Category Archives: Local News

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Maple Park names October ‘Big Read’ month

MAPLE PARK—Maple Park Village President Kathleen Curtis on Tuesday officially recognized October as “The Big Read” month in the village of Maple Park.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is designed to restore reading and encourage reading for pleasure and learning. The book chosen for this year’s Big Read is “A Wizard of Earthsea” from the Earthsea fantasy novels by Ursula K. Le Guin.

According to DeKalb Public Library, the book was written for ages 10-12, but is deep enough for adults to enjoy.

Kaneland forum updates community on superintendent search

KANELAND—The Kaneland School District on Oct. 2 held a series of forums regarding its ongoing search for a new superintedent of schools. A general community forum was held that night at Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove.

The forum was hosted by BWP & Associates, the educational search firm hired by the School District to locate and identify Kaneland’s next superintendent. The previous superintendent, Dr. Jeff Schuler, accepted an offer in early August to become superintendent of schools for the Wheaton-Warrenville School District.

Kaneland parent Ryan Kerry, of Elburn, attended the community forum because he was “just curious (about) what was going on.” Kerry was one of 10 community members who showed up at Harter Middle School for the forum. School Board President Cheryl Krauspe, Vice President Teresa Witt and trustee Pedro Rivas sat in the back of the audience.

Four BWP & Associates representatives—all of them former superintendents—listened to feedback provided by the members of the public in attendance.

“We get good information from the people that attend,” said Steve Griesbach, associate for BWP & Associates.

Sugar Grove resident Dan Nagel during the forum expressed his concern about a tax burden on homeowners. He pointed out that he would want the next superintendent to have “wide-open eyes.”

“We sure don’t want someone to turn around and not be aware,” Nagel said.

Nagel also had a question about the next superintendent of schools in Kaneland.

“Does the person—he or she—understand the rules and rights to the taxpayer, the student body, the whole gamut?” Nagel said. “We’re not going to fool around this go-around.”

Nagel called the Kaneland School District a “$60 million business,” and listed the order of his areas of focus regarding the next superintendent: financial, transparency, safety and education.

“We want our kids and grandkids educated,” Nagel said.

Renee Dee, a Kaneland mom, founder of PEAK for Kids, Inc. and co-organizer of the Kindness Campaign, pointed out during the forum that Kaneland has nine different communities that are “all under one roof.”

“That is one of our biggest challenges,” Dee said. “Some of these communities are very solid. Some of them are new.”

Dee pointed out that income, beliefs and values are among the things that get magnified within the Kaneland School District. Dee requested that the next superintendent be able to work with community leaders and have a “respected track record.”

Elburn resident Marie Gatz during the forum recalled an event in which she had invited her neighbor to attend a Kaneland School Board meeting along with her, to which the neighbor replied, “It’s a waste of my time; they don’t listen.”

“I think it’s an issue,” Gatz said.

Dr. Patricia Wernet, associate for BWP & Associates, commented on Gatz’s neighbor’s sentiment.

“Something has to happen from the top to filter out one,” Wernet said. “There needs to be a community fire.”

Kaneland mom Susan Buerke spoke about information not getting out to the different communities via the Kaneland School District. She called it “atrocious.”

“I don’t think our district has found a way it works,” Buerke said. “There’s got to be something to get the information.”

Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP & Associates, said that he had heard comments similar to Buerke’s “time and time again” about improved communications.

“You’re far from alone,” Friedman said.

Gatz further commented on Buerke’s statement.

“Somebody thinks somebody else is doing the job,” Gatz said.

Montgomery resident Melissa Anderson weighed in on the concern.

“Whose job is it to do XYZ?” she said. “It’s just Bad News Bears.”

Anderson talked about the idea of doing what is best for kids first.

“It’s not always a no-brainer,” Anderson said. “I’d ask that you look beyond the accolades.”

Maple Park resident Brenda Johnson requested that the next superintendent be someone who “will discipline.”

“I lost trust in my superintendent,” Johnson said. “The safety of my child was put at risk.”

She explained an instance in which a student wasn’t suspended, and questioned if it was to save the School District money.

“I still have a problem,” Johnson said. “I had a big trust issue.”

Those who did not attend the forum can still provide feedback via an online survey that contains seven questions and takes a short time to complete. The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, Oct. 17. The survey is available at

Information gathered from the community forum, focus groups and survey will help BWP & Associates create a superintendent profile of the characteristics the Kaneland community wants to see in its next superintendent.

Other focus groups throughout the day included School Board members in a one-on-one setting, Kaneland staff, Kaneland Education Association representatives and Kaneland High School students.

The next superintendent possibly could potentially be announced at the School Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 15.

“We really have a sense of the kind of superintendent you want,” Friedman said. “We don’t know who it will be. There will be a lot of interest.”

Elburn Lions October Kaneland Kolor Fun Run/Walk

KANELAND—The Kaneland Kolor Fun Run/Walk will take place Sunday, Oct. 19, at noon at the Kaneland Harter Middle School (KHMS) campus, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The event will consist of two laps, or approximately 2 miles. Entry is $35 per person and includes a white Kolor Fun Run shirt. A family price of $100 (immediate family) includes two Kolor Fun Run shirts. Additional shirts may be purchased for $10 each.

The event is less about your running time and more about having a blast with friends and family. This is an un-timed course where participants are doused in different powdered colors at many points along the course. The concept is easy: register, wear your white Kolor Run T-shirt, have fun and finish decorated in colorful hues.

The fun doesn’t end there, either. At the finish, there will be a Festival of Kolor with music, more color throws, food and ice cream. Food will be available at the festival.

To register, visit All proceeds benefit KHMS PTO.

Kaneland Theatre seeks items for performances

KANELAND—The Kaneland High School (KHS) Theatre Department is looking for a few items to help with its fall play and upcoming spring musical. The following items are needed: lamps with lamp shades and working bulbs, area rugs of varying sizes, framed paintings/wall decor, variety of brown/wood-toned paint, jewel-toned paint (dark reds, greens, and blues), painters tape, rollers (not the handles), paint trays and liners, paint brushes of all sizes (larger brushes to detail brushes), clothing items (long dresses, aprons, suit jackets for men and women, etc.).

If you are able to donate any of these items, bring them to KHS and let the office know they are for Mrs. Staker.

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Kaneland removes softball coach

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Sept. 29 voted 7-0 to release Kaneland High School softball coach Brian Willis from his duties as head coach.

Willis had spent the last five years as head coach for Kaneland varsity girls softball. He also teaches drivers education, physical education and adaptive physical education at the high school.

Willis at the Sept. 29 School Board meeting said that he had been asked to resign from his coaching position, but declined to do so. He also read a prepared statement prior to the School Board’s vote

“I am writing this letter to ask the Kaneland School Board and the high school administration to reconsider the decision to release me from the head coaching position of varsity softball,” Willis read from his statement.

Willis’ letter continued, noting his 25 years of teaching experience—13 of them at Kaneland—and 10 years of coaching with the Lady Knights.

“(I’ve) never had an accusation made against me for something I have done illegal or immoral,” Willis read from his statement. “This continues to be the case this evening.”

He said that a harassment charge had been filed against him in May 2014.

“After an investigation, it was found to have no basis,” Willis read from his statement. “The root of the complaint was because an athlete was not playing as many innings as the parents thought she should. And they had to come up with something, thus the harassment charge.”

In his statement, Willis said the reason he was informed of the decision to release him from coaching was “vague.”

“When I asked for the reason, I was told of concerns administration had about the program,” Willis read from his statement. “Those concerns were also documented in the harassment charge, and again possessed no evidence of wrongdoing—only the opinion of people who disagree with my softball philosophy.”

Willis said that he had been told any information gathered had to remain confidential and that it could not be shared with him. He noted that a person usually loses a job because of illegal activity, immoral judgment or poor performance.

Willis also acknowledged that his coaching performance last season was not equivalent to years past and by his own standards.

“The reality was, I couldn’t perform at the same mental or physical level I am accustomed to because of my ongoing battle with cancer,” Willis read from his statement. “I did my best in the classroom and on the field with tremendous support from everybody. I was not told by high school administration my performance was substandard.”

The KHS girls varsity softball team went 20-12 last season, after going 24-4 in 2013.
Regarding his release, Willis had just one question: why?

“I think that is a fair question,” Willis read from his statement. “And out of respect for my commitment towards Kaneland High School the past 13 years, I have earned the right to have that answered honestly.”

Willis said that both he and his staff worked hard to create a “winning program” on and off of the field. He said that tough decisions had been made that some didn’t agree with or like, but mentioned that he always has tried to teach his students and his athletes to be accountable for their actions.

“If you have done something out of favor, face the consequences,” Willis read from his statement. “If not, stand on the highest mountain and declare your innocence. Tonight, I stand on the mountain.”

Community members stood up to offer supporting words for Willis. Molly Cohrs, whose daughter plays for the Lady Knights, spoke of Willis putting together fundraisers for field improvements and returning Kaneland’s softball program to both a respected and winning program.

“Having recently waged a winning battle against cancer, he practiced until he could no longer stand, and then sat on a bucket so practice could continue,” Cohrs said.

She also spoke about what was expected of the Lady Knights softball team.

“Expectation is high, effort is required, and you have to be able to produce—defensively and offensively on the field, and in the classroom,” Cohrs said. “And yes, if a coach believes you are not giving 110 percent all the time; if he believes you are playing below your potential; he’s going to let you know it.”

Cohrs called student playing time the “most sensitive topic” in any high school sport played.

“I don’t think it is a coincidence that if you look back at the families and players who have complained about any Kaneland coach, their history of playtime at Kaneland will likely show that they were either cut from a program or they did not play as much as other players,” Cohrs said.

Paige Kuefler, senior Lady Knights player, wore a Team Willis gray T-shirt during the School Board meeting. She also spoke on behalf of the team about the one she calls “Coach Willis.”

“He wants the best for us,” Kuefler said. “Does he get frustrated with us? At times, yes. Because he knows we can do better; he knows how we play. He’s seen our 100 percent, and if he doesn’t, he will push us until he sees it.”

Kuefler mentioned that positions on the Lady Knights softball team had to be earned.
“Our positions were never handed to us,” she said. “Each and every athlete of the softball team had to earn a position.”

Following the meeting, Willis reflected on the support he received at the meeting.

“I’m very happy with the support I got tonight,” he said. “And the fact that even if I’m not reinstated as coach, I can lay my head on my pillow knowing that I had a positive effect on these young ladies’ lives.”

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Piece of the Rock

Photo: Ivan Bohorquez celebrates scoring his unassisted first-half goal against Sycamore Tuesday. Photo by Tiffany Kufer

Second-place effort at Quad Cities gathering has smooth finish
KANELAND—This past weekend had the Kaneland soccer roster heading two hours west, and gain a little footing on an up-and-down 2014 campaign.

On Friday and Saturday, KHS headed to the Rock Island Tournament and went 3-1 overall, finishing second. On Tuesday, Kaneland went to Sycamore for a Northern Illinois Big XII conference skirmish and shut out the Spartans 3-0.

Kaneland sits at 9-7-2, with a 3-2-1 mark in NIB-12 play, and roughly a week and a half left in regular season play.

To begin the Rock Island festivities, the Knights used two penalty kick conversions from Angel Escontrias to take a 2-0 win from Homewood-Flossmoor, and finished Friday with a 2-0 win over Washington. Escontrias’ first-half goal and Mark Dhom’s second-half try sealed the deal.

Facing the host Rocks, a 3-1 win was propelled by Felipe Speraggi’s goal off an Escontrias feed in the first half, the Speraggi-Escontrias connection in the second half, and an Escontrias goal off a feed from Andrew Mathys with 11 minutes left.

In the title match, East Moline United Township beat KHS 2-1, as Escontrias’ penalty try was the lone goal with 12 minutes to go. Kaneland was playing two men short due to red cards.

Against Sycamore, Escontrias and Ivan Bohorquez each had a goal and an assist. Andres Tovar supplied a second-half goal, as well.

Kaneland hosts Morris on Thursday.

Editorial: Celebrate with some Class in a Glass

Declining temperatures notwithstanding, October is typically an excellent month for local weekend activities and fundraisers. So if you’re looking for something fun to do on Saturday, Oct. 11, consider “classing” things up with a trip to the inaugural Class in a Glass wine-tasting event from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St. The event is presented by the Community Center and Elburn Liquors.

During the event, you’ll have an opportunity to relax, learn about wines, sample food on hand, and place orders that will be ready for Halloween.

Tickets to the event are $20 each, and available at the door. Tickets are also available at Elburn Liquors, 319 S. Main St.; the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, 525 N. Main St.; and the Elburn Herald office, 525 N. Main St.

You must be 21 years of age and have your ticket present to enter the Class in a Glass event.

Fall might’ve just arrived, but with colder temperatures on the horizon, now is certainly the time to get out and enjoy local events and fundraisers while you can still go outdoors without donning a parka. Get some friends together and put some additional class in your Saturday afternoon. It’s bound to be a great event.

Letter: Vote against Fire District disconnection referendum

I’m writing this letter to ask for your support to vote against the referendum to disconnect from the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District.

We have a dedicated, highly-trained Fire Department that has been servicing our area for 133 years. Our personnel and the Board of Trustees have worked hard to make sure we have the best equipment available to service our residents. As of Oct. 1, we have three stations and are building a new station No. 1 to better serve our district.

The most important thing is, we have no debt. We don’t buy or build anything unless we have the money in the bank. Fox River and Countryside Fire/Rescue District is well over $4 million in debt. You should not assume that you will continue to enjoy lower taxes for long by transferring to their Fire District. In fact, by disconnecting from Elburn, you are agreeing to take on your proportionate share of that debt, as stated in the question on the ballot.

The trustees and the chiefs work very hard to keep our tax rate level, and are always working to get them down. With the equalized assessed valuation going down the last few years, this is very difficult to achieve, but we will continue to work hard to remain fiscally responsible with the tax dollars our taxpayers have entrusted to us.

Thank you for supporting the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District over the years. We appreciate it very much, and it is our hope that you will continue to do so in the future.

Vote against the referendum to disconnect.

Thomas Reynolds
President, Elburn and Countryside
Fire Protection District Board of Trustees

Letter: Just say no to disconnection referendum

There will be a referendum question on the Nov. 4 ballot about whether to disconnect and transfer territory from the Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District to the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District. I felt it was critically important for effected residents to really understand the issue. What I found out alarmed me, so I felt it important to share my thoughts and urge you to vote against this referendum.

Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District has served our area for 133 years. Fox River has been in existence for three years. Elburn carries no debt; Fox River carries well over four million dollars in debt. While Fox River would have you believe they are well-trained professional firefighters and EMTs, I am very concerned with the fact they are private sector employees in a for-profit environment. They also charge additional fees per call. With the kind of debt this department is carrying, how long will it be before they either close their doors or ask for more money from the taxpayers?

I also discovered that they don’t have even close to the level of equipment that Elburn possesses. Elburn’s engines are certified as paramedic engines and carry large amounts of water. Fox River’s are not certified as paramedic engines. Fox River’s water tenders are not standard. Elburn is also equipped with heavy rescue equipment and a hazmat trailer. Fox River has none of this. The EMT-Bs in Elburn have expanded scope training and can perform advanced functions.

This is not an apples-to-apples comparison; this is the critical point. You are being asked to take your home and family out of the hands of a qualified professional fire department and put them in the hands of what is truly an unqualified department. As a 30-years-plus member of the fire service, I have been blessed to have worked and trained with firefighters all over the country, and I can tell you that the members and officers of the ECFPD are a dedicated, hardworking group that bring their heart and soul to the job with them. This is not just a job for them—it is their passion to take care of their neighbors. I am proud to work with these men and women.

It is not in the best interest of the residents of any area to disconnect from a debt-free, well-trained and well-equipped fire district, and assume the debt and lower level of service of a three-year-old fire district. I urge you to vote against the referendum to disconnect.

Tim Lyons
Lieutenant, Batavia Fire Department


Kindness Campaign celebrates one-year anniversary

Photo: Renee Dee and Kaneland parent Sarah Ziemba at the Kindness in Kaneland booth Friday. Photo submitted by Renee Dee to

KANELAND—What started as groups organized to combat bullying has turned into a collaboration within the Kaneland School District and community known as the Kindness Campaign. And its organizers are celebrating the campaign’s first anniversary this month.

Rather than create an anti-bullying campaign, Kindness Campaign co-organizer Renee Dee said it’s more of a reminder to make good choices each day.

“It’s better to send a positive message,” Dee said. “People have started to embrace the message, and hopefully, it’s making some kind of change.”

While most of the Kaneland community is involved in some way, Dee and Leigh Ann Reusche were the impetus behind the movement.

Dee said the true purpose of the campaign is to assist with the social emotional issues of not only the School District’s students, but also the parents.

“No other organization is doing that in the Kaneland area,” Dee said.

KHS Assistant Principal Mike Rice agreed that it’s good to get the message out to remind people how important the little things are and the positive impact they can have on others.

“I wouldn’t say we never have trouble here (with bullying), but we have policies to work with students to get to the core of the problem,” Rice said.

Rather than just punish students for bad behavior, Rice said school administrators prefer to work with students to make positive behavioral modifications.

“We try to talk about with them about how their actions impact other people,” Rice said.

Along with assisting students one-on-one as needs arise, the district provides speakers. Dee has helped find speakers who can make a positive impact.

“I find resources and speakers, and act as a funnel to bring resources in to discuss things like Internet safety, healthy friendships, that kind of stuff,” Dee said.

For example, Jeff Dean, a policeman who specializes in Internet and personal safety, has spoken with students several times over the past year.

“A lot of issues are technology-related, and that brings bullying to a whole new level,” Dee said. “Jeff helps parents understand how to manage kids’ daily phone usage, raises awareness and teaches about having difficult conversations.”

Another speaker is Amy Logan, author of the book “A Girl with a Cape: The True Story About the Superhero in All of Us,” seeks to empower girls to be super.

Dee said organizers have worked with the Lions Clubs, and the Sugar Grove Library is sponsoring a writing contest during October. The event will focus on healthy friendships and being a good friend.

The most recent Kindness Campaign kicked off with a happy dance at the Sugar Grove Corn Boil last July, Dee said.

October is national bullying correction month, providing the perfect time for the start of the new campaign to raise awareness. Dee said Harter Middle School has a new program, “Project KC.”

“Last year’s theme was ‘be nice, be happy.’ This year’s theme is ‘be kind,’ and next year’s theme will be ‘be good to each other,’” Dee said.

Rice said the campaign has just gotten underway for the year with appearances at volleyball and football games last week. Various groups wore lime green in support of the campaign, and the volleyball team members presented their opponents with gift bags. The pom pon squad entertained with a special performance.

Rice said Kaneland administration and staff support the campaign, but it’s really on the student organizations to make things happen.

“It’s kind of on them to take it over, and it has gained momentum,” Rice said. “It’s nice to celebrate the good things.”

“All of these kids are good, nice kids; they just need to be reminded,” Dee said.

She said it’s important to remind kids to focus on following their own heart and their own inner voice, not the crowd.

“This campaign belongs to the community,” Dee said. “And it has taken on a life of its own. “It’s nothing we could have imagined when we started it.”


Local farm features pumpkins, corn maze, decorations

SUGAR GROVE—John Nichols is transforming his family’s century-old dairy barn into a new fall destination for families, surrounded by fields of pumpkins and a recently completed corn maze.

The Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm, located at the corner of Route 47 and Merrill Road in Sugar Grove, is a down-home affair on a working grain farm. Many of the pumpkin patch employees are Nichols’ relatives, and his cousin, aunt and uncle are all helping out through the busy fall season.

“It’s a really good family experience,” said Eli Puffenbarger, Nichols’ cousin and a farm employee. “There’s kids running around, and a lot of families come here because there’s no entry fee. There’s lots of things for kids to do, and we have people of all ages coming to enjoy the sights.”

In addition to the pumpkins, the farm features a corn maze, a picnic area, play areas for children, and a variety of harvest items for sale inside the barn. If customers arrive when no one’s around, there’s a pay wagon where customers can pay for their pumpkins using the honor system.

Eli Puffenbarger of Maple Park shows off an oversized pumpkin, which can be found at the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm on the corner of Route 47 and Merrill Road. Puffenbarger is the cousin of SG Pumpkin Farm owner John Nichols. 						            Photo by Lynn Logan
Eli Puffenbarger of Maple Park shows off an oversized pumpkin, which can be found at the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm on the corner of Route 47 and Merrill Road. Puffenbarger is the cousin of SG Pumpkin Farm owner John Nichols. Photo by Lynn Logan

“You just put your cash in the box if no one’s there,” said Pete Filipos, Nichols’ uncle and a farm employee. “That’s not something you see very much anymore. You may see a little pumpkin patch here and there on the side of the road, but that’s how John got his start. He was the guy on the side of the road.”

Though the Nichols family has been farming the same plot of land since the 1940s, John is in his early 20s and is one of the youngest farmers in the area. He took over the farm five years ago, when his parents, Phil and Sara Nichols, and his younger siblings moved to Tanzania to become missionaries and run an orphanage.

As a teenager, he set up a farmstand to sell sweet corn along Route 47, and his interest in retailing produce has grown from there.

“John started selling sweet corn when he was a young boy, when his dad was running the farm,” Filipos said. “It was a little extra money for him to make, and he got the idea for doing more retail sales from that. It started with sweet corn, then tomatoes, squash, zucchini and stuff like that. Then he decided to try pumpkins and see what happened, and it’s doing great.”

When John took over the grain farm, in addition to growing the corn, soybeans and wheat that are the farm’s main source of income, he began growing a small patch of pumpkins and selling them wholesale to other retailers. Three years ago, he decided to start offering them retail and opened up a harvest store in his dairy barn.

Nichols spends most of each day out in the fields, and Filipos describes him as ambitious.

“John’s industrious. He’s a hard worker. He’s a smart man, and he’s ambitious,” Filipos said. “I think that shows with what he’s trying to do.”

The antique dairy barn was expanded in the 1950s to add more space. And more recently, the family removed its hayloft and gave it a fresh sandblasting, which gives it an airy feel. Inside, the farm sells several varieties of pumpkins, including giant pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, Cinderella pumpkins and green-and-whites, as well as gourds, bales of straw, corn stalks, Indian corn, popcorn, vegetables grown on the farm, and Halloween decorations and craft items.

This self-serve, honor-system wagon is stocked with a variety of pumpkins and gourds located off Route 47 on Merrill Road. The arrow points to the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm where guests can shop at the farmstand. Photo by Lynn Logan
This self-serve, honor-system wagon is stocked with a variety of pumpkins and gourds located off Route 47 on Merrill Road. The arrow points to the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm where guests can shop at the farmstand.
Photo by Lynn Logan

“We basically have everything to make a wonderful display outside your house,” Puffenbarger said.

There are a few other area vendors selling goods inside the barn, including Burgin’s Meat of Maple Park, which will sell locally raised meat products there each weekend in October, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Burgin and Nichols families are old friends, Filipos said, and have worked together on farming projects in the past. Now that the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market has closed for the season, the Burgin stand will move over to the pumpkin farm.

“We have a line of customers who are waiting out there in the morning for him to arrive and sell meat out of his truck,” Filipos said. “We’ve had so many customers who’ve asked if we were going to have more vendors or offer more things, and this is one of the new things that we are offering this year.”

Though not as well-known as other local harvest destinations, the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm has been seeing about 1,000 visitors a week throughout September, and Filipos expects that it will be even busier as Halloween approaches

The goal, Filipos said, is to develop the Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm into one of the area’s largest.

“Every year, it’s just getting a little bigger and bigger. Business is good. The early season, people aren’t quite in the fall mood yet. But as the weather starts to cool and we get closer to Halloween, business is brisk,” Filipos said.

The Sugar Grove Pumpkin Farm is open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., though outside vendors are only there on weekends. Pumpkins can be purchased on the honor system between sunrise and sunset.

Bakery Truck front

Bakery truck to make Elburn Car Show appearance

ELBURN—Red (Charles) Singleton of Elgin, Ill., plans to feature his antique bakery truck, which he purchased in Elburn, in the Elburn Car Show this Sunday at Lions Park, 500 Filmore St.

Singleton was introduced to the vehicle, a Helms Bakery truck, when he saw it for sale on the corner of Route 38 and Route 47 in 1986.

“I first saw the bakery truck with a telephone number from a guy named Shuck,” Singleton said. “I believed he lived a couple of blocks east of the old (Elburn) school. This truck was used for a house-to-house delivery bakery truck. It was a Helms Bakery truck. Helms Bakery was a prominent bakery in California, and they used trucks like mine in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.”

When Singleton went to buy the bakery delivery truck, it was behind the old Elburn High School building (now the Elburn and Countryside Community Center) on Route 47 in Elburn. The truck had been vandalized and wasn’t running at the time of purchase.

“I paid $2,500 for it, and they were asking $4,500,” Singleton said. “Today, it’s worth $40,000 to $50,000.”

After purchasing the truck, Singleton completely restored it back to running condition, along with a new coat of paint and new lettering. Singleton’s bakery truck is a 1933 model, and boasts a Hercules four-cylinder engine with a clutch and break combination, along with an aluminum body and hydraulic brakes. It was made by a bus company called Twin Coach, according to Singleton.

Helms Bakery’s motto was “Daily at Your Door,” Singleton said. The truck was used for daily deliveries on residential roads, and the delivery man would use an air whistle to alert the customer that they were outside of their home with their order. Singleton’s truck also has an air whistle, and is now one of only four or five Helms Bakery Trucks still in existence, according to Singleton.

The Elburn Lions’ 21st annual Fall Classic All Wheel Show will take place Sunday, Oct. 5, at Elburn Lions Park, 500 S. Filmore St., Elburn.


‘Purple Store’ collecting funds, goods for Hughes

KANEVILLE—Hill’s Country Store, aka the “Purple Store,” in Kaneville, is currently collecting funds and goods for Beverly Holmes Hughes and her family.

Hughes was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor, last summer.

Hill’s Country Store owner Pat Hill knows Beverly personally and wants to help her and her family during this time.

Hughes is the sole financial support for seven people in her home: her husband, Chuck, who has congestive heart failure; her sister, Janet, who has diabetes; and several special-needs children the three have adopted and co-parented—four of whom are still minors living at home.

“I knew Beverly a long time ago,” Hill said. “I want to try and help her out and bring her a meal. I hope that people give from their heart. You never know when you’ll be in that situation.”

The donation box at Hill’s Country Store is an ongoing collection where people can donate a monetary gift in any amount, along with gas cards and gift cards. Hill also hopes to soon receive information about coordinating meals for Beverly and her family.

Photo by Lynn Logan

School Board approves teacher salary increase

KANELAND—The Kaneland Education Association (KEA) and Board of Education have reached an agreement to increase teacher salaries for the 2014-15 school year.

All Kaneland School Board members on Monday agreed to the salary increase, with the exception of Tony Valente.

Valente later spoke further regarding his “no” vote.

“I think there are teachers that deserve a raise and deserve to get paid what they’re worth, which is a lot,” Valente said. “The issue that I have is it’s hard to explain an additional million dollars almost to the levy next year. So we’re going to be looking at paying down our funds in our reserves. And we’re going to have issues with (the) levy if EAVs (equalized assessed value) continue to stay where their at.”

Valente said that there is no plan to pay for the increase.

“We have to have a plan,” he said. “That plan is not presented. And I think the plan is just to raise the tax levy. And I’m not for that.”

The agreement between the School Board and KEA ensures that teachers will receive a salary increase of 3.99 percent. Both sides negotiated using interest-based bargaining to work out salaries for year three of the current teacher contract period, which will conclude on June 30, 2015.

The negotiations had been in effect since December 2013.

School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said that in the last five years, Kaneland teachers have taken two salary freezes. The average salary increase during those five years was 2.6 percent.

Krauspe also confirmed that the current salaries are not competitive with other area schools.

“In terms of our beginning salary, our beginning teaching salary is ranking still near the bottom of our comparative districts,” Krauspe said. “And not just those to the east of us, but also some to the west of us. And that does concern us. We don’t want to lose our teachers.”

Krauspe spoke about there being an investment in the Kaneland staff.

“We value our staff,” Krauspe said. “And we don’t want it to be a training ground for people. Similarly, we talk about the superintendent. We don’t want our teachers to come and go through professional development and mentoring and become part of Kaneland and then not feel that they are compensated appropriately.”

The district’s Education Fund currently has a projected deficit of $2.7 million. However, Krauspe noted that the district has had four years of positive fund balance growth.

She compared Kaneland’s negotiations to those that other school districts have had.

“As in most negotiations, neither side feels that they have wanted or asked for,” Krauspe said. “Do I think it’s reasonable? I do believe that this community values its educators and wants them to remain rather than fleeing.”

KEA President Lori Shroka spoke during public comment at the meeting.

“As we move forward as a district, I want you to know that KEA is committed to fostering a strong partnership with the community, the administration and the School Board to ensure the best possible education and experiences for your children,” Shoka said.

Community can weigh in on superintendent search

KANELAND—The Kaneland community today will have an opportunity to weigh in on the qualities it wants to see in the next district superintendent of schools.

The educational search firm BWP & Associates will host focus groups consisting of stakeholders within the Kaneland School District.

“We value the voices of all of our stakeholders,” School Board President Cheryl Krauspe said. “About three-fifths of the adults that live in the Kaneland community don’t have kids in the school, so it’s important that we hear their voice, as well.”

According to Dr. Mark Friedman, president of BWP & Associates, the information gathered from the Kaneland stakeholders will help BWP form a superintendent profile for the next superintendent of schools. The profile is meant to identify characteristics the public wants to see in the superintendent.

“It’s going to be talking points,” Friedman said. “It’s going to be us listening to all these different subgroups that make up the Kaneland school community and the greater community, such as people who aren’t effectively in the schools but have an interest.”

There will be four search firm consultants on hand to conduct interviews of small groups. Kaneland School Board members will have the chance to be interviewed one-on-one to get their feedback.

Those who cannot attend the focus groups can visit beginning Friday, Oct. 3, to fill out a quick survey. The deadline to fill out the survey is Friday, Oct. 17.

All of the feedback from the face-to-face dialogues and online surveys will help BWP & Associates figure out the makeup of the superintendent profile.

“It’s not a checklist,” Friedman said. “So, it’s not like a laundry list (where) you can say, ‘Candidate A, OK, here’s the profile. Everything on the profile.’ It’s not quite like that. It’s a bigger picture.”

Friedman provided an example of someone meeting the profile, yet who lacked chemistry during their interview.

“That would be foolish if the board chose somebody just because they were the profile match but they weren’t the chemistry match,” Friedman said. “So you have to bring all of those pieces together. That chemistry is very important.”

Today’s focus group schedule is as follows:
• 2 p.m. Kaneland District Office—Kaneland High School students, Kaneland Education Association leadership and School Board member
• 3:15 p.m. Kaneland Harter Middle School— Harter Middle School, Kaneland High School teachers, middle school and high school support staff, and School Board member
• 4:15 p.m. Harter Middle School—elementary teachers, elementary support staff and School Board member
• 7:15 p.m. Harter Middle School—open forum for all, including parents, CAC, FAC, FPC, PTO’s, Kaneland Foundation and taxpayers
The next Kaneland superintendent could potentially be announced at the rescheduled School Board meeting on Monday, Dec. 15.

Blackberry Creek Run for Fund-1-4

Photos: Fun and fundraising

Kaneland John Shields and Blackberry Creek elementary students last week participated in a Run for Fund to help raise money for their respective school. All grade levels ran and/or walked outside to get in on the fundraising and the fun. John Shields Elementary fourth-graders (below) participated in the Run for Fund on Sept. 25. Blackberry Creek Elementary did its run on Sept. 26, with two kindergarten pals (above, right) showing that the event was also a great time for friendship.
John Shields Run for Fund-1-4

Elburn welcomes Station No. 3

The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District on Wednesday opened it’s Fire Station No. 3 in Lily Lake. The station is functional 24 hours a day and features an advanced life support (ALS) engine, which means the station is equipped to handle both fire emergencies and medical needs. According to the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, the presence of Fire Station No. 3 will reduce rescue response times to Campton Hills, Lily Lake, Virgil, Wasco, The Windings and the northern portion of the district.


Keep on moving

Photo: A group of local ladies have exercised together at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center three times a week for over a dozen years. Their workouts include light dumbbell work, as well as exercises done with toner bands and dowel rods. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Group has exercised at Community Center for more than 12 years
ELBURN—With a firm belief that it’s important to keep moving, a group of ladies has been meeting at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center three times a week for more than a dozen years to exercise together.

One of the women, Helen Palello, 84, said that when the group was first formed, they had a leader, Betty Holcomb, who led them through the exercises. She worked through Central DuPage Hospital, which donated toner bands and dowel rods to the group. When Holcomb left to take a full-time job, she made cassette tapes for the women to follow.

With one of the dozen or so tapes playing on a boom box, the women stretch, lift weights and lift dowels over their heads, and use them to bend sideways. They use chairs for some of the exercises, and the women set up the room themselves and put it back when they’re done.

“We vary the tapes,” group member Helen Gossman said. “It’s never dull.”

Rich DeCarlo, facility manager and physical therapist for Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers in Elburn, recently came to observe one of the group’s classes, and donated a set of new toner bands to the group.

Pallelo said that the group exercise is not competitive, and there is no one there to judge or to criticize.

“As long as we are moving, that’s the important thing,” Gossman said.

Palello said she believes the exercise has kept her healthy. She said she has more energy, she’s more limber and is better able to do things. She’s able to maintain her own home, and she sleeps better.

“Plus, there’s the social aspect of it, she said. “We’re a very congenial group.”

“I find that we’re getting as much out of sharing with each other as we do from the exercise,” Gossman said.


Sky view

Workers from Maxcor are finishing up a project on the north Elburn water tower.
They have completely painted the water tower, inside and out, and added a safety rail for future workers. This week, they repainted Elburn’s logo and chlorinated the inside of the bulb.


Photos: Training day

The grand opening ceremony for the Kane County Regional Training Center in St. Charles was held Sept. 25. Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez, County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen and retired lieutenant Ronald Grommas welcomed guests and led them on a tour of the new state-of-the-art facility. Undersheriff Pat Gengler (right) explains how the firearm training simulators are used.

Hultgren votes to counter Islamic State group with military training

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) recently supported H. J. Res. 124, a continuing resolution to fund the government at its current levels for three months, which includes an amendment to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition as they struggle against the Islamic State and the Levant (ISIL) expansion.

“ISIL continues to grow in numbers and ferocity, and the Iraqi and Syrian peoples and religious minorities are threatened by its bloody rampage,” Hultgren said. “We need our allies to come together to deal with the threat. Until then, our Commander-in-Chief and our generals have developed this plan as the best course of action without involving our ground troops in another conflict overseas, and I support their decision.

Hultgren said the hope is that ISIL will be stopped in its tracks, and that conditions in Syria will promote an end to the conflict.

“I still have concerns about the risks associated with arming rebel groups, but to do nothing allows ISIL to become further entrenched, expand its control and continue its atrocities,” Hultgren said. “We must be vigilant to ensure these weapons are not turned against us in the future.”

According to Hultgren, extending government funding at current levels, with no net increase in spending, opens up the opportunity for real deliberations about the need to reverse the current trend of spending more than we take in.

“Among other provisions, the continuing resolution maintains the ban on taxing internet access, permits agency transfer of funds to carry out the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, provides an additional $59M to help reduce the veterans disability claims backlog and maintains our border security staffing levels,” Hultgren said.

Celebrate the second annual Kindness in Kaneland Week

Last fall, we helped announce the creation of Kindness in Kaneland Week—seven days of programs and celebration meant to promote friendship, respect, happiness and, most important, anti-bullying, in the Kaneland community.

The collaboration between organizers and the Kaneland School District was unquestionably a success, as it helped put forth a message that went above and beyond any sort of ordinary “bullying is wrong” campaign. Rather, Kindness in Kaneland Week last year promoted the importance of positive interaction with everyone around us, looking for the good in people, helping those who are in need, aspiring to be the person we expect others to be, and treating everyone the way we expect to be treated.

That might all sound like a common-sense concept, but too often and too easily, society loses sight of the privilege that is life—how fragile it is, and the impact our words and actions can have on another human being. Life is short, so it makes absolutely no sense to spend it by making things tough on others. When a child is bullied or made fun of at school, they feel negative feelings—feelings of shame, humiliation and hurt. They then take that hurt home with them, and maybe, if they’re not too embarrassed, they’ll share the negative experience with a parent. And when a child hurts, their parents hurt just as much. And now that parent has to worry about their child’s emotional well-being whenever they’re away, and whether their child will be further targeted by bullies at school, on the playground, or anywhere else.

No child or parent should ever have to worry, and that’s why Kindness in Kaneland Week, and the Kindness Campaign overall, is such a powerful social device and group, respectively.

As the Kindness Campaign celebrates its first full year of making a difference, let’s help ensure that the second annual Kindness in Kaneland Week, scheduled for mid-October, is even more successful this time around. Be a leader. Be a role model. Be a friend. Be a great person. Be kind. All of that should encompass what the Kaneland community is all about.

Disconnection from Elburn Fire District puts lives, property at risk

When word recently leaked that there is a real possibility after all these years that my neighbors and I may no longer be served by the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, I was floored.

How is it that some entity would launch a campaign to risk the lives and property of some 3,000 residents? Perhaps one of the reasons this has been kept so very quiet is that Fox River and Countryside was hoping not to have to answer those questions face-to-face.

Elburn has provided us with state-of-the-art equipment and expertly trained staff, while at the same time avoiding to incur debt on our behalf. Fox River is grossly under-equipped to meet the demands of our rural setting in terms of pumper trucks and mutual aid agreements. Their ability to provide prompt and skilled paramedic service is life-threateningly inadequate, particularly in light of their lack of ALS equipment. Also, Fox River is financially ailing, with indebtedness somewhere between $4 and $5 million dollars, depending upon whom one talks to.

It didn’t take much research to find answers to my questions. The “why” is all about a land-grab by Fox River to force us to pay off their past bills, which were incurred without benefit to us. The “how” begins with the 128 signatures on the petition to disconnect, which was entered into the record in Kane County Court less than 30 days ago.

Who in their right mind wakes up in the morning and decides it would be an excellent idea to actively pursue the possibility they may have to stand by helplessly as a loved one dies from a heart attack because there isn’t an available ambulance? Who would actively pursue the chance to pay off millions of dollars in debt when they are now debt-free? Well, the 128 names and addresses are out there in front of God and everyone to see.

Yet, there is more. As a licensed insurance agent, I can say with certainty that if Fox River’s protection class code is not equal to or better than Elburn’s, your homeowners’ policy premium will increase. In addition, they actually charge an hourly rate for equipment called to a scene. I strongly recommend everyone contacts their insurance carrier, as many will not pay for such a charge.

There are at least 2,872 intelligent residents left. We will see the majority at the polls.

Denise Klock

Thank you for another successful Fun Fest

For over 15 years, Maple Park Fun Fest has provided the community with an extraordinary way to celebrate summer’s end. We take pride in the fact that we are one of the last free festivals in the area, working as an all-volunteer, not-for-profit committee. With the help of our generous sponsors and volunteers, we were able to provide the community with a fabulous weekend of events, including a car show, parade, fireworks, live music, craft show, balloon artist, the famous Toilet Bowl Races, and much more.

On behalf of the Fun Fest Committee, I would like to thank the village of Maple Park, our volunteers and our patrons for making Fun Fest a successful event. The Fun Fest Committee also sincerely appreciates our generous and supportive sponsors: A&P Grain Systems, Inc., Cortland Animal Hospital, Julie Fabrizius – Coldwell Banker, Pat White Construction, Inc., Midwest Window & Supply, Maple Park American Legion, HD Rockers, Maple Park Pub and Grill, Peg’s on Main, Paisano’s Pizza and Grill, Elburn Herald, Casey’s General Store, Honest Automotive, Back Country Roads, Wiltse’s Farm, County Line Customs, DIR Installations, Hartmann Farms, Bootlegger’s Bar, Grill and Pizza, Maple Park Lions Club, Old Second Bank – Maple Park, Sycamore Country Store and Catering, Sycamore Family Sports Center, Inc., Wm. Olsen & Sons, Inc., Hintzsche Companies, Bur Oak Group, Delnor Express Care, AHW John Deere – Elburn, Tricities, and Von Jager Kennel. We would not be able to accomplish all that we do for the community without the caring support from these local businesses. We look forward to planning Fun Fest 2015 and hope for another successful year of community activities.

Beth Miller
Maple Park Fun Fest Committee

Winter Wonderland Craft, Vendor Show

KANELAND—Kaneland Special Needs PTA will host its Winter Wonderland Craft and Vendor Show on Saturday, Nov. 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

The event will feature over 50 vendors and crafters, a raffle, bake sale, sensory and awareness tables, and on-site child care featuring a coloring contest and games. Concession will be available, courtesy of Kaneland Knights Boosters.

For more information on this event, like the “Fundraising by Kaneland Special Needs PTA” Facebook page or visit


Volunteers prepare for Halloween Fest’s 25th year

BIG ROCK—The haunted house that started in one room in Sugar Grove has grown to include two haunted houses, a haunted trail, games, entertainment and food for the whole family at Plowman’s Park in Big Rock. And this year, Halloween Fest will celebrate 25 years of scary fun.

The event is set for 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.

“This is our give-back to the community,” Colleen Franks said.

Colleen and her husband, Gene, started the event in a school classroom when he served on the parks committee in Sugar Grove.

“Everyone else was involved with sports, so Gene suggested a haunted house,” Colleen said. “The walls were made out of cardboard and plastic.”
After outgrowing several locations, the event moved to Plowman’s Park in 2001. Construction of the haunted house—and less scary kiddie haunted house added in 2006—takes place during the weekends between the Big Rock Plowing Match and Halloween for the one-day festival.

“The intent of the haunted house is to scare by surprise, and there are many opportunities for surprise,” said Charlene, the Franks’ daughter-in-law. “This is a unique event that’s not put on by an organization. It’s run strictly by volunteers, with donations for everything, so the event is free. It’s a fun place for parents to take their kids.”
Colleen said donations are accepted, but any funds collected are used to pay for the food and the party.

The organizers estimate the fest brings in about 3,000 people each year. Many return year after year, and that’s because the haunted house is different every year.

“My husband and I provide the theme. We design both haunted houses and provide props and costumes and sound effects,” Colleen said.
“It’s a lot of work for just one day,” Charlene admitted, but more than a hundred volunteers return each year, too. “Some parts of it, we work on all year long, but the actual building can’t start until after the plowing match.”

Four generations of the Franks family have worked on the festival.

“Mom is 85, so she won’t be out there this year,” Colleen said. “We have six children and eight grandchildren, and they’ve all been involved at one time or another.”
She said Charlene was just dating their oldest son the first year of the festival; they eventually married, and she’s still part of the volunteer crew.

Colleen said this may be the last year for the haunted house, because she and Gene are retiring from the event.

“There won’t be a haunted house unless someone steps up to volunteer,” Colleen said.
For more information on how to donate, volunteer or just join in the fun, visit


Program employs horses to treat PTSD

Photo: Veteran Jack Erwin of St. Charles says hello to Honey Nut Cheerio during a program on Boots and Hooves, soon to be known as Hope and Promise. The program employs equine-assisted psychotherapy to treat veterans with PTSD and other mental-health issues relating to their military service. Photo by Debbie Behrends

MAPLE PARK—Jack Erwin compares the equine-assisted psychotherapy program, Boots and Hooves, to some aspects of military life.

The St. Charles Army veteran participated in the first session of the program in March, and returns to volunteer when his teaching schedule allows.

Hosted by Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park, the program is the first in the area to assist veterans—and caregivers—dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental-health issues related to their military service. Volunteer Sue Koestler, with the help of Kelly McCaughey and her horse Honey Nut Cheerio, demonstrated a relay exercise at Tuesday’s community spaghetti dinner, sponsored monthly by the Elburn Lions Club.

“There’s not a lot of riding,” Erwin said of the program. “There are team-building exercises, discussions and group therapy sessions.”

The groups are small—no more than 10 people during each session—which Erwin said helps to create a feeling of closeness and camaraderie.

“You can connect with the other people there because they’ve faced similar experiences in the military,” he said. “I made friends in the program that I am still in contact with.”

Koestler said many of the people who participate in the program have never been around horses.

“Overcoming the initial fear of being around the big animals is a lot like the fears one faces in the military,” she said.

The five-day program is offered to veterans free of charge. Elburn Lion Chris Halsey said he invited the volunteers to talk about the program to get the word out.

Koestler stressed that the program is confidential and does not affect veteran benefits. All meals are provided, and anyone traveling from a distance is provided with lodging for the week.

Everyone involved in providing the program, from the horse owners to the cooks to the therapist, is a volunteer. Koestler said participants are expected to work at the riding center each day they are there as a way to take ownership of the program. That work might include mucking stalls or mending fences.

Modeled on the equine assisted psychotherapy philosophies developed by Greg Kersten, the program is one of hundreds worldwide that honors and integrates natural horse and herd behavior for the treatment of stress and PTSD.

To learn more about participating or becoming a volunteer, find Boots and Hooves on Facebook. Koestler said the name of the program is changing to Hope and Promise, and she hopes the website,, will be online soon.

Hope and Promise Board members anticipate holding its next five-day program in April 2015. For more information, contact Sue Koestler at (815) 587-4952 or Gary Kempiak at (815) 764-5081.


Photos: Cop’s best friend

The Spirit of Blue Foundation and the Planet Dog Foundation donated $10,000 to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office Monday. The funds will be used to replace the soon-to-be-retired K9 Gino, who was rewarded with his favorite tug toy after sniffing out the planted handgun outside the Sheriff’s Office. Gino is a male German Shepherd who is a dual-purpose patrol K9, certified in explosive detection, tracking suspects and lost people, building searches, evidence recovery, apprehensions and handler protection.


Home construction on the rise again in Blackberry Creek

ELBURN—Home construction continues to gain momentum in Elburn’s Blackberry Creek subdivision.

According to Elburn Building Commissioner Tom Brennan, there are currently 10 homes and two duplexes under construction in the subdivision—already more than the eight building permits that were issued for Blackberry Creek in 2013.

Blackberry Creek has come a long way since 2009, when the biggest news about the subdivision was about property foreclosures and vacant lots taken over by weeds. B&B Enterprises, Inc., the original developer, had pulled out of the area, leaving the development a little more than halfway built out.

It would take another three years for the village to obtain access to more than $10 million in developer insurance bonds to pay for street and other infrastructure work left undone by B&B.

Brennan said that in the three years from 2010 to 2012, there were only six building permits issued.

According to Orleans Homes sales director Bob Meyn, his company has a number of homes already sold or in process, with two currently under construction.

Meyn said Orleans Homes has closed on or is contracted to buy a total of 47 lots within Blackberry Creek.

“We’re very excited that we’re reopening Blackberry Creek,” he said. “It’s been quiet for some time.”

Meyn said that Orleans Homes has five different floor plans for buyers to choose from, including one ranch and five two-story versions, with a price point from the $290,000s to the low $300,000s. There is a model home located off of Blackberry Creek Drive, on Spaulding Avenue; potential buyers can view the options on the builder’s website.

Shodeen Inc., which will begin construction on its Elburn Station development in 2015, also has several vacant lots for sale in Blackberry Creek. Shodeen Inc. President Dave Patzelt said that his company will begin its transition into the Elburn market with home designs similar to those located in the Mill Creek Subdivision in Geneva.

According to a recent press release, Shodeen Homes is offering seven floor plans, including a ranch and six two-story semi-custom home designs, in the Blackberry Creek Subdivision. Base prices, which are subject to change, range from $272,000 to $387,000. Shodeen Homes sales will be conducted at the Mill Creek Center in Geneva.

Elburn Station, a mix of residential and commercial development, will be located north of Blackberry Creek, across Keslinger Road and next to the Metra Commuter Rail Station.

“Shodeen Homes is committed to the village of Elburn, and we look forward to building homes and being an active part of the community,” Patzelt said.

According to Brennan, several other builders, including CMN-ENT, Inc., and Tim Koebler, also have several lots available in Blackberry Creek.

Photo by Susan O’Neill

Kaneville approves tree removal, discusses sidewalk repairs

KANEVILLE—The Kaneville Village Board on Sept. 18 approved a bid for $1,780 to remove four trees on Meryl Road. The cost includes the removal of all stumps and wood by Martinez Landscaping.

The board also discussed the need for major sidewalk repairs in the village, and noted reports from citizens regarding issues with the sidewalks during Kaneville Fest weekend.

“Sidewalks are the greatest form of recreation that there is. (If) we want to bring people to Kaneville and to Kaneville Fest, than we need to be a functional village, period,” Village Trustee Tim Christopher said.


KHS students, Aquascape Inc. construct courtyard pond

KANELAND—Kaneland High School students recently helped construct a courtyard pond featuring trees, shrubs and flowers.

The water recycled in the pond comes from Kaneland’s tap water, minus the chlorine. Long koi swim the water while cascades of water fall on rocks.

A group consisting mainly of Student Council, Future Farmers of America and Science Club members pitched in to turn a grassy area at the high school into a professional-looking pond. To plan the project, students worked with Aquascape, Inc. representatives from St. Charles during three non-school days last November.

The pond was impressive enough to land the high school on the Nat Geo Wild show “Pond Stars” earlier this month. Those who missed the episode can catch it on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m. CST on the Nat Geo Wild channel.
According to KHS Social Studies teacher Javier Martinez, who helped coordinate the pond project, there were 20 students who were nominated by club advisors to help construct the pond.

“You can hear the water running,” said Michelle McCracken, who is Student Council vice president. “And you can also hear any wind, or the birds chirping. It’s a very ‘naturey’ place to be.”

KHS senior Anna Wendling volunteered for the pond project, as she had taken an horticulture class last school year. She called the pond a “masterpiece.”

“It was so blank in there before, and it was just so plain,” Wendling said. “And just having that courtyard come alive is really neat.”

A day’s work totaled eight hours. Lessons were learned on the job.

“I think what we all had hoped, No. 1, (is) that they’d understand working together as a group,” Martinez said. “Working under a timetable, we only had three days to complete the project. (It was like) working in real life.”

Students gained some lessons from their experience creating a pond. McCracken remembered what she learned from the Aquascape representatives.

“There’s a lot more that goes into making a water feature than you would think,” McCracken said. “Because they have a lot of planning that they did right before, and then a lot of tearing up the ground.”

McCracken pondered on the overall lesson she learned from participating.

“When students come together, we can really make something great happen at school,” McCracken said. “It can really impact the school in a good way.”

Wendling learned about teamwork.

“Everything that we did, you couldn’t do alone, like the planting of the trees and everything,” she said. “We needed each other.”

“It wasn’t something super simple, but something really beautiful and amazing,” said Julia Golbeck, who is president of Science Club.

KHS junior Julia Lemp, who serves as service chair for Student Council, recalled the gathering of dirt and rolling rocks in a wheelbarrow.
“Seriously, I know I got some biceps out of that,” Lemp said. “It’s crazy.”

Ed Beaulieu, director of Contractor Development and Field Research for Aquascape, gave the students a lot to learn on the pond.

“We teach them how we design it, how we build it, the importance of the biology, the animals, the plants, everything that’s associated with the water,” Beaulieu said. “It’s a learning experience across multiple disciplines. Everything from construction and design, geometry. We’re talking about formulas, we’re talking about the biological aspects, about the plant aspects.”

KHS senior and Student Council member Samantha Payton said she worked with her friends and also made new friends while constructing the pond.

“We’ll pass it at the same time in the hallway and and be like, ‘Oh my gosh. We built that (pond),’” Payton said.

Photos courtesy of National Geographic Channels