Category Archives: Featured

Small hometown team helps country’s largest team

Photo: The Harter 8th grade basketball team and families (right) puts together care packages at the Batavia VFW for the overseas troops. Courtesy Photos

SUGAR GROVE—On the morning of Dec. 10, the Kaneland Harter Middle School boys basketball team and their parents traveled to the Batavia VFW, where they helped Fox Valley Troop Support assemble over 100 care packages for our deployed troops.

Chris Derby, who recently served in Afghanistan, speaks to the team about the impact they will have on the deployed, and how current service members along with those who have ever served, and all their family members will respect them for their participation.

Courtside, Reed Overhaug then packed up his team, traveled to a B-team tournament in Yorkville and took first place that afternoon. Later in the week, they went to Oswego for a three-day tournament, where the A team also brought home first finishing the season.

“Because of the large number of kids who want to be involved in sports programs, coaches (with little or no help) have a tendency to focus on a select few that will help them win,” team parent Mike Robertsen said. “Reid’s strong efforts to develop a team by getting everyone involved enables kids to learn from and help each other understanding by developing strength as a team, wins will follow. The kids aren’t the only winners this year. Looking at the pictures for the parents equals any trophy. I have to believe to teach values of this nature on and off the court this community also wins. Thanks, Coach.”

The Harter 8th Graders (18-2 record) Coach Reed Overhaug (back row, left to right), Andrew Burroughs, Kevin Fajardo, Noah Jones, Mitchel Groen, Tanner Robertsen, Jake Marczuk, Brett Hansen, Tanner Vanhorn and Jason Edwards. Ross Cortino (middle row), Andy Delgado, Joe Laudont, Jake Gomes, Jake Violett, Austin Kintz, Ryan David, Brandon Cruz, Andy Kray and Dylan Vaca. Mark Lilly (fron row), Kyle Osborne and Sam Wolf.

A new ‘leash’ on life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve said that Carl is very laid back.

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

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

Changes & challenges: Elburn’s year in review

Photo: Public Works came to the rescue on Feb. 2, when a blizzard dumped 18.5 inches of snow on the streets and roads. File Photo

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The year 2011 saw changes and challenges for the village of Elburn. One of those changes was an increase in the number of residents: Elburn now has more than 5,000 people living within its borders—5,506, to be exact.

With that number comes the Illinois requirement that a Police Commission be created within 30 days of the official report. Village President Dave Anderson appointed three members to the first Police Commission: Wayne Byerhoff, Wiley Overly and Judy Van Bogart.

The Village Board also saw changes after the April election. It said goodbye to trustees Gordon Diershaw and Patricia Rompke and welcomed Dave Gualdoni and Ethan Hastert. Incumbent Bill Grabarek was re-elected.

The village changed its financial system from cash to accrual that brought its financial procedures up to date. It finished the storm sewer project in Cambridge and put a new roof on the wastewater treatment building. The damage to that building from run-off was costing the village $2,000 to $4,000 a year.

“We stopped the bleeding with a new roof. The building had deteriorated to the point of it needing to be done,” Anderson said.

Two public meetings to discuss the Elburn Station concept plan and the Anderson Bridge extension were heavily attended. Citizens expressed concerns about the Sho-deen, Inc. plan to develop the area around the Metra station.

If the land around the station is not developed in the near future, the county stands to lose $18 million in federal and state funds. Those funds would be used to build a bridge over the railroad east of the Metra and create a bypass off Route 47 from Route 38 to Keslinger Road.

Public Works came to the rescue on Feb. 2, when a blizzard dumped 18.5 inches of snow on the streets and roads.

“The snow started falling around 2 p.m., and by 9:30 or 10 p.m. the roads were too dangerous even for the snow plows,” a Feb. 10 article in the Elburn Herald reported. “But Metra was still running, and a late train was due to arrive.”

Snow plows kept the roads open as long as they could and escorted the people arriving by train to warming stations at the Fire Department. The estimated cost of snow removal in the 48-hour period following the blizzard was $22,000.

Cyclists and hikers can now follow a trail that connects the village of Elburn to the Elburn Forest Preserve from a trailhead at North and Reader streets. Construction of the parking lot, restrooms and four miles of trails began in the spring.

The village was pleasantly surprised when the $10,000 grant it had applied for from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to update the village’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan was upgraded to $100,000. The money will be used to amend maps and write changes to create a new plan.

“The plan had not been done since 1993. It’s a living, breathing document that should change with the times,” Anderson said.

An audit of village finances showed the coffers with a bit more money than with what they started the year.

“I’m most proud of the audit this year,” Anderson said. “It was watched well enough a year ago that we have more money in the bank than when we started—$30,000 to the positive.”

Anderson said that despite the positive balance, the biggest challenge in the last year has been the economy.

Sugar Grove village officials reflect on 2011

Photo: Protesters stand at the entrance of the Sugar Grove Public Library on July 28. A group called Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove organized the rally protesting the July 14 firing of then-Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes by the Board of Trustees. File Photo

By Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The village of Sugar Grove this week put out a press release reflecting on the village’s achievements in 2011. Among the listed accomplishments were new retail projects such as Veterans Park, and an economic impact analysis regarding a complete interchange onto I-88 from Route 47.

Village President Sean Michels last winter said that the expected arrival of a Sugar Grove McDonald’s in mid-2011 indicated that retailers wanted to be a part of the village’s community and growth.

As it turned out, several other retailers and service-based stores decided to follow McDonald’s lead into Sugar Grove in 2011, including All-American Barbeque, Epic Garage, emily kay salon, NuWave Electric, Knot Just Sew and an antique store. The village also welcomed West Suburban Bank and Producers Chemical.

“The fact that we got the bank, the salon and McDonald’s opened up this year just shows that Sugar Grove is attractive to retailers, and we’re trying to meet the needs that residents have by getting different retailers in town,” Michels said.

According to Michels, the Sugar Grove McDonald’s is doing better business than the company originally projected for the location.

“It’s a good sign, and we use that to lure in other retailers. We’re talking to other retailers based on the success of McDonald’s,” Michels said.

The board last June approved designation of the old Sugar Grove Hotel site as Veterans Park, a place to honor those who have served the country and celebrate holidays such as the 4th of July and Memorial Day.

The idea for the park was initially pitched by the Citizens for Veterans Park group at a Village Board meeting in May

In terms of work done by village staff in 2011, Michels and Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger both noted the fact that several village roads were repaved this past year.

“We put between $250,000 and $300,000 into road projects, and a lot of communities aren’t able to put that much money into their roads,” Michels said. “We still have roads that need work, but we’re making progress and fixing a lot of our older roads, so that’s a good sign.”

Three-year-old Ian from Aurora enjoys the fresh corn at Sugar Grove's Corn Boil on July 30. File Photo

Eichelberger said he believes the village’s public works and police departments provided great service to residents in 2011 while at lower staffing levels than in previous years.

“(I am most proud of) the village’s ability to continue to provide a very high service level in a very efficient manner during challenging times,” he said. “You can go department by department, and with the board’s direction, we’ve been able to maintain all service levels despite cutbacks. You come up with different ways of doing business and you find more efficient ways of doing things. These are challenging financial times, but we’ve been able to maintain solid financial footing.”

According to Michels, the village achieved a budget surplus in 2011 because of expenses that were cut in prior years, including building inspector and police officer positions and multiple administration spots.

“It was hard to cut those positions back then, but it was the right thing to do and it’s proving itself now,” he said.

Michels said he was pleased with the electric aggregation referendum that was passed in early April, allowing the village to use bids from electricity suppliers other than ComEd. As a result, residents are now paying about 23 percent less for their electricity.

“People had enough confidence in the village—in a government entity—that we were doing the right thing for our taxpayers. They supported us through the referendum, and in return, they’re getting a reduction on the electric side of their bills,” Michels said.

The last 12 months weren’t 100 percent positive for the village, though, as Michels said he was disappointed in the lack of residential building during 2011.

“It’s just a sign of the economy, and a lot of communities are struggling to get residential building going on in their community,” he said. “It’s a focus of ours for this coming year to work with builders and developers to get things kick-started and help out the community. I think that helps support people who are trying to sell their homes; I think there’s a basis now that we’ve hopefully hit the floor in market values.”

More miracles for Meagan

Photo: Luellen Seals tells her daughter, Meagan, about her new chair thanks to the efforts of Lord of Life Church and Lutheran Church Charities. The special wheelchair was delivered to the Seals family home in Blackberry Creek on Friday, Dec. 23. Photo by John DiDonna

Community donates wheelchair for 2-year-old who defies all odds
By Keith Beebe
ELBURN—Scott and Luellen Seals of Elburn had spent the last year in search of donations to be put toward a custom-built wheelchair for their 2-year-old daughter Meagan, who suffers from the conditions encephalocele, microcephaly and lissencephaly.

The Seals’ insurance provider considers Meagan “terminal” and doesn’t cover any of her medical costs, so the family had no way to pay for an expensive chair that would allow their daughter to physically develop and move more freely.

Then, on Dec. 23, a group of 60 Christmas carolers gathered in front of the Seals’ home and presented the family with three surprise gifts: a custom-built wheelchair, an iPad and a stationary chair for Meagan.

“At first, I thought, ‘Look, they’re Christmas caroling,’ and I didn’t think anything of it. And then I saw a few people taking pictures, so then I wondered why they were (doing that),” Luellen said. “When I saw the wheelchair and the other chair coming up the driveway, I started crying because I knew what they were up to.”

The carolers, which included members of Lutheran Church Charities and the Seals’ church, Lord of Life Church in La Fox, were the ones who donated money for the three items. The wheelchair is valued at just under $6,000, and the stationary chair and iPad are each valued at $500.

Conley Outreach and Kaneville United Methodist Women also donated money toward the wheelchair.

“I met the Seals family two years ago, shortly before Meagan was born. Some of their neighbors had invited them to come to Lord of Life during Luellen’s pregnancy,” Lord of Life Church Pastor Phil Ressler said. “They had been told to have an abortion because Meagan would not survive the delivery. In spite of the grim outlook, Meagan was born.”

Pastor Ressler earlier this month told Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner about the Seals and their pursuit of a chair for Meagan. Hetzner called the chair manufacturer in Matthews, N.C., but was told that the wheelchair couldn’t be built until the Seals’ insurance provider approved payment for the item, and even then, it would take three months for the chair to be built.

“I explained the Seals’ situation to (the manufacturer) and guaranteed the payment of the chair, but told them we had to get it by Christmas Eve,” Hetzner said. “They called me back, moved some things around, made the chair that day and overnighted it to a place in Lombard (Ill.). That Friday (Dec. 23), we took the chair plus an inside chair that was needed for little Meagan.”

According to Hetzner, the iPad was donated because it has several apps that handicapped children can use to develop sensory skills.

Encephalocele is a neural tube defect where the brain begins to form outside the human skull. Microcephaly is a disorder where cranium circumference is considerably smaller than average, and lissencephaly is a disorder where the brain is smooth, resulting in severe neurological impairment.

“We knew before she was born that she was going to have an issue with her brain, but we weren’t sure exactly what the extent of her (condition) would be,” Luellen said. “Doctors have told me that one out of 10,000 pregnancies each year will result in this condition, and those babies are usually stillborn or die at birth. If they do survive, they’re usually on oxygen or a feeding tube.”

After Meagan was born, her doctors noticed that she was developing physically and breathing on her own despite suffering from encephalocele. Meagan then underwent a surgery to repair her skull, which was when doctors realized she was suffering from other conditions, as well.

“They told me that, with lissencephaly, Meagan probably wouldn’t live very long, so they sent us home with hospice. Here we are, two years later, and Meagan’s still with us,” Luellen said.

Meagan is the youngest of Scott and Luellen’s four children, including Ryan, 22, Madison, 5, and McKenzie, 3. The Seals family has a Facebook page, Meagan Seals Miracle Baby, which is meant to tell Meagan’s story.

“I want to get the word out about Megan’s story—not for financial reasons, but because through Facebook, we’ve met quite a few families who have children with disabilities similar to Megan’s or have families with terminal children,” Luellen said. “It’s been nice to meet other families that are going through what we’re going through.”

Meagan continues to slowly develop physically, but she is very handicapped mentally and physically, unable to crawl, walk or even sit up on her own. Still, she knows her name, recognizes her sisters and smiles at the sight of specific toys. Meagan also loves to listen to classical and jazz music.

“She loves to sit in her swing and rock back and forth, and there’s a lot of things she knows. She’s developing at her own pace,” Luellen said. “It’s been a struggle and constant worry for us; however, it’s been a blessing in so many ways, as well. She’s really changed our lives.”

Many well wishers gather outside the home of Scott and Luellen Seals in Blackberry Creek to watch them receive the special wheelchair for their daughter, Meagan. Photo by John DiDonna

The Seals family opens the door to find Pastor Phil Ressler and several dozen well wishers in front of their house on Friday, December 23. Photo by John DiDonna

Tim Hetzner, President of Lutheran Church Charities brings in the special wheelchair for Meagan Seals. Photo by John DiDonna

Lady Knights knocked to consolation side at Oswego E.

Photo: Brooke Harner (22) defends against a potent Metea Valley offense during the first round of the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic Tuesday morning. Harner had four points and two steals, but the Lady Knights fell 62-46. Photo by Ben Draper

OSWEGO—It’s been a productive season thus far for your Kaneland Lady Knights hoops contingent. It’s been awhile since that label to a season could be touted. The Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic would serve as a good marker for how far KHS has grown this season.

Alas, thanks to new kid on the block Metea Valley, Kaneland will have to show what it has from the consolation side of the bracket.

Outside of a productive third quarter, Kaneland was held in check by second-seeded Metea Valley of Aurora in the opener of the seventh Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic on Tuesday, by a final of 62-46.

That meant Kaneland was set to battle Plainfield North at 9 a.m., on Wednesday

Kaneland’s record as 2011 winds down is 8-3 with a 2-1 mark in Northern Illinois Big XII conference action, and three more tournament clashes remaining.

A year ago, Kaneland began the tournament with wins over South Elgin and Addison Trail en route to a fourth-place finish at Oswego East—its best ever finish.

Against the Lady Wildcats, the Lady Knights were paced by Ashley Prost’s 14 points and Kelly Evers’ 10. KHS was forced to deal with a 19-for-43 day from the field and 14 turnovers.

Kaneland found itself down 18-10 after one quarter and 36-19 at the halftime break before getting a leg up on Metea Valley. KHS got to within five points before quarter number three ended with the Lady Knights down 46-39. Kaneland would be outscored 16-7 for the duration.

After Wednesday’s battle*, KHS will have Thursday against Aurora Christian or East Aurora and Friday in the consolation bracket in Kendall County, as well, completing their sixth trip to the Winter Classic.

*Update: The Lady Knights defeated Plainfield North 47-33 Wednesday morning. The results were not available at press time for the paper edition of the Elburn Herald.

KHS wrestlers go on Thursday tear in quad

Photo: Steve Gust, shown in action Dec. 15, provides a constant at the 106-pound clas for Knights wrestling. Gust came away with an 8-0 win over Richmond-Burton’s Grant Sutton during a successful quad for KHS on Thursday. File photo

KANELAND—What’s the best cure for a season that has given you the dual blues?

Go up against Woodstock, Richmond-Burton and Mundelein on your home mat and win convincingly.

On Thursday, the Knight grapplers swept the field with three big wins, and improved to 7-9 before the sizable gathering in DeKalb later this week.

KHS got the best of Woodstock 46-13, Richmond-Burton 39-22 and Mundelein 42-33 in the meeting.

Against the Silver Streaks of Woodstock, pinfalls were garnered in the 120-pound match by Luke Kreiter in three minutes, 15 seconds and in the 126-pound battle by Esai Ponce in 3:10. Additionally, Connor Williams won his 113-pound match by a 14-1 tally.

Against the R-B Rockets, the Knights saw their points add up by the work of Williams in a 1:42 pinfall, Zach Theis’ technical fall in 4:47, and an 8-0 shutout by Steve Gust in the 103-pound encounter.

In the nine-point win over Mundelein, the pinfalls went the way of 132-pound Sonny Horn in 3:52, 182-pounder Matt Price (1:51) and 220-pounder Ben Kovalick (:50). Ponce won his meeting by a 7-1 clip, and Dan Goress took a 6-2 win in the 138-pound meeting.

Ahead for the Knights is the usual Don Flavin Invite in DeKalb on Thursday, Dec. 29, and Friday, Dec. 30.

Re-gifting: Kaneland manages win over Morris in Plano tourney

Photo: Tyler Heinle (32) contemplates his next move for the third-seeded Knights during Monday’s 50-44 win over the Morris Redskins at the Plano Christmas Classic. Heinle scored 12 points against the Redskins. Photo by Patti Wilk

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—A team always likes to make a statement in its opening contest. Preferably, it’d be a positive statement.

At Kaneland High School’s boys basketball opener of the 49th annual Plano Christmas Classic, the Knights not only made a positive statement, but also earned their second straight victory over rival Morris on Tuesday by a 50-44 margin.

Kaneland, the third-seed, was due to play the Streator Bulldogs on Wednesday after Streator beat Burlington Central.

KHS was paced by Marcel Neil’s 13 points and Tyler Heinle’s 12.

The perimeter game was kind to Kaneland, with the first-half featuring a reliance on the bombs. The Knights had seven three-pointers on the day.

In the first quarter, Kaneland fell behind 13-12, but saw trifectas from Thomas Williams, Neil, Dan Miller and Heinle in the frame.

Yet another three by Williams gave KHS a 21-19 advantage with 2:34 left in the half.

After a foul shot by Neil and an ensuing basket, Kaneland led 24-19 with 47.1 left before Morris converted a three-point play to make it 24-22.

Kaneland saw its lead grow to as much as nine points in the third, thanks to a pair of foul shots by Heinle with 1:56 left. Drew David’s foul shot made it 36-30 before the buzzer sounded.

Morris got to within 38-36 with 4:35 to go, but a Matt Limbrunner baseline jumper with 4:13 remaining got the margin back to four. A David three and Limbrunner basket got the margin back to 45-39 with 1:38 to go. Heinle made five foul shots down the stretch to secure the win.

“Down the long run, this will make us better,” Heinle said. “They’re on video, we have their plays and know what their guards and big men do.”

KHS coach Brian Johnson was pleased at how the Knights recovered through some first-half troubles.

“I thought we made nice adjustments in the second half, and Limbrunner had some nice shots. He’s a good shooter and allowed us to open up the game a little bit,” Johnson said.

Kaneland’s goal of winning its second Plano Christmas Classic in three years is still intact, with the tournament ending on Friday, Dec. 30. Out of the 24 teams, nine are new entries: Aurora Christian, Belvidere, Burlington Central, Dixon, Indian Creek, Lisle, Indian Creek, Ottawa, Streator and Wilmington.

Erin Arndt: Photography at its finest

Photo: This self portrait, titled “Cosmic Love,” is No. 42 out of 365. It was ranked No. 17 as Flickr’s most interesting photo of the day and is Arndt’s most popular online photo. Photo by Erin Arndt

by Matt Wahlgren, Brianne Strobel, and Sara Laurie, Kaneland Krier Editors
KANELAND—Senior Erin Arndt already had her photography equipment unloaded from the car and ready to go for a day of photos. By the time her friends and models had all arrived, it was closing on three in the afternoon at Leroy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles.

In no time at all, they were already searching for a suitable fall background against which to pose the model, Kaneland graduate Chloe Bluml. Luckily, an old rustic barn fit the bill perfectly.

As Arndt’s camera clicked, Bluml tried different poses as directed. Like most photographers, Arndt takes huge numbers of pictures from new perspectives and keeps only the ones she likes most.

She gave Bluml directions to alter the pose to find one that worked the best, including tilting her head different ways, facing different directions, looking off into the distance and standing different ways.

Arndt is currently working on the 365 project for Flickr, a challenge where she posts a new photo every day for a year.

On the day at Leroy Oakes, while looking around for a new place to photograph after finishing with the barn, Arndt’s friends enthusiastically led her into the forest. She went out in search of an interesting place to photograph. There were a few photo opportunities that Arndt took advantage off.

“Does anyone want to take their shoes off?” Arndt asked, trying to find a model willing to lay barefoot under a fallen tree. Senior Taylor Buri, one of the models and a self-proclaimed best friend of Arndt since they were 3 years old, volunteered to ditch her shoes for the photograph. Arndt took plenty of shots from various angles to try to find the one that worked best.

Later, Arndt wanted to try having Buri balance on a tree branch. A lot of work had to go into capturing this. Buri had to try very hard not to fall and maintain the facial expression she was seeking at the same time.

Although this day was a group photo shoot with many models, group photo shoots are no longer the norm for Arndt anymore, as she has moved more towards artistic photographs.

Arndt said that most of her shoots for the 365 project are spontaneous—some being planned only 10 or 20 minutes in advance. When she suddenly gets an idea that she wants to try, she’ll sometimes try it right away.

Flickr’s 365 project encourages people to use their creativity and meet deadlines, which are not actually enforced. A lot of the pictures Arndt posts are of herself, but she also uses several different friends as models, including Bluml, Buri, junior Jack Grimes and seniors Shannon Wallace and Jake Rosko.

Arndt wants the photos to have a certain story or a message behind them, as opposed to being merely shots of people sitting there, posing and smiling.

Although she started out photographing pictures that were or resembled senior photos, Arndt said that is not what she wants to do. Her new photos carry out a purpose other than capturing a moment in time. They are creatively designed to have a specific meaning or to represent an idea.

She spends an hour or two every day editing the photos so she can post them. Her editing process involves using Adobe Photoshop to modify the color of the raw photographs.

“I use different Photoshop actions to give it a vintage or summery look,” Arndt said.

By using Photoshop, Arndt said she can make as many changes as she pleases to make the masterpiece she envisions. She can also change the brightness of the photo to make it more or less visible as she likes.

Arndt intends on keeping her business running as a hobby in the future after high school, even if she gets another job.

Buri said it’s amazing that a 17-year-old has her own business. She said that Arndt has always been creative and comes up with cool ideas that turn into amazing pictures.

Grimes, who models for Arndt only every once in a while, said that her photos are different and unique.

Arndt said that a lot more people know of her photography business, Erin Regina Photography, since the 365 project started. Founded in 2009 under the name Bits & Stirrups, her business has grown in the last two years. She changed the name after moving on from equine photography.

Christmas Spirit lives through Mom’s Swap Shop

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

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

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

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

“Mom, look at me!” she cried out.

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

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

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

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

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

The swapping began informally, Olson said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Authentic Moms’ Swap Shop

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

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

Hydraulic repair shop mixes business, pleasure

Photo: Owner David Winkles stands behind the bar of his Bourbon Street-themed “man-cave,” a place where his customers can relax and talk business. Photo by Sand Kaczmarski

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Tucked away in a corner of Elburn in one of the industrial areas, there are quite a few businesses that go unnoticed. These large, warehouse-type buildings are on a seldom-traveled street unless you have business there.

It’s the ideal location for a new business that’s been in town since June: Pumps Electric & Hydraulic Repair, located at 107 Paul St.

“I absolutely love it out here,” owner David Winkles said.

The company is a pump and electric rewind shop providing services for a number of municipalities such as Wasco, wastewater treatment plants, excavating companies and also some bigger clients that include work at O’Hare International Airport.

Winkles has been in sales and electric motor repair for more than 30 years. He also serves as a representative of a company in Manteno, Ill., Miller Hydraulics, whose owner helped Winkles with financing to open the business.

Winkles lives in Geneva and had a sales office in Chicago. So, how did he end up all the way out in Elburn?

“I met this woman named Kim,” he said.

Kim Schnizlein is now his fiance and also the chief operating officer and director of operations for the business.

He started getting some new business in the western suburbs, and was making sales calls in Elburn when he remembered there were some nice buildings here. He now leases the corner space from Gerry Snow, owner of G. Snow and Sons (, a sewer and water installation service.

Winkles spends a lot of time on sales calls, but also jumps in when something needs to get done.

“I just got an electric motor in here today, had to show the guys how to take a torch and cut the bearings off the shaft,” he said.

The company employs five people, and Winkles said he just hired a new employee.

His sales office is inside the shop, and since there was a large space above the office area, Winkles said he had a vision.

“I built a Bourbon Street, New Orleans theme over the office,” he said. “We call it the Old Bayou Saloon.”

Inside is a bar area with seating and a flat-screen TV, and a balcony overlooks the spotless repair shop. Winkles said it’s for clients to come by and visit, and he wanted to “make it exciting for people to come over and hang out with us.” He’s already planning a Friday night fish fry and Super Bowl party for his customers.

For more information, go to the website at or call (630) 365-5511.

Knights take care of conference business

Photo: It’s not football season, but Drew David (11) makes a dive for a loose ball in the first quarter during Friday night’s 58-46 conference win over rival DeKalb. The win propelled the Knights to 6-3. Photo by Patti Wilk

Neil helps KHS boys defend turf vs. DeKalb
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—With DeKalb coming in to Maple Park on Friday evening, Kaneland boys basketball would need players with a sense of the big stage.

That designation happened to belong to Marcel Neil on Friday, which segued to a winning effort, and also means encouraging things for Kaneland’s fortunes entering 2012.

With 28 points, Kaneland’s Neil helped Kaneland to a 58-46 win and to a 6-3 record (3-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Neil’s big night was a result of his smooth transition from the West Aurora program.

“It’s awesome, I love it here,” Neil said. “Everybody’s friendly and it was so easy to get into the flow of things.”

With DeKalb coming in, Neil found it was easy to do what he was best at.

“I was getting a lot of open shots, backdoor cuts and ball screens, and it was a lot easier because of my teammates,” Neil said.

The Knights burst out to a 24-12 lead on DeKalb (2-6) after one quarter of action, and saw the lead hold firm at 34-19 for the locker room trip.

DeKalb’s game solidified as they hit six of eight shot attempts, and seven of 10 in the third quarter.

Neil hit two baskets, including one down low, and Tyler Heinle jacked a three-pointer, but DeKalb closed the deficit to 41-34 before the end of the third frame.

With four consecutive successful shots, the Barbs tightened the deficit to 46-42 with 3:42 remaining. KHS rallied by getting buckets by Neil and Thomas Williams (10 points) to make it 50-42 with 2:16 remaining.

DeKalb could only manage a free throw and a three-point play for the remainder of the clash, while Heinle, Williams and Neil were flawless in eight foul shot attempts to close the game.

“It’s a conference rival, and they were going to make a comeback,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “It was going to be one of those dogfight games. DeKalb fights real hard.”

KHS also dealt with the absence of Trever Heinle, who went down with an injury after a lay-up attempt in the second quarter. Heinle is expected to return shortly to game action for the Knights.

Meanwhile, in sophomore action, DeKalb beat Kaneland 52-50 despite 12 points from Connor Fedderly.

KHS enjoys the holiday weekend before heading off to the Plano Christmas Classic, edition 49, beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

This will be the third straight trip for the boys, who look to get to championship heights like they did in 2009.

Kaneland is scheduled to face either Morris or Sandwich on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m.

The top five seeds for the upcoming Plano Christmas Classic are:
1. Rockford Christian
2. Yorkville
3. Kaneland
4. Aurora Christian
5. Belvidere

Wrestlers grab two Saturday wins after losing to YHS

Photo: Dan Goress recovers from a precarious position during Thursday’s 39-26 dual loss to Yorkville High School in a Northern Illinois Big XII battle. Goress came away with a 16-5 major decision over the Foxes’ Brennan Sharp. Photo by Ben Draper

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Against conference rival Yorkville, the Knights (4-9) lost 39-26 to the host school.

In a valiant effort, wins were garnered by personnel like Steven Hlatko at 185 points, in a 14-5 win. 126-pounder Esai Ponce nabbed a 1:11 pin. 220-pound rep Ben Kovalick earned a pin just :52 in his match. 132-pounder Sonny Horn took a 4-2 decision. In the 138-pound clash, Dan Goress won a 16-5 major decision.

106-pound weapon Steve Gust earned a 6-3 overtime win, and knew pressure was on him to perform for a Knights squad closing the points gap in each Northern Illinois Big XII meeting.

“He already had a stalling call, and then it went to overtime and double overtime and just kept wrestling and came out on top,” Gust said. “You just put stuff together and we’re getting better each week.”

On Saturday in Maple Park, the Knights took on Rock Island and lost 42-27, beat Larkin High School 58-18 and edged former conference rival Geneva 39-36.

Against the Rocks, Ponce won over Rock Island’s Chase Wiggins 6-0. Dan Goress won his 138-pound battle 7-2. 189-pounder Matt Price emerged with a 12-5 win.

Encouragingly enough, the heavier weights represented by Hlatko, Kovalick and 285-pounder Zach Theis all earned pinfalls.

The Knights took six forfeit wins over Elgin’s Larkin Royals squad in a 58-18 win, and supplanted that win with pinfalls by 113-pound Connor Williams (1:53), 120-pound Luke Kreiter (3:05) and Price (5:31).

In the win over Geneva, pins were secured by Gust (2:36), Williams (1:38), Ponce (3:51), 132-pound Sonny Horn (3:30), Goress (1:42) and Kovalick (1:24). Price went the distance in a 3-0 win, as well.

The Knights get a break before hitting the mat on Thursday, Dec. 29, and Friday, Dec. 30, as part of DeKalb’s Don Flavin Invite.

Lady Knights win at Dixon in extra session

Photo by Patti Wilk

KANELAND—Lady Knights basketball was so chock-full with exceptional performances on Saturday afternoon, they needed an overtime session to fit them all.

With clutch free throws, long-range game and an improvement on foul shots, the Lady Knights came away with a 61-55 overtime win at the home of the Duchesses.

With the win, the Lady Knights enjoy a holiday break with an 8-2 (2-1 NIB-12) record to give to themselves before tournament action marks the end of the calendar year.

Kaneland was 20-for-46 from the field, and was lead by Allyson O’Herron, who sunk a team-high 21 points thanks to a school record-tying seven three-pointers. Ashley Prost finished with 14 points and made two clutch shots in OT.

Sarah Grams had 12 points, and also hit the game-tying foul shots with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the contest at 50.

The Lady Knights were also 13-for-19 from the charity stripe, helping to offset an attack lead by Dixon’s Brooke Bailey, who had a game-high 24 points.

KHS got out to an ideal start, leading Dixon 13-9, before seeing the deficit shrink to 25-24 at halftime.

Dixon took a 38-36 lead after three, setting the stage for the fourth and extra session.

Meanwhile, the sophomores took care of business against Dixon by a 47-28 clip. Caroline Heimerdinger had 14 points in the winning effort.

Ahead for KHS girls hoops lies the usual Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic, which begins on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10:30 a.m. against Metea Valley. The Lady Knights are scheduled to face either Andrew or Plainfield North on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

I’ll be home for Christmas

Photo: Jessie Miles, a member of the 870th MP Company in Afghanistan, is scheduled to return home to Elburn by Christmas. Courtesy Photo

Elburn resident to return home for Christmas after first tour of duty in Afghanistan
by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Marshall Miles said when his 22-year-old daughter Jessie comes home to Elburn in a few weeks, just in time for Christmas, there are no special plans.

“We’ll have a ‘Welcome Home Jessie’ party, but she just wants to be home and be with family,” he said.

Miles said his daughter, a 2008 Kaneland graduate, has been deployed in Afghanistan since last December. He’s been flying yellow ribbons for her since she left.

While he’s anxious for her to be home for Christmas, he said she is dealing with the loss of a close member of her combat unit. Sean Walsh, 21, of San Jose, Calif., was killed by a rocket shortly before the squad was to go on their last patrol.

“She’s heartbroken about that,” he said of Walsh’s death. “There are six people in a squad. He was her battle buddy. That’s the person that has your back.”

Miles said Jessie has seen a lot of combat, and has earned an active combat badge. Walsh was killed Nov. 18. The squad was to go on their last patrol Nov. 27.

“It’s a real tragedy; he was the only child and his mom was a single mom,” Miles said. “It’s really heart-wrenching.”

Jessie spent more than a year at Waubonsee Community College following high school graduation, then signed up for the National Guard. She moved to Hollister, Calif., and even worked on security for then-Governor Schwarzenegger. She was activated for duty last year.

He said it takes a while for the soldiers to actually make their way back home, and last he heard she was still in Baghran waiting to go back to Kuwait before heading stateside.

Miles said his daughter wants to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder on the G. I. Bill when she gets back home. He said she wants to learn to fly helicopters.

“She’s really a bright, talented girl,” he said. “She can do any job the Army has.”

When asked if he ever thought his daughter would become a soldier, he replied, “Never.”

“She’s been fearless,” he said. “She’s taken on every weapon. And she loves being on patrol, up on the truck.”

Classic spa with trendy twist

Photo: Emily Strong checks the inventory at her new salon in Sugar Grove. Photo by John DiDonna

by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—Starting a salon and spa is a dream come true for Kaneland graduate and Elburn resident Emily Strong. With its grand opening in November, the emily kay salon offers Aveda spa and salon services in a fresh environment.

Strong has been obsessed with hairstyling since she was 3 years old. A babysitter taught her not only how to tie her shoes, but also how to braid hair. She was hooked. By the time she was in fifth grade, she knew she wanted her own salon. Armed with a cosmetology license, a business management degree and years of experience as a stylist, she created emily kay salon.

“It’s my dream come true. I wake up and can’t believe I have this salon,” she said. “I love it. I had an idea pictured in my head of what I wanted.”

The salon is decorated in soft tones of purple and turquoise with a lot of white. Large pedicure chairs and wooden manicure tables create a relaxing environment. A massage and facial room invites peace and tranquility.

“I wanted the warm and inviting atmosphere that all Aveda salons have, but with a young and trendy twist,” Strong said. “Finding the perfect location was key.”

The salon features haircuts and color, manicures and pedicures, facials and waxing. The stylists are all Aveda certified. Hair, skin, body and cosmetic products can be purchased in the store. Aveda, which is produced in Minneapolis, is all natural. Its packaging is all-recycled materials, and it is produced using all-wind energy.

Facials include such appealing treatments as the Botanical Skin Resurfacing, Perfecting Plant Peel, Enbrightenment Discoloration and the Outer Peace Acne Treatment. Spa manicures and pedicures provide the little extras of hot towels, customized exfoliation and treatment masques.

Clients who refer a friend will get $20 off their next service and so will their friend. During the month of December, buy $60 in gift certificates for services and receive $20 in services for yourself.

The experienced staff enjoys the benefits of starting fresh at a new salon.

“It’s like we’re all in this together as a team,” Strong said. “We’re all excited and pumped up to get it started.”

Local resident warns of potentially severe winter weather

See also: Get ready for a colder and wetter winter

Photo: Infrared satellite image of the “Groundhog Day Storm” of 2011, taken at 8 p.m. EST Feb. 1. Nine of our top ten biggest snowfalls have occurred during La Nina winters. Photo courtesy of NASA (Public Domain)

by Keith Beebe
ELBURN—There have been only five years since 1884 where the Chicagoland area didn’t experience measurable snowfall before Dec. 9.

One of those years is 2011.

Despite this alarming statistic, recently stated by WGN Weather Producer Bill Snyder, Chicagoland could be in for some serious weather over the next several months. According to Brad Hruza, an Elburn resident and National Weather Service-certified storm spotter, the United States will enter a La Nina winter—a weather phenomenon that occurs when ocean temperatures are unusually cool in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific, affecting global weather patterns—for the second consecutive year.

“In our location in Illinois, we tend to have colder temps for extended periods of time during La Nina. The effects on the climate vary quite a bit, as we saw last winter, with the high snowfall totals around the Chicago area,” he said. “La Nina seasons are very hard to predict snowfall amounts for, but I was talking to a friend at WGN news a few weeks back, (and he said) nine of our top 10 biggest snowfalls have occurred in La Nina winters.”

A Greenland block, which Hruza said existed almost all of last winter, could possibly set up again over the next several months. In a Greenland block, warmer air is pulled up toward that country and blocks weather systems from continuing east.

“The systems will ride east and hit the block, move north and then northwest and come right back around and keep certain areas cold and snowy. We had a few systems last winter that would hit the block and go into Canada and come right back around and hit us again,” Hruza said. “There are signs this could happen again, but again we will not know for another month or so. This winter could be just as bad as last winter in terms of cold and snowfall, especially if the Greenland block returns.”

Even if the snowfall total over the next few months doesn’t approach last year’s amount, it is important that everyone take necessary precautions to prepare for severe weather. Hruza recommends paying attention to local news and weather reports and carrying winter safety kits in your home (non-perishable foods, extra batteries, radios, candles, lighters, matches and a three-day supply of water) and vehicle (gloves, blankets, hats, flares and a flashlight). Also have a cellular phone on hand to call for help in case of emergency.

If your vehicle becomes stuck during a blizzard, do not keep your car running. Carbon monoxide can fill your car if the exhaust gets blocked by heavy snow, and you could also run out of gas. Instead, clear any snow away from the exhaust and then start your car every so often to warm it up and keep the battery from dying in the cold.

“During the first few snowfalls, it takes most people time to get back into winter driving mode. Slow down, take your time and never follow too close to the person in front of you. In extreme cold, you may hit black ice—invisible ice that looks like the pavement is wet—and slide out of control,” Hruza said.

And if you’re just out in the cold, be sure to keep your head, hands and feet covered to prevent frostbite; take frequent breaks while shoveling snow; and don’t let children play in snow near a road.

“Vehicles can slide in bad conditions and go off the road. The way I teach is to not let children play on the other side of the sidewalk closest to the road. They all should stay on the house side of the sidewalk,” Hruza said.

Girls basketball maintains early-season roll in Sycamore

Photo: Kelly Evers (34) dives for the ball on Sycamore’s court during Friday’s tight 40-36 Kaneland victory. Evers was tied for the team lead with eight rebounds. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—It was an important early-season battle in Sycamore between two squads that had gotten off to relatively hot starts in 2011-12.

With Kaneland and Sycamore girls basketball only having lost a combined three games heading into Friday night, the meeting would provide an early-season barometer to the progress made.

With a 40-36 comeback win in Spartan-land, the KHS barometer is still at a decent pressure.

Kaneland also hosted the Lady Barbs from DeKalb on Tuesday, only to fall in a 42-33 affair.

Still, Kaneland is still maintaining its best start since the 2005-06 season, at 7-2 (2-1 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Against the Lady Spartans, Ashley Prost led the way with 13 points and eight boards. Teammate Allyson O’Herron had eight points, including two key threes. Sycamore’s Lake Kwaza had a game-high 17 points. KHS was 15-for-44 from the field, and just 8-for-24 from the foul line.

Down 14-13 headed into the second half, Kaneland got off to a blazing start in quarter three. Prost had three buckets, and O’Herron and Emma Bradford hit Kaneland’s first five shot attempts, deadlocking the game at 24-24 with 4:54 remaining. O’Herron’s second-straight three off a steal gave KHS a 27-24 lead with 3:45 left. Brooke Harner’s two free throws and a Lauren Zick basket gave KHS its biggest lead at 31-24 with 46.7 left, and Sycamore hit two foul shots before the end of the frame to make it 31-26 at the buzzer.

Sycamore rallied once down seven, and tied the game in a 33-second span. The Lady Spartans took a 36-35 lead, but Lexee Guerra’s foul shot and an O’Herron basket gave KHS a two-point edge with 1:47 to go. Guerra hit two more free throws to cement the win.

“Offensively, we’re still a work in progress, and we’re still learning how to get the ball to people in the spots they want to get it,” KHS coach Ernie Colombe said. “Tonight, we battled through some foul trouble, but we played tough D and moved the ball on offense.”

The sophomores lost to Sycamore 26-24.

On Tuesday, Prost paced the Lady Knights with 11 points, and Bradford added 10 in the losing cause. KHS was 13-for-34 from the field.

DeKalb led 15-12 after one frame, and 23-21 at the half before stifling the Lady Knights 33-23 after three.

In a 28-25 sophomore win, Caroline Heimerdinger had 11 points to help the Lady Knights improve to 6-1.

Meanwhile, the freshmen troops improved to 7-1 with a 36-10 victory over the host Lady Barbs. Katrina Paulick had 10 points.

KHS heads to Dixon on Saturday, Dec. 17, followed by a 10-day break leading up to the Oswego East Wolves Winter Classic beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Bowling gets first win of 2011-12

Photo: Kaneland’s Christie Crews has emerged as a strength on the bowling squad. Photo by Mary Herra

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—While it’s been slow goings at the beginning of this still-new season, the Kaneland bowling unit keeps knocking down pins, and knocked down enough to nab its first win of the season on Dec. 7, against visiting Geneva. Thursday saw Streator get the best of the Lady Knights, while Monday had IMSA take care of KHS, cementing the Lady Knights at 1-7 on the season. Tuesday had Morris beat visiting Kaneland in a conference affair.

Through the first eight matchups, a common theme is the emergence of varsity newcomer Christie Crews.

“She’s been the big surprise for us,” KHS coach Jim McKnight said.” She’s leading the team in average and another pleasant surprise is Amanda Strayve. They’ve turned in some consistently good scores for us.”

In the 2,222-2,144 win over the Lady Vikings, it was Crews’ 520 series and Strayve’s 473 series that put KHS in a winning position. Top games were had by Crews at 190 and 187, and Strayve’s 177.

Streator’s 2,776-2,357 win in DeKalb was despite the best efforts of Crews’ 469 series and Seleana Isaacs’ 401 series. Top games were bowled by Crews at 201 and Strayve at 161.

Facing the Lady Titans, the Lady Knights fell 2,192-2,128. Crews’ 454 and Isaacs’ 448 were top series, while Isaacs’ 175 and Crews’ 166 were the highest game totals for Kaneland.

Against Morris, the Lady Knights’ meeting at Echo Lanes with their counterparts went to the opposition, 2,929-2,323.

Isaacs bowled a 487 series, followed by Crews with 413. Isaacs and Crews had top games at 193 and 149, respectively.

“We need to get the kids to think of each frame individually,” McKnight said. “Do the best you can and not focus on what has happened.”

Ahead for the Lady Knights is the Lisle Invite on Saturday, Dec. 17, and a meeting with NIB-12 crossover opponent LaSalle-Peru on Monday, Dec. 19.

Boys hoops puts clamp on Spartans, H-BR

Photo: Kaneland’s Dan Miller fights for control of the ball in the second period when Kaneland traveled to Sycamore on Saturday. Kaneland dominated, winning 70-42. Photo by John DiDonna

KANELAND—Kaneland boys basketball is enjoying a three-game win streak dating back to last week—all three of the double-digit variety.

Coming into this week, the Knights held court with victories in Sycamore and Hinckley.

The Knights are now 5-3 on the season (2-0 Northern Illinois Big XII).

Expanding a tight halftime lead, the Knights went into overdrive against rival host Sycamore on Saturday.

In the 70-42 win over the Spartans, Kaneland welcomed 22 points from Marcel Neil, 14 from teammate Thomas Williams and 10 from Trever Heinle.

The Knights also launched six three-pointers, including three from Neil.

Sycamore produced no players in double figures.

The Knights’ 9-5 lead after the first frame increased to 26-20 at the halftime buzzer. Then, Kaneland turned it on in the third for a 51-31 lead after three quarters before adding a 19-spot in the fourth.

In sophomore action, Sycamore got past Kaneland 47-44 to drop the Knights to 4-2.

Along Route 30, the varsity Knights enjoyed a Tuesday win by getting off on the right foot, going up 14-2 after the first quarter, and holding a 31-17 advantage at the half.

Kaneland extended its sizable lead to 49-33 before the contest wound down.

The Knights were helped by Matt Limbrunner’s 13 and Thomas Williams’ 12.

The sophomore Knights also beat their H-BR counterparts, 61-26.

The varsity crew heads for a meeting against DeKalb on Friday, Dec. 16, in Maple Park.

Boys split against current, former conference mates

Photo: Thomas Williams (24) caters to his own southpaw strengths on a trip to the basket during Friday’s NIB-12 win over the visiting Morris Redskins. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Beginning 1-0 in conference play doesn’t just sound better—it is better.

With every meeting in the second-year Northern Illinois Big XII conference a premium, every win over evenly-matched opponents will fit nicely in the back pocket of Kaneland boys basketball.

Such was the case on Friday evening at Kaneland High School, with the Knight crew leading wire-to-wire in a 56-46 win over the visiting Morris Redskins.

The Knights fell back to earth against former Suburban Prairie Conference and Western Sun Conference-mate Glenbard South, 42-37 on Tuesday in Maple Park.

The Knights are now 3-3, and 1-0 in conference play.

KHS was buoyed by Marcel Neil’s 21 points and Trever Heinle’s 18 points against the Redskins. The Knights also sunk five three-pointers, including three from Neil. Also helpful was the 17-of-23 effort from the free throw line.

“They’re a tough team,” KHS coach Brian Johnson said. “We were maybe hoping to run a little bit more than tonight, but Morris did a good job of handling our press. We don’t have anybody that matches up to their size, but we fought hard.”

Neil offered up a field goal, plus two threes, and the Knights led 13-5 after one frame.

Despite going scoreless for over five minutes of action, Kaneland still managed to hold the lead, and Neil’s fifth straight bucket made the score 18-7 with 4:10 to go in the second.

A three-point play for Morris closed within 18-15 with 2:25 remaining, but a left-handed lay-in by Thomas Williams (nine points) and a foul shot by Dan Miller extended the lead before the teams entered halftime with KHS up 21-16.

Kaneland continued to hold firm and led 37-32 after three, thanks to key baskets by Heinle and Neil.

WIth Morris’ interior pressure stifling efforts to go to the basket, the Knights saw their advantage dip to 39-35 with 5:49 to go.

The home squad found a way to get to the line, however, with Heinle and Drew David making good from the charity stripe in the final frame.

Williams, whose bucket gave Kaneland a 43-37 lead with 3:48 to go, felt good about the effort that led to victory.

“It feels real good,” Williams said. “Just to know you can overcome the defense and being tough, and still score and come out with the win is good.”

Against the visiting Raiders, Heinle was the only Knight to reach double figures with 11 points.

Kaneland and Glenbard South were tied at eight apiece after one, and the Raiders had a slim 17-16 advantage at the break before Kaneland’s 15-5 run in the third had KHS ahead 31-22.

Then, Glenbard South turned it on the fourth, and turned the Knights off, outscoring Kaneland 20-6 in the fourth quarter.

Ahead for Kaneland is a Saturday, Dec. 10, meeting at the home of the Spartans in Sycamore, while Hinckley-Big Rock High School is the site of a Tuesday, Dec. 13, meeting.

For a glimpse at some of the future Knights, just turn to the Adam Wickness-coached sophomores.

This week, John Pruett’s 27 points were key in the 55-49 win over the Redskins.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Connor Fedderly’s 21 and Pruett’s 18 helped KHS
enjoy a 61-47 result vs. the GS Raiders.

Grapplers solved by Sycamore, split Saturday excursion

Photo: Connor Williams (113 lbs) controls his opponent during his match on Thursday when Kaneland hosted Sycamore. Photo by Mary Herra

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—While there were some encouraging duels on Thursday, “some” won’t get it done against Sycamore wrestling when “all” are needed.

Sycamore beat Kaneland 52-12 on Thursday in Maple Park.

The Spartans went out to a 35-0 lead over Knights wrestling before 220-pound asset Ben Kovalick earned a pinfall in four minutes, 30 seconds.

“We’ve got stuff to work on, look at everything tomorrow and hope we come out a lot better than that (Saturday). We want to remember this and use it,” Kovalick said.

The next win for KHS (2-4, 0-1 NIB-12) came with 106-pounder Steve Gust taking a 3-2 decision to close within 38-9.

In the final match of the evening, 132-pounder Esai Ponce took an 8-0 shutout win.

The Knights recovered somewhat on Saturday, defeating Lansing’s T.F. South High School on its turf, 48-24, before losing to the Lemont Indians at the same location, 44-21.

Gust got the mat rolling vs. T.F. South with a 4:59 pinfall in the 106-pound match. At 126, Ponce emerged with a 3:25 pinfall. Sonny Horn contributed with a pin in 4:11, while 285-pound entry Zach Theis took a 3:17 pin home.

Gust continued his hot streak against Lemont with a 5:05 pinfall, and Connor Williams took a 2:48 pinfall. However, the only accompanying victory on the mat was 138-pounder Dan Goress, with a 7-1 win.

Girls hoops stifles Morris, IMSA counterparts

Photo: Allyson O’Herron (32) keeps the ball inbounds during Friday’s 43-33 win over visiting Morris. O’Herron had a team-high nine points in the winning effort. Photo by John DiDonna

Six wins at early juncture for Colombe’s crew
KANELAND—Lady Knights girls basketball continues to go along at its desired pace, and came up with two victories this week.

After a game plagued by fouls and execution snags on Friday, the Lady Knights held firm in the fourth quarter against visiting Morris and rallied for a 43-33 win.

Tuesday saw the Lady Knights conquer Illinois Math and Science Academy of Aurora by a 47-31 final score.

The Lady Knights’ 6-1 start is the best in six seasons for the program.

Facing the Redskins, Allyson O’Herron had a team-high nine points on a roster of balanced scoring. Emma Bradford supplied eight.

From the field, the Lady Knights were 13-for-42, and 15-for-25 from the foul line, but also had 14 steals in the winning effort.

Morris went atop KHS 5-1 after the first eight minutes and 16-11 at halftime. Kaneland came back to close within 24-23 after the third and blazed a 20-9 trail in the fourth for the win.

The sophomores improved to 5-0 with a 35-31 win over Morris. Caroline Heimerdinger had a team-high 10 points.

Tackling the Titans, Ashley Prost and O’Herron each had a game-high 11 points, while Prost also added seven steals.

Kaneland was 18-for-56 from the field, and made 11-of-17 shots from the charity stripe.

KHS went out to an early 9-2 lead and enjoyed a 28-9 advantage at the break. While IMSA closed within 32-22 after three, Kaneland righted things in the fourth and finished with a 15-9 fourth quarter.

In the sophomore tilt, Kaneland emerged victorious with a 42-26 win.

Kaneland now prepares for host Sycamore in a NIB-12 tussle set for Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

Raising the bar
Looking back at this point a year ago, the Lady Knights were 5-5.
The last two years mark a significant improvement from two years ago, when KHS began 2-8.

SG resident puts unique Christmas tree on display

Photo: Sugar Grove resident Tom Renk’s unique Christmas tree stands in his kitchen every holiday season. The tree weighs close to 600 pounds and takes between seven and eight hours to construct and decorate. Courtesy Photo

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Have you ever seen a Christmas tree that weighs close to 600 pounds and can support the weight of 32 miniature porcelain houses?

Sugar Grove resident and Village Board Trustee Tom Renk has. In fact, it’s in his kitchen every holiday season.

Renk’s tree isn’t an actual tree, per se; rather, it consists of five 3/8 inch-thick wooden platforms attached to a metal pipe trunk that sits in a foundation of glass block. The structure is decorated with lights, figurines and miniature re-creations of village homes, a village square, a railroad complete with electric train, a bubbling brook and bridges. At the top of the tree is a church with a tall spire.

All electrical cords used to light the tree are hidden inside the structure and covered by fake snow.

“There’s so much weight involved with the tree. It’s the type of tree that you have to build where you intend to put it. Once it’s up, you don’t move it,” Renk said. “It’s the only one I’ve ever seen, though there was a partial sample down in the store I bought the plan from. I’ve never seen another tree like it.”

Renk bought the blueprint for the structure 12 years ago in a Christmas tree shop in Savannah, Ga. He finally mustered up the courage in 2003 to begin putting the tree’s components together, which took several months to finish, he said.

“I didn’t do anything with it for four years, but I finally decided I was going to try to build it, because I was looking for a project,” Renk said. “Everybody raves about the tree every time they see it in our house. It’s made of threaded metal pipe and various levels of 3/8-inch plywood that are stacked so that (the structure) can be assembled and disassembled, piece by piece.”

Twinkling lights can be found underneath and around the edges of each wooden platform, as well.

At the time he purchased the tree blueprint, Renk had a growing collection of miniature porcelain houses that he would display in his home during the holiday season. Renk had initially constructed a foam snow scene in order to showcase six or seven of the houses, but upon seeing the structure in the Christmas tree shop, he knew he could place all of his porcelain houses on the tree’s platforms.

“I said, ‘my gosh, that is a beautiful tree. How does it support all that weight?’ And the store owner said he had a plan for the tree, so I bought the plan for $20,” Renk said. “You obviously can’t put a porcelain house on a regular tree branch—it would just snap off and the house would fall down.”

According to Renk, the entire structure takes between seven and eight hours to assemble and decorate.

“Everything has to come from the basement, piece by piece, and then you put each level on, one at time, and screw them into threaded metal anchors on each level so that everything holds together. Then you wire the tree with electrical cords up the middle, and all the individual houses get plugged into those cords.”

Disassembly of the tree typically clocks in at a more modest five hours, he said.

Because of the amount of hours and work needed to assemble the tree, Renk has spent the last few years unsure of whether or not he’s going to put the tree up the following holiday season. At this point, his grandchildren are the only reason he continues to put the structure up in his kitchen.

“I think the first year the grandkids don’t come over will be the year I don’t put the tree up,” he said.

Renk intended to put the tree up during Thanksgiving weekend, but will instead construct the structure this weekend. The tree is his main contribution to the decorating that takes place at the Renk home every holiday season.

“I make a day or two of it and put the tree up; along with the outdoor lights, that’s all the decorating I do. My wife does the rest,” he said.

Born singing

Photo: Maggie Madziarczyk “gets a lift” as cast members look on in Fox Valley Repertory’s production of “It’s a Wonderful Life, a Live Radio Play” at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. Maggie is a 9-year-old 4th-grader at John Shields in Sugar Grove. She will be playing the roles of ZuZu and Mary Alice Dittmeier. There are 19 performances between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Courtesy Photo

Sugar Grove 9-year-old performs now through Christmas Eve
by Lynn Meredith
SUGAR GROVE—Jennifer Madziarczyk says her daughter Maggie, 9, was born singing. Starting just two years ago, the Kaneland John Shields Elementary fourth-grader has put that talent to good use performing in everything from “Wizard of Oz” to “Sleeping Beauty” to “Cinderella”; and now “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” at Fox Valley Repertory Theatre in St. Charles.

“She was born singing. From the day she was born, it was sing, sing, sing,” Jennifer said. “The second she set foot on the stage, it was done. It is something she is meant to do.”

With 18 performances left to go before the show closes on Dec. 24, Maggie looks forward to not only being on stage, but to making new friends.

“It’s a really good experience. I get to meet new people and make new friends. I get into the mood where I’m happy inside,” Maggie said. “Once you have a bigger audience, you get used to it instead of being scared.”

Maggie plays two roles, Mary Alice Dittmeier and ZuZu, and sings in the show. She said opening night went very well with an almost full house. This week she will perform two shows on Thursday, and one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. With so many performances, the family has to make accommodations.

“It’s very hectic. But we’re used to it. We have four kids,” Jennifer said.

Maggie was inspired to audition after seeing her older brother Connor, 15, act on stage. The brother and sister then performed together in “Wizard of Oz.” She hopes to find another show to do over the summer. Her mom is right there beside her.

“My husband and I both love the arts. At first we weren’t sure what was going to happen. Would she be scared?” Jennifer said. “But she just shines on stage. I feel pride in her every time. It’s amazing how comfortable someone that age can be on stage. It’s great to see her improve every time she performs.”

‘It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play’
Presented by Fox Valley Repertory Mainstage Theater at Pheasant Run Resort,
4051 E. Main St., St. Charles
Now through Dec. 24
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. • Saturdays at 4:30 and 8 p.m. • Sundays at 2 p.m.
Select Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Box Office (630) 584-6342

We hope to see you at the Stroll

For so many, the Christmas holiday season begins not long after the dishes are cleaned from the Thanksgiving feast. In fact, for some, the season starts sometime that night as the rush to maximize savings begins with its annual Black Friday ritual.

For those of us at the Elburn Herald, the season starts a little bit later, when we turn our office into a life-sized Kandyland game, loosely based on the children’s Candyland board game.

The transformation begins during the week of the annual Elburn Christmas Stroll. This year, it’s set for Friday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. throughout the village.

Anyone who has stopped in our office this week has seen the supplies begin to build, the materials spreading out, and some—who are unfamiliar with our tradition—likely wondered, “Just what is going on over there?”

Each year since 1997 (not including the one year in which everyone was snowed in their homes and we were unable to finish the transformation), Design Director Leslie Flint has spearheaded an effort to create a magical experience for the hundreds of children who go through our little storefront at 123 N. Main St. in the center of downtown Elburn.

Whether it’s the peppermint forest, the pathway past the various Christmas trees, monster Hershey Kisses and candy bars or any of the other numerous life-sized items, we know the season has officially started when we see the children’s eyes light up as they make their way along the colored pathway.

There are plenty of other activities throughout town during the Stroll, and while all the stops in town are worth your time, we look forward to playing a game of Kandyland with you—it is designed for children of all ages, after all.

Boys hoops split first four encounters

Photo: Marcel Neil goes skyward for a bucket during Saturday’s 55-42 win at the Windmill Classic against host Batavia. Photo by John DiDonna

by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Not a terrible start for a lineup with plenty of turnover and a new opening tournament setting.

Despite a one-point loss to St. Francis in the first game of the 2011-12 season on Nov. 23, the Kaneland Knights boys basketball roster rallied for a 10-point win over Crystal Lake South on Friday and a 13-point win over the Ken Peddy Windmill Classic host Batavia Bulldogs. Tuesday featured a loss to visiting Metea Valley.

The Knights, under third-year head man Brian Johnson, begin at 2-2 after their new opening arrangement, and first week of action.

For years, the Knights began the Thanksgiving weekend at the Strombom Tourney in Sycamore.

Against the eventual tourney champ St. Francis Spartans, the Knights lost 56-55 and were paced by sophomore Thomas Williams’ 13 points, Trever Heinle (All-Tournament Team member) with 10 and Tyler Heinle’s 10.

St. Francis took a 16-13 lead after one, and led 32-30 at halftime, before seeing its lead increase to 45-39 after three. KHS closed the margin some, but couldn’t break the barrier.

Against the Gators two nights later, the Knights were fortunate to have 27 points from Trever Heinle at their disposal, plus 11 from West Aurora transfer Marcel Neil.

After a deadlocked 12-12 first quarter, KHS went ahead 26-23 at the half and 37-33 after three before making the lead stick and then some in the fourth.

Against former conference rival Batavia, which was missing scoring threat Cole Gardner, KHS found twin 17-point efforts from both Neil and Trever Heinle.

“One of our goals is to pressure teams, and I think we’re hard to guard, especially for teams that aren’t used to more athletic guys,” Johnson said. “That helps us, and gives us an edge at times on the offensive end.”

Heinle and Neil made three straight shots for the Knights for an early 8-2 lead with five minutes, 42 seconds to go in the first. Once the Bulldogs tied the score at 10, Heinle jacked a three and converted on another field goal for a 15-10 lead with 19.1 seconds to go that closed out the first frame’s scoring.

The second quarter also went the Knights’ way.

Up 21-17, Neil had an offensive putback, while Tyler Heinle hit a three for a 26-17 lead with 2:10 remaining in the half. A Trever Heinle bucket made it 28-18 just before the halftime buzzer.

Kaneland used a strong quarter by Neil to go up by as many as 17 points, and the frame ended with Kaneland up 39-22.

A Neil basket elevated KHS to its biggest lead of 44-24 with 6:18 to go in the game. But Batavia converted on shots it hadn’t previously and closed the lead to nine, before the Knights exhibited ball control and clock management beneficial to the winning cause.

Neil’s effort was key in the win, and it had to do with letting the game come to him.

“Some of my shots weren’t falling, and then I just attacked the rim and (started) making things happen and we got a lot of buckets,” Neil said. “We just started breaking the defense down and taking our time, relaxing and playing as a team.”

In the 87-65 setback to Metea Valley, KHS kept it to a 43-35 deficit at the half, and 59-50 after three, but then saw the fourth quarter get out of hand for the final deficit.

The Knights were paced by Williams’ 14, Neil’s 12 and Drew David’s 10.

Kaneland now heads into NIB-12 play with a home date against the Morris Redskins on Friday, Dec. 2.