Category Archives: Elburn

Elburn prepares for new growth with controlled burns

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday discussed controlled burns that were coordinated by the Public Works Department and carried out on Saturday at Blackberry Creek.

“There were several ponds that had prairies near them that we burned,” said John Nevenhoven, director of Public Works. “We decided to do it on Saturday because it would have smoked out the school if we did it during the week.”

The village recently gained control of the land near Blackberry Creek and decided it was an appropriate time to schedule a controlled burn. Residents had also been requesting that a controlled burn be performed in that area as well, according to Nevenhoven. The cost for the project was $7,700, with another controlled burn scheduled for this weekend near Pouley Road.

There had not been a controlled burn in Blackberry Creek in nearly eight years. A portion of leftover money in the budget allowed Public Works to burn the area to prepare for new growth.


Teamwork turns discovery of books into opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They are absolutely gorgeous books,” Klomhaus said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stefanos sioux falls cropped

House of Steel

Lekkas brothers have lived lives on ice
ELBURN—There’s a whole lot of hockey talent in Elburn.

Much of it is courtesy of one household.

The Lekkas brothers of Elburn have long shown an affinity for hockey, having all participated to various degrees. Even when not participating, the chill of the sport was always around.

“Hockey was always on TV in the house, always that instead of MTV,” said Stefanos, who graduated high school in Springfield this past December and has donned the goalie mask for the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues and currently for the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede.

Older brother Stelios, a sophomore in the medical program at University of Illinois-Chicago, also participated in cross country at Kaneland and played hockey before shoulder surgery put his ice career on the backburner. Youngest, but not least, is eighth-grader Evan, who attends Kaneland Harter Middle School and is currently playing “AAA” level with the Chicago Young Americans this spring.

“There was always 110 percent support for each other. Our house was definitely a hockey home,” Stefanos said. “I think it was great my parents (Angelo and Lisa) followed it.”

Angelo, principal of Genoa-Kingston middle school, is able to view the sport as a bonding experience for any family, not just the Lekkas’ of Elburn.

Courtesy photos
Courtesy photos

“Hockey is a very family-oriented sport,” Angelo said. “Due to the long distances and overnight trips, families and players spend many hours together in rink lobbies and hotels. Very strong bonds develop. The relationships they build last a lifetime.

“Each of the boys drove their decision to play and the level to which they take their game,” Angelo said.

Stefanos, who was named team MVP in Springfield at the conclusion of the last season, was called up to Sioux Falls and got thrown into the fire on ice, having to step into goal in the middle of the April 5 regular season finale against the Omaha Lancers. Stopping 12 of 12 shot attempts in the 3-2 loss, the netminder was cognizant of the level of play.

“Every level you move up, the players that move up with you are better,” he said. “You’re playing for an opportunity and trying to go to college for free.”

The Stampede, facing the Waterloo Black Hawks this week in the USHL playoffs first round, led the league in attendance with over 127,000 fans in 2013-14 at the Sioux Falls Arena.

“Springfield is the capital, and it’s a good team, but hockey is big in Sioux Falls. They get a lot of support there and the arena is packed and the whole town rallies,” Stelios said. “I’ll always try to give him a shoutout on Facebook after a game or call him.”

The Tier 1 junior hockey level club has accented the strides Stefanos feels he’s made in the two years since suiting up for the Chicago Mission U16 club in Midget-level hockey.

“I’m just mentally able to handle adversity better and whatever comes along,” Stefanos said. “I just try to go out every day and stick with what works.”

Stelios had to make a decision after shoulder surgery stopped his forward momentum and championship run with the “AA” level Northwest Chargers of Hoffman Estates, Ill., but can still be supportive and offer experience.

“I still wanted to play, and it kind of sucks to stop,” Stelios said. “I talked it over with my parents, who played a big role, and it was tough at the time, but it ended up being the right decision.”

The current UIC Flame student can point at his mask-donning brother as taking the passion to a new level in the family.

“Hockey is definitely our No. 1 sport. I’m not as crazy as my brother about it, he was only hockey. We would watch it all the time on TV, but we still have our stupid shows we watch,” Stelios said.

Now with Evan coming up through the ranks, the elder brothers can relive a bit of what they went through, and even issue perspective.

“Evan’s getting up there now, and it’s cool to see and to see him go through some of the same things I went through,” Stefanos said. “I’ll do anything I can for him.”

“He’s a real hard worker, and it’s going to turn out all right for him,” Stelios said. “He’s very focused.”

With the brothers having spent countless hours in chilly ice arenas, pride for the hockey accomplishments don’t need to thaw.

“I’ve been very fortunate to spend hundreds of hours with each of my kids coaching them on the ice,” Angelo said.

Stefanos and the Stampede began the first round of the Western Conference semifinals in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday, losing 7-4 to Waterloo. Saturday saw the the Stampede lose 6-3, they now travel back to home ice tonight at 7:05 p.m.

When not picking
up the stick, the brothers are also musically inclined.
Stelios plays piano,
Stefanos plays trumpet
and Evan plays violin.


Dewey Dash to celebrate 10th anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Village’s tentative budget available for public inspection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metra parking to increase May 1

ELBURN—Commuters will pay 25 cents more a day to park at the Elburn Metra Station beginning May 1.

Parking rates will increase from $1.25 to $1.50 per day.

Village President Dave Anderson said that the Village Board had actually approved the increase two years ago, but put off its implementation until now.

The board has discussed the need for maintaining the parking lot.

“I’m worried it’s not going to be enough down the road when we need to replace the blacktop,” Anderson said.

“The day-to-day expenses are still more than the revenue,” Finance Director Doug Elder said. “Eventually, if you do that year after year after year, the reserve will be gone and the fund will not be able to support itself.”

The fund’s revenues are $90,300 and its expenses are $100,499.

The village will honor quarterly and annual parking permits, which have already been purchased.

Byerhof resigns after 55 years of service

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

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

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

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

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

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


Community cornerstone

Photo: Father Tim Seigel, the priest at St. Gall Catholic Church, started coming into Dave’s Barbershop just 18 months ago. “I have to go home because I left my wallet,” Seigel said. “I actually forgot it. That’s the sort of thing you can’t do anywhere else.” Photos by Cheryl Borrowdale

Dave’s Barbershop approaches 50th anniversary
ELBURN—Fifty years ago this month, Dave Rissman opened his barbershop in downtown Elburn, where he’s now given haircuts to generations of residents.

Dave Rissman
Dave Rissman

“I’ve been very blessed to be here this long and to start off giving young kids their first haircut, then doing their kids when they start having children,” he said. “It’s very rewarding. I don’t look at people as just customers; I look at them as friends.”

When he opened Dave’s Barbershop in Elburn on April 27, 1964, Elburn had just 800 residents and two other barbershops downtown already. One was owned by Don Henderson; the other by Claude Martin, better known as Red Martin.

Rissman was just 23 years old at the time, “a youngster” in comparison, he said. After graduating from high school—he was part of Kaneland High School’s first graduating class in 1959—and attending Chicago Barber School, he spent four years working at barbershops in Aurora before heading out on his own.

Rissman rented a storefront at 108 N. Main Street—between Paisano’s Pizza and the American Legion Hall—until he saved up enough to buy a place of his own.

“I rented that building and wanted to buy it, but it was never for sale,” Rissman said.

Martin retired, and in 1974 Rissman bought Martin’s former building at 132 N. Main St., just a block north of his original location on Main Street. Henderson eventually came to work at Dave’s Barbershop.

Suddenly Dave’s Barbershop was the last one remaining in town. Rissman attributes his staying power to a combination of luck and customer service.
“It just so happened that they were getting older, Red retired, and I had the lasting power, I guess. They were quite a bit older than me. I was a youngster when I came to town in 1964, and a lot of my clients have been clients for 30, 40, 50 years,” Rissman said.

He considers himself lucky, he said, because his customers have been loyal in an age when independent barbershops have struggled as more and more people have gone to franchises.

“I think it’s simply been because I’ve always maintained the same high standard of quality work and friendliness that goes along with being a successful businessman in a small town,” he said. “You get back whatever you give out, is my thought. I’ve been able to make a living—you’re never going to get rich in this business, but you can make a living. I take pride in what I’ve done here, and I try to run it in such a way that I can look in the mirror in the morning and not be disappointed in who I’m looking at.”

Among his newer customers is Father Tim Seigel, the priest at St. Gall Catholic Church, who heard about Dave’s Barbershop on a recommendation from Village President Dave Anderson. Seigel walked into Rissman’s establishment and asked for a haircut, and the two are now fast friends who breakfast together at the Kountry Kettle.

“I haven’t had a haircut anywhere else since I moved here (18 months ago),” Seigel said. “I think (Dave’s) been able to stay in business a long time because he really builds relationships with people, and he really knows their stories. I look at him as one of the outstanding servants of our community, because he really cares about his customers and builds relationships.”

Those client relationships are so strong that, when some of his customers have become too ill to come in for haircuts, Rissman has gone to them. He regularly visits clients in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers to give them haircuts—and he refuses to let them pay.

“I don’t know how many haircuts I’ve been paid for (over the years), but I know there were thousands that I’ve given away. It’s just another little way of giving back,” he said. “People always try to offer to pay you, but I say, ‘You’re not the first, and you certainly won’t be the last.’”

Few people know that Rissman spent years quietly giving free haircuts to those in need. Once a week, he went to Hesed House, a homeless shelter in Aurora, to cut hair for people at the shelter. Most weeks, there were 20 or more people lined up waiting for haircuts, and Rissman wouldn’t get home until after midnight.

“I’m always reluctant to say, well, what have you done?” he said. “I don’t do stuff for personal recognition. I didn’t do it because I’d ever get any of those people as clients. I do stuff like that just to help people out. I think you just try to be as good of a person as you can every day, and you let the chips fall where they may. If you have to brag about yourself, you’re doing something wrong.”

Over the years, he’s expanded Dave’s Barbershop significantly. When he opened in his present location in 1974, there were a few chairs for clients up front, but much of the first floor was a small rental apartment. Rissman converted that apartment into more space for his business, and now he rents some of it to a massage therapist and another hair stylist.

He’s gone through dozens of redecorations, but his goal has always been to keep the shop homey.
“I never was a big fan of the leather-and-chrome-type shops,” he said. “It’s cold and impersonal. I could’ve done all that in here, but that’s not my style. You’re liable to walk in here and see toys all over the floor from (client’s) kids playing.”

The biggest redecoration—and the biggest challenge Rissman has faced in his half-century in business—came on Jan. 1, 1999, when a fire gutted the barbershop and caused over $150,000 in damage.

“That fire totally burnt me out,” he said. “There was a lighting sconce up front that shorted and started the fire, and it totally burned out everything in the lower level. The back didn’t get burnt, but it got smoke damage. People thought I’d be closed for a long time.”

That wasn’t an option for Rissman, who worked day and night with his youngest son, Joel Rissman, a contractor and firefighter, to rebuild the barbershop themselves.

Dave’s Barbershop reopened just 18 days later.

“We worked like dogs,” Rissman said. “That was the longest I’ve ever been closed.”

Perhaps his most hair-raising experience as a barber, though, came when he got a call from Chuck Conley, who was the then-director of Conley’s Funeral Home.

“I had the living bejeezus scared out of me,” Rissman recalled.

Conley invited him to come to the funeral home to cut hair, and Rissman initially declined. But when Conley told him that one of his clients had passed away and the family had requested that Rissman give the last haircut, he agreed.

“Chuck assured me that he would be there with me the whole time, that I wouldn’t be alone with a dead body,” Rissman said. “I should’ve known better, because when I got there he said, ‘Dave, all heck has broken loose upstairs and I’m going to have to leave you here.’ They have a marble slab they embalm bodies on, which is fine for embalming but not for cutting hair. And they have a door buzzer, and it went off, and my heart started pounding and it scared me out of 10 years of my life.”

After 50 years in business, he has no plans to retire anytime soon—retirement’s just not in his vocabulary, he said.

“It’s never crossed my mind,” Rissman said. “Bruce Conley was a good friend of mine, and I’d cut his hair since he was a little boy, and I had a deal with him that he was to pick up things behind my chair when I dropped, so that I didn’t leave half a haircut behind. But he checked out before me, so I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

“As long as God wants me to be here to cut hair, I guess I’m going to do that, God willing. It’s been a great ride. I don’t see myself ever quitting.”


Eddie Gaedel official opening a grand slam

ELBURN—Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill of Elburn combined its official grand opening celebration with the opening day of baseball on Monday. The bar originally opened in May 2013 but postponed its grand opening party until a couple of improvements to the bar were completed.

Eddie Gaedel is owned by Richard and Annette Theobald and Robert and Myra Ottoson. Richard said he was pleased with the turnout the establishment welcomed on Monday.

“Today was way beyond our expectations,” he said.

“We were hoping for 40 people per hour for the 10 hours we’re open, for a total of 400 people,” Annette said. Between 250 and 300 people visited the pub and grill on Monday.

The pub and grill offered a ballpark-themed menu, including Ream’s bratwurst, hot dogs, pork chop sandwiches, major league cinna bites, and more. The running baseball theme wasn’t limited to the menu. Baseball decorations and streamers hung from the ceiling, and small baseball-themed paper bags hung on a wall as a place for people to submit raffle tickets.

Eddie Gaedel employees were dressed in grey baseball jerseys that read “Gaedel” on the back, along with the number “1/8,” in honor of Eddie Gaedel, the bar’s namesake. Gaedel, an individual with dwarfism, who had an at-bat in a St. Louis Browns doubleheader in August 1951 and became famous for being the smallest player in Major League Baseball history at 3-foot-7.

The name of the bar is fitting for a couple of reasons.

“As a sports bar, we wanted a name that only a true sports fan would know, and that represented something small or short, since our bar is small,” Annette said.

Gaedel also has a special connection to Elburn, as he was the grand marshal of the Elburn Days parade on Sept. 7, 1951. The editor of the Elburn Herald at the time had asked Gaedel if he would lead the parade.

The Theobalds and Ottosons decided to donate a percentage of Monday’s profits, raising over $800 from the raffle and earning well over $1,000 in food sales and tips. The money will benefit two organizations that have a unique association with Gaedel.

“We’ve been in contact with Eddie Gaedel’s nephew on Facebook and asked him what organization is special to him,” Annette said. “He chose the National Kidney Foundation, since his dad, Eddie’s brother, died of kidney failure. And we picked the PEAK Kindness Campaign, since Eddie was bullied.”

Local residents have had positive things to say about the Eddie Gaedel Pub and Grill thus far.

“It’s a nice to have a place like it out our way,” said Penny Chapman of Maple Park. “(The) atmosphere is not like a typical bar. They serve good food and it’s a quaint place to eat.”


Avenue J Studios introduces youths to stage

Photo: Avenue J Studios, located inside the Elburn Countryside Community Center, is a performing arts education and youth theatre that opened in January. Avenue J Studios offers traditional acting, drama lessons, youth and theatre musical production programs for ages 3 years and up. A unique aspect of Avenue J Studios is the involvement it allows their students to engage in such as costume designing, creating scenery, applying stage makeup and special effects. The business is decorated with play parts, theatre decorations and costumes.
Photo by Lynn Logan

ELBURN—Andy Conley, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, has found a place that suits him fine.

That place is the stage. And local youths from kindergarten to seniors, like Conley, have a chance to take to the stage, thanks to Avenue J Studios.

Avenue J Studios is a not-for-profit organization that gives youths a chance to experience stage aspects like acting, creating costumes, making scenery, applying stage makeup, singing and technical crew.

Jennifer Madziarczyk, a Kaneland mother of four and the owner of Avenue J Studios, came up with the idea for the performance studio, located in the Elburn and Countryside Community Center.

“It’s an alternative for kids to go and express themselves in a different manner,” Madziarczyk said. “So it’s not a competition that you find in sports.”

Britt Mattern, assistant principal at Kaneland Harter Middle School, is the mother of Libby, a fifth-grader and Avenue J Studios attendee. Britt said she’s seen Libby blossom during her time with the studio.

“She’s really embraced it and she’s done really well with it, so it’s been nice to see,” Britt said.

Gabby Ziemba, a third-grader, said she likes being a part of Avenue J Studios.

“I like that you get to perform,” she said. “And I like that there’s different stories every time.”

Owner Jennifer Madziarczyk and her daughter, Maggie, 11, are residents of Sugar Grove. Photo by Lynn Logan
Owner Jennifer Madziarczyk and her daughter, Maggie, 11, are residents of Sugar Grove. Photo by Lynn Logan

Recently, three “leprechauns”—Libby and St. Charles sisters Ally Tippett, a seventh-grader, and Julia, a fourth-grader—rehearsed a song about a guy named Jack. Libby wore a sparkly jester hat. Ally had on a shamrock hat, and Julia’s hat had green sparkles jutted to the side.

The cast then practiced a song about “Happily Ever After.”

“Lock into the beat and keep it steady,” music director Nika Plattos advised.

When it was time to take the story to the beginning, Madziarczyk gave the direction.

“Go to the top of the show,” Madziarczyk announced. “Places.”

Libby’s catch phrase when her jokes went flat was always “Never mind.”

And during a rehearsal break, Conley’s brother Mikey, a kindergartener, talked about how he feels about getting on the stage.

“I feel a little bit worried. A little bit cool,” he said.

Avenue J Studios is located at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St., Suite 22 in Elburn. You can contact them by callling (630) 770-7365 or visiting


Elburn poised for steady growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART ONE: Memories of Elburn past

PART TWO: Elburn grows up


Bestselling author visits Blackberry Creek

The Blackberry PTO invited children’s author Andrea Beaty (right) to a special visit to Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School on March 17. Beaty spoke with the students about her success as a writer. She brought her new book, “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” which she read along with her book, “Iggy Peck, Architect,” to the classes. Beaty began her career as an author back in 1994. She now resides in Naperville. First-grader Dinaella Brandonisio (below, center) enjoys the storytelling of ”Rosie Revere, Engineer.”
Photos by Lynn Logan

KANELAND—Andrea Beaty is a New York Times Bestselling children’s author who made a visit to students at Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

According to Katie Reilley, who teaches fifth grade at Blackberry Creek, Beaty joked with the fifth-graders.

“(Beaty) was talking about how they all came dressed in green,” Reilley said. “And she was like, ‘Oh. You guys look great. I don’t have any green on. I don’t have a green scarf. And I like scarves because it makes the kindergartners hold their attention.’”

Students gathered in the school’s upstairs reading lounge—complete with lamps, couches, chairs and futons—to listen to Beaty read some of her stories, including “Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies,” “Iggy Peck, Architect” and “Rosie Revere, Engineer,” during multiple assemblies for all grades.

Students asked questions about Beaty’s favorite genre, the author who most inspired her, and Beaty’s writing process. Beaty said she likes to read fantasy books about Frankenstein and Dracula, enjoys the author E.B. White, and prefers writing stories in notebooks instead of typing them on a computer.

“They got to see that being an author is not an easy job,” Reilley said. “She talked a lot about the writing process and how editing—which as a teacher really made me go, ‘yeah!’—is really where it’s all at. And getting your ideas is the first step.”
Sophia Lisberg, a third-grader, recalled some facts about the author.

“Her work … is inspired by stuff that was around her,” Lisberg said.

Lisberg noted that the best part of the assembly on Monday was when Beaty read, noting that the author had a lot of her book memorized.

“She was loud,” Lisberg said. “And she was very clear, and she used a lot of expression.”

Sophia’s twin, Wyatt, recalled that the author has gained inspiration about what to write by looking at illustrations from illustrator David Roberts.

Wyatt noticed something else about Beaty, too.

“She’s a really nice person,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reilley learned a particular stand out lesson from the author.

“She said something like ‘anything worth doing is going to be difficult,’” Reilley said. “If it’s easy, it’s not going to be worth your while.”

Club Z! Annual Achievement Award

ELBURN—It’s that time of year to apply for $10,000 in cash prizes toward education by nominating students for the Club Z! Annual Achievement Award, open to grade levels fifth through 12.

The Club Z! Annual Achievement Award allows students to showcase their talents and abilities for a chance to win cash to support their education. So whether they’ve shown strong character in the classroom, overcome obstacles at school, shown leadership among their peers or simply improved since the beginning of the year, teachers can nominate their students or encourage them to apply online

For more information, visit


Elburn grows up

Photo:The Shodeen master planned community known as Elburn Station will contain over 110 acres of parks and green open space with miles of recreational paths, connecting the potential 200,000 square feet of commercial buildings on the north to the established residential neighbors of Elburn, and Blackberry Creek on the south to where Elburn’s heritage stems from: its downtown. Elburn Station will expand the village’s easterly border while providing a vehicular overpass to allow police, fire and emergency vehicles to circumvent freight and commuter trains traveling through the Elburn community.

Officials, residents examine village’s current state

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

When Elburn Village President Dave Anderson stops to think about the changes he’s seen during his 61 years in the village, it astonishes him.

“Nothing came suddenly until you look back on it, and then you think, ‘Wow,’” he said.

The village’s population has doubled since 2000, when it had just under 2,800 residents, to more than 5,700 today. That growth has transformed Elburn from the small farming community of Anderson’s youth, where everybody knew everybody, to the western edge of suburbia—and it’s set to start booming again.

Today’s Elburn is a town in transition, but it’s hard to pin down a single moment or person that started the transformation, Anderson said. Instead, it’s been a series of developments.

There was the building of the Blackberry Creek subdivision, which B&B Enterprises started developing in 2004. It was part of a regional “nuttiness about farmland,” Village Trustee Bill Grabarek said, that was driven by the housing boom.

“You had development in Lily Lake, Sugar Grove was starting to explode, Batavia and St. Charles were going crazy,” Grabarek said. “There was this big building boom from the early ‘90s all the way up to the crash in 2008. It was just nuttiness about farmland. What was at one time $300 to $400 an acre (went) up to $30,000 or $40,000 per acre, with no improvements. So everybody was just going crazy. Developers would snap up farmland and then bring in a concept plan to the village.”

Blackberry Creek was the biggest development to break ground in Elburn. More than a thousand new homes were built, bringing scores of new residents and sparking the construction of Kaneland Blackberry Creek Elementary School.

There was the extension of the Union Pacific West Line to Elburn in 2006, which brought commuter service to Chicago to the village, as well as a coach yard to store trains at the end of the line.

Quantifying the impact of the train station is hard, Anderson said, but he thinks it’s driving further development and attracting more residents who suddenly see Elburn as a nice place to live that’s also in commuting distance of Chicago.

There was the opening of the Jewel in 2007, which drove The Grocery Store, the last of Elburn’s three independent small grocery stores, out of business.

“The Jewel-Osco was a big impact,” said Anderson, who owned The Grocery Store. “Now you had a major grocery chain that opened up close to the same time as the McDonald’s, and that whole area up there (at the corner of Route 38 and Route 47) developed, one after another.”

The pace of change has slowed since the 2008 recession, but it’s picking up again.

Construction has begun on the Anderson Road Bridge, which will provide an alternate for traffic on Route 47 and increase the Metra station’s accessibility. Its completion was a prerequisite for Shodeen’s Elburn Station development, which will build another 2,215 housing units to Elburn over the next 20 years. Anderson estimates that when Elburn Station is complete, the village will have 11,000 residents.

With that growth has come development and, some worry, a shift away from a friendly small-town culture to a more anonymous suburban one. That’s why Grabarek makes passing policies that promote community and preserve the feel of Elburn one of his priorities on the Village Board.

“With the Anderson Road bridge coming in, with Shodeen, there’s going to be more anonymity,” Grabarek said. “Electric garage door openers and central air have killed much of our forced sociability with our neighbors because we don’t have to talk to them. We can ignore them, and we do. We are losing that sense of community, and we have to design our community to allow those possibilities to still exist and to promote those possibilities.”

Preserving the character of Elburn and promoting community, he said, comes down to many small planning decisions. It’s why Grabarek has used his position on the Planning Commission and the Village Board to require new construction to fit architecturally into the village, requiring the McDonald’s to use a “prairie-style” metal roof, and the commercial area at the southeast corner of Route 38 and Route 47 to have a center street instead of being built like a strip mall.

Figuring out how to promote interactions between residents who may no longer know each other has been trickier, but Grabarek is working on it.

“My thing on the Planning Commission has always been, how do we promote community and interactions between our residents? So that they feel safe to talk to one another and they want to gather in one spot?” he said.

Part of the answer, he said, has been trying to make Elburn’s downtown a gathering place. New businesses like Schmidt’s Towne Tap have been welcome additions, because they offer opportunities for residents to socialize, but the library, the Lions Club, and the forest preserve are all central to creating a sense of community, he said.

“Getting a forest preserve as an amenity, it gives everyone a chance to participate a little more, because you’ll be standing out there in nature,” Grabarek said. “You’ll be kind of naked, and what are you going to do? Not say ‘Hi’? You would do that in downtown Manhattan, but not here. You are trying to change the attitude, to make it safe to wave. I say ‘Hi’ to everyone coming down the street. It makes people feel safe. It makes them feel a part of something. It draws them into the life and the pulse of the community.”

Not everyone is concerned.

Dave Rissman has had a front-row seat for the changes that have transformed Elburn. He opened Dave’s Barbershop in downtown Elburn in 1964, listening to the stories of thousands of residents over the years as they’ve come in for haircuts. And he doesn’t see much difference between the new residents and the old.

“Most of the people who were out here were farm kids and farm-type people, and now most of the people moving here are suburban,” Rissman said. “But I have all the faith in the world that the people now are just as good as the others were.”

Making Elburn a pleasant place to live has been a collective effort on the part of many people over the years, he said, and though he’s disappointed by the number of empty storefronts downtown, it hasn’t affected his business.

“I see a lot of positive things. I guess you could find negative things if you look for them, but you don’t get anywhere in life doing that,” he said. “My only thought on (growth) is that I’m hopeful, like everybody else, that it stays positive. That depends on us as a whole.”

That’s been Father Tim Seigel’s experience as well. Seigel, the priest at St. Gall Catholic Church in Elburn, is a new transplant to the village himself—he moved here from Genoa, Ill., in 2012—and remembers how warmly people welcomed him when he arrived.

“I hear so many people say, ‘Everybody knows everybody.’ And I go down to the Kountry Kettle for breakfast and sit with a bunch of people, and it’s true: everybody knows everybody,” Seigel said. “I’ll always remember the first day I walked in (to the Kountry Kettle); the tables were really full of people, and I didn’t know what to do. I could go sit by myself, and so I did, and people asked me who I was, and that just impressed me tremendously. That says a lot about the people of this community.”

Seigel describes Elburn as “a profound mixture of rural and suburb,” pointing to the grain bins that he can see from his house on Shannon Street. He expects that as waves of people arrive, it will create some tension, he said. Change always does.

“Every time there is a transition, there’s tension,” he said. “That’s almost a law of physics. We’ve got Fermilab not too far away, and they break atoms, and the energy that is applied for that kind of experiment is just huge. When all of a sudden you bring in a whole different group of people into a community, it’s like smashing two atoms together. There’s energy that’s going to be spent. There will be tension.”

Yet it’s also an opportunity, he said, and St. Gall’s wants to be there to welcome new residents as warmly as Elburn welcomed him. Right now, about 20 percent of Elburn’s residents are Catholics, and he expects that will remain true as Elburn Station brings an estimated 1,000 more Catholics to town.

“My hope is that St. Gall’s will be there to say that you are welcome, that if you’re Catholic and need a place to worship, there’s room for you and we’ll welcome you. I have no doubt this will be a very successful endeavor,” Seigel said.

The church has established an evangelization team to help go door to door and spread the gospel, he said, and they hope that many of the new Catholic arrivals—as many as 200 or 300 households—will join them. The growth will likely fuel the building of a new church building on the southwest end of Hughes Road, he said, where the parish has owned land for over 20 years.

“Genoa was a just a little more sleepy, a little less ready (than Elburn),” Seigel said. “I come here, and people have a readiness to build connections that I did not see in Genoa. I think that says a lot about the people of this community.”

That readiness to build community is something that Anderson sees as part of Elburn’s character, as well. And if there’s one organization that’s the heart of Elburn’s community today, he said, it’s the Lions Club.

“Elburn would not be Elburn without the Lions Club,” Anderson said. “The first thing that comes to mind is Elburn Days, but they do a whole lot more than that for the community.”

The village is home to the largest Lions Club in the state, and the club hosts multiple events every week. Chris Halsey will soon be the District Governor for Lions Club District 1J, visiting the other 63 clubs in the district and mentoring their leadership.

“Our club does more in a month than a lot of clubs do in a year,” Halsey said. “So the impact of the Lions Club on Elburn, it’s been tremendous.”

In addition to organizing Elburn Days, the village’s largest festival, the club raises funds for the vision impaired, offers vision screening at the Town and Country Library, sponsors community events like Breakfast with Santa and an Easter egg hunt, hosts popular weekly bingo nights and monthly spaghetti dinners, offers a scholarship for high school seniors, and sponsors two service clubs for kids, the Leos and the Junior Leos. Lions Club Park offers space for local baseball teams to play, as well as a handicapped-accessible playground.

Youth involvement is one of the reasons the Elburn Lions’ membership numbers are still thriving—the club has 185 members today, just three members shy of its peak—even though service clubs nationwide are losing 11 percent of their membership every year, Halsey said.

“I hear so much now (from other Lions Clubs), ‘We’re getting older now and we can’t do it anymore.’ Well, you should’ve gotten younger people to come in. You need to find ways to encourage people to join the club. You can’t let yourself mature and not have younger people with the vibrant energy to keep things going,” Halsey said.

That sense of vibrant community is exactly what Grabarek loves about Elburn and wants to maintain. The next thing he wants to promote, he said, are community gardens to give people another place to interact face-to-face, rather than just digitally.

“Maybe it sounds a little Pollyanna-ish on my part, but I want as much interaction as a resident would like to have, to allow those who are choosing to be selectively anonymous to take part in the community,” Grabarek said. “That’s why the library and the community organizations are so important, because they allow people to interact.”

For Anderson, the reality of Elburn as a village in transition doesn’t worry him. The only change he’s really seen is that life has sped up, and he wishes people would stop and smell the roses sometimes—advice he gives his three sons all the time, he said.

Elburn’s village motto is “melior non maior,” or “better, not bigger.”

Anderson thinks it’s possible for Elburn to be both.

“Change is just the natural way of things,” he said. “It’s just natural evolution.”

PART ONE: Memories of Elburn past

PART THREE: Elburn poised for steady growth

Elburn Lions March Calendar Raffle winners

ELBURN—The following won $25 in the Elburn Lions Park Calendar Raffle for March: Rob & Tom, Living Well Health Center and KD & Lari Lamb, all of Elburn; Ed Dunteman of Sugar Grove; Steve Bowgren and Joe Kryszak of Maple Park; Craig Braffet and Jennifer Cornell of Hinckley; Nora J. Fisher and Bruce Voight of Batavia; Lucy Gonzales and Howard Jones of Aurora; Bob Geiken of Geneva; Brenda Millen of North Aurora; Manny Bermudez of Yorkville; Carrie Olson of DeKalb; John Healy of Mount Prospect, Ill.; Brian O’Connor of Crystal Lake, Ill.; Carol Zaehler of Streamwood, Ill.; Vince Allegra of Hinsdale, Ill.; Walt Knake of Western Springs, Ill.; Ken Lanier of Elmhurst, Ill.; Gary Deihs and Floyd Brown of Elgin, Ill.; Jennifer Krug McNaughton of Lemont, Ill; and Matthew Van Lannen of Andersonville, Tenn.

The $50 winners were Eugene & Floyd, Truck & Tar and Rob & Tom, all of Elburn; and Scott Pirkins of Lemont, Ill.

The $100 winner was Frank & Fran Modelski of Darien, Ill.


Photos: Sales for eveyone

Shoppers brought baskets to fill with their purchased items at Friday and Saturday’s Toy and Clothing Sale at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School in Elburn. The sale took place March 21-22. Jackson Mannia (right), 4, of Elburn shops for toy deals during Friday’s sale.

Dekalb resident Krystal Harley browsed through several clothing items during her stroll through the sale.

Event coordinators Laura Molitor from Elburn and Lori Humm. This is Molitor’s sixth year organizing the event, while it is Humm’s second year on the board.


Running across Illinois for a cure

Photo: Bill Babiarz is running from west to east across the state to raise awareness and money for the fight against Rett Syndrome. Babiarz’s 4-year-old daughter Cammy suffers from the rare developmental disorder. Bill finished his Friday run at the Elburn Fire Station. Photo by Lynn Logan

Wheaton man stops in Elburn during cross-state run
ELBURN—When Bill Babiarz ran into downtown Elburn on March 14—his third stop on his 150-mile Run Across Illinois to raise funds for Rett Syndrome—his focus wasn’t on the blood blisters covering his toes or even the toenails he’d lost along the way.

The Wheaton, Ill., father was focused on his 5-year-old daughter, Cameron, who has Rett Syndrome and cannot walk, speak or control her hand movements.

Cammy was diagnosed with the rare neurodevelopmental disorder, which affects one of every 10,000 girls, three years ago. She was developing normally until she was 18 months old, when she began regressing and lost her language and motor skills, but Rett Syndrome hasn’t affected her mind. She now uses eye-tracking devices and buttons to communicate with her family and teachers.

Her father hopes that raising funds for research and increasing awareness of the disorder will help find a cure in Cammy’s lifetime. He sported a shirt—worn underneath a jacket on the chilly day—with the run’s motto: “I run so Cammy can.”

Bill began his run in Fulton, Ill., near the Mississippi River, and spent five days running east to finish at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago, near Lake Michigan. He ran to Sterling, Ill., on the first day and then Rochelle, Ill., on the second—running 68 miles—before setting out from Rochelle to Elburn on day three, a 32-mile journey, running down Keslinger Road for much of the way.

Several runners and bicyclists accompanied him for parts of his trip, including two friends who followed his entire 150-mile journey, Eric and Pamela Santa. Eric rode his bike alongside Bill, and Pamela drove the route, providing food and drinks to the runners and blocking traffic. Local and county police departments also provided a safety escort, including the Elburn Police Department.

Cammy joined him at several spots along the five-day journey, including the last half-mile of his trip to the day-three finish line at the Elburn Fire Station.

“I think she’s pretty excited,” Bill said. “I saw her once along the route today, and she was smiling and happy. My wife Jackie and Cammy met me at mile 22 today, just alongside the side of the road and said, ‘Hi,’ which gave me a little boost, and with about a half mile left, a friend of mine brought Cammy in a jogging stroller and we jogged the last half mile with her.”

Among the people waiting at the Elburn Fire Station for Bill and Cammy’s arrival was Jenny O’Brien, the owner of Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox. O’Brien had never met either before, but when she heard Cammy’s story, she wanted to do something to help—so she collected 15 pairs of legwarmers from her dance students to give to Cammy, who wears them to keep her legs warm while outside in her wheelchair or in her jogging stroller, and offered to host an adapted dance class for Cammy and her younger sister, Ryan.

“I waited there until (Bill) crossed the finish line, and it was so inspiring to see all that they are doing for their daughter and to see all the people that this little girl has touched,” O’Brien said. “It was the first time I had met Cammy, and she smiled when we gave her all the legwarmers and a little dance bag.”

Elburn was the first stop along the route where the runners saw other people, Bill said.

“Up until Elburn, we had pretty much only been through one town in the previous 90 miles, so it was nice to see family and friends and people cheering,” he said. “It was exciting and it was definitely a little boost.”

Bill’s run raised more than $60,000 for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, which works to find a cure and to support families, with his Run Across Illinois. Hundreds of people sponsored his run and made donations, and New Balance Chicago provided athletic gear and shoes.

Last year, the Babiarzs raised $43,000 for the IRSF, but much of that money came from people within the Retts community. Bill knew that in order to bring in more money, he had to expand the circle of donors—and the only way to do that was to do something big and generate media attention.

“Our goal as a family is to contribute as much as possible so that a cure for Rett Syndrome can be found in a time frame where Cammy can take advantage of it, and we’re willing to do just about anything, so that’s how this came about,” Bill said.

Though Bill completed his run at Buckingham Fountain on March 16, he can still be sponsored through the IRSF website through Saturday, March 22. Donations go toward research for a cure and supporting families with Rett Syndrome. To become a sponsor, visit


Memories of Elburn past

Long-term Elburnites share memories of village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin said the population at that time was 500.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It was home,” she said.

PART TWO: Elburn grows up

PART THREE: Elburn poised for steady growth


Lions come from near and far for Halsey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire chiefs update Elburn on new station

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residents will see rate increases for water, sewer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCare Night at Elburn McDonald’s

ELBURN—The Blackberry Creek PTO will host a McCare night on Thursday, March 20, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Elburn McDonald’s location.

McDonald’s will donate 10 percent of all receipts to the Blackberry Creek PTO. All you have to do is place your receipt in the collection box near the checkout counter. If you use the drive-thru, you may ask them to place your receipt in the collection container.


Resale shop supports Beautiful U Ministries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kaneland John Stewart Clothing, Toy Sale

ELBURN—The Kaneland John Stewart Spring and Summer Clothing and Toy Sale will take place Friday, March 21, 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, March 22, 8 a.m. to noon, in the gym at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School, 817 Prairie Valley St., Elburn.

The crafters and vendors will sell everything from Silpada Jewelry and Tupperware to hand-crafted accessories like hair clips, scarves and baby girl clothing. The clothing and toy sale will feature clothing from infant to junior sizes, along with jackets, shoes, scouting uniforms, toys, room decor, bikes and outdoor equipment.

Yellow and green tags indicate half-price from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Items for sale include infant wear and accessories, boys clothing (through size 20), girls clothing (through junior size), maternity wear, jackets and coats, shoes and sandals, scouting uniforms, sports equipment, dance and gymnastics leotards, toys, games, puzzles, DVDs and CDs, books and room decorations, bikes and outdoor equipment, and more.

For more information, contact or login to Konnect for registration forms.

Metra commuters will soon pay more to park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now is the time,” he said.

Elburn to apply for county riverboat funds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dornback appointed Blackberry Township Supervisor

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

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

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

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

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

Elburn Lions March Calendar Raffle winners

ELBURN—The following won $50 in the Elburn Lions Park Calendar Raffle for March: Rob & Tom, Living Well Health Center and KD & Lari Lamb, all of Elburn; Ed Dunteman of Sugar Grove; Steve Bowgren and Joe Kryszak of Maple Park; Craig Braffet and Jennifer Cornell of Hinckley; Nora J. Fisher and Bruce Voight of Batavia; Lucy Gonzales and Howard Jones of Aurora; Bob Geiken of Geneva; Brenda Millen of North Aurora; Manny Bermudez of Yorkville; Carrie Olson of DeKalb; John Healy of Mount Prospect, Ill.; Brian O’Connor of Crystal Lake, Ill.; Carol Zaehler of Streamwood, Ill.; Vince Allegra of Hinsdale, Ill.; Walt Knake of Western Springs, Ill.; Ken Lanier of Elmhurst, Ill.; Gary Deihs and Floyd Brown of Elgin, Ill.; Jennifer Krug McNaughton of Lemont, Ill; and Matthew Van Lannen of Andersonville, Tenn.

The $50 winners were Eugene & Floyd, Truck & Tar and Rob & Tom, all of Elburn; and Scott Pirkins of Lemont.

The $100 winner was Frank & Fran Modelski of Darien, Ill.


Photos: A little Knightlife

Last week’s Friday Knightlife was held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center. Kaneland-area students gathered for rounds of dodgeball, pizza, board games, air and floor hockey and more. Renee Dee of Sugar Grove poses with daughter, Natalie, 9.

Charlie Dee of Sugar Grove enjoys Paisano’s Pizza.

Finn Gannon, 8, of Virgil plays dodgeball.

Ryan VanDerHeyDen of Sugar Grove and Griffin Bergmann of Maple Park share a snack and goof around.

Waubonsee dean elected to Elburn Lions Club Board

SUGAR GROVE—Dr. Scott Peska, dean for students at Waubonsee Community College, has been elected to serve on the board of directors for the Elburn Lions Club.

Peska, of Sycamore, has participated as a member of the Elburn Lions Club for about a year, helping to give Waubonsee an enhanced presence within the local club, the largest Lions Club in Illinois.

Peska said he was elected to the board to fill out the remaining six months of the unexpired term of another member of the board, who resigned. Peska will then stand for reelection in July.

As a member of the board, Peska will help oversee the club’s finances and its events, which annually include community festivals, charitable fundraisers, and community service projects in the Elburn area.

Elburn police expenses outweigh revenues

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

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

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

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

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


Tri again

Clinton named to All-American list by USA Triathlon, preparing for Florida race
ELBURN—With the mood-crushing winter season still upon us, the urge to get outside and participate in athletic activities can weigh heavily.

Lady Knight sophomore Victoria Clinton can do something about it right now, and looks to push herself more than most.

Clinton, named last week to the Junior Elite All-American list for USA Triathlon in the 16-19 age group category as an Honorable Mention, looks to participate with her fellow MMTT members at the PATCO North American Junior Championship on Saturday, March 8.

The honor is a big deal, considering its Clinton’s first year in the category.

“You have to keep in mind that prior to her injuries, she was near No. 1 in those rankings, and near the top of the overall standings,” coach Steve Brandes said. “She’s extremely consistent; her biggest attribute is consistency.”

The Sarasota, Fla.-based event provides a chance for Clinton, the 2012 Class AA State cross country individual champ, to swim, bike and run with five other team members from the western suburbs against a field that includes athletes from Mexico and Canada.

Clinton, who owns the fifth-best Class AA State-winning time in cross country at 16:56, can use her cross country experience to perform at a high level this weekend.

“Cross country is pure racing, there are no splits,” Brandes said. “Victoria is very good at rising to that top level. She’s a state champ, and cross country makes her tough. It’s about racing hard, and she’s very strong.”

Clinton has also managed to qualify for the Pan American Cup in early June in Monterrey, Mexico, as one of eight American females vying for the lone Youth Olympics Games spot taking place in China this summer.

Clinton’s last competition under the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Triathlon banner came in June 2013 at the Pan American Championships in Vila Velha, Brazil. Clinton finished eighth in the junior women category with a clip of 1:07:24.

Brandes, in his first year of working with Clinton, feels there will be no off-base expectations.

“That’s what you sign up for with these international events. It’s her biggest test against tough competition,” Brandes said.

Clinton’s team can be found at, and the PATCO North American Junior Championship information is at