All posts by Susan ONeill

Elburn church welcomes new visitors

Living Word of God Church
The Revs. David and Jessica Jones

526 N. Main St., Elburn
Sunday worship at 11 a.m.
Tuesday Bible Study at 7:30 p.m.

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—The Revs. David and Jessica Jones opened the doors of their Living Word of God Church in February of 2011, at 526 N. Main St., on the Great Lakes Leadership campus in Elburn. Both ministers trained through the Living Word of God Church headquartered in Cleveland, Tenn. David is following in the footsteps of his father, who is the pastor of a Living Word Church in Wilmington, Ill.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” David said. “I felt the call of God to go into ministry.”

Jessica said that the service is an informal meeting. David said that he rarely wears a tie, and wants others to dress comfortably, as well, so they can feel at ease during worship.

The service, which starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings, is a contemporary service with a mixture of songs, a sermon and readings from the Bible, as well as prayers for people’s needs and concerns. People are free to stand, sit, raise their hands or kneel, however the spirit moves them.

In addition to the Sunday service, the church also offers a Tuesday night Bible study, in which David and Jessica teach about the Bible, the history of God’s word, and help people make the connection for how what the Bible says is relevant to their lives today.

“It’s also a chance to see how their week is going and to take prayer requests,” David said.

One of their goals for the church is to help people discover what their gifts are to help them grow in them and find ways to use them for God’s work.

According to Jessica, evangelism is also a tenet of the church, in which she and David teach others how to share the word of God within their own circles, whether it is at work or school or some other sphere of influence.

The couple, who live in Aurora, both grew up in Illinois and met each other on a Christian dating site. They have been married just over two years.

Currently and small congregation, they are looking to grow its membership. They attend functions within the community and try to meet with business people on a one-on-one basis to introduce themselves and their church.

They would like people to feel free to come to a service and check it out with no requirements.

Their message is as the Living Word of God Church states on its website, “Come as you are; you’ll be loved.”

Entrepreneurs plus mentors equal success

by Susan O’Neill
FOX VALLEY—Position-Tech, a sports equipment manufacturing company created by four former Northern Illinois University students, was one of several companies featured last Thursday at an event celebrating the successes of entrepreneurs from the Fox Valley area.

The featured companies were only a small sample of the more than 25 start-ups that received business advice and mentoring through the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center and the Illinois Small Business Development Center in the past year.

Former Northern Illinois University football players Erek Benz and Dan Nicholson were still in school five years ago when they found themselves slipping around on the field. They did a little research and found that, although many improvements had been made to other types of football equipment, football cleats had not significantly changed since the 1920s.

After graduation, Benz decided to do something about that. He and Nicholson, together with college buddies Christian Anderson and David Pickard, developed a football cleat system that was proven to increase traction on the field by 20 percent.

The cleats are also customizable, depending on the position of the player and whether the desired advantage is agility, power, balance or speed. They patented the technology, founded the company Position-Tech, LLC, and with financing from family and friends, hit the road to sell the product.

Their cleats received high marks from NCAA and professional football players, who immediately saw the potential for a legal advantage over the competition. Their product won endorsements from some well-known players, including Chicago Bears’ wide receiver Earl Bennett, who became Position-Tech’s first company spokesperson.

The young men were also able to persuade Dick’s Sporting Goods to place the cleats on its website. After the cleats made eight times the revenue that Dick’s had projected, the sporting goods company rolled them out to 216 of its stores. Position-Tech’s current problem is obtaining the financial backing needed to keep up with the demand.

This is where serial entrepreneur Andrew Parker comes in. Parker is one of a number of successful entrepreneurs who provide mentoring and guidance to companies like Position-Tech through a partnership between the Fox Valley Entrepreneurship Center and the Illinois Small Business Development Center.

Parker and other entrepreneurs with various areas of expertise work with the founders of these start-ups, who otherwise might not be able to afford their services, to help them take their companies to the next level.

Parker said he considered it a real opportunity to work with the four former college friends.

“With early starters, it’s not about the product, it’s about the people,” he said.

The two things that attracted Parker about Position-Tech were the “cool technology” and “a CEO who listens.”

Parker said the first thing he does with his clients is a half-day strategy session to evaluate their business and determine their needs. Those needs could be to increase revenue, fix the marketing plan or work on some specific operational issues.

Parker has helped the young men rebuild their financial model from scratch. He determined that in order for their company to continue to grow, they needed an additional $1.5 million in financing. After working with them on their business pitch to investors, he went with them to their first pitch meeting. They came away from that first meeting with $250,000.

With additional advice and assistance, Benz and his team also launched an online cleat configurator web site and created a marketing strategy to penetrate the high school football market. They are positioned to expand into the Lacrosse and Rugby markets in 2014.

Another company that received critical business advice from Fox Valley entrepreneurs who have “been there,” is Benefit Performance Associates, LLC. Owners Maria Kuhn and Dr. Christina Krause had an award-winning Integrated Health Advocacy Program (IHAP) to address the health care needs of patients with multiple chronic illnesses, while significantly reducing the health care costs of employers. What they didn’t have was a clear identity and branding strategy, a dynamic sales pitch or realistic pricing that would allow them to grow.

After working with consultants from FVEC to improve their sales presentation and create a viable marketing strategy, Kuhn said they are 30 days away from signing a contract with a large benefits company in Indiana that will bring in $300,000 worth of revenue.

Illinois Small Business Development Center’s Harriet Parker could not be happier with the success of the partnership her organization has forged with the Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center.

“There’s so much expertise out there, and the entrepreneur doesn’t have a good way to tap into that,” she said. “Our goal is to be the ultimate dot connector.”

Parker said that the mentors that sign on to the project are not in it for the money. She said many times they will work at a reduced rate or will donate their time to mentor a business.

James Brannen, who became an entrepreneur when he retired from a 25-year career in the banking business, said he is excited about the potential that exists in the Fox Valley.

“We’re trying to create a sustainable environment for businesses to grow and develop in the Fox Valley,” he said.

Elburn native son home from Afghanistan receives rousing welcome

Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Nick Sepeda views the many people who showed up on Saturday to welcome him home to Elburn from Afghanistan. Photo by Susan O’Neill

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Spc. Nick Sepeda doesn’t like to be the center of attention. He said he is usually the guy in the background, but that definitely wasn’t the case on June 2, when Sepeda arrived home for a one-month leave from the U.S. Army, after a one-year deployment to Afghanistan.

His mom picked him up at the airport and when she exited from Interstate 88, he thought they were on their way to his home in Elburn. However, when her car turned into the Sugar Grove Jewel parking lot and he saw the crowd of about 70 people waving flags, he knew he wasn’t going home any time soon.

When he saw all the people, he texted his good friend, Stephanie Merchant, who was standing in the middle of the crowd.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked her.

Sepeda’s mom and step-dad, Jayne and Michael Jordan, had kept his celebratory welcome a secret from him, inviting family and friends, the local police and fire departments and the Patriot Guard. The Elburn and the Sugar Grove fire departments were there with their engines, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Department also came to show respect.

When Sepeda stepped out of the car in his dress blues, he was met by members of the Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch, groups of former soldiers who make it a point to welcome returning soldiers home. They stood in two lines,
forming a long corridor of American flags waving in the wind.

Members of his family and friends cheered and waved smaller flags. After a brief ceremony, everyone mounted their motorcycles or got into their cars and escorted Sepeda to the Kaneville Pavilion for a big celebration.

Sepeda, who was born and raised in Elburn, played a variety of sports at Kaneland High School, including baseball and wrestling. He graduated from Kaneland in 2004, attended classes in welding at Waubonsee Community College, and worked for a time as a welding fabricator, flying to different parts of the country for his job.

He enlisted in the United States Army in April 2010, and completed Basic Infantry Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in August of that year. He reported to Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, for combat training and spent a month at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, California, in the Mojave Desert before leaving for Afghanistan.

He deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in April 2011 and was based at a combat outpost in the Panjwa’i Valley in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The humidity was high and the temperature hovered around 115 degrees, as he and the others in his unit carried 50 pounds of gear, guns and ammunition on their backs. He thankfully was not wounded, but some of his friends were, and he lost a few of them. He saw his share of combat, as well as exploding IEDs. He earned a number of ribbons and medals, including the Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Afghan Campaign Ribbon and the NATO Award Ribbon.

He arrived back in the states—at Ft. Wainwright in Alaska—in April.

“I was so thankful when they hit American soil,” Jayne said.

While his family and friends waited for him to arrive from the airport, they shared memories of him as a boy.

Elburn residents Kim and Jim Fitzpatrick said they had known him all his life. He and their children had gone to school together.

“I remember his first birthday,” Kim said.

His brother, Danny, came from Texas to see him, arriving at the airport within hours of Nick. His aunt, Vicki Monks, who is Jayne’s sister, was there from Arizona. She hopes that he will come out there to go to school at Arizona State.

“I was graduating high school when he was a baby,” she said.

Sirens blaring and horns honking, the crowd escorted Sepeda past his old high school before arriving in Kaneville for the celebration. People who have known him forever and those who had met him that day shook his hand, hugged him, and told him they were glad he was home.

The young man who didn’t like to be the center of attention, smiled at all the people gathered in his honor. He thanked them all for coming and then his mom invited everyone to stay and eat.

“It was fun; it was definitely cool,” Sepeda said later.

When he finally tired of graciously posing with various combinations of family members for pictures, Sepeda slipped away to the library. There, he found Library Director Ray Christainsen, who gave him the use of his office to change into civilian clothes.

Prior to joining the Army, Sepeda had volunteered for about a year in the library, helping Christiansen with all kinds of tasks.

Christiansen described him as “bright, warm and funny,” and “an all-around nice guy.”

“I’m happy he’s home,” Christiansen said.

Sepeda gave him a hug before going back out to join the party.

“Yeah, he’s a warrior, and we’re glad he is, but he’s also a very caring person,” Christiansen said.

Sepeda said he’s going to spend this month hanging out with friends, and going to concerts and baseball games. He’s a Sox fan.

He’s not sure about his future after he finishes his tour of duty next year, but he said he’s got some time to think about that.

Members of the Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch get ready to welcome home U.S. Army Spc. Nick Sepeda from his tour in Afghanistan. Photo by Susan O'Neill
U.S. Army Spc. Nick Sepeda with his mom Jayne Jordan of Elburn and his aunt Vicki Monks from Chandler, Arizona at his welcome home party at the Kaneville Pavilion. He arrived in town after a year's deployment in Afghanistan. Photo by Susan O'Neill

Kaneville event highlights local historical figures

by Susan O’Neill
KANEVILLE—You can’t drive through the middle of Kaneville without noticing a small, white building on the south side of Harter Road. Dr. Hirman T. Hardy’s office is a historic, local feature, and he will be one of two Kaneville figures highlighted at the Kaneville Historical Society’s event on Sunday, June 10. The other is the Dauberman family, after whom Dauberman Road is named.

Kaneville resident Steve Downen will portray Dr. Hardy. A few relics from Dr. Hardy’s practice, including his baby book, will be available for viewing. Hardy’s baby book lists all of the babies he delivered from 1873 to 1909, which likely includes many ancestors of current Kaneville residents.

Hardy was a medic in the Civil War, and attended medical school when the war was over. He came to Kaneville expecting to stay only a short time, but ended up living there most of his life. According to Kaneville Historical Society’s Lynette Werdin, he was universally loved by the entire community for his kindness and his caring, and he gave that back in full measure.

He would travel to Chicago to consult with doctors of various specialties, in order to better treat his patients in Kaneville. He married and had several children, and late in his life, in 1914, moved into Chicago to be near his daughter.

He would still travel out to visit his old neighbors and patients, and he ended up dying in Kaneville in 1919 while on one of those visits. He is buried in the Kaneville Cemetery.

The second family featured during the Historical Society event is the Dauberman family. The Society will open the Benton House, and Dauberman descendants Ted and Narrain Phelps and Susan Lye will provide information about their ancestors.

Johnny Dauberman and his wife, Mary Ravlin Dauberman, owned and operated the general store in town. The store carried family items, quilts, dishes, furniture, hand-ground coffee, flour and sugar measured out from 100-pound. barrels, as well as a cracker barrel and a pickle barrel. In addition, parents were able to purchase their children’s text books there.

George and Clarence Dauberman were enterprising Kaneville farmers from the early 1900’s. Clarence developed the first tractor with a high-compression engine in 1934.

Bertha Dauberman Lye was a skilled musician, and her daughter, Elma Lye, was a 2nd Lt. Army nurse in World War II. Known as the Bird Lady from Kaneville, Elma shared her knowledge of nature with organizations and school children, and could imitate bird calls and whistles.

Several antique tractors will be on view in the yard of the Benton House. Tom Runty will be on-hand with his passion for steam engines, and Karl Kettelkamp will display his latest locally-found Indian artifacts.

The historical society’s event won’t be the only reason to visit Kaneville on June 10, however. The fire department’s annual pancake breakfast, featuring sausage from Ream’s Elburn Market, will take place from 7 a.m. to noon at the Kaneville fire barn, 46W536 Lovell St. The cost of the breakfast is $5 per person; children under 3 years of age will be admitted free of charge.

Proceeds from the Kaneville Fire Department breakfast will go towards the purchase of rescue and training equipment.

Annual Kaneville Fire Department Pancake Breakfast
Sunday, June 10
7 a.m. to noon
Pancakes and Ream’s sausage
Kaneville Fire Barn on Lovell Street
$5 per person;
children under 3 years old are free

Kaneville Historical Society event
8 a.m. to noon
Dr. Hardy’s house on Harter Road
The Benton House on Lovell Street

Shodeen development public hearing stays open

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board will keep the public hearing on the Shodeen property annexation open until Monday, June 4. Village President Dave Anderson said he hopes the three remaining issues are resolved by that date.

Anderson said the village is still working with the Kaneland School District on impact fees to arrive at a number acceptable to both the district and Shodeen developer Dave Patzelt.

Officials are also still in negotiations regarding the land/cash fee Shodeen will pay to the schools. The developer has the option to donate land or to pay what the land is worth. At question is the number set by Kane County a several years ago.

That number is $80,000 per acre. However, an appraisal the county obtained of Shodeen’s property for right-of-way to the Anderson Road extension came to $34,000 per acre. Patzelt said he thinks Shodeen’s land/cash payment to the schools should therefore be set at that amount.

The final issue still unresolved is the connection fee for water and sewer. According to Anderson, former village engineer Rempe-Sharpe delivered to the village a factual rationale for the fees. Engineering Enterprises, Inc., the new village engineer, is currently reviewing those fees.

“They’re just double-checking the numbers,” Anderson said.

Anderson said that the School District intergovernmental agreement and the water sewer numbers will probably not make Shodeen developers happy, but he hopes the village and Shodeen can come to an agreement by June 4.

“I know they’re not going to build right away; there’s no market right now,” he said.

However, Anderson said if all parties can get everything set now, things will be in place to begin construction once the economy improves. He said that he and the board just want to get the best deal for the village and the schools.

“I think it’s our duty to protect the interests of the village, as well as the School District,” he said.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt wanted to know if a longer delay on the agreement could impact the funding for the Anderson bridge project.

“It could,” Village Adminstrator Erin Willrett said.

Kane County has agreed to pay $3 million of the $22 million project, with the majority of the remaining amount coming from federal and state funding.

Anderson said that U.S. Senator Dick Durbin told him that Congress has moved consideration of the transportation bill, which includes this funding, to August.

“I think the Anderson Road project is far enough along, but who knows?” he said.

Shodeen said they are moving forward on negotiations on contracts with the county regarding land acquisitions for the road extension and bridge. The land acquisitions and engineering design are the last two remaining steps to be completed before bidding out of the project can take place.

Elburn board fails to vote on school impact fees

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—Progress on the Elburn Station development came to a halt on Monday night, after four Village Board trustees declined to vote on an agreement with the Kaneland School District.

Elburn Station is a proposed transit-oriented development that would add more than 2,000 residential units, as well as commerical properties, in an area ranging from the Elburn train coachyard, Anderson Road, Keslinger Road and Route 38.

The agreement, which had been negotiated between village and School District officials, included capital impact fees to help pay for the new students the development would bring. Although the agreement initially focused only on the Shodeen development, the final draft version was a village-wide agreement between Elburn and the district.

When trustee Ken Anderson made a motion to vote on the agreement, no one else would second it. The motion died on the floor. The other trustees present were Jerry Schmidt, Jeff Walter, Bill Grabarek and David Gualdoni. Ethan Hastert was absent.

“One issue I have is there’s no clause that protects Elburn from another plan being negotiated (between another municipality and the School District) that is lower,” Walter said. “I want to see a guarantee that we would go to the lower fee structure.”

The other trustees raised similar concerns. Several years ago, all of the municipalities within the Kaneland School District agreed to the same fees, to level the playing field for developers looking to build within the district.

Last fall, however, all of the district’s municipalities except Sugar Grove agreed to a revised fee structure for the schools. Sugar Grove declined to participate. That agreement included higher fees than the one Elburn is currently considering.

Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels said the village’s decision last year not to participate in an across-the-board agreement with the School District boiled down to capital infrastructure improvements needed for different developments.

“We support a strong School District, but we’re trying to look at development as a total package,” Michels said. “We have to balance the needs of all the taxing bodies.”

The four Elburn trustees said they are concerned either that Elburn will end up paying the lion’s share of the cost to educate the children in the district, or that developers will build somewhere else to avoid the fees Elburn charges.

“Let’s make it a level playing field,” Gualdoni said.

“I don’t want to see a failed development because it’s cheaper to build in Sugar Grove,” Grabarek said.

Village President Dave Anderson and trustee Ken Anderson found themselves in the minority on this issue.

Dave Anderson said that the board should not put the burden of development onto existing Elburn property owners.

“They are all our kids; we’re all responsible,” he said. “We’ve got an opportunity to do it right. I don’t want to inhibit growth, but it should not be at any cost.”

He asked the other board members, “What’s the quickest way to kill a village?”

Answering his own question, he said, “Let your School District go to pot. This will come back to haunt us.”

Ken Anderson asked the others what they would do if another municipality decided not to pay the School District anything.

“That’s not looking out for our future kids or the future of this town,” he said. “Do two wrongs make a right?”

Further complicating the issue, Shodeen developer Dave Patzelt expressed surprise that the 25 percent fee reduction in impact fees did not apply to all housing units within the development. The discount in the impact fee structure begins with homes valued at $300,000 or more, and gradually increases until it reaches the full 25 percent reduction.

“The discount sounds good, but in reality, it’s not a discount,” Patzelt said.

He said he was not interested in moving forward with the development under those conditions.

At one point during the discussion, Patzelt said that his company believes in quality schools and paying a reasonable fee for the schools. He offered to create an escrow account, which would be used to pay directly for the students his development brought into the village. That is when Ken made his motion to vote on the School District IGA.

Ken Anderson on Tuesday expressed surprise at the board members’ reactions on Monday.

“It looked like we were on the same page last week,” he said.

Ken said he didn’t have a problem with having a flexible agreement, so that if new numbers or new data became available, the fees could be adjusted up or down.

“It should work for the benefit of the village and the schools,” he said. “The schools still cost money to run. That doesn’t change because the economy is bad. They’re still paying teachers and they’re still maintaining buildings.”

The board opened up the public hearing on the annexation and planned development agreement on Monday, and will reconvene it next week.

“I would strongly recommend that the IGA with the School District be done before the annexation agreement with Shodeen,” Village Attorney Bob Britz said.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is set for Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m.

Welcome Home

Photo: Scott Hofmann of Kaneville construction and consulting company Team Hofmann discusses rebuilding Tina O’Donnell’s house with her neighbors Chrissy Graziano and Pam Sorenson.

Neighbors, friends help pave the way back home for Elburn woman
by Susan O’Neill

Elburn—Several women wearing large yellow rubber gloves sat in front of storage bins full of cleaning solution, methodically wiping down kitchen and other utensils. They joked as they cleaned.

“Those are from your mother’s wedding,” Tina O’Donnell’s long-time friend Janet Rohan said.

Tina’s neighbors Pam Sorenson and Chrissy Graziano were among the volunteers.

A handful of men and teenaged boys carrying pieces of furniture from a small truck to the front yard for cleaning were Pam’s and Chrissy’s husbands, Steve Sorenson and Tom Graziano. The two men worked alongside their sons Brad and Nick, as well as Tina’s nephew Jay Haas.

Since Jan. 1 of this year, when Tina’s husband Bob died in the fire that destroyed their home in Blackberry Creek, these friends have been her stalwart companions. The two couples have been there for Tina from the beginning, providing emotional as well as physical support.

Together with other friends and Tina’s family, they are helping Tina slowly put her life back together.

Since the fire, Tina has been staying with her mom in Geneva. Due to water, fire and smoke damage, the house was uninhabitable. Tina’s insurance denied the claim, so her sister-in-law Judi O’Donnell held a fundraiser in February, and another one in March, to raise the money needed to redo the house.

Family, friends and local business owners donated items to sell at the fundraisers. Thanks to her Facebook page, Tina also received many cash and check donations, some from people in other parts of the country.

For the first several months, Pam said it was too painful for Tina to come back to the house. Then, sometime around Easter, they got a dumpster and started the demolition.

“We had to gut the downstairs and rip out drywall,” she said. “We threw out appliances because of the smoke damage. It’s been a long process.”

Kaneville residents Kathy and Scott Hofmann read about Tina’s situation in a Feb. 17 article in the Elburn Herald. In the article, Judi said they were looking for local contractors Neighbor who could donate their time to help clean up the house and rebuild.

Kathy and Scott own a small company called Team Hofmann, through which they do carpentry, construction and consulting work. Kathy worked for a general contractor for 20 years before she and Scott started their own business, so they have a lot of housing experience and know a lot of trades people in the area.

The Hofmanns contacted Tina’s sister-in-law to ask how they could help. They met with Tina at the house in early spring, and talked about what could be done with the house.

“She needs the house different,” Kathy said.

Kathy and Scott are working with Tina on plans to change the stairway and to knock out some walls to change the way the house looks inside. Their thought is that some differences in the house will help her not to focus on the tragedy, and to be able to better move forward with her life.

“I tell her, ‘There’s light at the end of the tunnel,’” Kathy said.

Scott and Kathy have gathered a number of people to help with the various tasks to be done. CornerStone ReStoration Service has helped with cleaning the dry wall upstairs, and has taught the volunteers how to do some of the work themselves.

Prior to this past Mother’s Day weekend, Pam said people have put in 400 man hours, spent four full weekends and a couple of week-nights, and have filled four dumpsters. She said Kathy is keeping track of things for them.

“Tina’s got so many volunteers; they just need some direction,” Kathy said.

Confident Aire HVAC business owner Tom Wangler has offered to donate his time to clean the duct work. Kaneville firefighter and commercial electrician Paul Ross, Kaneville resident and plumber John Behm, OTS (On the Spot) Drywall’s Brian Rissman and Midwest Windows’ Ken Gilke have all offered their assistance.

“It’s just all coming together,” Kathy said. “Half my neighborhood wants to help, as well as the people from my church (St. Peters in Aurora).”

Chrissy said that she feels it’s only natural for people to want to help.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” she said. “We pray for her to get home and get her life back to normal.”

Tina smiled as she looked around at the gathering of family and friends, old and new.

“They’re making it so welcoming for me to come back here,” she said. “If it weren’t for them, I’d just run away.”

Reducing the stigma

Photo: Board member Rosalie Link (left to right), Development Manager Miranda Barfuss, Alderman Dawn Vogelsberg, Board President Jim Di Ciaula, former Board President Diane Gibson and Executive Director Jim Otepka. Courtesy Photo

TriCity Family Services promotes mental health awareness
by Susan O’Neill
GENEVA—May is the month designated for Mental Health Awareness, but TriCity Family Services (TCFS) works all year long to raise awareness and the importance of mental health.

“None of us is really immune from dealing with mental health crises in our lives,” TCFS Executive Director Jim Otepka said.

According to a National Institute of Mental Health statistic, one-in-four American adults 18 and over lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. They can go on to live full and productive lives; however, many people never seek or receive help due to stigma, lack of information, cost or lack of health care coverage.

Otepka said that TCFS has an important role to play in raising the awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness. The agency offers community-centered educational programs, and agency staff conduct presentations for civic groups and organizations of all types, from mothers’ groups and Parent Teacher Organizations to church ministerial groups, as well as round tables for schools’ student services personnel.

Typical topics for the round tables include bullying, school avoidance and refusal, as well as risk factors for suicide and suicide prevention.

“Schools are 40 percent of our referrals,” Otepka said.

Counselors at TCFS offer help to students with attention disorders, depression, anxiety, incidents of self-mutilation, and for victims of bullying.

TCFS is a private, not-for-profit agency that provides mental health services to people and organizations in central Kane County, particularly those individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured. The service area includes the cities of Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, as well as Campton, Virgil, Blackberry and Kaneville townships. The agency offers sliding scale fees, and scholarships are available for group programs.

Approximately 90 percent of all counseling clients pay less than the full fee, nearly two-thirds of all child and adolescent clients it serves use Medicaid, and more than half of all counseling clients have reported incomes of $30,000 or less.

When TCFS was founded in 1967, teens were at the core of its services. Through the 2012 Teens Won’t Wait Project, the agency is currently working to better meet the needs of teens in the community through obtaining additional funding.

Group programs for teens include a Wilderness Challenge Program, an eight-day therapeutic adventure that provides a positive peer group experience for at-risk teens; a Young Women’s Retreat, a weekend of building self-esteem and peer support; Mindful Emotions, an eight-week class that helps teen girls strengthen their communication skills and develop healthy coping strategies; and Smart Choices, an anger management class for teens to learn new ways to handle anger that includes working with their families to help change the family dynamics.

The agency offers prevention and early intervention programs, as well as counseling, workshops and other services to promote good mental health and effective family functioning.

“Our area of specialization is working with families,” Otepka said.

He explained that gaining an understanding of the problem within the context of the family allows family members to be part of the treatment.

In addition to divorce support workshops for children, anger management for children and adults, groups for single moms and for grandparents raising grandchildren, TCFS also offers family enrichment groups, designed to build stronger ties between parents and their children and among siblings.

Offered in schools and school settings, the family enrichment groups include families sharing a meal, a discussion with the adults about parenting while the children participate in art or other forms of therapy, ending with an activity that includes both parents and children.

Simply setting aside the time to interact as a family has significant benefits, said Denis Ferguson, director of the Behavioral Health Program.

Ferguson said TCFS staff includes six full and part-time therapists for adults and six for family services.

“We also see a fair amount of couples,” he said. “That’s a key area for us.”

Ferguson explained that the philosophy TCFS staff ascribe to is that the body and the mind are interconnected, and their approach is holistic. They participate in outreach activities, such as a Children’s Wellness Fair in St. Charles and offer classes on mental health issues as part of the Batavia High School health curriculum.

The agency has recently initiated a pilot program with the Visiting Nurses Association Health Care in Aurora, in its pediatric clinics. Staff consult with doctors regarding children with physical complaints, but without a medical reason. In the first three months of the program, they have received 40 referrals for issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD), bi-polar disorders, anxiety and depression.

Their goal is to determine if they can help people improve their general health with behavioral health programs.

“There is no health without mental health,” Ferguson said.

Elburn Station takes 2 steps forward

Village disconnects property; approves agreement with KC
by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—The Elburn Village Board on Monday took two actions to move the Elburn Station development along.

The village disconnected village property that was within the boundaries of the proposed development. In addition, the village approved an intergovernmental agreement with Kane County for the extension of Anderson Road and the bridge.

The Village Board approved the disconnection of approximately 175 acres of previously annexed property north of Keslinger Road, south of the Metra Elburn yard and station, and east of Still Meadows Subdivision. The village and Shodeen Construction President Dave Patzelt had worked out an agreement to disconnect and re-annex these properties so that the entire development would be under the same annexation agreement.

The Village Board on Monday also approved an intergovernmental agreement between the village and the Kane County Department of Transportation. The agreement governs the design and construction of the Anderson Road extension that will run from Route 38 to Keslinger Road, the bridge that will pass over the Metra coach yard, and a pedestrian and bicycle path.

The $22 million project will cost the village $400,000, and because the road and bridge are of regional transportation significance, Kane County has agreed to pick up $3 million of the costs.

The remaining $18.6 million will come from several federal and state funding programs.

The Kane County Board approved the agreement at its board meeting on Tuesday. According to Shodeen developer Dave Patzelt, the Illinois Department of Transportation will bid out the project. Now that the intergovernmental agreement has been approved by both parties, the land acquisition and the engineering design are the two final steps that need to be completed before the bidding can take place.

According to Kane County Department of Transportation Director Carl Schoedel, the engineering is 95 percent complete and the property acquisitions should be completed within the next month or so. Schoedel said that the county’s goal is to open bids in the late summer or early fall, and with the best case scenario, to begin construction in October.

School impact fee agreement delayed

Elburn tweaks agreement, pushing final vote
by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—The Elburn Village Board made further modifications to the intergovernmental agreement between the village and the Kaneland School District regarding fees for the Elburn Station development, pushing the vote out possibly another two weeks.

The Kaneland School Board is scheduled to vote on the agreement at its next regularly scheduled meeting, on Monday, May 14.

This will be the first time, since the dissolution of a district-wide school impact fee agreement, that a municipality in the School District will directly enter into an impact fee agreement with a developer.

Based on discussions between the developer and the School District, the district has agreed to reduce the land/cash fee from $80,000 per acre down to $34,000 per acre. In addition, the district has waived transition fees, which were originally created to cover school expenses for the additional students from residential development until the property taxes began coming in.

The result of these concessions, including a reduction in the impact fees per household, is a 25 percent reduction in the total amount of fees Shodeen will pay compared to those in the previous district-wide agreement. Under the old agreement, for example, the fees on a four-bedroom home valued at $300,000 in 2011 were $10,000. Fees for the same house would now cost Shodeen an estimated $6,240.

Shodeen Construction President Dave Patzelt said he thinks the fee reductions are fair, based on the current overall weak economy. In addition, he said that the current philosophy is that transportation-oriented developments, such as Elburn Station—where there are denser, more walkable neighborhoods—generate fewer children than subdivisions in which the houses are more spread out and have larger yards.

The board on Monday agreed to change the term of the agreement to coincide with the length of the annexation agreement, a time-frame of 20 years, and that it will begin when the first building permit is issued.

In addition, Patzelt asked that the board include in the agreement the option to modify the current fees if, in the future, another municipality within the Kaneland School District negotiates lower fees with the district.

Local country band plays Nashville

Photo: Back Country Roads, a local country music band with members from throughout the Kaneland area, recently performed in Nashville as part of a country music contest. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
Nashville—Back Country Roads, a local band in the Kaneland area that describes its music as “the big sounds of Nashville (brought) home to the Midwest,” recently brought their sound to Nashville. The band was invited to play at the Wildhorse Saloon, a three-level, 66,000 square-foot live music and dance venue.

Singer Mary Noren and guitar player Brian Miller had gone to “the Music City” several weeks earlier and dropped off electronic press kits at a few places there. The Wildhorse Saloon contacted them the following day to invite the band to participate in a “Battle for the Saddle” competition on April 25.

Each band played five songs for a panel of three judges, among whom was Michael Knox, Jason Aldean’s producer. Although the band performed well, they did not win the contest, bass player Dave Miller said.

“The experience, however, was well worth the trip,” Dave said. “It was an awesome experience to be on a stage playing to 800 to 1,000 people.”

Kaneville resident and one of the newest members of the band, keyboard player Dan Alfrey described the experience as a “whirl-wind trip,” one day down, one day to play, and the third day, back home.
“It was humbling, playing in such a large place in a town that is known for its music,” he said.

Approximately 30 to 40 people from the area traveled to Nashville to hear them play. Maple Park resident Kim Goodenough, a friend of vocalist Kyle Miller’s parents, drove them back and forth in her family’s 40-foot motor home.

“The kids are exceptional,” Goodenough said. “They play so well together. They were the only band that had people out on the floor dancing.”

Back Country Roads, also known as BCR, originated in 2009. Kyle and Noren, students together at Northern Illinois University, began singing Karaoke in some of the bars in DeKalb. Their friend Brian Miller soon joined them on acoustic guitar. The band’s first gig was for the Maple Park Fire District Women’s Auxiliary at the Maple Park Pub.

They played a few shows as an acoustic trio, but decided they wanted a bigger sound. They added Jarred Klotz on drums and Dave Miller, Kyle’s great-uncle, on bass guitar.

Soon, they were playing at various festivals and events throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, including the Maple Park Fun Fest, Kaneville Fest, as well as Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, Wis. They added Hanna Mathey on fiddle and Dan Alfrey on keyboards. John Von Arx joined the group later on lead guitar.

The band plays mainly newer country music, such as Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Zach Brown Band and Jason Aldean, as well as some of the older favorites, such as Alabama and Johnny Cash, Dave said. They have a loyal following and have opened for bands such as Phil Vassar, David Lee Murphy and Darryl Worley.

More recently, they have begun writing their own music, and have their first single, called “Wake Up This Day.” They are hoping to get the song played on local stations.

“We want to be a band that other people cover,” Dave said.

BCR will perform at Country Thunder USA this summer for their third consecutive year and will open for Neal McCoy at DeKalb’s Corn Fest. They will also play at Elburn Days and the Maple Park Fun Fest.

For more information and a schedule for Back Country Roads, visit, ‘Back Country Roads’ page on Facebook or download their free Droid/iPhone app ‘Back Country Roads.’

Pound 4 Pound offers fitness, fun

Photo: Dan DeKing (left) trains Luke Cowart at Pound for Pound Fitness in Elburn. Dan and co-owner Ryan Darby opened the business on April 1 and had their Grand Opening on April 28 and 29. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—Danny DeKing, co-owner of Pound 4 Pound Fitness in Elburn, has been a fitness proponent from an early age. He participated in a variety of sports in high school, including football, basketball and boxing. When he joined the United States Navy, he was a command fitness leader, responsible for the fitness of the units.

After six years of service in Kuwait and state-side, DeKing came home and trained with Don Beebe’s House of Speed for five years, and worked for a few other fitness companies before starting his own business.

He is a House of Speed-certified trainer, and is working on his certification through the National Association of Sports Medicine, which includes the study of biomechanics, kinesthesiology, nutrition and other areas of fitness.

DeKing’s partner, Ryan Darby, was a roller hockey player and a speed skater in school, but he really became a fitness advocate when he was trying to quit smoking. Darby said he began exercising as an outlet for stress during that time. First, he started riding his bike, then lifting weights, and pretty soon he had a gym membership.

“The rest is history,” he said. “It was the exercise that made me quit.”

Both DeKing and Darby want to bring their enthusiasm for fitness to others in the community.

“It made me feel so good, I want to teach other people,” Darby said. “You can’t just change for a few months; it’s a whole lifestyle change.”

He is working on his certification and wants to become a personal trainer, as well.

The gym offers a variety of equipment, including various presses and a multi-station Universal Cybex machine. DeKing said his focus in fitness training is on functional movement and athletic performance. He uses some of the many available machines in the programs he sets up for people, but he also likes to use equipment such as speed ladders, heavy ropes, kettle bells, tires and medicine balls to help them get in the best shape possible.

“You want full range of motion,” DeKing explained. “The body moves in 360 degrees.”

Pound 4 Pound offers monthly memberships, and a variety of workouts are available, including boot camps that focus on the fundamentals, the basics of boxing for adults and teens, TRX (a low-impact body weight workout using suspension straps) and circuit training.

Personalized training sessions that include nutrition advice and specific exercises to reach an individual’s fitness goals are also available.

DeKing and Darby said they want people to enjoy their workouts and have fun.

“A variety of training methods will keep you interested, energized, motivated and hungry for more,” Darby said.

Downtown Elburn parking lot closes

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Although the Community Congregational Church closed its parking lot on Sunday as promised, Elburn village trustee Jerry Schmidt asked the question anyway during Monday’s Elburn Village Board meeting.

“Does the (Village) Board have any interest in purchasing the lot?” he asked.

“Not without money,” Village President Dave Anderson responded.

The village received the same e-mail from the church announcing the closing of the lot as did the other businesses in downtown Elburn.

Citing insurance liability reasons, church moderator Sharon Lackey wrote that the decision was hard to make, knowing that the businesses in town could use the parking for their customers.

“We had hoped that the village of Elburn would see the value of the parking lot to the viability of the downtown businesses and make an offer for the lot so that it can continue to be available for public parking. This has not occurred, so the lot will be closed as planned on April 15,” Lackey wrote.

The church’s asking price for the lot was $250,000. The Elburn Chamber of Commerce paid for an appraisal of the lot, which was delivered to the church last week.

According to village trustee Jeff Walter, the village would only be able to offer the appraised amount.

“That’s all we can borrow against,” Anderson said.

The village declined to provide the results of the appraisal.

“That would only be made public if we would have made an offer,” Anderson explained.

There is a downtown parking lot owned by the village, located on the southwest corner of North and First streets, Anderson said. Employees from NAPA Auto Parts were parked there on Monday morning.

“It’s been a village lot for 15 years,” he said.

End (of negotiations) in sight for Elburn Station development

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Village officials and Shodeen Construction representatives continue to work through the details of the annexation agreement for the Elburn Station development, with a special Village Board meeting set for Monday, May 14, to vote on the agreement.

Village President Dave Anderson suggested adding 5 or 10 percent to the fees annually, just to make sure the village is covered. However, Shodeen President David Patzelt said that the amount arrived at has already been negotiated as an average of three sets of numbers, and the amount the fees will increase annually has been set at the consumer price index for each year.

“We’ll work it out,” Anderson said after the meeting.

Also still to work out are the intergovernmental agreement between the Kane County Transportation Department and Shodeen regarding the right-of-way for the Anderson Road bridge, and the Kaneland School District fees.

Shodeen and School District officials have met, together, with their financial consultants, and discussed several points. However, School District administrators told Patzelt that they wanted the village to negotiate the fees. This will be the first school impact fee agreement a municipality in the Kaneland School District will enter into with a developer since the dissolution of the district-wide agreement.

Patzelt said that land/cash fees, transition fees and the number of students generated per household were part of the discussions. He said that, based on certified appraisals for the Anderson Road right-of-way, the district agreed to come down from $80,000 per acre for land/cash fees to $34,000 per acre.

Also, according to Patzelt, the district agreed to waive the transition fees for up to the 300th building permit within one year, with fees charged for building permits above that number per year. In addition, he said that the number used for how many school-age children are generated per household will be updated, using Kaneland’s current numbers.

Rather than an individual agreement with the School District for this particular development, Village Adminstrator Erin Willrett suggested the possibility of an intergovernmental agreement between the village and the School District for development in general.

Trustee Jeff Walter questioned cutting the impact fees in half for multi-family units where there are more than 10 units per acre. However, Patzelt said that is a very common practice, because with higher-density developments, fewer services are typically provided.

Shodeen will be back next week with “cleaned-up fees,” Patzelt said.

Police chief recommends increase in parking fines

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Parking illegally in the village of Elburn could soon get a lot more expensive, according to a rewrite of the traffic codes.

“It was a real bargain to get a parking ticket in Elburn,” Police Chief Steve Smith told the Village Board on Monday night.

The proposal, written for the Police Department by the office of the village attorney, Bob Britz, includes three tiers of fines for various classes of offenses, from minor petty offenses, such as parking tickets, to more serious offenses that could compromise public health, safety or welfare of residents or visitors, such as the storage of an inoperable or derelict vehicle. The amount of the fine increases with each additional time the offense is committed.

The new proposal, presented by Smith, recommends doubling the amount of the fines from what they had been. For example, currently a parking ticket carries with it a fine of $20. The new proposal is for a fine of $40 for the first offense, with a second offense at $80 and a third offense set at $120.

“Do we have a problem with people not paying their parking tickets?” asked trustee Ethan Hastert. “This seems a little steep to me.”

Hastert brought up a situation in which a commuter could pay the parking fee at the train station, but mix up the number of the stall he parked in, and receive a parking ticket for that offense.

Several other trustees expressed concern over the amount of the fines, including Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter. Trustee Ken Anderson said that he just wanted to make up the amount that it costs the village to give someone a ticket.

“The Police Department should not be a profit center,” Hastert said. “Not everything the Police Department does needs to be a break-even.”

Village President Dave Anderson said that the board has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens to maintain a balanced budget.

Village staff will revisit the dollar amounts of the fines and the board will vote on the final version at an upcoming meeting.

Church may still close parking lot on April 15

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Community Congregational Church’s parking lot at Shannon Street and Route 47 might close on April 15, despite efforts by the village and the local businesses to work out a deal with the church.

The Elburn Chamber of Commerce agreed to pay up to $500 for an appraisal of the parking lot, and village officials have shared the results with the church. However, the sign indicating the closure of the lot as of 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, April 15, still stands, and posts have been erected around the church’s parking lot this week.

Elburn Village Administrator Erin Willrett declined to release the results of the appraisal to the Elburn Herald.

According to Willrett, both the village and the chamber made a written request to the church to keep the lot open while the village and the businesses in town work together to try to come up with a solution that will work for everybody.

“We’re all trying to put our best foot forward together to find a solution that is the best of all worlds for the village, the businesses and the church,” Willrett said.

During the Village Board’s executive session on Monday, the board discussed consideration of the purchase of real property, but Willrett said she could not confirm that the discussion was about the church’s parking lot. Discussions within an executive session are not open to the public or the press.

Prior to the session, village officials said that there might be an announcement coming out of the session, but that did not happen. Businesses in the area have asked the village to purchase the lot, to continue to accommodate their customers.

As of press time, Community Congregational Church moderator Sharon Lackey has not returned several phone calls, and Rev. Michelle Prentice-Leslie, the church’s interim minister, said she is a staff person and cannot speak for the church.

According to Willrett, the church council meets on Thursday.

“They have the right to do anything they want with the lot; they own it,” Willrett said

Elburn’s assessed value drops

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn’s assessed value has dropped $30 million in the past two years, from $199 million in 2009 to $169 million in 2011, Village President Dave Anderson said. There was a 14 percent reduction in EAV (Equalized Assessed Value) across the county between this year and last year, with a 12 percent decrease in Elburn.

Due to some new construction in Elburn last year, the village will still receive $13,000 more in taxes collected by Kane County than last year.

“We’re still trying to provide the same services to more people,” Anderson said.

This year, the village will increase its tax rate from 35 cents for every $100 of EAV last year to 39 cents. The village’s portion of a resident’s property tax bill is less than 4.5 percent. That works out to $396.63 on a $100,000 home.

“I think that’s a bargain,” Anderson said.

Shodeen, Elburn, Kaneland begin fee discussions

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Discussions between the village and Shodeen developers regarding the basis for impact and development fees for the Elburn Station development are moving forward, but they are just in the preliminary stages.

The village will need to set aside money to pay for the infrastructure improvements to support the additional development, such as a new well, new sewer lines and a wastewater treatment plant, and the impact fees will be a portion of that amount.

In the meantime, Shodeen representatives met with the Kaneland School District Superintendent Jeff Schuler and Assistant Superintendent for Business Julie Ann Fuchs regarding their own fee structure and plan to continue those discussions.

This will be the first fee agreement between the School District and a developer outside of the district-wide agreement all of the municipalities agreed to several years ago, trustee Jeff Walter said. This could set the stage for future fee agreements with the school and the other municipalities.

Village of Elburn to arrange for appraisal of church parking lot

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday agreed to move forward with a certified appraisal on the Community Congregational Church parking lot on the corner of Shannon and Main streets.

“Somebody needs to take the first step,” trustee Jeffrey Walter said.

The agreement on village funds being used to pay for the appraisal was reached after several trustees suggested there was the potential for recouping part of the cost of the appraisal through a Special Services Agreement (SSA), which the village is considering for the downtown business owners for the purchase of the lot.

The church’s asking price for the lot is $250,000, and it is not clear that the church would accept the results of an appraisal. However, Village President Dave Anderson said that, until the village board knows what the property is worth, neither the village nor the business owners in town can move forward on who and how to pay for it.

According to Village Administrator Erin Willrett, owners of the Elburn businesses have said that one of their concerns about paying for the lot through a special tax is that once the village owns the lot, it could turn around and sell the property.

Although village trustees wanted to find a way to refund the SSA money, should the village sell the property, Village Attorney Bob Britz did not find in his research into the legislation any provision for refunding SSA funds, other than excess revenues collected to be refunded at the end of the SSA.

Britz said he thought the drafters of the legislation meant for the SSA money to be used for providing the special services for which it was created and not for other purposes.

Trustee Bill Grabarek asked Britz if the village could require that the purpose of the property continue to be for parking if it should sell the property. Britz said that would be possible.

The church’s current deadline for closing the parking lot to public use is at 12:01 a.m. on April 15. Village trustees agreed to ask the church for an extension to that deadline, based on their good-faith efforts toward making the purchase. In the meantime, however, there is nothing to prevent the church from selling the property to anyone else.

Good turn-out expected for library’s 8th annual Dewey Dash

Town & Country Public Library 8th Annual Dewey Dash
Sunday, April 15,
7:30-8:30 a.m. registriation
at the library
8:30 a.m. 1 mile walk/run
9 a.m. 5K run
Registration forms available at and at the library
$22 for adults before April 8,
$25 April 8 and after.
$12 for children before April 8,
$15 April 8 and after.

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—This year marks the eighth annual Dewey Dash 5K/1mile Walk/Run, sponsored by the Town & Country Public Library in Elburn. This year’s race, titled “Full Throttle Thurber,” will be held in honor of American author, cartoonist and humorist James Thurber, who will be a “ghost runner” in the race.

Thurber, who wrote “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” was the creator of numerous New Yorker magazine cover cartoons, short stories, modern commentary, children’s fantasy and letters.

The race will be held on Sunday, April 15, with registration from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. at the library. The 1-mile walk/run begins at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K run begins at 9 a.m.

According to Town & Country Library Director and Dewey Dash coordinator Mary Lynn Alms, the race typically brings out between 250 and 300 participants, with last year at 270. Most are local, a few are from out-of-state, and some people come out from Chicago for the race.

“It’s a pretty good turn out,” Alms said.

The 5-K race route is a USA Track and Field-certified 5-K course, measured and laid out by one of USATF’s officials. The race is professionally timed by Race-Time, and the results are posted on its website,

Last year, the winner was 18-year-old Geneva resident Ben Kanute, with a time of 17:39. Maple Park residents, 31-year-old Scott Peterson and 18-year-old Grant Alef, were in the top five finishers, with Peterson’s time at 19:23 and Alef’s at 19:28.

The top runners usually come in at 19-20 minutes, Alms said. The walkers come in an hour or so later.

Free snacks, awards and raffle prizes are handed out after the race, with local area businesses donating the food.

This year’s proceeds will go toward the purchase of three new computers for use at the circulation desk checkout stations.

Registration forms are available at and at the library.

Metra pay-as-you-go not going yet

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—The new pay-by-phone option for Metra train riders set to start April 1 will be a few more weeks in coming, Police Chief Steve Smith said. Smith advised the Village Board on Monday that the department had “hit a snag” with the vendor.

The snag has to do with the fees the vendor will charge for the program to allow Park Mobile’s computers and the computers at the station to talk to each other, Smith said.

Park Mobile already offers the Pay-by-Phone system to commuters who board the train at the La Fox station, along with a number of other stations throughout the Chicago area, including the Chicago Transit Authority.

For an extra 57 cents, Elburn commuters running late will be able to avoid waiting to pay at a machine at the station. They’ll simply use their cell phone to make their payment of $1.82 once they board the train. The transaction will register within one minute.

“It’s taking a little bit longer than we had hoped for,” Smith said. “We had hoped for April 1 … It should be no more than a week or two.”

Eagle Scouts in abundance in Big Rock Troop 19

Photo: Sam Kimpan is an Eagle Scout from the Boy Scout Troop 19 in Big Rock and surrounding communities. His Eagle Scout project was to clear 1/4 mile of the Little Rock Creek, which runs through Hinckley. After the debris was cleared, the creek went down six inches, and it has fixed the flooding problem for the community it runs through. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
Big Rock—Sam Kimpan, 18-year-old Big Rock Boy Scout Troop 19 member, is the most recent in his Troop to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. According to Denise Mathewson, the troop’s committee chair, Kimpan is one of three boys who will become an Eagle Scout this year, making the Troop on target for 20 boys who have earned this rank within the past 16 years.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is a rigorous endeavor. It requires progressing through the six Boy Scout ranks, earning 21 merit badges, planning, developing and leading a service project, six months in a Troop leadership position, and successfully completing the Eagle Scout Board of Review.

Because of the rigor involved, the average number of Boy Scouts who go on to earn the Eagle Scout rank is only four out of 100 Scouts. The percentage of Troop 19’s Scouts who reach that rank for just this year is about 15 percent, nearly four times the average.

“I think it has a lot to do with being a smaller, close-knit town, with a lot of parents involved,” said current Scout Leader Bill Yoder.

Mathewson said that parents within the community feel strongly about their boys’ involvement in Scouting, and there is a lot of parental devotion to organizing, planning and assisting the boys in achieving their accomplishments. Her husband Eric, an Eagle Scout himself, has coordinated the troop’s merit badge process. Sam’s father, Mike Kimpan, was Scout Master for three years until Yoder took over a year ago. Prior to becoming the Scout Master, Yoder was an assistant leader since his son, David, now 18, was in first grade.

“The Scout leaders are just such good role models,” said Donna Kimpan, Sam’s mom. “They all have jobs, but every Monday night, there they are. These guys really care about the kids.”

“And the boys have to make that commitment, too,” Yoder added.

Yoder said that when he became a leader with the Scouts, there were seven in his den, including his son, David. Of the seven, two dropped out, and three of the remaining five will become Eagle Scouts.

Yoder emphasized that Big Rock and the surrounding communities and its businesses have supported the Troop over the years, allowing the boys to do many fun things.

The Big Rock Lions Club has been the sponsor of the Troop since it began in 1989. Others contribute generously, as well, such as O. M. Fasel Greenhouse, which helps with the Troop’s spring plant sale and the wreath and evergreen sale in November. The proceeds from these sales help the Scouts earn money for camping equipment.

Yoder said the Troop tries to camp out at least once a month. In the colder months, they stay in cabins, and the rest of the year they’re in tents.

Nathan Carr, a 33-year-old former Big Rock resident, was in the first group of Cub Scouts that progressed to Boy Scout Troop 19.

“It was great as a kid,” he said. “We would go on adventures.”

Carr recalls hiking at Starved Rock State Park every year during a week-long camping trip, working on merit badges and learning things such as first aid, fire-starting, knot-tying and setting up camp.

Carr stayed in the Scouts until he was 20, two years after earning his Eagle Scout rank, when he became an assistant Scout Master with the Troop.

His Eagle Scout project created Big Rock’s annual Easter Egg Hunt, which will celebrate its 17th year this spring. The hunt draws between 200 and 300 egg-seekers, who hunt for the 2,000 to 3,000 hidden eggs. Carr still comes back for the event some years, and now he brings his girlfriend’s daughter to the event.

“It’s neat to see the next generation participating,” he said.

Kimpan said that for him, Scouting started out as just a fun activity. Then, he began to learn more and more skills, and during high school, began taking on leadership roles, planning outings and helping other boys obtain their merit badges.

The boys learn how to give first aid and CPR, how to give a speech in front of a group, about citizenship from local to global, personal fitness, as well as personal management and how to plan and handle money.

“They try to prepare you for life,” Kimpan said.

Kimpan’s project to earn his Eagle Scout rank involved clearing debris at Little Rock Creek, which had led to flooding of residents’ basements in the area.

“A couple of trees had fallen and created a log jam,” he said. “The water was a foot higher than it should have been.”

Kimpan said he had 15 to 20 Scout and community volunteers and two to three pieces of equipment during two weekends. They removed tires, metal, logs, a hot water heater, a swing set, a BBQ grill, as well as the front suspension of a car.

The idea behind the projects is to take it from start to finish, Yoder said. The boy writes up a proposal to the recipient, puts together a plan for how he will accomplish it, obtains the funding and creates a budget, recruits volunteers, leads the project, tracks the dollars received and spent, and obtains the recipient’s approval that the job was done to their satisfaction. The last step is a review in front of the Eagle Scout Board of Review.

“I believe everybody could benefit from Scouting,” Carr said. “The experiences are well worth the time invested. There’s nothing else like it for boys growing up.”

This is the creek area before the cleanup. Courtesy Photo

Thanks to Sam’s efforts, here is the area after the cleanup. Courtesy Photo

Troop 19 Eagle Scouts
Scout Name Eagle Scout
Board of Review Date

Nathaniel Carr 2/26/1997
Alexander Carr 11/13/2000
Michael Phillips 11/13/2000
Paul Drawz 4/30/2001
Jason Kazmierczak 9/3/2002
Matthew Kline 10/27/2003
Alex Kline-Wedeen 9/21/2005
Christopher Stola 5/8/2006
Michael Kline 7/11/2006
Ryan Mathewson 8/15/2006
Greg Landgren 11/14/2007
Jacob Franzen 11/27/2007
Evan Kline-Wedeen 12/11/2007
Peter Groch 3/31/2009
German Arroyo 11/17/2010
George Thompson 12/21/2011
David Yoder 2/3/2012
Samuel Kimpan 2/28/2012

A different type of approach

Local chiropractor offers alternative to meds for ADHD

by Susan O’Neill
Editor’s note: In order to protect the medical privacy of the story subjects, the patient’s first name was changed. In addition, the last names and hometown of the patient and his mother were withheld.

ELBURN—John, an area 12-year-old, has been battling a diagnosis of moderate-to-severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) since he was 5 years old. At the time of his diagnosis, John had trouble following directions and staying on task, which limited his academic functioning.

John hasn’t had to fight his battle alone, of course. His mother, Janet, has been right there beside him, every step of the way. Janet said John’s doctors tried five different medications at varying doses. She said that although some degree of relief was achieved, the side effects far outweighed the benefits. Because the drugs stimulate the brain, she said her son experienced sleeplessness, headaches and dizziness; he had a loss of appetite, and as a result, became very thin. He was moody, and at times, had an aggravated demeanor.

“It was always trial and error,” she said. “As he was growing and changing, the medications would become less effective, and if we gave him too high a dose, it had a ‘zombie’ effect.”

He has needed extra assistance in the classroom. From third grade on, he has worked with specialists for reading and writing, including extra tutoring for comprehension. This year, he is in a special classroom of 10 students for those subjects. During summers, Janet would take him off of the medication, and she said she would see the problems return.

About a year ago, a friend told Janet about Vital Chiropractic in Elburn, and that chiropractor Dr. David Foss was able to help children with ADHD symptoms. Janet said that, although she had grown up with a negative perception of chiropractors, she had tried everything else, so she decided to give it a try.

Janet said Dr. Foss evaluated John and found many misalignments of his spine.

“He was carrying 30 pounds extra on one leg,” she said.

Dr. Foss started out doing spinal adjustments with John three times a week. He is currently down to once a week, at a maintenance level.

John is in sixth grade this year, and he is off all his medications. The school psychologist repeated a battery of tests that John had last taken in third grade to measure his attention and comprehension, and he showed significant improvement. Next year, he will be in a regular classroom for the entire day.

She said that although when children reach John’s current age, many of them grow out of their hyperactivity, she believes there is a correlation between Foss’ treatment and his improvement.

“I see such a big improvement,” she said. “I see a correlation. I don’t think it’s coincidence.”

She said that he still has to work harder than other children.

“The ADD doesn’t just disappear,” she said.

Janet admits that she doesn’t understand the science, except that the messages from John’s brain are now able to flow freely throughout his nervous system, and his improvement in school has had a snowball effect.

“His personality has changed; he’s so happy now,” she said. “His self-esteem has improved tremendously, he likes school and he has more friends. Everything has come together for him.”

Janet said that she is grateful for all the teachers and tutors who have helped John along the way for the progress he has made, but the big improvements he has made have been in the last year.

“He’s just taken off in the last year,” she said. “He’s just a different boy.”

Foss is careful to say that he doesn’t “treat” ADHD or the other diseases.

“You just have to remove the interference to the life force that flows through the nervous system, and the body heals itself,” he said.

He said he doesn’t believe that ADHD is a disorder, but that many children diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities have problems processing the information they receive through their senses. They can be either hypersensitive or hyposensitive to taste, touch and sounds.

“It’s like having a mind with a Ferrari engine, but with bicycle brakes,” he said. “They’ve got minds that go, go, go, but they don’t know how to stop it.”

He explained that chiropractic care, instead of just treating the symptoms, diagnoses the causes of the problems.

“It’s all neurological,” he said.

Foss said there are three components, which he calls neurosensory integration, to how he works with children who have these sensory-processing problems.

Rather than using medications, which many medical doctors use to treat children with ADHD, Foss said he makes adjustments to the structures of the spine and the cranial bones, and then gives the children things to do at home that address their nutritional deficiencies and remove toxins in the body, as well as brain or neuro-exercises that can improve neurological function.

The nutrition component includes certain vitamins and minerals, eliminating grains, sugars and dairy-as well as toxicities, such as artificial flavors, coloring and preservatives-from their diet. The exercises include time on a machine in Foss’ office called “the vibe,” which generates a whole-body vibration that he says “super-stimulates” the nervous system.

The children also go to outside physical and occupational therapy to help integrate their treatment.

“Parents don’t want to put the kids on drugs, but that’s all they get from their medical doctor, and that’s not health care,” Foss said.

Foss said that he wants to provide an alternative to drugs that allows the body to heal itself.

He wants to educate parents in the area on the basics of the sensory systems and the natural alternatives he provides for conditions such as ADHD. He will offer a seminar on Tuesday, April 3, at Heritage Prairie Farm. Space is limited, so he encourages parents to call (630) 365-9887 to register.

‘Wine, Cheese and ADD’

Neuro Sensory Integration Seminar
Dr. David Foss, D.C.
Tuesday, April 3
6:30 p.m.
Heritage Prairie Farm
2N308 Brundidge Road
(4.5 miles west of Elburn off Route 38)
Local wine, cheese and
hors d’oeuvres will be provided
Call Foss’ office at (630) 365-9887
to register (space limited to first
20 registrants)

Maple Park girl rides the Iditarod Trail

Photo: 11-year-old Olivia Goodenough (above), of Maple Park was packed into the sled in the ceremonial start to the Iditarod race March 3 in Alaska. The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile race starting in Willow and ending in Nome. Olivia traveled with musher Colleen Robertia and her husband. Courtesy Photo

Grandparent gives once-in-a-lifetime gift
by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Olivia Goodenough, 11-year old Maple Park resident and Kaneland sixth-grader, is an outdoorsy kind of girl, according to her grandfather, Geneva resident Dennis Goodenough. She hunts deer and coyotes, fishes and can drive a four-wheeler with the best of them. So when Dennis won a chance to ride in a sled in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race held in Alaska each March, he gave the honor to Olivia.

Olivia’s grandparents had taken her and one of her cousins to Alaska last summer to visit Dennis’ sister, Lori Kirker, who lives in Houston, about 65 miles north of Anchorage. Several years earlier, Olivia had talked her great-aunt into getting a puppy that she could call Snowball and say it was hers. Although Olivia loves dogs, her father and brothers are allergic to them, so she can’t have one of her own at home.

When Olivia came to visit last year, she met Snowball for the first time, and it was love at first sight. Olivia had a great time, and Kirker invited her to come back to watch the Iditarod, a 1,000-mile dog-sled race that starts in a town about 60 miles north of Anchorage, and finishes in Nome.

When Olivia arrived at Kirker’s home, she had the chance to drive Kirker’s sled through the Alaskan woods with her four dogs, including Snowball. But that was just a warm-up for the real thing.

Through a charity auction, Dennis won the bid for a seat on Iditarod racer Colleen Robertia’s sled. Called IditaRiders, passengers are strapped into the basket of the musher’s sled for the 12-mile ceremonial race on Saturday, March 3, the day before the actual Iditarod. Olivia met Robertia at a pre-race musher banquet, and was introduced to her dogs the day of the race.

Olivia received instructions on what to do if she fell off the sled.

Olivia Goodenough spends some quality time with the dogs of her sled. Courtesy Photo

“She (Robertia) told me not to stick my arms out, because it could break my arm,” Olivia said.

When asked if that scared her, she said no.

“I figured I’d have a pretty good story to tell back at school,” she said with a grin.

Then she climbed into the basket for a thrilling ride. She said there were people all along the race route, cheering them on.

Her family took a shuttle to the end-point to watch them come in, and to their surprise, when Robertia’s sled came into view, Olivia was driving it with Robertia standing behind her.

Kirker said that Robertia must have felt Olivia was up to the challenge. She was the only IditaRider who was given that opportunity.

“She’s so mature for an 11-year-old,” Kirker said.

“She made it around a bunch of holes, and she was standing on the brakes coming into the finish,” her grandfather said.

Meanwhile, the folks at home were watching Olivia on the television at Bootleggers Pizza and Bar in Maple Park, as they ate a festive dinner of caribou stew and reindeer meat.

The next day, at the beginning of the race, Robertia asked Olivia to “be the rabbit.” This entailed running ahead of the dogs to lead them into the starting gate. She was thrilled to do it.

When Olivia came home, the race was well underway. Although the race was likely to last into the second week, Olivia made it home in time to finish her Illinois State Achievement Test. It may be hard to come back down to reality, but the Maple Park girl brought back some great stories to tell.

Election 2012: County residents to vote on new electric provider

by Susan O’Neill
KANE COUNTY—Voters in unincorporated Kane County will vote on a referendum in March that would authorize the county to contract with an electricity provider for residents and small commercial retail customers outside municipalities in Kane County.

According to board member Drew Frasz, there is overwhelming support for the county to negotiate a better rate for electricity for current Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) customers.

“We don’t want to foist it on anyone, but we’re assuming it will pass,” Frasz.

Frasz explained that even if the referendum passes, residents and commercial businesses can opt out of the deal.

Two suppliers, Progressive and Blue Star Energy, approached the county with proposals last year. The Kane County Board initially decided to move forward with Blue Star Energy. However, BlueStar was then acquired by AEP (American Electric Power) and their proposal was subsequently retracted.

“The county has since released another request for proposals, has received five proposals, and those proposals are being reviewed,” Kane County Manager of Resource Conservation Programs Karen Kosky said.

According to Kane County documents, 29 Illinois municipalities, including Elburn and Sugar Grove, voted to adopt a municipality aggregation program during 2011. Both villages were able to negotiate a contract (exclusive of utility charges and taxes) with Direct Energy, for a savings of 23 percent below ComEd’s price.

“The larger the group, the better the discount,” Frasz said.

According to Kosky, there are two potential companies involved in an aggregate program. The first, the municipal aggregation consultant, is the firm that would administer the aggregation program in conjunction with county staff. The second, the electric supply company, would be the one to make a bid on the electricity supply.

If the referendum passes, the county will have the option to move forward to seek bids. If the bids come in higher or the same as ComEd 2012 prices, the county would not enter into a contract. If the county accepts a bid, county staff would hold two public hearings and allow residents the opportunity to opt-out of the program before switching them to the new provider.

Although a new supplier would be providing the electricity, ComEd would still transmit the electricity to county customers, and monthly bills would still originate from ComEd. In addition, customers would still call ComEd for repairs.

“The consumer should realize no difference in electricity supply except the lower rates,” Kosky said.

The electric supply company would pay the consultant. ComEd’s utility fees for transmission of the electricity and taxes would still apply.

40 years of RVs

Photo: Rick and Lisa Flanigan, owners of Holiday Hour RV in Cortland, stand by a pop-up camper at the business, which is celebrating its 40th year. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Holiday Hour RV survives, thrives through economic ups and downs
by Susan O’Neill
Cortland—Holiday Hour RV owners Rick and Lisa Flanigan work hard so their customers can have fun. Their motto is, “Your pleasure is our business.”

Rick’s mom and dad, Les and Shirley Flanigan, started the business in 1972 in a renovated gas station on the south side of DeKalb. Rick began working for them full-time in 1983, and three years after he and Lisa were married, she joined the business in 1990.

The Flanigans celebrate Holiday Hour’s 40th anniversary this year. They have made it through some very tough times in the economy, and are proud to have survived through it all.

“You think our economy’s tough today?” asked Rick.

A year after his dad went into the RV business, OPEC leaders placed an embargo on the sale of gasoline to the United States and other countries, leading to a shortage of gasoline and rationing at the pump.

“People were waiting in line for an hour and a half,” Rick said. “We sold (only) six campers in 1975. You start wondering, ‘what are you doing in this business?’”

Although the embargo was lifted in 1974, the effects of the energy crisis lasted throughout the 1970’s. However, in 1976, Rick’s dad Les chose that time to build a new and larger facility. He had enough confidence in the long-term future of the business that he sold his house to obtain the money.

By 1979, interest rates had skyrocketed to 21.5 percent. With the purchase of a camper dependent upon customer financing, once again, that year they sold only six campers.

After the market crashed in 2008, 2009 was Lisa and Rick’s worst year in the business. They have seen four RV manufacturers go out of business in the past three years. They cut their inventory in half and, for the first time ever, they had to lay off three employees. However, even during this difficult time, they feel they’ve done pretty well at keeping their heads above water.

“We work this business hard,” Rick said.

He and Lisa are there at the dealership every day. Their main carrier, Jayco, a family-owned and operated manufacturer of RVs, is also a long-time survivor. Jayco has been in business for 35 years.

“It’s a very well-known product,” Rick said. “It’s a company that stands out among the others.”

Rick said the secret to success in this business is to have the right product at the right time. He said that people typically buy a camper in the summertime, and only 5 percent of their business is through orders.

“They see it, they like it, they buy it,” he said. “It’s an impulse purchase.”

Rick and Lisa’s planning, however, is always a year in advance. They order the bulk of their product in October. They carry Jayco tent campers, travel trailers and fifth wheelers, as well as Puma trailers of all sizes and i-Go trailers by Evergreen. They offer service in addition to sales, and a number of their customers store their unit year-round at their location.

He and Lisa have raised three children during the past 25 years, and Rick said they all help out with the big shows they attend. They have also gone camping together every chance they could over the years.

“There’s just some things in this country you can’t see from an airplane,” Rick said. “In the last 40 years, we’ve been all over the country. You can stop when you want, do what you want when you want.”

A Holiday Hour tire cover comes with every order, so it is easy to recognize a customer. Rick said they have run into them at campsites all over the country. They also camp together with their customers the last weekend of every month from April through October.

Rick and Lisa will host two events this year to celebrate their 40th anniversary. An open house and sale weekend is set for March 29 to April 1. Then, in September, they will hold a camping weekend at the Millbrook Yogi Bear Campground for their current customers. Back Country Roads will provide the music, and they’ll serve a pork chop dinner on Saturday and a pancake breakfast on Sunday. There will be Bingo, prizes and give-aways. Registration forms will be mailed by July.

Holiday Hour RV

Rick and Lisa Flanigan, owners
350 W. Lincoln Highway
Route 38 between
Cortland and DeKalb
(815) 756-9438

Upcoming events
to celebrate 40th anniversary

Open House and Sale Weekend
March 29-April 1

Current customer camping weekend
Sept. 21-23

Village Board finalizes 2nd police dept. contract

To vote on agreement at Feb. 21 Elburn Board meeting
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The contract between the village of Elburn and the Elburn Police Department will be on the agenda for the Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21, but at least one trustee will be voting no.

“I appreciate everything the Police Department does, but I will be voting against this,” trustee Ken Anderson said. “This board made a good decision a couple of years ago when we gave them (the police officers) a substantial pay increase. I was hoping we could all be team players, but that didn’t happen.”

After the meeting, Anderson elaborated on his feelings.

“With the current economic situation, pay raises should not be part of the discussion,” he said. “Other things will have to get cut.”

This is the second contract negotiated between the Police Department and the village, with the first one beginning in August 2010 and running through October 2011. Trustee Anderson said that around that time, the village conducted a survey of salaries of police departments of similar size in the area, and increased the Elburn Police Department salaries based on the results. Police officers then received a 3 percent increase in 2011.

In addition, the village’s portion of the payment into the police pension fund doubles this year, due to the village reaching a threshold population of 5,000 residents. Previously, police pensions were paid out through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), but when the village population went over 5,000 residents after the 2010 census, an Illinois law went into effect, requiring the pensions to be paid under the downstate pension system.

According to Village President Dave Anderson, the village’s previous contribution was 11 percent of the salaries; beginning this year, it will be 22 percent. Each individual police employee’s share was 4.5 percent; beginning this year, the share will double to 9.2 percent of an individual’s salary.

In future years, the additional payments will even out; however, this year the village must place $162,000 into the police pension fund. Although required by law to do this, the village does not have funds set aside to cover this cost, so residents in Elburn will be asked during the March election to approve a new property tax levy to pay for the additional amount. If approved, the new tax would be a separate line item on property tax bills.

Highlights of Elburn Police Department contract

• Contract covers Elburn full-time police officers and sergeants from Nov. 1, 2011, through April 30, 2015

• Officers must live within 40 miles of the police facility

• Paid days off:
12 paid holidays
3 paid personal leave days
12 paid sick days (unused sick days
may be rolled over from year to
year up to a maximum of
160 days; paid out at state
minimum wage upon retirement)
May donate up to three sick days to
a co-worker in need

• Earned paid vacation:
(unused vacation days are paid back at the end of the calendar year)
– 0-4 years 10 days/year
– 5-8 years 15 days/year
– 9 years 20 days/year

• Those with at least 10 days vacation may sell back five days to the village at their current rate of pay

• Pay increases:
No raise for this year
1 percent raise for 2013
3 percent raise for 2014
1 percent shall be added to the base
pay of all bargaining unit members
completing 12 years of service

• Each bargaining unit member
employed as of Jan. 1, 2012, will receive a one-time $750 contract signing bonus on May 1, 2013.

Police Chief presents draft budget for next year to Village Board

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Police Chief Steve Smith presented a draft budget to the Village Board at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Although Village President Dave Anderson said that the final total will not be known until the police department contract is signed and the salaries are plugged in, he expects the total budget will be about $1.2 million—the same as it was last year.

Smith is asking for an increase of $34,000 over last year’s budget for part-time salaries. That number assumes an increase in the number of personal and sick days used by full-time officers, due to the increase this year in the amount that some of them will earn, as well as to pay two part-time officers to cover the shift of one full-time officer out on disability.

Additional items include another $50,000 in legal fees to cover expenses for ongoing litigation against the village, and $60,000 for auto fuel, an increase of $12,000 over the $48,000 budgeted for this year, based on possible cost per gallon increases this coming year, due to potential problems arising in the Middle East.

Several trustees suggested that the village look into bidding out the fuel prices, in order to lock in a dollar per gallon amount for the year.

The training line item request of $7,500 is in response to potential issues related to the G-8 Summit scheduled for this year in Chicago. Smith said that city officials are expecting 50,000 demonstrators, and many of them are expected to be taking the train into the city and back out.

The request for $90,800 is for a full-time dispatcher and an annual wireless internet service fee for all squad computers, and is about $12,000 less than if the village had renewed its service contract with Kane County.

The annual lease payment for two squad cars is expected to cost $20,000, with an additional $35,000 to cover vehicle maintenance.

This coming fiscal year the village will begin to include a portion of several public works employees’ salaries in the separate Metra budget, based on the maintenance-related activities they perform at the Elburn Metra facility. The budget request for Metra-related expenses includes $43,000 for wages for police department and public works employees to provide parking enforcement and maintenance, $10,000 for monthly fees for support and other services for the parking lot pay system, as well as the security camera system, and $9,000 for auto fuel and other expenses. According to Village Administrator Erin Willret, revenues from the parking fees offset some of the expenses, but she does expect there to be a positive cash flow.

According to Anderson, this is only the first review of the police department budget, and the board will have additional discussions before it is approved.

Elburn plans increase to water, sewer rates

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn residents may see an increase in their water and sewer bills as of May 1, but they won’t be the large increases seen two years ago. At that time, the village instituted a base fee in 2012 of $10, $5 for water and $5 for sewer. In addition, the usage rates went up significantly, as well.

The 2010 increases came at a time when the village was losing over $20,000 each month in its water and sewer funds. Prior to that increase, water rates hadn’t been raised since the 1980s, and sewer rates since the 1990s.

This year, the base fees of $5 for water and $5 for sewer will both be increased to $5.50, and the water usage rates will go from $3.50 per 100 cubic feet to $3.62 per 100 cubic feet, with the sewer usage rates increasing from $2.60 per 100 cubic feet to $2.69 per 100 cubic feet.

What all of these increases will mean for the average resident user, who uses approximately 700 cubic feet of water per month, is an increase in their bill from $52.70 to $55.17 per month.

Village officials cited increased costs, decreased revenues and an aging infrastructure in need of maintenance as the reasons for the need to increase the base fees and rates. The base fee was created, in part, to pay for capital expenditures that the village had not attended to for many years.

Village President Dave Anderson said the old way of managing the water and sewer systems was management by catastrophe. According to Anderson, the Nebraska Street water main was patched together so many times, it finally blew. When the village replaced it, it had breaks in it at eight or nine different places.

“We are headed in the right direction,” Anderson said. “We’re setting up schedules for preventative maintenance.”

Public Works Supervisor Jenna Cook said there were several capital projects that could not be put off any longer, such as the cleaning and painting of three of the four water towers and a telemetry system upgrade for wells 3 and 4. Telemetry is a radio system that signals the well pumps to turn on and off when the water reaches certain levels.

A portion of the sewer base fees, approximately $1.10, is dedicated to repaying a $240,000 bond from Kane County. That bond will take 10 years to repay. Funds to repay a loan the village is hoping to obtain from the Illinois Environmental Agency for upgrades to the waste-water treatment system would also come out of the sewer base fees. This loan would take the village 20 years to repay, and would take up to $2 of the $5.50 charged per household.

The usage rates are used for operating expenses, which include things like chemicals, electricity, basic maintenance and lab supplies, Cook explained. The revenues from the usage rates have actually gone down since the rates were increased, because residents started using less water. Following the rate hike two years ago, the system began pumping 4 million gallons less than prior to the increase.

In addition, the village has received almost nothing from water and sewer connection fees, due to the lack of development in recent years.

Village President Anderson suggested an automatic increase each year based on the consumer price index. However, Village Administrator Erin Willret said that she did not think that would be enough to keep up with expenses. Trustee Jeff Walter recommended a yearly review of the water and sewer expenses versus income, to determine what, if any, increase should take place.

The board will vote on the increases at the board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

a new outlook Kaneland grad comes home from war with new perspective

Photo: Jessie Miles (center) at home with sisters Savanah (left), Hallie and brother, Charlie. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Editor’s note: On Dec. 15, the Elburn Herald published a story about Jessie Miles while she was on her way home from deployment, “I’ll be home for Christmas.” We followed up with Jessie and her family after she returned home and had time to spend with everyone. That story is below.

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove/Maple Park—National Guard Spc. Jessie Miles arrived home from Afghanistan just in time for Christmas. The 22-year-old Kaneland High School graduate had joined the National Guard a year out of high school, went through basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was stationed in California when she was deployed overseas about a year ago.

“Jessie was always an outdoorsy girl,” said her mom, Kippy Miles.

She told of Jessie’s love for fishing and hunting, as well as being able to skin and field dress her own deer.

After high school graduation, Jessie took general education classes at Waubonsee Community College for two semesters, but wasn’t really seeing a direction for her life.

One day, her mom asked her if she would consider going to talk to a recruiter at the National Guard unit in Sycamore. It was like a light bulb went off. Her father, Marshall, went back with her the next day, and she signed up.

Her tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 870 MP Company included training members of the Afghan police and army, as well as going on a number of combat missions. Although she said she is not allowed to talk about that, she did say she had a lot of close calls.

She lost a good friend from her unit, 21-year-old Specialist Sean Walsh from San Jose, Calif., who was killed 10 days before they were to come home. Jessie said that he was an only child, and Jessie has been in touch with his mom since she came home.

She said there were a lot of ups and downs, that being over there was hard, and physically and mentally challenging.

“It was good, though,” she said. “I gained a lot of mental and physical strength. If I could do what I did there, I feel like I pretty much can do anything. I have more confidence now.”

She said she saw the way that the Afghani people live—many in mud and straw houses, and there are many old buildings with no electricity or running water.

“We have so much and they have so little, and we don’t appreciate it,” she said. “We’re so lucky.”

She said that her experiences opened her eyes up to what is really important in life.

“Now, what’s important is my family—making sure they have what they need and that they’re happy.”

Jessie and her family have been spending a lot of time together since she came home in December. The timing worked out well, with her brother Charlie, 20, home from college for much of the time.

Between her dad’s house in Sugar Grove and her mom’s in Maple Park, she and Charlie and their sisters Savanah, 17, and Hallie, 14, have just been doing a lot of hanging out, Jessie said. The siblings recently went to stay at a water park near the Wisconsin Dells for the weekend.

Charlie said that he and Jessie have always been close, and that it has been great to be able to see her again every day. He hadn’t seen her since the spring of 2009, when she left for basic training.

He said he sees differences in her now that she’s home again. He said she has developed leadership qualities, that she has a direction and purpose.

Jessie is currently applying to schools, and hopes to go to colleges in either Colorado or Oregon to study architecture. In the meantime, she is hoping to stay at home and travel back and forth to California for her National Guard weekend drills. Once she finds out where she will go to school, she will transfer to the National Guard there.

”I want to make a future for myself,” she said.

A new ‘leash’ on life

Photo: Kaitlyn, Jessica and Steve Kosior play with their adopted Greyhound, Carl, at their home in Elburn. Photo by Patti Wilk

‘Hot Shot’ Carl finds a home after running 108 races in 2 years
by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—“Hot Shot” Carl was fast—really fast. The sleek greyhound ran in 108 races at the Kenosha, Wis., race track during the two years he lived at Dairyland Greyhound Park, one of the eight racing kennels near the track. He came in first in 15 races, second in 24 of them, and third in 21 more.

“That means that about 60 percent of the time, he was in the money,” said Kari Swanson, Director of Midwest Greyhound Adoption.

That success led Carl to race twice a day during his time at Dairyland, typically running at speeds of 45 miles per hour. When he wasn’t racing, he spent much of the rest of the time in his crate.

When the Kenosha track closed at the end of 2009, Carl’s trainer considered having him continue to race at a track in Florida. At the time, Swanson was at Dairyland to pick up a vanload of dogs as part of her organization’s rescue program. She had room for one more, and when she came back into the building to pick up another dog, she heard a loud thumping from the back of the kennel.

It turned out to be Carl’s tail thumping against the side of his crate.

“He didn’t have the energy to lift his head, but every time we said his name, he wagged his tail,” Swanson said.

She was able to convince Carl’s trainer to let her take him home, where she would find him a good home.

Despite many stories similar to Carl’s, Swanson said she is not against greyhound racing in general.

“The public perception is that greyhound racing is terrible, but there are good trainers,” she said. “But whenever you combine money and animals, somebody’s going to be a loser, and it’s usually the animal.”

Broken legs are a frequent occupational hazard for greyhound racers. In the 20 years that Swanson has been rescuing them, her organization has paid for surgery for more than 800 dogs with broken legs.

According to information on the MGA website, as recently as 20 years ago, greyhounds were simply euthanized when they were no longer fit to race. Now, thanks to people like Swanson and others, the dogs can have a second chance on life.

When Swanson created Midwest Greyhound Adoption 20 years ago, it was a cottage industry based out of her home on Bliss Road in Sugar Grove. Currently, it is a shelter with indoor and covered outdoor runs, heated floors and a capacity for 12 dogs.

Hundreds of volunteers give their time to the organization. Some come regularly to clean and take care of the dogs. Some raise money for the operation by providing hound-sitting services, while others sew dog blankets and collars to sell in the store. Some drive the vans, some make phone calls, and others put together the newsletter.

“Everybody does what their strengths allow,” Swanson said.

Since the tracks in Wisconsin closed down, Swanson said they focus their rescue efforts on the southern states, such as Alabama and Florida.

There are 20 volunteer foster homes throughout the western suburbs that take the dogs into their homes when they are first rescued. Because the dogs have lived in kennels all their lives, a brief stay in a foster home allows them to get used to living in a house, and socializes them to people and a normal routine.
The first priority is potty training, and learning to walk on different surfaces. Stairs are a major hurdle for many of the dogs, as they’ve never seen them before, foster home volunteer Debbie Dombrowski said.

“They also have to learn what the boundaries are, what the rules are,” she said. “It’s like adopting a teenager. They need lots of love and attention to help them become good, confident dogs, but they learn fast and they have good memories.”

Today, Carl could be said to be a lucky dog. He lives in a house in Elburn with Joanne and Steve Kosior and their daughters, 13-year-old Kaitlyn and 9-year-old Jessica. In addition to the girls, his canine playmates are Misty, a black lab mix, and Nika, a Siberian Huskie.

“The kids adore him,” Joanne said. “He became an instant part of our family.”

Although the Kosiors have always had dogs, Steve said that greyhounds are different from any other dog they’ve had.

“They’ve got big eyes that look right through you,” he said. “They’re really sweet.”

Steve said that Carl is very laid back.

“Because they were sprinters, they run really hard for a few minutes and then they’re done,” he said. “Carl runs a couple times a day and then he’s content to lay around.”

From his padded dog mattress, Carl heard his name and began thumping his tail.

Christmas Spirit lives through Mom’s Swap Shop

Photo: On Dec. 9 and 10, Elburn Community Center hosted the Christmas Swap Shop, an event where moms swap out things they no longer need with things they do. The event was hosted by Authentic Moms, a local Christian mom’s group. Here, some early birds take advantage of some free snacks. Photo by Mary Herra

by Susan O’Neill
Elburn—If anyone has a doubt that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Elburn, they should have been at the Elburn Community Center on Saturday for the Authentic Moms’ Christmas Swap Shop.

The Community Center’s gymnasium was filled with neatly folded children’s clothes sorted by size, toys, video games and DVDs, strollers, high chairs and car seats, some of which looked almost brand new. Moms (and dads) were walking past the tables, looking through the items, mostly for Christmas presents for their children, or for an item that would fill a need or a want.

A young girl rode up to her mom on a tricycle.

“Mom, look at me!” she cried out.

“Did your dad send you over here with that?” the mom, laughing, asked her daughter.

The casual observer could guess that the bike might just be going home with the little girl that day.

The difference between this and Christmas shopping scenes elsewhere that day was that, instead of the shoppers paying for the presents or putting them on their charge cards, they would be taking them home for free.

The swap shop began with a Christian mom’s group that formed about four years ago. The women, who attend several different churches and various Bible study groups, get together on a regular basis for dinner, fellowship and to support each other as moms, Elburn resident Jill Olson said.

“We lift each other up and encourage each other,” Geneva mom Kristen Ernst said. “People in the group pray for you.”

The swapping began informally, Olson said.

“Kids are always outgrowing stuff, and moms always need stuff,” she said.

“Someone would say, ‘I have a crib. Does anybody have a stroller?’” added Ernst.

The group decided a few years ago to open up the swap to the wider community, said Elburn mom Nicole Duski, coordinator of the event. The moms host two swaps a year—one in the spring and one just before Christmas.

“The Christmas one is near and dear to my heart, especially during this economy when so many people are struggling,” Duski said.

Duski said she has heard women say that if it were not for the swap, they wouldn’t have anything to put under the tree for their kids.

“Kids don’t know if the toys are brand new, she said. “They don’t care.”

People are blessed both by the giving and the getting, Batavia mom Heather Kwitschau said. She participates in both, and was one of about 60 women who dropped things off on Friday. Many of the women worked well into the evening, sorting everything.

“On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to find something that your kids really need,” she said. “On the other hand, when you drop something off, you feel good knowing that it’s going to someone who can use it.”

Duski said that as she watched people take things out the door, others continued to drop things off.

“It keeps multiplying,” she said. “God provides.”

The group has been finding more ways to spread the word, including family members, pre-schools, libraries and friends.

“We had a great turn-out this year,” Duski said. “More than 200 people came and took things this time. The last time, there were 100.”

Even with the additional people, there was more than enough to go around. The left-over items were taken to the St. Vincent de Paul shop at the Civic Center in Maple Park, where donations are accepted but items are free to those in need.

These moms feel it is their responsibility as Christians to help others in this way.

“The scriptures tell us to love others both in word and in deed,” Olson said. “There is one that says, ‘How can we say we love our brother and send him away empty-handed when he is in need?’”

Kwitschau said that she and her children go through their things on a regular basis, giving away what they don’t need or use anymore.

“The kids grow up doing it without thinking,” she said. “It becomes a habit. It’s our role in showing love to each other.”

It is Ernst’s hope that people might see the grace behind the giving, and that it will make a difference beyond just fulfilling their physical needs.

“Maybe someone who doesn’t believe will see God’s love,” she said.

Next Authentic Moms’ Swap Shop

Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19
Drop items off on May 18;
pick items up on May 19

Elburn Community Center at 525 N. Main St. Elburn • Nicole Duski at (630) 951-7397