Category Archives: Local News

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Seat-belt safety taught

On May 4, students from John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove began participating in a program to reinforce the importance of making use of safety belts.

The Sergeant Seatbelt Occupant Protection Contest is offered in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) “Click It or Ticket” campaign and is the result of a cooperative effort between Principal Shelley Hueber, Sugar Grove Police Chief Bradley Sauer and the Waubonsee Community College Driver Safety Program.

The contest features child-friendly characters and age-appropriate activities for kindergarten through fifth grade, including Grades K and 1 coloring a picture; Grades 2 and 3 drawing a picture and explaining what they have drawn; Grade 4 completing a word search; and Grade 5 completing a crossword puzzle.

NHTSA statistics show car crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 14 and younger.

“It is very important to begin educating children and reinforcing early on the importance of using safety belts every trip, every time,” Waubonsee Driver Safety Manager Kevin Sullivan said. “Research has demonstrated that seat belt safety training for young children in their school can increase not only their belt use rates but also the belt use rate for their entire family.”

Young SG entrepreneur celebrates first anniversary

Having begun his business in a down economy, 28-year-old entrepreneur Derek Eastman is a prime example of how hard work and determination can defy surrounding financial storms and how a beginner can become a winner.

Eastman, a college graduate, poured concrete during college and for a living for two-and-a-half years. He wanted an occupation in which he would use his strong desire to see lives change for the better. One year after becoming an insurance agent, he has acquired 350 clients.

“I am very blessed to be able to operate my own business and surround myself with great people at the same time,” Eastman said.

His business, in Sugar Grove, provides auto, home and life insurance. His company also provides retirement accounts and mutual funds.

Eastman began with zero clients on April 1, 2008, and now has a three-person office and is looking to continue his expansion of developing young professionals. As he makes plans for his first anniversary, he is proud to have worked hard and attained a strong client base. He is currently bringing on board another employee, a bilingual associate who he will train from the ground up to become a licensed agent representing the Hispanic population with integrity.

Eastman is a licensed State Farm insurance agent. He found the company to be the most client-friendly and focused company that he explored. He said his colleagues are good people with the same objectives—to help others and improve their lives.

“I view myself as an educator, not as in insurance salesman,” Eastman said. “It is my job to present all insurance options to my clients, providing them with the best coverage for the most economical price.”

Eastman tells of many new clients he has found to be under-insured, but one in particular stands out. This client has a $1 million home, a wife, two children, but had only $50,000 in auto liability insurance. Had he had an accident and become liable, he could have lost everything. Today this client and many others are able to sleep at night knowing they have the protection their family deserves, he said.

Eastman provides a free insurance review and promises to faithfully do annual reviews.

“Our lives change constantly and coverage should match those changes,” Eastman said. “We may marry, have children, start a business, incorporate, plan for college education or perhaps plan for retirement.

“It is my job to keep my clients’ changing lifestyles in mind and help them remain safe and secure,” Eastman said.

Kaneland plant sale set for May 7-8

The public is invited to a plant sale at the Kaneland High School greenhouse from 2:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 7, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 8.

Proceeds will benefit Kaneland’s horticulture and FFA programs.

Prices are $12 to $18 for a flat of flowers; $1 each for herb and vegetable plants; $4 for a geranium and $10 for hanging plants.

The greenhouse entrance is on the southwest corner of the school, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park.

For more details, call Laura Widham at the high school, (630) 365-5100.

Big Rock Scouts host spring fundraiser

Big Rock Boy Scout Troop 19 will host its annual spring fundraiser and will offer plants, shrubs, trees, clay pots, hanging baskets, garden accessories and more.

Boy Scout pre-sale certificates are now available for any dollar amount you choose. Pre-sale purchase benefits the Scout you purchase from.

You can also browse in-stock merchandise at OM Fasel Nursery Sales (formerly Big Rock Nursery), located at 7S882 Camp Dean Road. Valid only during Boy Scout sale days Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, May 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional purchases on sale dates are welcome and will benefit Big Rock BSA Troop 19.

For more information, contact Donna at (815) 286-7228 or Nan at (815) 286-7275 for a scout near you.

Public invited to volunteer restoration workdays

Join a Kane County Forest Preserve District volunteer steward at a workday this May and help preserve, protect and restore the natural resources of Kane County.

Call District Volunteer Coordinator Julia Bourque at (630) 762-2741 to confirm scheduled dates and times. No experience is necessary; adults must accompany children. Volunteers are asked to dress for the weather, wearing work gloves and closed-toes shoes.

Forest preserves and their workdays for the month include:
• Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove: Saturday, May 23, from 9 a.m. to noon.
• Campton Forest Preserve in St. Charles: weekends, call for dates and times.
• Dick Young Forest Preserve in Batavia: every Tuesday from 1-3 p.m.
• Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva: Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to noon.
• Johnson’s Mound Forest Preserve in Elburn: Thursday, May 28, from 1-3 p.m.
• LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles: Tuesday, May 19, from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Meet at the parking lot near the Great Western Trail head. Heavy rain or snow cancels.

Mother’s Day carriage ride offered at Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm will feature horse-drawn carriage rides to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 10.

“Carriage rides are a beautiful, time-honored tradition, and a wonderful way to honor Mom on her special day,” said Blackberry Farm supervisor Sandy Smith.

The carriage rides will be offered between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Each carriage ride can accommodate 15 people.

Visitors to Blackberry Farm can ride the steam-engine replica train to the Pioneer Cabin, where carriage rides will begin and end. The carriage rides will travel along the east side of Blackberry Farm past sections of Lake Gregory and Blackberry Creek.

An admission fee to get into the park is required. Entry is $4.25 for resident adults, $3.75 for resident children or seniors, $7 for nonresident adults and $6 for nonresident children or seniors.

For more information, contact Blackberry Farm at (630) 892-1550.

Garfield Farm sets rare breeds show

Garfield Farm Museum will hold its annual Rare Breeds Livestock and Poultry Show and Sale on Sunday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Breeders are invited to exhibit their animals at the museum with a chance to meet other breeders and prospective buyers. Pens, water and bedding are provided by the museum; just bring feed and any information, displays, products, demonstrations or lectures related to the breeds being shown. There are no registration fee for exhibitors.

In addition to seeing the animals, visitors and exhibitors can tour the 1846 Teamster Inn and Tavern, watch demonstrations of sheep shearing, wool spinning, or enjoy refreshments from Inglenook Pantry. Garfield Farm Museum is five miles west of Geneva, off of Route 38 on Garfield Road.

Call (630) 584-8485 or e-mail

David Rickert named treasurer of the year

At the April 28 meeting of the Illinois County Treasurer’s Association in Springfield, Ill., Kane County Treasurer David Rickert was named Zone IV Illinois County Treasurer of the Year.

Rickert, a licensed certified public accountant, has served as Kane County’s Treasurer since first being elected in 1998. He also holds degrees from Elgin Community College and Northern Illinois University, and a graduate degree in accounting from Roosevelt University.

Some of his accomplishments as treasurer include operating under budget for 10 years; establishing an investment bond fund for the county that yielded over $400,000 of additional interest income in its first year of operation; implementing positive pay for check disbursements, which greatly reduces the risk of check fraud; producing a property tax guide in cooperation with the County Clerk, Supervisor of Assessments and Township Assessors; helping to bring a unified tax system to Kane County replacing an antiquated mainframe system; installing a 24-hour drive up drop box for property tax payments; seting up a credit card/E-check online payment system for property taxes; providing property tax information over the Internet; and producing a tax bill insert to provide information of additional tax exemptions available to taxpayers, which was done as a joint effort with the Supervisor of Assessments office.

Treasurer Rickert said he was honored to be selected by his peers for this award and plans to continue making improvements to the treasurer’s office.

Elburn Chamber offers pork chop fundraiser

The Elburn Chamber of Commerce asks residents to support the Day in the Park fireworks fund by purchasing pork chop dinners on Thursday, May 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Elburn Lions Park, 500 Stetzer Ave.

Each dinner consists of two chops, coleslaw, baked beans, apple sauce and biscuit for $13, or order two for $25. The dinner is drive-through only and orders are requested by Friday, May 15.

Letter: With apologies, and thanks, to the Kaneland School Board

In the recent past, I wrote a letter to the editor about a cash flow problem at Kaneland School District 302. I wanted to save teachers jobs, so I advocated the teachers defer their pay increases and the School Board defer payment of principal on a bond, paying only the interest until such time as the cash flow problem improved.

Subsequently, I learned that the bond (officially known as “Certificate of Participation Agreement”) was issued under the condition that repayment would be made from impact fees because the money received from the bonding company could only be used for capital improvements (the capital improvements at the time were for additions to the John Stewart and Blackberry Creek schools). Further, there would be an additional interest payment of $346,611 and the indebtedness would not be finalized until 2016, an addition of two years.

I apologize if I created the impression our School Board was not acting in the best interest or preserving teacher’s jobs. They were between a rock and a hard place and their options were extremely limited. They acted in a proper manner to use taxpayer’s money judiciously. Thank you Kaneland District 302 School Board.

H. Jack Hansen

Letter: Open letter to KYSO players, coaches and parents

Due to the current epidemic of swine flu crossing America and as close as Aurora and Batavia, KYSO has taken a, hopefully, preventive measure in the passing of swine flu.

Effective immediately, all teams at the end of your games are not to shake hands with opponents or the referees. Instead, tell your teams to give a nod of the head and say nice game. All referees will be notified of this change as well as you, the coaches.

For Travel Coaches playing in the IWSL league, I would ask that you notify the opposing coaches and referees of KYSO’s and Crusader Soccer Club’s new policy prior to the game until this tragic epidemic is over or is contained. Although we do not know all the ways the flu can be contracted, we are trying to take steps to prevent the passing of this dangerous flu to our young players. Please notify your players and parents of this change at your next practice or game.

Symptoms include fever of more than 100 degrees, body aches, couching, sore throat, respiratory congestion and in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. Seek emergency care for children if they exhibit fast breathing or have trouble breathing; bluish skin; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or interacting; flu symptoms that improve but return with a fever and worse cough and rash.

In adults, warning signs include difficulty breathing; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion and severe or persistent vomiting.

No vaccine specifically protects against the swine flu. The human flu shot given every winter will not help.

If you should have any concerns or comments you may reply to me or any other KYSO board member. All board member numbers and E-mail can be found at under the contact section.

Keith Koester
Director, Risk Management
Kaneland Youth Soccer Organization

Letter: Thanks to Conley

Heartfelt thanks to all who participated in the recent Conley Farm work day. We were overwhelmed by the number of friends, neighbors and colleagues that converged that morning, despite the overcast skies and drizzle.

The amount of work done in a relatively short amount of time to prepare the shed, gardens and grounds for our summer Conley Outreach programs was truly amazing. A special thanks to Paisano’s for donating lunch for the volunteers and to Midwest Ground Cover and Schollmeyer Landscaping for donating the equipment and materials used in the creek bed project.

On behalf of Bruce, Kris and the entire Conley family, thank you for your ongoing support. The outpouring of love manifested through your physical labor and words of encouragement has touched us all more than you will ever know.

Carol Alfrey
Conley Outreach Community Services

Seek help to avoid foreclosure

by Gwen Allen
As in any recession, times are hard on everyone, but for some homeowners it may seem almost hopeless. From the loss of a job to higher living costs or the inability to refinance, they are starting to accept foreclosure as an inevitable.

But there is hope, and the best part is, it is free and does not affect your credit. Nonprofit housing counselors, approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), are available to all homeowners. They not only offer guidance government’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan in loan modification or refinancing, and financial counseling to help minimize future distress.

“Though helpful in their right, counselors aren’t miracle workers”, said Dale Steichen, a financial counselor for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Elgin Family Service Association (CCCS).

If homeowners wait too long, there may be no way to help save them. Steichen said it takes about 10 months to foreclose, but after just the third missed payment, the mortgage company hires an attorney and additional fees start compounding the problem.

“If they are still in the house there is hope, but ideally I want to see them before it’s broken,” Steichen said. “Once you’re late on payments, you’re running the clock. Most people get an inkling something is wrong before they get behind, either from cut hours at work or they start to get behind on bills; that’s when they should see a counselor.”

Like an ostrich, he said people hide their heads, hoping the problem will go away instead of facing it. But if you’re a homeowner, even if you can afford your payment and pay on time, you could still be at risk, Steichen said.

“Everybody who has a mortgage will be in trouble, because we live in a global economy,” Steichen said. “People are losing jobs and buying less; it comes back to affect everyone. Another problem is that too many people are going into this mortgage crisis with too much debt.”

Either with a counselor or not, the first step in preventing home loss is establishing a plan, and this begins with a budget, he said.

“I recommend looking at your budget first and cutting all your non-essentials, this includes cell phones, eating out and any other entertainment,” Steichen said. “A $200 (monthly) deficit is workable and can be reworked by a budget. It’s about managing the money you have, that’s the key, not making more money.”

If a deficit remains after a budget is set and the nonessentials are cut, then it may be time for a more aggressive plan. Talk with your mortgage company and ask for a loan modification or refinance. If they are unresponsive, Steichen said it is completely acceptable to ask for your loan investor group’s (i.e. Fannie Mae, Fannie Mac, FHA) contact information. While he said the mortgage company has “little to lose”, the loan investor has more at stake and may “squeeze” the mortgage company into cooperation.

“They (the mortgage company) typically will stall them (homeowners) out, and that is where I come in; I can get the refinance or loan modification and help them save their home,” Steichen said. “I will also access a client’s unsecured debt and look at interest rates. I can work with creditors to lower the interest rates so that more money goes to the principal.”

Again, time is crucial. He said the entire process, whether done alone or with a counselor, can take anywhere from three to four months for a refinance or loan modification. So seek help way before the bank serves you with an eviction notice, or the loss will be much greater than lawyer fees; it may cost you your home.

“The biggest problem is that most people don’t know their options and that is what I’m here for,” Steichen said. “Our job is to make homeowners informed.”

For more information, contact CCCS at 1-888-790-2370 or

HUD’s tips to avoid foreclosure

1. Don’t ignore the problem.
The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and lose your house.

2. Contact your lender as soon as you realize that you have a problem.
Lenders do not want your house, they have options to help.

3. Open and respond to all mail from your lender.
The first notices you receive will offer good information about foreclosure prevention options and ongoing mail may include important notice of pending legal action. Failure to open your notices will not be an excuse in foreclosure court.

4. Know your mortgage rights.
Find your loan documents and read them thoroughly, know what your lender will do if you can’t make your payments. Research foreclosure laws and time frames in your state (as every state is different) by contacting the State Government Housing Office.

5. Understand foreclosure prevention options.
Information about foreclosure prevention (called loss mitigation) options can be found on the Internet at

6. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds free or very low cost housing counseling nationwide. Counselors can help you understand your options, organize your finances and represent you in negotiations with your lender if you need this assistance. Find a HUD approved counselor near you or call (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339. 7. Prioritize your spending.
After health care, keeping your house should be your first priority. Review your finances and cut spending in order to make your mortgage payment. Delay payments on credit cards and other “unsecured” debt until you have paid your mortgage.

8. Use your assets.
Use assets such as a second car, jewelry, a whole life insurance policy for cash to help reinstate your loan? Get a second job. These actions demonstrate to your lender that you are willing to make sacrifices to keep your home.

9. Avoid foreclosure prevention companies.
You don’t need to pay fees for foreclosure prevention help-use that money to pay the mortgage instead. Many for-profit companies will contact you promising to negotiate with your lender, but at a significant fee. Contact a HUD approved counselor for free help.

10. Don’t lose your house to foreclosure recovery scams
If any firm claims they can stop your foreclosure immediately and you sign a document to appoint them to act on your behalf, you may be signing over your property and becoming a renter in your own home! Never sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms or get help from a professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD approved counselor.

Keeping an eye on your health

by Gwen Allen
It’s a fact: With age, our bodies deteriorate. Our eyes are no exception. In fact, most people over the age of 60 require some sort of assistance with reading glasses or bifocals.

Though common, one age-related eye disease is often overlooked. Age-related macular degeneration is a medical condition usually of older adults resulting in a loss of vision in the center of the visual field, and is estimated to affect some 9 million Americans’ vision every year, robbing them of some of life’s simplest pleasures.

“The amount of people it affects in the U.S. alone is more than the entire population in New York City,” said Guy Eakin, director of research grants for Macular Degeneration Research at the American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF). “This means that it affects more people than the top 13 cancers. The problem is a lot of people have it and don’t know it yet.”

With a simple eye exam, Eakin said patients can begin a road to maintain the vision they have left and slow down, if not stop, the disease all together. As the number one cause of legal blindness, macular degeneration demands public awareness, he said.

“It is life affecting, because people can’t drive and they are at an increase risk for injuries,” Eakin said.

Though it cannot be reversed, he said it is critical to catch it at its earliest onset.

“We are leaders in this research; we have helped develop therapies that can regenorate and restore some vision, slowing the progression to a degree of almost halting it,” Eakin said. “But people need to talk to a professional as soon as possible and ask them to schedule a baseline eye exam (to benefit from therapy).”

He said macular degeneration is particularily scary, because it affects direct vision.

“The major difference between this and glaucoma is that with glaucoma you get tunnel vision and still fairly have a clear central field,” Eakin said. “But with macular degeneration you lose central vision while the periphial vision is maintained.”

To understand this concept, he tells people to make a circle with their forefinger and their thumb, this takes away periphial vision similiar to glaucoma. For macular degeneration, Eakin said make a fist and put it in front of your eye; this blocks central vision leaving only periphial vision.

“This just gives you an idea of what it’s like, but it is not something that can be self-diagnosed, and every person is different and needs each eye tested individually,” Eakin said.

It is mostly genetic and more dominant in white individuals. He said there is evidence to support that the disease can be triggered by controllable factors within a persons lifestyle.

Smoking, high blood pressure and prolonged sun exposure all seem to lend to higher rates of macular degeneration.

Dr. Alyce Hofmann of Elburn Eyecare said the biggest way to offset macular degeneration is good preventative eye care.

“Anyone who works outside or recreational athletes need to wear the proper eye protection,” Hofmann said.

She said this means looking for glasses that say at least 80 to 90 percent UVA and UVB protection.

“Nothing will protect 100 percent, but any prescription glasses you get probably already have this clear coating on them,” Hofmann said. “It’s not the tint of the eyeglasses that protect its the UV clear coating, so you could have clear lenses as long as they have this coating they will protect your eyes.”

Hofmann also recommends vitamin supplements along with a healthy diet to maintain healthy eye function and delay complications.

“Once supplement that I recommend is Lutein; you can purchase it over the counter, I think it is the biggest thing to help circulation and blood flow to the back of the eye,” Hofmann said. “Nothing will really prevent it, but it could delay its onset.”

With regular eye care appointments, Hofmann recommends one a year for anyone over 40-supplements and an overall healthy lifestyle, the affects of the disease on future generations should diminish, she said.

“Overall, awareness is starting to grow, people in their 40s and 50s are watching their aging parents and starting to ask me about the disease,” Hofmann said. “So hopefully with increased awareness it will become less of a problem.”

For more information on macular degeneration visit or

Best Swine Flu preparedness starts with simple prevention practices

Among the best “offenses” available against the Swine Flu is good old-fashioned hand washing.

That’s right-hand washing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control in Washington, D.C., the single-most important thing people can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others is to wash their hands.

Why? Because some viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes up to two hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, door knobs and desks. Still, other germs can be carried by people, animals or equipment and transmitted to food. The results can be deadly.

As important as hand washing is, research has shown people do not wash their hands as often as they think they do. One particularly unsettling “Handwashing Observational and Telephone Survey” was done in August 1996, for the Bayer Corporation Pharmaceutical Division in association with the American Society for Microbiology. Although 94 percent of telephone respondents (1,004 adults) claimed they always washed their hands after using the restroom, a subsequent observational survey of 6,333 adults in public restrooms (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Francisco) found that only 68 percent, in fact, actually did wash their hands.

Similar results were found in a study of middle and high school students. As reported in the American Journal of Infection Control (1997), this particular study found only 58 percent of female students and 48 percent of male students washed their hands after using the bathroom.

Although it would be easy to assume society has come a long way in the decade since, millions upon millions of school and work days are still lost simply because people don’t wash their hands often or well enough.

“Given how contagious Swine Flu is proving to be, the best first line of defense is to wash your hands well several times a day,” said Douglas Weigand, interim executive director for the Fox River Chapter of the American Red Cross, St. Charles.

The chapter has “Clean Hands Saves Lives” information available for both adults and children. To request a copy, call (630) 443-8844 or visit the chapter offices at 121 N. 2nd St., Suite G. in St. Charles. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

2009 Kaneland Prom Court

The theme for the 2009 Kaneland High School Prom was “Big City, Bright Lights.”
The prom court was as follows: (from Ledft) Brad Frabrizius, Meghan Krajewski, Joe Spitzzeri, Kristen Hamer, Mike Jenny (Prince), Sara Rose (Princess), Emily Kenkel (Queen), Curtis Lubic (King), Lindsay Gierke, Christian Dillon, Dana Zimmer and Charlie Miles.

Man pleads guilty in sexual assault of Elburn girls

A Wheaton man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two young girls in Elburn.

Francis G. Nolen, 34, of Box Elder Avenue in Wheaton, Ill., was sentenced to 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to one count of predatory criminal sexual assault, a Class X felony, and one count of criminal sexual assault, a Class 1 felony.

Associate Judge Leonard J. Wojtecki accepted the plea.

Between January 2007 and March 2008, Nolen had inappropriate sexual contact with two young girls he was babysitting in their Elburn homes. The incidents were at separate times in separate locations. The victims were younger than 13.

According to Illinois law, Nolen must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. Upon his release from ICOD, Nolen must register for life as a predatory sexual offender.

Nolen was given credit for 392 days served in the Kane County Jail, where he had been held on $500,000 bail since his arrest.

The case was investigated by the Kane County Child Advocacy Center, and prosecuted by Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Bayer.

Police impersonator story a hoax

by Susan O’Neill
The woman who claimed to be a victim of a robbery conducted by a man impersonating a police officer has confessed that the incident never took place.

Sugar Grove investigator John Sizer said they brought the 32-year-old Yorkville resident in on Wednesday night for further questioning when the investigation revealed inconsistencies in her story.

She was charged on Thursday afternoon with disorderly conduct, a Class 4 felony, for filing a false police report.

“It may just be a sign of the times,” Sizer said.

The woman and her husband had both recently lost their jobs. With a family of three children including a new baby, the woman sold her jewelry for money to pay her bills. She made up the story about the robbery to cover up her plight.

“It was more of a crime of desperation,” he said. “I don’t think she had any idea it would attract this much attention.”

Sizer said if there is something good that came of this, it is that the system worked well to get the word out.

“The media response was phenomenal,” he said. “The public response was overwhelming. We had calls from all over the place. Virtually everyone we talked to was aware of it.”

Sizer said they received dozens of leads and the department followed up on them. The down side was the number of man hours spent following this complaint.

“We were taking this thing very seriously,” he said.

SG budget shows deficit

Other cuts possible; police increases off-limits
by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on April 21 approved the coming fiscal year’s $4.3 million budget that includes a $37,000 deficit despite staff cuts.

The board and other village officials have made substantial cuts to expenses in an attempt to balance the general fund budget, including letting three village employees go and freezing any raises for non-union employees this year.

The village has also asked the Sugar Grove police union to waive the two raises it negotiated for officers at the beginning of this year. The first annual raise, to take effect Friday, May 1, is a 3.25 percent increase for the 12 covered patrol officers. A second increase, set to go into effect on Aug. 1, is for $2,589 for each individual, which will vary by percent based on the current annual salary of the officer.

The union contract was the first between the police officers and the village.

The two increases will total approximately 8 percent per officer, said Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger. The total amount comes to the approximate amount of the deficit, $37,000. According to Eichelberger, at the time the village was still holding out hope that it would receive the concession from the union.

As of press time, the village had not received a response.

“We’re here at April 29, and it’s fair to say they’re not interested in that proposition,” Eichelberger said.

Keith Karlson, the attorney for the Metropolitan Association of Police, the union representing the Sugar Grove police officers, pointed out that Village President Sean Michels said during his campaign for re-election that the village was running at a surplus, and was doing well.

“The MAP expects the village to uphold its end of the bargain that it negotiated less than six months ago,” Karlson said.

The board has tentatively scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, May 12, to discuss further potential cuts in order to balance the budget. Eichelberger said it will be up to the board to decide whether or not to balance the budget, and if so, what cuts will be made to accomplish it.

He said that so far, the village has not come up with options that do not involve some impact on other personnel. This may or may not include additional layoffs, he said.

Outgoing Elburn officials praised for work

New trustees, village president to take office May 4
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn Village President Jim Willey and trustees Tom Burgholzer, Jeff Humm and Craig Swan received thanks Monday from other village officials for the work on behalf of the village during their terms of office.

Among those expressing appreciation during the Committee of the Whole meeting was 14-year Village Attorney Bob Britz.

“I have had the opportunity to work with all of you and I am a better person for having served under you,” Britz said.

Eight-year trustee Burgholzer and six-year trustee Jeff Humm sought re-election unsuccessfully April 4; and 14-year trustee Craig Swan and 12-year Village President Willey did not run for another term.

Trustee Bill Grabarek complimented Willey for his “intelligence, insightfulness and ability to take complex issues and make them understandable.”

“It’s been an honor. Elburn is an infinitely better village, better run and managed-90 percent due to you,” Grabarek told Willey.

Willey said before he took office in 1997, the board was “contentious and divided.” He thanked the outgoing trustees for helping to make the Village Board a consensus-building body. He recognized Humm’s useful expertise in infrastructure matters, Burgholzer’s comittment to providing more recreation for residents, and Swan for being the “conscience of the board” and for running for trustee when no one else would.

The last day in office for the outgoing board members is Monday, May 4, when Elburn’s three new trustees, Jeff Walter, Jerry Schmidt and Ken Anderson, and the new village president, Dave Anderson, will be sworn into office at 7 p.m. during the Village Board meeting at Lions Park clubhouse.

Rainforest assembly delights, educates students

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by Susan O’Neill
A Macaw that plays jokes on its caretaker; a python that rests quietly across seven pairs of arms; two baby alligators that seem to enjoy being petted—these are just a few of the animals Kaneland John Shields Elementary School students experienced during last Thursday’s rainforest assembly.

“I think it’s safe to say I have seven of the bravest people in the room up here,” Mike Kohlrieser said as the children held the python.

The Macaw flew over the crowd and swoops down to grab a dollar bill out of an audience member’s mouth. The python playfully pokes his tail out from behind the leg of his assistant to wave to the audience.

“He’s so charismatic and so good with the kids,” Parent Teacher Organization member Carolynn Abruzzo said of Kohlrieser.

Abruzzo, who arranged for the traveling show to perform at the school, said the rainforest assembly was probably the most well-attended family night the school has had. She estimated that about 700 children and parents came to the two showings.

“I think everybody had a blast,” she said.

But more importantly, she said the message made an impact on the children. Abruzzo said that ever since the assembly, her 5-year-old daughter Sammie has been reminding family members to turn off the lights when they leave a room.

She said Sammie recently learned about conserving energy in her kindergarten class. But when Kohlrieser spoke about conservation in relation to the future of the animals, the connection hit home.

Kolhrieser’s Ohio-based company, Understanding Wildlife, books assemblies in schools across the country, bringing his menagerie to delight and educate the students and their parents about the vanishing rainforest.

He alternated his antics with the animals with facts about the rainforests and how cutting them down is hurting the animals that call them home, depleting the medicines found there, the ozone, the air and the water supply of the earth.

“It’s really up to you and me and how we live our lives as to how much longer these animals will be around,” he told the students. “Together we are going to make a difference.”

For more information about Understanding Wildlife, visit

Photo: Isabella Gartside, of Elburn, called this python a ‘good snake.’ She held it with help from her father during the Understanding Wildlife assembly at Kaneland John Shields Elementary School in Sugar Grove. Photo by Mary Herra

Guide to help people bike safely on streets

Village wants, but cannot afford, more bicycle paths
by Martha Quetsch
Until Elburn can afford additional bicycle paths in the village, commuters who bike to the Metra station must use the streets, a practice the village encourages but wants to make safe.

Toward that goal, the village is working with the League of Illinois Bicyclists on a grant-funded brochure of the safest and most practical routes to and from the station.

Included in the guide will be a map of those routes, which the League recently developed and presented to the Planning Commission last week.

“We tried to include routes from every area of the village, so it should be easy for any resident to find the best route to the Elburn station,” League project planner Jessica Thompson said.

bigmap The guide is expected to be finished in May. Residents will be able to view it on the village website,, or obtain a copy from Village Hall.

The guide will contain safety tips and a map with preferred bicycle routes within a five-mile radius of the Metra station in Elburn.

Village officials wish those routes included additional bike paths, but Elburn cannot afford to install them, Community Development Director Erin Willrett said.

Planning Commissioner John Krukoff wants more paths connecting to Metra and to area trails, because he is concerned about people who bike along Keslinger Road.

Willrett said the only way Elburn could build more paths is through developer contributions or a surplus in the village budget, neither of which is expected soon.

During pre-annexation talks several years ago for the Blackberry Creek development, village officials successfully negotiated for developer-contributed bike paths in the subdivision.

In an emergency, be self-sufficient

by Susan O’Neill
The village of Sugar Grove has a plan to protect its citizens from tornadoes and other emergency situations.

But Sugar Grove resident Michael Fagel, who has more than 30 years experience in public safety, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire rescue and emergency management and helped create the plan, said people need to be responsible for their own actions first in a disaster.

“People can’t depend on the government in the time immediately following a disaster,” Fagel said. “They need to be prepared to handle emergency situations in their homes.”

Tornado season began in March and officially runs through July. But Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer said they can and do happen during any month of the year. Both Sauer and Fagel said that each household should have its own weather radio.

“If a tornado is sighted in the area, the emergency sirens are activated,” Sauer said. “But outdoor sirens are for people who are outside. You can’t hear it in your house.”

Sauer said the first thing an individual or family should do in the case of a tornado is to seek shelter.

“If they are already inside, they should go to the lowest level of the structure they’re in,” he said.

Family members should also have a plan for how they will contact each other during an emergency, Fagel said.

“Cell phones will collapse in a disaster,” he said. “If 30 people are in the same parking lot, 28 people will get a busy signal.”

Other preparations an individual or family can make ahead of time include answering the question, “If you had five minutes to leave your house, what would you need to be resilient and pick up the pieces?” said Fagel.

After spending time helping out in other locations during disasters, Fagel said he would be gratified to offer his assistance should it ever be needed in Sugar Grove.

“My goal is to make people as safe and informed as possible,” he said.

Ride in Kane begins May 1 in Sugar Grove

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove’s participation in the Ride in Kane program begins Friday, May 1. The program will provide inexpensive curb-to-curb transportation to work, health care visits and daycare for eligible elderly and disabled residents.

“Without it, these people are trapped at home,” said former trustee Joe Wolf, the Sugar Grove representative on the Paratransit Council. “It’s a growing problem. By and large, it’s something every community needs.”

Sugar Grove joins the county-wide transit program in operation since February 2008 in municipalities such as Batavia, Elgin, Geneva, Hampshire, St. Charles and Aurora, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva and Dundee townships.

To schedule a ride, participants contact a centralized call center that dispatches taxis, Pace lift-equipped buses or other service providers to the individual’s home. Riders will pay $3 for the first 10 miles of their trip and $1.50 for each additional mile.

Residents who wish to access the service are asked to complete an application through the Sugar Grove Library District, which will determine their eligibility for the program.

Ride in Kane began with approximately $2.4 million in New Freedom Initiative and Job Access Reverse Commute federal funding awarded from the Regional Transportation Authority, plus $1.7 million in a local match from the participating entities.

Sugar Grove has committed $4,000 in funding for its first year in conjunction with the Sugar Grove Park District, Public Library District and Township. If the allotted $4,000 is used up before the end of the year, the entities can decide not to contribute additional funding and withdraw from Ride in Kane.

Qualifications for eligibility
• Inability to obtain a
driver’s license due to
age or disability
• Low income residents
with no other available
• Riders pay $3 for first 10
miles and $1.50 for each
additional mile

Used for
• Work
• Health care visits
• Dialysis
• Rehabilitation
• Adult or child daycare
Call (630) 466-4507,
ext. 24.

Utility bill increases in June

by Susan O’Neill
The village increased its water and sewer rates for the first time in six years in 2008. At that time, Sugar Grove Finance Director Justin VanVooren said additional increases of that size would be necessary this year and next year.

According to VanVooren, fixed costs, money owed for capital projects such as wells number 8 and number 9, and the water treatment system to eliminate radium from the water supply, is the primary reason for the need for the increases.

The village is currently repaying low-interest loans from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for these projects, as well as money borrowed when the village hooked on with the Fox Metro system in 1998.

The village’s refuse contract will experience a higher-than-expected annual increase this fiscal year of 3.8 percent versus the budgeted 3 percent. According to VanVooren, even with the increase, the residents’ rates will still be less than the village actually pays per household.

The board also approved several increases in the water meter permit and inspection fees and to a number of fines for compliance tickets.

Heads up
Sugar Grove residents will see increases in their utility rates with their June 1 bill from the village. The rates go into effect with the beginning of the new fiscal year on May 1.

Resident utility rates
Current fee New Fee
Water rates
$6.92 $7.40
+$2.57 per +$2.75 per
1,000 gals 1,000 gals

Sewer rates
$7.57 $8.10
+$2.58 per +$2.76 per
1,000 gals 1,000 gals

Refuse rates
$17.75 $18.75

Conley committed to helping people with grief

by Martha Quetsch
Conley Funeral Home director Bruce Conley became involved in grief support in the late 1970s, carrying on a family tradition he realized was crucial.

“I saw a need, especially with children,” Conley said.

During the past three decades, Conley has helped many local youths understand and cope with the loss of loved ones. In 1983, Conley started the Children’s Center on the lower level of the funeral home he owns in downtown Elburn.

In the Children’s Center, young funeral attendees can gather and have their questions answered, so that the event is not an ordeal but “first aid,” Conley said.

“A funeral should be a fully family integrated thing, an experience that helps everybody, not just the adults,” Conley said. “There is lots of research that shows traumatic childhood bereavement affects people all of their lives.”

In addition to the Children’s Center, Bruce Conley also developed the Community Care Team and founded Conley Outreach Community Services in Elburn, offering bereavement and family nurturing programs.

Among the many people Conley has deal with the death of loved ones is Tim Siebens of Maple Park, who was among volunteers Saturday at the annual Conley Outreach Farm work day in Kaneville.

Siebens was 14 when his grandfather died, and he remembers how Conley helped him understand the funeral process.

“If anyone has any type of question or is wondering about anything, he takes you through it, telling you and showing you what they are doing,” Siebens said. “You’re never left on your own.”

Conley said his father and grandfather, who also were funeral directors, worked with children on grief issues, too.

“This is three generations deep. I talked to a man in his 80s who was making pre-arrangements with me (at Conley Funeral Home). He told me how my grandfather helped him when his mother took her life, by restoring her body so that he could see her,” Conley said. “My grandpa sat him down before he went in to see his mom, and helped him through that time. He said he never forgot it.”

Recipient of community service award
Bruce Conley received the 2009 Lyle E. Oncken community service award on Saturday from Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services, Inc.

“It’s the highest honor I could get. I also am thrilled that this year it is a dual award,” Conley said.

The other 2009 Oncken Community Service Award recipient recipient is Conley’s good friend, Stephanie Weber, founder of Suicide Prevention Services.

The award is given annually to a resident or residents of southern Kane County for exemplary service in the fields of mental health, developmental disabilities or substance abuse.

Photo: Bruce Conley thanked his wife, Kris, for helping him pursue community service, during the award ceremony Saturday at Conley Farm. Photo by Martha Quetsch

Pay now, not later

Lower costs free up money from referendum
by Lynn Meredith
With a referendum in 2008 that approved $65 million to use in building construction projects and construction costs running lower than expected, the Kaneland School District finds itself with between $9.2 million and $11.6 million to use for other expenses.

The issue is how to prioritize the projects allowable under the referendum. At its meeting on Monday, the board approved a list of 15 projects that it would either like to gather more specific information on or obtain bids for, before it approves the spending.

At the top of the list are four items totaling $3,774,720, for Harter Middle School. One large ticket item is a storage shed to house not only athletic and maintenance equipment, but also provide concession and restroom space. The proposed structure would be 6,500 square feet with a large overhead door. Near it would be spaces to park 10 buses. The cost is estimated at $1,543,000.

An extension of Esker Drive to Wheeler Drive is estimated at $1,400,000. Tractors and maintenance equipment would run $111,000, and 110 additional parking spaces would cost $720,000.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Julie-Ann Fuchs said these costs have contingencies built in. They are likely higher than the actual costs.

“They are the most you would spend, instead of us coming back and asking for more because we underestimated them,” Fuchs said.

Other projects will be considered by the board when it gets more information, including replacing the roof on the high school and re-structuring and re-paving the driveways and parking areas as needed around the campus. These expenses are estimated at $3,797,000.

District officials said that due to the magnitude of costs from these projects, it would be nearly impossible to find money from the operational fund to pay for them.

“If we don’t use referendum money now, how will we pay for these projects (in the future)?” Fuchs asked.

Unleash your inner comic at Zanies

Try a stand-up class, but don’t quit your day job
by Lynn Meredith
Even lying on the road on the verge of death after a serious car accident, with a broken sternum and jaw, Dobie Maxwell, known as “Mr. Lucky,” was able to ask himself, “What’s funny about this?” In stand-up comedy classes at Zanies in Pheasant Run, the comedian helps students ask themselves that same question.

While Maxwell doesn’t believe comedy can be taught, he does believe that with practice and preparation, a performer can get better.

“Just like nobody thinks they’re a bad driver, nobody thinks they’re not funny. (The class) is not a diesel truck driving school. Comedy is a very gray area. But usually there’s a little scoop of potato to work with,” Maxwell said.

Comedy is a gift in the same way musical talent is a gift; you can see and hear when someone has talent. Like music, it’s all about rhythm, he said.

“You can teach people to find the rhythm unique to themselves. You can find the rhythms of well-known comics and almost imitate it without words. Think of Cosby and his sound,” Maxwell said.

Comedians see things in a different way. Maxwell said that most comics don’t take their premise far enough to get the most from the humor. He has his students reveal one thing about themselves and then come up with not one but three jokes about it.

Comedy is not just a class; it’s a way of life and one that can become a positive addiction.

“I’ve been doing it for 25 years and I’m just scratching the surface. It’s a cruel business. Most comedians are dented cans. We need that stage and we need that laughter,” Maxwell said. “More people need to laugh now more than ever.”

Senior living, care facility proposed for SG

by Susan O’Neill
Village Board members reacted favorably to a plan for a senior living facility Prism Health Care Management Group would like to build in Sugar Grove.

The one-story facility would be built on a 19-acre site on the west side of Route 47 north of Wheeler Road, with separate wings for a physical and occupational rehabilitation facility, an assisted living facility and a skilled nursing facility.

Acreage with frontage on Route 47 will be set aside for a possible urgent care center and medical offices, retail and restaurant space.

“There’s a tremendous need for something like this out here,” trustee Mary Heineman said. “This is the first one west of Randall Road.”

Prism Health-Care Management Group Chief Executive Officer Lewis Borsellino said that the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board has determined the need for 339 skilled nursing beds in the Kane County Planning Area.

The facility would be for private pay patients, which he said is supported by Sugar Grove’s median income level.

“You’ve done a great job here,” Village President Sean Michels said. “It seems like a good fit.”

Among its other projects, the developer of senior long-term care facilities recently completed a 58-unit senior living facility in Morris, Ill., with a 152-bed skilled nursing facility scheduled for completion in March 2010.

Sugar Grove Community Development Director Rich Young this week said the nursing home approval process is lengthy, and he does not know yet when the project would move forward.

The proposal
92,000-square-foot facility to include:
• 60-bed assisted living facility
• 120-bed skilled nursing facility
• Wing for physical and
occupation rehabilitation
• Located on 19 acres on west side
of Route 47 north of
Wheeler Road

Elburn Lions recycle for sight

As spring cleaning gets under way, the Elburn Lions are asking people to look through dresser drawers and closets for used eyeglasses and donate them to the Lions Recycle For Sight program.

During May and throughout the year, the Elburn Lions Club collects used prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses and used hearing aids, as part of a unique recycling program. The collected glasses are prepared for distribution in developing countries where eye care is often unaffordable and inaccessible.

“We need everyone to donate their used eyeglasses,” said Nick Carter, Elburn Eyeglasses Collection Chairman. “In most developing countries, an eye exam can cost as much as one month’s wages, and a single eye doctor may serve a community of hundreds of thousands of people.”

The donated glasses will be shipped to a regional Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center, where they will be cleaned, categorized by prescription and prepared for distribution by Lions and other groups.

To donate used glasses (including sunglasses and reading glasses) or hearing aids, place them in the specially marked Lions Recycle For Sight collection boxes at the Elburn Town and Country Library, Dave’s Barbershop, Eyes on Elburn optometrist, Elburn Eye Care optometrist, Old Second Bank, Fifth Third Bank and our newest site, John Stewart Elementary School. Glasses and hearing aids also can be dropped off at Elburn Lions Park.

For more information or to get involved with the Elburn Lions Club, contact Tim Klomhaus at or visit