Category Archives: Maple Park

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Student’s drive, commitment leads to President’s Scholarship

MAPLE PARK—Carissa Miller is all about business. And heart.

Miller, a Maple Park resident and Kaneland High School senior, will major in business administration when she attends Indiana State University this fall.

Miller is one of 20 selected students across America to achieve the ISU President’s Scholarship, and one of two Kaneland High School students to earn the achievement.

Being a President’s Scholar means that if Miller keeps up good grades, she will get free tuition and premium housing at ISU, from freshman to senior year.

“It’s nice to see it pay off, because I’ve always been super-excited for college, too,” Miller said. “And I’ve been working two years now saving up for college. So it’s nice to know that I can pretty much do it on my own.”

Miller has made numerous accomplishments during her high school career. She has a 4.0 GPA, and has been a member of Kaneland’s National Honor Society her junior and senior years.

She also sings alto and performs in the school’s Madrigals chamber choir. She calls herself a “huge music nerd,” adding that she has done choir since the sixth grade. Miller last winter played the role of a queen during the Madrigal feaste event.

Miller has lent a helping hand by doing community service, such as volunteering at Delnor-Community Hospital in Geneva. She made care packages for babies, including small blankets, bottles and wipes. She also participated in student council and helped with the grocery food drop. Miller made requests to shoppers to pick up a couple of needed supplies like non-perishable items, deodorant and toothpaste for the military overseas.

Miller has a reason why she stays motivated.

“I’ve always been motivated by trying to be independent, I think,” Miller said. “Also, I like helping others. So that’s with the community service thing. That’s why I like to be like a leader in my student council and stuff like that. It’s because I get the duty to help others.”

Miller plans to have a career as a manager after finishing college. During college she plans to try out for choirs and volunteer as an ISU recruiter and at an animal shelter. She even hopes to possibly study overseas in Ireland.

Her dad, Scott Miller, chuckled as he thought about what makes his daughter special.

“She’s got a big heart to go with her intelligence,” he said.

Christina Staker, an English teacher at Kaneland High School, recalled Carissa going the extra mile in her yearbook class when she gave a PowerPoint presentation about why the yearbook should go along with her “unleashed” theme.

“She definitely has the leadership roles to become a CEO one day,” Staker said. “Or really be in charge of a mass group of people and make sure that good work comes out of whatever it is that they are creating.”

Photo by Patti Wilk


International Jousting Tournament coming to Maple Park

MAPLE PARK—Top-ranked jousters on Labor Day weekend will travel to Promise Equestrian Center, 45W050 Beith Road in Maple Park, to compete in a three-day-long, full-contact International Jousting Tournament.

Riders in this competition will hail from the United States, Canada and Australia, and are affiliated with one or more of the following groups: International Jousting League, The International Jousting Association, The International Jousting Champions and The International Series. There will be at least two women who will compete in the tournament, and one of them is the No. 1-ranked jouster in the world.

Preliminary jousts will take place on Friday, Aug. 29, and full competitions will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30-31, with the Championship on Sunday afternoon.

“This is the first year ever for The International Series, and there will be five-to-six sanctioned tournaments around the country,” said Jerry Paulsen, co-founder and president of Boots and Hooves, Inc. “Ours will be the last for the season, and we are already looking to host at least two next year in 2015.”

All of these events are open to the public, with an admission fee. The event is a part of the Promise Equestrian Center’s Labor Day Heartland Equestrian Festival. Attendees will be able to select and choose from a variety of packages for both themselves or for the family.

Community members from the surrounding area have the opportunity to witness and partake in a weekend of full contact competitive jousting, games, fun and food.

“This is going to be a fantastic time for everyone young and old, novice or skilled in horsemanship or anything to do with horses and competitive sports,” Paulsen said. “Jousting is the only sport where both men and women compete equally. There is no difference in the rules, regardless of gender.”

Paulsen said Promise Equestrian Center will also have a huge equestrian show put on by master trainer Enrique Martinez of Monte Cristo Equestrian Center, which operates out of Promise Equestrian Center.

“The ultimate goal is for everyone to come out for a great weekend of friendship—old and new—food, family and fun.”


Photo: Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park will play host to a full-contact jousting tournament Labor Day weekend.
Courtesy photos submitted to

Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

Photos: Memorial Day blessings

Photos from around our towns on Memorial Day. Photos by Natalie Juns, Lynn Logan and Patti Wilk
Color Guard members from Elburn American Legion Post No. 630 lead Elburn Cub Scout Troop 107, Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7 and a host of other parade participants on a short trek from Elburn Lions Park to Blackberry Cemetery for the start of the Elburn Memorial Day Ceremony.

At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
At the Kaneland Healing Field ceremony, a mother and her son spend some time among the 1,000 flags.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday's Kaneville's Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Anna Wendling, 16, of Kaneville, marches in Monday’s Kaneville’s Memorial Day Parade playing her snare drum.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Boy Scout Troop No. 7 and helpers place flags on veteran headstones May 22.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of the US Navy carry a Navy Memorial Wreath to place under the U.S. Navy flag. Memorial wreaths were placed for each branch of the service.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
Members of Sugar Grove American Legion Post No. 1271 fire off a salute to the veterans on Monday morning at Sugar Grove Cemetery.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.
A vintage military jeep and soldiers enter Blackberry Cemetery Monday during Elburn’s celebration.

Great turnout & success for Special Olympics fundraiser

ELBURN—Sunday marked the seventh annual Pulling for Special Olympics event, held at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club in Elburn. The event year after year continues to grow and includes more people who are passionate about raising funds for Special Olympics participants.

The funds that are raised at the event are allocated for the participation fees for people who want to participate in the Special Olympics. Over 350 people attended the event on Sunday for an afternoon of clay pigeon and trap shooting.

Colleen MacRunnels, one of the main organizers of the event, commented on the importance of the fundraiser.

“The money we raise pays the participation for people in the Special Olympics,” she said. “We also have all-in participants today who pay $500 to shoot. It warms my heart.”

The Maple Park Police are supporters of the event, and many of the officers, including Chief Mike Acosta, were in attendance. Maple Park Police Officer Ray Radis was there to help out, as well.

“I’ll do anything to help,” Radis said. “It’s great for the kids, and it’s a wonderful to do.”

Acosta has been participating in Pulling for the Special Olympics since he started working in Maple Park.

“This is a great event, and it teaches people how to use a gun safely,” Acosta said. “It also raises a lot of money. We would like to be the highest-raising group in the state of Illinois this year.”

This year, organizers added a special twist and invited disabled veterans out to the event at no charge. Janet and Charlie Johnson from the Vaughan Paralyzed Veterans of America appeared at the event to show their support.

“This is a great opportunity for veterans to assimilate back into civilian life and use guns for recreational purposes,” Janet said. “They can feel good about being at this event that’s for a good cause without being the spotlight.”

There was also a raffle and a silent auction run by Jim MacRunnels.

“Our sponsors donated all kinds of guns, equipment for the guns and for camping,” Jim said. “There are also bigger items, too.”

Jim later said that over $45,000 was raised during the afternoon.

A couple of outdoor games and activities were also set up for people to enjoy during the event. Stacy Reever and her daughter, Kassidy, volunteered for the day and were helping out with a couple of activities.

“I have been helping to fundraise for the Special Olympics for 10 years, and my daughter Kassidy has volunteered with me,” Stacy said. “Kassidy started a Special Olympics club by us when there wasn’t one.”

Terry Monnett, a supporter of the event, became involved in helping raise funds for the Special Olympics because of the MacRunnels’ interest in the cause.

“The president of the gun club at the time was very supportive of raising funds for the Special Olympics when we approached him, and the club has been a great help ever since,” Monnett said. “This is one of the most unique events, and I’ve heard of other people in different areas wanting to create an event like this one after they hear about it.”

Maple Park discusses water service rates, charges

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday discussed the need for an increase in village water service rates and charges.

“We should have been increasing the rates every year, but we haven’t. And now we have no reserves for emergencies,” Village President Kathleen Curtis said.

Village Accountant Cheryl Aldridge proposed an increase that would raise the average household’s water and sewer bill by 14 percent. The proposal also includes a 3 percent increase per year after the initial 14 percent bump.

The board did not take a vote on the proposed increases. It will, however, vote on the proposal at its June board meeting.

“Public health and safety are the two most important things that we do as a village, but I also understand that people have fixed incomes,” village trustee Terry Borg said. “I think we should think about this.”

Board approves Wheelchair Lift Project bid

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a bid for the CDBG Wheelchair Lift Project to build a new wheelchair lift in town.

The approved bid of $31,880 came from Garaventa USA, Inc. The village received the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from Kane County, which will pay for $20,000 of the project.

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Program introduces veterans to healing horses

Photo: Veterans from around the country embarked to Maple Park in March to participate in the pilot program for Boots and Hooves, Inc., a local non-for-profit program that was held at the Promise Equestrian Center. The program is intended to help soldiers and their spouses (or caregivers) overcome problems that result from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and other emotional issues. Active duty service members, veterans and wounded soldiers from any branch and any time period are welcome to participate in the program. Courtesy photo submitted by Jerry Paulsen to

MAPLE PARK—Eight veterans, along with their spouses or caregivers, traveled from all over the nation to Maple Park in March to participate in the pilot program for Boots and Hooves, Inc., a local non-for-profit organization.

The brand new five-day program, held at Promise Equestrian Center, focuses on helping soldiers and their spouses or caregivers overcome problems resulting from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other emotional issues.

The program costs $4,000 per person, and veterans or wounded warriors are encouraged to bring their spouse or caregiver. Any active duty service member, veteran, or wounded soldier from any branch and any time period are welcomed to sign up for a session.

Boots and Hooves is comprised of four co-founder members: Matt Ruddick, Gary Kempiak, Dan Nagel and Jerry Paulsen. The co-founder and President of Boots and Hooves, Inc., Jerry Paulsen, is a U.S. Army veteran who is passionate about helping veterans receive healing from the pain they are experiencing.

“I have been involved in numerous programs around the country that have helped many of our veterans and wounded warriors,” Paulsen said. “As far as I know, we are the only program in the nation that lasts five days and also includes the spouses or caregivers. Veterans will gain freedom from their past, and Equine Assisted Therapy provides an alternative to taking medication to cope with their problems.”

Veterans and their spouses or caregivers experience the healing power of horses through barn chores, team projects that include working with horses and other veterans, and counseling sessions with a licensed clinician. In their counseling sessions, veterans relate the obstacles they encounter with the horses to problems in their everyday lives. There are sessions that include the veteran, along with the spouse or caregiver, and private sessions for the veteran and for the spouse or caregiver.

One of the team projects that the veterans work on includes helping a horse through a lengthy obstacle course with no mistakes. Each veteran selects one of the many strings or rope available and attaches it to the horse. The team members then work to guide the horse with only the string in their hand to help them. If they end up making a mistake, they have to return to the beginning of the obstacle course. This project helps the veterans overcome obstacles and find answers to a problem that at first appears to have no solution, according to Paulsen.

The first-five day session in March was a collaborative effort of the co-founders and the 25 volunteers working on the ranch during that week, according to Paulsen. They also had local and national sponsors who contributed to the items and materials needed for the week.

“As a result of the program (in March), we saved a marriage and prevented a marine from being homeless by giving him a job as a ranch hand,” Paulsen said. “People in the pilot program want to come back and get together for a reunion in September.”

The marine that was offered a job as a ranch hand said that the program turned his life around, and he didn’t want to return home even though he was from another state, according to Paulsen.

“Boots and Hooves is an awesome program for combat veterans with PTSD, and their families,” said Jack Erwin, volunteer for Boots and Hooves, Inc. “People are naturally a little fearful of horses at first, but with training and exposure, they have to face their fears. This relates directly to facing their PTSD experiences. They (veterans) are also given an opportunity to bond spiritually and emotionally with the horses and with each other. There are After Action Reviews to reflect on the team-building activities in a symbolic way.”

The next program for Boots and Hooves will be held the week of June 23-27. They have a third session tentatively scheduled for Sept. 8-12. There is no deadline to register for either of these programs. Any veterans interested in these sessions or businesses looking to sponsor different items for the program can contact Paulsen at (847) 529-5200 or

“Walt Disney created his Magic Kingdom, but we created a magic ranch for veterans,” Paulsen said.


An Easter journey

Photo: Valleybrook Community Church Pastor Brian Smith of Batavia touches base on the meaning of Easter with the youth before excusing them to Sunday school. Photo by Lynn Logan

Valleybrook Church celebrates Easter with new location
MAPLE PARK—Valleybrook Community Church celebrated Easter on Sunday in its new location at the former Kaneland Middle School on Meredith Road, next to the high school.

Valleybrook was founded in 2002 and began life at the former campus of the Broadview Academy on Keslinger Road in La Fox. The church in 2005 moved to Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Elburn.

Valleybrook was originally a daughter church to the First Baptist Church of Geneva. Initially it had a launch team of 100 people from the First Baptist Church, and now has around 150 people who attend regularly. After experiencing an increase in attendance, Pastor Brian Smith felt it was time for Valleybrook to move to a different location that would support a bigger congregation.

“With growth in attendance beginning to squeeze us at Blackberry Creek last fall, we learned of the larger middle school and made plans to hold our larger Christmas service there in December (2013),” Pastor Smith said. “Our people were excited about the middle school facility at Christmas, and we began to explore possibilities of making a more permanent move by Easter.”

The church gathered together at their new location at 9:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday to enjoy a continental reception with coffee and rolls, followed by its worship service at 10 a.m.

Their service featured a mix of traditional hymns and contemporary music, a children’s lesson, and a message explaining why Christ’s death on the cross is the most important gift that the world has ever received, according to Pastor Smith. Kids in grades kindergarten through third had their children’s church during the service, where they learned about the importance of the meaning behind Easter.

After their regular church services, Valleybrook has what it calls a “connection time,” which is similar to Sunday school for adults and children.

A forward-thinking church, Valleybrook has already preselected a location should it choose to have a new facility built in the future.

“The location is on Hughes Road, not far from Route 47,” Pastor Smith said. “As far as the timing, that is in God’s hands.”


Teamwork turns discovery of books into opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They are absolutely gorgeous books,” Klomhaus said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maple Park approves South St. rezoning

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on April 1 heard from the public in regard to the rezoning of the land parcel at 402 South St. The board passed the rezoning by a vote of 5-1, with Terry Borg as the only dissenting vote.

The 2.208-acre parcel is currently zoned as a residential property, but property owners Melissa Brady and David W. Altepeter have asked for a rezoning to light industrial. Altepeter stated that he wants to invest $1 million to renovate the property and build a large warehouse building to expand his agriculture business.
“This town was built on agriculture,” Altepeter said.

Some Maple Park residents in attendance voiced their concern that having an industrial property next to their home would decrease property value and cause loud truck traffic. Other residents spoke up in favor of the zoning change, stating that the industrial property would bring in an extra $21,000 in revenue for Maple Park.

Board members also discussed their concerns and questions with Altepeter. Trustee Borg was skeptical that Altepeter would clean up the 402 South St. property, given that he has already owned it for some time.

“Why should I believe your property will look better after we rezone, given what it looks like now?” Borg said.

Valleybrook Church moves to former middle school

MAPLE PARK—Valleybrook will introduce its new location at the former Kaneland Middle School on Easter Sunday, April 20, with coffee and Panera goodies at 9:30 a.m. and a service at 10 a.m. The former middle school is located at 1N137 Meredith Road, Maple Park.

Valleybrook Community Church first opened its doors in the fall of 2002, meeting on the campus of Broadview Academy. In 2005 Valleybrook moved to Blackberry Creek Elementary School in Elburn.

To learn more about Valleybrook or to listen to past messages, visit or call (630) 879-7035.

Maple Park man fatally struck by car

by Mary Parrilli
MAPLE PARK—A Maple Park man was fatally struck by a car early last week.

Clarence Janecek III, 45, was walking on Route 38 near Webster Road in DeKalb during the early morning hours of March 11 when he was struck by a 1996 Lexus, causing fatal injuries. According to DeKalb County Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie, It was determined that Janecek was walking in the roadway when he was struck

“Just prior to receiving the accident call, our office received a call of a subject walking in the road in that area, and officers were en route to check on that individual when we received the accident call,” Dumdie said.

The Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident around 12:30 a.m., and upon arrival found that Janecek was lying in the road and unresponsive.

Janecek and the driver of the vehicle, German Gonzalez of DeKalb, were transported from the scene to Kishwaukee Community Hospital. Gonzalez was treated for his injuries and then arrested for driving with a suspended license.

Maple Park discusses water main leak

by Mary Parrilli
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park Village Engineer Jeremy Lin on March 4 updated the Village Board on his progress with the water main leak beneath Liberty Street. Lin provided the board with many possible outcomes, including best-case and worst-case scenarios.

“First, it’s important to get in there and diagnose the problem,” said Lin, “We need to do some exploratory excavation.”

The best-case scenario would be that the leak is easily repairable and no part of the railroad would have to be altered; in this case the cost would be about $2,500, which is after the $7,500 for exploratory excavation. The worst-case scenario is that the casing on the water main cannot be repaired; in this case it could cost the village around $22,000. Lin said he expects the project to be underway by April.

Maple Park Family Fund accepts award

by Mary Parrilli
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Family Fund on March 4 accepted an award of $2,500 in the form of a giant cardboard check.

The money was awarded by a project called America’s Farmers Grow Communities, which is funded by the agricultural corporation Monsanto. Farmers enter to win $2,500 for their favorite community non-profit organization, with one winner selected in each of the 1,289 eligible counties in 39 states.

Maple Park resident John Biddle entered the project this year and chose the Maple Park Family Fund as his favorite community nonprofit. A Monsanto representative awarded the money at the Village Board meeting and stated that the purpose of the program is to “help and reward small communities like yours.”


Photos: A little Knightlife

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

Charlie Dee of Sugar Grove enjoys Paisano’s Pizza.

Finn Gannon, 8, of Virgil plays dodgeball.

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

HorsePower Therapeutic receives Mary Gardner grant

MAPLE PARK—HorsePower Therapeutic Riding on Feb. 27 became a distinguished recipient of a Mary Gardner Foundation Grant in the amount of $5,150.

HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in Maple Park, actively fundraises to provide scholarships so that no student is ever turned away for inability to pay. Lessons are offered on a sliding scale of feel. HorsePower relies on support from the community and a large group of volunteers to ensure no student is left out of its programs. The grant funds will be used for scholarships and to purchase equipment.

For more information about HorsePower, to become a volunteer or make a donation, email for an application. More information can also be found on the web at or by phone at (815) 508-0804.

HorsePower seeks program volunteers

MAPLE PARK—HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, at Fox Chase Farm in Maple Park, seeks responsible and dedicated volunteers ages 14 and older for its growing program.

HorsePower teaches creative and challenging horseback riding lessons to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Hands-on program volunteers are needed for grooming, tacking, training, leading and side-walking assignments, which support our lesson program. Applicants must have at least two years of horse experience and pass a horse-handling skills assessment.

Shifts are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Daytime hours are especially needed. Support volunteers are also needed for marketing, cleaning, fundraising, childcare, and office tasks—no horse experience necessary.

All volunteers must have their own health insurance and consent to a background check. An orientation will take place Tuesday evening, March 18. Attendance at orientation is mandatory for all who wish to volunteer. All orientation attendees must submit a written application and participate in a brief phone interview prior to attending this orientation.

To receive a volunteer application, contact Carrie Capes at or (815) 508-0804. For more information on the therapeutic riding program, visit

Hartmanns named Illinois Pork Producer Family of 2014

Maple Park—The Gerald and Nancy Hartmann family of Maple Park was recently recognized by the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) as the 2014 Illinois Pork Producer Family of the Year at the Illinois Pork Expo in Peoria.

The award recognizes a pork producer family who has done an outstanding job in promoting pork and has exemplified leadership skills at the county, state and national levels. The award is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health and Rantoul Foods.

Gerald & Nancy have three children—Jeff, Doug and Andrea—and six grandchildren. Jeff is married to Sari and they have two children – Noel and Brice. Noel is married to Mike Fabian. Doug and Cathy’s family consists of their son Dan, his wife Ashley, their daughter Holly and her husband Logan Sellers. Andrea Thurwangler has two children, Christian and Rachel.

“The Hartmann Family is an excellent example of the We Care principles for their care of their animals, the environment, their community, and their family,” said Todd Dail, pork producer from Erie, Ill. and current IPPA President. “Like many successful family businesses, the Hartmanns have had to adapt their farm to changing market conditions to remain efficient and viable, while being good stewards of the land and a valuable member of their community.”

The Hartmann family has been an integral part of pork production in DeKalb County for more than 60 years and has shown continued dedication and commitment to the pork industry. Through the years, they have strived to adapt to change and grow their business, while being good stewards of the land and a valuable member of their community. They have accomplished this by working closely together as a family with many members playing an important role in their continued success.

The Hartmanns have a rich family heritage in farming and pork production. Gerald started raising hogs at 12 years old on his family’s dairy farm. After graduating from Iowa State University, he returned home and expanded his pork production. In 1962 Gerald and Nancy started raising hogs on their own until they were joined by their sons Jeff and Doug.

In 1985, after their sons graduated from college and returned to the area near the family farm, Gerald and Nancy incorporated their hog farm. Nancy was key to the operation by managing the bookkeeping from 1962 to 2001, when their daughter Andrea joined the family farming operation as the bookkeeper. Upon graduating from college, Gerald and Nancy’s grandson Dan joined Hartmann Farms Inc.

The Hartmanns are the true definition of a modern family farm and have worked in multiple facets of pork production. Their main farm is a 60-sow farrow-to-finish facility. They also raise weaned pigs on a second farm. The Hartmanns own 270 sows in a sow center in which bi-monthly they get 1,000 weaned pigs. In total, they market 20,000 hogs a year. Hartmann Farms employs a farrowing, breeding, and finisher manager to care for all the different stages of the operation. They also farm 5,800 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and employ two truck drivers to haul all the grain and to help with field work.

Many members of the Hartmann family are involved in the farm. Gerald serves in a consulting capacity and works on budget and taxes. Jeff has responsibilities for transportation and maintenance and serves as the crop specialist. Doug serves as the general manager of the farm. Dan is responsible for wean to finish, nutrition and feed. Andrea handles the bookkeeping and payroll and records. All family members have pitched in to help when needed over the years.

Like many good pork producing families, the Hartmanns have always been active in promoting pork and the pork industry. Gerald was instrumental in the formation of the DeKalb pork producer group and persuaded neighboring hog producers to join in the voluntary check-off program. Another organization founded because of his dedication to farming is the DKM COOP, a farm input purchasing coop, which is part of Midwest COOP.

Being involved in the DeKalb Area Pork Producers is a family tradition for the Hartmanns. Their family has been active in the county group for 48 years with many family members serving in numerous leadership roles. Gerald served on the board from 1966 to 1968. Nancy served on the DeKalb Area Porkettes from 1980 to 1982. Jeff served as secretary and was on the board from 1985 to 1990. Sari served on the DeKalb Area Pork Producer Board from 1995 to 1998 and was involved in the DeKalb Area Porkettes from 1983 to 1987 serving as vice president. She was also president of the DeKalb Area Association of Women in 1986 and was the DeKalb County Pork Queen in 1980. Doug was on the DeKalb Area Pork Producer Board from 1991 to 1997 serving as treasurer, vice president and membership chairman. Dan is currently on the board and has served as vice president and is currently president of the county group. Andrea is also currently serving on the board and has served as secretary. Holly and Christian have served as county pork ambassador.

Over the years, the Hartmanns have cooked more than their fair share of pork chops. Family members have been active in many of the county group activities, including the Salvation Army Ham donation, numerous cooking demonstrations, Pork King Cook-off Contest, Farm Bureau Family Fun Day, NIU Ag Day, Harvest lunches, DeKalb 4-H Foundation Pork Chop Drive Thru, and the pork promotion at DeKalb High School football games.

Family members have also been involved at the state level. Doug has volunteered at the Western Open Golf Tournament pork chop tent and served as an IPPA State Delegate. Dan volunteered at a “Da Burger” event, promoting ground pork to Bears fans, and has served as an IPPA State Delegate. Holly has volunteered in the IPPA Birthing Center during the Illinois State Fair.

Giving back to the community and agricultural industry has always been a trademark of this family. Church, school and local civic organizations have all been blessed with the Hartmanns dedication of their time and talents. Members of the Hartmann family have served on school boards, Fire Department Board, township trustee, Snowmobile Club Board, Sycamore Jr. Farmers Board, Ag and FFA advisory Board, PTO, Farm Bureau Board, Corn and Soybean Growers Board, 4-H Blue Ribbon Sale Board, Sports Boosters, Ohio Grove Grange and many others. They have also been volunteers at school, Ag in the Classroom, church, 4-H, FFA, county and state fair activities, softball and soccer coaching staffs, and two mission trips to Haiti.

The Hartmanns have donated hogs to support numerous community activities including: Navy Seal Foundation Fund Raiser, Neighborhood Picnic, Maple Park Legion Labor Day event, Maple Park Fire Department pancake breakfast, The Ev. Church of St. John pancake breakfast, local restaurant “Bacon-Pa-Looza” event and “Support our Superhero Dylan” cancer fundraiser.

Family members have received numerous awards for their achievements. Gerald received the Superior Pork Award and was also awarded the Master Farmer in 1993. Doug received the Pork All-American Wward. Sari was the first runner-up for the Illinois State Pork Industry Queen and received the Elanco’s Belleringer Award and Pig Pushin’ Award. Dan and Holly both won the Illinois State Fair Superior Young Producer Pork Award. The family won the Illinois Conservation Farm Family award presented by the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation.

“The Hartmann family is dedicated and committed to a life long journey of success in the pork industry,” Dail said. “As a close farming family, they not only work together to create a strong business, but deeply and sincerely care about pork production and the community in which they live.”

Maple Park Police first in Special Olympics fundraising

by Mary Parrilli
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Police Department in early February was awarded with the Flame of Hope Trophy at its annual Special Olympics Kickoff event. The Police Department received the trophy because it raised more money for the Special Olympics than any other agency for in Illinois last year, with a grand total of $63,000. And since 2011, the Police Department has raised over $120,000 for the Special Olympics.

The kickoff event was held in Bloomington, Ill. on Feb. 7. Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta and other community members attended the opening to represent Maple Park and personally accept the Flame of Hope Trophy.

“(The money was raised by) visiting community events and selling Special Olympics merchandise and raffle tickets,” Acosta said. “Some of those community events included Elburn Days, Fun Fest, community breakfasts and various other type of craft and gun shows.”

Maple Park’s interest in the Special Olympics stems from community member Colleen MacRunnels, who worked for the state of Illinois Department of Corrections in St. Charles. MacRunnels began to raise money for the Special Olympics in 2007.

“After retiring, (Colleen) wanted to continue to promote Special Olympics,” Acosta said. “She and I and the village president, Kathleen Curtis, met in 2011, and the Maple Park Police began its partnership with Special Olympics of Illinois.”

The trophy is currently on display at the Maple Park Village Offices, but in the coming weeks will begin to travel around for display in local businesses. The Police Department wants the trophy to be showcased throughout the town to show its gratitude to community members for their donations. So keep an eye out for the Flame of Hope Trophy as it makes its way around town.

“Once you get involved and see the difference (you can) make in someone’s life, you are hooked,” Acosta said.

Maple Park discusses subdivision concern

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Feb. 4 discussed an issue with the longstanding plans for the Squire’s Crossing subdivision.

The property owner’s representative has asked the board to provide him with a due date for completing improvements on the road through the development, which will connect the village from the north to the south.

The concern is that there will be construction traffic that may tear up the road if property owners lay the finishing coat too early. A due date was not decided, as board members wanted to conduct more research on the matter.

The board also discussed the status of Village Engineer Jeremy Lin’s research for repairing the water main leak under Liberty Street and Willow Street. Lin is attempting to finalize a lower cost proposal for the repairs. He reported to the board that the previous proposal was $30,000 but he believes that a proposal of $20,000 is more realistic.

Maple Park Police awarded Flame of Hope

NORMAL, ILL.—The Maple Park Police Department was recently awarded the Flame of Hope Trophy at the annual Special Olympics’ kickoff event in Normal, Ill.

The Maple Park Police Department raised more than any other agency in Illinois. Jim and Colleeen MacRunnels of Elburn coordinate the fundraising activities for Maple Park.

The Police Department will have its name in the No. 1 position on this year’s Special Olympics shirt, as the department raised more than $63,000 in 2013. Maple Park has raised over $120,000 for the Special Olympics since 2011.

The Flame of Hope trophy is displayed in the village of Maple Park Village Office. The trophy will soon go on display at the Maple Park Pub, Bootleggers Pizza, Grill and Bar, Casey’s General Store, Honest Automotive and other community businesses that sponsored the Police Department’s fundraiser events.

“It is with great pride that I accepted this trophy on behalf of the MacRunnels and the other volunteers, the community of Maple Park and especially for our local Special Olympians who play a big role in our fund raising,” said Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta.

Photo: A strong draw

The Elburn Fire Department on Sunday held a raffle drawing for HorsePower Therapeutic Riding. The raffle winners were Roger Fronek (1st place, $4,675), Bob Ushman (2nd place, iPad Mini) and Jean Milz (3rd place, Amazon Kindle). The raffle altogether raised $22,071.32. HorsePower Board of Directors Chairman John Cain (left to right), Max Capes, Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith and HorsePower Director/co-founder Carrie Capes.

On a roll for HorsePower

HorsePower’s bowling fundraiser took place on Saturday at St. Charles Bowl. This was the second year for the event, and it sold out with 94 bowlers and 240 total tickets sold, according to event coordinator Carrie Capes of Maple Park.
Gianna Hansen of Elburn sets out to have a good time bowling with her family during the HorsePower fundraiser.
Noelle Brown, 10, of Gilberts, Ill., participated along with her brother, parents and grandparents.
Meredith Mliz of North Aurora was excited to make different bracelets for the benefit.


HorsePower to host 2nd annual bowling fundraiser

ST. CHARLES—HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, a not-for-profit organization in Maple Park, will host its second annual bowling fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Charles Bowl, 2520 W. Main Street in St. Charles.

There will be two bowling sessions during the event, with one from noon to 2 p.m., and the other from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for kids who are age 10 and under. There will be no charge for children under the age of 3.

Non-bowlers are also encouraged to attend with a reduced ticket rate of $15. There is an unlimited amount of tickets available for non-bowlers.

The fundraiser will feature silent auctions, cupcake sales, jewelry sales, pizza and a 50/50 faffle.

Carrie Capes, program director and co-founder of HorsePower, hopes to raise $17,000 at the event on Saturday. The money raised will help to purchase lesson equipment and benefit the students HorsePower currently has on scholarship, while also allowing for more scholarships.

“Our scholarships put kids and adults up on a horse when they normally wouldn’t be able to take lessons,” Capes said. “We currently have seven students who are on scholarship now, and we hope to have fourteen students on scholarship this year.”

There are 35 students who currently take riding lessons at HorsePower. Students who have a physical, mental, emotional or cognitive disability benefit in a huge way from horse riding lessons, gaining communications skills, physical stability and emotional empowerment.

HorsePower Therapeutic Riding was co-founded by PATH certified instructor Capes and Wholesale & Correspondent Lending Officer Justin Yahnig in March 2012 with the hope that people with disabilities would experience the healing and empowerment that comes from a horse.

Anyone interested in donating to HorsePower can visit their website at and click on the donate button.


Becky comes home

MP native returns five months after surviving horrific accident
MAPLE PARK—There weren’t many Christmas presents under the tree for the Nelson family this year, but nobody cared—Dave and Peggy Nelson got to bring their daughter, Becky, home from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago instead.

“We stayed away from too many gifts this year because we put the money into Becky,” said Anne Carson, Becky’s aunt. “We just got her some little stuff, some pencils and some games, because she’s got some younger cousins and we can play with her. She likes to draw, so she got a sketchpad.”

Becky came home to her parents’ dairy farm in Maple Park just two weeks before Christmas and is doing really well, Carson said, though she had to be taken to the emergency room on Christmas day to have an IV reinserted.

A hit-and-run accident in the Cayman Islands on July 1 had left Becky in a coma for nearly five weeks, with a traumatic brain injury and a shattered pelvis. It was a doubly nightmarish scenario because Becky had no health insurance at the time, wracking up huge medical bills while her parents struggled to get her transferred to a hospital in the Chicago area. Despite several brain surgeries and a hip surgery, as well as months of rehabilitation, she still has another surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation ahead of her.

Yet Becky’s progress has been significant, Carson said. Though she is still in a wheelchair and has a feeding tube, she has regained much of her speech.

“She can carry on a conversation with you, she knows everybody, she knows who you are, (and) she can help you do things,” Carson said. “Sometimes her speech depends on whether she’s tired or not, so (the therapists) are working on that to make it more clear. We’re around her all the time, so we can understand her fine.”

Becky is starting to write words again, Carson said, and can write her own name and other people’s names.

Her memory has also returned.

“It seems like everything’s working in her brain, and it seems that she remembers things really well,” Carson said. “Her memory’s totally working. She’ll remember stuff, (such as) something she did with her grandma, who died years ago, and things from her childhood.”

Therapists come a few days a week to continue her treatment at home. Becky is still receiving speech, physical and occupational therapy. A nurse makes regular visits to check her feeding tube, as well.

Another cranioplasty will be scheduled soon, Carson said, to put a metal plate in Becky’s head. Surgeons had to remove a portion of Becky’s skull after the accident to relieve the pressure on her brain, and the plate will replace the missing bone. Doctors initially put the plate in on Oct. 31, but removed it again when Becky developed an infection, leaving Becky with a soft, unprotected spot on her head.

“Medically, it’ll be nice to not have to worry about bumping that anymore,” Carson said.

If the family has a New Year’s resolution, Carson said, it’s to see that Becky keeps making progress.

“I think the next big step is to get her walking again,” Carson said. “She had to stay off the hip for three months (while it healed), so that was a long time she wasn’t putting any weight on her legs. They were doing therapy with her (at the RIC), and she was doing pretty well with the parallel bars, but it’s been harder at home because we don’t have the same equipment for her to do therapy on.”

Carson said the family was overwhelmed with gratitude for the community support. The Nelsons still have some funds remaining from the $24,000 raised at the Help Becky Bounce Back Fundraiser on Oct. 20 in Kaneville.

“Sometimes you have to fight with (Medicaid) about getting stuff paid, but so far that’s working OK,” Carson said. “The money is in the fund for extras and if something isn’t covered, but so far we haven’t spent it all yet. Money-wise, it’s much better.”

Now that Becky is home, several family members have volunteered to help care for Becky during the day, Carson said, which has allowed Peggy to return to work at Old Second Bank in Elburn a couple days a week.

“We just appreciate everybody’s help. With (the community’s) help, we were able to get her home, and Becky’s really grateful to everybody who’s been helping her. She’s always saying ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re awesome.’ She’s aware of people who have sent her cards and asked about her,” Carson said.

For updates on Becky’s progress, follow the Help Becky Bounce Back page on Facebook.

Road improvements and police service main Maple Park priorities for 2014

MAPLE PARK—Village President Kathy Curtis recently said that the village in 2014 will continue to build on the momentum it gained last year, with the emphasis on road improvements and police service.

High on the list for 2014 is the continuation of street maintenance within the village. Additional sections of Willow and Pearl streets will be paved in the coming year—part of the ongoing initiative to improve the village’s infrastructure.

The Village Board in 2014 will review the fee structure for development, in anticipation of new growth. Curtis said she has seen empty lots being purchased around the village, and the expectation is that building will soon begin again in Maple Park.

The Maple Park Police Department will continue to increase the hours of its police force, as it has done each of the last four years. Curtis said Chief Mike Acosta’s goal is to continue to increase police presence in the village until it is a full 24-7 on-duty department.

“We have a bright future,” Curtis said of the village.

Maple Park does a lot with a little in 2013

by Susan O’Neill

MAPLE PARK—Maple Park accomplished a number of things in 2013 despite having a small budget.

“We have awesome people,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Curtis described Maple Park as a “do-it-yourself community,” making good things happen with limited resources.

One of the events this year that brought out the best in Maple Park residents was the Crazy Quail fundraiser for Special Olympics. Hosted by Maple Park resident Dean Goodenough, the successful event raised $5,000 for Illinois Special Olympics, pushing the Maple Park Police Department past its 2013 goal of $50,000 and making it the top fundraiser of Illinois law enforcement organizations.

“I’m very proud of the effort,” Curtis said. “It brought a lot of good energy to the Maple Park community.”

Thanks to Captain Nick Louis and his organization, the Airline Pilot’s Historical Society (APHS), the children of Maple Park have new playground equipment to play on in the park near the Maple Park Civic Center. The APHS picked out and purchased the equipment, and Maple Park’s Public Works Department installed it.

Curtis said the equipment, designed for children ages 10 and younger, gets a lot of use and looks great.

Progress continues on the Civic Center building, including the remodeling of the gymnasium. Curtis said a good cleaning, a paint job and a new curtain have made the room more presentable. Tuckpointing on the outside of the building continues, with the village doing a little more each year.

The village was the recipient of additional security cameras for Village Hall again this year, which monitor the building and keep a handle on vandalism.

Curtis last year said that Maple Park’s chief goal for 2013 was to be sustainable, provide quality service on a tight budget and plan maintenance projects to avoid emergency situations, and road improvements were a part of that maintenance. The village used $183,000 from the road and bridge fund on a paving project for portions of Willow, Pearl and Palmer streets.

Several village accomplishments are significant, in that they’ve been a long time coming. After many discussions over the past 10 years, village officials at the beginning of December signed a boundary agreement with the village of Cortland.

“It’s pretty historic,” Curtis said. “It speaks volumes about both boards.”

Curtis said that both boards were unanimous in their vote to seal the agreement.

“Everybody put their difference aside, and we finally got it done,” she said.

Another agreement that spent a long time in the works was the village’s acceptance of Heritage Hill’s park and pond area. After working with the developer for a number of years, the village has taken over the maintenance of the park.

“It’s shaping up to be a really nice park,” Curtis said.

Families have donated trees and benches in memory of loved ones, leading to the park’s name, Memorial Park.

Curtis is also pleased to see consistent attendance at the Police Department’s drop-in center. Set up to provide a place for the young people in Maple Park to go, the drop-in center offers games, movies and music, all under adult supervision. Curtis said there are about 30 young people there every Friday night.

Village Clerk Liz Peerboom initiated a village Facebook page this summer, where important village information is communicated to residents.

Curtis said that Peerboom is a valuable employee, keeping herself well-educated in what is needed to accomplish her responsibilities. This year, she completed the requirements to become a certified municipal clerk.

The village this year hired a new building inspector, who has begun to educate residents on village codes and property maintenance issues. The village also appointed three new Plan Commission members, for a full seven-person commission. The three new members are newer residents, whom Curtis said can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table.

Curtis said she’s beginning to see lots being purchased, and the village is working to get things in place in anticipation of future building.

“We have a bright future,” Curtis said.


Photos: Crafting in Maple Park

Photo: Participants gathered Dec. 4 at the Maple Park American Legion for the third annual Make and Take holiday crafting event. There were several craft stations designed for ages 3 and up. Lemonade and cookies were served. Donations were also accepted. Guests got a chance to make homemade ornaments and gifts to use as Christmas items.

MP Village Board approves 2013 tax levy

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve the village’s tax levy for the fiscal year commencing May 1, 2013, and ending April 30, 2014.

The total extension of the 2013 levy is $203,518, with a tax rate of 0.8096. Last year’s levy was $199,696, with a tax rate of 0.7131. According to a village document, the largest factor of the increase in rate is the decrease in Equalized Assessed Value (EAV).

The document states that the assessed valuations last year decreased from $31 million to $28 million (a decrease of 10.4 percent). This year, assessed valuations decreased from $28 million to $25 million, or a decrease of 10.23 percent.

“The village of Maple Park’s budget is frugal; the village relies on property taxes,” said Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis. “The annual tax levy provides the revenue needed to provide services. The tax levy is formula based on assessed values. The village is only requesting of residents what it needs to operate.”

Per the village document, a home with an assessed value of $64,500 (EAV of $193,500) last year would pay approximately $9 more in village property taxes this year.


Turkey time

Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park held its annual Turkey Drop event on Sunday, allowing area families to gather to help others in need this holiday season. The event will help put a meal on the table at Thanksgiving for 68 families—of those 68 families, 20 of them will also get a Christmas meal from Turkey Drop. There was also a craft/vendor area for local folks to sell items, chili for families who donated, a band and a craft area for kids. Pastor Ko (left) and Ann Janecek of Maple Park serve food to those who were kind enough to come out and donate at the event. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

MP Fun Fest Committee to sponsor Make and Take event

by Natalie Juns

MAPLE PARK—Kids and parents alike will enter into a fun evening filled with creative crafts and holiday gift making at the Make and Take Event, sponsored by the Fun Fest Committee, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the American Legion, located at 203 Main St. in Maple Park.

This is the third year that the Fun Fest Committee has hosted the Make and Take event to provide holiday activities for kids who live in Maple Park and the surrounding area. Each year, the committee has noticed more kids in the community coming out and participating in the festivities.

Kids will be able to participate in the 8-to-10 different craft stations at their leisure. Crafts will include Christmas ornament decorating, coloring, decorating gift bags and boxes, writing letters to Santa and more.

Lemonade and refreshments will be provided. There is no cost associated with the event, but donations will be accepted for the Fun Fest Committee.

Beth Miller, Fun Fest Committee member and Maple Park Resident, helps organize the craft stations for the event and supports finding more activities and opportunities for kids in Maple Park.

“One thing that is lacking in Maple Park is activities for kids,” Miller said. “Our Make and Take event provides a fun evening for kids to do crafts and make gifts for their families.”


MP Turkey Drop provides way to help those in need

MAPLE PARK—During the holiday season, community members and residents alike look for opportunities to give back to their respective community.

If you are trying to find a way to donate this year, the annual Maple Park Turkey Drop could be the answer for you.

The Turkey Drop is sponsored by the Grace United Methodist Church and St. Mary of the Assumption, both of Maple Park.

The doors of Grace United Methodist Church, located at 506 Willow St., will be open on Sunday, Nov. 24, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for anyone interested in donating a frozen turkey or ham or canned goods that will go to local charities in Maple Park and the Kaneland community for families in need in the surrounding area.

Members of the church are also interested in items that are canned or dried goods, such as instant mashed potatoes, gravy, canned green beans, stuffing, cranberries, canned corn, canned fruit, canned cream of mushroom soup and boxed desserts.

At the event, there will also be a meal provided as a thank you for anyone who donates towards the Turkey Drop. Craft vendors and entertainment for kids in the form of a bouncy house will be at the church the day of the event.

If you are interested in hosting a vendor table, contact Heidi at There is a $10 fee included for each craft vendor table.

Both churches encourage the public to participate in the Turkey Drop to help local residents who need support from their community this holiday season.

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