding that has resulted in both wet and icy road conditions.

“People won’t slow down,” said Kane County Division of Transportation’s Scott VerVynck. “We had no choice but to close it for their safety.”

VerVynck said there were a couple of instances of cars rolling over when they hit the water and began hydroplaning.

“It pulled them into the ditch,” he said. “It was a bad situation.”

The latest closure took place on March 13. The road reopened the next day.


Resale shop supports Beautiful U Ministries

Photo: Bill and Liz Hough opened the Beautiful U Resale Shop in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center in late 2013 to support Beautiful U Ministries and provide a place to work for girls enrolled in the program. The grand opening for the resale shop’s new location at 112 N. Main St., Elburn, will take place on Saturday, April 5, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pictured are Bill Hough (left to right), Kami Hammond, Jamie Scroggs, Diane Mitzelfeld, Liz Hough and Skip Stolley. Photo by Lynn Logan

ELBURN—Bill Hough’s mom was 16 years old when she gave birth to him. Although others around her were encouraging her to have an abortion, she resisted that path.

“Luckily, she chose life,” said Liz Hough, Bill’s wife.

Thus began the seed of a ministry that would call the couple years later to provide support to teens like Bill’s mom.

Four years ago, Liz and Bill were taking a break from fostering children so they could reconnect with their own three offspring when they felt the call to begin mentoring teen mothers.

The Houghs were matched up with a teenager who was five months pregnant. They invited her to come and stay with them on weekends and holidays, and she gradually became a part of their family.

The plan was for Liz and Bill to provide a secure environment for the mom and her baby, as she learned how to parent her child on her own. Her healthy baby boy was born in December 2009.

It did not work out as the Houghs had hoped, and ten days after Jaden was born, she left.

“Now, even though she is no longer in touch with us, we have a daily reminder of our impact in one another’s lives, as we were honored with the opportunity to adopt the boy she carried,” Liz said. “We continue to pray that the loving seeds we planted will take root in her life.”

Soon after the Hough’s experience with Jaden and his mom, they began to get calls looking for homes for teens who were expecting a child. Since then, they have welcomed six additional girls into their home.

Liz said that these experiences opened her eyes to the crisis that pregnant teens face in our surrounding communities. She said that homeless teen moms are the fastest-growing population demographic in this country.

“Across the U.S., nearly 800,000 teenagers get pregnant every year, and depending on their environment, many of these young girls must choose between aborting their babies or being kicked out of their homes,” she said.

Six of the seven teens Liz and her family have hosted were in that situation. She found that there was not much help out there for girls who found themselves pregnant at 15 or 16 years old.

She said that the programs that did exist were mainly for girls 18 years of age and older, and those had waiting lists of two to three years. Needless to say, that would not work for a young girl about to have a baby.

That was when Liz and her husband made the decision to start a ministry for teen moms.
“The common thread was that none of the girls had ever sat down as a family for dinner,” Liz said. “That spoke volumes to me.”

By inviting them to become a part of their family, Liz said she saw them begin to bloom. She said that just like a flower that hasn’t been watered for some time, these girls responded to the love that she and Bill showed them.

“Once we became aware of this great need for pregnant teens and teen moms, our goal was to never turn away a pregnant teen or a teen mother in need of a safe, supportive home,” she said. “However, we quickly realized that we’d need more resources than our family alone could provide.”

The Houghs in 2010 founded Beautiful U Ministries as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit Christian organization to serve the needs of at-risk pregnant teens and teen mothers.

At the end of 2013, they opened the Beautiful U Resale Shop in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center in Elburn.

The purpose of the shop is two-fold, Liz explained. First of all, it provides the funding needed to support their ministry. Secondly, the girls in the program are required to work in the shop as part of their participation in the program.

The first 10 hours they work each month are volunteer hours. Above that, they’re paid, and the money goes into a savings account. When the girls are ready to be on their own, the money will be there for a security deposit or a down-payment on a car.

Working in the shop also gives the girls much-needed job skills training for them to be successful in supporting themselves and their baby.

The shop offers gently-used clothing, housewares, toys and more at reasonable prices. Hough said she started out small, not knowing what to expect. However, donations to the store have been so plentiful that Hough said they will soon be moving to a larger space.

“God has far exceeded anything that we could ever have imagined,” she said. “The community has embraced our ministry.”

There are 14 regular volunteers to help out in the store, which is currently open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The volunteers range from stay-at-home moms with children, families, Bible study groups and individuals.

The new location will be five times the size of the current space and will have extended hours.

Beautiful U Ministries Director Jaimie Scroggs knows what these girls are going through. Twenty years ago, she was a pregnant teen herself. She was living with her father and her other siblings at the time.

Although her father was trying to be supportive, his solution was for her to have an abortion.

“’Everybody makes mistakes,’ he told me,” she said.

Scroggs said that, with the help of several friends and some very supportive people, she made the decision to have her baby. Her son will be 19 years old this May. They have lived in Elburn for the past 10 years.

“I always had people looking out for me,” she said. “You have to make tough choices when you’re so young, and you sometimes end up making poor choices because you don’t know about other options.”

She is happy to be involved with Beautiful U Ministries, where she said that what they provide is someone to show the girls they serve that things can be different.

“Beautiful U Ministries is not just about food and shelter and a place to lay your head,” she said. “It’s about becoming part of a family and seeing there’s another way to do life.”

Metra commuters will soon pay more to park

ELBURN—Metra commuters will soon see an increase in their daily parking rate to cover the costs of maintaining the parking lot.

“We’re spending more money there than we’re taking in,” Village President Dave Anderson said during the Committee of the Whole meeting on March 3. “We’ve been over-extended for a long time.”

This year’s snow accumulation has also greatly added to the village’s expenses, with the village paying an estimated $43,000 this year to pay for snow removal. This amount was significantly more than the budgeted amount of $15,000.

Although the commuter parking fund is still projected to begin the new fiscal year with a $74,000 cash balance, projected revenues of $90,000 for the coming year are less than projected expenses of $103,000.

In addition, Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that the blacktop on the eastern end of the parking lot needs to be replaced.

Nevenhoven provided the board with an estimate of $253,330 to replace the 13,300 square yards of blacktop designated for replacement. He said it comes out to about $19 per square yard to remove and replace 2 inches of asphalt for the targeted area.

“Expenses for this year are higher than revenues,” Village Finance Director Doug Elder said. “It has been like this for the last couple of years. Eventually, you’ll use up any surplus you have, and that will be painful if that happens.”

Anderson said that letters had already been sent to residents regarding the increase in rates.

“Now is the time,” he said.

Elburn to apply for county riverboat funds

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on March 3 agreed to give the go-ahead to Village Administrator Erin Willrett to apply for Kane County riverboat funds to finance a central business streetscape project.

Willrett explained that the $100,000 she plans to request on behalf of the village would be used for new street lamps, benches, planters and trash receptacles for the downtown Main Street area.

This remodeling effort, together with new sidewalks planned for both Main and First streets, would create a renewed and welcoming look to the downtown business district.

The riverboat money, should the village receive it, would come with no requirement that the village provide matching funds.

Trustee Pat Schuberg encouraged Willrett to obtain the buy-in from the business owners in town.

The board will vote on the resolution at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, March 17.

Dornback appointed Blackberry Township Supervisor

BLACKBERRY TWP.—Blackberry Township Cemetery Sexton Fred Dornback was appointed Blackberry Township Supervisor on Tuesday in a 3-1 vote by township trustees. The one ‘no’ vote came from trustee Jim Feece, who had nominated himself for the supervisor position.

Dornback was sworn in following the vote. He said that he would continue his responsibilities for the cemetery on a volunteer basis until someone else was found to replace him, and asked that his stipend for the cemetery position be terminated.

Trustee Jim Michels, who had taken over discussions from former Township Supervisor Dennis Ryan regarding the township’s lease for McNair Field for use by Elburn Baseball and Softball, received a draft lease on Wednesday morning from owners TRC.

The previous lease negotiated between Blackberry Township and Burr Ridge, Ill., company Transmission Relay Corporation had lasted 10 years. The lease granted local athletic leagues the use of five of the corporation’s 20 acres located south and east of the intersection of Bateman and Rowe roads. The original lease expired April 30, 2013.

Michels said the dates of the lease are to be determined, but that it would probably be made effective sometime in March and go through the end of 2014. He said the township will attempt to negotiate a longer-term lease over the next nine months. The lease spells out that the field is to be used only for baseball and softball.

Elburn police expenses outweigh revenues

ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday pointed out that the village’s budgeted police operating expenses of $1.6 million outweighed the $1.3 to $1.4 million in general fund revenues.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith requested $834,000 for police salaries and $360,000 for benefits to keep two officers on duty covering three shifts a day, as well as $162,000 to fund the police pension fund.

“It scares me,” Anderson said. “We need police protection, but … I don’t know what the answer is. Just so everyone’s aware of it.”

Village trustee Ken Anderson asked if the village could hold another referendum vote to ask residents for the funding for the pension. Elburn residents in 2012 rejected a referendum for an additional tax to put money into a police pension fund.

Village Administrator Erin Willrett said the village can again go back to the residents to request the additional tax.

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A little vintage A lot of heart

Photo: Kristy Simon, owner of Soaring Heart Vintage, behind the sales counter. Photo by Patti Wilk

New Elburn local opens store on Main Street
ELBURN—Kristy Simon has always been a collector of vintage and antique things. She said her grandmother, an artist, encouraged in her an appreciation for an older time and sensibility.

“It sparked an interest in me,” she said.

Simon recently opened Soaring Heart Vintage at 119 1/2 N. Main St. in Elburn.

She met her husband, who grew up in Sycamore, when they were both living in Chicago. Although Kristy appreciates the culture, the fashion and the energy the city has to offer, she and her husband wanted to live in a small town where life was affordable and crime was low.

The Simons five years ago moved out to Elburn, where they have two dogs and a cat, a backyard, and where they take time to breathe and enjoy a slower pace.

Several summers ago, Kristy began holding mini-barn sales once a month, and developed somewhat of a following for her items. When the opportunity presented itself for her to move into the storefront on Main Street, she jumped at the chance.

“I love Elburn,” she said. “I want to be part of the local community, and more than just as a resident.”

Kristy said her inventory is mainly mid-century, with items such as costume jewelry, home decor and furnishings, creatively arranged throughout the store. She said she enjoys staging and styling the items almost as much as the thrill of the hunt for unique merchandise.

“You never know what you’re going to find in some dusty corner in an old, gross basement,” she said.

Not surprisingly, one of Kristy’s favorite shows on television is American Pickers, a program about two antique hunters who find treasures in old barns, backyards and basements.

“I would love to meet them,” she said.

Kristy said that you learn over time what you are looking at.

“I love to know the history of something, so when I see something I’m not familiar with, I research it,” she said. “I am pretty particular about what I buy. People can tell when you absolutely love what you’re selling.”

Her criteria for buying an item is that she would personally buy it for someone or that she would have it in her own home.

Kristy likes to offer a mix of things, to give people a variety of things to look at. She said she tries to keep her prices reasonable, because she never wants someone to say they would like something but they can’t afford it.

She offers items from local vendors mixed in with her merchandise, such as hand-made fabric purses, homemade soaps and skin care products, and embellished vintage jewelry. She plans to offer a selection of old vinyl records soon, and was meeting recently with a collector to discuss his vinyl collection.

“Vinyl has made a total comeback,” Kristy said. “I love old music, and I like to listen to it on vinyl. I love the crackle; it just sounds different.”

She decorates for the holidays, and during the month of February, old-fashioned valentines with parts that moved were strewn in and around the more stable items. A collection of small quilted hearts attached with clothes pins to a long swatch of crinoline fabric captured the imagination.

“The space itself is so old,” Kristy said. “With the high ceilings and everything, my stuff just fits in the space.”