Category Archives: From the Editor’s Desk

Guest Editorial: The Illinois Freedom of (Some) Information Act?

by Emily Miller
How quickly we forget.

In the wake of scandal and corruption at the highest levels of government, Illinois lawmakers passed a law in 2009 bolstering the Freedom of Information Act—a move designed to give everyday people access to important government information.

This year, however, lawmakers are having second thoughts and are trying to whittle away at this newly arrived accountability era by making it more difficult for the public to root out mismanagement, waste and corruption.

There’s no more glaring example of legislative backsliding than HB 5154, a measure passed by both the House and Senate last spring that flies in the face of reformers’ efforts to make Illinois government more transparent and accountable to taxpayers.

If the measure passes, the public will no longer have access to government employee performance reviews. This proposed law prevents government watchdog groups like the Better Government Association and the ACLU, along with investigative news teams, from accessing vital records that indicate whether Illinois is demanding the highest level of performance from its public servants.

Access to information about how our government spends our money is vital to uncovering waste and misconduct. Arguments to conceal performance evaluations hinge on fears that making those evaluations public will discourage managers from giving honest evaluations, or that the evaluation process will be used as a method of public humiliation to retaliate against unwanted employees. But these reasons only highlight the dysfunction of our personnel system, and do not speak to the legitimacy of the peoples’ right to access information about their government.

If the government gets to pick and choose, taxpayers will never know what’s really going on behind the curtain. Exempting performance evaluations from the sunlight of transparency does not serve the public good.

Gov. Quinn had the chance to veto the bill entirely, putting the public’s right to know how its tax dollars are spent first, but he did not. Instead, he used a legislative maneuver that sends the bill, with an amendment, back to the General Assembly to be heard next week.

No amendment could make this bill work for the public good.

We urge lawmakers to vote no on HB 5154 as it makes its way back through the General Assembly during the upcoming veto session.

Emily Miller is the Policy and Government Affairs Coordinator for the Better Government Association.

Guest Editorial: Illinoisans among those willing to march to the sound of the guns for our country

Guest Editorial by
William L. Enyart
Major General
The Adjutant General of the
Illinois National Guard

First Sgt. Johannes S. Anderson ran into enemy fire—his boots kicking up dirt, bullets whizzing by his body, heart pounding, sweat pouring out. But the 33rd Infantry Division soldier had to stop the machine gun that was killing his men. He leaped into the machine gun nest, killed the German crew, captured the weapon, and turned on the enemy. He returned to his wide-eyed troops with 23 prisoners of war.

Anderson received the Congressional Medal of Honor for those actions on Oct. 8, 1918, near Consenvoye, France. A little over a year later, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared the first Veterans Day as Nov. 11. We celebrate Veterans Day on the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, a war that was fought primarily by the National Guard.

The scope of our Veterans Day observance has changed, from remembering the dead from one war to a day in which American veterans from all wars could be honored. Since 1636, the National Guard has been protecting our communities from both enemies and natural disasters. We were the Minutemen that fought in the Revolutionary War and the citizen soldiers that fought in every major national conflict since.

This Veterans Day, our nation has been at war for the past nine years. We defend our freedoms from terrorism. We honor and celebrate veteran’s service in past conflicts, and recognize today’s warriors.

The Illinois National Guard has nearly 1,000 soldiers and airmen deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Sinai, Egypt. We also have approximately 3,000 soldiers that returned from Afghanistan last fall who were part of the largest overseas deployment from Illinois since World War II. Eighteen of those soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.

Since Sept. 11, 34 Illinois National Guard members have given their lives in defense of this nation. Overall, Illinois has lost 261 servicemembers since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

This country has been blessed with citizens who have taken their civic responsibility seriously and have taken up arms and marched to the sound of the guns. First Sgt. Anderson, whose Congressional Medal of Honor now resides in the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, is part of a proud tradition of service that has protected this nation, its communities and its citizens for hundreds of years.

Dealing with bullies best done with others’ help

by Kaneland Krier staff

Dear Edi,

As a parent and a teacher, I have a question. We often talk about bullying in schools, but usually the bullies aren’t what we’d think of as our friends or teammates. How should kids handle a situation where someone on their team is making fun of them in front of other people, telling them they stink at the sport and that they shouldn’t be on the team? I know what I’d say as a parent, but I’d be really interested in how you’d respond. (Like—how far out of touch from reality are we as adults?)

–WONDERING

Dear Wondering,

In nearly every teen movie created, the big, mean bully torments good, innocent characters. Every day, the same situations occur throughout school, ranging from mild teasing to downright cruelty.

But the reality that often isn’t portrayed is that everyone is potentially a bully and victim at some point.

Before students consider themselves victims, they must decide whether the person giving them grief truly fits the description of a bully and how serious the situation really is. In sports, underclassmen and those new to a team are the most likely targets, and they should remember that teammate’s respect must be earned. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: all the seniors feel superior to everyone else, the benchwarmers are frustrated and the superstars feel on top of the world. It’s not fair, but it’s sports.

If the bully’s comments and actions are tolerable enough to ignore, do just that—teens can’t be so sensitive that every remark leaves them in tears. Work on earning respect by practicing hard and contributing to the team, and the remarks will probably fade.

But sometimes the bullying is severe and ignoring the problem doesn’t work. In such cases, teens should ask for help. First try a trusted friend or the team captain, if the captain seems approachable. Captains especially often have peers’ respect, and they may be able to help put an end to it, sometimes even subtly.

If all attempts to handle a situation independently have failed, those still being tortured should bring it to the coach’s attention. Bullying rarely occurs in front of adults—precisely why we recommend trying to solve the issue independently first—but sometimes coaches can help.

Have a question? Write to “Edi,” the Kaneland Krier’s 12–member editorial board! Questions can be about anything—how to deal with situations with friends or school, how to improve a relationship between parents and teenage children, or even general questions about things happening at Kaneland. All answers are discussed, researched and agreed upon by all 12 members of the Krier editorial board.

Questions can be submitted to the editorial board at krier@kaneland.org, to our adviser at cheryl.borrowdale@kaneland.org, to the drop boxes in the KHS library and counselors’ offices, or to the silver mailbox outside Room B111. While all submissions must include a name and may be verified, all letters will be printed anonymously. Questions will be picked up by our adviser, and the name will be taken off when given to the editorial board, so even the Krier editors will not know a letter writer’s name. The only reason we would break confidentiality is in situations where harm is imminent, such as suicide threats or child abuse, which our board feels ethically bound to report.

Guest Editorial: Test scores are in and ‘thank you’s’ are in order

Cartoon by Sophia BlankGuest Editorial
by the Kaneland Krier Editorial Board

The average high schooler will spend about 11 hours in front of a standard testing booklet in total, filling out thousands of bubbles and reading too many prompts to count. The focus on testing keeps intensifying, and Adequate Yearly Progress is on everyone’s radar, yet somehow never met or fully understood. The different percentages required every year always grows, putting more pressure on teachers and students alike.

We’re not going to sugarcoat the facts for you: Kaneland didn’t make AYP, and some of our scores went down. But with the unrest that not meeting AYP has caused, what’s been lost is that the most important scores went up—our college readiness scores—and that changes are happening at Kaneland. So let’s take a minute. Put down the 457-page ACT book and pause the timer on that practice essay in English. We deserve a break and an even bigger thank you.

First and foremost, thank you to the teachers. All of them work overtime to improve our testing success. Not only did the English and foreign language departments come up with daily ACT questions for juniors, they take time away from class every day to complete them.

Many teachers attended ACT writing workshops and hold practice timed essays in class, just to be able to provide us with helpful tips. The social studies department holds timed essays too, and almost all science classes spent time working on ACT prep. And we can’t forget the many STEN periods the math department arrived early to go hold a math power review. There’s an endless array of work being put in from every department and teacher that goes beyond their job description, and our appreciation for that is huge.

Next, thank you to the district. Although rarely seen in the halls, they do an astounding amount of work and are our biggest support system. They work as a team to plan and find time for every helpful testing activity possible, and they provide training opportunities for staff which in turn help us, the students. Without their support and vision to move forward, the progress in test scores wouldn’t have happened.

And last but not least, we should thank ourselves, the students. When it comes down to it, it’s up to us to perform. No matter how many hours teachers spend helping us prepare or how many opportunities are handed to us, we make the final call on what the scores will be and what benchmarks we’ll hit.

Looking at the 7 percent raises in reading and math college readiness, it’s clear more of us did just that: took it seriously. We stepped up to the plate and realized that although annoying, these tests do affect our futures.

Guest Editorial: Mental illness is not funny

As the Halloween season approaches, I would like to make a request on behalf of all the families in our Kane County area that have experienced a mental illness in their family life: Please do not use or promote the image of someone who is mentally ill as a costume character.

The image of a straight-jacketed or ax-wielding “mad” man or woman only contributes to the inaccurate portrayal of those with mental illness. These images are hurtful and add to the stigma suffered by those with mental illness. This stigma often results in delay in getting needed treatment for their illness.

Most mental illness is caused by a biological chemical imbalance in the brain. Mental illness is a disease, just like cancer or diabetes. Would you favor an image or character that makes fun of those diseases? I would hope not.

It also perpetuates the myth that all mentally ill persons are dangerous. Statistically, persons with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of crime, rather than the perpetrators of it.

Lastly, these images also convince people that those who have a mental illness are hopeless. The facts show that most mental illnesses can be successfully treated. Treatment works for the great majority of people.

So please, no raving or drooling “maniacs” this Halloween. You could be making fun of a neighbor or relative. Please stick to vampire fangs and werewolf hair and have a good time this Halloween.

Guest editorial
by Jerry J. Murphy,
Executive Director
INC Board, NFP
(630) 892-5456
jerrym@incboard.org

INC Board, NFP, formerly known as Mental Health & Mental Retardation Services, Inc, is the local mental health authority for seven townships of south Kane County. The INC Board performs planning for mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services, and funds twenty-one local agencies to provide these services. For more information, go to www.incboard.org.

Editorial: Information turns residents into voters

For those who pay attention to the national media, you well know how this year’s mid-term elections have been covered with far more rigor than any in recent memory.

While there are ample examples of journalism advocacy replacing objective reporting, the increase in media focus remains a good thing, because the more informed an electorate becomes, the more likely residents will turn into voters.

Regardless of your political views and who or what you support, it is essential that you either head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 2, or cast an absentee or early ballot before then.

Remaining local early voting sites and dates for the Nov. 2 election are as follows:

Kane County Circuit Clerk Building, 540 S. Randall Road in St. Charles, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, and Oct. 25-28; Kane County Clerk’s Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Building B, Geneva, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 21-23, Oct. 25-26, and Oct. 28; Sugar Grove Public Library, 125 S. Municipal St., Sugar Grove, 1 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 21, Oct. 26-28; Town and Country Public Library, 320 E. North St., Elburn, from 1 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 25-26; and a Votemobile site at the Jewel-Osco at 465 N. State St. (Route 47), Sugar Grove, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 27-28.

Polling places, listed by precinct, are as follows:

Blackberry Township
1. Town and Country Public Library, 320 E. North St., Elburn
2. Fox Valley Christian Church, 40W150 Main St., Batavia
3. Fox Valley Christian Church, 40W150 Main St., Batavia
4. Mill Creek Elementary School, 0N900 Brundige Drive, Geneva
5. Rejoice Lutheran Church, 0N377 N. Mill Creek Drive, Geneva
6. Rejoice Lutheran Church, 0N377 N. Mill Creek Drive, Geneva

Campton Township
1. Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St., Elburn
2. Campton Township Community Center, 5N082 Old LaFox Road, St. Charles
3. Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 40W605 Route 38, Elburn
4. Grace Lutheran Church, 5N600 Hanson Road, St. Charles
5. Hosanna Lutheran Church, 36W925 Red Gate Road, St. Charles
6. Grace Lutheran Church, 5N600 Hanson Road, St. Charles
7. Congregational UCC Church, 40W451 Route 38, Elburn
8. Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 40W605 Route 38, Elburn
9. Congregational UCC Church, 40W451 Fox Mill Boulevard, St. Charles
10. Christ Community Church, 37W100 Bolcum Road, St. Charles

Kaneville Township
1. Dave Werdin Community Center, 2S101 Harter Road, Kaneville

Sugar Grove Township
1. Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St., Sugar Grove
2. Sugar Grove Township Building, 54 Snow St., Sugar Grove
3. Cheshire Club, 15 Winthrop New Road, Sugar Grove
4. Cheshire Club, 15 Winthrop New Road, Sugar Grove
5. Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St., Sugar Grove
6. Cheshire Club, 15 Winthrop New Road, Sugar Grove

Virgil Township
1. Maple Park Civic Center, 302 Willow St., Maple Park
2. Sts. Peter and Paul Church, 5N939 Meredith Road, Virgil

The only action that gives you more power to influence the direction of your town, county, state and nation than voting is to actually run for office yourself.

Editorial: New program may help break cycle of violence

According to Mutual Ground, Community Crisis Center, by the time you finish reading this paragraph, someone in the U.S. will be abused by their partner. In fact, for each paragraph you read, someone else will become a victim of domestic violence.

Many researchers believe that the current statistic, that someone in the U.S. is abused by their partner every nine seconds, is actually much more frequent, because most incidents of abuse are not reported.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and in Kane County, this particular October is unique—it is the month that the Kane County Domestic Violence Diversion Program was launched. As of Oct. 5, 2010, Kane County victims of domestic violence will have a new option to help overcome the unimaginable difficulties of suffering abuse at the hands of a family member.

In a Wednesday press release, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office described what it called “a common, hypothetical first-time domestic violence scenario:
• Defendant (husband and household breadwinner) and victim (wife) begin to argue.
• Defendant punches the victim, injuring her and causing her to be afraid.
• Victim calls police; defendant is arrested, charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. Bond is posted and defendant goes home to family.
• Couple soon realize that if defendant, not eligible for supervision under state law, is convicted, he could lose his job, the family’s main source of income.
• Defendant says he’s sorry, tells victim he loves her and promises never to hit her again, and then urges her to change her story or fail to show up for court, and then hints about how much worse it could be for her if she tells the truth in court
• She agrees to his wishes and the case eventually is dismissed because she fails to appear for court
• Two months later the defendant again punches the victim, this time in front of a small child, but the victim, left eye swollen shut, declines to call police because she believes defendant didn’t mean to hurt her and she doesn’t want him to lose his job, and because she’s afraid that he’ll beat and threaten her further if she calls 911.

The defendant isn’t held accountable, receives no counseling and learns how to play the system against the victim. By virtue of her decision to skip court, the victim has empowered the defendant to become a repeat offender and silenced her voice. The diversion program will give justice that many victims otherwise would not have had.”

What the Domestic Violence Diversion Program does is create a new potential outcome that can break the cycle of “fear—lack of accountability—repeat of incident—fear,” that exists and feeds upon itself. The program offers a deal to the defendant: in exchange for completing a one-year domestic violence counseling program, the defendant’s guilty plea is vacated and the original charges are dismissed. If the defendant fails to complete the program— which could include additional mental health and substance abuse counseling, a letter of apology, order of protection, no abuse contact order, or a no contact order; as well as $450 in fees plus a $200 donation to domestic violence shelters—the defendant would be convicted of domestic battery and sentenced to up to 364 days in jail.

According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, what this program achieves is:
“• Defendant assumes burden to complete program to get benefit of dismissal
• Defendant, victim statements remain on file if defendant reoffends
• Victim, family relieved of fear of retaliation 
• Family doesn’t face potential loss of income, rental agreements and loans, which often accompanies criminal convictions
• Defendant receives counseling, treatment necessary to modify destructive behavior.”

Essentially, the program helps resolve many of the issues that prevent a victim and the victim’s family from action, which virtually guarantees a repeat of the offense. Because each cycle merely reinforces the reasons the family did not take action in the first place, the cycle is likely to never be broken. Yet, efforts like the Kane County Domestic Violence Diversion Program give families a tool to help break that cycle.

However, this tool does not spell the end of domestic violence; there will always be a need for continued education and raised awareness of domestic violence, its red flags that indicate a relationship is moving into a dangerous place, its risk factors and how to handle a situation when you or someone you know is a victim or potential victim.

“I have no illusions. We’re not going to end domestic violence with this program. But this program will allow us to get to a percentage of these defendants and improve the situation for some victims and their families,” Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti said in his Wednesday release.

Domestic violence is not going away, not when surveys suggest that domestic violence occurs in up to 28 percent of marriages.

However, through a combination of education, raised awareness, and law enforcement programs such as the Kane County Domestic Violence Diversion Program, domestic violence can be better anticipated and avoided; and even for those devastating incidents that still occur, the situation can be better resolved and the cycle broken.

Editorial: ‘What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate’

With virtually every business, family and government entity struggling to find the money to pay for their necessities, the dispute between the Kane County Board and the Circuit Clerk’s Office that has now spilled into the court system has become a ridiculous endeavor that will simply spend more money that is not available.

The Circuit Clerk, Deborah Seyller, requested an additional $550,000 for her office to fulfill what she says are her state-mandated duties.

The County Board denied the request in mid-September, saying that it is unclear what state-mandated responsibilities are at risk if the budget amendment is not approved.

Rather than attempt to resolve the dispute with discussion, negotiation and cooperation, the situation ended up in the court system when Seyller filed a lawsuit against the County Board on Sept. 15, and the county responded with a counterclaim on Sept. 28.

Who is at fault for the breakdown in communication? Which side is the one that refused to negotiate in good faith and push the situation into the court system, adding significant, unnecessary expenses to a situation that, at its essence, is an argument over not having enough money and what to do with the money that is available?

It appears that each side blames the other, and in a dispute that turned from a budget battle into a court case, it is likely that both sides share responsibility for this situation getting out of hand.

When it is an issue of budgeted funds allocated to fulfill duties required by the state, it is understandable how a disagreement over the funding level could occur, given the current downturn in the economy and the ensuing drop in revenue at the county level.

What is not understandable is how a disagreement over funding levels, based on the fact that there is not adequate funding available, could spill over into the court system, thereby draining even more funds from the county coffers and pulling all involved parties away from the core, state-mandated duties that they must fill.

At a time when the public is fed up—fed up with a faltering economy, fed up with the way government operates, fed up with perceived waste of taxpayer money—this dispute is a virtual slap in the face to anyone who pays taxes to Kane County.

All parties involved should lock themselves in a room and not come out until an agreement is reached that doesn’t require the involvement of the courts.

Anything less than that demonstrates their disdain for county taxpayers and their willingness to spend money that no one has to take their arguments before a judge, simply because one or both sides of the dispute do not have the ability to resolve their disagreements on their own.

Where is Paul Newman when you need him?

Guest editorial: Thank you, Rod Fabrizius

by Kelly Callaghan
Fire Chief
Elburn and Countryside
Fire Protection District

Kevin Peterson
Fire Chief
Maple Park and Countryside
Fire Protection District

The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District and Maple Park and Countryside Fire Protection District would like to express our gratitude to Rod Fabrizius for his continual support over the years. Rod has been instrumental in helping us provide the highest level of training for our personnel.

Training of our personnel is of the utmost importance in keeping our firefighters, paramedics and EMTs safe, as well as providing us with the experience needed so we can respond in the most efficient manner possible at the scene of an accident. We train with our personnel on a regular basis by creating scenarios and practicing extraction skills. By doing so, we are better prepared to help the individuals in our districts in their time of need.

To train in this manner, vehicles are needed for extricatioin purposes. Rod Fabrizius has continually helped us with this need by providing the vehicles for us to destroy in training. Rod has also worked closely with training to create many different scenarios, whether it be a car flipped over on its roof, one vehicle on its side and the other on its roof, or a two-vehicle head on accident. Each type of accident has a different need and training skill. Rod donates his time, provides the vehicles and utilizes his equipment to set up the scenarios all at no cost to the taxpayers.

We strive to provide the highest level of care to all the residents in our districts, as well as the individuals that are just passing through. We are truly grateful to have supportive, professional and caring citizens, such as Rod, who understand the importance of working together to make our community a safer place for all.

Thank you Rod.

Editorial: He inspired us all

The world lost some of its richness on Saturday, when news of Bruce Conley’s passing made its way through our communities.

Whether directly or indirectly, anyone who lives or works in the area has been touched by his grace, his kindness and his caring.

He has been the calming voice to so many as they struggled through their darkest hours, and he has been the soft smile that spreads as the darkness begins to lift.

Just by his calm and quiet nature, he inspired anyone who was fortunate enough to come into contact with him. There were no routine conversations with him, as every interaction with him, in some way, made it clear just what it means to fully care about your fellow man, whether they be a stranger, a friend or a loved one. The fact was, strangers, friends and loved ones were all loved, were all cared about in a meaningful way that left its mark every time.

Every conversation, regardless of its content or nature, ended with a lingering feeling of brightness, a sense that you, as well as everyone else, truly matter.

He accomplished and “did” so much in his life, there is not enough room in this space, or truly any space, to recite it all. Yet, for many of us, the striking thing about Bruce Conley was not what he “did” but who he “was,” and who he continues to be in our memories and in the ways he continues to inspire us just by thinking of him.

There is no way to adequately capture the essence of a man who was so much to so many people for so long. Like was so often the case through the years, Bruce put it better than any of us ever could:

‘The Gift of Remembrance’
“It has been said that when someone dies, ‘that someone,’ becomes a memory, and ‘that memory’ becomes a treasure. What hasn’t been said is exactly how this all happens. Speaking now, as one hoping to help my own family claim this ‘gift of remembrance’ when the time comes for me, I realize there are no ‘short cuts,’ it’s all in the un-wrapping. Like the tiny chicks who must peck their way out of their own shell in order to have the strength to survive, each of us must un-wrap our own gifts, in order for mourning to turn those memories into treasures.”
—Bruce Conley,
caringbridge.org/visit/bruceconley

Editorial: Patriot Day

Guest editorial
by William L. Enyart
Major General ILARNG
The Adjutant General

Nine years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, our country experienced major devastation in New York, across the country and across the world. As we reflect on memories from those tragic events of Sept. 11, let us be mindful of the contributions our Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have made in the last decade to defend our nation.

Since Sept. 11, we have deployed approximately 9,600 soldiers and 8,800 airmen in support of operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). In January 2003, we deployed three of our units as part of the first groups in support of OEF and OIF to Iraq. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group in Chicago; 244th Army Liaison Team in Chicago and 633rd Personnel Services Battalion in Crestwood were the first Illinois National Guard units mobilized.

Like those we lost on Sept. 11, we will also never forget the 33 soldiers and one airman who have fallen in the line of duty, making the ultimate sacrifice since Sept. 11. Of the 34, 19 have died in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq. On Patriot Day, and every day, we remember the loss of those heroes, our brothers and sisters, while remembering the families, friends and loved ones they have left behind.

Over the next year, there are seven different groups deploying from the Illinois Army National Guard to continue our mission; 709th Area Support Medical Company in Peoria; Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A7 in Springfield; Illinois Army National Guard Agricultural Development Team in Springfield; 661st Engineer Company in Sparta; 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls; 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside and Detachment 36 Operational Support Airlift Agency in Decatur.

This Patriot Day, let us not only remember the past, but also look forward to a more secure future. Please take a moment of silence on Saturday and reflect in honor of those we lost Sept. 11 and the ones we’ve lost defending our great nation.

Guest Editorial: Adult volunteers in schools improve, inspire students

Guest editorial by Christopher A. Koch, State Superintendent, Illinois State Board of Education; and Charles D. Johnson, Director, Illinois Department on Aging

The Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department on Aging are co-hosting the First Illinois Summit on Aging and Education to get more older adult volunteers in classrooms across our state.

The Sept. 20 summit at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., could not come at a better time. Our school districts are struggling with an unprecedented state fiscal crisis, marked by delayed state payments and reduced local revenue.

At the same time, we are launching statewide comprehensive education reform initiatives, from the implementation of the internationally benchmarked Common Core Learning Standards in Math and English to efforts aimed at turning around our lowest performing schools. We need older adult volunteers more than ever to help students meet these new and more rigorous standards and better prepare for college and careers.

Retired rocket scientists are welcome but not necessary. Such work can be as simple as reading to a first-grader or talking to a high school student during study hall. The extra attention supports students and increases their success. Older adult volunteers discover a new way to serve the community and gain another social outlet.

Just ask Russ Marineau who worked at IBM for more than 30 years and commuted between downtown Chicago and his home in Naperville, Ill., leaving little time for civic work or getting to know his neighbors. Since he retired in 1991, he has volunteered a couple hours a week as a mentor and tutor in Naperville Community Unit School District 203.

“It’s got me more involved in the community than I have ever been,” Marineau said. “It’s a great way to make friends and make a difference.”

Formal studies are just beginning to document what Marineau and other older adult volunteers and students have experienced through such interaction. The volunteer program in the Naperville district recently expanded to incorporate a class in which high school students can pass on some computer skills to the senior volunteers. A plan to give the older adult volunteers access to the district’s wellness program is in the works, providing students with a firsthand look at how good habits can benefit one for life.

Students are now returning to school. We hope older adults will follow. Their presence has the potential to improve student performance and inspire service for generations to come.

Guest editorial: Grand Marshall thank you

Guest editorial by Bruce Conley
When I was a boy, I had a bad case of hay fever. So much so, that the only way I could watch the Elburn Days Parade was through the car window. The parade then, was lined up at the old high school/grade school/community center and came right past Heartland Counseling, which was my Grandma Carrie’s house where my father grew up. Every year, dad pulled our car up in Grandma’s front yard so I could see the parade.

It was a strange experience in some ways, seeing but not hearing, yet the one thing I could hear was the sound of the big bass drum in the “Boy’s School Band.” As I heard that beat come closer and closer, I knew the parade was about to begin.

Fast forward to the early ‘70s when I became the Master of Ceremonies for the parade, and Dr. Willey and I worked out a great system for getting information about each entry so that I had something to share as the unit walked by.  It was the late ‘90s/2000 when I was advised to pare down my stress a little, and the parade was one of those things I let go of.

For me, the irony of all of that, culminated in all of the accolades and honors that were lavished upon me in 2010 as Grand Marshall of the Elburn Days Parade. Here I was, in a car once more; here I was with an illness that nearly kept me out of the parade that night; yet here I was, now in the parade, not just watching it pass by. I may have had to let go of my job as Master of Ceremonies, but, thanks to my friends, the Stoffa’s, Chet Morris and to countless others who partnered with them, my community did not let go of me. Instead, they let me experience what it’s like to be in the parade and bring my entire family and my “working family” with me!

There truly is no way to adequately thank all the many hands and hearts that joined together Friday night to give me this experience of a life-time. As I wrote this thank you, I could not help but hear the echo of “Before the Parade Passes By,” from the Broadway show, Hello Dolly.

My wish, my prayer for each and every one of you is that, before your “parade passes by,” those who love you take time to tell you so; to let you know that you are the “Grand Marshall” of their parade.   

With deepest thanks, Bruce Conley

Editorial: Mangers represents the best of our communities

Chassidy Mangers, a Kaneland High School graduate, Elburn resident, and current student of Augustana College, represents the best of our communities and is an example of the type of “small-town values” that are so hard to articulate but easy to recognize.

Mangers will be a sophomore when she returns to Augustana College this fall. She was a member of the first group of Adaptive PE Leaders at Kaneland, working with special-needs students in their physical education classes. Additionally, she cares for special-needs children during the summer.

She took her educational and professional background in working with special-needs children, and combined it with her passion for the same to create a formal dance called the Summer Bash, held at the end of July. The Summer Bash focused on children with special needs and their families.

Mangers sent formal invitations through the mail directly to the children, inviting them to the dance held at the Blackberry Township facilities.

The girls arrived early so they could have their hair, make-up and nails done by volunteers. Games and music kicked off the event, which included a DJ (DJ Bizzle) and professional photographer (First Street Photos), both of whom also volunteered their time. Suzy’s Pizza of Plano donated pizza for the evening, and each guest left that night with a summer-themed door prize and gift bag.

When asked about the work to put together the event, Mangers focused on those other than herself, which seems to be the way for those who devote their time and effort to serve others.

“This event would not have been possible without the help from the numerous volunteers and local donations,” she said.
While that may be true, and while the donations of time, effort, pizza and services helped make the event a success, it was Mangers’ passion and desire to serve the families in her community that pulled it all together.

“My goal is that the children would have a lot of fun and be able to experience something new. The evening was all for them,” she said. “It was very rewarding to see all of the guests dancing on the dance floor. Words can not describe what an enjoyable evening we all had.”

It took months of planning and work from Mangers and a whole host of volunteers. These are the types of people that reflect the values of our Kaneland communities, and serve as reminders that there are few, if any, goals more admirable than wanting to put smiles on the faces of children and families.

Editorial: Proper ordinances can help animal rescue operations

Anderson Animal Shelter recently asked for public support to assist the agency in resolving an animal hoarding case (see related story).

An unnamed, local municipality contacted the shelter with a request to help rescue at least 30 cats from one residence. It is unusual for both the municipality or the individual resident to remain unnamed. Anderson Animal Shelter Executive Director Sandy Shelby explained that in this case, releasing either piece of information would jeopardize the shelter’s ability to obtain the cats.

Shelby attributed this risk as being due to the lack of a municipal animal-control ordinance that limits the number of cats that can reside in a residence. Shelby said that in many communities in Illinois, cats are not even mentioned in animal-control ordinances.

“We were fearful that if we identified the owner and where the house was, that the owner would not release the animals then,” Shelby said.

Because hoarding in general—and animal hoarding in particular—most often occurs due to a mental illness, rescuing the animals from the person and the person from him or herself can be a delicate and uncertain situation if proper ordinances are not in the books to allow authorities to step in when needed.

Not only do we hope to see the public step up and held the shelter rescue the animals, but we also hope this incident leads all area municipalities to take a second look at what ordinances they have, or don’t have, and make any changes necessary to give them the authority to rescue both the animals and the person suffering from a often-misunderstood mental illness.

Editorial: Sugar Grove Public Library experiences exciting times

It is an exciting period of time for the Sugar Grove Public Library and its supporters.

During the Corn Boil festivities on July 24, Sugar Grove Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes was named the 2010 Sugar Grove Citizen of the Year. And on Saturday, Aug. 7, the library will host its first “birthday” party, complete with ice cream sundaes, games, and plenty of children’s activities.

Hughes’ selection for the Citizen of the Year Award came after nearly 40 Sugar Grove residents sent in nomination forms on her behalf. The high number of nominations for her is likely due to her wide-ranging involvement in the community for the past 20 years.

It is unusual, but fitting in this case, that someone residing in North Aurora earned that distinction in Sugar Grove.

Hughes has provided leadership and assistance to numerous organizations in Sugar Grove, ranging from the Sugar Grove Corn Boil Committee, to the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to other residents’ groups like the Park District Garden Club and Sugar Grove Library Friends.

Essentially, whenever a group has need help to raise funds or pull off a project, chances are Hughes has been there, pitching in, lending a hand, and if need be, leading.

For example, in her role as library director, she was instrumental in the library’s move a year ago to its new facility at 125 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove.

The public can celebrate the first anniversary of that move, at Saturday’s party from noon to 1:15 p.m. The event is free and sponsored by the Sugar Grove Library Friends, The Book Nook Cafe and library volunteers.

Guest editorial: Protecting sources means protecting the public

Guest Editorial
by Kevin Z. Smith
President, Society of Professional Journalists

During the course of its investigation into the current Gulf of Mexico oil spill, The Associated Press was given information from the then-office of Mineral Management Services that was not making a lot of sense.

As millions of gallons of crude spewed into the gulf waters and the oversight by MMS officials on BP’s well was being called into question, an anonymous source in that office told reporters far different stories than what they had been initially told. This anonymous source set the record straight by coming forward and speaking out, and suddenly the world knew that this was more than a mechanical failure; it was a full system failure. The people hired to keep these events from occurring were ignoring their responsibilities.

At times, anonymous sources provide crucial information to the press. Stories of oil disasters may be the latest, but without citizens coming forward and sharing vital information, Americans would not know about steroids in sports, excessive military spending, or food and drug hazards. We would never have been told about Watergate.

A bill currently in the U.S. Senate will help assure such stories continue to reach the public. S. 448, The Free Flow of Information Act, will protect the sources on whom journalists rely from having their identities exposed in all but a few circumstances including where national security concerns are raised. Five years in the making, the current version of this bill is supported by more than 50 journalism organizations, the White House, the Justice Department and most of your Congressional delegation.

Most states have laws that can protect a source’s identity from overzealous prosecutors and judges, but there is no such protection yet at the federal level. S. 448 would change that and extend the same protections offered through statute or common law in 49 states to the national government. Without it, stories focusing on the federal government will not be told because reporters are faced with threats of jail time and fines if they do not turn on their sources.

Subpoenas against the press numbered more than 3,000 nationwide in 2006 with 335 issued by federal prosecutors seeking the identities of news sources, according to a survey conducted by a Brigham Young University law professor. More than a few journalists have spent time in jail, and some have been forced out of the profession all together by heavy fines that crippled them financially. These are all heavy-handed tactics to illicit the names of people who can then be identified and retaliated against. Media companies large and small faced with the enormous expenses of fighting such legal battles to protect sources are turning their backs on compelling stories.

As S. 448 awaits permission from key senate leadership to come to the floor for a full vote, all senators, representing the interests of American citizens, need to hear from their constituents. Citizens who value the importance of transparency in governance and think the American press needs to continue to serve as the watchdog on the federal government should tell their senators to support this measure.

The clock is ticking as Congress will recess in August. Tell your senator to have the bill moved to a full Senate vote as soon as possible and support its passage.

Without this bill, stories that affect lives, like the oil spill in the Gulf, will never get the detailed attention they need to bring about change. Without this bill, your government has a better chance of operating in darkness or lying its way out of trouble. Help bring this to an end by voicing support for S. 448.

Only when there is a free flow of information from the government to its people can we truly appreciate the beauty and power of a democracy.

Editorial: Corn Boil kicks off Kaneland’s community festivals

The time of year for local, community festivals is upon us, and as always, the first one is the Sugar Grove Corn Boil.

From Friday, July 23, through Sunday, July 25, the area behind Kaneland John Shields Elementary School, 85 Main St., will be full of food, fun and entertainment for three days.

The three-day festival is funded through sponsorships, donations and various fundraising efforts that occur throughout the year.

While the festival continues to grow each year—with more events, more entertainment and more people— the sagging economy of the past couple of years has begun to place some pressure on the event’s finances.

For example, the Sugar Grove Lions Club, which is responsible for the Saturday fireworks show, is short by more than $2,500 as of this week. With just a day left before the festival kicks off, we share the organization’s hope that patrons and/or organizations will lend their support and help ensure that all aspects of the festival will continue in the future.

In addition, we hope you, the members of our Kaneland communities, take advantage of our hometown festivals, which will take us right through the beginning of September.

The Corn Boil in Sugar Grove starts the Kaneland community festivals off, and it is certainly not one to miss.

With traditional fair fare like the carnival, food, craft vendors and business booths, as well as more-unique offerings like Kids Zone activities, shows and demonstrations, plus a variety of live music at the soundstage during each day and night at the festival, there really is something of interest for everyone and any age.

These are the types of events that connect each of us to each other and each of us to our communities. If you are from Sugar Grove, Elburn, Maple Park or Kaneville, you share something in common—you are part of the Kaneland communities. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity to connect and support each other—and of course, have lots of fun and corn as well.

Editorial: One person, one idea leads to impact beyond measure

Elburn resident Darlene Marcusson has served as an inspiration to so many, it is impossible to fit a fraction of the impact she has had on this page.

She began a warm-weather shelter for homeless individuals in St. Charles in 1997, and since then, Lazarus House has transformed into a bridge from emergency to self-sufficiency for countless individuals from throughout the area.

Marcusson led the program to expand to a permanent site open year-round one year after it began. Five years after that, in 2003, the Lazarus House Center for Transitional Living opened. In the years since then, the program opened a center for women and children, began providing rental subsidies for those on the verge of homelessness, and opened a Community Resource Center that provides easy access to its homeless prevention program. Lazarus House also affers a soup kitchen for struggling families, as well as an unofficial crisis hotline that serves more than 2,600 callers each year.

According to its website, Lazarus House provided care for 83 children, 103 women and 193 men, providing nearly 23,000 nights of shelter. In addition, Lazarus House provided 68,000 meals. The amount of support provided in the forms of skill-building, counseling, and other forms of service are beyond measure.

This began with one woman and an idea, and now a growing group of volunteers provide more than 18,000 hours of service each year.

Both Marcusson as an individual, and Lazarus House as a program, have won numerous awards for their efforts as serving a population in need.

It is one thing to write about a bunch of statistics and numbers as a way to demonstrate the impact Marcusson has had, but when one considers the fact that each individual number represents a person or a family who began to find a way back to self-sufficiency because of the efforts of Lazarus House and its supporters, it begins to boggle the mind. It becomes clear how much impact one person can have when they act on the inspiration they receive, and then in turn inspire others.

One of those inspired by Marcusson will serve as the new Lazarus House Executive director as of January 2011. Marcusson recently made the decision to semi-retire from her efforts. Read Elburn Herald reporter Keith Beebe’s story, and it is clear that Marcusson does not plan on leaving entirely; she plans to continue her work on a part-time basis.

We doubt Marcusson will ever fully “retire” from the program she founded, nurtured and grew. As the years pass, her actual time spent “working” may lessen, but her impact on the lives of countless individuals and families will never fade.

Editorial: Community works together to bring back Day in the Park

Residents and businesses in the village of Elburn responded, and now the community is preparing for the return of Elburn’s Day in the Park festivities, set for Saturday, July 11.

From 1997 to 2008, the Day in the Park was a way for area residents and members of the community to gather and have fun during the day, culminating with a fireworks display at night.

Due to financial difficulties, the host of the event, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, had to cancel the Day in the Park in 2009.
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This year, the public responded, and in a big way; and their response allows the chamber to move forward with this year’s event.

According to reporter Paula Coughlan, who spoke with Day in the Park Committee Chair Leslie Flint (who is also an employee of the Elburn Herald), the community has already raised most of the $10,000 needed to put on the one-day festival and fireworks display. The remaining funds needed will be obtained from festival-day fees and vendor-booth rentals.

The community should be proud of their collective efforts to bring the event back. Through their individual support of directly dropping off donations to the chamber, to their collective support of taking part in the various fundraisers held this year, to the businesses that offered their funds and efforts to help the Day in the Park return, everyone pulled together to help make sure the event continues.

The day begins at 11 a.m. and continues through the fireworks display that starts at 9:30 p.m. In between those two times, there is more than enough to occupy residents of all ages. See Coughlan’s story for a full line-up and schedule of events.

We hope to see you there.

Editorial: Have fun and stay safe this weekend

During the summer months, alcohol is involved in approximately 60 percent of fatal car accidents that occur between midnight and 6 a.m.

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police, as well as local law enforcement agencies, will conduct extensive anti-drinking-and-driving activities during the holiday weekend.

In addition to the impact alcohol plays in accidents during late-night hours, the situation is compounded by the research that shows motorists use seatbelts less frequently late at night.

“July 4th is a great time of celebration for our country, but too often, those celebrations can turn deadly because of impaired driving and a failure to buckle up,” said IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig in a statement released this week. “That is why IDOT is working with Illinois law enforcement to remind motorists to designate a sober driver before celebrating. If you don’t and you choose to drink and drive, you will be arrested.”

For those who plan to celebrate on the water, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said that alcohol is one of the leading factors in fatal boating accidents throughout the nation.

“Our Conservation Police Officers work very hard to make sure Illinois public waters are safe for everyone to enjoy,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “We certainly want people to have a good time on the water, but we have zero tolerance for anyone found operating a boat under the influence.”

IDOT recommends that motorists should always designate a sober driver and should also restrict friends and family members from driving impaired. These two recommendations are just two of several simple steps to avoid a tragic crash or an impaired driving arrest this July 4th.

Other important tips include:
• Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
• If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Promptly report impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
• Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears their safety belt. It is your best defense against an impaired driver.

The You Drink & Drive. You Lose crackdown began June 18 and runs through July 4. It is supported by nearly $1 million in federal safety funds being made available by IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety. For more information about impaired driving in Illinois, please visit www.drivesoberillinois.org.

Guest editorial: E.M. Forster and Facebook

Guest editorial
by Tina Dupuy
Courtesy of caglecartoons.com

“Big Brother” is watching you in a very “Orwellian” way. Has been for years. People who have never heard of George Orwell know of the term “Big Brother.” In many ways, his dark vision of what the year 1984 would look like is prophetic. For example, his novel 1984 takes place during a never-ending war while technology is aiding an over-reaching government. I read that in the New York Times yesterday.

Orwell was right. He was dead on. Spooky.

E.M. Forster is best known for his novels “Howards End” and “A Passage to India.” Not as well-known is a 12,000-word science fiction allegory about technology titled “The Machine Stops,” written in 1909.

Forster’s gloomy tale takes place in a future where all the world’s people have become hermits, content with no longer physically touching others, opting instead to live in solitary with the aid of The Machine. “There are no musical instruments and yet…this room is throbbing with melodious sounds,” he writes. The protagonist Vashti lives in a small, climate-controlled room, illuminated by neither lamp nor window. She has thousands of friends. She even lectures on “Music during the Australian Period.” It all takes place through The Machine. The catalyst is when her son wants to see her in person instead of through the “blue plate.” People don’t travel above ground anymore. The atmosphere is barren and brown. And Vashti doesn’t care for “air-ships.”

Basically he predicted central air, the Internet, video conferencing, television, radio, global warming and commercial air travel.
Forster was right. He was dead on. Spooky.

“The Machine Stops” was penned a hundred years ago. From a historical perspective, the first radio was not installed in the White House until 1922, yet a Victorian like Forster imagined modernity amazingly close.

I first read this short story 10 years ago. It was before I became a telecommuter, before MySpace—before Google was a verb. Now I have days where I feel like Vashti, isolated in my pajamas revering The Machine. “The Machine feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being,” wrote Forster.

But the story is also a poignant criticism of technological advancement. The current struggle between “old media” and “new media” is one of reporting verses the digesting news. One hundred years ago a lecturer in Forster’s tale pronounces, ”Beware of first-hand ideas! First hand-ideas do not really exist … Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from the disturbing element—direct observation.” It’s a rundown of blogging verses journalism.

It’s not just that Forster foresaw the Internet, but he guessed rightly how it would be used. In this fable of the future, ideas are valued most—they are the new commodity. Talking to her son Kuno about his desire to see her in person is private, until Vashti turns off her isolation switch on The Machine. “The room was filled with the noise of bells and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Had she any ideas lately? Might one tell her one’s own ideas?” He’s describing online communities. He’s describing Facebook. He’s describing Twitter.

“We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now,” Forster wrote. “It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. “ Of course, as I write this, my “machine” chimes with the siren call of new emails, IMs and tweets tempting me to distraction. To quote Vashti as she tried to comfort herself while on the air-ship, ”O Machine! O Machine!”

Guest editorial: Happy Father’s Day

Guest editorial
by Martha Randolph Carr
Courtesy of caglecartoons.com

Here’s to all of the dads who understand that the key ingredient to being a great dad is showing up, no matter what. It seems like such a simple and obvious task. Just be there when your child needs someone to talk to or when there’s a flute concert or when there’s a football practice and they asked the parents to be there.

But, if you’ve shown up at any of these events you know from the empty seats how often it doesn’t happen. There are so many great and worthwhile excuses like having work to get done or at least sending your spouse or maybe even a nice day and 18 holes. The average person would nod their head in agreement with each one of them and say, well, you tried.

However, parenting is not about you.

Most people get that in a general sense because, particularly when the child is small, they obviously need us to focus. At first, everything about being a new parent is exhausting and makes the head spin because it’s all so new, it’s necessary and there’s really no choice if the job is to be done even halfway right.

I remember when my son, Louie, was brand-new and I drove by a restaurant where my friends were sitting outside, laughing and chatting. I wanted to stop and join them but Louie needed my attention and that came first. That was the moment I knew things had changed forever and I just needed to give in and do it.

But here’s an added twist.

In order to achieve greatness we have to be willing to show up and believe it’ll all work out. We get that belief in doses every time a parent shows up for us. That goes double when we know they had to put something else aside in order to be there, in that seat.

All of us want our children to reach beyond what seems possible or easy and go for what challenges them, what brings out their talents and then tests the boundaries at least a little. We’ve learned by now that that’s where the real rewards are waiting but if you can’t risk it and show up, your chances of finding it go way down.

That’s the exact spot where it comes in handy if you had a dad who went beyond what seemed easy or convenient and just showed up without wondering what was in it for them. They were there fitting in to the small desk or at the dinner table or standing on the sidelines and they were cheering for your success.

We may not know what rewards await us for trying every day, but we’ve been given this wonderful example that going first is a big part of the process. It’s like going to the gym every day in the early morning hours because being fit matters and then waiting months to see the results.

You wade out again into the choices and believe in the possibilities of what might be there because you have a great dad who showed up and believed in you even though you were blowing the wrong note during the flute concert or were distracted by fireflies during the soccer game.

Dads are great at being open to the idea that your greatness is still evolving and chasing fireflies might be a part of the bigger picture.

When our children are grown it’s even about showing up to say nothing at all and encouraging our children to need us less because we know they now have all the tools that they need to build their own dreams. To all of us, like me, whose great dad has passed away, may we live our lives in a way that honors their humor, their passion and their beliefs in us. Happy Father’s Day.

Editorial: Time more valuable than money

With the economy continuing to struggle, and state and local governments falling further into debt, budgets are tight to the point of breaking for most people and organizations.

One local organization that is not struggling financially is Elburn Baseball and Softball. Yet, the group that includes approximately 400 children and 34 teams, may still fold next year due to lack of community support—not financial support, but volunteer support.

The type of support that is free to give but invaluable to those benefitting from their time and effort.

Elburn Baseball and Softball Board member Pete LaSalle submitted a letter to the editor to the Elburn Herald—the same letter the board sent to the parents of the children in the program.

The letter stated that due to extremely low parent volunteerism, the organization will be without many key positions when the current crop of volunteers’ positions end, with no volunteers in place to replace them. Those current vacant positions include president, vice president, field maintenance coordinator, concessions coordinator, registrar, and arbiter (the individual who reschedules rainouts).

According to LaSalle, the group has enough money, equipment, coaches and fields. What it lacks is the group of people dedicated to working behind the scenes to help ensure the organization not only runs effectively, but even runs at all.

LaSalle wrote that the group begins organizing for the next season in August or September. If there continues to be no volunteers willing to step up, the league will fold.

Its next league meeting is Thursday, July 1, at 7 p.m. at the Town and Country Public Library. If you can’t attend that meeting, contact the league through its website at www.elburn.com/baseball.

We hope that enough volunteers step up to allow this league to continue to grow and give local children a place to play and learn how to function as a team.

Given the economy, we could certainly understand how a league might have to fold due to insufficient funds. For Elburn Baseball and Softball, that is not the case. It is much more difficult to understand if it has to fold due to insufficient volunteerism—something that only costs time to give.

Between the two—time and money—the one that is free also is the one that has more value.

Editorial: Herald earns advertising, editorial accolades

The Illinois Press Association recently recognized the Elburn Herald in the organization’s annual advertising and editorial contests.

We are proud to receive recognition from the industry, and while our biggest reward comes from our connection to our communities and our readers, it is still nice once in awhile to acknowledge our recognitions.

In the Best Ad Designer category, Design Director Leslie Flint earned a first-place award. The judges commented that she utilizes “Good use of graphics and layout.”

Flint also earned a first-place award for Best Ad Less Than Full Page. “Unique business logo combined with colors and highlighting brand names makes ad stand out to the target audience: teens,” said the judges comments.

The Elburn Herald won first place in the Best Annual Special Section category for the 2009 Summer Guide. “Great concept—wonderful pictures and the daily calendar and activities was useful to the reader,” the judges said.

The newspaper won second-place honors in the Best Niche Publication, Best Classified Section, and Advertising Excellence categories. In addition, the Elburn Herald earned third place in the Best Community Focus Special Section category.

In the editorial contest, Assistant Editor Ben Draper earned a first-place award for Best Web Site.

The Elburn Staff earned first- and second-place honors in the category Best Special Section. Reporter Susan O’Neill earned a third-place award in the Best Business/Economic Reporting category. Sports Editor Mike Slodki earned an honorable mention in the Sports News category, and Editor Ryan Wells earned an honorable mention in the Local Editorial category.

While it is nice to be recognized by those in the industry, there is no comparison to knowing that week in and week out, we work as hard as we can to help serve our Kaneland communities.

The fact that you read us each and every week is, ultimately, the recognition we value most.

Guest editorial: Do not forget

It is embarrassingly easy for many of us to forget that our nation is currently fighting two wars. We may “know” it, but it is all too easy to forget about the loss of life and limb that occurs virtually every day in defense of our nation.

It is embarrassingly easy to forget about the countless drops of blood, sweat and tears that have been shed through the generations by the very best of us, on behalf of the rest of us.

It is embarrassingly easy to look at Memorial Day as simply a day off work; a time to have a picnic or barbecue with family and friends; a day to spend relaxing.

A day of remembrance was first officially proclaimed in May 1868 by General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30, 1868.

“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit,” the beginning of the order states.

After World War I, Memorial Day was expanded to remember Americans who had fought and died in any war. When Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, Memorial Day was officially set as the last Monday in May.
We urge all local residents to take part in their local Memorial Day observance, and furthermore, to never take for granted what has been bought and paid for with the ultimate sacrifice.

“All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”

—General John Logan,
National Commander
Grand Army of the Republic
General Order No. 11

Elburn
In Elburn, Memorial Day observances Monday, May 31, will begin with a parade at 9:15 a.m. It will start at Elburn Lions Park and end at the Blackberry Cemetery.
There, members of the Elburn American Legion, local Boy and Girl Scouts, and members of the community will take part in a ceremony, including guest speaker Bill Foster, congressman representing the 14th Congressional District.
Following the ceremony, the Legion will offer coffee and refreshments at the Legion Hall.

Sugar Grove
Sugar Grove’s Memorial Day services will begin at 9:15 a.m. at Jericho Cemetery on Mighell Road. Participants will then proceed to the Sugar Grove cemetery on Merrill Road at 10 a.m., where a ceremony will take place.

Maple Park
The village of Maple Park’s Memorial Day program will begin with a parade that will be at the following locations at the following times:
• 9:10 a.m. Pierce Cemetery—Owen Road and Pritchard Road, Troxel
• 9:30 a.m. St Mary’s Cemetery—County Line Road South of Route 38
• 9:45 a.m. Gardner Cemetery—Route 38 East of County Line Road
• 10 a.m. Van Vlack Cemetery—Thatcher Road east of Maple Park
• 10:15 a.m. Sts. Peter & Paul Cemetery—Meredith Road South of Virgil
• 10:30 am South Burlington Cemetery—Ramm and Snyder roads, west of Peplow Road
• 11:15 am Ceremony at Post Home—Main Street, Maple Park

Kaneville
The Kaneville Township 115th Annual Memorial Day Program will be held at 10 a.m. in Kaneville at the Dave Werdin Community Center.
Guest speaker will be former resident Evan Mahan, a veteran from the Iraq War. Guest musician will be local folk singer, Lee Murdock. There will be a special seating section for veterans, who will be recognized during the program.
Following the program, there will be a parade to the cemetery for a rifle salute and decoration of the graves. Refreshments will be served at the Community Center upon return from the cemetery. Old flags, to be retired, will be collected for disposal by the American Legion.

Guest Editorial: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Guest editorial
by Nina Finch
National Alliance on Mental Illness

At times, having a mental illness leads you to feel that your life is hopeless. It is at these times that people with mental illness need to hear that even though their lives may be challenging, they are certainly not hopeless. It is important for them to hear it from those who love them and work with them, but it is also important that society believe in their recovery.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and as part of the observance, the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is reviewing the positive changes in mental health treatment. Not that long ago, persons suspected of having a mental illness could be locked away, overdosed with drugs to subdue them, and removed from the lives of their loved ones. There was not much hope that professionals could offer to someone with a serious mental illness.

Although stigma remains and mental health services are under-funded, there is good news. Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

In fact, mental illnesses are more treatable than some diseases, such as heart disease. According to a report by the surgeon general, “With proper treatment, the majority of people can return to productive and engaging lives.”

When people with mental illnesses begin to recover, they want to be part of society, get jobs, and make plans for their future. It is more difficult to do these things if society treats them as never really having a future. If coworkers focus on the extra days that the mentally ill take off because of illness, they may not see the extra work done on other days. Coworkers may not believe that the mentally ill can handle the responsibilities of managing others, and may not include them in social activities for fear of unpredictable behavior.

Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through will power and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence. It is not a matter of believing in the power of positive thinking, although changes in thinking may often be involved in the treatment process. What does help overcome mental illness is a consistent support system that does not change every election year, as well as a society that believes enough in recovery that they are willing to give the mentally ill the chance to prove that recovery is possible.

Families often feel a sense of hopelessness. They see the errors in judgment in the mentally ill, and they are afraid they will have to deal with this the rest of their lives. They don’t know where to start in getting help or even how to talk to people about what is happening. Support from friends and family reinforces recovery, and this is where NAMI comes in.

NAMI is a grassroots organization that provides support, education and advocacy for people with mental illness and their family and friends. NAMI DeKalb, Kane County and Kendall Counties (NAMIDKK), the local affiliate in this part of Illinois, started as a small group of family members looking for ways to help their loved ones. People needing help with mental health issues often reach out to NAMI because NAMI members can relate to what is happening with them.

When someone calls NAMIDKK, he or she reaches people who have been through similar experiences. The leaders of the support groups and the educational classes are all family members of people with mental illness who have been trained by NAMI to be leaders.

The leaders know what it is like to struggle to find help or experience frustration in navigating the system. The leaders of the support groups for people with mental illness have felt hopeless at one time also, but now they see that recovery is possible. They want to share that with others.

People find NAMI on the Internet, by word of mouth, or by referrals from professionals.

To find out more about NAMIDKK, visit namidkk.org or call (630) 896-6264.

Guest Editorial: Thank our troops

Guest Editorial
by Martin C. Boire
Chairman, Support Our Troops®
Armed Forces Day 2010

May 15, 2010, is Armed Forces Day. Right now, volunteer men and woman are everywhere protecting we civilians here at home. And in honor of the troops who do so much to protect us, hundreds of troop support groups across America ship thousands of care boxes each year to them all over the world.

Over 90 percent of Americans have never served in the military. I am one of them, representative of the rest. And on behalf of all of those they protect, I thank the troops for preserving our liberties, livelihoods, and businesses. Even though the borders of this country are penned with their blood, and even though we don’t keep our national house in order, they go forth each day to protect it and give us more time. Let’s hope in the end we can all make them as proud of us as we are of them.

Showings of support means a lot to them, and here is an inkling of their gratitude for the bonds between us.

• “I wanted to say thank you so much for sending out the care package to my airman. She received the box today and she was literally in tears and could not believe that there are people who cared enough to send her a box. She said she felt like it was Christmas or better because she has not had a Christmas since she was younger. It was great seeing her tell everyone who walked in the office about the box. Again, thank you and your team for taking the time to think of us over here and we truly do appreciate your support!“ —SSgt Leticia.

• “Thank you, thank you, and thank you so very much for the packages we received. We, the 2025th Transportation Company, want you to know how appreciative we are for the phone cards, games, magazines, books, music CD’s , DVD’s, toiletries, the food and all the other goodies that were sent to us yesterday … It is a hard road for us over here especially during the holiday season. Being away from our families is really tough, but with the goodies and gifts it made everyone feel like getting into the holiday spirit. From the 2025th Transportation Company Family, we would like to extend our heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for all of your support. We will always have a place in our heart for you. Thank you.”—Major Earnes

Since her inception, America has been unique among nations of the world. We go further to do more good than any other nation on earth—as acts of freedom, not dominion, which is why so many foreigners want their pictures taken with our troops when they encounter them in transit.

I periodically receive emails from people in other countries pining that they wished their people did for their military community the way Americans do for theirs. You see, America is a charitable nation, with a majority who believes in the personal responsibility of doing good at the individual level. Hence, a voluntary military, and hence, the voluntary support for its members from us.

Indeed, hundreds of charitable groups have arisen to support the troops’ morale and well-being while they are deployed. Are there amazing people in this country or what? You will find these groups listed at SupportOurTroops.org. 

So, for Armed Forces Day this year, go out and find an event to participate in, or send a care package, or make a donation. Find the core moral satisfaction in stepping up for those who step up for all of us.

And to all the troops from all of us here at home, I say thank you, and may God bless and keep you safe.

Guest Editorial: Thank our troops

Guest Editorial
by Martin C. Boire
Chairman, Support Our Troops®
Armed Forces Day 2010

May 15, 2010, is Armed Forces Day. Right now, volunteer men and woman are everywhere protecting we civilians here at home. And in honor of the troops who do so much to protect us, hundreds of troop support groups across America ship thousands of care boxes each year to them all over the world.

Over 90 percent of Americans have never served in the military. I am one of them, representative of the rest. And on behalf of all of those they protect, I thank the troops for preserving our liberties, livelihoods, and businesses. Even though the borders of this country are penned with their blood, and even though we don’t keep our national house in order, they go forth each day to protect it and give us more time. Let’s hope in the end we can all make them as proud of us as we are of them.

Showings of support means a lot to them, and here is an inkling of their gratitude for the bonds between us.

• “I wanted to say thank you so much for sending out the care package to my airman. She received the box today and she was literally in tears and could not believe that there are people who cared enough to send her a box. She said she felt like it was Christmas or better because she has not had a Christmas since she was younger. It was great seeing her tell everyone who walked in the office about the box. Again, thank you and your team for taking the time to think of us over here and we truly do appreciate your support!“ —SSgt Leticia.

• “Thank you, thank you, and thank you so very much for the packages we received. We, the 2025th Transportation Company, want you to know how appreciative we are for the phone cards, games, magazines, books, music CD’s , DVD’s, toiletries, the food and all the other goodies that were sent to us yesterday … It is a hard road for us over here especially during the holiday season. Being away from our families is really tough, but with the goodies and gifts it made everyone feel like getting into the holiday spirit. From the 2025th Transportation Company Family, we would like to extend our heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for all of your support. We will always have a place in our heart for you. Thank you.”—Major Earnes

Since her inception, America has been unique among nations of the world. We go further to do more good than any other nation on earth—as acts of freedom, not dominion, which is why so many foreigners want their pictures taken with our troops when they encounter them in transit.

I periodically receive emails from people in other countries pining that they wished their people did for their military community the way Americans do for theirs. You see, America is a charitable nation, with a majority who believes in the personal responsibility of doing good at the individual level. Hence, a voluntary military, and hence, the voluntary support for its members from us.

Indeed, hundreds of charitable groups have arisen to support the troops’ morale and well-being while they are deployed. Are there amazing people in this country or what? You will find these groups listed at SupportOurTroops.org. 

So, for Armed Forces Day this year, go out and find an event to participate in, or send a care package, or make a donation. Find the core moral satisfaction in stepping up for those who step up for all of us.

And to all the troops from all of us here at home, I say thank you, and may God bless and keep you safe.

Editorial: No easy answers—but a couple of questions—in Elburn’s budget crunch

Like just about every family, business and unit of government in the state—if not the nation—the village of Elburn has had to try and tighten its belt to navigate through the current, difficult economic climate.

And tighten its belt it has, in many ways.

Over the past several months, village officials have spent a large amount of time looking at virtually every nook and cranny in the budget, both from a revenue and expense perspective.

On the revenue side, the village raised the water and sewer rates, adding a projected $450,000 annually to the village’s finances—although this additional revenue can only be used for water and sewer expense.

Other than that decision, the village has focused more significantly on the expense side.

To control costs, the village implemented a wage freeze for village employees. Recent staff cuts include saving $42,000 after eliminating a secretarial position, as well as some additional savings from the elimination of a part-time Police Department secretarial position and a voluntary reduction in the hours of an administrative assistant.

During the search for savings, officials also considered things like reducing staff-support hours, eliminating life-insurance premiums for village employees and eliminating take-home vehicles for some village employees.

These ideas, some of which would save as little as $14,000 a year individually, might seem small when looking at the bigger picture, yet when combined with other, “smaller” items, can prove significant in terms of cutting costs while the village still faces a budgeted $700,000 deficit for fiscal year 2010-11.

The challenge for the village is, as Village Administrator Erin Willrett said in early April, that if the village makes any additional staff cuts, a reduction in resident services will result.

Add to that a possible reduction in state funding, and the table is set for a cash-strapped time. Thankfully, Elburn has approximately $5 million in a reserve fund designed to be used for emergency infrastructure projects and other unexpected expenses. However, if the village draws from that reserve fund too much or too often, there will be few if any options should an immediate emergency arise.

“God forbid that we have a catastrophe—where is the money going to come from?” Village President Dave Anderson said in mid-April.

Given all of this, village officials should be applauded for considering just about any and every idea to trim from the budget, including the “small-ticket” items like saving an estimated $14,000 per year by eliminating life-insurance premiums for village employees, a measure they decided against.

Yet, if the village’s finances are in such dire straits that officials are worried about funding during emergencies and are considering virtually every “small-ticket” item, why is the village essentially paying more than $190,000 for village administrator duties?

To deal with growth issues, the village created a new staff position in the beginning of 2008—the community development director. In May 2009, that position was changed to assistant village administrator.

After Monday’s annual staff appointments, the three appointed positions include the village administrator ($97,788.58 annual salary), chief of police ($80,817), and superintendent of public works ($78,500). The assistant village administrator’s salary—not an appointed position—is paid $93,343.64 per year.

Given the budget deficit and the months of searching for savings in every nook and cranny in the village’s finances, it strikes us as odd that the village would pay more than $190,000 for village administrator duties, especially given that the second position was originally created to deal with the growth pressures that no longer exist.

Anderson and Willrett have repeatedly referred to this year’s budget as a “bare bones budget,” but is that really the case?

If to be successful, the village administrator requires an assistant that is paid the second-highest salary in the village, is the current administrator the right person for the job? And if so, is there a need for an assistant administrator that makes over $12,000 more than the village police chief?

It appears that the village risks being top heavy, and facing a $700,000 annual deficit while saying any further staff cuts would require a loss of resident services—as well as saying this is a “bare bones budget”—does not make sense.

Guest Editorial: Celebrate Arbor Day April 30

Guest Editorial
by John Rosenow
Arbor Day Foundation
Founder, chief executive

We might think about majestic trees, precious wildlife, and clean, fresh air. We probably don’t think about the water we drink.

We should.

When you turn on your faucet this Arbor Day, take a moment and think about the important role trees play to make sure what comes out of the tap is healthy and clean.

Most people know that trees produce oxygen that we breathe and clean the air by acting as giant filters, removing harmful particles and pollutants. But you may not be aware that trees work just as hard to protect and purify our water sources, including those that provide drinking water for millions of Americans every day.

Trees improve water quality by slowing rain as it falls to the earth, and helping it soak into the soil. They also prevent soil from eroding into our waterways, reduce stormwater runoff, and lessen flood damage. They serve as natural filters to protect our streams, rivers, and lakes.

Forests in the United States are the source of drinking water for more than 180 million people, 59 percent of the U.S. population. Forests help protect vital water sources such as sparkling mountain streams filled with melting snow, healthy reservoirs and lakes, and our nation’s vast web of rivers.

Our forested areas are shrinking at an alarming rate. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 40 million acres of private forest could be lost in the next 40 years.

Why is that important to us? As U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “While most Americans live in urban areas, most of us depend on rural lands, particularly forest lands, for clean water and a healthy climate.”

One example of an urban area that depends on forested land for water is New York City. In the late 1990s, New York City leaders balked at a $6 billion water treatment system and instead opted to go with natural landscape management to clean the water it receives from the Catskill/Delaware watershed in upstate New York. The focus is on creating conservation easements along streams and reservoirs, and protecting forest lands to keep sediment and runoff from entering the water supply.

The watershed provides most of New York City’s daily supply of drinking water, more than 1 billion gallons each day. New Yorkers enjoy some of the cleanest, healthiest drinking water in the world.

Millions of Californians rely on crystal-clear water flowing from Plumas and other National Forests to quench their thirst. Melting snow and rain water flow from the Plumas into the Feather River and eventually winds up in the Sacramento River. Water from the Plumas relies on the entire ecosystem, which includes trees, to keep it pristine until it reaches taps throughout central and northern California. This is just one example of how our national forests help clean the water.

These solutions are an alternative to manufactured water treatment systems, and are beneficial in so many ways. Unfortunately, the conventional response is too often to pay for expensive artificial treatment systems rather than rely on natural resources.

One way to protect and clean our water supply is to plant trees, and the need to replant our nation’s forests is vitally important. The U.S. Forest Service has identified a backlog of 1 million acres in national forests alone that are in need of replanting because of damage from recent wildfires, insects and disease.

There is no substitute for clean water. Water is a vital resource that we rely on every day. We can’t create something else to take its place.

But we can plant trees.

We enjoy trees for many reasons—their shade on a warm day, the energy they save when they’re planted around our homes, the bountiful food they provide, the songbirds they bring close by.

Remember the role trees play in keeping our drinking water clean. As you celebrate Arbor Day this year, don’t take your clean drinking water for granted when you turn on the tap. America’s trees worked hard to help deliver that refreshing glass of water.

Mike Slodki’s 2010 Mock Draft

by Mike Slodki
1. St. Louis – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma.
2. Detroit – DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska.
3. Tampa Bay – DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma.
4. Washington – OT Russell Okung, Oklahoma St.
5. Kansas City – LB Rolando McClain, Alabama.
6. Seattle – OT Trent Williams, Oklahoma.
7. Cleveland – S Eric Berry, Tennessee.
8. Oakland – LB Jason Pierre-Paul, S. Florida.
9. Buffalo – OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa.
10. Jacksonville – DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech.
11. Denver – RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson.
12. Miami – NT Dan Williams, Tennessee.
13. San Francisco – QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame.
14. Seattle – S Taylor Mays, USC.
15. NY Giants – OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland.
16. Tennessee – CB Joe Haden, Florida.
17. San Francisco – OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers.
18. – Pittsburgh – G Mike Iupati, Idaho.
19. Atlanta – C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida.
20. Houston – S Earl Thomas, Texas.
21. Cincinnati – WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma St.
22. New England – LB Sergio Kindle, Texas.
23. Green Bay – CB Kyle Wilson, Boise St.
24. Philadelphia – DE Everson Griffen, USC.
25. Baltimore – LB Brandon Graham, Michigan.
26. Arizona – LB Sean Witherspoon, Missouri.
27. Dallas – DT Jared Odrick, Penn St.
28. San Diego – RB Jahvid Best, California.
29. NY Jets – OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana.
30. Minnesota – CB Patrick Robinson, Florida St.
31. Indianapolis – DT Terrence Cody, Alabma.
32. New Orleans – LB Jerry Hughes, TCU.