Category Archives: Elections

Library Board candidates in separate races

2 of 3 seats are contested
by Susan O’Neill
There are three open positions on the Library Board. One candidate, Art Morrical, is running unopposed for the six-year term; three candidates are running for the two-year term; and two candidates are running for the four-year term.

The budget that the winners of these races will inherit will depend on whether or not the library referendum, also on this ballot, passes. Many of the candidates agree that they would like to bring back at least some of the programming the library cut at the beginning of 2007 after the fall 2006 referendum failed.

However, how much the board will be able to accomplish when the library moves into the new building this year will be affected by the referendum’s passing or failure.

Two Sugar Grove individuals are running for the full four-year term on the Sugar Grove Public Library Board: Sabrina Malano, appointed to fill an open seat in May 2008, and challenger Joan Roth.

Sabrina Malano

Malano said she is running for the position because she wanted more local input on decisions on how the funds for the new library are spent. Having served on the board during the past year, she said she has helped make responsible decisions on how to spend the building fund money. She said the project is currently under budget.

She said her financial background will be an asset to the board, as well as her marketing expertise. She said she could do the marketing for the library rather than pay someone external to do it.

Malano said the residents want more library hours available to them. However, she said that decision and the ability to add programs will depend on the results of the referendum. She hopes the residents come to realize that, especially within the current economy, they are getting a good deal with the services of the library.

“There is no bigger bang for your buck than a library,” she said.

She said the library has done a terrific job with the budget it has and she wants to continue to offer what it can. The children’s programs will continue, no matter what happens.

Her goals would include a continued responsible handling of the money approved in 2004. Many of the other decisions will depend on the referendum, Malano said. She would like to make the library a focal point of the community and have it work more closely with the school.

Joan Roth
Roth is running because she wants to see library programs reinstated. She would like to get the community more involved with the library, and make the public more aware of what it has to offer. She would also like to see more volunteer-run programs, which she feels will be more feasible with the additional space in the new library building.

She said her background as a classroom teacher and a department chair for social studies has given her leadership and management experience. She said she is a good listener and a frugal person who wants people to get as much value for their money as they can.

With the building referendum passed but not the referendum providing an increase in operating funds, the challenge for the board will be to find additional funds through grants, volunteer-led programs and other means of supplementing the budget. Her goals would include educating people on why libraries are still essential, even with the availability of the Internet.

“You can’t believe everything you read online,” she said.

She wants to let people know there is more to a library than just reading a book; they can obtain music, videos and more. She thinks the café will be a drawing card for the library and hopes that people will realize what a value the library is for the community, especially during these economic times.

“If I had to go out and buy books, I couldn’t afford to read,” she said.

Three candidates are competing for the two-year term position on the board. Library Friends Tina Cella and Bill Wulff are running against Julie Wilson, who was appointed to fill an empty spot on the board in July 2008.

Christina (Tina) Cella
Cella said she is running because the Library Board needs someone who understands the responsibilities of a board. She said the current board has missed an opportunity by not participating in helping to pass the referendum. Cella has put in many hours helping with communications for previous referendum attempts, she said.

As a consultant, she has worked with nonprofit boards to help them build strong boards and coach them on how to run board meetings, obtain participation and develop strategic plans.

Cella said the Library District’s top issues are funding, people’s perception of the library and what it is capable of doing for the community. She said she feels the board was misdirected in its tactic of cutting programs and that the measure devalued the library in the eyes of the community.

Cella said she hopes helping to pass the referendum will be something she does not have to address, but it might be. Her other goals are to help obtain recognition for the library within the community for the positive force it could and should be in Sugar Grove.

She wants a more formalized relationship with the schools, in which they can share faculty, staff, books and resources. She would like the library to help students with after-school projects, work with teachers and provide more programs for adults and seniors.

“I am very determined,” she said. “When I set my mind on something, I usually get it done.”

Julie Wilson
Wilson said she is running not because she is a politician, but an interested community advocate. The library was an important part of her childhood, and she said it is as important as any other educational program. She said every community should be so lucky to have one.

Wilson said her past experience and jobs have given her the opportunity to work with people of all ages. As a church secretary and through her involvement with the Sunday school program, she worked with both young and more mature people. Through the Kaneland schools, she helped out with the science program, working with teachers and students.

Wilson said the library’s top issues include the lack of hours of operation and programs since the referendum failed. She said she would like to be a voice for the young as well as to help bring back programs for seniors. She said the library staff should be encouraged to continue their education to help move the library forward in all areas, including technology.

Her top goals are to bring back and establish additional programs, encourage more community involvement with something for all ages, and to support the staff and the director. She said even with the cuts in hours, the staff continues to offer residents all the opportunities they can with limited hours and funding.

“With our economy, it’s a great place to go,” she said.

She said she feels the library is a real asset to a community, providing education when school is not in session and helping to bring growth to the community.

Bill Wulff
Wulff said he is running because the open spot provides an opportunity for him to contribute and have an impact. He said he wants to continue and build on what the present board members have accomplished.

Wulff said the experience and background he would bring to the board has nothing to do with a “library title.”

“Who really has library experience?” he said.

He said he is mature and qualified and wants to help build for the future.

He said he would have to listen to the people in the district to see what they want before setting specific goals, although he said the library should bring back some adult programs.

His goal would be to make sure the board accounts to the citizens for everything they give the district, to return to them more than it receives.

Library—four-year term
Sabrina Malano

• Birthplace: Chicago
• 1.5 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: Administrative role with the
Mid-America Financial Group; previously
was a financial representative
• Education: B.A. Marketing
• Family: Married; eight-month-old son
• Community involvement: Chair, sponsorship
committee, Sugar Grove Chamber of
Commerce and Industry; Communications
Committee member, Windsor Pointe HOA;
Chair, opening ceremony, Sugar Grove Corn
Boil 2008, 2009; appointed to fill Library
Board opening May 2008

Joan Roth
• Birthplace: Aurora
• 7 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: Retired 8th grade U.S. History
teacher, Aurora West High School
• Family: “I’m the last of my family; my
great-grandfather lived here.”
• Community involvement: Aurora Friends
Library Board; Sugar Grove and Elburn
Library foundations

Library—two-year term
Christina (Tina) Cella

• Birthplace: Bryn Mawr, Penn.
• 5 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: Retired marketing and strategic
planning consultant for small businesses and
• Education: B.S. in secondary education,
English concentration, MBA, technical and
e-communication concentration
• Family: Married, three adult children,
one grandchild
• Community involvement: Marketing chair,
Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and
Industry; Vice President, Sugar Grove
Library Friends; Farmer’s Market volunteer;
Chair, communications committee, Windsor
Pointe HOA

Julie Wilson

• Birthplace: Peoria, Ill.
• 18 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: Kaneland school bus driver,
former church secretary
• Education: Associate degree, medical
office assistant
• Family: Married, two daughters, one
• Community involvement: Advocate for
Farmer’s Market, Kaneland John Shields
Parent Teacher Organization member, VP,
Girl Scout leader,
• Appointed to fill open spot on Library Board
July 2008

William Wulff

• Birthplace: Aurora
• 16 years in Sugar Grove/Prestbury
• Occupation: retired credit manager for
Industrial Credit; former owner, Aurora
Greenhouse Company
• Education: B.A. business and economics
• Single
• 4-year Vietnam veteran, U.S. Navy,
• Community involvement: Heather Ridge HOA
member, 14 of 16 years in roles of president,
vice president and secretary, Sugar Grove
Library Friend

Views on the township, by five candidates

by Lynn Meredith
With Virgil Township calling for a referendum to help repair and maintain its 30 miles of roads, it’s not surprising that the main issue on the minds of candidates for Township Board is how to get funding. Of the five candidates vying for four seats, four are incumbents.

James Diehl
With 16 years on the Township Board, and 12 years as supervisor before that, James Diehl makes keeping up with the changes that occur in local government a priority. By attending classes, conferences and special meetings, Diehl knows one thing for sure: There’s more paperwork than ever.

“I keep up on all the changes, so I know exactly what’s supposed to be done to keep things legal,” Diehl said. “The paperwork has increased immensely.”

Diehl would like to see the township buy some land and build a new facility for meetings, offices and equipment. When he was supervisor, he had been setting aside money for a township hall.

“So many things are make-shift. Some of the equipment is stored outside. We’re renting meeting space from Maple Park,” he said. “We’d like to have it all in one place.”

He envisions offices for the clerk and assessor and a meeting room for the board, along with indoor space to store the road equipment.

Getting increased revenue for the roads is another priority for Diehl. He said water drainage problems have come about in the last two or three years and need to be dealt with. He plans to attend Kane County Water Resource meetings as often as possible and find out about available resources.

“There’s not much the township can do. This way when people come to the township about their water problems, we will know where to send them,” Diehl said.

Diehl commends Highway Commissioner Larry Peterson for his work maintaining the roads with limited funds. He fears that if the road referendum does not pass, the only recourse will be to tear up hard surface roads and return them to gravel. He wants the board to keep trying until the referendum passes.

“I hope the referendum will go through. If (the board) quits trying to get it passed, then (the public) thinks (the board) is getting tired, so therefore it doesn’t need the money,” Diehl said.

Peter Fabrizius
With 16 years bringing his business experience and community involvement to serving on the Township Board, Pete Fabrizius has a vision of what the township needs now and what it will need in the future.

“I would like to see us get out of maintenance mode and start moving forward,” Fabrizius said.

But first he would like to stabilize the roads.

“We are in dire straits. We need to pass this road referendum,” he said.

Fabrizius said that the people who live on those roads want the referendum to pass, but a bigger proportion of the voters live in the villages of Virgil and Maple Park, some of whom feel it doesn’t affect them.

Another concern for Fabrizius is fiscal responsibility to the people of the community.

“I want to make sure we get the best bang for the buck and that we’re spending the taxpayers’ money wisely,” Fabrizius said.

In the future, Fabrizius would like to see equipment and buildings updated and work done on the roads and bridges.

“We have aging equipment and aging buildings. I’d like us to keep them up-to-date,” he said.

He also envisions a township building not only to store equipment, but to serve as a center for the community.

“In the big picture, I’d like to see us put up a township building. In the long-term vision we could offer a park and a community center,” Fabrizius said.

Theodore Janecek
A lifetime community member, Ted Janecek is looking forward to getting involved in local government and bringing a fresh outlook, he said. He has been self-employed in the construction business for the last 15 years, building and remodeling houses. He thinks it’s time for the younger members of the community to step up.

“I’m 35 years old and I’ve lived 31 of those years in the township,” Janecek said. “I’d like to get the younger people involved in the government.”

The roads are the biggest issue for Janecek. He recognizes the difficulty of maintaining them without enough money.

“The township is so large. It has lots of miles of roads. I’d like to see improvement on the roads, but it’s a hard time with limited funds to work with,” Janecek said.

He said that with the majority of the voting public living in Virgil and Maple Park, rural residents are at a disadvantage.

“The people who live in the country are hung out to dry,” he said.

With water drainage issues also at hand, Janecek is in favor of passing the road referendum.

He hopes that by getting involved now, he is paving the way for a time when current board members retire or go off the board.

“I want to help the future of the community. I want to bring in younger people on the board. When the older people retire, who are we going to get in there? They need to be in for a period of time; otherwise you’re throwing fresh people in without experience,” Janecek said.

Mary Kahl
For 20 years, Mary Kahl has been using her skills of prioritizing and scheduling to do the best with what the township has to offer. She wants to continue to work on the projects that the board has been tackling during the last four years.

“We’ve been trying to get a building up to put plows and equipment and offices into. The garage we have is right in the middle of Maple Park, and we’re using the Civic Center for offices,” Kahl said.

Kahl also supports the road referendum, even in a tight economy.

“We have to get the roads in order,” she said. “I hope the referendum will pass, but the way the economy is, I’m not counting on it. People can’t pay their mortgages.”

She added that where she lives in Maple Park, the people who do not use the country roads do not think the referendum affects them. Not many attend the town meetings on the subject of roads, she said.

During the last term, Kahl said they were able to obtain catastrophic insurance for general assistance, a program required by the state for people who have no home and no income. Each request for assistance must be proved and is only a last resort when all other services are exhausted. The township needed to protect itself if an extreme case arose, she said.

“In case someone got really sick, and we were found to be responsible, it could bankrupt us,” Kahl said. “We have some money but with medical costs the way they are, it would be too much.”

Kahl said they obtained the catastrophic insurance after watching developments in other places.

David Stewart
As a current trustee, David Stewart is seeking re-election to the Virgil Township Board. He has 26 years experience as a building contractor and six years experience in municipal construction with a local engineering firm. He considers it a privilege to continue to serve the community as it faces the challenges in its future.

“I will continue to seek effective and responsible solutions to the numerous township issues,” Stewart said.

Stewart said that because the township uses its funds efficiently, it is able to respond to the needs of the community.

“We maintain a level of service and response which truly symbolizes the spirit of the most representative form of local government,” Stewart said.

The issue of biggest concern to Stewart is the roads. He said that even without money to maintain the roads, the township provides adequate service.

“The township continues to operate with limited funds for the Road District, while maintaining service and efficiency throughout the township,” Stewart said.

He said the board has been instrumental in addressing drainage issues with Kane County officials and township residents. In addition, it administers General Assistance funds and services to senior citizens that provide valuable services to the community, he said.

“(I want to) thank (the community) for the opportunity to address these township issues,” Stewart said.

Kaneville Township Highway Commissioner

by Susan O’Neill
Long has been the Kaneville Township Road Commissioner for 28 years, and said he is proud of the roads in Kaneville. Challenger Koehring said he is running because he thinks things have been neglected and that there has been a lack of regular maintenance. He said he has a plan for how to start and what to fix.

The responsibilities of the highway commissioner include maintaining the roads and ditches, mowing and maintaining roadsides and culverts, making sure roads are salted and plowed in the winter, and keeping the equipment maintained.

Long said he tries to keep the roads blacktopped and in good shape. Within his budget, he said he is able to pave one mile a year. He said he has gradually been widening the roads from 18 feet to 22 feet. Kaneville also has four miles of gravel road, and Long said he keeps them well-graded.

He said he does everything himself except pave the roads. He said Kane County puts out the bids and Aurora Blacktop has been doing the work.

He said that even though it is a part-time job, he is on call 24 hours a day, if trees go down across the road or other emergencies happen. The job pays $25,000 a year.

He said he has years of experience with the job, has good communication with the Kane County Highway Department and knows most of the people in town.

Koehring said the biggest problem in the township is the standing water caused by years of silt in the ditches. He said that 90 percent of the culverts are clogged up with brush and trees growing in the main drains. He said to fix the situation would not cost that much. He said he would clean out all the ditches to get the water moving again.

He said the snow plow tears up the easements in front of people’s property and he would reseed those areas. He said his mechanical skills would allow him to maintain the equipment himself.

Dennis Long
Occupation: farmer
28 years as highway

Gary Koehring
Occupation: construction and
concrete business; black-top
for five years
New candidate

Fire district candidates want to give back to community

by Martha Quetsch
Two Elburn residents are running for one seat on the three-member Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District Board. They are incumbent Tom Reynolds, a retired Amoco Oil manager, and Richard Herra, Jr., a former Elburn firefighter.

Tom Reynolds
Reynolds has been a Fire District trustee for one six-year term.

He ran for trustee in 2003 to contribute to the community in which he has lived since 1971 and is seeking re-election for the same reason.

“Elburn has been good to me, I wanted to give something back,” Reynolds said. “I like the Fire Department, and being on the board. It’s been a real challenge.”

Since he became a Fire District trustee, the number of full-time firefighters in Elburn has doubled, and the department added an ambulance and staff to the station on Hughes Road. The district also started a pension plan and began updating its manuals, Reynolds said. The district obtained a government grant to help pay for additional firefighters.

Reynolds would like to help the district meet the needs of the future. He wants the Fire District to add another station on the near south side of town. The reason is that now, if there were a fire just south of the tracks and a train held up the firefighters, it would take too long for the Hughes Road station firefighters to get to the scene, he said.

Also Reynolds wants to increase the number of “dry hydrants” on the village’s outskirts, which connect to bodies of water to help put out fires.

Among its achievements during the past six years, the Fire District increased salaries to keep firefighters who otherwise would leave the department after gaining a year or so of experience, he said.

Reynolds enjoys community service. He is a member of the Delnor Foundation, which raises money for the hospital; he belongs to PRIDE (Proud Retired Individuals Dedicated to Education); and he has sold raffle tickets for the Fire Department for many years. In addition, Reynolds volunteers for the American Dream program, which takes groups of children with cancer to Disney World every two years. He has made nearly 20 trips.

Reynolds previously served for about a year as a fire commissioner, making personnel-related recommendations to the trustees.

He worked for Amoco Oil for more than 30 years, with his last position being general manager of the asphalt division. He also was involved in the startup of some local businesses, including the Kaneland Bank, which later became American Bank and Trust.

The skills he brings to the board from his background include managing people and budgets, Reynolds said.

He helped the Fire District get a referendum passed a few years ago to get the tax rate up, but this year the department did not request the full levy amount.

“We figure people were hurting and we have a surplus in the bank. We don’t spend money that we don’t have,” Reynolds said.

If the declining economy causes budget constraints within the Fire District, he would want to cut back on some overtime or purchases, but not staff.

Richard Herra, Jr.
Herra was among the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District’s first group of fire cadets, and remained with the department until 2004.

He also worked as a training officer with the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District for 18 months, and worked for the past 16 years as a member of the Naperville Fire Department.

An honorary member of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Department, he is seeking the Fire District trustee position to help the village in which he has lived his entire life.

“I take a lot of pride in the community and want to become more involved,” he said.

He wants to follow in the tradition of his family, which has a long history of service to the Fire Department in Elburn; his father, uncles and cousins have been firefighters in the village.

If elected, Herra will strive to make sure the Fire Department can keep its staff during difficult economic times.

“A lot of firefighters in other districts are being laid off. I want Elburn to be able to keep all of its employees to ensure the protection of the citizens of Elburn,” Herra said.

Having a well-staffed Fire Department also is important for firefighter safety, he said.

“If you look at line-of-duty deaths in other fire departments, one of the reasons is that they did not have enough staff at the scene,” Herra said.

Herra wants to help the Fire Department be ready for future growth in the village.

“Growth has hit the breaks now, but it will pick back up, and I want us to be in a position to deal with it,” Herra said.

Herra said with his experience, he will provide a firefighter’s perspective to the board when it makes decisions such as where to locate an additional fire station. In addition, he can offer insight on equipment purchases.

“I am familiar with it and what it is capable of doing,” Herra said.

Editor’s note: The above story has been altered to correct errors published in the April 2 print edition. The information for candidate Richard Herra, Jr. has been changed to correct his employment history. The Elburn Herald regrets the error.

Wilcox clarifies election story

Bonnie Wilcox, candidate for Blackberry Township assessor, said that most property assessments will go down locally starting next year.

“I can’t guarantee, but I expect most assessments will come down,” she said.

An article in the March 26 Elburn Herald stated that based on the median home value for the previous three years, Wilcox said some assessments would go up.

view original story >>

Neighbors race for village president

Dueringer, Curtis will face off on April 7
by Lynn Meredith
Both candidates running for Maple Park village president have experience on the board. Both were elected to their current positions in 2005—Kathleen Curtis to the Village Board and Ross Dueringer as Village President. Now, instead of their usual roles as colleagues in the Village Board room, the two are facing off as political opponents.

Kathleen Curtis
Since Kathleen Curtis was elected to the Maple Park Village Board in 2005, she has served on every one of the board’s committees. She attributes her financial, account management and supervisory skills to her success, in particular as Finance Committee chairman.

“I want to use my skills to help the community because I care about it,” Curtis said.

The biggest issue that Curtis sees facing the village is the aging infrastructure. She said the village needs to find funding to fix and maintain streets and stormwater sewers and to build stopped revenue streams.

“We have to do whatever we can do. We have to sit down at the table and apply for every single thing that Maple Park is eligible for,” Curtis said.

Another issue that Curtis said is important is to form a committee to review the resumes and make recommendations for a police chief. She said that the lack of leadership on the Police Committee has delayed the hiring process.

“It would have been easier if we had gone into the interview process right away and not delayed,” Curtis said. “A police chief would provide leadership and goals.”

She supports the police referendum because with a minimal budget, the Police Department has had difficulty finding part-time officers and scheduling them. She advocates putting the question to the public and letting them decide.

“The board couldn’t stop arguing about money, and other departments keep suffering. Let’s put it out to the public,” Curtis said. “If it doesn’t pass, then live within the budget. It’s not that the department wants too much. We just want to know what are the priorities and how will we spend the money.”

Curtis takes credit for organizing the department budgets and introducing monthly reporting. By her keeping track of revenue streams and expenditures, the village now has a clean audit, something Curtis said it never had before.

“You get a clean audit when you know where your money is,” she said.

If elected village president, Curtis looks forward to an open communication style and working as a team with the other board members. She envisions each trustee taking up a different issue and taking ownership for it.

Curtis said that running against current President Ross Dueringer gives voters options.

“I’m willing to give this a try. Ross and I both care about the community. At the end of the day, Ross and I still are going to be neighbors. We may have different styles, but it gives the residents options. And that’s good,” Curtis said.

Ross Dueringer
When Ross Dueringer was elected village president in 2005, he took on the responsibilities that went with the job. He’s proud of what he has accomplished, knowing that he did the best he could do. He likens the role of village president to being CEO of a corporation.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, just like a small corporation. We spend a couple of million dollars every year,” Dueringer said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done. I do my best. It’s the only thing I can do.”

Dueringer cites a list of 20 specific accomplishments that he has been a part of during his term. At the top of the list are the annexation agreements that resulted in the village getting developer fees and the promise of a school for Maple Park in the future.

“I was instrumental in the annexation of land for school property with the promise from the (Kaneland) School Board that if we get enough kids, we’ll have a school here,” Dueringer said.

He said the board, under his leadership, annexed two subdivisions with 1,500 new houses, three farm properties and a retail development at Route 38 and County Line Road.

“We got developer fees that would go to the School District, the village, the fire department, the library and police. It was millions of dollars,” he said.

Also during these years, the village replaced two miles of sidewalks that were dangerous and broken, replaced the old water main, surfaced streets, hired two public works employees and a new village attorney, purchased a new squad car and truck, and got a newsletter going.

“It takes a team,” Dueringer said. “Some of it was mine. I might have gotten myself in trouble a little bit with the school, but they did annex in, and they made the commitment of a school.”

The biggest issue for Maple Park and why Dueringer wants to run again is the flooding that has plagued residents. He wants to find ways to settle the issue and drain the water away from the village.

“I hate to see people’s property damaged,” he said.

He also said the police referendum is needed, and he hopes it passes.

“When the board wasn’t able to give the police any more money, I pushed (the referendum) along. We take in $16,000 a year, but we’d like to have more,” Dueringer said. “(The officers) are not overpaid. They get $16 an hour to take a bullet.”

Dueringer also supports hiring a police chief, something that he said has been put on the back burner since the former chief’s contract was not renewed. He sees the necessity of the on-call policy even though it has problems.

“I’m not happy with it. There are not a lot of funds to do the on-call. But we’re doing the best we can,” Dueringer said.

As he looks forward, Dueringer said he hopes eventually to make progress silencing the train whistles, but until Union Pacific puts in new circuitry, nothing more can be done for now, he said.

Dueringer said that he takes the responsibility of representing the residents seriously.

“I have been honest and fair and tried to conduct myself with the idea that the village comes first and foremost. Personal gain is not my forte,” Dueringer said. “An important part of our freedom is to vote for who spends your money and represents you. I’ve done my best and that’s the only thing I can do.”

Introducing Maple Park’s trustees

by Lynn Meredith
The Maple Park Village Board welcomes two new trustees in the uncontested race for three seats, and welcomes back an incumbent. Each brings experience and a desire to serve the community as it faces challenges in the next term.

Deborah Armstrong
As national director of Human Resources operations for RR Donnelly, Deborah Armstrong, who moved to Maple Park in 2005 from West Chicago, is well acquainted with budgeting and completing projects during tough economic times.

“I have experience with budgets, projects, multi-tasking and being a change agent, especially with the economy and having to deal with plant closures. We’re doing more with less,” Armstrong said.

She said that her experience with policies and procedures will be helpful as she assists with bringing the village’s documentation up to speed. She also wants to work on communication between the board and the community by making the newsletter and website as timely as they can be.

Armstrong said flooding problems need to be resolved in order to keep residents in Maple Park and attract others to come. She wants to explore alternative ways for the village to generate money, perhaps by looking into wind farms and turbine power. Having grown up in Nebraska, she has seen a town the size of Maple Park put up wind turbines and partner with energy companies to sell electricity back to residents.

Armstrong is eager to be on the board and serve the people of Maple Park.

“I hope I can make a difference. I am interested in what the residents have to say. We can’t all get what we want—there are financial concerns—but at least people will understand the answer they get,” Armstrong said.

Terry Borg
Incumbent Terry Borg has served as village trustee for eight years. He has been part of dealing with the rapid development that the village saw in those years and the boundary lines that needed to be drawn with Cortland.

“We did all right for the residents by annexing and getting fees to protect the citizens from costs,” Borg said. “Now that we see slowed growth, we can give considered thought to how we want to grow.”

Borg said the village is continuing to search for ways to fund and organize the Police Department. He said that internal politics has slowed efforts to hire a police chief. Although he voted to put the referendum question on the ballot, he himself will not support it.

“Until this board gets our act together, until we exhaust all avenues of aid from the county, we can’t expect anybody to vote for increases in taxes,” Borg said.

Borg said that the board is in a better position than it was, and shows more professionalism. He looks forward to working together on planning for the future and standardizing policies and procedures.

“My hope is that we as a board would like to be with each other, that we would have open meetings and workshops, and that we have planning time,” Borg said.

Suzanne Fahnestock
With her first priority to preserve the quality of life she has experienced since moving to Maple Park in 2003, Suzanne Fahnestock sees the village as being at a turning point. She hopes to use her experience as a grant coordinator for the Kane County Sheriff’s department to benefit the village.

“My experience with finances, government, politics, intergovernmental relations, education and grant writing (will) help our community address (the) challenges,” Fahnestock said.

Fahnestock said the village needs to focus on strategic planning. By understanding what has and has not worked in the past, the board can get a realistic assessment of its strengths and weaknesses and use that to develop a plan of action.

With public safety, infrastructure and road issues facing the village, Fahnestock would bring her knowledge of federal and state funding to take advantage of these opportunities.

Fahnestock does not support the police referendum, stating that an increase of $16,000 does little to address the problem of public safety.

“I don’t think this is the last we will hear of the problem. I see this as a planning initiative and a serious consideration for the near future, even with additional funding,” Fahnestock said.

Candidates weigh in on Virgil’s future

by Lynn Meredith
The village of Virgil has three vacancies on its board of trustees, with four candidates running—two incumbents and two new contenders. Since 2005, when B&B Developers proposed a large development in the Virgil area, the village has been looking at how it wants to grow. It is also looking to find funding resources for roads and septic and means to update downtown.

Penny Dyer
Dyer did not respond to requests for an interview.

David Kosarek
When David Kosarek moved to Virgil 12 years ago, it was a small rural town. He would like to see it stay that way. He has since become involved in the Planning Commission for the last two years and served as chairman.

“I want to keep Virgil the way it is, rural with small growth,” Kosarek said.

Kosarek is all for fixing up the downtown, but not adding the 4,000 to 5,000 houses that B&B proposed. He’d like to seek funds to build a village hall and to fix up old buildings.

The biggest issue for Kosarek is water drainage. He wants the village to go after grant money that might become available with the federal stimulus package.

“If we fix one person’s problem, we have to fix everybody’s. Let’s work on fixing the drainage,” Kosarek said. “We’ve still got run-off problems. There’s nowhere for the water to go.”

As a field service technician and someone with hands-on experience, he said he could bring more practical understanding to the existing board.

Colette Petit
The year Virgil became a village, 1992, Colette Petit began serving in local government. She began on the Zoning Board of Appeals and then was elected a village trustee for the last eight years.

The biggest challenge she sees for Virgil is the lack of resources.

“We don’t have a lot of money. We are stretching the dollar as far as it can go,” Petit said.

During this past term, she has been working to find grant money to resurface the roads.

“It’s a cloud of dust out here,” she said.

She has also been a part of updating and aligning the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, serving as the chairman of that committee. When the Kane County Forest Preserve purchased the land north of the village, maps had to be re-drawn. The committee is taking the opportunity to edit the plan.

“It’s really just tweaking it. It finishes the ordinances to match what we designed and laid out in the Comprehensive Plan,” Petit said. “We’re getting it to match the vision of a traditional neighborhood and conservation design for future development.”

Petit would like to see more townspeople come to the meetings. She said she is open to everyone’s point of view and that unless people attend meetings, it’s difficult to know what they are thinking.

She will continue to use her background, experience and love of the community to serve as trustee if re-elected.
“I serve because that’s the type of person I am. I am concerned for and committed to my neighbors, and I have a lot to give the community,” Petit said.

Robert Neisendorf
A lifelong resident of the community, Bob Neisendorf ran for trustee and won four years ago when B&B proposed a large development. Even with the Kane County Forest Preserve buying the land, Neisendorf wants to remain active.

“I ran to stop B&B Development. I have no love for large developments. It could still be a possibility,” Neisendorf said.

Since his election to the board, Neisendorf has been working on the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The committee is updating the original document and creating a vision statement of how it wants growth to occur.

“It is a completed plan. I’m not a proponent of it. It called for high-density housing. We’re toning it down,” Neisendorf said.

Neisendorf said that he would like to see the plan keep open spaces and farms.

“I prefer a larger area and more agricultural use rather than a Mill Creek-type development,” he said. “The village should grow at a pace we can sustain and makes sense for a town our size.”

Neisendorf said in order to fix the roads and update downtown, the village should jump on stimulus money. He said I.C. Trail needs re-paving and the bank area upgrading.

Controlling growth remains his biggest concern.

“I grew up in the Virgil area. It’s home to me. The values of rural towns mean a lot to me. My attempt is to maintain it,” Neisendorf said.

Let the people decide

MP police referendum puts question to voters
by Lynn Meredith
All referendum questions have one thing in common: They all ask for money to pay for services. Maple Park’s police referendum is no different. It is seeking additional dollars to help fund police department operations.

The Village Board members agree that the department does not have enough money to operate effectively. They are asking for what amounts to taxes of $16 more per year on a $100,000 house for the first year and small increases through 2012.

Currently, five part-time officers provide 56 hours of patrol coverage each week. Additionally, an officer is on-call for one eight-hour shift every 24 hours. If an emergency arises when no patrol coverage is provided, Maple Park relies on the Kane County Sheriff’s Department to respond to the scene and stabilize the situation until an on-call officer from Maple Park can arrive.

“The police referendum that is on the ballot, if passed, would be a revenue stream that would support the Police Department in general,” Trustee Kathy Curtis said.

With a police budget of $93,000, the department faces the issue of not only paying the costly on-call hours, but also retaining enough officers to staff the force.

“They are not overpaid,” President Ross Dueringer said. “We’re giving them $16 an hour to take a bullet.”
While all the trustees agree that the question should be placed on the ballot, trustee Terry Borg does not support its passage.

“Until this board gets our act together, until we exhaust all avenues of aid from the county, we can’t expect anybody to vote for increases in taxes,” Borg said. “I did vote to place the referendum (on the ballot). I believe citizens should have the opportunity to vote on it.”

He sees problems with the use of on-call to operate the Police Department.

“The on-call policy is a budget-breaker for us,” Borg said.

Dueringer is not happy with the arrangement, but said they are doing the best they can with limited funds. He advocates passing the referendum to help solve the issues.

Borg said that internal politics have gotten in the way of hiring a police chief.

“Why do we not have a police chief? I continue to ask that question. We’ve spent $1,000 or more on ads,” Borg said.

Curtis said that since the board could not stop arguing about money and that there simply is not enough, the best thing is to put the issue to the residents.

Sugar Grove library asks for funds to run new library

by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Public Library District will ask voters to increase funding for the operating expenses of the new building scheduled to open in August 2009. The 27,430-square-foot building, currently under construction, is located on a five-acre site at Municipal Drive and Snow Street.

The voters approved the increase in funds in 2004 to build the library, but have rejected a referendum that would increase funding to pay for the operation of the new building eight times. According to Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes, the bond rate that residents are paying for the building is less than half the projected rate. However, the money from the approved building fund cannot legally be used for library operations.

The library is asking for an operating increase of 20 cents per $100 of assessed equalized value, which translates to an increase of $67 for the homeowner of a $200,000 house. That owner currently pays $188 in annual taxes for the library.

When the operating expenses referendum did not pass in November 2006, library hours were cut from 58 to 47 hours per week. Some of the children’s programs and all adult programs were suspended, due to staffing, scheduling and budget restraints.

Hughes said it was difficult to make the cuts and changes in the library’s hours, and if voters fail to pass the current referendum, additional cuts are likely.

This is because the same funds that are available to operate the current 6,000 square-foot building are what is available to operate the new 27,430-square-foot building. The new building will bring with it an increase in the utilities, insurance, staffing, maintenance and other operational costs.

Hughes said that even if the referendum passes in April, the library will not see the additional level of funding until July 2010.

According to a Kane County tax computation report from April 2008, the Sugar Grove Library’s operating rate is one of the lowest in Kane County. At 9 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value of a home, it is only higher than one library, Maple Park, which has a rate of 5 cents per $100. By contrast, Elburn’s Town and Country Library’s operating rate is 21 cents per $100, and Geneva’s operating rate is 26 cents per $100.

Passing the referendum will mean the library will be able to meet the insurance, maintenance and utility bills for the new facility, the addition of at least 11 hours to the library’s schedule, more staff added for providing services, additional library programs for the community and more books added to the collection.

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Virgil gives road funding another try

by Lynn Meredith
Every election for the past several years, Virgil township has placed a road referendum on the ballot. Every time, the referendum has failed. This year, in the hope of getting the voters to fund the roads, the amount asked for in the referendum has been cut in half.

Virgil has the lowest tax rate in Kane County, with roads that may have to be turned back to gravel because they can’t be fixed and flooding problems that have required some residents to use a boat to get in and out of their driveway, Township trustee James Diehl said.

Highway Commissioner Larry Peterson wondered what it will take to get the referendum passed.

“Twenty to 30 percent of people vote ‘No’ just because it’s a referendum,” Peterson said. “I get so frustrated at the apathy. I’ve given all the evidence I can give.”

The referendum question asks for the limiting rate (under the tax cap) to be increased by the amount equal to .09 percent above the limiting rate for the levy year 2008 and equal to .2705 percent of the equalized assessed value (EAV) of the taxable property for 2009.

In other words, the owner of a house with an EAV of $100,000 will pay $30 per year more in property taxes.

Residents of the villages of Virgil and Maple Park stand to benefit from the extra funding if the question passes, Diehl said. Often, they do not realize what they will get out of the road referendum passing, he added.

“People who live in the villages say they don’t use the township roads. They only use county or state roads. They don’t understand that 50 percent of the amount levied goes back to the village to help defray the costs of maintaining their streets,” Diehl said.

Peterson has made attempts to educate the public on the need for money to maintain the roads. The most recent was a town hall meeting.

“We put up 70 fliers. Not one person from Virgil or Maple Park showed up,” Peterson said. “There were 12 people at the meeting.”

If the township does not have the money to resurface the road or repair potholes, one recourse is to tear up the hard surface and return the road to gravel.

Flooding is another problem the township faces. Freeland Road often floods during heavy rains, and past efforts to pump the water cost the township too much.

“It needs to be tiled. If the water goes over the road, then I have to close the road,” Peterson said. “I have to cheapen up the job I’m doing and take money away from other things.”

Diehl said that while Peterson is doing an excellent job prioritizing what needs to be done, he has been forced to cut back. Mowers don’t go all the way to the fence line, snow is pushed back only as far as needed to clear the road, unless another big snow is coming, and less salt is used on snow-covered roads.

Diehl said he hopes the referendum will pass, but remembers how he felt before he got involved in the township.

“I used to complain about my tax bills until I found out as supervisor (of Virgil township) the small amount of funds we have to work with. The tax bill is so high,” Diehl said. “No one understands that it’s broken down. Not all the money goes to the township. They need to take the time to look at how it’s itemized.”

He does not want people to get the idea that if it does not pass, Virgil Township officials will quit trying. Because roads take money to maintain, they will continue to try to pass the referendum.

Community House Board

by Susan O’Neill
When a Sugar Grove Township Community House Board member decided to retire, the opening encouraged two Sugar Grove residents to get involved.

The three positions on the board are president, secretary and treasurer. The elected board decides how to split the responsibilities.

The Community House is a public facility open to the community for meetings, parties and sports events. It has a gym, kitchen and large gathering areas. The board maintains and makes improvements to the building, oversees its operations, keeps it stocked and schedules its use.

The election involves two long-term board members and two new candidates for the three positions.

Lil Adams, who has served on the board for more than 30 years, said she has the maturity and the sense of responsibility to successfully handle the responsibilities involved. She said it is a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day-job. She said she has a strong feeling for the building and has worked hard to keep it updated. She would like to continue providing her services to the community, keeping the building accessible to everyone in the community.

Stan Schumacher, who has served on the board for approximately 25 years, said that with his background in finance, he is equipped to handle the budgets and has been successful in organizing and running projects to improve and maintain the building.

His other community involvement has included organizing girls’ softball in Sugar Grove. He was coach and board member for the Northern Illinois Thunder, a girls traveling fast pitch team. He is a past commander of the American Legion.

He said the Community House is a fixture in the community, and he takes a lot of pride in its upkeep and use. He wants to make sure it stays well-maintained and presentable. His company, Midwest Ground Cover, designed the landscaping for the building and upgraded everything a few years ago.

Dan Long said he has a lot of energy and would like to help expand the activities and programs offered for children, as well as generate some new activities in the gym, such as an adult volleyball league. He has coached grade school and high school sports and was a successful fundraiser for the girls’ basketball team.

Tim Wilson said that owning a home for 16 years has given him a good understanding of what it takes to maintain a building and hire others for some of the work. He lives directly across the street from the Community House and said his proximity is a plus for keeping a watchful eye on the building.

He said he would like to make the building even more accessible and available than it is currently. He said he considers the building the crown jewel of Sugar Grove and wants to keep it in good shape.

The candidates

Lil Adams

• Currently board treasurer and
community house scheduler
• Adams makes reservations, collects
money from users and pays the bills.
She keeps the building supplied and
works with maintenance people
• 41 years in Sugar Grove
• Served on the board for
more than 30 years
• Retired telephone operator for AT&T

Stan Schumacher
• Current board president
• Schumacher oversees the building
operations and coordinates with
township, manages projects for
capital improvements, creates the
budgets and tax levies
• Served on the board for
approximately 25 years
• VP of Finance for Midwest Ground
Covers, St. Charles

Tim Wilson
• 16 years in Sugar Grove
• Outside plant technician for AT&T,
Sugar Grove area

Dan Long
• 13 years in Sugar Grove
• Material handler for parts distribution
center for International Truck and
Engine, West Chicago

Blackberry Township assessor candidates cite experience

by Martha Quetsch
Facing off April 7 in the Blackberry Township Assessor’s race will be incumbent Uwe Rotter and Bonnie Wilcox, both of Elburn.

Rotter has lived in the village for 12 years and Wilcox has made it her home for 11 years.

Both candidates are certified Illinois assessing officers.

Uwe Rotter
Uwe Rotter has been assessor since 2007, when the Blackberry Township Board appointed him to the position to replace Karen Becker, who retired before finishing her term.

Previously, Rotter worked for the township for five years.

“Over these years, I have established close ties not only with a lot of constituents, but also with key people of the agencies that are funded through property taxes,” Rotter said.

Rotter’ goals, if re-elected as assessor, include monitoring the market and applying assessment changes to reflect declining property values; educating taxpayers on how to lower their tax payments; and improving the visibility of assessment details so that taxpayers can compare theirs to others, locally.

“I hope to eliminate the misconception that many taxpayers have about the property tax system,” Rotter said.
Among those misconceptions, he said, is that lowering assessments will lower property tax bills; he said that is not necessarily true.

Rotter said even when a property’s assessment goes up, its owner could pay less in property taxes than the year before; an individual’s property taxes are dependent upon how much a taxing body levies compared to the total worth of all properties within their community, he said.

Rotter said skills he will bring to the assessor’s job include expertise in electronic data systems. He wants to improve the township’s website to provide property taxpayers what their assessments are composed of, by line item.

He said he wants taxpayers to be aware of, and use, any possible exemptions they might qualify for to help reduce their tax payments.

“Nobody deserves to be over-assessed,” Rotter said.

Toward that goal, Rotter started monthly taxpayer workshops this year at the township building. Topics include the property tax cycle, how assessments are being developed, the Board of Review Process and what the future will bring.

Bonnie Wilcox
Bonnie Wilcox said she will bring extensive experience to the township assessor position, if elected. For more than 15 years, she has been a deputy assessor for Milton Township in DuPage County, which includes Wheaton and Glen Ellyn.

“I am running (for Blackberry Township Assessor) because I think it’s time for me to bring my expertise to this area,” Wilcox said. “I have the willingness and the experience and the knowledge to work with property owners and provide better services.”

In her position at Milton Township, she has measured homes for assessment, worked with homeowners, and gone in front of the DuPage County Board of Review and the Property Tax Appeal Board, she said.

“I get great enjoyment from my work. I like comparing properties to other homes, and the whole mathematics aspect of it,” Wilcox said.

She said her biggest passion is helping seniors review their assessments, to make sure they are being assessed correctly and obtain the exemptions they deserve.

“If I can help anyone, seniors and others, to lower their assessments if I see just cause, I will,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox said that by state statute, assessments must be based on the past three years of property values. So if she takes office in January 2010, at that time the assessments would be based on 2007 through 2009 values, which will bring up some assessments, she said.

Letting the public know about how assessments work is one of her priorities.

“I would like to inform residents by meeting with homeowners associations and working with them. I really want to get out there and educate,” Wilcox said. “I feel communication between the assessor’s office and residents has been a little bit lacking.”