Category Archives: From the Editor’s Desk

One more time … with feeling

One of the best things about sports—regardless of whether it’s at the high school or professional level—is the element of rivalry. A tradition-fueled sense of competitiveness that excites and intrigues fans, and even sometimes sets their teeth on edge, as they watch two beloved entities battle.

We’ve seen generations-old rivalries, including the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, reach new pinnacles in the 2000s. And it’s possible that the best is yet to come for those respective feuds. However, arguably the greatest sports rivalry of them all will, for all intents and purposes, come to an end after this season. So it’s appropriate that these two teams will get one final crack at each other before one of them moves to a different division next fall.

Of course we’re talking about the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

If you’re a hockey fan (and judging by the overwhelming amount of Blackhawks stickers and flags found on cars in this area, many of you are indeed hockey fans), there’s nothing else like the Wings/Hawks rivalry. And it’s a feud that goes far beyond the ice—it’s about Michigan vs. Illinois; the Motor City against the Windy City; the assembly line vs. meatpacking plants. You name it, it’s all there when the Red Wings and Blackhawks take the ice, and the two franchises have gone toe to toe (really, skate to skate) in both the Stanley Cup Finals (they first did so in 1934, which the Blackhawks won in four games in a best-of-five series) and numerous Campbell and Western Conference playoff series.

Sadly, this storied rivalry will hit the skids next season when the Red Wings relocate to the Eastern Conference, but not before the two teams do battle one more time on the playoff stage. And this 2013 Western Conference Semifinal series couldn’t be any bigger for the Blackhawks—they won the Presidents’ Trophy (given to the team with the best record) this season, and they’re an overwhelming favorite to win their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. This team is young, hungry, deep and tenacious, and it’s quite likely that the Blackhawks’ best hockey is still in front of them. The Red Wings, rather, are in a position they’ve seldom found themselves in during the past decade: the role of underdog. This is a cagey, resilient Detroit squad fresh off of a seven-game slugfest victory over the Anaheim Ducks, and the Wings have more than enough skill and experience to send the Blackhawks golfing early this year.

This series will be irresistible viewing for puck fans. But it should be just as popular with casual sports fans interested in watching two teams that both dislike and heavily respect each other. If you fall into the latter category, you owe it to yourself to catch a game or two from this series. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

All good things must come to an end, but this final Red Wings/Blackhawks Western Conference Playoff go-around should serve as a fitting send-off for a rivalry that has truly stood the test of time. Fittingly, the next time these two franchises meet in the playoffs, it will be in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Looks like this rivalry has come full-circle after all.

Kaneland Hall of Fame inducts local journalism pioneers

As the Kaneland community’s hometown newspaper, we feel a special connection with any and all persons inducted into the district’s Hall of Fame. Chances are that we’ve covered or featured these inductees at some point during their time serving the Kaneland School District, and their achievements continue to inspire us to serve the Kaneland community the best we can.

While previous Hall of Fame classes have made us strive to become a better product, two members of this year’s class were responsible for contributions that completely changed the face of both the Elburn Herald and Kaneland community journalism: Don Watson and Laurie Erdmann

Watson is a man who needs no introduction around the Elburn Herald office—he’s the reason we have a newspaper section solely dedicated to Kaneland sports. In 1974, he approached our paper and pitched the idea of writing a column that covered local athletic teams, no doubt driven by his love for Kaneland sports, as well as the fact that his sons were active in AAU diving and swimming at the time.

His debut article, “Knights shucked in Korn Tournament,” appeared in the Dec. 5, 1974, issue of the Elburn Herald. During the next 28 years, he was a prominent fixture in Kaneland athletics, including an era that he believes “may never be duplicated,” featuring State Championships by two boys track teams, two girls track teams, back-to-back 14-0 football teams, a girls basketball team and a boys cross-country team.

Watson’s invaluable contributions to the Elburn Herald, Kaneland sports and local journalism are why we named him Sports Editor Emeritus in 2002 and created a $1,000 scholarship in his name. And those contributions are also why we couldn’t say yes fast enough when the idea of nominating him for the Kaneland Hall of Fame first came up. The Elburn Herald, as we know it today, simply would not exist without Watson, and we’re extremely proud to see him rightfully take his place among the most respected and revered members of the Kaneland community.

Like Watson, Erdmann began contributing to the Kaneland community in 1974, when she became a journalism teacher at the high school. At the time, KHS had just one semester-long journalism course. Thanks to Erdmann, that lone course evolved into a three-tiered, sequential program that included an intro to newswriting, advanced journalistic studies course, and an AP English and Composition class that placed an emphasis on journalistic writing.

Another early achievement for Erdmann was her students’ establishment of the Kaneland News Bureau in 1974 (which to this day continues to send stories and photos to area newspapers). Six years later, her advanced journalism students founded The Paragon magazine, for which she served as an advisor until 1985.

Erdmann also crafted a co-curricular publications program that required journalism students to participate in regular reporting, editing and executive duties aside from their normal journalism studies. In the meantime, the Kaneland Krier newsmagazine grew from a four-page publication to a 24-page monthly offering with five supplements.

In 1998, Erdmann participated in the planning and implementation of a “journalism suite” in the high school, complete with a classroom, publications office and multi-workstation publications lab. In 2002, she oversaw establishment of The Krier’s online publication.

Erdmann’s induction into the Kaneland Hall of Fame marks the second time she’s received a prestigious honor from the Kaneland community, as she was named KHS Educator of the Year in 2001.

Elburn Herald sports coverage and KHS’ entire journalism program exist because of Watson’s and Erdmann’s respective vision, presence and accomplishments, and we can’t think of two candidates more deserving of seats in the Kaneland Hall of Fame. Congratulations to both of them.

Why American sensibility is ‘distressed’

by Tom Purcell, author
I turned 51 last week, and it’s official: I have turned into my father.

The world makes less sense to me every day. My fellow man puzzles me more every day.

I cite exhibit A: crummy stone walls. I know a woman who paid $10,000 to have a small stone retaining wall built along her driveway.

Now, I used to be a stonemason—I rebuilt close to 200 such walls during my high school and college years—and I was shocked to learn that hers was a new wall. It was buckling and full of gaps. Not one stone was properly cut or faced.

It’s the latest craze, she told me—walls that have an old, authentic look. This is because people suddenly want the outside of their homes to look as “distressed” as the inside.

“Distressed furniture” is the latest trend in interior design. People are buying brand-new tables and dressers, bringing them into their garages, kicking and scratching them, then covering them in a lumpy, flaky paint.

I called my sister, an interior designer, to learn more about this peculiar trend. She said people want the antique look, but because real antiques are hard to come by, the next best thing is to buy something new and make it look scuffed and tired and worn.

This causes my father to rise up in me as I say, “What the … ?”

But nothing is more puzzling than our next item of distress: distressed jeans. That’s right, there is actually a product the fashionistas refer to as “distressed jeans.” These are jeans with tears and gaping holes that, according to The New York Times, sell for upwards of $600 a pair.

Even in Pittsburgh, land of common-sense people, a lousy pair of trendy jeans runs upwards of $200. I talked with the owner of an upscale jeans store and she told me the jeans with holes in them aren’t as popular as the ones with paint splattered all over them.

“Jeans splattered with paint?”

“Yes, they’re all the rage.”

“But they have paint on them!”


Just as I was ready to concede that the American experiment is spent and all will soon be lost, she told me about another jeans trend: dirt-washed jeans. That’s right, the jean manufacturer washes them in dirt. They have pebbles and clumps of clay in the pockets. And Americans, many of them educated and from good homes, willingly exchange their hard-earned dough for them.

The dirt-washed jeans are almost as popular as the grease-smeared jeans, she continued (and I’m not making this up). The jean manufacturers actually smear grease all over the jeans, so that people who buy them can be as fashionable as the guy in the pit at the Jiffy Lube.

I asked the jeans-shop owner to help me understand why people are buying such products. She said that manufacturers are always trying to be hip. When something hits—when the trendy crowd just has to have it—the manufacturer can charge huge markups.

Well, I understand that, I told her. But why? Why are people dumb enough to buy these things? Why are Americans spending so much money for items that sensible Americans used to donate to Goodwill or toss in the garbage?

She had no answer. Let me take a stab at it.

As we work exhausting hours in gray cubicles, doing bland service work—as we move into cookie-cutter houses in the thick of suburban sprawl—and as fewer of us know any sense of craftsmanship or what it is like to sweat or work with our hands, we long for anything authentic … even if it’s fake.

But what do I know. At 51, I have effectively become my father. Puzzled as I am by the latest trends, my thoughts have shifted to more practical matters … such as finding a couple of suckers willing to pay me 200 bucks for my greasy, paint-stained jeans.

Kaneland Fine Arts Festival exhibits artistic integrity, creativity at the local level

The 14th annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) was held on Sunday, exhibiting a diverse collection of local artists and performers. As always, the festival was successful in its goal to bring out community members for an afternoon and expose them to a smorgasbord of artistic styles—from glass fusing, caricature drawing and oil painting to acrylic, digital and silhouette art. You name it, it was probably on display at Kaneland High School last Sunday. And that’s not even taking into account the visual performers who make up a considerable portion of the festival lineup.

The Fine Arts Festival exists thanks to former KHS art teacher Bonnie Whildin, who in 1985 came up with the idea of providing the Kaneland community with an opportunity to experience the arts in an interactive setting, absolutely free of charge.

That dream took 13 years to come to fruition, but in May 1998, the inaugural Fine Arts Festival event took place at Kaneland South Elementary School (now Kaneland John Shields), with around 200 people in attendance for the two-hour event.

To say that the Fine Arts Festival has grown since then would be quite an understatement. Close to 30 professional artists and performers were slated to participate in this year’s gala. Over 3,000 people were expected to attend the event, which is now seven hours in length.

Elburn Herald reporter Mary Parrilli attended the festival; her experience documented in the story on page 1A of this week’s issue.

“Visual artists showcased their work throughout the festival, as well,” Parrilli wrote. “There were professional artists with installments in the pavilion, and some with work being displayed and auctioned at the entrance. There was a separate section called the Kaneland Senior Art Gallery, displaying art created by four KHS seniors.”

This year also marked the debut of KCFAF’s Artist in Residence program, featuring the creative 3D work of Chicago painter/photographer Eric Nye.

“It was a lovely festival,” said KCFAF Executive Director Maria Dripps-Paulson. “This year, every aspect of the festival—the performances, the visual artists, the student artwork, and the volunteers—seemed to be of extremely high quality.”

If you haven’t attended a Fine Arts Festival event, we suggest you consider doing so next spring. A staggering amount of planning and preparation goes into the festival each year, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more driven, enthusiastic bunch than the Fine Arts Festival Committee. Never mind the fact that the festival is an ideal opportunity for professional artists—many of whom are local—to display their one-of-a-kind art.

“From a backstage perspective, all of the volunteers, staff and planning committee worked together as a cohesive unit,” Dripps-Paulson said. “I talked to each professional visual artist before they left, and the constant comment was how amazingly organized and smooth everything ran thanks to the very friendly and helpful volunteers. I was very pleased.”

Not nearly as pleased as we are to have the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival in our backyard

Editorial: Meagan Seals a ‘Local Hero’

The Elburn Herald first reported on Elburn resident Meagan Seals in July 2010, when she was just 7 months old. Born with the rare brain disorders encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly, doctors did not expect Meagan to survive more than a few weeks.

More than three years later, Meagan’s still here, and her condition continues to improve. She’s even learning to talk these days. That’s why her mother, Luellen, refers to her as “Miracle Meagan.”

“She has a huge following on Facebook, and we get many emails from all over the world from people that say she changed their lives with her story or has given hope to some who may be currently pregnant with a child like Meagan,” Luellen said.

Miraculous, indeed, but the past three years have come with a price for the Seals … literally. The family currently has $30,000 in medical bills, and their 13-year-old van cannot support a handicap lift for Meagan’s wheelchair. Thus, the family decided to take a chance and enter Meagan into a “Local Hero” contest organized by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). The contest will award a lift-equipped, handicap-friendly van to the three entrants who garner the most votes and best demonstrate how their story has affected the local community for the better.

According to Luellen, several local businesses, including Paisano’s Pizza and Grill, Old Second Bank and Lord of Life Church, have voted for Meagan on the NMEDA website Other businesses, such as Graham’s 318 of Geneva and Lutheran Church Charities have voted for Meagan, as well.

Voters may re-cast their ballot each day until the Local Hero contest concludes on Friday, May 10.

“Meagan’s story has helped change the way doctors view (these brain disorders), as well as giving many families hope,” Luellen said.

Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age. Children with microcephaly often have developmental issues. Encephalocele prevents a baby’s skull from closing completely before birth. After Meagan was born, she had surgery to reinsert brain tissue and close the gap.

“We were told that she was not going to be living this long. Most do not survive the encephalocele,” Luellen said. “Doctors said that the CT scan looked like someone that had gotten hit by a car going 100 miles per hour.”

Meagan is the youngest of the Seals’ four children, and her Facebook page—“Meagan Seals Miracle Baby”—helps keep the Seals in touch with other families that have members afflicted with the same disorders. The page also features Meagan’s medical records, videos of news coverage and updates on how she’s doing.

“There’s nothing positive when you search these disorders on Google. We’re kind of hoping to use (the Facebook page) as a tool for change,” Luellen said. “We’ve gotten in touch with other families that have children that have the same afflictions. We share ideas on what kind of treatments work the best and what doesn’t.”

The fact that Meagan’s miraculous story gives hope to other families with children who suffer from encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly is just one reason why she is indeed a local hero.

Editorial: The results are in

… And just like that, 2013 Consolidated Election season is over. Kaput. Finito.
Tuesday’s election festivities resulted in some familiar officials staying put in their current position, as well as some new faces hitting the local government scene via big wins at the polls. Here’s what we know:
• A highly competitive, combative village president race in Sugar Grove resulted in incumbent Sean Michels retaining his seat for another four years. Michels, defeated village trustee Kevin Geary by collecting 55.72 percent of the vote.
• Tom Rowe is the new Sugar Grove Township supervisor, thanks to an election performance in which he carried over 44 percent of the vote in a four-man race.
• The Sugar Grove Village Board retained two trustees in Rick Montalto and Robert Bohler, and added a new one in Sean Herron, who outlasted trustee hopefuls Gayle Deja-Schultz and Stephanie Landorf.
• Elburn, too, retained two of its village trustees—Kenneth Anderson Jr. and Jeffrey Walter—and added village plan commissioner Pat Schuberg. Be sure to check out reporter Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s write-up of Schuberg on page 1A of this week’s issue.
• Patricia Hill is Kaneville’s next village president, as she edged Rick Peck by just three votes on Tuesday evening. Peck served as interim village president following the passing of Bob Rodney in July 2012.
• Maple Park will have a newcomer on its Village Board, as Lucas Goucher was one of three candidates elected to a four-term position on Tuesday evening. Greg Cutsinger and Terry Borg were also elected to four-year seats in Maple Park.

Commentary follows election
aftermath in Sugar Grove
Michels said he’s excited for the opportunity to serve four more years as Sugar Grove village president.
“It was great to have the support of the rest of the board, and we worked together,” he said. “I think people are tired of the negativity and the complaining. The residents have said that things are progressing in Sugar Grove. We’ve accomplished a lot, and we have a lot more to accomplish as we move forward. I am looking forward to the opportunity. I think my opponent has some fence-mending to do.”
Geary on Tuesday night was gracious in defeat, and noted that he still has two years left in his current term—time that he plans to spend representing Sugar Grove and “being their champion for issues and concerns.”
“A lot of things have been said throughout this campaign, but we’re all Sugar Grove residents, and we need to pull together and make this the world-class community that we desire to make it,” Geary said.

Rowe makes it count
with election night win

What can $600 get you these days? If you’re Tom Rowe, plenty.
That’s the total Rowe spent on his grassroots campaign for Sugar Grove Township supervisor, and it will go down as the best $600 he’s ever spent. Rowe came out way ahead of his three opponents in Tuesday night’s election.
“It’s a big relief (to win the election). I really didn’t know it would come out this way,” Rowe said. “I thought I had a good campaign, and the race was mostly clean and positive. The voters have spoken, and I look forward to beginning a new chapter for Sugar Grove Township.”
On Tuesday morning, it was discovered that someone had tried to burn one of Rowe’s campaign signs.

Anderson, Walter thankful for re-election
Elburn trustee re-elect Kennth Anderson said he’s thankful and blessed to have the support of the residents of the village of Elburn.
“It has been a pleasure to have represented them for the past four years, (and) I look forward to representing them for four more.”
Walter said public service is truly a calling, and even just running takes a huge commitment to your community.
“Elburn is in an incredible position for future growth that needs to be managed properly,” he said. “My commitment to the village is to continue to be the voice of my constituents in managing the village with a sense of fiscal responsibility and an eye toward smart growth.”
Of course, these election results were made possible by residents getting out and hitting the polls. We applaud everyone who made the effort to ensure that their voice was heard this election season, and we hope voter turnout will be even greater next time around.
Until then, farewell 2013 Consolidated Election season. Though our time together was brief, we absolutely enjoyed every second of it.

Editorial: Welcome to the 2013 spring election

The Elburn Herald last Thursday ran a preview of its 2013 spring election coverage by taking a look at the Sugar Grove village president race between incumbent Sean Michels and his challenger, 14-year village trustee Kevin Geary.

This week, our election coverage is in full swing, featuring in-depth coverage of local village president, village board, township and fire protection district races, as well as the contested race for the Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees. The races featured in this week’s issue aren’t as hotly contested as the Michels/Geary showdown in Sugar Grove, but there’s plenty to learn about the candidates seeking contested local seats this spring.

For example, you’ll find in these pages an in-depth look at the Village Board race in Sugar Grove, featuring five candidates (three of which are newcomers) in the hunt for three open trustee seats. All candidates offered their views regarding topics such as the video gaming referendum, the idea of re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District, and the current state of business and growth in the village.

SG board candidate Gayle Deja-Schultz told the Elburn Herald that, due to the village’s variety of lengthy or overly complicated procedures, many businesses have found Sugar Grove “difficult to work with.” Deja-Schultz said that, if elected, she would passionately investigate these allegations and review all government processes to insure that they are streamlined as effectively as possible to provide businesses with a welcoming environment, yet still facilitating responsible growth within our community.

Elsewhere in this week’s issue is coverage of the Kaneville village president race between incumbent Rick Peck and challenger Patricia Hill. Peck has served as interim village president since the passing of former village president Bob Rodney in July 2012.

Peck told the Elburn Herald that he has begun to personally experience the importance of the leadership role while serving as interim village president.

“I have been a successful leader in my career, and know that I can accomplish the same as village president,” he said. “In the last four years as trustee and president, I have worked to successfully implement solutions to difficult tasks.”

Hill is no stranger to the Kaneville community, either, thanks to the numerous local activities in which she participates or volunteers.

“The job of village president is one that is of leadership, responsibility and for the good of the people in the town. It also involves fiscal responsibility to its citizens,” she said. “I care about the town of Kaneville and its future. I want to keep it small-town America.”

Lest we forget the race taking place in our own backyard, featuring four candidates—two incumbents, two newcomers—competing for three open seats on the Elburn Village Board. All four election entrants—Kenneth Anderson, Jeffrey Walter, Pat Schuberg and Michael Rullman—spoke to the Elburn Herald about their feelings regarding the role of trustee, as well as their thoughts on the Elburn Station development.

“At this time and in these economic times, I believe the Anderson Road bridge project is the most important thing that could happen, and it will provide an immediate benefit to the residents, emergency services and others,” Anderson said.

All of the above is, of course, just a snippet of the Elburn Herald’s 2013 General Election preview this week. We invite you to dig in and learn more about local races on the General Election ballot, as well as the candidates who want to represent the boards, townships and districts nearest you.

Happy 2013 spring election season, and don’t forget to vote on Tuesday, April 9.

In the “Round two for village budget” story on Page 1A of the March 28 edition of the Elburn Herald, Bill Grabarek’s quote stating that he’s never been in a gunfight was incorrectly attributed to Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith.
The Elburn Herald wants its news reports to be fair and accurate. If you know of an error, please contact:
Keith Beebe, Editor
123 N. Main St., Elburn, IL 60119
phone (630) 365-6446

Editorial: Every vote counts on Election Day

Presidential Election years consistently have a much stronger voter turnout than off-year elections.

Yet, the decisions made by local elected officials have far more of an impact on the day-to-day lives of residents.

From some perspectives, it is easy to understand why the situation is what it is. Turn the TV to any national news channel, and within a few minutes some talking head will discuss an issue and its impact on national elections and politics. Find an online general news source, and chances are the same will occur—a significant focus on national issues and politics.

It is true that the president is the leader of the free world, and therefore the issues at that level, and the elections that feed into that position, should get significant coverage. However, it is difficult to go one day of news-consumption without a reference to a presidential election years in the future, while we remain in the first year of the current presidential term.

Meanwhile, local government seats often go unopposed. In some cases—like some races in this year’s election—there are not enough candidates to fill the open seats.

If the past is any indication, voter turnout will be relatively small on Election Day, meaning a tiny fraction of the general, voting-eligible population will dictate who serves in what local capacity.

These are the people who determine what your hometowns will look like in the near- and long-term future. They pass land use plans, they approve annexation agreements, they approve whether or not impact fees will be assessed on new homes and earmarked for local schools. They create a direction for those local schools, that township, village board or library. They are responsible for determining how effective local government spends your tax dollars. In our part of Illinois, that means they spend the property taxes that almost everyone complains about being too high.

We urge every voting-eligible resident to get informed and vote on Tuesday, April 9.

But your responsibility as a local citizen doesn’t end there, in our view.

We urge you to stay informed, attend your local meetings, get to know the people who often have to the make the tough calls absent a large amount of feedback from a large-enough percentage of the voters he or she may represent.

Then, when the next local election rolls around, if you feel that those currently sitting in their seats failed to do the job at or above your expectations, then we urge you to step forward and put your name up for election.

In our opinion, every local race should be contested, and there should never be more openings than people willing to sit in those seats. This is not because we feel the people currently serving need to be replaced. Rather, it is because we desire such a level of public engagement and desire to serve our local communities that the voting public is consistently presented with a choice between two or more people, instead of many races being unopposed or even unfilled.

The races that are contested this year include areas that are in a pivotal time in their development. Elburn just passed a significant development that will vastly change the scope and size of the community. Sugar Grove is seeking a path forward to complete developments that stalled due to the economy, as well as seeking an interchange between Interstate 88 and Route 47. Maple Park and Kaneville are facing decisions about how to provide services with limited budgets while retaining their small-town amenities. The Kaneland School Board will continue to face budget issues while attempting to improve its educational outcomes.

Every community, every unit of government is facing vital decisions in an uncertain time, from a broader economic perspective.

We hope that the people who will fill the contested seats are there because a majority of a large turnout of voters informed themselves and made an educated decision.

Be one of those educated voters on Tuesday, April 9.

Guest Editorial: Women and Sunshine Week

by Maurine Beasley, professor emerita at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park

As we celebrate Women’s History month, we should pay homage to a resolute group of women who deserve recognition during Sunshine Week, another March event. Sunshine Week calls attention to journalists who courageously brought to light information that governmental and other authorities prefer to keep hidden. Their notable ranks include women who have insisted for nearly two centuries on their right to cover the nation’s capital in spite of prejudice against their gender.

Three decades before the Civil War, Anne Royall, an impoverished widow, started her own newspaper, Paul Pry, in Washington. As the name implied, she had no hesitancy in exposing abuses of power such as unauthorized use of government horses and carriages by public officials.

Ridiculed as unwomanly and argumentative, Royall eked out a meager living as a Washington journalist for nearly a quarter-century, ending her career in 1854 with a prayer that “the union of these states may be eternal.” She had only $.54 when she died at the age of 85.

Her successors also encountered hostility on grounds they had no place in the man’s world of political reporting. In 1850, Jane G. Swisshelm, the first woman journalist to insist on sitting beside men in the Capitol press galleries, had to give up her seat because she dared publish unseemly details of the private life of Daniel Webster, one of the most famous senators of his day.

Women did not actually find a place in the press galleries until the suffrage campaign that culminated in women getting the vote in 1920, but even then they were not always welcome.

Although women replaced men in Washington journalism during World War II, when it ended, editors resumed hiring practices that relegated many women journalists to social reporting.

Relatively few women had access to news that told the public about the activities of its officials. In the 1950s, however, Maxine Cheshire, a social reporter for The Washington Post, investigated Mamie Eisenhower’s acceptance of gifts from foreign governments. Cheshire was among 10 Washington women journalists profiled in a 1972 Cosmopolitan article headlined “The Witches of Washington,” which pictured its subjects as competitive and unfeminine in their pursuit of news. Women were refused membership in the prestigious National Press Club until 1971, and allowed to cover speeches of officials there only by sitting in a hot, crowded balcony, while men reporters took notes and dined in comfort below.

When federal equal employment legislation took effect in the 1960s and 1970s, women journalists got new opportunities to cover the same assignments as men. But they still encountered barriers, including sexual harassment. Eileen Shanahan, an economics writer for the New York Times from 1966 to 1977, described flagrant examples of harassment on Capitol Hill in an oral history interview.

Today, women are estimated to represent about half of the Washington press corps and have proved themselves capable of carrying on the highest traditions of journalism. For example, Dana Priest of the Washington Post is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Along with Anne Hull, she exposed the degraded living conditions for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center, which led to the resignation of top officials and improvements in health care for veterans.

She previously uncovered secret overseas prisons that the Central Intelligence Agency used for interrogation of suspected terrorists.

Somewhat akin to Anne Royall nearly two centuries earlier, Priest is motivated to bring an abuse to light as a way of ensuring that democracy continues. In a television interview on secret prisons, Priest said, “We tried to figure out a way to get as (much) information to the public as we could without damaging national security.”

Women have fought hard and responsibly for the opportunity to report significant news from Washington.

Editorial: Maple Park, Sugar Grove introduce candidates to the public

Maple Park on March 6 hosted a Meet the Candidates event at the Maple Park Community Center as a way to introduce its Village Board candidates to residents. Public turnout for the event wasn’t what Village President Kathy Curtis and staff had hoped for (less than 10 residents were in attendance), but that didn’t stop the candidates from discussing their individual platforms and vision for the village.

Brian Kinane, who is running for a four-year seat on the Village Board, told the Elburn Herald that he thought all of the candidates were sincere in their statements regarding the village of Maple Park. Curtis said that it was exciting to have seven people vying for five open seats on the board.

Despite the lackluster attendance number, we applaud Maple Park for putting forth the effort to give residents a chance to meet and interact with the candidates who could very well represent the village after next month’s election. It is our hope that more residents will attend future Meet the Candidates events in Maple Park and embrace the opportunity to see and hear village candidates as they define their platform and explain how it can benefit the village. When it comes to elections, the more information on the table, the better. That’s why any village’s Meet the Candidates event is so important, and that’s why Maple Park should absolutely continue to host such an event.

Sugar Grove held its Meet the Candidates event on Tuesday evening at the Sugar Grove Community House, and offered the opportunity for residents to hear from candidates running for seats on the Fire Protection District, Park District, Library Board, Kaneland School Board, Community House, Waubonsee Community College Board, Township and Village Board. Village president Sean Michels and his challenger, village trustee Kevin Geary, were also on hand to introduce themselves to the public in attendance and offer their thoughts on topics such as re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District and their overall vision for the village.

“We have to keep moving forward, and I think we have that vision in place. We have our long-range plan that shows where we want retail development, business development, our train stations, things like that,” Michels said during the event. “We need to continue to bring in businesses and rooftops so that we can see this vision grow.”

The event also provided residents with a look at the candidates running for township supervisor (Harry Davis, Scott Jesseman, Curt Karas and Tom Rowe), and Village Board trustee (Robert Bohler, Gayle Deja-Schultz, Sean Herron, Stephanie Landorf and Rick Montalto).

“People want to see growth within the community. I personally don’t only want growth, but I want to see responsible growth in the community,” Deja-Schultz said during the Q & A portion of the event. “That means businesses that come (to the village) are good for our community.”

The Elburn Herald had the privilege of co-sponsoring the Meet the Candidates event with the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and would like to thank the chamber and Sugar Grove residents for making Meet the Candidates night a success.

We also want to say congratulations to both Maple Park and Sugar Grove for choosing to give its residents a chance to learn more about the candidates whose names will appear on the ballot next month. When a village makes the effort to educate the public about its candidates, everyone wins.

Guest Editorial: Sunshine Week 2013 to launch with new website, renewed partnerships

by David Porter, director of Communications and Marketing, Illinois Press Association

Sunshine Week is set for March 10-16, and already there are plans across the country for events spotlighting open government, for special news reporting and for the release of freedom of information studies.

The Illinois Press Association has renewed its partnership with the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to promote awareness of open government efforts in Illinois. ASNE and the RCFP oversee the national coordination of resources and provide support for participants. Sunshine Week 2013 is made possible by a continuing endowment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has funded Sunshine Week since its 2005 launch, and by a 2013 donation from Bloomberg LP.

“The Reporters Committee is pleased to again be a co-sponsor of Sunshine Week. Our ongoing mission is to ensure that government at all levels remains transparent for the public and for reporters in all platforms. This is a great opportunity to engage many different partners in open government education and discussions,” said Reporters Committee Chairman Tony Mauro, U.S. Supreme Court correspondent for The National Law Journal.

Since the nationwide Sunshine Week was launched by ASNE, participants have included print, broadcast and digital media outlets; government officials at all levels; schools and universities; non-profit and civic organizations; libraries and archivists; and interested individuals. Everyone is welcome to participate and may use the resources provided on the website to mark their open-government efforts that week. The Reporters Committee has been a national co-sponsor since 2012.

“Of course open government is important to journalists. But even more, open government is really at the heart of democracy by giving citizens the information we all need,” said ASNE President Susan Goldberg, executive editor of Bloomberg News in Washington. “ASNE is proud of the work our members have done in creating and launching Sunshine Week over the years. It’s among the most important work we do.”

Editorial: Think like an optimist

by Mark Underwood, neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder, Quincy Bioscience
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to be in a good mood all the time? What is it that they know that you don’t about seeing the glass as “half full” instead of “half empty?”

Many people work at getting physically fit, but not everyone practices “mental fitness.” Many don’t consciously know how to keep a positive attitude going in spite of problems we all come up against.

So what are these happy thinkers doing that many people are not? Let’s start with lifestyle. No matter where you live or what chapter of your life you’re in, it’s easy to get the doldrums from time to time. In some parts of the country winter blahs are blamed while others lead an overly scheduled lifestyle which brings on daily challenges.

Research has found that the difference between people who remain cheery when faced with challenges that life doles out and those who can’t switch off negative thoughts, is the difference in mindsets.

David Snowdon, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, has said that when optimists face problems they are able to “switch off” negative thoughts and “switch on” a happy state of mind.

Health benefits for optimists
Optimism is good for you health; pessimism is not. Stress can be harmful, yet it is nearly impossible to avoid. As we age, the effects of stress take a greater toll on our health, from increasing cholesterol to disrupting sleep.

Individuals that turn a difficult situation into a workable solution may actually be protecting themselves from the harmful effects of stress and other health problems.

A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found a significant increase of risk for various health problems including heart disease in people with negative outlooks.

Studies have also shown that people who can see humor in difficult situations where others see only anxiety and failure benefit from keeping a light-hearted outlook.

Living life like the way you want
There are various degrees and forms of negative thinking, but results are often the same. It can destroy motivation and energy, concentration skills, and feelings of self-worth. For some people, they’ve lived for years with a constant lack of positive thoughts. Instead, they have replaced them with continual negativity.

Living like this is difficult especially if you do so every day of the week. Negative thoughts may make you want to avoid deadlines and responsibilities. You put off daily tasks like cooking and cleaning and feel like not going to school and work.

Tips for ramping up positive thinking
It’s one thing to say to say you want a positive attitude, but it’s another thing to practice optimistic thinking when times are tough. How do you go from complaining to having a sunny disposition?

Like most things, the more you practice the better at it you get. Open the door to being more enthusiastic about life. The more you consciously put positive thoughts in your head, the more intuitive it will get.

Positivity may be easier than you think because you can practice it anywhere, anytime without any special equipment or training.

Use these tips to start being a new you.
• Listen for negativity. Find one place in your daily routine where you often run into negativity. Listen for your internal voice emerging that is looking at troubling news as failure. Ignore it. Change the channel and find a new internal voice that says, “I will get through this and in the meantime, I’m grateful for what I have.” Do this daily.

• Learn to laugh. Laugher is one of the most enjoyable ways to let the day’s stressors melt away. Humor has been studied extensively for its major effect on our well-being. As social beings we thrive with positive contact with others. Make sure you have people in your life that make you laugh and can help you lighten the day. Positive people are contagious.

• Do something nice (and unexpected) for someone. Research studies have found that five good deeds a day can make you happier. Look for ways to go out of your way to be kind to someone. It could be something simple like opening a door for a shopper whose hands are full or signing up to be a volunteer at a local organization that gives back to the community.

• Exercise for mind and body. If you feel fit and healthy, you’re much more likely to want to feel up beat less and less likely to wallow in everyday problems. Exercise has a profound effect on our ability to cope with stress. Exercise elevates our moods and helps fuel positive thinking.

Positive thinking is about placing your mind in readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations. It is not just window dressing for a problem—it is a technique as well as a lifestyle that can potentially change your life for the better.

Editorial: Elburn Herald hosts SG village presidential debate

The Elburn Herald on Feb. 13 hosted a Sugar Grove village presidential debate between the incumbent, Sean Michels, and his challenger, village trustee Kevin Geary.

Both participants met at the Herald’s new location, 525 N. Main St., in Elburn, and proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes debating topics such as government transparency, village growth and business, video gambling, the Mallard Point/Rolling Oaks drainage issue, and the possibility of re-entering an intergovernmental agreement with the Kaneland School District.

The Herald hosted the debate as a way to kick off it’s role as co-sponsers in this year’s Sugar Grove Meet the Candidates Night, which will take place on Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St.

The debate between Michels and Geary was video recorded as a way to provide Sugar Grove residents with a fair and quality look at the two village president candidates in action. The entire video will be available on our website,, beginning Friday.

Michels during the debate stated that the village has done a number of things to reinforce open and honest government, including posting Village Board meeting agendas and minutes online, as well as the distribution of a village newsletter and email blasts directed at village residents.

“A number of board members are involved in local activities, such as (Kaneland) Sports Boosters, Chamber of Commerce, the church (and) Lion’s Club,” he said. “Our board gets out and socializes a lot with the residents to get a feel of what’s going on.”

Asked about the element of transparency on the Village Board, Geary stated that the board has a responsibility to explain to the public “why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

“The village is not mine. The village belongs to all the citizens of Sugar Grove. Everything the village does should be done in plain view,” he said. “The law does provide for things—absolute lawsuit conditions allows for the (Village Board) to go into closed sessions; it also allows for employee issues (that) go into closed sessions. I think that this is an area that is used quite a bit … almost, maybe, (in) excess.”

On the topic of video gambling in the village,
Geary said he is neither for not against it.

“In the law that the state crafted, they left the decision up to its citizens as to whether they wanted to allow gambling within the community or not … I am for the people,” he said. “My position has always been (to) let the residents decide what they want (and) how they want to decide this issue.”

Michels said he doesn’t condone video gaming, but thinks it should be allowed to put Sugar Grove village businesses on the same playing field as other businesses in the area.

“It was disclosed today that at (the former) Blackberry Inn, they’re seeing revenue generated about $20,000 a month off of the (video gambling) machines that they have,” he said. “To the restaurant bar, they get about a 35 percent cut, which is about $7,000. Right now, that’s a significant amount of money.”

Michels has served as village president since 1999, the same year Geary first took office as village trustee.

Editorial: The joy of Valentine’s Day

It’s here again—the holiday that combines the anxiety of a job interview, the gift-giving doubt associated with Christmas, and the meal indecision (and follow-up guilt) experienced by most Buffalo Wild Wings patrons.

Of course we’re talking about Valentine’s Day. Twenty-four hours of chocolate, flowers, steak and lobster, and Redbox movies (rom-com’s only, naturally). Get this day right and you’ll be nominated for Significant Other of the Year. Get it wrong and, well, let’s just say it will lead to an unpleasant outcome. Our advice is that you get it right.

For such a simple, Hallmark-manufactured holiday, Valentine’s Day is easily the most nerve-wracking day of the year for any respectable male interested in keeping his girlfriend, fiance or wife. The requirements of this day seem easy enough: flowers and chocolate, a nice card (typically one that would absolutely get you de-friended on Facebook if it fell into the hands of your close buddies), a thoughtful gift (preferably one not associated with sports or super heroes), a semi-fancy dinner (pizza and drive-thru need not apply) and perhaps even a movie.

Valentine’s Day rarely goes that smoothly, however, and it seems like men experience the same problems year after year: flowers that die almost immediately, poor choice of chocolate (learn to distinguish between peanut and peanut butter M&M’s, guys), cards that are more jokey than sentimental, the purchase of a gift at the 11th hour (she will know if you put off buying her gift until the last minute, trust us), lame choice of restaurant and even more lame choice of movie.

Yes, for such a simple holiday, Valentine’s Day is even simpler to screw up.

If only we could go back to the days when Valentine’s Day was a simple, straightforward affair. As long as you had enough Valentines for your entire elementary school class, you were golden. No flowers, no real gifts, just little paper cards with friendly greetings and pictures of Care Bears (people still give out Care Bears valentines, right?).

Valentine’s Day sure is hard work in these times, but amidst all of the flowers, sugar and dinner reservations is the fact that this holiday is about man operating in his most selfless form. That’s why he’s willing to buy overpriced flowers and cheesy cards, and why he smiles relentlessly while footing a dinner bill that literally blasts his wallet to bits.

After all, Valentine’s Day is about the woman in his life, and she’s absolutely worth the money he spends and the minor embarrassment he suffers on this holiday built on love, commitment and “I Choo-Choo-Choose You” valentine cards.

So embrace this holiday, guys. Life is much simpler when you’ve been nominated for Significant Other of the Year.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Editorial: Healing with horses

We’ve all heard about therapeutic horseback riding and how it can work wonders for adults and children with disabilities. However, you can’t really appreciate the miracle-like benefits of therapy riding until you hear a parent give a testamonial to the way in which equine therapy has improved their child’s condition, outlook and overall quality of life.

At that point, you understand.

That’s what happened on Saturday during Blazing Prairie Stars’ Mardi Gras fundraiser, held at Riverside Receptions in Geneva. Several volunteers and parents of clients spoke during the event—one volunteer stated that she got involved with the organization as a way to continue the work her best friend had done with disabled children prior to losing her life in a car accident last year; several parents told stories about how much their children have developed mentally and physically during their time with Blazing Prairie Stars. And every speaker echoed the same sentiment: Blazing Prairie Stars does extraordinary things for extraordinary adults and children alike.

Blazing Prairie Stars and fellow Maple Park-based equine therapy organization HorsePower Therapeutic Riding seek to help disabled adults and children rehabiliate and develop physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially through the experience of therapeutic horseback riding. Both organizations’ equine-assisted therapy has helped ease the condition of those who suffer from autism, learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, bipolar and anxiety disorders, cerebral palsy, brain trauma, sensory integrative dysfunction, etc.

The results, as evidenced during Blazing Prairie Stars’ gala on Saturday, and HorsePower’s fundraiser at St. Charles Bowl on Jan. 19, are nothing short of astounding. These horses and trainers are really helping kids and adults with disabilities—every day, and in our own backyard, no less.

In addition to the occupational, physical, and speech and language therapies offered by both local equine therapy barns, participating kids and teens can also further develop by socially interacting in groups with peers and horses who are the same age.

The service and goodwill doesn’t stop there, either. HorsePower co-founder Carrie Capes last June said her highest goal is to provide therapeutic riding to people with disabilities, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Our dream is to have a sliding scale,” she said at the time. “This community is helping to make that happen.”

And just when you thought you’d seen everything.

Editorial: Three-part effort needed to solve parking lot problem

Last week, we used this space to clarify the difference between editorial writing (which includes our opinion) and news writing (which does not).

We also shared our opinion on the closure of one of Elburn’s downtown businesses, and alluded to our opinion on what we feel is the primary cause for that closure: the downtown Elburn parking lot issue.

It would be easy to point the finger at one person or entity and say that he, she, or they are the reason downtown Elburn faces an additional struggle, beyond the general economic climate, due to the lack of adequate parking.

It would be easy to lay the blame solely at the Community Congregational Church’s (CCC) feet for closing the lot they privately own. It would be just as easy to point the finger at the village of Elburn for declining to purchase the lot and keep it open for downtown parking. It is also easy to blame the downtown businesses themselves for not being able to provide their own parking.

In fact, in the Jan. 10 edition of the Elburn Herald, Village President Dave Anderson expressed that point of view.

“If you’re going to open a business, it’s your responsibility to provide parking for that business. That’s not just Elburn, it’s everywhere,” he said. “In downtown Geneva, basically, the only lots that they have that the city owns are the ones by the train station. They have the on-street parking obviously, but everything else downtown are privately owned lots.”

As the former longtime owner of The Grocery Store in downtown Elburn, he should have a more realistic opinion of the situation, in our view. He knows well that the buildings in downtown Elburn, on the east side of Main Street, were not built with adequate parking behind them. In Geneva, the lots behind the downtown business exist because there was space to include them. In that part of downtown Elburn, there is no space to provide additional parking.

Besides the municipal lot located a block off Main Street, and the private lot owned by one downtown business, the east side of downtown has enough room for about six parking spaces. To enter the downtown businesses from those spaces, a customer would have to either enter through the back of the business, walk through the closed parking lot, or walk around the block to get back to the front of the downtown businesses.

Given that, even if, theoretically, downtown businesses should be responsible for providing their own parking, it is not physically possible to do so.

If the businesses themselves cannot add parking possibilities at their respective locations, then the following questions must be answered:

1) If the situation remains unchanged, is there adequate parking in downtown Elburn?
Obviously, if the answer to this is “yes,” then there is no issue and everyone is happy.
We know the answer to this question is not “yes,” because if you ask the downtown businesses (as we did), you will find overwhelmingly that those businesses need more parking in downtown Elburn.

2) Who is responsible for providing the additional parking?

The answer to this remains unclear. Even though CCC owns the currently vacant parking lot in downtown Elburn, it should be obvious that they have no legitimate responsibility to provide the downtown with parking.

All that is left, then, is either the village or the downtown businesses.

Our view is that the answer to that question is “both.”

We think the village should be supportive of all of its communities, and that includes its downtown business district. This is both a sound philosophy in general, as well as having a purely financial element.

Financially, the more successful Elburn businesses are, the less tax pressure is felt by the village’s residents.

Similarly, the downtown businesses should be engaged in the situation and willing to help the process along (and we know they are, having been one of them for years up until our recent move to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center).

This means that both entities have a role to play.

Like just about everyone, the village continues to face a budget crunch as the economy continues to struggle. It is unfair to expect the village to simply purchase the lot in order for it to remain open for the downtown business’ benefit. This would, in effect, require every Elburn taxpayer to subsidize the downtown business district.

In a time where every dollar counts, this alternative does not seem feasible.

What does seem feasible is a group effort in which the village provides the structure and administration, the downtown businesses provide the funding, and the church provides the openness to an alternative that may not be a simple outright sale of the property.

Each of the three entities—the church, the village and the group of downtown businesses—will have to be willing to come to the negotiating table with something to offer.

The church needs to offer a willingness to work out a solution that may not mean they get to sell the property outright, or at least not sell it at the value currently listed.

The village needs to offer a willingness to be engaged in the process in a real way—which means beyond the village president saying the village is not interested in helping find a solution, and beyond having a representative organize a couple of meetings (one of which a village representative did not ultimately attend, which forced members of the Elburn Herald to attend in their place, asking for and ultimately obtaining a delay in the parking lot closure).

If the village president continues to hold firm to the view that the village has provided adequate effort to secure enough parking for downtown, and that whatever else is needed is solely the responsibility of the businesses themselves, then it is time to bypass the village president and attempt to work directly with the members of the village board to find a solution. If a workable solution is available, enough votes on the Village Board makes the village president’s opinion irrelevant.

If the other two of the three parties bring their respective pieces of the puzzle to the table, then the downtown businesses need to be willing to come with money in hand.

How much money and paid over what length of time would need to be determined, but the only way forward is for downtown businesses to be willing to pay for that lot.

Maybe the village can create a TIF District or some other funding vehicle, but no matter the structure of a deal (the village’s part in the process), the acceptable terms of a deal (the church’s part in the process), the downtown businesses are going to have to be willing to pay for the deal (their part in the process).

Anything short of that, and the amount of progress made in the past several months will continue to be the amount of progress made in the future—none.

When the Elburn Herald was among the group of downtown businesses, we offered to contribute to the group effort. We know for a fact that others did, as well. More recently, Randy Ream of the Elburn Market put in a bid on the property outright, which met the church’s approval. All that remained was jumping through the hoops presented by the village’s codes and requirements, which proved to be insurmountable. Because of that, Ream pulled out of the deal, and the situation remains the same as it has since the beginning.

That dynamic will need to change if any progress is to be made.

Editorial: Editorial writing vs news writing, and our view on what is ‘progress’

(file photo)
At the beginning of this year, we wrote a story in which we talked to various Elburn village officials to find out their views and thoughts on the upcoming year (see “Elburn looks ahead to the new year” in the Jan. 3 edition of the Elburn Herald, or find it online at

In that story, they talked about the potential Elburn Station development, the potential Anderson Road bridge project and the village’s overall financial struggles.

In addition, they shared their views of the general business climate in the village.

Village President Dave Anderson pointed to a number of things that made him feel as if there were signs that the local economy is beginning to turn around. He listed a handful of examples that led him to that perception: expansion at Schmidt’s Towne Tap and Bob Jass, the pending opening of a pancake house, and the pending sale and change of the Northside Pub.

“These are all positives for the village,” Anderson was quoted as saying in our story. “Businesses have indicated they like it here, and they believe Elburn is headed in the right direction. They’re an integral part of it.”

Those two paragraphs sparked a piece of feedback that we feel warrants a clarification. The feedback (viewable on our website), states that the Elburn Herald should be ashamed to say that the closure and sale of a local business is “progress.”

We want to make two things clear: we did not state the opinion that we view the business’ closure as “progress,” and at no point did we state our opinion in that story. The simple reason is: that was a news story, and in news stories, we report the facts and opinions held by others, and keep our opinions to ourselves. We do not inject our opinions into our news coverage; we do not allow any staff member’s view to influence what stories are written, nor how those stories are written.

We simply try to seek facts and report what we find out. If someone else shares their opinion, we will report what they tell us.

Our printed opinion is reserved for this space—the editorial (and in the occasional column when it is clearly labeled as such). Anything we write in the paper outside of the editorial and occasional column is us reporting on the views, statements and facts that we find as our team finds them.

So, to be clear: we do not view the closure of the Northside Pub as an example of “progress” in the village. Incidentally, we don’t believe that was what Village President Dave Anderson was trying to say, either, but that is beside the point.

Our view on the issue is that we feel the Northside Pub owners and staff are the victims of the unresolved parking lot issue that has been going on for months in downtown Elburn (see “Church parking lot issue remains unresolved” in the Jan. 10 edition, or find it online).

As former neighbors of the Northside Pub, we know well how much harm the parking lot closure caused. We saw the initial worry turn to actual fear, then turn into tears.

This is not progress, nor a positive for the village.

Anytime a small business closes its doors for good, it is a loss for the entire community. It represents jobs lost, opportunity taken away. It means someone’s, or a group of someones’, livelihood is gone, and their lives forever changed.

We are sad at the news that the Northside Pub will soon be gone, and our sadness is nearly matched by our frustration that this turn of events did not have to happen.

See next week’s editorial for our take on the downtown parking lot situation.

Guest Editorial: Savvy entrepreneurs play by different rules in uncertain times

by Ginny Grimsley
National Print Campaign Manager, News and Experts

As we pass the five-year anniversary of the start of the economic recession in December 2007, many observers focus on what was lost:

• 8 million jobs
• 146,000 employer businesses
• 17.5 percent average individual earnings

But the businesses that survived the “Great Recession” and are thriving today didn’t focus on losses then, and they aren’t now, said Donna Every, a financial expert who has published three non-fiction business books and recently released her first novel, “The Merger Mogul.”

“The entrepreneurs who are successful during times of uncertainty are so because they don’t rely on the standard approaches they’d use in predictable times, and they look for opportunities—the positives—in situations that would have been considered negatives five years ago,” Every said. “It’s similar to how we deal with the weather. In places where it’s sunny most of the summer, we wouldn’t leave our house each morning packing coats and umbrellas just in case. The weather’s predictable. But in the winter and other seasons when the weather can quickly change, we head out with a different mindset.”

For businesses, switching gears to deal with inclement economic conditions involves adopting new perspectives and practices, she said.
What are some of those strategies?

• Build on what you have, not toward what you want. Instead of setting goals and then seeking out the resources you’ll need to meet them, assess what you have available and decide what you can achieve with that. This not only saves you the time and expense of pulling together resources you may not have, it also gives you the advantage of working from your business’ individual and unique strengths.

• Follow the “Las Vegas rule.” Tourists planning a weekend in Las Vegas will often set aside the amount of money they’re willing to gamble—and lose—on cards or the slots. That way, they won’t lose more than they can afford. During an uncertain economy, entrepreneurs should calculate their risks the same way. Rather than going for the biggest opportunities as you would in prosperous times, look for the opportunities that won’t require as much of your resources. Calculate how much you can afford to lose, and always consider the worst-case scenario.

• Join hands and hearts. Competition is fine when things are going well, but when times are tough, you need allies. Explore forming partnerships with other entrepreneurs so you can strategize to create opportunities together. With what your partners bring to the table, you’ll have more strength and new options to work with.

• Capitalize on the unexpected. Surprises can have positive outcomes if you handle them nimbly by finding ways to use them to your advantage. Instead of planning damage control for the next unexpected contingency, look at it as an opportunity. Get creative as you look for the positives it presents.

• When life is unpredictable, don’t try to forecast: Focus on what you can do and create now rather than what you can expect based on what happened in the past. In good times, that information can be a helpful and reliable way to make predictions, but savvy entrepreneurs don’t count on that in uncertain times.

“While the U.S. economy certainly is improving, there’s still too much uncertainty both here and abroad to go back to the old ways of doing business just yet,” Every said. “If you’ve survived the past five years, you’ve probably been relying on many of these strategies, maybe without even realizing it. Don’t abandon them yet. And if there are some here you aren’t using, work toward incorporating them, too.”

Editorial: Local municipalities look to build on 2012 achievements in new year

What do Elburn Station, Internet over fiber and TIF District activity have in common?

All three are projects that could very well determine whether 2013 is a successful year for the villages of Elburn, Sugar Grove and Maple Park, respectively.

In Elburn Herald reporter Susan O’Neill’s 2013 preview for Elburn, village trustee Jeff Walter states that he and other board members have suggestions that can improve the Elburn Station plan, which could lead to the board eventually approving the item. Village President Dave Anderson added that the village should do everything possible to get the Anderson Road bridge completed.

In Sugar Grove, high-speed Internet is the holy grail, and the village is hoping to bring in an Internet over fiber connection that would put lightning-fast connection speeds at the fingertips of village residents. In Elburn Herald reporter Chris Paulus’ 2013 village preview, Sugar Grove board member Dave Paluch states the faster data speeds would help the village attract bigger businesses.

“It would also be great for our residents to take advantage of the fastest data speeds available,” Paluch said.

In Maple Park, a successful 2012 could give way to an even more fulfilling 2013 if the village sees some activity in its newly implemented TIF District. Village President Kathy Curtis cited the TIF District as an achievement for Maple Park, but said she was disappointed in the lack of activity within the TIF District.

“It is unfortunate that the TIF District has not had projects. We implemented the district with hope of generating new revenue streams to be re-invested in our infrastructure,” she said.

That inactivity could of course change in 2013. Still, Curtis said the state of the economy means that the village should move forward cautiously with the TIF District.

As for Kaneville, interim Village President Rick Peck was unavailable as of press time. A 2012 retrospective and 2013 preview for the village is currently in the works.

Here’s to a happy and successful 2013 for the villages of Elburn, Sugar Grove, Maple Park and Kaneville. We’ll be here to document their progress every step of the way.

Top 10 of 2012: The most-viewed stories on in the past year

As web editor, I get the unique opportunity to see just how folks like you view We use Google Analytics to anonymously track how our visitors use our site, and in turn, we get to see what stories and articles were the most popular. It’s been immensely helpful as I tackle the project of redesigning going into 2013.

Our top 10 most-viewed stories from 2012 touched it all: local hot-button issues, police-related articles, community groups linking to articles about them, and what I can only call the “power of Google.”

10: ‘Miracle’ Meagan turns 3 (Nov. 15, 2012)

The 1,696-member Meagan Seals Miracle Baby Facebook Group linked to our article in November, leading to this story cracking the top 10.

9: Church moves forward with lot closure (April 13, 2012)

An early-year local issue that caused a stir in Downtown Elburn. The lot remains closed.

8: Comcast Sportsnet Chicago to air ‘IHSA Playoff Pairing Release Show’ Oct. 20 (Oct. 20, 2012)

Google search traffic helped boost this press release into our Top 10. People were looking for information—specifically what channel to to tune into if they had Comcast, DirecTV, etc.

7: Aurora woman gets prison term for fatal crash on Route 47, Smith Road (Feb. 17, 2012)

Alia Bernard was sentenced to 7 years for causing a crash that killed Wade and Denise Thomas. Bernard filed a motion to reduce her sentence in March, and the Chicago Tribune reported in August her sentence was in fact reduced to 6 years. A cautionary tale that distracted driving is extraordinarily dangerous.

6: Obituary: Brett Richard Brubaker (June 14, 2012)

Overall, obituaries are our most-viewed content on Brubaker was a 1980 Kaneland graduate was very well-connected in the community.

5: Elburn Station project Chugs along (April 13, 2012)

To call this issue hot button would be an understatement. In fact, even after the issue was tabled in October, a trustee recently proposed opening up discussions in early 2013.

4: Body found on side of Meredith Road identified (July 19, 2012)

Learn more about Joyce David here.

3: Darden Restaurants grants $1,000 to Lazarus House (Aug. 12, 2012)

Turns out there are two organizations called “Lazarus House” in Jersey City, NJ., and San Francisco. People from those two locations viewed this story a lot.

2: Barefoot collgians (April 28, 2012)

It looks like the keywords “barefoot” and “library” have brought users from all over the world to what was a press release from Aurora University we published since it featured a Sugar Grove resident.

1: 2 Elburn Residents charged with cannabis trafficking (Nov. 21, 2012)

It was interesting that our top story is also the most recently-posted of the 10. A lot of search traffic led to many visitors for this regional story.

Guest Editorial: Memory and Holiday Overspending

by Mark Underwood
President and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience

In the 1971 hit song, “Sunshine,” one of the lyrics asks, “How much does it cost? I’ll buy it.” A quick sale like that is a good sale for advertisers, but may not be for your wallet.

Do you have problems resisting the lure of great sales? Do you go shopping with the intent of browsing but come home with an abundance of goods that put you in debt more than you bargained for?

The temptation to give in to greatly slashed prices, one-day-only sales, “early bird” deep discounts, free items with purchases over $100, and other such ploys to get you to buy more is prevalent and tempting over the holidays.

What can you do to enjoy the holidays but keep your spending in check?

For many people, the pattern of overspending is how they’ve been shopping all their lives. If they see something they want, they buy it regardless of the financial outcome. Until they get the credit card bills in January and wonder what got into them in December?

You can call it a lot of things—lack of wisdom, lack of planning or a lack of understanding of their family’s financial situation.

But most importantly, you should call it poor “executive function,” a term well known by scientists who refer to an ability to multi-task, make good decisions, plan ahead, prioritize your needs (versus your “wants,” as in overspending), and carefully weigh options.

A series of new research from Aberdeen, Scotland, has shown that if you have problems sticking to a plan like a holiday budget, don’t blame perpetual sales gimmicks that pop up everywhere you look. Instead of blaming the power of advertising, you could blame your lack of willpower on what’s going on with your memory.

Take control of your brain power
Wouldn’t it be great if you had more control over your finances especially during the holidays?

Research has found that poor executive function is the reason why it is difficult for some people to resist temptation and keep on track with a plan compared to people who have excellent executive function.

While executive function includes such things as planning and carefully considering options, it also includes having a prospective memory. That is defined as having a sharp recall ability to remember to do things or say “no” to other things like buying things you don’t need.

People who have poor prospective memory often don’t have sharp concentration and recall skills and that may factor in to forgetting or foregoing their budget when they go shopping.

The message is that when you take care of your brain health you will have better willpower. Cognitive performance, memory and willpower go hand-in-hand.

Put yourself on a ‘sales diet’
Holidays present challenging times for shoppers regardless of what your budget may be. It’s hard to resist pre- and post-holiday sales, many of which are fraught with urgency.

How do you exercise willpower when so many sales opportunities are offered on almost anything, any day of the week? Shoppers are constantly presented with opportunities to get deep discounts by mail, email and media advertising.

How do you take charge of your willpower so you don’t get stuck with huge credit card bills after the holidays are long gone?

Go on a spending diet and do it sooner rather than later. Here are some tips for making this holiday season a success.

With improved executive function, you will make better choices like these:

Ask yourself if you would buy a specific item if it were full price? If the answer is no, you may be reacting to a sales push instead of making a good buying decision.

Delete unsolicited sales emails or big discount offers that come in the mail. Unless you’re planning to make a specific purchase and you find out it is on sale, carefully weigh the consequences of unplanned purchases.

Make lists. Go shopping at the mall, online or to holiday events with a list of what your total budget is that day.

Jot down a maximum price that you’ll pay for holiday gifts. Keep looking at the list then stick to the plan.

Work on willpower. You can do that with healthy lifestyle habits like eating nutritious meals, cutting back on holiday sugar, exercising and getting enough quality rest.

Even the best laid plans can crumble when you feel exhausted and stressed and aren’t getting a good night’s sleep. When you have better executive function, you’ll make better lifestyle choices, and then you’re on your way to resisting temptations.

Editorial: Holiday hope serves as light during our darkest hour

Throughout the history of the United States, there have been too many examples of horrific, senseless violence resulting in the deaths of innocent people. These are the kinds of acts that shock people in this country to their very core and force them to reconsider everything they think they know about the world around them.

Many of us remember the anguish and horror we felt when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed on April 19, 1995. Many of us—students and parents alike—were forever scarred by the murderous events that transpired at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. Many of us felt time stand still when the Twin Towers and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Many of us gasped in horror when Virginia Tech University experienced a mass-shooting tragedy on April 16, 2007, and were reduced to tears when Northern Illinois University—an institution right in our own backyard—experienced a similar tragedy 10 months later.

Those same feelings crept up again last summer when a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., transformed into a mass-shooting nightmare. And then those feelings came slamming back without warning last Friday when Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., became the setting for a horrific and simply unspeakable shooting spree that took 26 innocents lives—20 of whom were children no older than 7 years of age.

The Sandy Hook tragedy occurred at a time when this country is typically readying itself for Christmas and the holiday season as a whole. In the wake of such a heartbreaking event, many of us are no longer thinking about Christmas and New Year’s, presents and party hats, pie in front of the fireplace and champagne at midnight. How does one celebrate the holidays when they know there are families in Colorado and Connecticut who are now dealing with the reality of life without their child or loved one? How could we celebrate anything—much less a time of year built on cheer and goodwill—under these circumstances?

On the contrary, we believe that this country needs the holiday season now more than ever as an opportunity to begin the healing process by way of spreading both holiday hope and genuine kindness. This is a time when we should all stop and take a moment to appreciate everyone—family, friends, neighbors, even enemies—in our respective lives. At a time of year when the shopping is hectic and tempers are toxic, we must forgo the angry and petty behavior and instead strive to be the person who can help get others through a dark time such as this. At a time when finances can run slim, we need to take a step back and realize how fortunate we are to have our loved ones either within arm’s length or just a phone call away. There are people in this country who, as of last Friday, can no longer enjoy such a seemingly simple pleasure.

We’ll certainly see several debates come about as a result of the Sandy Hook tragedy—debates regarding gun control and practices concerning mental disorders. Those debates are bound to be hot-button issues. However, they shouldn’t prevent us from being decent to each other. In fact, nothing at this point should prevent us from being decent to each other.

At a time like this, the relationships we keep shouldn’t just be the most important thing—they should be the only thing. And that’s why it’s so important to use this holiday season as a time to heal, regroup and get in back in touch with the things that really matter in life.

Here’s to a happier 2013.

Editorial: A thank you to residents for making Kandyland 2012 a success

The Elburn Herald would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in the Kandyland event during the Elburn Christmas Stroll on Friday evening. This was our first Kandyland at our new location in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, and we were unsure of how local residents would respond to a world of life-sized candy and wonder in the Community Center’s dance studio.

That sense of uncertainty proved unnecessary, as public turnout for the event was phenomenal, making it one of the most successful Kandylands in recent memory.

The change in venue actually turned out to be an excellent perk, as many residents were able to attend the Holiday Bazaar in the Community Center gymnasium, and then scoot over to play Kandyland next door. Location wasn’t the only change made to Kandyland this year, either. New wrinkles in the Kandyland experience, including a green “instant win” piece and a white “wild card” piece, made the game a little fresher and more fun. These changes were clearly popular with the kids who participated, as the expression on their face was as joyous as ever.

Those expressions are absolutely the reason we continue to host Kandyland each year. To know that we’ve helped make the Elburn Christmas Stroll a little more fun for local residents—children and adults alike—gives us a feeling of warmth, appreciation and purpose that lives on long after the Christmas Stroll ends and our Kandyland trees and props are put away for the year.

We would like to give a special thank you to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center for helping us continue on the Kandyland tradition within our new digs. The staff here was incredibly helpful and supportive from set-up to tear-down, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

A very special thank you goes to Elburn Herald Design Director Leslie Flint, who always strives to put together the best Kandyland yet. Flint puts countless, grueling hours into coordinating and staging Kandyland each year, and she is absolutely the heart and soul of the event. We shudder to imagine what Kandyland would look like without Flint’s input and design know-how.

As the Elburn Christmas Stroll gives way to the rest of the holiday season, we prepare ourselves for Christmas and New Year’s while also keeping an eye on December 2013. Needless to say, we can’t wait for the next installment of Kandyland.

Guest editorial: Celebrating the First Amendment

by Ken Paulson, president and CEO of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University

The hardest line to sing in the “Star-Spangled Banner” is also the most important. “O’er the land of the free …” with its character-building high note, has been the bane of even professional singers.

That’s probably appropriate. Becoming “the land of the free” wasn’t all that easy, either.

On Dec. 15, America will commemorate the 221st birthday of the Bill of Rights, the most extraordinary and influential guarantee of individual freedoms in world history.

Every school kid knows that this nation was founded on freedom, but sometimes we lose sight of the details. Building a nation from scratch, promising a democracy and ensuring certain inalienable rights were all both ambitious and unprecedented. And though we declared our liberty in 1776, it wasn’t until the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 and the commitment to specific individual freedoms in the Bill of Rights in 1791 that we were truly on our way to a more perfect union.

Over time, the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, press, religion, petition and assembly helped abolish slavery, secure the vote for women and establish equal protection for all. Yet surveys show that only 4 percent of Americans can identify all of these core freedoms. A majority, when asked, can come up with only freedom of speech. That is particularly disappointing when you realize how rare these guarantees are globally.

In recent weeks:

• In China, a tweeted joke about a popular horror-movie series and an upcoming Communist Party Congress led to an arrest on charges of supporting terrorism.

• In India, the Information Technology Act criminalizes the posting of “any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character.” The restriction was applied last month to two women for a post and “Like” on Facebook.

Repression, censorship and attacks on minority faiths are commonplace worldwide. Even nations that regard themselves as free and open societies often fail to protect controversial ideas and viewpoints.

In the U.S., our guarantees are so vibrant and effective that we tend to take them for granted. Unfortunately, complacency isn’t good for a democracy.

In an effort to build greater appreciation for First Amendment freedoms, a coalition of educators, journalists, artists and others have come together to form “1 for All,” an educational campaign. The First Amendment Center, Knight Foundation, American Society of News Editors, McCormick Foundation and the Newseum have teamed up to help a new generation of citizens more fully appreciate these freedoms.

Part of that effort is a scholarship competition which began on Saturday and will continue through Saturday, Dec. 15 (the First Amendment’s birthday). Students are encouraged to tweet about their favorite of the five freedoms, becoming eligible to compete for a $5,000 scholarship. Details can be found at

The next time you hear the national anthem wind down to that final line, and before you restore your cap and pick up the beer cup, you might want to say a quiet thanks for the many who made “land of the free” more than a hard line to sing.

Whether fighting on our front lines or taking a stand for equality and justice, whether carrying a rifle on a foreign shore or a protest sign on Main Street, millions have made this land of freedom possible through their sacrifices and commitment.

Now that’s something worth singing about.

The right way to ring in the Christmas season

Of all the great debate topics in this country (Pepsi or Coke, Bears or Packers, G.I. Joe or Transformers, etc.), perhaps the most underrated is the question of when the Christmas season should officially commence.

Some people believe Christmas becomes a priority the moment they begin putting away Halloween decorations; others wait until the day after Thanksgiving to tee off on all things Christmastime. Neither date is technically wrong (though it’s certifiably weird to hear Christmas music in McDonald’s on Nov. 1). However, we believe November should belong to turkeys and autumn colors, not snowmen and mistletoe.

And that means the Christmas season should officially dawn in early December, which just so happens to be the time when Elburn and Sugar Grove host their Christmas Stroll and Holiday in the Grove festivities, respectively.

Holiday in the Grove will kick off on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 a.m., and offer plenty of family-friendly activities at the Sugar Grove Community House and John Shields Elementary School.

Santa will be on hand at the Community House to have breakfast with children and adults alike at 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m. Games and crafts will also be available. Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, meanwhile, will feature fun crafts and a Holiday Shoppe where kids can stealthily get their Christmas shopping done.

The Sugar Grove Public Library will get in on the holiday action at 9 a.m. with teen-approved crafts, face-painting, pizza and holiday movies, a chance to read to therapy dogs, and afternoon performances by Western Lights and Kaneland Madrigals.

Six days after Holiday in the Grove, Elburn will get a chance to spread some holiday cheer with its annual Christmas Stroll on Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout downtown Elburn.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will appear at the Town and Country Public Library and have their picture taken with children in attendance. Elburn Fire Protection District will offer a safety house and tree-burning demonstrations. Conley’s annual “Blessing of the Manger” dedication will take place at Route 47 and Pierce Street. Elburn Hill Church will present a Christmas Cafe, and the Citizen Emergency Response Team Trailer will be on the Main Street in front of American Bank & Trust, offering up balloon creations. Participants can also head over to the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, where Jewel-Osco employees will be on-hand to enjoy some cookie and wreath decorating for the kids.

Plenty of fun will be had at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, with a Holiday Craft Bazaar presented by the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, as well as our own life-sized Kandyland game for children, adults and everyone in between. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel to dwell in Kandyland and feel dwarfed by giant-size decorative candy bars, this is absolutely the game for you. Best part: every participant is a winner.

A visit to either (or both) of these village events should be enough to convince anyone that December is the right month to commence dreams of a winter wonderland. And with the turkey and Black Friday super-doorbuster deals in the rear view mirror, it’s officially time to focus on ringing in the Christmas season.

Editorial: Many reasons to give thanks on Thanksgiving

It’s funny how one’s perception of Thanksgiving will develop during their life.

For many children, the Thanksgiving holiday represents a nice, long break from school, as well as the opportunity to consume some pretty tasty food in honor of the pilgrims who dined in Plymouth almost 400 years ago. Maybe these kids will get a chance to see a movie and do some shopping with their parents on Black Friday; maybe they’re excited to see the holiday parades that typically take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For teens and young adults, Thanksgiving can take on an entirely different life. There’s still a mighty long break from school, but with the great food comes the opportunity to watch a Detroit Lions loss (in horrific fashion, typically; sometimes to the extent that their players have no choice but to repeatedly stomp on players from the opposing team), and a flavor-of-the-week act performance during halftime of the Dallas Cowboys game. If these teens and young adults are hardcore football fans, they’ll resist post-dinner sleepiness just enough to watch the third game of the day. Otherwise, they’re either off with friends for the night or planning out an unbeatable Black Friday shopping strategy with family members.

At some point, however, a person will realize that, while it’s nice to spend Thanksgiving overdosing on football, turkey and ‘80s film marathons (no truth to the rumor that TBS is legally obligated to air “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Adventures in Babysitting” on the fourth Tuesday in November each year), the true meaning of Thanksgiving lay in the company we keep on that day.

Thanksgiving, stripped to its core, is about more than simply giving thanks for what we have; rather, it’s about giving thanks for those who we have in our lives—the people who help us keep perspective and understand that friendship is indeed the richest currency in existence. This was what the pilgrims celebrated when they dined on that fateful day in 1621, and it’s an example that still carries validity centuries later.

Friends and family make it possible to endure a heavily edited airing of “The Breakfast Club.” Most important, they make it OK to overeat and then overeat some more.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate the most important people in your life, and revel in the fact that your loved ones appreciate your presence in their life, as well.

After all, your friends and family aren’t coming over to watch the Detroit Lions lose, they’re coming over to spend the holiday with you.

Guest Editorial: November is National Diabetes Month

by Julie West, West Physical Therapy
Did you know that here are 23.6 million children and adults living with diabetes in the U.S.? Of these, an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed, and 5.7 million are unaware they have the disease.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into the energy necessary for daily life. While the cause of diabetes is unknown, factors such as obesity and lack of exercise play important roles. Diabetes can result in conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease (neuropathy), amputations and problems with the skin, including ulcers and infections.

Managing your diabetes can lower your risk of resulting health issues. Management includes controlling your blood sugar (glucose), lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving human motion, and can play an integral role in the management of diabetes by establishing and, as needed, supervising exercise programs and providing treatment of complications.

Diabetes that is not well controlled leads to problems in blood vessels and nerves, often in the legs. Low blood flow to the legs can create cramping pain when walking or lead to sores on the legs or feet.

Diabetes can affect the nerves, which can result in tingling in the feet and may progress to complete numbness. This numbness can cause damage to the skin or joints because of the lack of pain sensation. These problems can lead to difficulty with daily activities, limit the ability to exercise, and also result in very serious consequences to one’s health. It is best to take action to prevent complications, but if these problems occur, physical therapists can help restore your quality of life.
Physical therapists can:
• Use special tests to check the sensation in your feet
• Help decrease cramping pain during walking
• Evaluate and care for skin ulcers and sores that are slow to heal
• Improve your walking ability by adapting shoes or orthotics
• Show you how to protect your feet if they have lost sensation
• Recommend shoe wear or assistive devices if needed

A physical therapist can create an exercise program to help you achieve better health safety. You should see a physical therapist to help you with physical activity if you have:
• Pain in your joints or muscles
• Numbness or tingling in your feet
• Calluses or sores on your feet
• Pain or limping with walking
• Used an assistive device such as a cane or crutches
• Had a stroke
• Questions about what type of exercise is best for you

For more information, go to, or

Editorial: Kaneland District, community make strides toward bully-free environment

At the Kaneland School Board meeting on Sept. 24, Kaneland parent and Elburn resident Leigh Ann Reusche read a letter on behalf of Knights Against Bullying (KAB), a self-described “group of concerned parents, teachers, former students, and community members coming together for the purpose of addressing the issue of bullying in our schools, and in our communities.”

In the letter, Reusche asked the School Board to implement five recommendations: make bullying prevention a priority; assign a prevention coordinator; form a task force; develop or adopt a comprehensive, multi-faceted district-wide plan; and implement, maintain and evaluate the plan.

It appears Kaneland was listening.

After meeting with KAB on Oct. 9, the school administration on Oct. 29 unveiled a district-distributed work update and response identifying bullying prevention as a goal in the Superintendent Plan of Work.

The plan also designates assignment of a prevention coordinator and gathering of a task force. Dr. Sarah Mumm, director of educational services K-5, and Erika Schlichter, director of educational services 6-12, will coordinate the work group revising the district’s current bullying prevention plan. Once revisions are finalized, focus will move to student services.

We applaud KAB and community members for having the courage to stand up and speaking out against a difficult issue like school bullying. Likewise, we applaud the Kaneland administration for having the good sense to listen to the community and work with KAB in order to move forward and hopefully put an end to the bullying issue in District 302. As School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said following the Sept. 24 meeting, “One bullied child is too many.”

We also ask that School Board members stick together, communicate with the administration and realize that board unity is absolutely essential when taking on a stubborn issue such as school bullying. After all, it’s probably counterproductive to point fingers and stare down members of the administration in attendance—tactics that could be considered bullying in their own right—while working to make the School District a safer institution for students.

Emotions can run high when it comes to troubling topics like bullying, but if School Board trustees and administration can stay the course and continue to work with the community, Kaneland School District will be a better place for students and parents alike.

Editorial: Two ways to help

Become informed, then vote
Because the state of Illinois is considered safe for President Obama for the presidential election, there may be some who do not feel the need to vote on Election Day because either their vote “won’t count” or their candidate is already certain to win the state.

However, there are many reasons why everyone eligible to vote should still do so by Tuesday, Nov. 6.

While the vast majority of news is focused on presidential politics, the reality is that the presidential race represents two positions (president and vice president) within the same branch of the federal government. It does not address U.S. House or Senate races; it does not deal with state-level races; it does not deal with local races.

It can be argued that local politics matter a lot more to the daily lives of citizens than do presidential politics. The more local one gets, the more direct impact one will feel from those elected to office.

If you need to deal with the local court system in any way, you are impacted by the actions of local elected officials. If you have a county zoning question, or need help with information about a local issue, that help is provided by either a local elected official directly, or someone working for that official.

Most of the situations in which you interact with the “government” in your day-to-day lives, you are interacting either directly or indirectly with local elected officials. Even the broader, federal policies that are passed require the votes of local, elected officials.

Given that, no matter what your view is in regards to presidential politics, the importance of your vote can not be over-stated. At the county level, there are a number of offices that will be filled by a newcomer, no matter which candidate wins. In other local races, there are newcomers with fresh perspectives facing incumbents who want the chance to finish the work they’ve started.

You owe your community your time to become informed, as well as your time to vote. You do not even have to dedicate a portion of Election Day to the process, there are still opportunities to vote at your convenience before then.

The early voting period ends Saturday, Nov. 3, and the absentee voting period ends Monday, Nov. 5. The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

We are warm and safe; millions are not
The devastation from Hurricane Sandy is mind-boggling. As of Wednesday morning, dozens passed away, an unknown amount suffered injuries, millions remain without power, and economic loss estimates range from $10 billion to $50 billion.

The worst part of the situation is that it is still not over. reported Wednesday that the storm is weakening, but also lingering, in the northeast. Meanwhile, a winter storm is taking control of the atmosphere, with an estimated three feet of snow dumped in certain locations that had just been battered by the hurricane. Additionally, arctic temperatures are flowing into the ravaged areas, many of which continue without power.

It is an awful situation, and you can help.

According to the American Red Cross, there is an immediate need for blood donations. Due to the scope of the storm, the organization said that 300 blood drives have already been cancelled, with more to occur in the future. This will put a strain on already-strained resources. Additionally, blood continues to be needed to help those injured from the storm itself.

Additionally, the Red Cross is asking for monetary donations, as those are the best, fastest ways to provide assistance to those in the storm-ravaged areas.

To find out how and where to donate, or how else you can help, visit

The worst of the storm has past, but the disaster will continue for some time, and help from those of us not affected by the disaster will prove vital to the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Guest Editorial: Kaneland Hall of Fame nomination

by Jeff Schuler, Kaneland Superintendent
To celebrate and commemorate the many accomplishments and achievements of Kaneland graduates, Kaneland District 302 has formed the Kaneland Hall of Fame. New Hall of Fame recipients will be inducted at the Academic Awards Ceremony in the auditorium on May 6, 2013.

All community members, staff and friends of Kaneland are encouraged to nominate individuals or groups for one of the Hall of Fame categories. The categories include:

1.) Service—Kaneland High School graduates who have contributed significantly to their community, state or country and have been out of school for at least ten (10) years.

2.) Personal Achievement—Kaneland graduates who have been honored or recognized by their college/university, profession or peers for their success and achievements and who have been out of school for at least 10 years.

3.) Extra Curriculars—Former extra-curricular participants in non-athletic or athletic activities who were recognized for excellence by their organization or team for at least two years. In addition, the participant(s) received honors in one or all of the following: All-Conference, District, Sectional, State or American. These nominees must have graduated from Kaneland High School and have been out of school for at least 10 years.

4.) Commitment—Past or present staff members who worked at Kaneland for a minimum of 10 years and who, through their employment at Kaneland, have demonstrated their deep commitment to Kaneland students, parents, and/or staff.

5.) Friend of Kaneland—Those who have given meritorious service to Kaneland and/or one or more of its schools for many years, or have been a loyal friend to Kaneland and/or one or more of its schools. Kaneland staff members are not excluded from this category. However, nominations of Kaneland staff members in this category shall be for something other than what they achieved as an employee.

6.) Athletic Teamwork—A Kaneland High School team or organization that demonstrated outstanding achievement, which may include record status or state recognition, at least 10 years prior to selection.

7.) Individual Athletic Achievement– Former athletic participants who were recognized for excellence by their organization or team. In addition, the participant(s) received honors in one or all of the following: All-Conference, District, Sectional, State or American. These nominees must have graduated from Kaneland High School and have been out of school for at least 10 years.

8.) Special Recognition—Any member of the community, alumni or staff member can submit names for nomination to the committee. The submission deadline date is Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. A nomination form can be obtained from Beth Sterkel at (630) 365-5111, ext. 109, or at

Individuals making nominations should send the nomination form, resume and/or biography of the individual or group and their achievements or contributions to: Hall of Fame Committee Kaneland CUSD No. 302 47W326 Keslinger Road Maple Park, IL 60151

Editorial: Celebrate Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31

Looking for a great way to promote drug prevention in your community? Look no further than Red Ribbon Week, which will take place from Oct. 23-31.

This year will mark the 27th installment of Red Ribbon Week. The week-long celebration is the largest and longest-running drug prevention campaign in the United States, and urges teachers, parents, students and community members to wear red ribbons as a way to signify their commitment to raising awareness about the negative effects of drug use.

A contest in which kids promote awareness in neighborhoods and enter for a chance to win a $1,000 drug prevention grant for their schools or an iPad will also take place during Red Ribbon Week this year.

According to a Red Ribbon Week press release, this is how the contest works:
• Students must bring the Red Ribbon Week message home by working with parents to decorate their front door, mailbox, fence, etc., with this year’s theme, “The Best Me Is Drug Free.”
• Take a picture that includes both your family and the message, then upload the pic to or by Friday, Nov. 2 (must be over 18 years of age to upload photos).

• Let the voting begin. Feel free to ask family and friends to vote for your entry at anytime from Nov. 2-16. There will be 10 winners from regions across the U.S. Winners will be announced in December.

“Students will once again take Red Ribbon Week’s message of prevention home to their neighborhoods with this national contest,” said Peggy Sapp, volunteer president of National Family Partnership. “By decorating their homes together with this year’s Red Ribbon theme, families carry the message to their communities.”

According to the press release, studies indicate that substance abuse risks lessen when parents talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, and that is the goal of this year’s contest: to encourage families to talk about prevention.

Red Ribbon Week is also in honor of former DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was abducted and murdered in Mexico in February 1985. In the words of DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, Camarena “made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe.”

The DEA will co-sponsor the national contest this year.

“Take the Red Ribbon Week pledge across America to help children grow up safe, healthy and drug free,” Sapp said.

Guest Editorial: Principal Appreciation Week is Oct. 22-26

Do you want to tell a school principal that you appreciate them? If so, you’ll get your chance in a little under two weeks.

Oct. 22-26 this year will mark the 23rd annual Principal Appreciation Week in Illinois. The week-long celebration will culminate with Principal Appreciation Day on Friday, Oct. 26.

“Very few individuals have the ability to impact a student’s life like our educational leaders do every day,” said Aaron Hill, president of the Illinois Principals Association. “The overall operation, vision, and success of a school lies directly with the building administrator. All building administrators work tirelessly to ensure the success of our schools and to make sure our students are provided every opportunity to succeed. I encourage everyone to observe Principal Appreciation Day as our educational leaders deserve recognition for their dedication to our students.”

According to the Illinois Principals Association, Principal Appreciation Week provides school learning communities an opportunity to publicly recognize the work, commitment and importance of principals, assistant principals, and deans throughout the state.

“Research has proven that the building Principal’s impact on student achievement is second only to that of the classroom teacher when considering school based factors,” IPA Executive Director Jason Leahy said. “Principals and educational leaders impact students’ lives in a significant way. Speaking as a former principal and having visited dozens of schools throughout Illinois, the quality of a school’s learning environment and the ability of a school to do what is best for its students comes as a direct result of the leadership provided by the school’s principal and leadership team. Courageous leadership is essential to effectively educate students and work to provide the resources and support they need to be successful in the 21st Century. It is important that we recognize and encourage our schools’ leaders.”

Be sure to recognize and encourage your school’s leader the week of Oct. 22-26. After all, principals show their appreciation for students year-round by trying to make their school a better place, but Principal Appreciation Week only happens once a year.