Category Archives: Local News

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Eddie Gaedel official opening a grand slam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter: School Board unconcerned with taxpayers’ financial interests?

The Kaneland School Board recently authorized spending $225,000 on 91 iPad Minis and 588 Chromebooks for the district’s students without informing themselves or the District tax payers of an implementation plan for the devices. Yet at the same meeting, the board tabled the vote to raise the hot lunch cost by $.50 in order to obtain more information.
Taxpayers—does it seem like the board members, whom we have elected, are not diligently watching out for our financial interests? The board will spend close to a quarter of a million dollars on electronics without a plan and question a $.50 increase for hot lunches that is required to be compliant with the state Board of Education.
Or do you, the taxpayers of District 302, even care how our tax monies are handled by the Kaneland School Board?
Jeff Armesy
Sugar Grove

Letter: A thank you to blood drive participants

This has been a long and difficult winter, but you helped us fill the shortages of every blood type. We thank the Sugar Grove Firefighters Auxiliary, the Sugar Grove Fire Department, the Heartland Blood Center staff and all our other volunteers for their hard work on a successful blood drive.
A heartfelt thank you to our awesome donors: Suzanne Barnhart, Judy Burscheid, Erika Carlson, Brian Carpenter, Paul Carter, Amy Curtin, Matt Curtin, Jon Diaz, Sue Diaz, Michelle Ehlers, Scott Fagust, Amanda Felella, Elise Fichtel, Ann Guernon, Brandon Hamblen, Lori Hamilton Coffey, George Hannemann, Dustin Hawkins, Pam Hughes, Colleen Ickes, John Jandovitz, Kristen Johns, Doug Jorgensen, Laura Keske, Steve Kowalczyk, Nicole Lamela, Ed Malert, Bonnie Mateas, Sally McClellan, Suzanne McCracken, Sean Michels, Pat Morey, Bryan Needham, Clarence Nolan, Kirsten Pehl, Bill Perkins, Jenny Perkins, Nika Plattos, Rachel Roop, Jodie Rubo, Brian Schiber, Jennifer Schmidt, Edward Schuster, Christy Seawall, Gregory W. Smith, Chris Steenwyk, Jeff Steenwyk, Jeni Suehs, Colby Suits, Patricia Torza, Kyle Wease, Alicia Weiss, Emily West, Michael Wilger, Annette Wood and Ally Woody.
We deeply appreciate those who attempted but were unable to donate blood.
Joy Rubo
Blood drive coordinator, Sugar Grove

Community Corner: Fine Arts Festival will delight all ages

by Maria Dripps-Paulson,
KAI executive director

Sunday, April 13, will mark the 15-year anniversary of the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s signature event, the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival.

The festival was born out of a need to offer an event to showcase the arts at a professional level to Kaneland families and community members. Attended by over 3,000 patrons, the festival has always been free to attend and is a wonderful tradition for all ages.

This year’s festival is no exception, promising to delight all ages. Besides the hands-on art and storytime provided by Kaneland public libraries, preschool-aged students will be treated to the interactive African folktale “Handa’s Surprise,” where they will be able to make masks and take part in the tale told by Lande Sanusi from The CAKE Village (

The Kaneland High School art club will provide temporary tattoos, face-painting and balloon art. Workshops will include origami, glass fusing, Korean calligraphy, and the ever-popular caricature drawings of Michael Shiroda.

Professional visual artists will create art in traditional art forms such as oil, acrylic, watercolor and pottery. Several artists will be creating art in mixed media, combining multiple materials and mediums. Kaneland student artwork will be available for auction next to professional artwork donated by this year’s artists. Over 500 students’ art pieces will be displayed from all of the schools within the Kaneland School District.

This year’s Kaneland Alumni Spotlight will be the Dylan Good Trio at 11 a.m. in the Kaneland auditorium. Dylan is a graduate of Kaneland High School and will bring his jazz trio to the Festival.

Also on the Kaneland Auditorium stage will be the Fox Valley Children’s Chorus, American Eagle Shows’ production of “James and the Giant Peach,” and the “Barefoot Hawaiian.” In the Arts pavilion, the Kaneland Youth Orchestra will return to play, as well as the Hix Bros. Ukulele Ensemble.

For 15 years, the award-winning Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival has been supported by the Kaneland School District, as well as many other financial sponsors. The Kaneland Arts Initiative would like to thank its sponsors: Elburn Herald, Midwest Window and Supply, Open Range Southwest Grill restaurant, Elburn Chiropractic & Acupuncture, Ross Electric, Inc., Vons Electric, Inc., and Waubonsee Community College.

More information can be found on the KAI website,, or the KAI Facebook page,

Editor’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.

Editorial: A thank you to local candidates

It was three weeks ago when we concluded our coverage of the 2014 General Election Primary, and we’d like to use this space to thank all of the local candidates who took time out to complete an Elburn Herald questionnaire.

It was a privilege to interact with candidates in the races for U.S. Senate, Kane County Clerk, Kane County Sheriff, Kane County Board District 5 and 50th District Representative, and we look forward to furthering communication with the nominated representatives in the weeks leading up to this fall’s election. It’s sure to be an exciting time for Kane County and nearby districts.

We’d also like to extend a thanks to the candidates for 16th Judicial Circuit 3rd Subcircuit, as they also took time out of their schedule to complete our questionnaire. Unfortunately, we were unable to feature their entries in the paper due to space constraints. Still, it was a pleasure to get to know the four candidates who ran for their respective Republican nomination earlier this month, and we look forward to seeing them in action in November.

Lastly, we want to thank you, the reader, for allowing the Elburn Herald to bring you comprehensive coverage of this spring’s election. Our goal was to leave no stone unturned while researching the field and gathering information from each featured candidate, and we’d like to think we succeeded in that regard. And if not, we hope to do better next time around.

After all, you deserve the best election content available. And the Elburn Herald feels honored to have an opportunity to further introduce local candidates to the Kaneland community and additional portions of Kane County.

So thank you to this March’s election candidates, and thank you to those who took time out to visit the polls and vote on March 18.

Sugar Grove discusses senior living development

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday discussed the planning and restrictions that would accompany a village zoning district exclusively for seniors over the age of 55.

The 60-unit apartment complex designated for seniors would be built on approximately 6 acres of land and would have the specific accommodations for a zoning district for seniors.

A portion of Galena Boulevard, just west of the Walgreens on Division Drive, is being considered for the zoning district.

James White, attorney at White & Ekker, P.C., was in attendance on Tuesday to address the board’s questions. White explained the importance of adhering to a specific age restriction for the zoning district when asked if there is any lenience for age restriction.

“We want to make sure it stays in the age restricted for each development, because a lot of things change if you change the age restriction, like the amount of parking available,” White said.

Public Works Director Anthony Speciale mentioned one of the differences of living in an age restricted area.

“Where I live, there is an age restriction on 18 and under, and we receive a break on school impact fees,” he said.

Village trustee Rick Montalto voiced his concern about restricting the age limit.

“I’m all for building age-restricted developments, but my concern is down the road, seniors will leave if we tax our pensions,” Montalto said. “Worst case scenario, we would have a mass exodus of seniors leaving Illinois because their pensions are getting taxed.”

According to White, if Montalto’s scenario played out, the village could request a rezoning and potentially even change the age restriction.

“This plan gives the village the most control,” White said. “I commend them for researching this and allowing reason to come in and create guidelines. As a developer, we want to find a target and hit it.”

The board has an internal meeting with White where it will discuss the information addressed during Tuesday’s meeting. According to White, the next step would be the Committee of the Whole meeting, followed by a potential approval in May.


Avenue J Studios introduces youths to stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Making the grade

The Sugar Grove Fire Department on March 18 held its swearing-in ceremonies of promoted lieutenants Sara Naden and Erik Carlson; paid on-call firefighters, Joseph Beallis, Michael Brown, Bronson Flannagan, Brandon Gudovitz, Kyle MacDonald, Jacob Mackey, Collin O’Neil and Andrew Pauley; and new recruits, Jonathon Anderson, Christopher Caci, Brent Czekala, Brandon Hamblen, Lloyd Hatcher, Nicholas Linden, Ross Reeder, Jacob Smith and Adam Walker. Light refreshments were served afterward. Chief Marty Kunkel (above, right) with probationary honor badges to hand to the new recruits.

Erik Carlson (above), a Sugar Grove resident, was promoted to lieutenant.

Sugar Grove resident Michael Brown (above) was hired to paid on-call firefighter.

Sugar Grove resident Sara Naden (above) was promoted to lieutenant.


Elburn poised for steady growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART ONE: Memories of Elburn past

PART TWO: Elburn grows up

Sgt. Gary Fenili & Chief Pat Rollins

Fenili completes School of Police Staff, Command

Photo: Sugar Grove Police Sergeant Gary Fenili (left) was recognized by the Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday for having completed Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command. Fenili is just the second Sugar Grove Police Department supervisor in 22 years to complete the 10-week course. Photos submitted by the Village of Sugar Grove to

SUGAR GROVE—Sergeant Gary Fenili of the Sugar Grove Police Department was honored by Sugar Grove Police Chief Pat Rollins and the Village Board on March 25 for successfully completing Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

Fenili completed the grueling 10-week course while fulfilling and attending to his regular job as sergeant. He is just the second Sugar Grove Police Department supervisor in 22 years to complete the course.

Rollins during the ceremony presented a framed certificate along with a key to the school and acknowledged Sgt. Fenili for his achievement.

“Thank you for giving back to the community and for being a leader,” Rollins said.

Fenili expressed his gratefulness for having the opportunity to attend the school.

“I wanted to thank the board for letting me go to the class,” Fenili said. “I look forward to working with the chief on different projects. There is a bright future here at the police force.”

The School of Police Staff and Command is for mid-to-upper-level management personnel. Its students are expected to write lengthy papers and complete extensive projects, presentations, and examinations on topics such as human resources, resource allocation, leadership, budgeting, staffing, employee and union issues, the police end of running a business, and more.

The coursework for the school demands a lot of time and effort on the police officers who attend, as they have to juggle homework, classes, tests, their regular jobs and personal life. The work that accompanies the class is similar to master’s level coursework in a condensed format, according to Rollins.

“I would rate the class as 9.5 to 10 in difficulty,” said Fenili. “There are a lot of late nights with meeting deadlines.”

Upon completing the class, officers may qualify for upper-level positions that are made available.

“I’m very content with my job as a sergeant, but if the opportunity rises to move up, I would throw my hat in the mix,” Fenili said.


Bestselling author visits Blackberry Creek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wyatt noticed something else about Beaty, too.

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

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

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

Community corner: Fine Arts Festival will delight all ages

by Maria Dripps-Paulson,
KAI executive director
Sunday, April 13, will mark the 15-year anniversary of the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s signature event, the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival.
The festival was born out of a need to offer an event to showcase the arts at a professional level to Kaneland families and community members. Attended by over 3,000 patrons, the festival has always been free to attend and is a wonderful tradition for all ages.
This year’s festival is no exception, promising to delight all ages. Besides the hands-on art and storytime provided by Kaneland public libraries, preschool-aged students will be treated to the interactive African folktale “Handa’s Surprise,” where they will be able to make masks and take part in the tale told by Lande Sanusi from The CAKE Village (
The Kaneland High School art club will provide temporary tattoos, face-painting and balloon art. Workshops will include origami, glass fusing, Korean calligraphy, and the ever-popular caricature drawings of Michael Shiroda.
Professional visual artists will create art in traditional art forms such as oil, acrylic, watercolor and pottery. Several artists will be creating art in mixed media, combining multiple materials and mediums. Kaneland student artwork will be available for auction next to professional artwork donated by this year’s artists. Over 500 students’ art pieces will be displayed from all of the schools within the Kaneland School District.
This year’s Kaneland Alumni Spotlight will be the Dylan Good Trio at 11 a.m. in the Kaneland auditorium. Dylan is a graduate of Kaneland High School and will bring his jazz trio to the Festival.
Also on the Kaneland Auditorium stage will be the Fox Valley Children’s Chorus, American Eagle Shows’ production of “James and the Giant Peach,” and the “Barefoot Hawaiian.” In the Arts pavilion, the Kaneland Youth Orchestra will return to play, as well as the Hix Bros. Ukulele Ensemble.
For 15 years, the award-winning Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival has been supported by the Kaneland School District, as well as many other financial sponsors. The Kaneland Arts Initiative would like to thank its sponsors: Elburn Herald, Midwest Window and Supply, Open Range Southwest Grill restaurant, Elburn Chiropractic & Acupuncture, Ross Electric, Inc., Vons Electric, Inc., and Waubonsee Community College.
More information can be found on the KAI website,, or the KAI Facebook page, KanelandArtsInitiative.

Editor’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.


It’s in the stars

Photo: During periods of particularly strong solar activity, Herman Zwirn can see the aurora borealis (seen on page 2B) from his observatory in Lily Lake. Though the aurora was visible earlier this winter, cloudy weather distorted the view. But in 2011, he captured spectacular shots (below). “The entire sky, the entire sky was the aurora,” Zwirn said. “We had run into a coronal mass ejection head on like a wave, and it just covered the entire sky. It was spectacular.” Photo by Cheryl Borrowdale

Lily Lake resident’s passion for astronomy burns bright
LILY LAKE—On a clear night, Herman Zwirn of Lily Lake can see distant nebulas or observe the icy rings of Saturn from his backyard observatory.

The observatory—a small building with a roof that rolls off to allow unobstructed views of the sky—features a large telescope, as well as a refractor, which Zwirn can use with filters to observe the sun during the day.

His telescope is powerful enough to observe surface features on the planets.

“With Jupiter, you can make out the swirls in the atmosphere, you can make out the loops and the details of the storms,” he said. “Saturn, you can see the rings pretty well and see the storms on the surface.”

Faded star charts line the observatory’s walls. He put them up when he first built his observatory in 1989, but they’re mainly decorative now. Computer programs that show the location of objects in the sky replaced them years ago.

He spends just about every clear night outside in his observatory, often accompanied by one of his collies, who like to lie nearby while he is staring into the heavens. For Zwirn, it’s all about the wonder.
“I think astronomy is one of those things. When you start doing it, there’s a wonder to it. Just opening up the telescope, there’s so much beauty to see. I watched the sun today, and there’s a nice bunch of sunspots. It makes your brain tickle, like classical music. It just takes hold of you,” Zwirn said. “The wonder never goes away. It just gets more wonderful and challenging.”

Zwirn’s passion for astronomy brought him to Lily Lake in 1987. He had been observing the sky from an observatory he’d built at his house in Lisle, Ill., before that, but when a car dealership went up nearby, the lights from the parking lot blotted out the night sky. He moved further west in search of darkness, even though he worked on the north side of Chicago for many years and had a two-hour commute.

Nearly three decades later, development is once again encroaching on Zwirn’s view, with light pollution from new stores and gas stations making it harder to see the stars. Air pollution is also making his view hazier, with fine particulate matter making it more difficult to get clear views.
Aurora lily Lake110704
That’s why Zwirn now trains his telescopes mainly on the brightest objects in the night sky, the moon and the planets, while in Lily Lake. He and his wife, Mary, now spend much of their summer on a farm in north-central Iowa, where they have a second observatory and a darker night sky—dark enough that he can photograph Andromeda.

“I like to do the planets and the moon, because that’s what’s best to do here,” Zwirn said. “But when I’m out further, I like to go deep sky. You can see the Milky Way. Even out here, you can see it faintly, but we’re rapidly approaching Chicago.”

He regularly consults charts created by cleardarksky.comto determine which nights are the darkest and will have the best sky transparency—both important for astrophotography, one of his favorite astronomical pursuits.

“If you’re just looking through a telescope, it’s not that critical,” Zwirn said. “But if you’re taking images, it is. Astrophotography can be something that is remarkable.”

Zwirn’s passion for both astronomy and photography began in high school, when he lived on the south side of Chicago and joined his school’s astronomy club. His father cut a hole in their garage roof so Zwirn could observe the sky better, and he still has pictures that he took of the moon as a teen. The more he learned about astronomy, the more serious he became about it.

He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied fine art painting for a few years until he got drafted in the Vietnam War. Stationed in Thailand, where the Air Force ran operations into North Vietnam, Zwirn learned computer skills and became fluent in Thai—and when his service was over, he returned to Chicago to work in information systems.

The shift from art to science was a natural one, he said.

Herman-Zwirn-2 “One of the reasons I enjoyed working in systems so much was that it was just as creative as art. We were making new things up, and we got to see them work,” he said. “Most scientists have some artistic bent—music, painting, photography. I think they go together.”

Astronomy and astrophotography can be solitary hobbies, but Zwirn enjoys sharing his interest with others, particularly children. He’s a board member for the Fox Valley Astronomical Society, which meets at Peck Farm in Geneva. And he likes to attend the public star parties and work with area schools.

“In many cases, (the schools) don’t have any equipment at all, so we’ll go out with the kids and set up the telescopes. One of our best times was at a middle school, and it was cloudy, so the kids decided they were going to do a little dance and make the rain go away—and the sky cleared,” he said. “These are just wonderful experiences, and you just hope that these kids have the chance to make a choice (about entering STEM fields).”

His passion for astronomy has also taken him all over the world to observe total solar eclipses.

Remarkable things happen during an eclipse, Zwirn said, as the natural world reacts to the sudden disappearance of the sun. While he was eclipse chasing on a ship in the Sea of Cortez, off the western coast of Mexico, dolphins came up to observe the sky at the moment of total eclipse.

“They got up on their tails. It was like they knew they couldn’t look at it until it was total,” Zwirn said. “They were like little dolphin astronomers.”

From the deserts of Libya, where he joined 15,000 fellow eclipse chasers who arrived to view a seven-minute total solar eclipse, to the Bolivian altiplano, where he camped at 14,000 feet above sea level and in the middle of a llama path, viewing eclipses is “just an overwhelming experience,” he said.

He also rents time on telescopes around the world. To see the southern sky, he uses large telescopes in Australia that he can control remotely, viewing stars and other celestial objects that aren’t visible in the northern hemisphere.

“I haven’t been out a lot this winter because of the weather, but I’m out whenever I can,” he said. “Most of my life, I’ve been fascinated by math and science, and I can’t imagine not having that knowledge.”

Club Z! Annual Achievement Award

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

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

For more information, visit

Madigan issues advice for tax season

CHICAGO—In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Lisa Madigan today alerted Illinois consumers to the costly risk of tax refund anticipation products as they work to file their tax returns by Tuesday, April 15.

Tax preparers offer refund anticipation loans, checks and temporary debit cards as an option for consumers to receive an instant cash deposit based on their anticipated tax refund instead of waiting for their official IRS refund. But in reality these options are in essence short-term, high-cost loans that only saddle consumers with high interest rates and fees that are deducted from their tax refund. Particularly egregious is the fact that consumers who obtain refund anticipation checks and debit cards do not actually receive their returns faster because the business must still wait for the IRS to deposit the refund into the temporary account.

In addition to tax refund anticipation products, Madigan said consumers should be aware of complaints received by her office regarding tax-related identity theft. Madigan’s lawsuit against the tax preparer Mo Money in 2012 and other complaints into her office show that for some consumers, even simply consulting with a company offering tax refund anticipation products leads to problems. Consumers have reported instances of companies filing a tax return in their name without their authorization based on information the consumer provided in an initial consultation.

Madigan offered tips for consumers to avoid becoming the victim of tax-related identity theft:
• Do not open or reply to any emails claiming to be from the IRS that contain a request for personal information. Ask for a call-back number and employee badge number from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent, so that you may independently confirm the phone number and agent.
• Report any suspicious IRS paper mail correspondence to the IRS, if the sender is identified as not legitimate, contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1 (800) 366-4484.
• Contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1 (800) 908-4490 or visit the IRS website to report tax-related identity theft.
To report a complaint involving a refund anticipation product, contact Madigan s Consumer Fraud hotlines: 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago); 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield); 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale).

Waubonsee receives workforce training grant

SUGAR GROVE—Waubonsee Community College’s efforts to boost workforce training have received a boost from the state of Illinois.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has awarded Waubonsee a grant worth $45,500 through the Illinois Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) to allow the college to reimburse eligible employers for up to half of the cost of worker training.

The grant funds are administered through Waubonsee’s Workforce Development Department, which provides customized training solutions for local businesses.

Under the grant guidelines, money can be disbursed to employers physically located in Illinois who are conducting employee training activities that are directly associated with the employees’ day-to-day work activities, or in response to changing technology or industry processes. Eligible training activities must be approved in advance, and companies must pay Waubonsee before any money can be reimbursed.

Since 2008, Waubonsee has disbursed $191,000 in ETIP grants, in addition to the 2014 disbursements, in support of workforce training.

Local employers interested in employee training should contact Waubonsee’s Workforce Development Department at (630) 906-4152.


Hill’s Country Store promotes epilepsy awareness

KANEVILLE—Hill’s Country Store, aka the “Purple Store,” in Kaneville, is participating in the Great Purple Cupcake Project for the second consecutive year, from now through Sunday, March 30, at the store’s location, 2S133 Harter Road.

The project is organized by the Anita Kaufmann Foundation in support of Purple Day, March 26. People all over the world participate in the project in an effort to raise epilepsy awareness.

Alexa Hill, daughter of Hill’s Country Store owners Pat and Cliff Hill, introduced the cupcake project to the store last spring during her senior year of college at Aurora University. Alexa said she discovered the purple-laden endeavor while researching for her Capstone project.

“Last year, when I was researching a business plan and the marketing needs for a bakery for my Capstone project, I came across the Great Purple Cupcake Project,” Alexa said. “I thought it would be a great idea to support since my mom’s cousin, Jimmy, died of an epileptic seizure. He didn’t know he had epilepsy.”

The color purple is used to symbolize and promote epilepsy awareness, so it was only fitting that the Purple Store get involved with the cupcake project.

As the store’s manager, Alexa bakes pies and cookies on a regular basis. Naturally, she handled all the cupcakes for the fundraiser project, baking chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with purple frosting, as well as purple-cupcake-shaped sugar cookies, all for $1 each.

The store will also have educational bookmarks available, explaining the steps that should be taken when a person is having an epileptic seizure. Alexa added purple paper cupcakes to the project so that donors can have their name on a cupcake-shaped sheet with the dollar amount they contributed. All proceeds will go to the Anita Kaufmann Foundation. The paper cupcakes will be displayed around the store, along with coloring sheets kids have decorated for the store’s coloring contest.

Coloring contest sheets can be picked up at the store and submitted through the end of this week. The girl and boy winners will be announced next week. Updates on the project and pictures from the week can be found on the Hill’s Country Store Facebook page.

“It means a lot to me to support epilepsy awareness, especially because of Jimmy,” Alexa said. “I would like for everyone to know about it.”


Elburn grows up

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

Officials, residents examine village’s current state

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not everyone is concerned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PART ONE: Memories of Elburn past

PART THREE: Elburn poised for steady growth

Village Board talks salt, road repair options

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday discussed its options for purchasing salt and for road repair. Streets Supervisor Geoff Payton addressed his thoughts and recommendations for the purchasing of salt for next year.

“We would like to take advantage of the renewal option since we used a lot of our resources this winter,” Payton said. “We need to order 3,200 tons of salt, and we would like them to lock in our price for the year.”

Payton mentioned that they ordered 2,250 tons of salt last year and that the amount they need changes each year. He also told the board that the cost of salt wouldn’t increase past 5 percent. The Village Board has a deadline of Friday, March 28, to send in their request to the state to renew their salt contract.

The Village Board approved Payton’s request for the salt renewal option. Payton mentioned that the village sparingly used sand this year in order to preserve its salt supply.

Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger discussed the related topic of road repair options after a long winter.

“We need to decide if we want to spend the money on crack sealing roads and save some of these roads now,” Eichelberger said. “It will be expensive later.”

Eichelberger mentioned two different ways to fund the road repair, one of them being a vehicle registration fee and the other a referendum. He mentioned the possible negative effects of both options, as the vehicle registration fee could be a very unpopular decision, and the referendum would be difficult to pass in this economy according to Eichelberger.

“There are a lot of issues with both methods, and there isn’t a viable method,” Eichelberger said. “I would like to have a focus-group-type discussion with the Village Board.”

Elburn Lions March Calendar Raffle winners

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

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

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


Photos: Sales for eveyone

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

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

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

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Sugar Grove shows its support for McCannon

SUGAR GROVE—The friends and family of Matt McCannon welcomed over 250 people to his benefit on Friday, March 14, in the Pine Room at Bliss Creek Golf Course in Sugar Grove.

McCannon, a long-time Sugar Grove resident, has been unable to work or receive his health insurance benefits without paying full price since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in late 2013. After learning of his condition, community members coordinated a benefit to help McCannon during this difficult time.

The event featured a corn beef dinner served with cabbage, potatoes and carrots for guests. Multiple raffles were held during the evening.

Sugar Grove Village Board trustee Rick Montalto helped with the organization and planning of the benefit, and said he was pleased with the turnout.

“The turnout far exceeded our expectations,” Montalto said. “We sold about 150 meal tickets prior to the event and had another 115 people show up at the door on the night of the event, for a total of 265 for dinner. The community was very generous with both donations for the raffle prizes and donations to the family.”

The 265 meal tickets were sold at $20 apiece, and all the proceeds went to benefit McCannon and his family. Several people donated abundantly to the raffle.

“We had several things donated for the raffle,” said Fred Felella, who is McCannon’s friend. “There was a golfing outing for four, a recliner, a big-screen TV, numerous gift cards, a family night package, 38-plus different gift baskets and more.”

Anyone who would like to donate a monetary gift can make their check out to the Matt McCannon MS Fund and drop them off at the Castle Bank location in Sugar Grove.

“The place was busting to the seams with how many people who attended, and Matt was completely overwhelmed in a good way,” said Kevin Choate, a Sugar Grove resident and American Legion member who is a friend of McCannon’s. “The old saying, ‘You don’t know how many lives you’ve touched until you need help,’ comes to mind.”


Photos: All that Jazz

The musical Broadway hit “The Drowsy Chaperone” was presented by KHS March 21-23. Sophomore Nicole DiSandro (right), in character as Janet Van De Graaff, performs the song “Show Off” during dress rehearsal March 20.

‘Man in Chair’ was played by junior James Tockstein.

Junior Rachel Miller performs in a straitjacket as the Drowsy Chaperone.

Junior Dillon Lynn played in the ensemble as a reporter.

School Board approves technology purchase

KANELAND—Kaneland students will soon have more technology at their fingertips.

The Kaneland School Board on Monday voted to 6-1 approve the purchase of student devices at a total of $225,000.

The objective of the purchase is to have a 3-to-1 ratio, which means there will be three students for every one device during the next school year.

Board member Tony Valente was the lone vote against the purchase.

“I don’t object to enhancing our technology needs,” Valente said. “There’s no specific plan to specifically use these devices in specific curricular ways.”

Valente said that he would like a tie to how the Common Core would be used with the computers.

Board member Peter Lopatin pointed out that the purchase is necessary in “today’s world,” while School Board Secretary Gale Pavlak said that she would like to see how the devices are going to be used in the classroom.

According to a report by Kaneland Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schuler, approximately 679 student devices would need to be purchased. Elementary school students would have 91 iPad minis and 205 Chromebooks. Harter Middle School students would have 147 Chromebooks. Kaneland High School students would have 236 Chromebooks.

The Kaneland School District’s mission is to “graduate all students college, career and community ready.” Schuler expanded on that idea in the report and noted that digital devices and resources need to be used to prepare students for those three mission areas.

“College readiness requires students to be good digital citizens, have basic skills in the use of documents and spreadsheets and the ability to complete effective search methods on the internet,” Schuler stated in the report. “Digital citizenship specifically includes appropriate use and choice of digital tools, as well as the ability to problem solve the use of new tools using previous knowledge.”

Board member Pedro Rivas labeled himself as an “IT individual.”

“I can appreciate the technology aspect,” Rivas said. “We’re going to have to do it sooner or later. And we’re here.”

Kaneville talks road repairs

KANEVILLE—Kaneville Village Board members on March 20 discussed plans for road repairs in town. The township plans to repair Lovell and Merrill roads, potentially with an intergovernmental agreement to help with the cost of the road work.

Board member Carl Hauser presented two separate bids—The first detailed intensive repairs, and the second outlined a slightly less intense plan.

“It depends on how much we want to spend, and what we really want done here,” Hauser said.

The Village Board also voted down a resolution that was presented to it last month regarding the county’s plans to build a raised overpass at the railroad tracks on Route 30 and Granart Road.

The resolution mainly concerns the town of Big Rock, whose emergency vehicles have experienced problems at the intersection. Kaneville’s support is not necessary for the initiative’s implementation.

Letter: Thank you from Kaneland Sports Boosters

On Saturday, March 15, Kaneland Sports Boosters hosted its “Knight to Remember” spring fundraiser. The night included a Red Woody concert, silent auction and a number of raffles, highlighted by our grand prize raffle. I am extremely humbled to write that over 70 companies, businesses, teams and individuals contributed to the fundraiser, and over 250 supporters attended to help raise thousands to help support the Kaneland sports programs.

The purpose of the Kaneland Sports Boosters is to provide our athletes and coaches with the “extras” that the school budget cannot fund. Each year, the boosters provide tens of thousands of dollars of raised funds to enhance our sports programs at Kaneland High School and Harter Middle School. Over the past year, we have purchased shooting machines for basketball, spiking machines for volleyball, elliptical training equipment for wrestling, a new electronic timing and video system for track, outdoor tents for cross country and track, every game ball used by our fall, winter and spring sports teams, lodging and transportation for our State-qualifying athletes and teams, and many other important equipment needs. Additionally, we made our annual $1,000 donation to Special Olympics, a $1,000 donation the Washington High School Athletic Department Tornado Relief Fund, and will award four $1,000 scholarships to graduating Kaneland seniors.

None of these funding needs would be met without the generous support of our “Knight to Remember” supporters. We would like to thank the following supporters for their contributions and help at the “Knight to Remember” spring fundraiser: Ace Hardware of Aurora, Alice’s Ice Cream, Anderson Fitness Studio, Anne Shaw, Annette and Dick Theobald, Audrey Ritchey, Bob McCaffrey, Bob Septic, Bob Davidson of HD Backhoe, Boombah of Batavia, Bryan Zwemke, Cadence Fitness and Health, Cadence Health Center, Catering Gourmet, Castle Bank, Cindy Babich, Couture Tan, Dawn Wilkinson, Eddie Gaedel’s, Elburn Car Wash, Emily Kay Salon, Ernie Colombe, Fairview Dental, Fireside Restaurant, Genoa Pizza of Sugar Grove, Great Clips of Sugar Grove, the Guerra Family, Harner’s Bakery, Hair Cuttery, Hair Directors, Heather Espe, It’s Raining Cats & Dogs, Julie Jones, Joann Sleezer, Kelly Woods, Kirhoffers Sporting Goods, Kaneland High School sports teams and coaches, Kaneland Harter Middle School sports teams and coaches, Kim Stanley, KingWok 47, Kristi Parrott, Laurie Hannula Photography, Linda Ross, Lindstrom Chiropractic, Lois Kral, Matt Suhey, Mindy Maloney, Mychelle Prichard, Nanette’s Giving Boutique, Norma and Jay Strang, Open Range Southwest Grill, Paisano’s Pizza, Rachel Muckerheide, Ream’s Elburn Market, the Redman Family, Renew Salon, Roxanne Sowell, Salon Derganto, Schmidt’s Towne Tap, Scott and Melanie Kuhar, Shanne Kuipers, Sign FX, Snap Fitness, Tracy Healy, the Thielk Family, Vaughn Athletic Center, Vera Bradley Corporation, Walter Payton Foundation, West Physical Therapy, Zizi Nail Salon, and the many Sports Booster members who committed long hours to making this event a success.

On behalf of the Kaneland Sports Boosters and the Kaneland High School and Harter Middle School athletes and coaches, we say thank you. We could not have done this without your generous support.

Ryan Delahanty
President, Kaneland Sports Boosters

Editorial: Don’t ask us about our bracket

“How’s your bracket?”

It’s a question that serves as a popular conversation starter this time of year, for both sports nuts and the casual observer. And it’s something very few of us want to hear or discuss.

The “bracket” in question refers to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (aka March Madness), cultivating in April’s Final Four weekend. And every spring, our friends, relatives and co-workers put forth countless tournament pools for us to join. It takes no more than 10-15 minutes to complete a standard NCAA tournament bracket, and it takes even less time for it to be demolished by upsets, buzzer beaters, bizarre gaffes and just about anything else that can possibly affect a college basketball game.

And so questions about one’s bracket typically are answered with something along the lines of “don’t ask” or “I hate (insert name of eliminated national powerhouse).” Seriously. You could venture out to a Buffalo Wild Wings or any sports bar right now and actually hear those exact responses. Rarely will you meet someone who can brag about their bracket once the tournament’s opening weekend has concluded. And if you do find that person, give it a week. Chances are they’ll be singing a much sadder tune. Misery indeed loves company.

That’s why billionaire Warren Buffett recently offered a $1 billion reward to the person who could predict every game within the tournament. That’s right—$1 billion dollars to the bracket correctly calling all 63 games. Seems a little lopsided until, of course, you factor in the odds of authoring a perfect bracket: 1:9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s a lot of commas. And now Buffett’s offer seems plenty lopsided, just in the other direction.

Fortunately, it only takes a halfway decent bracket to win a pool. If you can pick a few early upsets and correctly call at least three of the teams that will land in the Final Four come April, you’re in business. And if you can prognosticate just how those final three games turnout, you might be in the driver’s seat, depending on how many people are in said pool—if it’s over 50 people, you’ll need to be much more accurate with your picks; that means you’ll have to embrace both logic and risk while filling out your bracket.

Oddly, the emotion teams exhibit on the court during March Madness (players screaming their heads off after draining a game-winning shot; players crying inconsolably while curled into the fetal position on the hardwood) is often matched by those who’ve placed the fate of their bracket on those teams. It’s kind of sad to watch someone’s bracket go down in flames, but it’s kind of comforting, as well, especially if our bracket has long since bitten the dust. Again, misery loves company.

Here’s a deal: don’t ask us about our bracket and we won’t ask about yours. And when Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Louisville (the popular Final Four picks this year) eventually lose to schools with vastly inferior rosters, we can share a glance that means only one thing.

“Bracket? What bracket?”

Letter: Thank you to Kane County voters

On behalf of the Don Kramer for Kane County Sheriff campaign team, I would like to thank all the residents who answered their doors and were so friendly to me and my volunteers. I realize having a stranger coming to your door and asking for your time can be an inconvenience, but this is the best way to meet you candidatesr. I also thank you for asking complex questions and giving me your advice on matters that concern our community.

As the November General Election approaches, I plan to go door-to-door and meet with more voters. Please don’t be afraid to ask questions and give your opinions. I hope you will not mind if our volunteers leave behind campaign literature if no one is home. You can also find out more about your sheriff candidates on the Internet at their websites. I ask that you take some time to look at the qualifications for each candidate before the next election.

I would also like to thank my opponent, Kevin Williams, for running an issue-based campaign that focused on the problems that face our community. Lieutenant Williams will help make a strong leadership team at the Sheriff’s Office.

Lastly, I ask for your help in taking down any remaining campaign yard signs for me and other candidates. If you supported a candidate that won the General Primary Election, please hold on to that sign and put it back up after Oct. 1. Other signs can be returned to the candidates, or you can contact the Central Committee for the Republican or Democratic parties.

Don Kramer
Republican Candidate for Kane County Sheriff

Letter: A thank you from Chris Halsey

I would like to thank Dan Hanneman, Keith Hougas and all of the members of the Elburn Lions Club—the greatest Lions Club in the state of Illinois—for hosting my “Roar,” and the businesses, residents and friends that contributed and attended. I would never have imagined that 200 would be in attendance. I promise to represent you (and brag about you) in the best way possible.

Chris Halsey
Elburn Lions Club